Rana dynasty

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The Rana dynasty (Nepali: राणा शासन, Rāņā shāsana) was a Hindu Rajput dynasty[1] which ruled the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 until 1951, reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary. Tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution characterized Rana rule.[2][3] This changed in 1951 with the promulgation of a new constitution, when power shifted back to the monarchy of King Tribhuvan.[4] The dynasty is descended from Bal Narsingh Kunwar of Kaski who moved to Gorkha in the early 18th century and entered the service of Raja Nara Bhupal Shah around 1740, and of Bhimsen Thapa (1775–1839), who is counted among the National heroes of Nepal.


Janga Bahadur Kunwar (Nepali: जंग बहादुर कुँवर) began the dynasty when he came to power through the 1846 Kot massacre (Nepali: कोत पर्व, Kot Parwa) where 36 members of the palace court including the Prime Minister and a relative of the King Chautariya Fate Janga Shah were murdered. These were unstable times and Janga Bahadur brought stability to the country by putting himself firmly in control. He took the title Rana ("king"), the honorific Shrī Tīn (Nepali: श्री ३), meaning his name was preceded by Shrī-Shrī-Shrī, and was accorded 19-gun salutes by the British Raj. However Shah kings were Shrī Pānch (Nepali: श्री ५) -- Shrī-Shrī-Shrī-Shrī-Shrī—called Maharājdhirāj (Nepali: महाराजाधिराज), "king of kings", and given 21-gun salutes. Janga Bahadur's sons and brothers inherited the title Rana, and took it as their family name instead of Kunwar.

After Jang Bahadur's death, his brother Ranodip Singh Rana took the Prime Ministership and title of Jang as per Jang's established wishes. However, the childless Ranodip was murdered in cold blood by four of his nephews: notable among them was Bir Shamshere (son of Dhir Shamsher Rana, youngest brother of Jang) whom Ranodip trusted blindly, for which he would ultimately pay with his life. Bir Shamshere was the main culprit as illustrated by British writer William Digby in his groundbreaking account of the murder in his book Friend in Need:1857, Friendship Forgotten:1887. Gen. Dhoj Narsingh Rana, eldest son of Ranodip Singh, was falsely implicated in the murder and took refuge in India along with his family and Jang Bahadur's. The aforementioned book emphasizes the treachery of British Rulers in their treatment of Indian Kings, through the strategy of "Divide and Rule." Maharaja Sir Jang Bahadur Rana's eldest son, Gen. Jagat Jang, known as "Mukhiya Jarnel", and his eldest grandson (and Gen. Jagat Jang's eldest son) Gen. Yuddha Pratap, known as "Naati Jarnel," were both brutally murdered by Bir Shamshere and his brothers. Their descendants currently live in Manahara, Kathmandu.

Presently, if someone carries the name Shumshere Jang Bahadur Rana, they come from Dhir Shumsher's lineage (Jang Bahadur's younger brother) whose son Bir Shamsher staged the 1885 coup d'etat, which resulted in the murder of most of Jang Bahadur's sons and forced the remaining sons and nephews to seek refuge in India. Two of Jang Bahadur's sons Gen. Ranabir Jang and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana[5] were escorted to Allahabad. Gen. Ranabir Jang later attempted to reclaim his position, after having raised an army, but was thwarted and finally killed in battle. Ranabir Jang's descendants with the title Bir Jang Bahadur are very widespread, and live in Kathmandu, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Kolkata, Australia, and the UK.

Descendants of Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana today live in Allahabad, Nepalgunj, Dehradun, Kathmandu, New York, Australia and the United Kingdom. Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana later wrote the book called Life of Sir Jang Bahadur, which was published in early 1900 in India. His sons and grandsons fought and commanded forces in places like France, Italy, Afghanistan, Burma, Flanders, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Waziristan during World War I and World war II and won a long list of medals.

If someone carries Bikram Rana in their name then they are the descendants of Jung Bahadur Rana's older brother Maharaja Gen.Bhakta Bikram Rana who is known as Buda General (old General ). His grand son Gen.Rishi Bikram Rana represented Nepalese army in World War II. The only known descendent from this lineage is his son Major Bhagirath Bikram Rana.

Maharaja and Sir Jung Bahadur's Grandson (Maharajkumar Gen. Padma Jung's son), Rana Jodha Jung Bahadur, was the first Indian of Nepali-origin to be trained as commanding officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). He was commissioned as one of the First King's Commissioned Indian Officer (KCIO). He later became Commander-in-Chief of Tripura Forces and retired as full colonel of the British Raj who fought gallantly in World War I. At the Battle of Loos he fought bravely and received five bullet wounds in his neck and upper shoulder. He was awarded many medals and honors during his long military career. During World War I at the Battle of Loos, the British Military London News reported:

"Rana Jodha Jang Bahadur, who, in spite of being wounded, continued to lead his men against the Germans, and did not desist until a second wound in the neck rendered him unconscious. The Rana displayed great tenacity, leadership and conspicuous gallantry by leading his company right up to the German defenses in the face of heavy fire"

His titles read: Commander-in-Chief Tripura State Forces, Col. Rana Jodha Jung Bahadur, MBE; MIC, MID, GSM, Victory, Jubilee, War and Coronation Medals; KCIO 1st King Commissioned Officer.

Many of his daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters married various maharajas of Indian principality states. Similarly many of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons married various princesses of Indian royal houses. Maharaja Sir Jang Bahadur Rana of Lambjang and Kaski started the process of marrying Rana gentlemen and ladies to the Indian royal households in the mid-19th century. Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang continued the process of marrying his sons and daughters to the Indian Royal Households in the late 19th century. One of his great-granddaughters, Sita Rani Devi, is Rajmata of the Indian Princely State of Makrai[6] Another great-granddaughter is Geeta Rani Rana, who married the late Thakuri Prachanda Singh of Royal House of Tulsipur.

The present rulers of Nepal, Jajorkot, Bajhang and Indian Princely States such as Jhalai, Jubbal, Bagribari, Tripura, Oel Kaimara, Khairagarh, Rajgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Thalrai, Benaras, Ramnagar and many other states share a direct bloodline with Commander-in-Chief General Padma Jang Bahadur Rana and Maharaja of Lambjang and Kaski Sir Jang Bahadur Rana.

Many of Jang Bahadur's nephews, as well as Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana (adopted son of Maharaja Sir Renaudip Singh Bahadur), were forced to seek refuge in India. Many of Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh's children and family remained with Sri Teen Ranodip Singh's widow in Benares and were then relocated later to Udaipur upon the invitation by Maharana Fateh Singh, who sought to give refuge to his Rana cousins.

Out of the seven sons and three daughters of General Dhoj Narsingh, three sons and one daughter moved to Udaipur at the invitation of the Maharana who graciously requested them to settle in Udaipur. The Rana princes Shri Narsingh and Dev Narsingh established themselves to carry on the family's name in the city of their forefathers. The late Raja Durga Narsingh Rana was and is one of the best-known names among the Rajputs of Udaipur.

Their families established marital relations with royal families and thikanas like Jasmor (head of the Pundir clan), Banka, Gogunda, Samode, Neemrana (direct descendents of Prithviraj Chauhan), Mahendragarh, etc.

The only known male descendants from these lines are the late Raja Durga Narsingh Rana and his son Raja Gyanendra Narsingh Rana, Raja Jagat Narsingh Rana (son of Shree Narsingh Rana) and his sons Mahendra Narsingh Rana and Virendra Narsingh Rana. Raja Gyanendra Narsingh Rana is currently the head of the Rana clan in Udaipur after the demise of his father Raja Durga Narsingh Rana.

The shortest serving Rana was Dev Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana who ruled for two months in 1901, he was deposed by his brothers because of his open display of guilt for what has happened during the coup. Known as "The Reformist" for his progressive policies, he proclaimed universal education, began building schools, took steps to abolish slavery, and introduced several other social welfare schemes[citation needed]. He also made improvements to the arsenal at Nakkhu (south of Kathmandu) and started The Gorkhapatra newspaper. Dev Shumsher felt guilty for what had transpired during the coup, also a key incident happened during the coup which affected him deeply. He was held at gunpoint by General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, but was allowed to live and forgiven. For this, he felt a lot of guilt and asked for the exiled family members to return to Nepal. This brought him into conflict with his immediate brothers.

He was deposed by his relatives, whereupon he settled in Jhari Pani, near Mussoorie, where his Fairlawn Palace once stood. A developer purchased the palace and tore it down, replacing it with cottages. All that remains are a few of the original gates and a small portion of the palace skeleton.

The Ranas were acclaimed and given much prestige as well as a 19-gun salute by the British. With the exception of Deva Shamsher, all received knighthoods.

The Rana dynasty developed into a powerful and wealthy family clan and some Ranas are still very influential in the country today taking higher positions in the Nepali Army. To retain their power and influence the Rana family formed a close alliance with the Shah dynasty via marriage.

Rana Prime Ministers[edit]

Nine Rana rulers took the hereditary office of Prime Minister. All were styled (self proclaimed) Maharaja of Lambjang and Kaski.

  1. Shrī Tīn Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI (18 June 1816 – 25 February 1877)
    Ruled 1846 to 25 February 1877. Received the hereditary rights to the title of Rana and a salute of 19 guns from the British.
  2. Shrī Tīn Ranodip Singh aka Ranodip Singh Rana, KCSI (3 April 1825 – 22 November 1885
    Ruled 25 February 1877 to 22 November 1885.
  3. Shrī Tīn Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI (10 December 1852 – 5 March 1901)
    Ruled 22 November 1885 to 5 March 1901.
  4. Shrī Tīn Dev Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana (17 July 1862 – 20 February 1914)
    Ruled 5 March to 27 June 1901, when as a result of his progressive nature, he was deposed by his relatives and sent into exile in India.
  5. Shrī Tīn Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCVO (8 July 1863 – 26 November 1929)
    Ruled 27 June 1901 to 26 November 1929.
  6. Shrī Tīn Bhim Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI, GCMG, KCVO (16 April 1865 – 1 September 1932)
    Ruled 26 November 1929 to 1 September 1932.
  7. Shrī Tīn Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI, GCIE (19 April 1875 – 20 November 1952)
    Ruled 1 September 1932 to 29 November 1945, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his nephew.
  8. Shrī Tīn Padma Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI, GBE, KCIE (5 December 1882 – 11 April 1961)
    Ruled 29 November 1945 to 30 April 1948, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his cousin.
  9. Shrī Tīn Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCIE, GBE (23 December 1885 – 6 January 1967)
    Ruled 30 April 1948 to 18 February 1951, at which date he was divested of his titles and later went to India.

External links and Sources[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greater Game: India's Race with Destiny and China by David Van Praagh
  2. ^ Dietrich, Angela (1996). "Buddhist Monks and Rana Rulers: A History of Persecution". Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Lal, C. K. (16 February 2001). "The Rana resonance". Nepali Times. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Kraemer, Karl-Heinz. "Democratization and political parties in Nepal". Harvard University. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  5. ^ Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana
  6. ^ .Rajmata of Indian Princely State of Makrai
  7. ^ Friend in need:1857, Friendship forgotten:1887