Prithvi Narayan Shah

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Prithvi Narayan Shah
King of Nepal
Reign 25 September 1743 – 11 January 1775
Coronation 25 September 1743[1]
Predecessor Nara Bhupal Shah
Successor Pratap Singh Shah
Born 11 January 1723[2]
Gorkha, Nepal
Died 11 January 1775 (aged 52)
Devighat, Nepal
Spouse Indra Kumari Devi
Narendra Rajya Laxmi Devi
Icchavati Devi
Dayavati Devi
Issue Pratap Singh Shah
Vedum Shah
Bahadur Shah
Narayan Shah
Vishnu Shah
Dynasty Shah dynasty
Father Nara Bhupal Shah
Mother Kaushalyawati Shah
Religion Hinduism

Prithvi Narayan Shah, King of Nepal (1723[3]–1775; Nepali: वडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह) was the first King of unified Nepal. He is credited with starting the campaign for a unified Nepal, which had been divided and weakened under the Malla confederacy.[4] He was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), the founder of the ruling house of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father, King Nara Bhupal Shah, to the throne of the Gorkha Kingdom in 1743.

Early life[edit]

Prithvi Narayan Shah was born as one of Khasas in Gorkha, Nepal. Chandra Pravawati (the first wife of King Nara Bhupal Shah) raised him, although his biological mother was Kaushalyawati Shah. From a young age, he took interest in the affairs of his father's state and soon began to take on these responsibilities. Prithivi Narayan Shah had an early dream of conquering Nuwakot, Nepal, partially as his father had lost it in an earlier war. After the death of his father in 1743, Prithivi Narayan Shah ascended to the throne of Gorkha at the age of 20. As king, Prithvi Narayan Shah valued his people and enjoyed talking to his subjects about their general concerns. This practice helped him to build a rapport with his people, and helped him to understand the requirements of the citizens of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah sealed his borders and had maintained a peaceful environment except for distant relations with the British, who were refusing to trade with Nepal at that time. Prithvi Narayaṇ was succeeded by his son, Pratap Singh [5]

King's palace on a hill in Gorkha.

Unification of Nepal[edit]

Main article: Unification of Nepal

King Prithvi Narayan Shah's reign began with an immediate military defeat; his invasion of Nuwakot in 1743 AD failed. Conquering Nuwakot was essential for the unification, as it lies between Kathmandu and the Gorkha District, which made it a vital trading route to Tibet. He successfully conquered Nuwakot in a subsequent attack in 1744 AD. After capturing Nuwakot, he took possession of strategic locations in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. The valley was completely cut off from the outside world and was controlled solely by Prithvi Narayan Shah. Prithvi Narayan Shah also occupied the Kuti Pass in c.1756 AD, stopping the trade through the pass and communication with Tibet. He ended relations with the (then) Muslim Mughal Empire in India.

After two humiliating defeats in Kirtipur, King Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the ancient city on his third attempt. Consequently, Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu fled with his wife and took asylum in Patan, Lalitpur.

Finally, King Prithvi Narayan Shah began to unify his conquered lands. Weeks later, when his conquest was extended to Patan, both Jaya Prakash Malla and the King of Patan, Tej Narsingh Malla, fled again, taking refuge in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur was also conquered by Prithvi Narayan Shah after some time.

Death and Legacy[edit]

King Prithvi Narayaṇ Shah was ultimately able to unify these previously small principalities into one nation, Nepal. This unification was crucial as the British colonial forces had already begun colonizing the small kingdoms that form present-day India. King Prithivi Narayan Shah was convinced that the British forces would eventually approach Nepal. He believed that 50 small principalities would easily be conquered by the British as part of a plan to colonize Nepal. Unifying Nepal made it more difficult for British forces to make their move. His unification campaign was very ambitious, especially as he was the King of a (relatively) small kingdom surrounded by strong and powerful neighbors. Still, King Prithivi Narayan Shah was able to successfully unify Nepal, which later enabled unified Nepali forces to fight against British colonial forces and prevent foreign colonization of Nepal.

Prithvi Narayan Shah died in the gigantic Nuwakot palace, sadly before he could effectively organize the administration of his new country. He died in January 1775, at the age of 52. Upon his death his son, Pratap Singh Shah, succeeded him and his unification campaign was continued by his younger son, Bahadur Shah. Much of Prithvi Narayan Shah's work is visible in modern-day Nepal.

Divya Upadesh[edit]

In addition to the unification of Nepal, King Prithivi Narayan Shah laid out his ideas for the guiding principles of governance, nationalism and foreign policy in his Divya Upadesh. In the Divya Upadesh, he laid out nine principles, many of which are unknown or obscure. Four of the nine are listed here:

1. "Nepal is a small yam between two stones." This indicates Nepal's location between the large powers of China and India.

2. "Both the people, who take and who give bribe, are enemies of the nation. There will be no sin in executing them."

3. "Nepal is a garden of four castes (consisting of Kshatriya, Brahman, Vaishya and Shudras) and thirty-six sub-castes."

4. "Even if there is settlement in places with mines/quarries, relocate the settlement and operate the mine."

He also wished his successors to be friendly with the Chinese, and wary of the English.[6]

Gallery images[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Royal Ark
  2. ^ Acharya, Baburam. Shree Panch BadaMaharajdhiraj Prithivi Narayan Shah ko Sanxipta Jiwani, Part I (in Nepali). p. 42. 
  3. ^ Accordingly Royal Ark, he was born on 25th December 1722
  4. ^ Manandhar, Triratna. Nepal ko Ekikaran (in Nepali). Kathmandu: Sajha Prakashan. p. 215. 
  5. ^ silwal, sujit. PrithiviNarayan Shah (in Nepali). kathmandu: Nepal SahiSammelan. 
  6. ^ "Prithvi Narayan Shah | Welcome To Nepal". Retrieved 2015-10-30. 

External links[edit]

Prithvi Narayan Shah
Born: 7 January 1723 Died: 11 January 1775
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Nara Bhupal Shah
King of Gorkha
Succeeded by
Himself as King of Nepal
Preceded by
Himself as King of Gorkha
King of Nepal
Succeeded by
Pratap Singh Shah