Prithvi Narayan Shah

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Prithvi Narayan Shah
King of Nepal
Reign 25 September 1743 – 11 January 1775
Coronation 25 September 1768[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
Bahadur 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 the unified Nepal. He is credited for 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]

Badamaharajdhiraj Prithvi Narayan Shah was of Khasas race. His biological mother was Kaushalyawati Shah, but Chandra Pravawati, the first wife of King Nara Bhupal Shah, cared for him. Prithvi Narayan Shah was born in Gorkha, Nepal. At a young age, Prithvi Narayan Shah took interest in the affairs of his father's state. He soon took on additional responsibilities when his father spent most of his time on praying. His early dream was to win over Nuwakot, Nepal, partially because his father had lost a war with Nuwakot leaders. After the death of his father in 1799, Prithivi Narayan Shah ascended to the throne of Gorkha at the age of twenty. Even as a king, Prithvi Narayan Shah valued his people, and enjoyed talking to the people he ruled over, about their general concerns of his kingdom. This practice helped him build a rapport with his people, and helped him to understand the needs of the citizens of Gorkha.[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 militaristic defeat; his invasion of Nuwakot in 1743 AD failed. Conquering Nuwakot was essential for unification, as it lies between Kathmandu and the Gorkha District-, which made it a vital trading route to and from Tibet. He successfully conquered Nuwakot in a subsequent attack in 1744 AD. After capturing Nuwakot, he took possession of strategic locations in hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. The valley therefore was cut off from the outside world, and controlled solely by Prithvi Narayan Shah. In addition, Prithvi Narayan Shah occupied the Kuti Pass in c.1756 AD, stopping the pass's trade and communication with Tibet. He also 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 had begun to connect 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, which was also conquered by Prithvi Narayan Shah after some time.

Death and Legacy[edit]

King Prithvi Narayaṇ Shah was ultimately able to unify small principalities into one nation, Nepal. This unification was to become crucial, as British colonial forces had already begun to colonizing small kingdoms that today form present India. King Prithivi Narayan Shah was convinced that British forces would slowly approach Nepal. Prithvi Narayan Shah therefore believed that 50 small principalities would very easily be conquered by the British in hopes of colonizing Nepal. Unifying Nepal made it sufficiently more difficult for British forces. 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 unify Nepal so that later, Nepali forces were able to fight against British colonial forces and prevent foreign colonization of Nepal.

Prithvi Narayan Shah died in the then gigantic Nuwakot palace, 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 Prithvi Narayan Shah and his unification campaign was continued by his younger son, Bahadur Shah. Today, 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 of the guiding principles of governance, nationalism, and foreign policy in his Divya Upadesh. In his Divya Upadesh, he laid out nine principles, many of which are unknown or abstruse:

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 the enemies of nation. There will be no sin executing them."

3. "Nepal is a garden of four caste and thirty-six subcaste."

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

It is also known that he 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 25 December 1722
  4. ^ Manandhar, Triratna. Nepal ko Ekikaran (in Nepali). Kathmandu: Sajha Prakashan. p. 215. 
  5. ^ Gyawali, Suryavikram. PrithiviNarayan Shah (in Nepali). Darjeeling: 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