India and Nepal : some aspects of culture contact
 9788185182698, 8185182698

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IN D IA A N D N E P A L Some Aspects of Culture Contact

M O N O G R A PH 77

INDIA AND NEPAL Some Aspects of Culture Contact




First Published 1992 © Indian Institute o f Advanced Study 1992 All rights reserved. N o part o f this publication may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, without written permission o f the publisher.


Rashtrapati Nivas. Shimla and INDUS PUBLISHING COMPANY FS-5, Tagore G arden, New Delhi-110 027

ISBN 81-85182-69-8

Printed by Saraswati Printing Press A-95, Scctor 5. NOID A


IWZ. (p''?A I t l



FOREWORD Professor Jahar Sen completed this study as a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Shimla in 1989 and subsequently revised it for publication. Its purpose is to draw the contours of cultural contact between India and Nepal, a theme of wide interest for the people of India. It is also a subject of some practical importance. The author has paid special attention to linguistic and literary configuration, and he has presented his findings in a lively manner so that the general reader as well as the scholar can find this fascinating book of immense interest to him. Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla. March 31, 1992.

J.S. G rewal Director


A seminar on ‘A Sourcebook of Ancient India and Asian Civilization’ was held from 13 September to 19 September 1970 at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, convened at the instance of the Union Ministry of Education and Youth Services. A statement was issued at the concluding session of the seminar. It incorporated major divergent views of the participants, some of which are relevant for our purpose. They suggested that in the proposed source book culture contact down the ages between India and other parts of the world should be studied methodically. Some participants strongly argued that Asian contacts which had shaped India as well as Indian contacts that had shaped certain Asian countries should be discussed in detail. Many participants stressed the common underlying pattern in social and cultural traditions and in arts and crafts of various Asian countries. As instances, special mention was made of the striking common features in dance movements, folk drama, music and speech in certain forms of drama, puppet style, musical modes and the motifs and styles in architecture, sculpture and painting. The plan of the proposed source book, as far as I know, has not yet materialized. But, as a Fellow of the Institute and also as a student of Asian history and culture, I have always kept in mind the sugges­ tions mentioned above. The study of culture contact between India and Nepal is in consonance with the theme, ‘Indian Civilization in the Context of Asian Neighbours’which is one of the most important areas of study of the HAS. My modest aim is to draw a brief sketch of culture contact between India and Nepal through the ages focusing mainly on linguistic and literary configuration. It is impossible to estimate the great contribution of the IIAS to the completion of this project. To all Fellows who have enlightened me with sharp comments and insights and to all members of the staff including the Director, the Secretary and the Librarian, my debt is enormous and I express my profound gratitude. J a h a r S en









The Historical Prelude:Pedlars and Pilgrims


ill Scripts and Languages IV

The Store-house of Literature

23 38

v The Vernacular Drama


vi Contemporary Scenario: The Development of Indian Nepali Literature


Appendix Bibliography

89 103





The Indivisible World’. This was the title of an address by Daniel J. Boorstin, the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D.C. to the 51st Council and General Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, held in Chicago in August 1985. Boorstin deplored that the conceptual framework of culture contacts in the modem world is governed by seductive metaphors borrowed from politics, economics and military affairs. The notions of leadership, domination, compromise, annexation and national frontier belong to the domain of politics; the concepts of competition, exports and imports and reciprocity are derived from the discipline of economics; terms like invasion, conquest, advance and retreat come from the militarists. These expressions are inappropriate to the indivisible world of culture and ‘are exercises in futility, efforts to compare the incomparable, to measure immeasurables’. The works of art, literature and culture are cumulative, not displacive, are expandable and not depletable. Boorstin reminds us: The world’s cultures—and the culture of books—may be defined by languages, by traditions, historical movements. But they are not confined by national boundaries. Ideas need no passport from their place of origin, nor visas for the countries they enter. All boundaries in the world of culture and ideas are artificial and all are doomed to be dissolved---- All culture belong to all people. Books and ideas make a boundless world. The study of cultural relations and cultural dynamics has attracted the attention of scholars all over the world through the ages. This engages the scholar in an analysis of parallel develop­ ments, influences and cross-currents in the civilization of countries

India and Nepal


and the way they react on people both as individuals and as members of society in a given historical context (Aronson 1959:149). Cultural relations are forged by people living within the particular historical context of their age. The motives that propel men to respond in one way or another are very often elusive. They may be properly gauged and evaluated only by a study of historical context itself. Every culture, it should be borne in mind, has its own distinctiveness, which cannot exactly be translated in another cultural language. ICC. Bhattacharya (1959 : 299-301) sounds a note of warning: The way to know facts is not the way to know values’. II In the 1920s, Probodh Chandra Bagchi drew our attention to the role of the Central Asian nomads in the history of India in a book entitled Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian in India (Calcutta University 1929). He translated some important articles by three eminent French scholars—Jean Przyluski, Jules Bloch and Syivain Levi— and gave a full account of the Austric family of languages and their place in India and Asia. He highlighted in an article the intimate connection between the Saiva Tantrism of India as described in some texts preserved in Nepal w. i similar school in Indo-China. He initiated the study oicaryapadas by comparing them with their Tibetan versions. In his Probodh Bagchi Memorial Lecture delivered at Visva-Bharati on 19 January 1987 entitled ‘Inner Asia and India through the Ages’, Nirmal C. Sinha (1987 :5-24) has given us a masterly historiographic account of what Inner Asia has meant for India’s history and civilization, highlighting the contribution of Bagchi as a historian who studied first the process of culture contact between Inner Asia and India. In 1950-51 Suniti Kumar Chatteiji made a vigorous assessment of the contributions of the Indo-Mongoloids to the composite culture of the Indian sub-continent. He (1954-55) harped on the same theme in his Presidential address to the All India Oriental Conference, Ahmedabad, October 1953. Fr. M. Hermanns (1954 : 130-31) was disinclined to accept the term ‘Indo-Mongoloid’ from the ethnological point of view. He suggested the substitution of the word ‘Indo-Mongoloid’ by ‘Indo-Tibetan’. In his Presidential address to section II ( a .d . 712-1206) of the Indian History Congress Session held in Ahmedabad, 1954,



Niharranjan Ray (1955 :167-74) drew attention to the fact that since the beginning of the eighth century A.D. for the first time in Indian history perhaps, the sub-Himalayan countries including Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet were opening their gates for India to get into their realms and for them to enter into the arena of Indian life. The relations of Kashmir, Nepal, Tibet and other Himalayan tracts with the Gangetic plain and eastern India became more and more intimate, and these led to certain social and cultural adjustments. N.P. Chakravarty (1955: 154-65) raised the question: ‘Can we properly reconstruct Indian History without studying the history of North-West Frontier and of countries like Tibet, Afghanistan, Nepal, Ceylon, Burma and the rest of South-east Asia, Central Asia and China?’ He suggested: ‘We must have a sound knowledge of the migration of races and the movement of cultures which are fascinating studies, though beset with difficulties’. The same theme was reiterated by K.M. Panikkar (1956 : 34-5) in his Presidential address to the 18th Session of the Indian History Congress held in Calcutta in December 1955. In December 1961, the Asian History Congress, organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations at New Delhi, considered the theme of the movement of peoples and ideas in Asia from the earliest times to the modem period. In this seminar L. Petech also urged strongly to focus attention on Central Asia and the way it reacts on the several bordering areas (Studies in Asian History, 1969). Emboldened by the road chart provided by these scholars I have attempted in this book to draw a brief outline of culture contact between India and Nepal focusing on linguistic and literary configuration. Ill In their book, Culture, A Critical Review o f Concepts and Definitions (Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 1952), Kroeber and Kluchholn have supplied no less than 161 definitions of culture. The authors point out that the concept of culture cannot be analysed, for it has innumerable components. One cannot describe it, for it is protean in shape. Anthropologists agree that culture is the most fundamental concept in their discipline. But they differ on how to define it. Is culture ideas? Is it patterns? Is it acts? Is it the consequences of acts? Is it the sum-total of all these? Or something else entirely? In 1977


India and Nepal

Edward Barnett Taylor first applied the term ‘culture’ to the behavioural, spiritual and material products of human social life. Franz Boas viewed culture as the distinctive property of humankind. An anthropologist should record, he said, specific ethnographic information about as many diverse primitive societies as possible. Boas had little interest in developing a theory of culture. Kroeber argues that culture is superindividual and superorganic. A cultural fact, he asserts, is always a historical fact. Its fullest understanding is a historical one. In anthropology, culture is conventionally meant to be the distinctive way of life and society is meant to be an organized group through time. Giving due consideration to all these views, Sidney W. Mintz (1982 : 509) affirms that culture is a historical product and best understood historically. He (1982 : 512) reminds us that anthropologists ‘must deal with the world as it is, as it has become’. The concept of culture has its use for sociologists as an explana­ tion for the phenomenon of concerted activity. Howard S. Becker (1982 : 515) has offered a sociological definition of culture: ‘Culture, however, explains how people act in concert when they do share understanding__ It has its meaning as one of the resources people draw on in order to co-ordinate their activities’. Many would add that to call something culture, it must be traditional, passed on from generation to generation. There are those who hold that genuine culture takes root only at the level of the whole society. Some believe that culture, to be culture, must be deeply implanted in the personalities of the people who carry it. To others, culture means basic values. Becker (1982 : 522) holds the view. ‘Culture is always being made changing more or less, acting as a point of reference for people engaged in interaction’. It is generally maintained that the primary concern of a sociologist is society and that of an anthropologist culture. Eminent sociologists like Weber, Merton and Maclver also have studied the ingredients and properties of culture. Kroeber (1952 : 157) has proposed a denotation of culture as ‘the historically differentiated and a variable mass of customary ways of functioning of human societies’. This denotation has clear-cut meaning for both anthropologists and sociologists. He made a distinction between Weber’s civilization and culture as reality culture and value culture. The social, political and economic structure and behaviour may be designated as social culture. The distinction, though useful, should i



not be treated as absolute. The trichotomy of reality culture, value culture and social culture is not exhaustive. Language should be recognized as a fourth primary component. These four segments do not exhaust the whole area of culture. Many cultural activities lap over from one to another. Transmission and inter-influencing of cultures take a wide variety of forms. Diffusion is one of the forms and much of it takes place below the surface of historical records. The process may be what Kroeber means by ‘ordinary diffusion’ (adoption) and ‘stimulus diffusion’ of ingredients of culture. The fine word ‘Culture’ is an infinite cosmos. It is a vague, fluid, comprehensive and somewhat evasive conception. John Cowper Powys (1960 : XVIII) draws our attention to a definition of culture which runs as follows: ‘Culture is what is left over after you have forgotten all you have definitely set out to learn’. This definition, he argues, warns us that culture should not be associated too closely with the academic paraphernalia of education. The lesson is dear. To attempt any dogmatic definition of culture is impossible of attainment IV The complexity of culture of any area can be fully understood only when it is possible to formulate a scheme of its history in harmony with those of neighbouring areas of allied culture. India and Tibet in relation to Nepal are neighbouring areas of allied culture. Indeed, what we are concerned with in these trans-Himalayan and cis-Himalayan areas is not the study of a culture but of cultures. This is natural, given the wide variation of climate and vegetation that range between arctic and tropical, and the consequent varied and variegated conditions of living. Even within the limits of a single valley would be found varieties of human type, embracing diverse cultures and indicating divergency of origin. In the western portion substantial intermixture of Indo-Aryans took place, and in the eastern, Mongoloid. The impact of this comingling is discernible in the domain of social structure, language, literature and also in the field of religion, myth and folklore. Crooke observed that Buddhism was gradually pushed back by Brahmanism along the frontier areas. The animist races also were rapidly coming under the influence of Hinduism. Atkinson also noticed that year by year,


India and Nepal

with increasing communication with the plains, the Hill Hindu had assimilated the religious and social practices of his co­ religionists in the plains and in the north, Tibetans were also becoming followers of Hindu customs. At many places both Hindus and Buddhists were seen worshipping at the same shrine. Landon testified that Mahakala on the Tundikhel was worshipped by Hindus as Siva and by Buddhists as Avalokiteswara. Buddhists bent their knees before Goddess Sitala who stood adjacent to the shrine of Swayambhunath. As a result of this inter-communication Buddhism was being gradually modified by many of the Hindu doctrines and practices. The institution of monastery was gradually falling into decay. The picture that emerges bears out that the link areas between the valleys of Nepal and the plains of India are mapped to be so by designing nature. Into the terrain laid by nature, human endeavour aligned with respect. The continuous flow of seasonal mass immigration left a deep imprint on the pattern of culture of the people inhabiting the frontier area, including tribes like Tharus and Mechis. The factors that strengthened the bond of contacts include visits of thousands of Indian pilgrims to Muktinath and Pashupatinath of Nepal, transmission of Indian literature to Nepal, flow of Nepalese students and scholars into India for higher education and research, especially in centres like Banaras, Patna, Calcutta and Darjeeling and recruitment of thousands of Gurkhas in the regular Indian Army. On 3 August, 1967, His Majesty King Mahendra inaugurated the National Archives of Nepal. The finest example of Indo-Nepal co­ operation in recent history, the Archives also symbolizes the ageold cultural links between these two ancient lands. To commemorate this solemn occasion, an article entitled, ‘Rich Cultural Wealth of Nepal’by C.R. Swaminathan, Curator of the Archives was published in the Rising Nepal of the same date. Swaminathan expressed hope: The ties of spiritual and cultural bonds that have tied together Nepal and India for ages will acquire new significance in the present context and any co-operation between the two countries, in this direction will add to the unity of purpose and identity of views of the two people.



The culture contact between India and Nepal is permeated by some deep fundamental values which transcend mere unity of purpose and identity of views. One evening in 1968, as I was leaving his abode enthralled and overwhelmed by the most lively talk I had had with him, the Poet Chittadhar Hriday of Nepal stood before me and said: The fundamentals of the cultural relation between India and Nepal lie not in their literature, not in their religious history, but in the totality of their outlook which means spiritualism/ The Faith of the Poet was much more than poetry to me: It was philosophy and history combined. Indeed, the story of culture contact between India and Nepal has the rhythm of poetry, the depth of philosophy and the sanction of history. To me the Faith of the Poet, invaluable, if not infallible, symbolizes the most precious legacy and enduring contribution of Nepal to the civilization of the Indian sub­ continent.



In India’s great moments, the Himalayas have always been her highway, not her boundary. Those strings of pack-mules, with their sorry looking rice-bags, that we meet on every hill path, as we wander through the mountains, are the remains of a great continental traffic that once carried the religion into China. For beliefs, like diseases, do not travel alone. The pilgrim is accompanied by the pedlar: the begging friar dogs the footsteps of the merchant: the faith follows the line of trade---- To this day we find ancient capitals and their ruins, old fortresses, royal temples, scattered up and down the heights of Beluchistan to Nepal, in regions long depopulated. And Himalayan shrines and cities have an art and architecture of their own— For the first culture area of humanity had these mountains as its rim. (Sister Nivedita, Web of Indian Life, Longman, Green and Co., Bombay 1918, pp. 191-92) 7>ade through the Ages Nature binds India and Nepal together, the mountain highways and the rivers serving as the channel of communication for commerce and culture. Their bonds of commercial intercourse and culture contact have a history of continuity, disturbed but not broken by political vicissitudes. Eminent scholars like Sylvain Levi, Przyluski, Suniti Kumar Chatteiji and Balchandra Sharma hold the view that the beginning of India’s commercial relation with Tibet and Nepal can be pushed back to more than five hundred years before the Christian era. Early reference to commercial inter­ course occurs in Kautilya’s Arthashastra which mentions a variety

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


of blanket called Bhingisi as being Nepal’s speciality. During Amsuvarman’s reign ( a .d . 605-21) Nepal was the centre of transit trade between India and Tibet In the seventh century the items of trade, as we learn from the account of Yuan Chwang, consisted of com, fruits, copper etc. The Tang annals mention numerous merchants of Nepal. From these sources, the existence of caravans carrying on traffic along Indo-Nepalese and Tibet-Nepalese highways is conjectured. In the medieval period, Nepal was the highway of trade between India and Tibet. The exports to Nepal from India included spices, salt embroidery and silk cloth. India obtained from Nepal hides, certain metal goods and herbs, the last being highly profitable. The Nepalese dealers in herbs had their own sale depots in Patna and Banaras. From India, some Muslim Kashmiri merchants settled down in the trade-marts of Kathmandu, Bhatgaon and Patan. The detailed description of an interesting ledger of an Armenian merchant Hovhannes Joughayetsi, published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1966 (vol. 8, No. 3), gives a vivid account of the commercial life in India, Nepal and Tibet in the closing decades of the seventeenth century. The merchant left Isfahan for India on 19 December 1682. After visiting many places in India, on 21 April, 1686 he entered Nepal where he stayed for three months. He arrived at Lhasa on 30 September, 1686 and resided there for five years. The particulars of his ledger indicate that the merchants from India who carried on trade with Nepal and Tibet used to derive net profits ranging from 70 to 130 per cent. The account of Father Della Penna, who visited Nepal in the early eighteenth century, also reveals that India supplied Nepal with fine cloths, silk, brocades, spices, saffron, sandalwood, indigo, cotton seed, jewellery, perfumes and drugs. India received from Nepal musk, yak tails, wool, animal skins, elephant tusks, herbs, timber, bronze and articles of religious and artistic value. The history of the last two hundred years is full of interesting accounts. In 1956 Padre Tranquille, a Christian missionary, found in Tanhoun in Nepal some Muslim merchants who hailed from Bettia, trading in bangles. Mir Kasim’s expedition in 1762 against Prithwi Narayan Shah and in defence of Mackwanpur had a deeper motive: He was given to understand that through Mackwan­ pur passed a trade route to the Nepal valley, which was dotted with gold mines. With the triumph of the Gurkhas, however, trade



India and Nepal

between India and Nepal sharply declined, the Gurkha rulers being suspicious of the real intention of the British. The East India Company, on the other hand, was intensely eager to establish trade relations with Nepal. Successive missions were despatched with this end in view. The Kinloch expedition, which was sent in 1767 to help Jayprakash Malla to fight against the Gurkhas, was actuated by the desire to revive the declining trade with Nepal. From a study of the records of the East India Company between March 1768 and June 1769, it becomes evident that the Court of Pirectors was anxious to obtain all relevant information as regards opening trade with Nepal. James Logan’s mission in 1769, though it failed in its main task, succeeded in ascertaining the actual state of commercial transaction between Nepal and Patna. From 1776 to 1788, the East India Company abandoned its anti-Gurkha policy and AngloNepalese relations took a turn for the better. The Company was seeking trade advantages within the changed framework. In 1784 Warren Hastings sent Foxcroft to the Raja of Nepal with a letter full of friendly sentiments. His keen desire to open trade relations with Nepal featured in this letter. The result of this mission, however, is not known. The first Anglo-Nepalese trade pact was signed on 1 March 1792. It stipulated that two and a half per cent would reciprocally be charged as duty on the imports from both countries and also that merchants were to be indemnified in case of loss due to theft or robbery. This pact, however, became inoperative in the wake of the Sino-Nepalese truce that followed. In 1793, Kirkpatrick sought to mediate in the matter but without fruit, his proposal for trade regulation having been turned down. Maulavi Abdul Qadir Khan, who led a mission to Nepal in 1796, estimated that export from India to Nepal amounted to Rs. 4 to 5 lakh annually. He noted that a large section of the Nepalese population acted as brokers or middlemen between the merchants of India and Tibet. Direct trade relation with China and Tibet, the Malavi’s report suggested, would be highly conducive to the Company’s commercial interest In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Indo-Nepalese relations became closer. According to a provision of the AngloNepalese Treaty of 1801, Captain Knox was sent to Nepal as the first British Resident. He was instructed, inter alia, to ascertain the articles of European and Indian manufacture that might have a good market there. In 1831 B.H. Hodgson, officiating British

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


Resident at Nepal, submitted an exhaustive report to the East India Company on the potentiality of Nepal as an entrepot where traders of India might exchange commodities with those of Inner Asia. Kashmiri (and Ladakhi) Muslims, Newar Udasis and Giris (Gosains) were already in this Inner Asian trade. Hodgson also moved a proposal to the Nepal Darbar for a commercial treaty with India. But Nepal demanded preferential tariff and the proposal fell through. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the diplomatic relation between India and Nepal stood on a cordial footing, but as regards commercial intercourse, the rulers of Nepal followed a policy of obstruction and exclusiveness. Nonetheless, regular traffic existed between the two countries. The imports from Nepal to India included rice, foodgrains, mustard oilseeds, ponies, cattle, sheep, goats, hides, ghee, timber, cardamom, red pepper, turmeric, other spices, opium, musk, borax, madder, turpentine, catechu, chirata, etc. while the exports to Nepal included cotton piece goods, cotton yam, woollen cloth, shawls, flannel, silk, salt, spices, sheet copper, other metals, tobacco, petroleum, provisions including sugar, indigo and other dyes. A considerable portion of the imperial revenue consisted of transit duties. Trade routes were guarded by toll stations, the tolls being sometimes farmed out by public auction. Duties were levied on every article both for export and import. The Director-General of Statistics, Government of India estimated that in 1900-1 the value of imports to Nepal from India amounted to Rs. 163 lakh and exports to Rs. 236 lakh. Birganj, Nepalganj, Butwal, Hanumannagar, Dhulabari etc. were the chief centres of trade in Nepal along the frontier of India. Similar centres on this side of the frontier were Darbhanga, Champaran, Saran, Bhagalpur, Pumea, Patna and Daijeeling in Bengal and Gorakhpur, Ghazipur, Gonda, and Pilibhit in the United provinces. The Singheswarthan fair in Bhagalpur district, Karagola fair in Pumea district, Mundiaghat and Girwaghat fairs in Pilibhit district and Debi Patan fair in Gonda district attracted many Nepalese traders. The network of roads to Nepal from Basti, Uskabazar, Gazipur, Pilibhit, Muzaflarpur, Madhubani and Darbhanga served as important arteries of commerce. The trade between Gonda and Nepal found its way through the following difficult passes— Bhusahar, Jhaiwa, Baisimatha, Bachkahwa, Kamri, Nandmahr, Bhaishi, Barhawa and Khangra. In Champaran district there were


India and Nepal

three principal trade routes—via Bettia, Segauli and Raxaul; via Katkanwa; and via Ghorasan. These led directly to Kathmandu and were chosen for direct traffic with Calcutta and Patna. In Bhagalpur district the South Emigration Road led to the Nepal frontier. In Pumea district nine roads from the Arariya Sub­ division and thirteen roads from the Krishnaganj sub-division i touched the Nepal frontier. The trade routes connecting Daijeeling district with Nepal passed through Sukhiapokhri, Simana, Manibhanjan, Bijanbari, Pullbazar and in the Terai area Naxalbari and Adhikari. From an estimate of 1880-81, we learn that the traffic crossing the frontier between India and Nepal was registered along twenty-seven trade routes. In search of overland trade routes, it is necessary to make an excursion in the districts bordering on Nepal, namely Daijeeling, Pumea, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Champaran, Gorakhpur, Basti, Gonda, Bahraich, Kheri and Kumaun. The river routes meander across the main channel and offshoots of the Kamali, the Gandak and the Kosi. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century railways as arteries of commerce had enormous importance. A number of railways—such as the Pumea section of the Assam-Behar State Railways, the extensions of Tirhut State Railway, Bengal and North-Western Railway with Hazipur-Begumsarai-Katihar branch, Segauli-Raxaul branch, Muzaffarpur-Bhiknathori branch, Oudh-Bohilkand Railway and Gonda-Tulsipur Railway—materially affected the course of trade. In some areas, the river routes were replaced by the railway causing diversification of trade; in other areas, railways pushed up trade. _ India’s commercial relation with Nepal through the ages was linked with her search for markets in Central Asia. The search was intensified after 1860. In October 1869, Colonel Haughton, Commissioner of Cooch Behar, strongly urged the cultivation of friendship with the lamas of Tibet. In July 1870 he submitted a report on the extension of trade with Tibet and China and suggested that the Government of China should be asked to remove all restrictions on the free passage of merchants and travellers. In a separate report, he enumerated the following routes through which markets of Central Asia should be approached from India: via Ladakh; via Nepal; via Darjeeling; via Buxa and Western Dooars; via Assam and Towang; and via Bhamo and Burma. In 1873-74 Edgar, Deputy Commissioner of Darjeeling, made a specific

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


suggestion that the Government of India should attempt to obtain from the Government of China a declaration that it was not opposed to free commercial intercourse between Tibet and India. The Nepalese traders sold cptton fabrics in Tibet at a profit varying from 100 to 150 per cent. But while India’s trade with Tibet showed signs of progress, on account of rigid facts of geography and variable facts of politics, India’s trade with Central Asia via Nepal did not pick up. This was not, however, on account of undue taxation or any kind of obstruction by the Darbar. Throughout the nineteenth century the balance of trade was in favour of Nepal. Girdlestone, the British Resident in Nepal, suggested that there should be a radical change in the national policy and national character before any material improvement in the export trade from India to Nepal could be looked for. A number of factors discouraged the growth of trade. As reported by the British Residents in Nepal, these were, inequitable customs duties, adulterated state of the Nepalese coin and its consequent non­ currency in India, absence of provisions to make remittances in bills, the personal attitude of Jang Bahadur himself, prevalence of the monopoly system, competition faced by Indian merchants from Newar traders, obstacle to European enterprise, difficulties of overland transport, inclement weather during the greater part of the year, ruggedness of some of the passes, lack of Nepalese enterprise and initiative and their disinclination to save. With all this, the total volume of Indo-Nepal trade, which in 1830-31 amounted to Rs. 30 lakh, in 1900-1 rose to Rs. 399 lalch. An analysis of statistics for the period 1880-1905 demonstrates that the trade of Bengal with Nepal was between twenty and twenty-five times as great as that with Tibet, though it may be conjectured that a part of it may have involved Tibet. According to the estimate of B.H. Hodgson, the volume of IndoNepalese trade in 1830-31 amounted to Rs. 30 lakh. In 1879, Girdlestone reported that the total value of Nepalese export and import trade was Rs. 98,34,832. In 1890-91, it rose up to Rs. 301 lakh, and in 1900-1 to Rs. 399 lakh (Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol. XIX). It is thus evident that Indo-Nepalese trade relation made continuous and steady progress throughout the nineteenth century. Smuggling across the border, vexatious and oppressive customs duties, greed of the officials, imperfections of the legal machinery to deal with the situation, occasional political turmoil always existed


India and Nepal

then, as now, as disturbing factors in the transaction. (Jahar Sen 1977 and 1991; for contemporary account of Indo-Nepal trade see Banskota 1981). The bond of commercial intercourse between India and Nepal has its root deep in the foundations of history. Irrespective of the character and attitude of the governments in both countries, mutual commercial relation has, through the centuries, been kept alive and warm by the co-operative endeavours of the people of the plains and those of the highlands. The men of the terai areas, both in India and Nepal, were vigorous participants in these economic activities. Through the ages, the importance of Nepal lay in that it served as a link in Indo-Tibetan trade and culture contact. The potentialities of trade with Nepal were also abundantly manifest. As in trade, so in culture, Indo-Nepalese contact stood out as a distinct phenomenon. Perspective of Cultural Affiliation The living presence of some of the precious treasures of religiocultural heritage of India in the very heart of Nepal cannot but overwhelm a student of history. In a talk broadcast from AIR (All India Radio) Kurseong on 21 April 1964, RC. Majumdar aptly described Nepal as ‘the store-house of Indian civilization’. It is the store-house of India’s ancient wisdom, beliefs, customs and tradi­ tions, sacred books, images and monuments, different phases of the development of Buddhism, the unique blending of Hinduism and Buddhism with all their ramifications and various other memorials of culture. From the dawn of history, both countries were imbued with the same stimulus of cultural values. In January, 1968, I noticed that in the Jamal area of Kathmandu, the Publicity Depart­ ment of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal had depicted on a huge hoarding, with the appellation, Hamra Rashtriya Vibhutiharu, the picture and name of some of Nepal’s national heroes, with Janaka, Sita and Buddha heading the list. The first two mythological figures represent the ideals of kingship and womanhood, respectively. Their place in the national heritage of India, too, is well known. A booklet in Hindi, entitled ‘Hindu Rajya Nepal’, published by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, asserts that Nepal was the ancient homeland of sages and ascetics. Valmiki, Durvasa and Panini had their abode in the region of Nepal watered by the Gandak river. In the legendary age, when Kathmandu was developing into a colony

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


of settlers, the Vamsavali records (Wright 1972 [1877]), the valley was visited by Pandit Dharmasrimitra from Banaras, Raja Gunakamadeva from Gaud, Raja Dharmadatta from Kanchi and Rani Pingala from Marwar. Buddhism entered Nepal long before the Christian era. According to Nepalese tradition, the country was visited by six of the Buddhas who preceded Sakyamuni Buddha. The tradition further records that Sakyamuni Buddha chose to be bom in Kapilavastu and paid visits to the interior of Nepal where the Kirata king, Jitedasti welcomed him. Positive historical evidence, however, affirms that Buddha never visited the Kathmandu valley. Emperor Asoka is said to have visited Nepal in 239 B.C. accompanied by his daughter, Carumati, who was subsequently married to the Nepali nobleman, Devapala. Indian and Sri Lankan sources, however, are silent regarding Asoka’s Nepal visit Chandragupta I ( a .d . 320), the founder of the Gupta dynasty, married a Licchavi girl, Kumaradpvi. This matrimonial connection led to many cultural developments in Nepal. The Licchavis ruled there from A.D. 300 to 879. During Licchavi rule both India and Nepal were inundated with the same streams of culture. Slusser (1982:13-14) writes: The earliest Indian influences in the Kathmandu valley were certainly not planned imperial implantations, but limited and casual. Indian acculturation must have begun with the random importation of objects and ideas by unconscious agents of cultural expansion, pilgrims and specially traders in their passage through the Kathmandu valley. More intensified contact with Indian culture occurred through the Licchavis, the first historically known dynasty of the Kathmandu valley. From 1200 to 1768 the Mallas were the ruling dynasty in the valley. During their reign, the Brahmanical system became a dominant feature in Nepalese society. The Kiratas, one of the Indo-Mongoloid tribes settled in Nepal, were the first to accept Buddhism tinged with animistic beliefs. In territories where Buddhism was dominant, they meditated on om mani padme hum and bowed before the lamas. But in Hindudominated areas they were worshippers of Siva and Gauri and presented gifts to Brahmanas. The Kiratas were followed by the Licchavis and the Newars, who patronized Buddhism but did not give up their old faith. The Licchavis, like the Gupta rulers of India,


India and Nepal

were devotees of Siva and Visnu. The affixing of the signatures of Narendradeva (A.D. 643-79) in a copy of the Prajnaparamita in Sri-Vihara, of Baladeva ( a .d . 847) in a copy of Saddharma-pudarika and of Sankaradeva (A.D. 920) in Astasahasrika Prajnaparmita and Bodhicaryavatara are clear evidence of their devotion to Buddhism. During his expedition to Nepal on 1953, Tucci came to the conclusion that the Mallas, who were Khasiyas of Shimla and Garhwal, extended their domain from Western Nepal to Western Tibet. They were originally Hindus. On top of the tall steles discovered by Tucci (1962 : 63) at Dullu and in the neighbouring villages containing the genealogy of the Malla rulers from the eleventh to the fourteenth century are inscribed a Buddhist symbol and the words, om mani padme hum. The link with Indian culture was slight but what impressed Tucci (1962 : 63) is the ‘connection and co-habitation of Hindu cultural tradition and Buddhist symbols on the same stele’. The Mallas built the magnificent temples of Tsaparang and Toling, discovered by TUcci during his expedition in 1931-32. The later Malla rulers of Nepal were unrelated to the Mallas whose genealogy was discovered at Dullu by TUcci. The Newars were a composite people of Indo-Mongoloid origin, absorbing many tribes, who inhabited the Kathmandu valley. Gopal Singh Nepali (1965 : 34) holds the view that the sum-total of their physical and cultural traits marks them out from the Mongoloid people on the one hand and the Brahmanic Gurkhas on the other. The Newars do not form a separate ethnic group, but their distinct cultural identity is clearly discernible. They were drawn from the Abhiras, the Kiratas, the Licchavis, the Vaisya Thakuri and the Kamatakas. Nepali (1965 :27) conjectures that there must have existed some ethnic groups which formed the foundation for the present Newars, though it is very difficult to ascertain who were their forerunners. The beginning of Newar civilization is traced from the sixth century B.C., when the Kiratas, the Kolliyas, the Salmaliyas, the Sakyas, the Licchavis and the Sresthas simultaneously and collectively contributed to the making of Newar civilization. They were the monarchs of Kathmandu, Bhatgaon and Patan kingdoms of the Nepal valley till they were overthrown by the Gurkhas in 1768. The ruling class was the upholder of the Brahmanical system, but the common people were generally Buddhists. During the reign of Jayasthiti Malla ( a .d . 1382-95) caste organizations became rigid.

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


The Role of Newar Artists In a well-researched article entitled The Newar artists of the Nepal valley, an historical account of their activities in neighbouring areas with particular reference to Tibet’, Erberto Lo Bue (1985 : 262-72) admirably illustrated the role of Newar artists in cementing the cultural bond between India, Nepal, Tibet and Central Asia. Here is the brief resumé of that article. As early as the seventh century two Chinese pilgrims, Yuan Chwang and Yi Zing, who never visited Nepal, praised profusely the skill of the Newar artists. It is conjectured that they had gathered information from Indian sources. During the Licchavi period Newar artists maintained intimate contact with those in North India. Two ungilded copper statuettes of Bodhisatta Vajrapani have been discovered at the ancient site of the University of Nalanda. The statuettes are of Newar origin. Hundreds of statuettes ascribed to the eighth, ninth and eleventh centuries bear testimony of the reputation of Newar artists in India. By the second half of the thirteenth century, Newar artists were in great demand from Central and Southern Tibet to Western Tibet, China and beyond. It is well known that the Newar sculptor Asvadharma in the twelfth century created the gilded silver triad of Manjusri flanked by images of Sadaksau and Vajrapani in a temple at Kojamath in Western Tibet. An artist from Kashmir named VangKu-la collaborated with him. The monastery of Kojamath was founded in the eleventh century. Lo Bue (1985 : 268) suggests that Atisa Dipankara (982-1054) during 1041-42 spent the rainy season in this monastery on his journey from Palpa to Western Tibet. The wooden panels in the assembly hall of this monastery were carved by Newar artists in the eleventh or twelfth century. According to Tibetan tradition, a silver statue at the same site was built by a silversmith from Jumla in Western Nepal. Kojamath lies on the route from Nepal valley to Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailasa. The contact between Kathmandu and Kojamath survived through the ages. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Newar artists founded, in Western Tibet, a school of painting to which belongs a group of scrolls including one of Jina Ratnasambhava illustrated by Tucci and Snellgrove. The Tibeto-Newar school of painting became dominant thereafter at Ladakh. A set of hitherto unpublished wall paintings of identical style has been discovered


India and Nepal

in a chapel in Central Tibet and has been photographed by Snellgrove and Skorupski. By the close of the fourteenth century the influence of Newar artists extended from Ladakh to China. In the eighth century, King Jayapida of Kashmir led an attack against Aramudi, a Nepalese ruler. Subsequently, a considerable number of Kashmiri scholars went to Nepal for study. Goetz believes that the Kusana tradition of Gandhara art as well as some elements of Sassanian art tradition crept into the Newar art. It is from the reign of King Lalitaditya of Kashmir (699-736), Goetz maintains that the Kashmir elements can be traced into early Newar statuary. The sixteenth-century Tibetan historian Taranath and the nineteenth-century encyclopaedist Kong-sprul held the same view. In the sixteenth century, there were Newar artists in Kashmir. In the seventeenth century, art performances of the Newar artists extended to Bhutan. The Gurkha conquest of the Nepal valley dealt a death blow to Buddhist art on account of the economic decline of the monasteries. But the encouragement extended by the monasteries in Southern Tibet and the Tibetan monasteries in Nepal helped to a great extent the Newar metal statuary tradition to survive. In the 1960s, the Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal commissioned images for newly built monasteries and private shrines. The art objects produced by contemporary artists were also in heavy demand among Western and Indian tourists and art dealers. This sort of patronage led to the resurgence of Newar metal statuary. This account of the role of Newar artists is not exhaustive, but illustrative. Tucci (1962 : 9) says, ‘Nepal is not suspended in a void__ ’ It served as a bridge through the ages between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and forged, in the words of Tucci, ‘a Euro-Afro-Asiatic unity’, by enduring bonds of trade and culture. The Eastern School o f Painting From the ninth to the thirteenth century Nepal maintained close contact with Bengal. The migration of scholars and students from Nepal to Nalanda, Vikramasila and Odantapuri for advanced study started in the tenth century. Santiraksita and Padmasambhava visited Nepal in the eighth century, and Srijnan Atis Dipankara of Vangala and Bhikshu Jnanakara of Kashmir in the eleventh century. Atisa delivered religious instruction to the crown prince and some

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


eminent persons in Nepal. Two eminent Nepalese scholars, Anutapa Gupta and Vajralocana, were his disciples. Some sanctuaries in Bengal attained fame in Nepal as early as the tenth century. This is known from their illustrations in two Buddhist manuscripts of Nepal, copied respectively in A.D. 1015 and 1071 (Saraswati 1943 : 480). In the middle of the twelfth century Acharya Vajrapani, an Indian teacher of repute, resided in Nepal practising Tantric yogas. Sakyasri, a Kashmiri scholar, accompained by a large number of disciples came to Kathmandu and stayed there for a considerable length of time. A Nepali monk named Buddhasri, Taranath informs us, was a sthavira of Vikramsila. On return to Nepal, he propagated Paramitayana and Mantrayana. Ratnaraksita of Vikramsila, an exponent of Mantrayana, visited Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet. In Tibet he prepared a commentary on Samvarodaya. Another Indian monk, Vajradeva, went to Nepal and wrote Lokeswarasataka. In the early fifteenth century, Sri Vanaratna from Sadnagar (Chittagong) resided at the vihara of Svayambhucaitya. He learnt the essence of Bodhicittapada from Silasagar. The Muslim conquests in Northern India at the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century disrupted the cultural life of Bengal and Bihar. With the monasteries of-Nalanda, Vikramsila, Tadibadi, Jagandala and Pandubhumi falling into decay, many scholars went over to Nepal, to Tirhut and also to the frontier areas of West, North and East Bengal. A large number of Indian scholars settled down in Nepal or went further North to Tibet. After the fall of North Bihar in the early fourteenth century, the only refuge to scholars from the south and southeast was Nepal, in the temperate climate of which the manuscripts written, copied and carried by these scholars found a congenial place. Manandhar (1971 :271) rightly points out: ‘Even if the Muslim invaders had not destroyed them, these would not have been preserved so well over the centuries in the tropical humidity of India.’ Taranath, the Tibetan historian, referred to an Eastern School of Painting and ascribed its origin to Dhiman and his son Bitpala during he reign of Dharmapala and Devapala. The art of manus­ cript painting flourished simultaneously in Eastern India, these manuscript paintings being the illustrative records of the Eastern School of Painting. Some of these manuscripts were produced and painted in monasteries like Nalanda, Vikramsila, Vikrampur etc.


India and Nepal

Their pictorial style had its impact in Nepal, Tibet and to a lesser degree, in Burma. Evidence of this pictorial style is available from the close of the tenth to the end of the twelfth century. Saraswati (1977) has mentioned and has profusely illustrated such records of pictorial style in colour plates. Some examples are cited here. 1. Calcutta Asiatic Society manuscript of Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita (hereafter cited as AP), No. G. 4713; year 6 of the reign of Mahipala (I), C. end of 10th century. Nalanda. 2. Cambridge University Library manuscript of Pancharaksha, No. Add. 1688; Year 14 of the reign of Nayapala (1). C. mid11th century. Eastern India. 3. Cambridge University Library manuscript of AP, No. Add. 1464; Year 5 of the reign of Mahipala (II). c. third quarter of the 11th century. Eastern India. 4. Bharat Kala Bhavan, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) manuscript of Pancharaksha; year 9 of the reign of Rampala. c. end of the 11th century. Eastern India. 5. Calcutta Asiatic Society manuscript of AP, No. G. 9989 A; year 18 of the reign of Govindapala, A.D. 1179-80. Eastern India. 6. Bharat Kala Bhavan, BHU manuscript of AP, year 4 of the reign of Gomindrapala; c. end of the 12th century. Eastern India. 7. Calcutta Asiatic Society manuscript of Pancharaksha, No. e. 4078; Saka 121 1/ a .d . 1289 during the reign of Gaudesvara Madhusena. Bengal. 8. Cambridge University Library manuscript of AP, No. Add. 1643; N.s. 135/ a .d . 1015. Nepal. 9. Private collection of manuscript of AP; n .s. 148/ a .d . 1028. Nepal. 10. Calcutta Asiatic Society manuscript of AP, A 15; N.s. 191/ a .d . 1071. Nepal. 11. Private collection manuscript of AP; No. 193/ a .d . 1073. Nepal. 12. Calcutta Asiatic Society manuscript of Pancharaksha; No. B. 35; N.s. 385/ a .d . 1265. Nepal. It should be borne in mind that the forms of art in Nepal, includ­ ing architecture, painting, carving and bronze casting did not develop in isolation. The religions and religious sects of both India and Nepal adopted a common stylistic norm prevailing in that age

The Historical Prelude: Pedlars and Pilgrims


to express their thoughts, beliefs and feelings through the medium of art. There were differences in iconographic form, but the norm remained the same. Quest for a Hidden Ihtth In a manuscript prepared by Sant Brahmadil of the Josmani sect in Nepal (Sarma 1963, Appendix 17), the sects prevalent in Nepal were mentioned as follows: Jaimini, Bamamargi, Saiva, Sakta, Vaisnava, Gokuliya, Gossain, Pauranik, Bijamargi, Coliamargi, Daduram, Daria, Niya, Nanak Cakrankita, Udasi, Tatam, Pranami, Ajangbari, Tauthali, Ramanandi, Sivanarayani, Sravani, Sangbari, Josmani, Vindu, Vaisnava, Shri Vaisnava, Gorakhanati, Aghori, Kapalik, Kaula, Kusalmati, Vajrayani, Parakpanti, Caitanyamargi, Laskari and Dasnami. Some of these sects had rich literature and others thrived in oral literature. Nepal was the stronghold of Nathism. It struck root there from its very inception, though the exact date is very difficult to ascertain. The Gurkhas worship Goraksanath as their special protector and identify Boddhisatta Lokeswara with Siddha Matsyendranath. An important text of Nathism, Mahakaulajnananimaya, has been discovered in Nepal. The manuscripts of Natha literature discovered in Nepal are the repository of the old form of quite a number of Indian vernacular literature. Some of the Josmani saint-poets like Sant Sasidhar (1747-1847), Jnanadil (c. 1821-83) and Govindadas (1877-1941) had significant literary output Worshippers of Nirguna Brahma, they eschewed casteism and idolatry. The creed of Vajrajana, Mantrayana and Sahajayana, the legacy of the eighty-four siddhacaryas some of whom belonged to Nepal, the mystic lore of Kabir, Daria and Sri Caitanya, all these streams formed a confluence in Josmani literature. Their literary efforts were, to quote TUlpule’s (1984 : 6-7) sublime expression, ‘in the direction of not only knowing God, but experiencing God’, Mystical experiences have a kinship. Cut off from each other both in time and space, Jnanadeva, Utkaram, Kabir, Tulsidas, Sri Caitanya, Sasidhar, Jnandil—all belonged to the same family in a common quest for the hidden truth. ‘A mystic who is not of supreme service to society’, Ranade enlightens us, ‘is not a mytic at all’. Sasidhar was a social reformer and Jnanadil a political activist Michael Aris (1988 :1-45) has given us an account of alternative voices of wandering bards of Bhutan and their name­


India and Nepal

less religion embodied in oral literature, village rituals and popular beliefs. The Josmani saint-poets of Nepal, many of them wandering bards and itinerant yogis, were more than alternative voices. They were rebels and social reformers. Like the Natha sampradaya of the medieval period, the growth of cults of some local sects in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also provided cementing bonds between the people of Nepal and India. Within the fold of Hinduism, these sects followed different rituals and ceremonies. The Paltudasi sect had its followers in Oudh and Lucknow, the Apapanthi sect in Luxipur and Mollarpur and the Satnami sect in Banaras, Kanpur, Mathura, Delhi, Lahore, Oudh, Multan and Gujarat. All the three sects also had consider­ able following in different parts of Nepal. Though neither in numerical strength nor in cultural influence they represented the dominant segment of society, they had striking influence on the lower strata of society. This influence was enough to keep the channel of communication between the people on both sides of the frontier effectively meaningful.



A Comparative Framework The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from a common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forceful, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family. These lines occur in the paper ‘On the Hindus’ presented by William Jones as the third Anniversary Discourse in 1786 at the Asiatic Society, Calcutta. This speech is considered as the ‘discovery of Sanskrit’ and the starting point of Comparative Philology. Jones’s pronouncement paved the way for the study of Linguistics, Palaeontology, Anthropology, Ethnology, Phonetics, Speech Psychology, Comparative Mythology, Comparative Religion and a number of other sciences. Throughout the last two hundred years of linguistic research, the study of Sanskrit and the place of Sanskrit in Indo-European languages, says R.H. Robins (1986: 18) ‘have been and continue to be fundamental to the whole of IndoEuropean historical linguistics’. The palace of comparative grammar cannot be built without bricks and the bricks are made up of facts of each particular language’, George A Grierson wrote in his foreword to Suniti


India and Nepal

Kumar Chatteiji’s The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language (ODBL). Grierson mentioned two possible lines of investigation of this subject. One can examine all the forms of speech as a whole and compare them with each other to deduce general rules: this is what Beams did. The other method, followed by Trumpp, Hoemle and Bloch, is to analyse one particular language and to compare it with what we know of the others. Both methods, no doubt, are complementary. But the method followed by Beams ‘cannot be really successful’, Grierson reminds us, ‘till each of the different languages has been separately and minutely dissected under the strictest scientific rules’. Grierson has thus enunciated the basic principles not only of Comparative Philology, but in so far as the subject-matter of this book is concerned, also of Comparative Literature. In the epilogue added to Part III of his book, ODBL, published in 1972, Chatteiji referred to the emergence of Modernistic Synchronistic Linguistics (Descriptive and Structural) during the past two generations, but he defended the claims of the old Diachronistic (Historical and Comparative) Method, effectively followed in his book. He has drawn our attention to some important publications which studied in detail the modem Magadhan languages from a comparative and historical standpoint: (a) Bani Kanta Kakati, Assamese: Its Formation and Development, (b) Subhadra Jha, The Formation oftheMaithili Language, (c) Uday Narain Tewari, The Origin and Development o f the Bhojpuri Language, and Bhojpuri Bhasa aur Sahitya, (d) A.F. Rudolf Hoemle, Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages with Special Reference to the Eastern Hindi, and (e) Paresh Chandra Majumdar, ‘A Historical Phonology of Oriya’, Our Heritage. In addition to these, I would mention, as excellent illustrations of the comparative method, two books compiled and edited by Ralph Lilley Turner: A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language\ and A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages. In the introduction to his Nepali Dictionary, Turner provides certain theories which are relevant to the subject-matter of discussion. Nepali belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages of Northern India and of certain outlying parts. It is derived from a form of speech of which the earliest document is the Rgveda. That it is descended from Sanskrit is evident from many details of its grammatical structure. Its vocabulary is identical with that of

Scripts and Languages


Sanskrit. In addition, it has been open, in the plains, to the influence of Hindustani, and, in the hills, slightly, to those of the Gurkha tribal languages. Turner has identified six main streams that have contributed to the vocabulary of the Nepali language. These are: (a) words received through the process of linguistic evolution from Sanskrit; (b) words borrowed from languages with which the Aryans came in contact; (c) words incorporated from other Indo-Aryan dialects, particularly Hindustani. Some of these are derived from non-Indo-Aryan languages; (d) words of TibetoBurman origin; (e) English; (f) words borrowed from Sanskrit for use as a mark of culture. As to the exact position of the Nepali language within the IndoAryan family, Turner holds the view that the nearest relative of Nepali is its western neighbour, Kumaoni. He adds: Whether when the speakers of Nepali arrived in their present country, there were already spoken there other Indo-Aryan dialects, is not known. But it is at least probable; for Indo-Aryan languages occupied the plains to the south from the time of Asoka, and intercourse with the valley, despite the obstacles of jungle and mountain, had been carried on. If there were such an Indo-Aryan language, it was probably closely akin to the ancestor of Bhojpuri and Maithili. In a seminar on the development of Indian Nepali language held on 18-20 December 1986 under the auspices of the Nepali Department, University of North Bengal, some important research papers were presented on different aspects of the Nepali language, that has developed in Banaras, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Assam and Manipur. T\vo papers, written from the standpoint of a comparative framework, deserve special mention: R.K. Sprigg, The Nepali Language with Reference to its Relationship with the Rai, Limbu and Lepcha Languages’, and Dilliram Timsina,4Nepali Bhasa Ko Utpatti Ra Vikasma Sanskrita Ra Prakrit Bhasaharuko Bhumika’ (The Role of Sanskrit and Prakrit Languages in the Origin and Development of the Nepali Language’). In his paper, Sprigg dis­ cusses how Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language, had influenced the Tibeto-Burman Lepcha, Limbu and Rai group of languages. He has demonstrated that the degree of influence varies in proportion to the distance of each language area from Kathmandu. The influence on Bantwa, an important member of the Rai family of


India and Nepal

languages, is deep at the phonetic, phonological and lexical level, though not at the grammatical level. The influence on Limbu is much less and on Lepcha negligible. The content of Timsina’s paper is evident from the title itself. Diffusion of Scripts The Brahmi script became a pan-Indian system several centuries before the Christian era, becoming subject to local variations in different provinces in course of time. In the South, it took the form of Pallava variation in c. A.D. 550, leading ultimately to the emergence to Telugu-Kannada, Grantha Tamil and Malayalam. , The northern variations successively assumed the form of Kusana Brahmi, Gupta Brahmi and Siddhamatrika of the seventh century. From the last mentioned script, Suniti Kumar Chatteiji (1963 : 65) reminds us, originated three distinct groups during the closing centuries of the first millennium A.D., namely, Sarada-Gurumukhi, Bengali-Assamese-Maithili-Newari-Oriya and Nagari or Devanagari. Indian scripts were transmitted also to other countries: Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia and Indonesia received scripts mostly from South India, while the Tibetan scripts and the Old Khotanese, Tokharian and old Turki scripts were derived from the North Indian Gupta Brahmi alphabet prevalent in the early centuries of the Christian era. F.W. Thomas (1942 : 74) has emphatically pointed out that the Gupta script has been used for the writing of special Tibetan dialects such as those of Ladakh and the Western Himalayas, that of Bhutan and some Tibeto-Burman dialects of Nepal. The Kutila script of late Brahmi was prevalent, with slight differentiations, in North Bihar, Eastern U.P., Nepal, Assam, Bengal and Orissa. Though Devanagari has almost replaced these, both Maithili and Newari forms of the Kutila still exist. The songs compiled in Caryagitikosa, which is the earliest avail­ able eastern vernacular manuscript, were composed between the tenth and twelfth century. (Sahidullah is inclined to extend the earlier limit to the eighth century). Hundreds of such manuscripts lie scattered in the monasteries of Nepal, and many have been preserved in the Archives of Nepal. It is conjectured that a study of these manuscripts would yield a wealth of information on the early vernacular writing. From a study of the Caryagitikosa manuscript, Nilratan Sen (1971 : 174) has come to the conclusion that Maithili, Assamese and Bengali had a single script at that time and that the

Scripts and Languages


separation of Oriya and Newari scripts may have taken place a little earlier. The entire process of the separation of scripts took about a thousand years. In chart form, Sen presents his conclusion thus: Eastern Magadhi (c . A.D. 200-450) Eastern Apabhrams (c . 450-650) I-----------

Proto-Maithili-Newari-BengaliAssamese (c. 650)

Maithili-Newari (c. 750)



Maithili (c. 1000)

Newari (c. 1000)

Oriya (c. 650)

Bengali-Assamese (c. 750)

I- - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 Bengali (c. 1200)

Assamese (c. 1200)

All scripts in Nepal are derived from Brahmi, which pedlars and pilgrims helped in diffusing. The texts venerated in Nepal are an indication of its enduring significance in the literary heritage of Nepal. Early Jain sutras like Jantrabana-sutra and Samayanga-sutra contain a list of eighteen scripts, with Brahmi heading the list. The Bhagavati-sutra commences with obeisance to Brahmi. The Buddhist Sanskrit text, Lalitavistara furnishes a list of sixty-four scripts, with Brahmi heading the list here, too. In the Darbar Library of Nepal, Rajbansi (1974,1,2: 24-25) informs us, there is a Sanskrit text called Sri Matottara-tantra (catalogue No. 4628) which mentions that each letter of the alphabet, both vowel and consonant, is governed by a specific deity, and letter of the alphabet is a mantra. The Tantrik text Mahakala-samhita, preserved in Nepal, mentions Kutakshara, which is the bijakshara of a mantra. Alongside Brahmi a new script developed during the Gupta period—the Gupta script, which was later transformed into what came to be known as Kutila and Nagari Sarada scripts. Both the Licchavis in Nepal and the Guptas in India, who were contemporaries, used the Gupta script. In the early 1960s, the Archaeological Department of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal named the script used in inscriptions of the


India and Nepal

Licchavi rulers as Licchavi script, with pre-Kutila script being named purba (early) Licchavi lipi, and post-Kutila script, uttar (later) Licchavi lipi. Pre-Licchavi script predates Manadeva I ( a .d . 464-505) and post-Licchavi script begins some time after Amsuvarman (A.D. 605-21). Changes in the script from the preLicchavi to the post-Licchavi phase came about gradually with the modification of vowel patterns. ‘Actually speaking there is one variety running through all the inscriptions’, says D.R. Regmi (1983, 3:8). ‘Certain letters are a little affected by what we call changes in the way of writing. But they should not be taken as a separate variety’. Till the eighth century India and Nepal had a common script Differences crept in slowly during the ninth and tenth centuries. During the Malla period different forms of Newari script existed: Bhojimol, Kumol, Kwemol, Golmol, Panchumol, Litumol and Ranjana. The Malla kings of the Kathmandu valley maintained a special relationship with Mithila, which is why the Newari script prevalent in Kathmandu valley had striking similarities with the Maithili script. The script prevalent in the Kamali area of Nepal, however, was similar to Devanagari. With consolidation of power by the Shah dynasty in Nepal since 1768 the use of Devanagari became widespread and permanent. Sanskrit across the Himalayas The history of pre-Bikram era Nepal is lost in the limbo of myths and legends. The earliest inscription available in Nepal is the Pillar Inscription of Asoka at Rummindei, Nepal terai, dated third century B.C. Approximately three thousand inscriptions collected from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur Patan have been preserved in the National Archives of Nepal. Peter Burleigh (1976:21-71) informs us that inscriptions of the Patan kings, written in both Sanskrit and Newari or either language, have been found, among others, in Sunaguthi, Har Siddhi, Chapagaon, Kirtipur, Chobhar, Bungmati, Pharping, Balambu and TTiankot, all in the Nepal valley. He collected 113 stone inscriptions and nineteen copper plate inscriptions of the later Malla kings of Patan. He also studied sixty-five stone inscriptions published by others, thirty coins, nine manuscript colophons and eight talpatras. There are besides, many manuscript colophons and talpatras extant in private homes, Burleigh informs us, which are of great historical

Scripts and Languages


value. Burleigh has drawn extensively upon stone and copper inscriptions in public places and has consulted copper inscriptions in private family collections and manuscripts in public and family possessions. He adds: Particularly I have made use of what seems to be a heretofore almost unmined source of historical material, the palm-leaf land grants (talpatra). There are literally thousands of these in family possessions where they have been preserved apparently as important family documents. All these documents are written in both Sanskrit and Newari or either language. In evaluating the importance of Sanskrit in the cultural life of Kambuja (modem Cambodia and Cochin China), R.C. Majumdar (1953 : 247-53) has expressed the view that Sanskrit inscriptions should be studied, for quality as also for quantity, as an independent branch of Sanskrit literature; furthermore, they should be regarded as an important source material for the understanding of Indian civilization in all its aspects. Considering the bulk of Sanskrit inscriptions and literature in Nepal, Majumdar’s comments appear even more appropriate to Nepal studies. N.C. Sinha (1977 :18-24) has reminded us that in the Indian sub-continent Sanskrit gave way to Irano-Persian and Sino-Mongoloid encroachments, while in the highlands of trans-Himalayas Sanskrit most successfully encountered Iranic and Sinic traditions, both in linguistic form and literary expression. Indeed, the march of Sanskrit across the Himalayas is a thrilling chapter in the history of Asia. In Nepal, the linguistic-cultural heritage of Sanskrit extends back in history to the Changu Pillar Inscription ( a .d . 464-65) of Manadeva I, which is the first available inscription in Nepal. Newari came to be the written language after the tenth century. Concurrently Maithili, Bengali and Hindi had an esteemed recognition in the courts of Kathmandu valley. Other languages such as Kirati (Limbu and Lapche) and Tibetan also flourished both in and outside the Kathmandu valley. At one time, Tibetan was the official language of the Khas kings of West Nepal. Maithili was spoken in the Nepal terai and covered an extensive area. It was one of the court languages of the Malla kings of the valley and the Sen kings of East Nepal. G. Tucci (1956) has indicated that from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, a hill tribe known as Khas established an


India and Nepal

empire in Western Nepal with its capital at Sija, where official documents were written in Sanskrit and Old Nepali. The earliest known document in Nepali, as T.W. Clark points out (1963 : VII), is a royal deed of gift dated a .d . 1356. Nepali was common language of the Kathmandu valley during the reign of the Malla kings. Clark further informs us that in the seventeenth century, Nepali or khas bhasa, as it was then probably known, was in official use in Nepal Darbar. In the eighteenth century it was being spoken in Dhankuta and possibly also in Sikkim. The establishment of the Shah dynasty further enhanced the prestige of this language and increased its currency. Linguistic Configuration in Nepal A polyglot and multi-ethnic country, Nepal presents a cultural mosaic of bewildering heterogeneity. There are about seventy languages and dialects, belonging to four language families—IndoEuropean, Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian. Its culture is a symbiosis of the Indie and the Mongoloid. Ninety per cent of Nepalis are Hindu and eight per cent Buddhist The cultural heritage of Nepal sparkles with a spirit of tolerance and harmony among various sections of its population. Geographically, Nepal is divided into three principal regions: the terai in the south, the Himalayan region in the north and the mid-mountain region in between. The terai is an Aryan settlement mainly, and the Himalayan region a Mongoloid settlement The mid-mountain region has been their meeting-ground. Forty-four per cent of the Nepalis inhabit the terai, forty-eight per cent the mid-mountain region and eight per cent the Himalayan region. In east and mid-east terai, Santhal or Sattar, the Munda language of Austro-Asiatic family is spoken, it is rather difficult to determine whether Sattar and Santhal are different languages or dialects of the same language (Subba 1976:143). Dhanuwar, a Northern Kurux language of Dravidian family, is spoken mainly in the valley of Udaypur, Sindhuli and Mackwanpur. In areas of Morang and Jhapa districts Tibeto-Burman languages like Dhimal and Meche are spoken. The majority of the people, however, speak languages belonging to the Indo-Aryan family such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Tharu and Rajbansi. In terms of the number of speakers, Maithili, spoken in mid-eastern terai, is the second language of Nepal. Bhojpuri is spoken in central terai and Awadhi

Scripts and Languages


in western terai. Tharus, the indigenous ethnic group of the terai, speak the Tharuwani language. Other languages of the Indo-Aryan group such as Dhanuwar, Darai, Majhi, Bote, and Kumhale are spoken by various minority groups living in the interior valleys and low lands of the mid-mountain region. In the mountain region, which accounts for sixty-eight per cent of the total land area of Nepal, Nepali, a language of the IndoAryan family, is the first language for most people. It is also the second language for the majority of the people throughout the country. The eastern dialect, which is prestigious and standardized, is the one most in currency. The mountain region is inhabited by several ethnic groups who speak Tibeto-Burman languages. These languages are Newari, Tamang, Magar, Rai Kiranti group, Limbu, Gurung, Sherpa, Tibetan, Loke, Sunwar, Chepang, Thami, Dhimal, Thakali, Pahari, Jirel, Raji, Bayu (Hayu) Kham, Kaike, Byasi, Lepcha, Rautya, Meche. Several of these and other languages such as Kusundaare spoken by small numbers of people. These are being obliterated by the dissemination of Nepali in mass communications. Some of these languages have dialects quite distinct from one another. In the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan region where transport and communication is difficult, the languages spoken are Tibetan, Sherpa and Kham. Tibetan, which has its own script, cuts across the political border on to Tibet. Nepali, Maithili, Newari and Tibetan are the major languages with great tradition and rich literature, the first three languages using Devanagari script. The spread of education has motivated the different ethnic groups to preserve their own cultural identity. The Khasas ruled over a vast territory comprising present day Western Nepal, some parts of Western Tibet and Northern India, collectively known as Khasan or Uttarakhand. Moving eastward, they came in contact with speakers of the Tibeto-Burman languages in the eastern region. The language of the Khasas was then known as Khaskura. After the fifteenth century, the Khasa kingdom was divided into several smaller principalities and hill states, which helped the transmission of their language in the hill states where Tibeto-Burman languages were spoken. In the sixteenth century, when the Sen kingdom of eastern terai extended to some parts of the mid-hills, there took place vigorous linguistic interaction between the speakers of Khaskura on the one


India and Nepal

hand, and those of Tibeto-Burman languages of the mid-hills and the Indo-Aryan languages of the terai, on the other. Another factory that catalysed this interaction was the migration from west to east of streams of people seeking refuge in the hills and mountains of Nepal in the wake of the Muslim invasions in India. The Malla kings of the Kathmandu valley patronized the development of Maithili literature. By the seventeenth century Nepali language became a lingua franca in major centres of the mid-hills. This stood Prithwi Narayan Shah in good stead in his mission of uniting the smaller principalities of the hills. As he came from Gurkha, a district in Western Nepal, the people of the newly united states called him, his men and their language, Gurkhali. After the unification of Nepal in 1768 the movement of people within the country became easier and the priests and astrologers from the west, the scholars and scribes from the terai and the artists and traders from the valley of Kathmandu settled in the main centres of the hill region. These migrants used Gurkhali in inter-group communications. Similar was the case of Gurkha soldiers who fought in the Anglo-Nepal war (1814) and those who enrolled in the British Indian Army during the first and second world wars. Migrants, whether within the country or to India, identiiied them­ selves as Gurkhali or Nepali and used Nepali as their first language. In course of time, the term ‘Nepal’came to represent the country, and ‘Nepali’ both its people and language. From being a lingua franca, Nepali eventually acquired the status of a national language. Jagadish Shamshere Jung Bahadur Rana (1969:487) explains how this occurred: The long wars, first of all of unification and then of defence against the onslaught of the East India Company’s army, led to unprecedented movement of people. The Gurkha army that fought consisted of people speaking different dialects. The officers in command being mostly Nepali-speaking Gurkhas, and the official correspondence or military despatches being done in Nepali, no one without the knowledge of the language could climb up the official ladder. Even among the groups speaking other languages, bilinguals appeared. Economic motive as well as linguistic necessity led the rest to learn and the Gurkhas to teach the Nepali language. Thus the language which

Scripts and Languages


was, till 1768, a local dialect spread through the length and breadth of the country. As people belonging to various ethnic groups from all over Nepal flock from the villages to the expanding towns in the terai and the hills in search of better conditions of life, job opportunities and a sense of security, a process of homogenization is set in motion. The immigrants maintain contact with their place of origin and identify themselves with its cultural root. In the cauldron of comingling cultures between the older settlers and the new arrivals, Nepali has become a contact language. Though Nepal’s rate of literacy is only twenty-five per cent, most people are either bilingual or bidialectal, with many using more than two languages— the mother tongue, the local language and the national language, if they are all different. In the towns, most children learn Nepali as a second language in the normal course. Chudamani Bandhu wrote in 1983 about Nepal’s evolution as a plurilingual society: The use of new communication technology, relative increase in literacy and enrolment in higher education, improved conditions of transportation, urbanization and movement of the people from the mountains to terai, and people’s participation in local affairs through the panchayat bodies have enabled the people of diverse ethnic groups to come closer and know each other. All these factors have accelerated the cross-cultural communication in the country. In this communication explosion, Nepal, as a developing country, has been facing several problems relating to the proper utilization of communication technology for human interaction. The growing awareness among the Nepalis of the need to promote cultural and linguistic expressions demands a suitable strategy both for the homogenization of national culture and preservation of the identities of the various linguistic groups in the country. Recent Research in Socio-Cultural Linguistics As part of the constant demographic shifts in multilingual Nepal, people of different languages come in contact in a variety of ways and at varying levels with other linguistic groups. Bearing in mind the complex nature of this contact, Les Troyer( 1974 : 110) has


India and Nepal

raised some pertinent questions that deserve attention. These are: What are the social ramifications at such contact points where two or more languages meet? What levels of social structure are affected and how, to what degree? Which language becomes the dominant one? why? What parts of the subdominant language group are most easily affected? Is there any commensurate change in other aspects of the culture? Scholars of Nepal and elsewhere in the world are now in search of sufficient data on phenomena surrounding multi-language con­ tact points in Nepal. It has been reported that research work on the following twentyfour languages was undertaken by the Summer Institute of Language and other scholars at the Linguistic Centre of the Kirtipur Campus of the Tribhuvan University: Nepali, Newari, Gurung, Sherpa, Magar, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Thakali, Ghale, Kaike, Jirel, Jamang, Khaling (Rai), Kham, Dhangar, Chepang, Limbu, Chitwan, Tharu, Kusunda, Thulung (Rai), Kulung (Rai), Darai, Kagate and Sunwar. Scholars have identified, in addition approximately forty mutually unintelligible languages still being spoken in Nepal. This number does not take into account ‘many dialects of a plus 75% cognate relationship factor which co-exist as satellites around the particular distinct language cores’ (Les Troyer 1974 :109). It goes without saying that language and dialect boundaries in Nepal, as elsewhere, can seldom be sharply demarcated. In a multi-ethnic country such as Nepal, the goals of moderniza­ tion and national integration form an integral part of its socio­ economic process. Under the joint project of the Research Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS), Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, and the Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA), Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, anthropological and linguistic studies were carried out in the Gandak river area in order to understand the essence of the process. In the first phase of the project done in fiscal year 1980-81, the Gandak area was divided into three parts, namely northern highlands, midlands, and terai area, where extensive research was done. In the second phase in fiscal year 1982-83, intensive research was done in the Kathmandu valley, where the Nepalization of the Tibeto-Burman people appeared to be a striking phenomenon. A socio-linguistic analysis of Michiyo Hoshi’s studies on the basic vocabularies of the Prakaa dialect of Manang, the Tamang dialects

Scripts and Languages


in Boudhnath and Dhata (Kathmandu valley) and Jirel language has brought to light three important conclusions. First, the Manang language has a limited number ot loan words from Nepali, the words being indispensable for daily life in Kathmandu. Secondly, N6palization in Manang is less active. Thirdly, in the Tamang language in the Kathmandu valley, approximately thirty per cent of the basic words are Nepali loan words. The tendency to borrow words is very much manifest among young educated Tamangs, who are the agents of Nepalization. As supplementary to Hoshi's study, Hajime Kitamura collected approximately five hundred lexical items of the Dhatha dialect of Tamang and analysed the semantic domains of Nepali loan words in Tamang Yasuhiko Nagano, who studied the Gyaru and Phu dialects of Manang and the Rabrang dialect of Tibetan, has analysed, in a comparative and sociolinguistic approach, five hundred basic vocabularies and three hundred other vocabularies and concluded that Manang was strongly influenced by both Tibetan and Nepali. We thus have an insight into the process of contact between Nepali and Manang The fact that the Manang language shows many comparable phonological shapes with Lolo-Burmese again sets us on the road of exploring the unknown comers of Manang history. Nepali Language in India Out of the ¿79 languages and 544 dialects that George Abraham Grierson classified as being prevalent in India, only fifteen languages have been recognized as literary languages for the whole of India (Chatteiji 1963 :8). Nepali is one of these in India, Nepali is spoken in Sikkim, the northern districts of West Bengal, and some areas of the north-eastern states, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Nepalis are also found in the cities and towns of India. Nepali is an official language for the district of Darjeeling in West Bengal since 1961 and enjoys similar status in Sikkim. It has been recognized as a Modem Literary Language of India by the Sahitya Akademi. As to the status of the Nepali language in India, Parasmani Pradhan (1977 : 20) writes: Unfortunately, there seems to be some doubt amongst a section of the people as to whether or not Nepali language has reached the stage of recognition as a fit language. As a matter of fact there


India and Nepal are some educated people here and there who do not seem to know the difference between the Nepali and Gurkhali languages. And there are some people who think that the Nepali language is, in fact, a dialect of the Hindi lahguage and that it has no separate existence. We have also heard some people say that the Nepali language is the language of Nepal and not the language of India. They need be told that Nepali language is the modem name of the Khas-Kura which entered Nepal from India. It is thus, originally a language of India. Besides, the Khas language, according to Veda Vyas, is the language of the Khas people of the days of Mahabharata. In the Adi-parva we come across a sloka running as follows: ‘Faundran Kiratan Yabanan Sinhalan Barbaran Khasan.

Kumar Pradhan has drawn our attention to some striking features in the growth and development of the Nepali language and literature in India. He (1984 : Preface) has pointed out that the writers of Nepal belong mainly to the upper castes and Newars, but most Nepali writers in India belong to Indo-Mongoloid groups who originally spoke various Tibeto-Burman dialects but adopted Nepali as the first language in course of time. In his comparative study of the role of the Nepali language in the configuration of Nepali society both in India and Nepal, Pradhan (1982 : 236-37) points out that most of the speeches prevailing in the innumerable isolated villages in Nepal lacked scripts and literary tradition. It was in this background that Khaskura/Gurkhali/Nepali emerged as a second language for those tribes who belonged to the Tibeto-Burman family. After the unification of Nepal in the wake of the Gurkha conquest, Nepali received official patronage and encouragement The rapid improvement of the communication system hastened its dissemination. The situation in India was altogether different Kumar Pradhan (1982:237) says: In this context it will not be amiss to mention here that in a different situation in India, the Nepali language has helped to bring about a closer integration of the Kirats, Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Newars, Brahmans, Chhetris and many others. The Nepali language is spoken there as their first language or mother tongue. There are the socio-economic factors behind the rise of a feeling of identity among the Indian Nepalis, and the language

Scripts and Languages


serves as a bond of unityamong them__ However, this should be noted that in this different context the absence of any domination by a group over others within the community has gone a long way in bringing about closer union. This is only to show a contrast and not to suggest that the problem of national integration can be circumvented by the elimination of other languages and beliefs.



The Pioneers When Brian Houghton Hodgson (1800-94) started collecting, soon after his arrival in Nepal in 1821, accurate information about the Buddhist literature ofNepal, he was helped in the work by Amrita Nanda, the most learned Buddhist scholar living in the country, who made available to him the extracts from original Sanskrit authorities. The tradition cultivated by Buddhist works of listing, at the end, the names of many other sacred writings, helped Hodgson in obtaining a large catalogue of manuscripts. Being conscious that both Kirkpatrick and Hamilton were, in their casual hints to Buddhism, perplexed with the difference of things as they are and what they should be, he made a careful attempt to study Buddhism as it was prevalent in Nepal. In 1828 Hodgson, in a paper entitled ‘Notices of the Languages, Literature and Religion of Nepal and Tibet’, published in Asiatic Researches Vol. 16, drew our attention for the first time of the precious treasure of Sanskrit Buddhist literature in Nepal. He furnished a list of seventy puranas (exoteric works) and seventy-four tantras (esoteric works). The works were composed by the sages of Magadha (Bihar), Kosala (Berar) and Rajgriha (Rajgir), the Swayambhupurana being the only local work of importance. This literature then extant in Nepal was known collectively and authoritatively by the names of sutra and dharma. Sutra comprised principal scrip­ tures or mula-grantha, Buddha-vachana, Boddhisatta and Bhikshuvachana. The dharmas were nine in number—Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita, Gandavyuha, Dasabhumisvara, Samadhiraja, Lankavatara, Saddharmapundarika, Tathagataguhyaka, Lalitavistara and Suvamapravasa. These scriptures with reference to their form

The Store-House o f Literature


and style were of twelve kinds: sutra, geya, vyakarana, gatha, udana, nidana, ityukta, jataka, vaipulya, adbhuta-dharma, avadana and upadesa. Hodgson was told by competent Newari scholars that worship was constantly offered to the dharma scriptures as the ‘Nava Dharma’by the Buddhists of Nepal. As to the tragic decay of this vast literary wealth, Hodgson (1972 [1874J: 14) bemoans: Time and growing ignorance have been the chief enemies of Sanskrit Bauddha literatures in Nepaul’. Eminent scholars like Bumouf, Prinsep and Wilson have testified that the manuscripts discovered by Hodgson represented the oldest records of Buddhism. Though many of the manuscripts were not representative of the original, there were others which were authentic, as corroborated by the names given in Chinese and Tibetan versions of the same. The total number of Buddhist works Hodgson discovered in Nepal was not known, although they were a great deal. He sent them to Calcutta, from where they were distributed to the learned societies in Calcutta, London, Oxford and Paris. The Sanskrit manuscripts totalled over four hundred works including a large number of Mahayana texts. The Tibetan books included copies of the canon and Pragnaparamita. In 1844, Bumouf, working on the collection sent to France, wrote his Introduction a Histoire du Buddhisme indien and later translated Saddharmapundarika. The manuscripts presented to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain were catalogued by Cowell and Eggling. The Lalitavistara from the Calcutta collection was published by Rajendra Lai Mitra (1822-91), with brief notices of seven other works added in its Introduction. The total number of manuscripts presented by Hodgson to the Asiatic Society of Bengal was eighty-six bundles, including 170 separate works on various subjects like history, philosophy, ethics, religious rituals, etc. The manuscripts contain, according to the Indian mode of reckoning, approximately a million and a half verses, written in Newari character. Rajendra Lai Mitra, with the help of three Sanskrit Pandits, prepared an abstract of the contents of eighty-five texts, which was published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1882 under the title The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal. Out of these eighty-five texts, Hara Prasad Sastri (1853-1931) translated the abstract of Avadana-sataka, Bhadrakalpa-avadana, Bodhisatta-avadana, Dasabhumisvara, Dvavinsa-avadana, Gandavyuha, Gunakamdavyuha, Kapisa-avadana, Kavikumarakatha, Kriyasangraha-


India and Nepal

panjika, Mahavastu-avadana, Ratnamala-avadana, Samadhiraja, Suvamaprabhasa and Svayambhu-purana. These narrate the stories about the previous birth of Buddha and do not deal with obscure dogmas. The Archaeological Department of India discovered the Sanchi, Barhut and Mathura pictures relating to the life and teachings of Buddha, many of which reflected the Jataka-avadana stories of Rajendra Lai Mitra’s The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal. In two of his dramatic compositions, Raja* (first published in 1910) and Sap-mocan (first published in 1919), Rabindranath Tagore made use of the Kusa-jataka story contained in the Sanskrit Buddhist text, Mahavastu-avadana. A brief outline of this story occurs in Rajendra Lai Mitra’s work, and a four-page skeleton narrative in Hara Prasad Sastri’s condensed outline of the encyclopaedic Mahavastu-avadana, which he prepared on Rajendra Lai’s request When Tagore first wrote Raja, E. Senait, the great French savant had already published Mahavastu-avadana in three large volumes (1882-97), but in India the study of Buddhist Sanskrit literature had not made.much headway. Even when Tagore’s Sap-mocan was published in 1931, Indian scholars did not advance much in the study of Mahavastu. In 1907 Sastri was invited by the Nepal Darbar to study and catalogue the manuscripts preserved in the Darbar Library. He was shown sixteen thousand manuscripts from the Darbar Library and a large number of palm-leaf manuscripts from private custody. In course of his study of these manuscripts, Sastri came across important works on Buddhist tantras, Brahmanic tantras, ancient Bengali songs with Sanskrit commentaries and several hundreds of pictures of Ayurvedic medicinal plants found in the plains of India. The oldest dated manuscript that Sastri catalogued was Kirana• tantra copied in A.D. 924. The manuscript belonged to the private collection of a Bhatta Pandita, named Udayapala Soma, of Bhatgaon. A critical study of this manuscript is likely to unveil some significant aspects of the socio-cultural history of Nepal and Eastern India. Heruka-tantra, a Sangiti work of the Sahajayana sect copied in A.D. 1145 was much in vogue in Nepal. Another major work of the Sahajayana school, Vajrayoginisadhana by Acharya * T h e King of the D ark C ham ber in the English version.

The Store-House o f Literature


Vijaya Vajra, copied in A.D. 1154 treats the propitiation of Vajrayogini according to the rites laid down by Indrabhuti, a king of Orissa. Among the miscellaneous Mahayana works, Sastri has mentioned Adikarmavidhi by Tatakar Gupta. This work embodied the views of Sudhakara Gupta, an eminent scholar of Vikramsila Vihara. The work deals with adikarma, i.e. the first fiveparamitas. It speaks of Sravakayana, Bodhisattvayana, Mantrayana and the Sammatiya sect, and gives much valuable information about Buddhism during the Pala period. The manuscript of Brahmasamhita, a Vaisnava tantra, was written in Newari character in a .d . 1195. This tantra was very much current in South India and was brought to Bengal by Sri Caitanya at the beginning of the fifteenth century. As a source of social history it speaks of many vratas which are still current in India. Caryagitika In 1907, Sastri discovered in Nepal Caryagitika and some other manuscripts, all of which were published in 1916 under the title HajarBachharerPuran(a) Bangla Bhasay(a) Boudhwa Gan O Doha by the Bangiya Sahitya Parisad. The second edition of this book was published in 1951 and a revised edition in 1959. The other manuscripts included in the book were Dohakosa by Saraha and its Sanskrit commentary by Advaivajra; Dohakosa by Kanha and its Sanskrit commentary known as Mekhala; and Dakamabfa), a Tantric text. These manuscripts, discovered in Nepal, bear evidence to the religious and cultural relations that existed between Bengal and Nepal in the Middle Ages (Ghosh 1948 : 29). The scribes used the Old Bengali script both for the Bengali verses and the corres­ ponding Sanskrit commentaries. Sukumar Sen (1950 : 27) affirms that the songs were written in Old Bengali when the language was first evolving out of Laukika (or Avahattha), the protovemacular stage of Apabhramsa. This script has much similarity with those of the neighbouring Eastern NLA languages. Nilratan Sen (1977: XVIH) informs us that some traditional pundits working in the National Archives of Nepal as professional readers and scribes of old manuscripts identified the script of the manuscript as Old Newari and the language of the songs as Maithili. They, however, admitted that in those days Maithili had little difference with Bengali and Assamese. Nilratan Sen conjectures that the manuscript was written in a common script prevalent in Bengali-Assames?-


India and Nepal

Maithili and some other Eastern NIA vernaculars of the period. The doha and carya songs of the siddhas, acaryas and tantrikas were written in a language which is known as sandha bhasa, that is to say, intentional language. K.P. Malia (1982 : 44) thus sums up the role of this language in the linguistic and literary efflorescence in India, Nepal and Tibet: This ‘language intentional’ appears to be the first signs of the vemacularization as well as of apprenticeship in the intentional use of the verbal resources—both classical and vernacular. The models of Jayadeva (ca a .d . 1200), Caitanya ( a .d . 1484-1534), Tulsidas ( a .d . 1532-1624), and above all of Vidyapati (A.D. 13601448) became popular in Nepal in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries only. But much before this, the free-lance poets and composers of Sahajayana, the religious elites, who trafficked between Vikramsila monastery in Bihar, the Buddhist monasteries in the Nepal valley and Tibet may have been the first poets in Newari as they were in apabhramsa. Rahul Sankrityayan has advanced the view that the siddhas of Caryagitika lived during the period extending from the eighth to the twelfth or thirteenth century. According to Md. Sahidullah, the period extends from A.D. 650 to 1300. The collection of Caryagitika and its preservation through Tibetan translation were completed possibly in the fourteenth century. Munidatta’s commentary can also be dated fourteenth century. The views of different scholars on these problems have been examined by Asit Kumar Bandyopadhyay (Bangla Sahityer Itibritta, vol. I) and Tarapada Mukherji (The Old Bengali Language and Text). In 1928 Md. Sahidullah (Les Chants Mystiques de Kanha et de Saraha, Paris) examined the materials garnered by Sastri. He trans­ lated in French Dohakosa by Kanha and Saraha and added commentaries and also discussed in a chapter the religious thought contained in Dohakosa and in another, the biography of Kanha and Saraha. In this book he attempted for the first time the revised study of Caryagitika based on Tibetan translations available in Tanjur. Subsequently, in 1940, in his Buddhist Mystic Songs, Sahidullah published the entire Caryagitika in Bengali script and supplied its Bengali and English translations. Sahidullah was the first scholar who turned to Tibetan transla­ tion in his study of Caryagitika. P.C. Bagchi followed him. Bagchi

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(1934 : 201-14) unveiled the elements of religious belief and practice from a study of imagery like boat, rat, flute, elephant, deer, union with Dombi and brewing of wine, elucidating all these concepts in accordance with the commentaries of Munidatta. In 1938 he presented Caryagitika entirely in Tibetan translations, all procured from Tanjur. Some scholars, however, are of opinion that the Tibetan translations supplied by Bagchi are not genuine and accurate. In Caryagitikosa of Buddhist Siddhas edited subsequently by Bagchi and Santibhikshu Sastri (Visva-Bharati 1956), Bagchi’s earlier works have been thoroughly revised, with the songs published in Devanagari script and each song rendered into Sanskrit. In this book Hindi Kavyadhara (Allahabad: Kitab Mahal Prakasan 1945), Rahul Sankrityayan incorporated a collection of Hindi poems covering the period from A.D. 760 to 1300 which included the padas composed by Sarahapa, Savarapa, Bhusukupa, Luipa, Birupa, Dombipa, Darikpa, Gundaripa, Kukkuripa, Kamripa, Kanahapa, Tendanpa, Mahipa, Bhadepa, Dhampa, Tilopa and Santipa. He furnished the Hindi translation of these padas but did not attempt here to interpret the Caryagitika. In his Dohakosa (Patna: Bihar Rastra Bhasa Parisad 1957), Sankrityayan revised Dohakosa by Saraha on the basis of a palm-leaf manuscript of Saraha’s Dohakosa which he discovered in the Sa-Skya monastery in Tibet. In this book, Sankrityayan has given an authentic account of the life, work and philosophy of Saraha. Eminent scholars like Sukumar Sen, Sasi Bhusan Das Gupta and Tarapada Mukherjee have discussed Caryagitika from various angles. Sen did not utilize Tibetan materials and has ignored altogether the Sanskrit translation by Munidatta. Das Gupta has thrown light on the philosophy and cults of the Buddhist Sahajiya, Vaisnava Sahajiya, Bauls, Natha-panthis and Dharma-panthis. Mukherjee has discussed the language and grammatical structure of Caryagitika but has ignored Tibetan translation. T\vo recent outstanding contributions on the study of Caryagitika are: D. Bharati (1968), Siddha Sahitya, and Per Kvaeme (1977), An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs: A Study of the Caryagiti. Bharati has elaborately discussed the social and historical background of this genre of literature, furnished its religious interpretation and adequately examined its literary form and style. He has also evaluated the influence of Caryagitika on the works of the Natha-


India and Nepal

panthis and Sant poets. Per Kvaeme has thoroughly examined the Sanskrit commentary by Munidatta and the Tibetan translations. He has discussed the religious component of this literature with the help of imagery like briksha (tree), nadi (river), griha (house), harina (deer), gabhi (cow), padma (lotus), akasa (sky), surya (sun), candra (moon), dam (chess), vansi (flute) and divas (day). In the study of the cultural history of the period, the ragas (tune) of the carya songs deserve special mention. The raga of the song is mentioned in each verse. The following ragas have been mentioned in the manuscript: aru, badari/baradi/barari/baladdi, bangala, bhairabi, debakri, desakha, gobada/gauda/guddari, gunjari, kanugunjari, kamoda, mallari, malasi-gabuda, patamanjari, remakri, sibari/sabari. Pan-Indian Cycle of Stories The literatures in modem Indian languages were not isolated from each other. Some stories of local origin in late medieval times acquired an all-India character. As illustration, we may refer to the cycles of stories and legends about Saivite-Mahayanistic Natha yogis like Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath and the connected story of Mayanamati and Govindacandra. Chatteiji (1982:16,39, 91-93) is of opinion that the cycles of these stories originated in Comilla district in East Bengal (now in Bangladesh) during the ninth-tenth centuries and spread from Bengal and Eastern India to Bihar, Nepal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and as far south as Maharashtra. These story cycles took definite form before the end of the fourteenth century. The legends of the siddha yogis belong to hagiology and the cycle of Mayanamati-Govindacandra belongs to the literature of romance in Bengal and in North India. The stoiy of Mayanamati-Govindacandra as prevalent in Bengal resembles very closely the story of the early life of the Tantarik mystic Bhusuku recorded in early Nepalese tradition. The story of Bhusuku was narrated in a small Sanskrit manuscript written in Nepal in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. The oldest known Bengali work on Mayanamati-Govindacandra stoiy is a play written in Nepal in the early seventeenth century. But the poems written in Bengal belong to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. In 1897 an important manuscript of the Sanskrit poem Ramcaritam by Sandhyakar Nandin was discovered in Nepal by Hara Prasad Sastri. This historical document furnishes a critical account of the history ofBengal for half a century ( a .d . 1070-1120). In 1910the first

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edition of this book edited by Sastri was published. A revised edition was prepared by the Dacca University and published by the Varendra Research Society, Rajshahi in 1939. In 1969 the Asiatic Society, Calcutta published a new edition of this book. Radha Govinda Basak, its editor, has pointed out the errors of some of the views held by Sastri and has corrected some errors in the reading of the text by Sastri. Candra-vyakarana was popular in Kashmir, Tibet, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In 1875 a fragment of Candra-vyakarana was procured from Kashmir by Buhler. A complete copy, written in the Nepalese year 476/ a .d . 1356 was brought by Hara Prasad Sastri from Nepal. Numerous commentaries on Candra-vyakarana have been translated in Tibetan and circulated in Tibet since a .d . 1000. At least fifteen such commentaries are known to exist. The Sanskrit manuscripts of Candra-vyakarana have mostly been found in Nepal (Belvalkar 1976 ( ( 1915] : 29, 50- 51). In the custody of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, there are two palm-leaf manuscripts oiCanda-kausika of Arya Khemisvara written in Newari character. In five Acts, the play deals with the Markandevapurana legend of the sage Visvamitra Kausika and King Hariscandra of Ayodhya. The first manuscript is dated Nepal Samvat 370/ a .d . 1250, transcribed during the reign of Abhayamalladeva of Nepal, probably by himself. The second, dated N.S. 507/ a .d . 1387, was written in the reign of Jayasthitiraj-amalladeva by Vajracarya Amaretudatta. These two manuscripts, according to Sibani Das Gupta, are oldest available. These are noticed briefly in Hara Prasad Sastri’s Descriptive Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Collection of the Asiatic Society, Bengal, Vol. 8 ( 1934), 251- 52. Some manuscripts of the same work in Devanagari character are available at the Baroda Oriental Institute Library ( a .d . 1604 or 1605), Bombay Government Collection ( a .d . 1618,1643 and 1759) and Sanskrit College, Calcutta (A.D. 1801). A manuscript in Maithili character (Saka 1704/ a .d . 1782) has been preserved in the Darbhanga Raj Library. TWo South Indian manuscripts in Grantha character have been preserved in the Adyar Library and Govern­ ment Oriental Manuscript Library, Madras. No commentary of this work, however, is so far known to exist. Sibani Das Gupta has discovered a close relationship between the Newari manuscripts and two of the Devanagari manuscripts. She has further noticed that the Newari group represents ‘distinct


India and Nepal

textual tradition’ and the Devanagari group should be regarded as representing 4a separate textual tradition’ (1962: XXX). In other words, the Devanagari group had a lost common ancestor distinct from the lost common ancestor of the Newari group (1962: XXXIV). Das Gupta holds the view that Ksemisvara was a contemporary of Rajasekhara in the early part of the tenth century. Maithili Literature The contributions of Maithili language and literature to the cultural history of Assam, Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Nepal and other adjoining countries for at least three centuries were of inestimable value. The Maithili script is of the same family as the scripts of Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and Newari. Jayakanta Misra (1969 : 268) has suggested that the Maithili script was perhaps the original script from which all these scripts emerged. Misra (1973 :19) bemoans that quite a large amount of material in the Maithili language is lying unexplored and unpublished in the libraries in Nepal and also in other places. A large number of printed works are lost or out of print or are not easy to procure. The manuscript of Vama-ratnakara (c. 1324), written by Jyotirisvara Thakura (c. 1280-1340), was discovered in Nepal by Sastri. The character is ancient Maithili which is hardly distinguishable from Bengali. More than half the expressions are also Bengali. This book is an invaluable source book, says Misra (1976 : 60), on the life and culture of medieval India in general and Mithila in particular before the advent of the Turks in India. S.K. Chatteiji has made a comparative study of the style of Jyotirisvara and the kathakas of Bengal. Jyotirisvara, he reminds us, like the Bengali kathakas, did not consider any aspect of life as too low or beneath his notice. Its influence on succeeding generations was too deep for words. In 1507 it was copied by Manikara from two manuscripts. The poets of Mithila and Nepal derived source material for their works from this book. Both Sastri and Misra hold the view that Vidyapati was definitely influenced by the descriptive rhetoric of Vama-ratnakara. In 1957 Misra discovered the manuscript of the Maithili Dhurttasamagama which lay unidentified in the Mr Library of Nepal. This, too, is an important source book on the fourteenthcentury social history of Mithila. Discussing the importance of this book from different angles, Misra (1976 : 64) holds that it has taken back the origin and development of Maithili drama by several

The Store-House o f Literature


centuries: it may be considered ‘as the first specimen of what ultimately developed into the great Kirtaniya Drama of Mithila’. Vidyapati incorporated the first two verses of the Sanskrit version of this play in the introduction to his Goraksavijaya. Thus it served as a link with the later tradition of drama in Mithila. Maithili songs were introduced in this play as genuine dramatic elements, mentioning, like the caryapadas and also like Middle Maithili padas, the raga, ragini and the tala. ‘On the whole I am convinced that Maithili literature, nay, the vernacular literature of Northern India’ Misra (1976 : 68) emphatically points out, ‘has been enriched by the discovery of this work’. Vidyapati Thakura (c. 1360-1448) adopted the spoken language of Mithila as the medium of his songs in devotion to Siva, Visnu, Devi, Ganga and many other gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one manuscript of his Kirtipataka in palm-leaves has been preserved in the Vira Library at Kathmandu, which was discovered by Sastri. It may be noted that no manuscript of Vidyapati’s works other than Purusapariksa is available in Mithila. Manuscripts of Kirtilata, Kirtipataka and Goraksavijaya are available only in Nepal-, the only copy of Bhuparikrama is available at the Sanskrit College Collection at Calcutta, and an incomplete copy of Saivasarvasvasara is available at Darbhanga and a complete copy in Nepal. Vidyapati used spoken Maithili in his songs, because these were meant to be sung. Some songs were composed in the sophisticated language of the court while the others were in the language of the simple folk. The songs lay scattered orally in Mithila, Bengal and Nepal. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Lochana compiled a book on Maithili music, Ragatarangini, which contained fiftythree songs of Vidyapati. The other works where his songs occur are a volume by Pandit Sivananda Thakur who published the songs he collected from a manuscript in Mithila, a collection of songs preserved in a palm-leaf manuscript in Nepal by Subhadra Jha, and Bhasa-geeta-sangraha, a manuscript procured from Nepal and published by Ramanath Jha, which contains seventy-seven songs of Vidyapati. Ramanath Jha (1983 :47-8) maintains that the Siva songs were original contributions of Vidyapati to Indian literature. In the course of more than five centuries hundreds of poets all over Mithila have composed thousands of Nacari songs. In Nepal also the composition of devotional songs in the form of Nacari became extremely popular. Ramanath Jha (1983 :48) informs us


India and Nepal

that in the collections preserved in Nepal, there are Nacari of Visnu, Ganesa, Surya, Durga, etc. Patronized by the Malla kings of Bhatgaon and Kathmandu and brightened by the lustre ofVidyapati’s influence, Maithili literature flourished in Nepal for almost three centuries. Till the middle of the eighteenth century, Maithili continued as one of the literary languages of Nepal courts, deriving inspiration from the works of Vidyapati. The lyrics composed by Vidyapati and later poets. (ad. 1400-1700) were preserved in anthologies, inscriptions and plays, many of which have been discovered in Nepal. Misra mentions some of these in chapter IX, ‘Lyric Poetry from 1400-1700’ of his History o f Maithili literature (1976, New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi). As illustration, some are mentioned below. 1. Nepal manuscript o f Vidyapati’s padas edited by Subhadra Jha and Shashinath Jha. 2. Bhasagita: (a) This anthrology of padas composed mainly by Bhupatindramalla was noticed by P.C. Bagchi. 3. Bhasagita: (b) This was noticed by Misra in Raja Guru Hemaraja’s library (National Library of Nepal). This anthology contains ninety-seven padas composed by Bhupatindramalla and seventy-six padas by seven Nepali poets. 4. Dasavataragitam: This anthology of Jitamitramalla’s padas was noticed by Misra in the Vir Library, Nepal. 5. Prakimabhasagitam: This anthology of devotional padas composed by Jagajjyotirmalla and Jagatprakasamalla was noticed by Misra in the Vir Library. 6. Dasavataragitam: This is an anthology of devotional and other variety of padas composed by Jagajjyoti, Bhupatindra, Jagat­ prakasa, Candraprakasa and Ranajita and also Dasvataranrtyam nanagitasangrahasahitam by Vamsamani and Jagajjyoti. 7. Prakimagitani: An anthology of secular padas by Jagajjyoti, Bhupatindra, Jagatprakasa, and Ranjita. 8. Nanarthadevadevigitani (ad. 1660): an anthology containing miscellaneous padas by Jagatprakasamalla. 9. Gitagovindabhasa (ad.1698): an anthology containing padas compiled by Gitamitramalla. 10. Pancatirthananagitasangraha: an anthology of poems composed by Vidyapati and other poets. 11. Gitapancakam (.Panjikasahitam): an anthology of Sanskrit and Maithili songs composed by Jagatprakasa.

The Store~House o f Literature


12. Gitapancakam: an elegy composed by Jagatprakasa on Candrasekhara. 13. Ramagitavali-panjika: anonymous padas. 14. Gitapancasika: an anthology of secular padas by Jagajjyotirmalla. 15. Gitasangraha (Panjikasahitam): an anthology of Nacari padas by Jagajjyotirmalla. 16. Gitapustakam: an anthology of padas by Bhaskaramalla. 17. Gitamala: an anthology on Narayana and Mahadeva by Bhupatindramalla. 18. Gitamala-Bhasatmika: an anthology of padas by Pratapamalla. 19. Nanaragagitasangraha: Misra informs us that there are several anthologies of this title in the libraries in Nepal. One anthology of this genre was noticed by Lakshminath Jha which contains padas by Vidyapati and twenty-two other poets. Misra himself noticed similar anthologies on music in the Vir Library, that contain padas by Jagajjyoti, Jagatprakasa, Pratapamalla, Candasekhara and Bhupatindra. 20. (a) Ragamalas: Misra noticed a number of anthologies with this title in Nepal. He makes special mention of two of these: (1) The one hundred 'padas anthology containing fifty-six ragas and the padas of Visnumalla, Srinivasa, Srinarasimha, Vidyapati, Jayadeva, Virajoganarendramalla, Vidyadhara Pandita, Indramalla, Pratapamalla and Candrasekhara. The padas are in Sanskrit, Newari and Maithili. (2) The one thousand pada anthology that mentions six ragas and ninety-six raginis. This anthology contains twenty-five padas by Jayadeva in Sanskrit, sixty-one Maithili padas of Vidyapati, thirty-three Newari padas by Siddhinarasimha and some Newari padas on Ganesa, Surya, Candrama, Mahadeva, Narayana and Bhimsena. Misra also noticed other Ragamalas containing Gitagovinda and padas of Jagatprakasa, Jagajjyoti, Vidyapati, Yoganarendramalla, Mahindrasimha and some of Jagajjaya. 21. Sangitataru: an incomplete anthology. 22. Sangitacintamani Songitasarasangrahs (Sangita Candra in BendallV Nepal Ms. Catalogue): a Sanskrit work on music containing several vernacular songs. 23. Sapta talagitam : an anthology of songs of Jagatprakasa and Jagajjyoti.


India and Nepal

24. Ragabhajanasangraha: an anthology of Bhajana songs by Jagajjyotirmalla, Vamsamani Jha, Catur Caturbhya (noticed by Ramadeva Jha also). 25. Nadotpattimrdangotpattyadi Bhasasangita: This is a palm-leaf work on Nada, by Jagajjyoti in praise of Siva. Misra conjectures that this work is connected with karttika-nach tradition in the city of Patan, Nepal. 26. Ragartikyam: an anthology containing songs of arati to Sakti. 27. Ragamavabhasa. 28. Ragasangitam. 29. Ragagitavalipanjika. 30. Bhasagitam. Be it mentioned that Mss. mentioned from Nos. 6 to 30 were noticed by Misra at the Vir Library, Nepal. Misra has also mentioned some inscriptions that contain Maithili padas. (1) Inscriptions at Bhatgaon. (a) Three songs in Siva Parvati temple and two songs at Jisban crossing by Jagatchand (1672). (b) One song at Kunancrossing and one song near the western tank by Ranajitmalla (1678). (c) One song at the Eastern water reservoir by Jitamitramalla (1678). (2) Inscriptions in Kathmandu: In the Taleju temple there are nine songs of Pratapamalla (1672). Morang in Nepal terai is a Maithili-speaking district The works of Murari Misra (1500-25), a Mimansa scholar, contain significant information regarding a dynasty of Morang kings who patronized Maithili literature. The names of some poets have been mentioned in his works. They are: Lachaminarayana, Gopinatha, Viranarayan, Dhiresvara, Bhisma Kavi and Gangadhar. Some of them were contemporaries of Vidyapati and others belonged to a later period. It should be noted that the Nepali poets drew inspiration from the Radha-krishna and Hara-gauri themes of Vidyapati tradition. They composed songs on the themes of incarnations of Visnu and also on Ganesa, Surya, Candrama, Mahadeva, Narayana, Bhimsena and Bhairav. Nepal Darbar, no doubt, provided a secure and favoured shelter to Maithili culture after the Muslim invasion.

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Nepal German Manuscript Preservation Project Nepal is a store-house of stupendous amount of archival material. The National Archives of Nepal has a collection of over 27,000 manuscripts with 9,000 different titles. A lot of material is being documented by some agencies in different parts of the world. An agreement has been signed between His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and the German Oriental Society to give effect to what is known as the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project (hereafter cited as NGMPP). The NGMPP has completed micro­ filming of approximately 97,000 manuscripts. The Tibetan section of this project is now engaged in the preservation of Tibetan manuscripts available in Nepal, both in monastic institutions as well as in private custody. In April-May 1981 Dr. L. Van der Kuijp visited the Solu-Khumbu area and inspected thirty-four temples and monasteries. Dr. Christoph Cueppers (1984 : 93-8) mentions two of his important discoveries. First, Sangs-rgyas bstan-’dzin’s precious collection of hundreds of books in the Ser-Logs monasteiy in Junbesi and, second, the collection of the Tengboche monastery of Kanjur and Tanjur and approximately 120 other canonical works. Many of these works, which contain some unknown specimens of Tibetan literature, have not been published anywhere in the world. In April-May 1983, the first expedition of NGMPP under the leadership of Van der Kuijp visited Langtang There in the Choekang Gompa, they microfilmed some 372 manuscripts and block prints with approximately 12,600 folios. In the report of this expedition, Kuijp states: The manuscripts and block prints include probably unique copies of Tibetan Mss. of two works by the sixteenth century Sakyapa scholar Mang-thos Klu-sgrub rgya-mtsho, two biogra­ phies of Bo-dong Pan-chen Phyogs-las mam-rgyal, annotated Mss. of Nyingmapa tantras, Mss. of some of Klong-chenpa’s works, numerous Bka’-brgyud-pa biographies and philosophical works, and a Mss. of a history of Buddhism which still has to be identified. In August 1983 Christoph Cueppers suceeded Van der Kuijp as Tibetologist in NGMPP. In November 1983, a microfilming team under his leadership reached village Tarkegyang in Helambu. In front of this village they found a big temple established around A.D.


India and Nepal

1727 by Lama Nyima Senge, an account of which occurs in Corneille Jests Monuments of Northern Nepal (UNESCO 1981). Lama Nyima Senge hailed from Kyirong and got a gift o f land from Jagatjayamalla of Kathmandu in recognition of his ser­ vice toward the eradication of an epidemic in A.D. 1723. In this temple they found shelves covered with books, both canonical and non-canonical. Gonthang Gompa is a Gelugpa monastery near Tarkegyang, which has a good collection of Tibetan block prints. This collec­ tion has been microfilmed in its entirety. The most valuable texts in this set are the works of the Third Panchen Lama, Blu-bzang dpal-Idan ye-shes and also some commentaries to a Tibetan Grammar. The private collections of many villages of Tarkegyang were also microfilmed. Christoph Cueppers makes special men­ tion of the manuscripts and block prints in possession of Lama Gyagpa and his relative Lama Kunzang. Among these specimens are included Bka-bum ofGampopa (bom A.D.1079), biographer of Tilopa and Naropa and a handwritten version of Bar-do thos-grol (Tibetan Book of the Dead). The last-mentioned book, remarks Cueppers, is outstanding for its beautiful style of calligraphy. These books originally belonged to the ancestors of Lama Gyagpa, resident of the Kham area in Eastern Tibet. These texts were brought from Kham to Kyirong and from there to Tarkegyang. On this occasion some 280 titles were microfilmed with more than nine thousand folios. Nearly one hundred years ago, some Tibetans settled in village Nampakunden in Jumla. Microfilming work was undertaken here in May-June 1984 of the books of the Nyingmapa Gompa Orgyan Sangnag Choekher Ling, a Nyingmopa hermitage. Most of the manuscripts belong to this school. There are also some texts on Tibetan medicine. The head of this monastery is Kusho Tsewang (Tulku Tse wang), an outstanding scholar of Tantric Buddhism. From one of his relatives, the team procured for microfilming a text that contained the biography and spiritual songs of Chosskyong dpal-bzang, a lama from Dolpo. Cueppers informs us; ‘Such biographies sometimes throw light on the history of these particular Nepalese districts, and they should be of great interest to the historian’. In village Nampakunden more than 1,100 folios have been micro-filmed and in village Dillikot (between Jumla and Nam-

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pakunden, called Tsutra by the Nepalese) about 2,246. Northern Nepal, nearly one quarter of the entire country, contains popula­ tion with a strong deeprooted Tibetan influence. Tibetan manus­ cripts throwing light on Tibetan Buddhism and also on the history of the Nepalese districts of this area are likely to be available there. Limi, Dolpo, Mustang, Manang and Langtang, to mention some of these districts, are most probably latent repositories of documents hitherto unknown, Cueppers suggests: ‘Properly preserving the rich Tibetan manuscripts in such restricted areas is a high time need.’ The Collection o f BISS The manuscript section of the Buryat Institute of Social Sciences (BISS) has one of the richest collections of manuscripts and xylographs in the oriental languages. The Tibetan collection deserves special mention. The materials encompass important sources on history, culture, literature, language arts, philosophy and medicine. N.D. Bolsokhoeva (1984:123— 35) informs us: These materials cover all the aspects of spiritual life not only of the Tibetan people, but also the people of Central Asia.’ Included in this collection are the complete works of eminent scholars like Bu-ston (1290-1364). Tsongkha-pa (1357-1419), Mkhas-gmb dge-legs dpal bzang-po (1385-1438), Cha-dnoz dgebshes blo-bzang, tshul-khriips (XIX), sum-pa mkhan-po ye-shes dpal sbyoz (1704-88), Thn-gzan blo-bzang echos Kyi hya-ma (1737-1802), Klong-gzan bla-ma ngan dbang blobzang (1719) and dkoh-mchog dam-pali sgzom-me (1762-1823). The manuscript section is in possession of reference manuals, many Tibetan defining dictionaries and Tibetan dictionaries. The Buryat and Peiking editions of Tibetan-Mongolian terminological dictionary known as ‘Source of wise men’ have been compiled for translation of Tibetan Buddhist canon into the Mongolian language. Bolsokhoeva informs us that this dictionary is the result of an enormous amount of preparatory work carried out by a special board on working out of Mongolian Buddhist terminology and principles of translation from the Tibetan language to Mongolian. The first issue of the dictionary ‘Source of wise men’(Paramita and Madhyamika) was published in 1960 in Ulan-Ude. The collection boasts of the works of Dalai and Panchen Lamas, of Atish Dipankara (982-1054), Bromston-pa (1004-65),


India and Nepal

Patoba (1027-1105), five Sakya hierarchs and the treatises of SdeSrid sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsha, regent of Vth Dalai Lama. The his­ torial writing known as Deb thar rgya mtsho in three volumes by d d Kon-mchog dam-pa Zab-rgyas (b. 1801) is an important possession. Different editions of Kanjur and Tanjur (Kanjur depending upon the edition consists of 100 to 108 volumes and Tanjur of 225 volumes) are also available here. Bolsokhoeva points out: Treatises of the Buddhist canon are very important sources for Tibetological research, Critical analysis of these written sources from the position of national science will be of great impor­ tance in comparative study of different copies of Kanjur and Danjur, which will give an opportunity to solve the problem of formation of the Buddhist canon in Tibet Invaluable Tibetan medical literature is also found here, divided into two classes, namely rgyud-bzhi and commentaries on rgyud-bzhi. The former is a basic text on Tibetan medicine. The latter are practical manuals on the application of various methods of treatment. These include staansbyor, compiled on the basis of recommendations of medical treatises. The Mongolian translation of rgyud-bzhi is also found in this collection. T he rgyud-bzhi’was first translated into Mongolian in the fourteenth century by ChosKyi od-zer. This translation is also found. The rgyud-bzhi consists of four volumes written in verse form. Vaidurya sngon-po, one of its important commentaries, deserves more than passing notice. Its text written in 1688 by Sde-szid songs rgyas rgya-mtsho, consists of four volumes divided into 156 chapters. In the manuscript section there are treatises on phar­ macology and pharmacognostics written in verse form known by the title, ‘Glang thabs’ and ‘man-nyag dkar-rgyab. These are now being translated into Russian. As many as twenty-two treatises of the classical ayurvedic medicine have been translated into Tibetan and have been included in the Tanjur. Bolsokhoeva writes: Inclusion of treatises of ancient Indian medicine in the Danjur indicates the deep interest of the Tibetans in the ancient Indian medicine. As most of the original texts in Sanskrit have been irretrievably lost medical writings of the Danjur serve as

The Store-House o f Literature


important written sources in field of ancient Indian medicine. Comparative study of writing of Indian scholars with original Tibetan writings on medicine will help us to understand the features of Tibetan medicine, and, with this, to evaluate the contribution of Tibetan doctors in general history of medicine. He is of opinion that the task of compilation of scientific catalogues of the Tibetan collection will undoubtedly facilitate the research of various scientific problems relating to the study of history, literature, languages, philosophical ideas, arts and medicine of the people of the Central Asian region. He further adds: This is of great importance in explaining the characters of the distinctive Tibetan culture and its role among the medieval cultures of Central Asia.’ Central Asia: Cradle o f Culture Contact Central Asia is regarded as the cradle and crossroads for the cultures of many peoples of the Orient. From the second half of the second century B.C. until the beginning of the first century A.D. the Central Asian nomads imported weapons from Eurasian steppes and also some garments, household articles and ornaments sub­ sequently adopted by the Indians (Bongard-Levin 1971:196-97). During the Kusana period there was lively culture contact between Central Asia and India, through government functionaries, soldiers, Buddhist missionaries and monks. In Bactria, Buddhist texts from Sanskrit were translated and the scholar monks added their own interpretation of the texts. Bongard-Levin (1971:223). informs us that twelve fragments of Sanskrit Buddhist manus­ cripts have been discovered in a fortified estate of the seventh cen­ tury A.D., excavated on the hill of Zang-tepe. These contain some portions of Vinayapitaka, a canonical Buddhist work. A Sanskrit Buddhist manuscript comprising 300 sheets of palm leaves, belonging approximately to the seventh century, has been found in Merv, TUrkmenia. It contains a number of Buddhist works, including Suttavibhanga. The discovery of this manuscript strengthens the surmise that Central Asia was a stronghold of the Sarvastivada school. The discovery of ancient Buddhist manuscripts at the turn of the nineteenth century, according to Bongard Levin (1971: 229) ‘marked a new stage in the study of Indian culture__ ’ He has


India and Nepal

pointed out that these manuscripts throw fresh light on the interrelation between Hinayana and Mahayana, authenticity of Pali canon, reconstruction of precanonical Buddhist doctrines and also the origin and development of different schools of northern Buddhism. The discovery of two unknown languages, namely Khotanese (Saka) and Tokharian and also the new types of script (the upright and slanting Central Asian Brahmi script) has led to the emergence of a new branch of oriental studies known as Central Asian philology. Eminent scholars like P. Pelliot, A Stein, Grunwedel and K. Otani brought to notice the precious treasure of Sanskrit and Khotanese Buddhist texts. As a result of continuous and stupen­ dous efforts of the Russian orientalists like S. Oldenburg, B Clements, M. Berezovsky, N. Petrovsky and N. Krotov, the Rus­ sian Academy of Sciences is now in possession of a rich collection of Buddhist texts in Sanskrit and Khotanese, mostly from Kashgar and Khotan. These are now deposited at the Leningrad Depart­ ment of the Institute of the People o f Asia, USSR Academy of Sciences. The Leningrad collection has a large number of original Buddhist Sanskrit texts known only in Chinese and Tibetan tran­ slations. It is now clear that among the Khotanese fragments there are several texts previously unknown in any form. The Leningrad collection has in its possession the oldest extant copy of the Saddharmapundarika. The collection has approx­ imately one hundred other fragments of different Saddharmapun­ darika copies unknown to scholars some of whom have published this sutra. An unidentified fragment of an unknown manuscript of the Saddharmapundarika acquired in Kashgar in the 1890s by N.F. Petrovsky has been preserved in the Leningrad collection. The Kashgar manuscript introduces some new and unknown variants relevant for the study of the Saddharmapundarika. Bongard-Levin (1971:240) informs us: T he new variants are particularly valu­ able because the Kashgar manuscripts of the Saddharmapundarika are much older than the Nepalese ones, which were chiefly used by Prof. H. Kern.’ In an article entitled ‘Sadharmapundarikasutra’ written in the Nepali language and published in Abhilekha(yarsa 2, anka 2, B.S. 2041, A.D. 1984, pp. 72-92). Janaklal Sarma has furnished a detailed account of the description, contents, and historical and philosophi­ cal importance of the various texts of this sutra preserved in Nepal.

The Store-House of Literature


Bongard-Levin mentions the importance of another text preser­ ved in the Leningrad collection. He (1971:232) writes: ‘Of great value are the unpublished fragments of Sardulakamavadana, their texts markedly different from the Nepalese version published by E. Cowell and R. Neil (The Divyavadana: A Collection of Early Buddhist Legends. ‘Cambridge 1886, pp. 611-59).’ In this chapter, we have attempted to survey and illustrate the vast corpus of Indian literature discovered in different parts of Nepal and Central Asia. It does not seem hasty to say that Nepal studies, Tibetology and Central Asian studies cannot be regarded as altogether separate disciplines in hermetically sealed compart­ ments. They spring from either related or identical backgrounds, touch on problems that were of common concern and employ similar philosophical methods and techniques of enquiry. Given the intimate links between India, Nepal, Tibet and other parts of Central Asia, all these studies are of considerable value as a means of studying the diffusion of Indian civilization. These studies provide, in the words of D.S. Ruegg (1967 : 45) ‘a kind of measur­ ing rod or control with which it may sometimes be useful to com­ pare developments within India itself. At the same time the process of assimilation of Indian culture in Nepal, Tibet and other parts of Central Asia holds out an interesting and valuable exam­ ple of how a people can adopt another culture without totally abandoning its own deep-rooted traditions or being untrue to its native genius.



Newari Drama and Bhasa Nataka In the 1740s Father Cassien, a Capuchin missionary, passed through Kathmandu valley on his way to Tibet He drew a pen picture of the performance of Newari plays he had witnessed. The following is his description: The people of the country have the custom, at their festivals, of representing a story drawn from one of their sacred books or a satirical comedy in which they deride the habits of a certain person. These plays are shown on one of the public squares; to do so platforms twenty feet square and three feet high, have been erected. The spectators settle themselves down on mats that they spread out on the bare ground of the squares and streets. They have neither theatre nor stage sets; but if the play is supposed to take place near a river they stretch out on the platform, where the actors play, a cloth on which a river is painted; if it takes place inside barcareccia, a few people hold in their hands four or six branches of some tree; if it takes place in a temple, a statue is placed in the centre; and they do likewise for changing scenes. The actors of these comedies have very little recitative and much action, so that the principal actor does not recite eight or ten phrases in the different scenes in a comedy lasting two or three hours; but it is the choruses, which sing the whole, as in the Greek comedies. In each comedy, the Nepalese have at least two choruses, and the third is formed by the full chorus—that is to say by the two choruses together. For instance the actor expresses the extreme sadness of his plight in two or three verses which he recites. The choruses in alternation sing mournfully of the bitterness of his sorrow, the diverse passions occasioned in the

The Vernacular Drama


person’s heart by that sorrow such as hope, forlomness, fear, daring and likewise for all the other passions. And at the same time as the chorus is singing, the actor, who dances constantly, fits the movements of his face, his feet and his hands to the meaning of the words they are singing. The orchestra for these comedies is composed of a few small drums, of trumpets and of an instrument formed by two small cymbals which are struck one against the other, according to the note they emit, and in each comedy there are at least eight pairs of these instruments which, when well struck, provide a harmonious chime; four trumpets and three drums make up the orchestra. The lead is given by the drum, and it is beaten with the hands. (Quoted in Kamal P. Malla (1982:75-76) The tradition of drama in Nepal is rooted in antiquity. The Tang annals contain a mid-seventh century reference to the people’s love of the scenic plays. The prevalence of dance drama there is evident from the copied manuscripts of Dandin’s Kavyadarsa (N.S. 23 1/a.d . 1111), Harsa’s Nagnanda-nataka (n .s . 3 13/a.d . 1192 and N.s. 438/a.d . 1318), Bharatiya-natyasastra (n .s . 344/a.d . 1224) and the references in Gopala-vamsavali. Malla (1982:66-67) informs us that there are as many as fifty-four different texts of classical Newari drama dated between c. A.D. 1643 and 1900. Among these, twenty-six are written in Newari, twenty-two in Maithili with stage directions in Newari or mixed with Newari, four in Bengali with Newari stage directions and two with Newari, Sanskrit and Bengali. The plays, intended to be staged, are marked by songs, dialogue, stage directions, desavamana (description of the country) and rajavamana (description of the king). As illustration of desavamana and rajavamana, we quote below the verses uttered by sutradhara in an undated unpublished manuscript of Madalasajatismarananatakam written by one Nepaliya Ramadasa in Sanskrit (Regmi 1965, 1:321).

ramaniyamidam Nepalabhuvanam vipraveda vido vasanti dinakrt vam (vai) syastatha Ksatriya nyayaschapi vidagdhasajjanakrto yasmingunalankrtah ramya nil sarojapatranayanah saundaryasarastriyo deso yastu. bibhati sarvaga gunaih svargaikadeso yatha visesatosmin sriman arinjayatinityamanekarama mantrovalambi Jayaraja Naradhiraja Nepalacakra Vilasat Jayasimharama satgunyavarti yuvaraja Jayarjunascha.


India and Nepal Regmi has rendered the essence of the verses in English: This country looks like heaven. The outstanding fact about this country is that here reigns the king Jayarajadeva who is always guided by the advice of the able fortunate because it enjoys the services of Jayasimharama endowed with six qualities. There is yuvaraja Jayaijuna.

The audience identified itself with the community through desavamana and strengthened its loyalty to the monarch through rajavamana. The. narration of the stories of epics and puranas fortified the traditional moorings of society as a whole. Malla (1982 : 90) remarks: Strictly speaking, classical Newari plays are more of mimetic entertainments meant to reinforce the typical Newar value systems than religious plays meant to ‘preach’ any particular religious dogmas. Undoubtedly, they are suffused with a religious outlook, but in this outlook, the world here and now matters more than the world hereafter. The earliest Vaisnava tradition in Nepal is associated with the legend of the creation of the Bagmati Valley by Visnu’s discus. The history of Vaisnavism, from the archaeological point of view, goes back to the fifth century of the Christian era. The inscriptions o f King Manadeva ( a .d . 464-505) dated a d . 464 and 467 have the earliest dated representation of Vaisnava themes (Pal 1970:1). Vaisnava songs seem to have had wide currency along with the carya songs of the tantrik siddhas. The sahajiya apabhransa songs and stropes were preserved and sung through the ages. The Gitagovinda of Jayadeva gained extensive celebrity both for the theme and the appeal of its lyricism, lightened by the germ it possesses of a dramatic element The padavalis of Vidyapati were echoed in the hills and highlands of Nepal after the partition of the kingdom in 1482. The pursuit of culture came to be cherished with keen encouragement from the royalty. During the Malla period ( a .d . 1200-1769) there was an efflorescence of literary pursuits, marked by a prodigious output of manuscripts on astrology, astronomy, language, literature, drama, mythology, history and medicine. The Malla courts saw a magnificent advance of literature in Sanskrit Maithili, Newari, Hindi and Bengali. Classical and hybrid Sanskrit was the badge of culture till A.D. 1350. The monarchs

The Vernacular Drama


of the kingdoms of Bhaktapur (1482-1769), Kathmandu (14821768) and Patan (1482-1768) were ardent patrons of art, music and literature with many Indian scholars adorning their courts. Newari was the common language of the valley. Its first written use can be traced in a dedicatory inscription dated n.s. 293/a.d. 1173. A Newari language colophon dated n.s. 224/a.d. 1104 has been reported by Hriday, but, as Slusser (1982 : 393) points out, ‘there is some uncertainty about this- ascription’. After that, Newari was used sporadically in colophons, inscriptions or as summary of corresponding Sanskrit text. The earliest manuscript in Newari is Mana-vanyavasastra dated N.s. 500/a.d. 1380. During the reign of Sthitimalla (1382-95), Newari gained ascendancy over Sanskrit as a written language, and attained a status of prestige in poetry and drama alongside Sanskrit and Maithili. This was also the time when Nepali appeared in the valley as a spoken language. During the Malla period, Newari was used in the translation of Sanskrit texts, adaptations of classical works, writing commentaries, dynastic histories (vamsavalis), journals and diaries (thyasaphus), recording of stanzaic poetry and sacred and secular songs. By the mid­ seventeenth century Newari became popular as a written language, with drama, dance drama, poetry and music being composed by the learned scholars and the nobility at the courts. Until the seven­ teenth century, it was simply called bhaka or bhasa, i.e., vernacular. Then as a common tongue in Kathmandu valley, it came to be called desa-bhasa or Nepal-bhasa, an appellation used for it in manuscripts dated since A.D. 1380 and in inscriptions dated since

A.D. 1410.

We do not have enough evidence regarding dramatic perfor­ mances during the Licchavi period (c. A.D.300-c. 879). Some plays such as Malati Madhava and Nagananda, Suryavikram Jnavali (1963 : 218) reports, find mention in the Nepalese literature of the twelfth century. We come across a large number of Sanskrit plays composed by Indian scholars who took shelter in the Darbar in the fourteenth century. There is strong evidence that these plays were staged and performed. Suniti Kumar Chatterji has pointed out that Maithili seemed to have been current in Southeastern Nepal before the advent of khaskura. Awadi, Maithili and Bengali were prevalent as languages of culture at the Newar courts. Plays were written in these languages down to the middle of the eighteenth century. C. Bendall (Catalogue


India and Nepal

ofBuddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the University Library ofCambridge 1883) and H.P. Sastri (A Catalogue of Palmleaf& Selected Paper M SS belonging to the Durbar Library, Nepal, Vol. 1,1905; Vol. 2,1915) drew our attention to the manuscripts of plays discovered in Nepal. In 1891 Hariscandranrtyam, edited by Augustus Conrady, was published from Leipzig. Conrady informs us that in Hariscandranrtyam (1651) of Siddhi Narasimha, the language is Maithili mixed some­ times with Bengali and sometimes with Hindi, but it has nothing to do with modem Nepali. Chatterji has also discussed the historical significance of Nepali plays in the context of Bengali language and literature (ODBL, Part I, p. 10; ‘Nepale Bhasa natak sambandhe mantawa’, Vangiya Sahitya Parisad Patrika for Bengali year 1336, Vol. 36, No. 3). Tarapada Mukheijee has informal us that the manuscripts of Sanskrit-Maithili-Bengali plays are lying scattered in the libraries of India, Nepal, United Kingdom and West Germany (Gopicandra-nataka, University of Calcutta 1970). P.C. Bagchi examined some manuscripts in Nepal Darbar Library. The result of his investigation has been incorporated in ‘Nepalee Bhasa Nataka’ (Vangiya Sahitya Parisad Patrika, Vol. 36, No. 3). Jayakanta Misra has elaborately discussed salient features of bhasa nataka in Nepal (History of Maithili Literature, Sahitya Akademi, 1976). The Vangiya Sahitya Parisad published, in the Bengali year 1324 ( a .d . 1917), a set of manuscripts of four plays, written in the Newari character and procured from Nepal two years earlier. Edited by Nanigopal Bandyopadhyaya, the single volume entitled Nepale Bangala Nataka, contains four plays: Vidya vilap by Kasinath, Mahabharata by Krishnadeva, Ramacarita by Ganesh and Madhavanala-kamakandala by Dhanapati. There is not a single line of prose in gny one of these verse dramas. The stage directions are in Newari. The plays were written during the reign of Bhupatindramalla (1696-1722) and Ranajitmalla (1722-69). Bandyopadhyaya in his editorial comments expressed the view that the language of the plays was Bengali, resembling that used by Krishnaram Kavi, Banamali Das, Bharatcandra and Ramaprasad. Gangananda Sinha (1922:253-56) holds the view that the language of Ramacarita by Ganesh differs from that of the other three works: the language of the first being distinctly Bengali, and Maithili in the rest. He brings to our notice ‘a close resemblance between Bengali and Maithili’ and states categorically: ‘Not to speak of the old forms of these languages, even a piece in modern

The Vernacular Drama


Bengali can pass as Maithili, if only some changes are introduced into it. Both these languages stand to each other as uterine sisters.’ The Katalog der Bibliothek der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, 1881, Leipzig, pp. 6-7, mentioned the original manus­ cripts of two plays, Lalita-kuvalayasva and Mudita-kuvalayasva.Bijit Kumar Dutta has edited these manuscripts under the title Prachin Bangala-Maithili Natak (Burdwan University, 1980). Both plays, written in Newari script, were composed and staged in Nepal. In Lalita-kuvalayasva, dialogues have been introduced without mentioning the names of the characters; in Mudita-kuvalayasva the names of the characters are mentioned. It is conjectured from the pattern of spellings that the copyists of the manuscripts were either Bengali or Maithili settled in Nepal. The author of Lalitakuvalayasva, composed in n .s . 785/a.d . 1665, was Rambhadra Dvija, who wrote two more plays entitled Gopicandra-nataka and Hariscandra-nrtya. Vamsamani Ojha is the author of Muditakuvalayasva. In the songs of the play, the bhanita repeatedly mentions the name of Jagajjyotirmalla (1614-37). Hara Prasad Sastri has mentioned in his Catalogue Vol. II some of the earliest plays written in Nepal. We mention below three illustrations. 1. III.. 363 D. Nagananda Nataka,‘Slokas 1000. Character Bengali. Date N.s. 313/a.d . 1193. 2. III. 362 B. Mahiravanabadh Natakam. Slokas 450. Character Newari. Prose and verse. Sanskrit and Prakrit. Date n .s. 457/a.d . 1337. This drama was composed by Jayata, a poet, at the request

of Jayasinha, a minister of Jayarimalla Deva of Nepal. It was copied by Jayasinha himself in n .s. 457/a.d . 1337. 3. III. 362. B. Hariscandropakhyanam. The story of Hariscandra is given in the form of a Purana, in which Agastya and Vaisampayana are the first interlocutors and Rama and Hanumana are the second interlocutors. A Kuttini comes to tempt Hariscandra’s wife in her distress. The manuscript belonged to that Jayasinha at whose instance Mahiravanabadh Natakam was written. The date of copying is N.s. 495/a.d . 1375. We have come across a four-act play named Ramanka written by Dharmagupta ‘Balabagiswar’. Dharmagupta was the son of Ramadasa, the court priest of Nepal. The date of composition is


India and Nepal

n .s .

480/a.d . 1360. The play is written in Sanskrit, though there is

scattered use of Prakrit words. It was first staged in Patan (Jnavali 1963 :225). Sthitimalla ( 1342-95) was a devotee of Rama. On the occasion of the birth of his eldest son Jayadharmamalla in n .s . 487/a.d . 1367 he caused a play on Ramacandra to be staged. A decade later, the play Bala Ramayana was staged on the occasion of Jayadharmamalla’s initiation ceremony. In n .s . 503 A.D. 1383 Abhinava Raghavananda Natakam by Manika, based on the story of Rama and Vibhisana, was staged at the court of Bhatgaon. There was another performance of this play at the wedding of Jayadharmamalla. All these plays were written in Sanskrit. Jagajjyotirmalla (1614-37), of the kingdom of Bhaktapur, was an erudite scholar. He composed fifty Brajabuli songs contained in his book Gita-panchasika. These fifty songs are also found in Kunjabehari-nataka and Mudita-kuvalayasva-nataka (A.D. 1628). S.V. Jnavali (1963 : 219) has mentioned the following books written by Jagajjyotirmalla: Commentary on Svarodayodipika by Narapati Jayacarcha; commentary on Nagar-sarvasva, a book on eroticism written by Padmasree; Slokasarasamgraha; Sangita-bhaskara and Sangitasarasamgraha. The last mentioned book is an abstract of works on music, dancing and acting. Jagajjyotirmalla is said to have brought to Nepal Sangitacandra, a work based on Bharata’s Natyasastra from South India and had a commentary on it prepared by Vamsamani Ojha. King Jitamitramalla (1673-96) of Bhaktapur is the author of Madalasaharana-nataka, written in N.s. 807/a.d . 1687. The ragas and raginis of the songs are mentioned in the play, with the songs being serially marked. The stage direction is in Newari. T\vo manuscripts of Gopicandra-nataka written by Jitamitramalla in Bengali and dated A.D. 1690 and 1712 have been discovered. Some portions of this play are in prose.Bhupatindramalla (1696-1722), king of Bhatgaon, composed songs in Brajabuli. An incomplete manuscript contains as many as eighty-one songs, all of which mention Bhupatindra in bhanita. The ragas and raginis of the songs have also been mentioned. A song in Maithili by Bhupatindramalla is quoted below. he devi sarana rakha Bhabani/mana baca Karama Kara au mana Kachu se sabae tua apadajani/hame ati dina Khina tua seba rakha Hari Yajana thani/abhinaya more aparadha sambhava mana janu

The Vernacular Drama


rakhajani/aora itarajanajaga jatase sabae guna rasamaka se bani tua pada Kamala bhramara mora manasa Janama Janama raho mani Bhupatindra nrpa paho rasa game Jaya Girijapati rani. Ranajitmalla (1722-69), king of Bhaktapur, was the author of a number of well-known plays. He wrote Ramacaritra and Madhavanalakamakandala. Six more plays are also ascribed to him. These are: Usaharana-nataka, Andhakasurabadhopakhyana-nataka, Kolasurabadhopakhyana-nataka, Ramayana-nataka, Krishnacaritra-nataka and Madanacaritakatha. A few lines are quoted from Ramacaritra to illustrate the affinity of the language with Bengali. harase vrindavane jaya dekha kokila dvani suni benu vajava milata gopini sabe aya ramanira syami tumi rasera nivasa ami to tumara dasi Karo samadhana jivana dhano tumi Karo samadhanajivana dhana tumi Karo samadhana jivana dhana tumf ki jane vidhana. Vishu says in Ramacaritra-nataka: jaladhi suta more priyatama Rama laya parabesa deva natavara dhama tini bhuvana nahi hamara samana mana java Ranajit nrpa gunamana The dialogue in Andhakasurabadhopakhyana is framed in a language that resembles Bengali. Sasi: he prananatha hamaro binati suna Andha: priyatama Kahu Bhima (Mantri); he danavadhipa hamara binativadhana Kahu. The language used in Madhavanala-Kamakandala is akin to Maithili. ave nahu calu padamakara hi sobha dekhu priya sakhi tira rahi jayaba ulasa kaya gamane jineya karu tvarita hi aoba pranitava bhari.

India and Nepal


During the reign of Pratapamalla (1641-74) at Kathmandu, Vamsamani, son of Ramachandra, wrote a symbolic play, Gitadigambaram-rupaka Which was staged in the year 1655. An old Hindi song was incorporated in this play: jayati jagadeka janani vivudhagananandakarini jayati amrtamsumauli manasavilasahamsi ciram jayati adha maulimandanaphulamale adhatarangita sura saridhara adha alika tilaksha navaindu adha soha au sindhuravindu Komala vikata carana duhucari apuruva nacakarathi tipurari ekadeha adha purusa dara tetisakoti deva dekha nihara sukavi Vamsamanie surasa gave sevi deva haraki nahi pave. Bhupalendramalla (1687-1700), grandson of Pratapamalla, wrote Nalacaritra-nataka. We quote below a few lines from it: teru vadana mato sasadhara mero nayana cakora dekhata moha e adhika soha e Kahahu bacana mere dekhite sundara capala locana Kajara sobhari mano pankaja bhamara sohata pavana se laghucari Parthivendrasuta nrpa Bhupalendra kahata eho vicari. ucita samaya milahu nagari pati se mat semari. Jagayyaya (1722-34), the last king of Kathmandu, organized a yatra performance dedicated to Pasupatinath. Many scholars and philosophers from different parts of the country congregated at this festival. A play, Prabodha-candrodaya was staged on the occasion. There are three well-marked stages in the evolution of drama in Nepal. The first stage is represented by Sanskrit plays with stage directions in Sanskrit. That songs were also sung is evident from the utterances of sutradharas in Bhairavanada Nataka and Pandava

The Vernacular Drama


Vijaya Nataka, both by Manika. In the former we have sangitam anusrtya yathavat proyogena natayitavyamiti; in the latter, gitavadya abhinava natyarasa samasta nataka laksmana alamkarani. Evidently, the conventions of Sanskrit drama were closely followed, the plays being operatic. The second stage witnessed the emergence of bhasa nataka, written in Bengali, Maithili and Brajabuli, without Sanskrit being altogether abandoned. Sanskrit verses were profusely used; the stage directions were in Sanskrit and Newari; but bhasa reigns supreme. The roles of sutradhara, nati and nandikar were highlighted. In the third stage the structure and style of the Sanskrit plays were almost discarded. The process of transformation from Sanskrit plays to bhasa nataka has been attributed to the tremendous influence that Jayadeva and Vidyapati exercised on contemporary literature both in India and Nepal. The Nepalese Maithili drama that did not strictly adopt the framework of classical Sanskrit drama has been characterized by Misra (1976:148) as ‘irregular’. In these plays, after nandi, the sutradhara and the nati introduced the author and patron of the play, explained its theme and the occasion for which the play was composed and staged. This was followed by rajavamana (descrip­ tion of the king) and desavamana (description of the country). The characters were introduced in the entrance songs. Throughout, the action progressed through songs. The drama which followed the framework of Sanskrit drama is described by Misra as ‘regular’ drama. He (1976 : 162) has referred to the working of three streams of influence on the Maithili drama in Nepal: Sanskrit drama acted as the model framework; the kirtaniya drama of Mithila gave it ‘life and movement’; and the tradition of the Mithila school of music ‘directly initiated these vernacular dramas’. The three types of influence led to the emergence of three types of drama—the ‘regular’ Maithili drama where the structure of Sanskrit drama was preserved but the language was more or less Maithili; the ‘irregular’ Maithili drama, where incidents were described in extempore dialogue interspersed with songs; and another type of ‘irregular’ drama, which may be described as operatic drama, full of secular songs. The kirtaniya plays do not have much vernacular prose, whereas the Nepali plays have profusely used short prose sentences in between the songs. In Jagajjyotirmalla’s Haragauri-vivaha the prose lines vibrate with literary and musical excellence. From a study of Lalita-kuvalayasva, Mudita-kuvalayasva and


India and Nepal

other Nepalese Maithili plays, it is possible to draw a pen picture of the social, cultural and political life of the Kathmandu valley. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata were the fountain head of the ideals and values cherished and nourished by the society. The kings governed the country in accordance with the canons of the smritis. The eighteenpuranas were held in high esteem, and puranic characters such as Usa-Aniruddha, Rta-dvaja, Madalasa, KrishanRadha, Nala-Damayanti and Kansa had spectacular roles in Nepali literature. The bhasa natakas of Nepal highlight the ideals of a king, the duties of a father and a son towards each other and the devotion of a wife to her husband. Indeed, these plays supplemented and reinforced the message of the puranas. Siva, whose glory Lalitakuvalayasva sings, was the guardian deity of the Kathmandu valley. Bhabani and Chandi were highly venerated goddesses. In Hariscandra-nrtya the king is mentioned as a devotee of Siva and Bhabani: maneto niscaya kairo bhavani carane aha nisi na tejiro sibero pujane. Ramachandra mentioned Maccendranath repeatedly. Gopicandra-nataka gives evidence that the Nepalis were familiar vnXhyogisampradaya. The age was marked by remarkable religious tolerance and harmony. The Nepal Darbar was resplendent in grandeur and pomp. It encouraged literature, music and art. People from different parts of India participated in the adventure of cultural enlightenment of the country. It is evident from the languages of the plays that Newari, Maithili, Bengali and Brajabuli had become the literary languages of Nepal. Ankya Nat of Assam Assamese drama is older than that of any other modem Indian language, older even than English drama at least by a century. The Globe theatre, immortalized by Shakespeare, was established in 1599. The first Assamese play is China-yatra (a play with painted scenes) written by Sankaradeva (1499-1569). Its first theatrical performance took place in 1468. Assamese drama was bom under the shadow of the nam ghar (prayer house) and was dedicated to religious purpose. Though one-act plays, they have nothing in common with one-act Sanskrit drama. DimbeswarNeog(1962 : 214) suggests that the word nat used in describing these plays, as distinguished from nataka, may probably have been derived from the Vedic narta or natta signifying dance. The expression yatra in China-yatra, Rasa-yatra, Janma-yatra probably reveals their operatic

The Vernacular Drama


nature. The poems and songs constitute the kernel of these plays. Some of the essential elements in both Sanskrit and Assamese drama are puna ranga (preliminaries), nandi (benediction), prarocana (induction), amukha (introduction) and prastavana (induction). Sanskrit verses indicating vija (germ) of the vastu (subject matter) and vindu (elements) are also recited in Assamese drama. Neog informs us that Sankaradeva alone was known to have composed 179 verses for his anka, 161 of them in arustuva metre and the rest in upajati, indravajra, upendravajra, malini, vasanta tilaka and mandakranta. There are resemblances between Sanskrit drama and Assamese drama in sandhi (juncture), rasa (sentiment) and mukti-mangala (concluding benediction). Ankas (acts) in Assamese drama do not have garbhankas (scenes) as in Sanskrit drama. Vidusakas (jester) have no role in Assamese drama. Songs iff Sanskrit drama are sung by the individual character or in nepathya (elsewhere), but those in Assamese plays are sung by gayan-bayan (band of musicians). In Sanskrit drama sutradhara disappears from the stage after the invocation. But in ankiya-nat, sutradhara is its integral part. As B.K. Barua (1964 : 34) points out, sutradhara in ankiya nat ‘combines the functions of the producer and a running commentator’. The audience in Nepal Darbar was highly literate; ankiya nat was meant for the masses. The characters in Nepali bhasa natak introduced themselves in Sanskrit But in Assamese drama that was done in Brajabuli and Assamese. The actors wore gorgeous dresses and masks. The skilled khanikar made wooden and earthen images of God, manufactured effigies, masks, sword, shield, bow and arrow, discus, club and general make-up of the actors. The traits of the characters were known by the specific colours of their make-up: Krishna was painted in blue-black, a Brahmin or a mendicant in white, a ferocious man in red and a cruel devil in black. Sankaradeva’s plays included Kali-damana (1518), Patni-prasada (1521), Rasa-krida or Keli-Gopala (1540), Rukmini-harana, Parijataharana and Rama-vijaya (1568). He was followed by Madhavadeva (1492-15%) and Gopala Ata (1547-1611), both of whom enriched the traditions of ankiya nat and Assamese devotional literature. In the opinion of B.K Barua the Assamese ankiya nat have led to the growth of the popular stage, music and dancing, spread of Vaisnavism among the masses, development of a special type of


India and Nepal

narrative poem known as bhatima and also the origin of the first Assamese prose. Oriya Drama It is now known from the records preserved in the temple of Jagannatha that the tradition of plays and theatre in Orissa goes back to as early as the twelfth century A.D. The Sanskrit play Piyusha Lahari by one Jayadeva was staged in the courtyard of the shrine of Jagannatha. In the Radhakanta Math (Caitanya’s home at Puri) the play Lalita Madhava by Rupa Goswami was staged. Ray Ramananda wrote a play, Jagannatha Vallabha nataka, in imitation of Jayadeva, based on the episodes in the love play of Radha and Krishna. It was staged in the courtyard of Jagannatha temple and in the monastery of Jagannatha Vallabha, which was a spiritual resort of Caitanyadeva. Ramananda’s play is composed both in Sanskrit and Prakrit, the same character speaking sometimes in Sanskrit and sometimes in Prakrit as the situation demanded. The songs echo those of Jayadeva. The dialogue in verse exceeds that in prose. A Sanskrit play named Parasurama-vijaya was staged in the fifteenth century in the courtyard of king Kapilendra Deva of the Solar dynasty of Orissa or in the courtyard of the temple of Jagan­ natha. As to the importance of this play, Mansinha (1962 : 219) writes: What makes it interesting and valuable in the history of Oriya drama is that in this play, in lieu of songs in Prakrit as ordained in Sanskrit poetics and as practised by all Sanskrit play wrights from Bhasa downwards, we find songs in genuine Oriya. This was certainly a daring experiment for that age and earns the play, which has not much literary merit in itself, the credit of making a beginning with the formal literary play in Oriya. Kirtaniya Drama of Mithila Mithila has an unbroken literary record from the beginning of the fourteenth century, or even earlier, down to the present day. Jyotirisvara Thakura (c. 1280-1340) wrote Varna Ratnakara in Maithili during the first quarter of the fourteenth century. This book, discovered from Nepal by Hara Prasad Sastri, seems to have supplied Maithili poets both in Mithila and Nepal, ‘with stock materials for their compositions’ (Jayakanta Misra 1976 : 62-63).

The Vernacular Drama


Another book, Maithili Dhurttasamagama by the same author was discovered by Misra in 1957 from the Vir Library of Nepal. This play takes the history of medieval Maithili drama several centuries earlier than it was supposed to belong so far. Misra thinks it was the ‘first specimen’of what ultimately developed into the great kirtaniya drama of Mithila. Vidyapati inserted the first two verses of the Sanskrit version of this play in his introduction to Goraksavijaya. This is a proof of its link, argues Misra, with the subsequent tradition of drama composition in Mithila. This play had a Maithili version with Maithili songs. This was necessary, Misra reminds us, to make it intelligible to literates and semi-literates. The Maithili songs are not just independent lyrics; they represent the speeches and acting of some of the characters, portray dramatic moments, highlight the important points of a dialogue, announce the entrance of a character and fulfil a definite dramatic purpose. The songs are like those of early kirtaniya drama: entrance songs, descriptive songs, translations of Sanskrit and Prakrit verses. The songs bear the imprint of Gitagovinda. The age of Vidyapati Thakura (c. 1360-1448) represents the exit of Prakrit and Apabhramsa and the advent of modem vernaculars. Vidyapati himself uses the expression desila baana or desa bhasa. This Goraksavijaya is a Maithili play which has, like the Maithili Dhurttasamagama, Sanskrit and Prakrit speeches and stage direc­ tions. But nandi, dance, songs and speeches are in Maithili lyrics, quite independent of Sanskrit and Prakrit speeches and verses. Compared to Dhurttasamagama, Goraksavijaya attaches greater importance to the vernacular. The word nritya is used frequently for acting. The dramatic songs differ from lyrical songs. Umapati Upadhyaya, the greatest of medieval kirtaniya dramatists, wrote Parijataharana, taking his story from Harivamsa and Srimadbhagavata. Pradyumna of Purana is Aijuna in Parijataharana. In this drama there are nandi and prastavana but no division of anka. Sutradhara and nati are present only in prastavana. Both in Nepali bhasa nataka and in the Maithili Parijataharana, the characters introduce themselves, describing their own physical features. There are Sanskrit verses and Prakrit prose passages in this play, but the songs are wholly in Maithili. The Sanskrit verses also have been translated in the vernacular songs. In Nepali bhasa nataka the use of Sanskrit is limited only to nandi and prastavana.


India and Nepal

In the Anandavyayanatika written by Ramadasa Jha in the seventeenth century there were Maithili songs along with Sanskrit and Prakrit In the play Rukminiparinaya (also called Rukminiharana or Rukminisvayamvara), written by Ramapati Upadhyaya and staged during the reign of Maharaja Narendrasimha (1744-61), the languages used are Sanskrit Prakrit and Maithili. The story is taken from Harivamsa (Plarvas 47, 69) and Srimadbhagavata (Skandha X, chapter 52-54). Nandi and prastavana occur in this play, which has all the features of what Misra characterizes as regular kirtaniya drama, namely framework of Sanskrit play, use o f Sanskrit and Prakrit entrance songs, dialogue songs and the spirit of kirtana. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Sri-Krishna Kelimala, a play written by Nandipati was staged. The use of Sanskrit and Prakrit in this play is rare. Songs and verses portray the action The poet describes himself as bhakha kavi (vernacular poet). Misra describes it as the most effective vernacular play of Mithila. The play Gourisvayamvara written by Kanharama in 1842 was, according to Jayakanta Misra, an ‘irregular kirtaniya\ It has no Sanskrit dialogue, and the songs bear the imprint of Hindi language. There is no division into acts. There was a group of actors in Mithila known as jamati. They came from all sections of society. The female roles were performed by the male actors. Sutradhara and nayaka (hero or leader) were the same person. The arrangement on the stage was very simple. The study of form and genre in literature provides an invaluable source material for investigation of the mystic process of culture contact. The literary form ofpada was prevalent almost throughout Northern India. Jayadeva popularized it and Vidyapati helped its dissemination in Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Nepal and Mithila. In Nepal, hundreds of manuscripts of pada known as ragamala have been discovered. Most of these are unpublished. Each pada is associated with a particular raga or ragini. In Bengal, Mithila and Nepal, the padas form a part of kirtan songs. In the kirtaniya drama of Mithila, music, dance and poetry were the essential elements and prose was seldom used. Misra (1972 :172) thinks that the founding of schools of music in Tripura and Assam by the Maithili musicians led to the development of ankiya nata in Assam andyatra in Bengal. Vamana (set passages of description) is a very old form of prose found in Jaina literature. This was taken up in the fourteenth century

The Vernacular Drama


by Jyotirisvara Thakur. Vamana was an important element in the Maithili plays and also in Nepalese Maithili plays. Kathaka of Bengal resorted to vamana in their narrative discourse of pauranic stories. Misra (1972 :172) points out that the chanting of vamana appealed to the audience like the dhyana of gods, goddesses and heroes and heroines in traditional literature. Bengali Yatrd Some are of opinion that even before the Christian era, yatra, based on the Krsna-cult were composed and performed in some parts of India. Others hold that the origin ofyatra should be traced to pancali songs prevalent in Bengal long ago. This is a possibility, as there is no evidence to prove that in Bengal yatra preceded pancali songs. Yatra signifies festival. The root^a stands (orgamana (to go) signifying the movement of the sun to the south (dekshinayana). Synchronized with gamana, people celebrated religious festivals like Krsnayatra, jhulanyatra, rasayatra, dolayatm. Asutosh Bhattacharya (1968 : 80) conjectures that some types of folk drama resembling yatra was prevalent in Eastern India from hoary antiquity. The tradition of folk drama survived partly in Gitagovinda and Srikrishna kirtana. In medieval Bengali literature, the references to yatra stood for religious festival and not dramatic performance. These festivals, marked by dance and song, were known as natgit. Krittivas, in the Uttara-kanda of Ramayana, uses this expression while describing the marriage ceremony of Siva and Durga. Both Gitagovinda of Jayadeva and Srikrishna Kirtana of Badu Candidas belong to the genre of natgit. Bhattacharya affirms that in course of time natgit came to be known as yatra. Prior to the nineteenth century, the term yatra is not known to have been used in the sense of drama. The Gitagovinda has a dramatic element in it. The songs sung by Radha and Krishna or by their gopi friends are nothing but so many speeches. Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1981: 32) firmly believes that this masterpiece of world literature ‘unquestionably had some­ thing to do in the evolution of the popular yatra or song drama of the old type in Bengal---- ’ Srikrishna kirtana by Badu Candidas (roughly sixteenth century) is regarded as the nearest approach to dramatic poetry in Middle Bengali literature. The story is told through dialogue and trialogue of songs, which have a single or double verse in Sanskrit, somewhat in the manner of the Gitagovinda. The dramatic quality of this collection of lyric poems is manifest in


India and Nepal

the manipulation of episodes and also in the development of the plot producing an effect of dramatic action. Needless to say, Srikrishna kirtana does not belong to the genre of bhasa nataka of Nepal. But in both, dialogues occur in the same song. The first biography of Caitanyadeva in Bengali is Caitanyamangala or Caitanya-bhagavad by Vrindavandas. In this long narrative poem, completed sometime about a .d . 1540, there is a reference to a play Krishnacarita staged by Viswambhar (Caitanyadeva himself) at the house of Chandrasekhar Acharya. The stage performance has been characterized by Vrindavandas not as yatra but as anker bidhane nrtya: anka meaning here anka (acts) of Sanskrit drama. Bhattacharya (1968 : 76) holds the view that the mention of anka notwithstanding, the play was not performed in accordance with the directions of Natyasastra of Bharata; that the narration by Vrindavandas makes it clear that this performance closely followed the prevalent folk tradition. According to Sukumar Sen (1986:44-47) the historical significance of this account by Vrindavandas is invaluable, being the actual account of a play performed in accor­ dance with the stage directions mentioned in Sanskrit literature. Towards the end of the sixteenth century Govindadasa wrote a Sanskrit play, Sangitamadhava-nataka, which contained, it is conjectured, vernacular songs. From the seventeenth century Palakirtan and yatra became immensely popular. The vernacular plays which were written and produced in Nepal provide ‘the missing link’ (Mukheiji 1970 : IX) between the Sanskrit play and the Bengali yatra. These embody the interesting features of the later developments of classical Sanskrit plays. The early specimens of yatra are not yet known. For the reconstruction of the history of yatra, the evidence of Nepal play is of stupendous significance. JayakantaMisra( 1976 : 39) holds the view that Nepali drama and ankiya nat of Assam are developments from the Maithili kirtaniya drama. Bijit Dutta (1980 : passim) maintains that the origin and development of Bengali yatra, Maithili kirtanya drama and Assamese ankiya nat owe a great deal to the Nepali bhasa nataka. In the evolution of Bengali and Maithili prose, Nepali drama deserves more than a passing reference. But before we set out on a search of valid evidence for all these propositions, we must be clear what we are looking for. In other words, what are, to use Toynbee’s (1960 : 12) expression, ‘the tokens of apparentationand-affiliation which we are to accept as valid evidence’ in the study of vernacular drama in a comparative framework.



Most of the devotional works in the early phase of Nepali literature were translations or adaptations from Sanskrit literature, but the heroic works were original compositions that enlivened the tradition of folk ballads and reflected the ethos of a martial people. In its early stage, the architects of Nepali literature were competent Sanskrit scholars. They culled material for their works from the themes on Krishna and Rama. In the works of Nepali poets like Udayanand, Indiras, Vidyananda Kesari, Yadunath Pokhrel and Basanta Sarma, we discern abundant use of Sanskrit, Braja, Awadi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Urdu, Arabic and Persian words. They were adept in Sanskrit metres like totaka, svajati, sardulavikridita, malini, upajati, vasantatilaka, sragvini, bhujangapravata, upachitra, sragdhara and bhadrika (Jahar Sen 1990 : 263-71). The Rana totalitarianism (1846-1951), distrustful of culture, brought down art and literature to a status that was cheerless enough. Nepali literature was, generally speaking, artificial and lifeless adaptations from classical Sanskrit literature. Jang Bahadur (1846-77) discouraged the writing and staging of drama. The Nepalese art of painting and statuary fell in decay while pieces of British painting and sculpture adorned the walls of the Darbar hall and the palaces of the Ranas (Jain 1972 :182). The education system in Nepal during the Rana period was in a shambles. The aristocratic families engaged European or Bengali teachers, family priests and pundits as tutors of their children. The great bulk of population were poor, ignorant and illiterate. In 1894 Bir Samser (1885-1901) started the Darbar High School at Kathmandu. Deva Samser (1901) inaugurated a large number of


India and Nepal

primary schools, many of which were subsequently closed down. Chandra Samser (1901-29) discouraged the spread of liberal education. In 1912, he told George V during the latter’s visit to India that one of the consequences of sound educational system in Nepal was that she did not produce revolutionaries like Tilak and Gokhale (Kumar 1967 :138). The establishment of the Trichandra , College, Chandra Samser cautioned, would dig the graveyard of the Rana rule. Bir Samser imposed a ban on the entry of Hindi newspapers from India to Nepal. By an order of Jang Bahadur, a saint known as Lakh an Thapa was put to death for his allegiance to the non­ conformist Josmani sect Another Josmani saint Jnandil (c. 1821-83) was reported to have been arrested for his alleged plot against the autocracy of Jang Bahadur (Kumar Pradhan 1984 : 62). In 1909 Madhavraj Joshi, a disciple of Swami Dayanand, was publicly whipped and expelled from Nepal. Baburam Acharya, a noted Nepali historian, drew a comparative picture of the Rana govern­ ment of Nepal and the shogunate in Japan in his book Nepali Siksha Darpan (1912). The book was proscribed. Krishnalal portrayed the lamentable plight of the peasantry in his book, Makaiko Kheti (‘Maize Cultivation’) published in 1914. The author was thrown into prison. In 1941 Sukharaj Sastri was hanged by the order of Juddha Samser for disseminating the ideals of Arya Samaj. The climate of Nepal during the Rana period was envenomed with the poison of religious obscurantism, intolerance, intellectual inertia and cultural degeneration. On 17 October 1951, in the GDNS Hall of Daijeeling town, a conference on Nepali literature took place. Balkrishna Sam (1902-81), the illustrious literary figure of Nepal, was the chief guest In his speech, he reminded the audience that during 18461950, literature in Nepal languished on account of the Rana regimentation policy. In those dark days, the architects and lovers of Nepali literature, Sam acknowledged, turned to India for enlightenment and inspiration. This observation needs elucida­ tion. It has been suggested by eminent scholars that modem Nepali literature grew on the soil of India. The discussion that follows is illustrative and not exhaustive. Banaras Varanasi had a radiant role in the Nepali Hindu life. As a place

Contemporary Scenario: Indian Nepali Literature


of pilgrimage and a centre of learning, the city has attracted people from Nepal through the ages. Some wealthy Ranas and Guthi Samstha (a department of Nepal Darbar) provided monthly allowances to the old people from Nepal who settled in Banaras. Driven by social tyranny, many Nepali widows found shelter and solace here. Institutions like Kasi Hindu Visva-Vidyalaya, Nepali Chhatra Sangha, Varanasiya Nepali Sanskrit Chhatra Parisad and Banaras Nepali Chhatra Parisad acted as important arteries of Indo-Nepal culture contact. Some organizations such as Nepali Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya and Jagadamba Prathamik Pathsala offered free education through the Nepali medium of instruction, free hostel facilities and scholarships as well. The role of these organizations in promoting culture contact between the two countries deserves special mention. Some Nepali firms such as Viswaraj Harihar Sarma, Sarva Hitaisi Co., Subba Homenath Kedamath Co., Babu Madhav Prasad, Tikadutta Dhital, GorkhaBastu Bhandar, Jasoda Pustakalaya, Akhil Nepali Siva Pustakalaya, Nepali Pustak Sadan, Sarada Sadan, Prabasi Bandu Co., published a large number of Nepali books on various subjects. Nepali poets like Indiras (b. 1827) and Vidyaranya Kesari (b. 1806), who composed devotional poems, were deeply influenced by Ballabh of Banaras. Bhanubhakta Acharya (1814-69) and Raghunath Bhatta (1811-51) were nurtured and nourished in the literary milieu of Banaras. Motir^m Bhatta (1866-%) was closely associated with the Hindi literary group led by the eminent Hindi poet Bharatendu Harishchandra. Motiram established Bharat Jivan Press and himself became its manager. One of his notable contri­ butions was the publication in 1886 of the first Nepali journal, Gorkha Bharat Jivan, a monthly, from Banaras, with Ramkrishna Varma as its editor. The Balakanda of Bhunubhakta’s Ramayana was first published in 1887 by Bharat Jivan Press. The contributions of Homenath Khatiwada (1854-1927), Kedamath Khatiwada (1877-1941), Chiranjib Sarma (1867-1940), Sikhamath Subedi (1864-1948), Kulachandra Gautam (1875-1958), Krishnaprasad Regmi (1882-1928), Somnath Sigdel (1884-1972), Chakrapani Chalise (1882-1953), Sambhuprasad Dungel (1889-1928), Kalidas Parajuli (1881-1950) and many others were, indeed, too deep for words. A new era dawned in the history of Nepali literature with the advent of Lekhnath Paudyal (1844-1965) and Lakshmiprasâd Devkota (1909-59). Lekhnath was inspired by Maithilisaran


India and Nepal

Gupta, Devkota, said Rahul Sankrityayan, was Pant, Prasad and Nirala rolled into one. The Nepali journals published from Banaras had a pioneering role in the embellishment of Nepali literary tradition. Motiram Bhatta’s Gorkha Bharat Jivan (1886) was followed by Upanyas Tarangini (1902), Sundari (1906), Madhavi (1908), Gorkhali (1915), Yugabani (1947), Naulo Pailo (1955), Chhatra (1950), Chhatrabani (1955), Chhatraprabha (1955) and others. Both Sundari and Madhavi were devoted to enrichment of Nepali literature, social reform and educational advancement of Nepalese society. Gorkhali, the first Nepali weekly blamed the Rana autocracy for the poverty, back­ wardness and illiteracy of the people of Nepal. It stood for the people’s political rights and solicited their participation in non­ cooperation and satyagraha movements. Yugabani was the mouthpiece of Nepali nationalism. Gorkha Hasya-Manjari (1952), a collection of short stories edited by Ramkrishna Varma, has been hailed as a landmark in the history of Nepali literature. Journals like Sundari, Madhabi and Gorkhali belonged to this literary genre. Some of the Nepali short stories published in Gorkhali bore the imprint of modernity. Chandra advocated the proper development and propagation of Nepali language. It argued that ‘the reason behind the progress of the English, French and German peoples lay in the development of their respective languages’ (Kumar Pradhan 1984:75). In the 1950s, an interesting movement known as jharrobad movement was launched in Banaras. Subedi (1978 : 103) describes it as a ‘folksy movement’. Its leading personalities were Balkrishna Pokhrel (b. 1933), Taranath Sarma and Baliavmani Dahal, and it had the blessings of Mahanda Sapkota (1896—1978), an eminent linguist of Nepal. They urged the use of undiluted Nepali lexicon and morphemes in preference to loan words from Hindi, Urdu, English and other languages. ‘However short lived’, says Subedi, ‘this movement left its visible impact on the prose writings in the following period’. Darjeeling It was not till the arrival of Rev. William Macfarlane at Daijeeling in 1869 that any systematic plan of vernacular education was initiated in the district. He persuaded the government to offer scholarship to students.

Contemporary Scenario: Indian Nepali Literature


He grasped the fact that the Nepalis were people of a stronger character than any of the other hill tribes, and he soon found that their language was so akin to Hindi that he could use many Hindi text-books as a means of instruction. He also found that the Lepchas and Bhotias, from their contact with Hindi and Nepali-speaking peoples, were soon able to converse in this language. (O’Malley, 71). In 1879 Tumachang Sitting, Damyong Lucksom and Namdyer Rongong, the Lepcha patriarchs resident of Ilam, helped the British authorities with the supply of Lepcha workers in building the Botanical Garden at Darjeeling The children of these workers enrolled in the schools established by Macfarlane. Hindi was the medium of instruction in these schools, but Macfarlane adopted Nepali also, keeping in view the requirements of a large number of students who spoke Nepali. In the Christian missionary schools Nepali was also getting gradual recognition as a vernacular subject The Christian missionaries were the first to introduce Nepali as the medium of instruction. The contribution of the Christian missionaries to the development of Nepali literature is noteworthy. The Serampore missionaries translated the New Testament into Nepali as far back as 1821. In 1850 the Calcutta Auxiliary of the Bible Society published a translation of St Luke by Rev. William Start an Anglican Chaplain who had established an independent mission at Darjeeling In 1861 C.G. Niebel prepared a version of these books. Rev. William Macfarlane, aided by Gangaprasad Pradhan (1853-1939), one of the earliest Nepali converts and later a pastor in Daijeelings started in 1869 transla­ tion of the Bible into Nepali. Macfarlane was joined in 1878 by Archibald TUrnbull, who succeeded him on his demise. Turnbull’s notable contribution to the development of Nepali was his publica­ tion, in 1887, of Nepali Grammar and Vocabulary, written in both Roman and Nagari scripts, the vocabulary being in Roman script exclusively. Tbmbull died in 1905 to be succeeded by Alexander Macleish, under whom the Nepali Bible was completed in 1914. For nearly twenty years, on the Nepal frontier Macleish sold thousands of copies of the scripture. Gangaprasad Pradhan was the colleague of all three. Macleish admits that