नेपालमा आदिवासी र जनजातिबारे धेरै विवाद भयो । यो बहसको थालनी गर्ने आफूलाई जनजातिको नेता भनाउनेहरू नै थिए । उनीहरू विद्वान थिए र अङ्ग्रेजी भाषामा दीक्षित पनि थिए । त्यसैले नेपालमा पनि संयुक्त राष्ट्रसङ्घ र ‘आर्टिकल’ १६९ भन्ने शब्दावलीको छ्यासछ्यास्ती प्रयोग भयो । एकाध वर्ष तिनले सबैलाई अलमल्याए । जनजाति र आदिबासी अविभाज्य समुदाय हुन् भन्नेसम्मको असत्यलाई अङ्ग्रेजीभाषी विद्वानहरूले नेपाली जनसमुदायका बीचमा खेतपाती गरे । उनीहरूले एउटै बनाएको असत्यलाई अङ्ग्रेजी पढेका अरुले, अङ्ग्रेजीमा ‘एण्ड’ भन्ने शब्दले ती दुई एउटै होइनन् भनेर छुट्याइदिएको छ भनेपछि बहस त सकियो । तर अङ्ग्रेजी पण्डितहरूले छरेको भ्रम अहिले पनि नेपाली मानसबाट बाहिर निस्केर गइसकेको छैन । भ्रममुक्त त आफैं हुने हो । तर सत्य के हो भने आदिवासी र जनजाति एउटै हुन् भनेर कतै भनिएको छैन । आदिवासी बसोबाससँग जोडिएको छ भने जनजाति विकाससँग जोडिएको छ ।
पछिल्ला दिनमा नेपाली विद्वानको विद्वता पढ्दा मलाई लाज लाग्न थालेको छ । यिनीहरू के साँच्चिकै नेपाली इतिहासकार हुन् ? मेरो विश्वास हो – यिनीहरूलाई आफ्नो देशको इतिहास थाहा छैन । यिनका ज्ञानका स्रोत भएका छन् सिल्वाँ लेभी लगायतका पश्चिमा इतिहासकारहरू । हाम्रो देशको इतिहास के पश्चिमाहरूले लेखिदिएको चौहद्दीभित्र मात्र छ ? तिनैबाट ज्ञान लिएका हाम्रा विद्वानहरूले त्यसैले राष्ट्रिय एकीकरणपछिका सबै नेपाली आदिवासी हुन् भनेर संविधानसभाले तोकेको होला । योभन्दा लज्जाजनक ज्ञान अरु के हुन्छ ? हाम्रै देशका विद्वान र राजनीतिक पण्डितका कारण हामी नेपालीको पाँच हजार वर्षको इतिहास पाँच सय वर्षमा झारियो ।
नेपाली किराँतको पात्रो नै पाँच हजार वर्षभन्दा पुरानो छ । नेपालका पहिला शासक किराँतहरू नै हुन् । त्यतिबेला शासित पनि किराँतीहरू नै थिए । ग्रेगोरियन क्यालेण्डर अनुसार दोस्रो शताब्दी दक्षिण पश्चिमबाट आएका लिच्छवीहरूले किराँतलाई पराजित गरेर नालाको डाँडो कटाइदिए । आरामले बसेका किराँतलाई पाटनको च्यासलमा पटापट काटेर मारिदिए । जो श्रमिक थिए, ती त लिच्छवी शासकलाई पनि चाहिन्थ्यो । त्यसैले ती किराँत श्रमिकहरूलाई लिच्छवी शासकले कजाएर खाने निर्णय गरे । अहिले पनि तिनीहरू ज्यापुका रूपमा काठमाडौंका भूमिपुत्र भएर बाँचिरहेका छन् । अर्थात् उनीहरू काठमाडौं उपत्यकाका आदिवासी हुन् । ज्यापु बाहेकका नेवारहरू आदिवासी होइनन् ।
सत्य धेरैलाई मन पर्दैन । किनभने सत्यले भ्रान्त धारणालाई स्वीकार गर्दैन । नेवार जाति वर्णाश्रम व्यवस्थामा हुर्किएको एक भाषिक समुदाय हो । अहिले पनि त्यसभित्र वर्णाश्रम व्यवस्था जीवित छ । भूमिगत कालमा हामी प्रायः दमाई टोलमा बस्थ्यौं । किनभने त्यहाँ सुरक्षा हुन्थ्यो । सवर्ण नेवारहरू त्यतातिर भेटिँदैनथे । कलेज पढ्दा मेरा धेरै नेवार साथीहरू थिए तर सबै सवर्ण । राजोपाध्याय र अमात्य, जोशी र श्रेष्ठ । तर साही र खड्गीसँग मेरो सम्पर्क थिएन । त्यसैले भूमिगतकालमा तिनै साही र खड्गीहरू मेरा आश्रयदाता भएका थिए । नेवारमा हिन्दू र बुद्ध धर्मालम्बी दुवै छन् । नेवार सधैं सत्तासँग जोडिएको जाति हो । बाहिरबाट आएका धेरै जातिसमूहहरू उपत्यका छिरेपछि नेवार भएका छन् । कायस्थ र झा पनि छन् नेवार समुदायमा । यी थर तराई क्षेत्रका हुन् । मैले रिमाल नेवार पनि भेटेको छु । यस्तो वर्णवादी समुदाय कसरी जनजाति हुनसक्छ ? अहिलेसम्म मैले बुझ्न सकेको छैन । भ्रममुक्त कुनै नेवार विद्वानले पछि यसको साङ्गोपाङ्गो इतिहास लेखिदिनु भए सबै नेपालीको ज्ञान बढ्ने थियो ।
नेपाली विद्वानहरूले छरेको अर्को भ्रम हो खसआर्य । अर्थात्, उनीहरूको विश्लेषणमा खस र आर्य एकै हुन् । योभन्दा ठूलो अज्ञान नेपालमा केही पनि छैन । नेपालका थोरै र भारतका धेरै विद्वानहरूले खस आर्यबीच आकास जमिनको फरक भएको ज्ञान पस्किएका छन् । ककेसियाबाट झण्डै छ हजार वर्ष पहिले एउटा समूह मानसरोवरको बाटो हुँदै जुम्ला झ¥यो । त्यसलाई नेपाली खस र त्यहाँको भूमिलाई खसान भनियो । यिनीहरूको कुनै धर्म थिएन । उनीहरू वर्षको एकपल्ट मस्टो पूजा गर्थे । मस्टो निराकार सत्य हो । आफ्नो फरक अस्तित्वलाई जनाउन उनीहरू वर्षको एकपल्ट गोठधूप गर्थे । यसलाई कुलपूजा पनि भनिन्छ । यो कुलपूजामा पनि कुनै देवी देवता हुँदैनन् । समूहमा भेला भएर, लोहोरोे जस्तो लाम्चो ढुंगाको पूजा गरेर उनीहरू कुलपूजा मनाउँछन् । किराँतसँगै यिनीहरूको नेपाल बसोबासको इतिहास पनि पाँच हजार वर्षभन्दा पुरानो छ । किराँत र खसहरूको नेपालमा उपस्थिति वैदिक कालभन्दा धेरै पुरानो छ । (पढ्नु होस्, खसजातिको इतिहास अनि खसजाति र कुलपूजा)
आर्यहरू इरानबाट पूर्वदक्षिण लागेका हुन् । सिन्धु घाँटीको उन्नत सभ्यतालाई पराजित गरेर दक्षिण लागेको समूह नै अहिलेका आर्य हुन् । इशाको पाँचौं शताब्दीमा आर्यहरू आफ्ना महागुरु शंकराचार्यसँग कैलाश दर्शन गर्दा पश्चिम नेपालको बाटो उत्तर लागे । शंकराचार्य आफ्नै पिठतिर फर्किए । तर बाठा आर्यहरूलाई नेपालको सुन्दर, शीतल, जडिबुटी र रसिला फलपूmलहरूले लोभ्यायो । युद्ध त उनीहरूको रगतमै थियो । आपूmभन्दा बलिष्ठ शक्तिलाई हराउने इन्द्रका सन्तानहरूले खस राज्य पटापट खाइदिए । खसहरू उनीहरूका लागि अनार्य थिए । शत्रु थिए ।
त्यसैले आर्यावर्त भन्ने शब्दले नेपाललाई वेष्टित गर्दैन । नेपालमा आर्य पनि छन् । अहिलेसम्म शक्तिशाली पनि छन् । राज्य गर्न राजाको सल्लाहकार या पुरोहित हुन सजिलो हुने भएकोले उनीहरूले आपूmलाई राजगुरुमा पदासिन गराउँदै राज्यको उपभोग गरे । यो परम्पराले सत्र शताब्दी खाइसकेको छ ।
आर्यहरूले नेपाल भित्रिँदासम्म एक डङ्गुर देवदेवीहरू जन्माइसकेका थिए । धर्मको आडमा शासन गर्न सजिलो हुन्छ भन्ने ज्ञान उनीहरूसँग थियो । भक्तिमार्गमा लाग्नेहरू स्वर्गमा बास पाउँछन् भन्ने शिक्षा यिनै आर्यजनले दिएका हुन् । हिन्दू धर्मका तेत्तीस कोटी देवता जन्माउने पनि यिनै आर्यपुरुष हुन् ।
चित्त नदुखोस् कसैको । सत्य तीतो हुन्छ । खसहरू ककेसियाबाट पूर्व लागेर जुम्ला छिरेका हुन् भने उपत्यकाबाट पूर्व खेदिएका किराँतहरू ह्वाङ्हो सभ्यताका उपज हुन् । बाँकी जनजातिका बारेमा लेख्नुपर्दा मलाई अलिक अप्ठेरो पनि लागेको छ । मगरहरू खस हुन् । नेपालमा सबैभन्दा लामो समय राज गर्ने समुदाय पनि मगर नै हो । तर, गुरुङ, तामाङजस्ता जातिहरू किराँतहरू आउनुभन्दा धेरै पछि, झण्डै झण्डै दक्षिणबाट नेपाल छिरेका आर्यहरूसँगै उत्तरबाट नेपाल छिरेका हुन् ।
मभन्दा बढी जान्नेबाट यसको खण्डन गरियोस् । संस्कृतमा एउटा भनाइ छ – वादे वादे जायते तìवबोध । अर्थात् छलफल गरेरै निष्कर्षमा पुगिन्छ । आग्रह र भक्तिले हामीलाई कहिल्यै निष्कर्षमा पु¥याउँदैनन् । खोजौं हाम्रा परम्पराहरू, वेद र मुन्धुमहरू, हामी सत्यमा नपुग्ने कुरै हुँदैन ।
मैले लेखेको नै निष्कर्ष होइन । यसलाई खण्डन गर्ने काम होस् विद्वानहरूबाट । नेपाल भारतवर्षको अंग होइन । जतिबेला भारत थिएन, त्यतिबेला पनि नेपाल थियो भन्ने सत्य महाभारतले पनि पुष्टि गर्दछ । महाभारतमा गान्धार थियो जो अहिले अफगानिस्तानमा पर्दछ । कुरुक्षेत्र भारतभित्रै थियो होला तर नेपाल भन्ने राज्य त्यतिबेला पनि एउटा स्वतन्त्र र आत्मनिर्भर राज्य थियो । किराँत त्यो राज्यको शासक थियो ।
अर्थात् आर्य र खसहरू एकापसमा गाभिने जाति समुदाय होइनन् । यिनी एकआपसमा जुध्ने शत्रु समुदाय हुन् । यिनलाई एकैठाउँ मिसाउनु भनेको घाम र हावा एउटै हुन् भन्नुजस्तै हो ।
जंगबहादुरलाई मार्न लखन थापाले बनाएको किल्ला राजकुमार दिक्पाल, हिमाल खबर, सोमबार, २२ भदौ, २०७७ उवेलाको भव्य पाँचतले घरलाई उनले सुरक्षाका लागि पर्खालले घेरेका थिए। ‘रेग्मी रिसर्च सेरिज’ को वर्ष १२ अंक २ (सन् १९८० डिसेम्बरः७२–७५) मा छापिएको आलेख अनुसार, सरकारी सैन्य अधिकारीहरूले लखन थापाको विद्रोह दमनका क्रममा वि.सं. १९३२ चैत सुदि १ मा गरेको बयानमा लखन थापा बस्ने एउटा किल्ला जस्तो घरलाई आठ क्यूविक चौडाइ र १६ क्यूविक उँचाइको पर्खालले घेरिएको उल्लेख छ। ‘प्राचीन नेपाल’ (उही) अनुसार उक्त घरलाई मैदान हुने गरी भत्काइयो। र, आज त्यही ठाउँलाई नै ‘विद्रोही किल्ला’ भनिन्छ। १५०० सेना मगर समुदायले लखन भारतको अल्मोडामा शिक्षादीक्षा पाएका र नेपाली सेनाका कप्तान थिए भन्ने दाबी गर्दै आएका छन्। तर, सैन्य इतिहासकार उनी कप्तान नै भएको भन्ने दाबीमा प्रमाण नपुग्ने बताउँदै आएका छन्। जंगबहादुरका छोरा पद्मजंग राणाले आफ्नो पुस्तक ‘जंगबहादुरको जीवनयात्रा’ (२०७४ः२८३–२८४) मा लखन थापालाई ‘एक जना भूतपूर्व सैनिक’ भनी लेखेका छन्। राणाकै लेखाइ अनुसार लखन आफ्नो विनित आचरण र अनुनयी भाषाले छोटो समयमै १५०० सङ्ख्यामा सेना जम्मा गर्न सफल भएका थिए। नेपाली सेनाको नेतृत्व गर्ने, राजधानी प्रवेश गर्ने र जंगबहादुरको हत्या गरी सरकार आफ्नो अधीनमा लिने अनि त्यसै दिन नेपाली इतिहासको स्वर्णयुग शुरू गर्ने घोषणा लखनले गरेका थिए। पद्मजंगकै लेखाइबाट पनि लखन थापासँग त्यही बेला १५०० को सैन्य शक्ति हुनु, उनको नेतृत्व स्वीकार गर्नुले पनि कुनै समय उनी सैन्य अधिकृतकै पदमा रही सक्रिय एक अनुभवी कमाण्डर थिए भन्ने अनुमान गर्ने आधार मिल्छ। किनभने, एउटा सामान्य सिपाही मात्रै भए न उनमा सैन्य नेतृत्व गर्ने आँट र सीप हुन्थ्यो, न उनको नेतृत्व सर्वसाधारणलाई स्वीकार्य हुन्थ्यो। लखनले आफ्ना बफादारहरूलाई उच्च सैन्य अधिकारीको जिम्मेवारी पनि बाँडेका थिए। लखनको गतिविधि निगरानी गर्न सरकारका तर्फबाट मेजर कप्तान शम्शेरबहादुर थापा क्षेत्री, सुब्बा वीरमानजंग थापा क्षेत्री र पाल्पाका सुवेदार वदलसिंह बस्न्यातलाई जिम्मेवारी दिइएको थियो। उनीहरूले प्रसादसिंह थापा, खड्ग थापाहरूबाट पाएको सूचना अनुसार २६ फागुन १९३२ मा ढाल र तरबारले सुसज्जित भोटे सेनाको ठूलो समूह लखनलाई जंगबहादुरको हत्याको योजनामा साथ दिन आइपुगेका थिए। यी भोटे सेनाका जवान गोरखाको उत्तरी भेगको अठारसयखोला क्षेत्रका स्थानीय हुनसक्ने अनुमान छ। यहाँका भोटेहरूले १९०७ सालमा जंगबहादुरको आदेश अनुसार त्यहाँ खानी खनाउन जाने ठेकेदारलाई पाता कसी काम अवरुद्ध गरेका थिए। भोटेहरूको यो विद्रोह दवाउन जंगबहादुरको आदेश अनुसार सैन्य शक्ति परिचालन गरिएको थियो भन्ने तथ्य ‘रेग्मी रिसर्च सेरिज’ वर्ष १२ अंक ५ (सन् १९८० डिसेम्बरः७०–७१)मा पढ्न पाइन्छ। सम्भवतः जंगबहादुरप्रति बदला लिन पनि उनीहरूमध्ये कतिपय लखन थापाको सैन्य पंक्तिमा पंक्तिबद्ध भएका थिए। जंगबहादुर तार्कु वा लमजुङको मनाङवेसीमा शिकार खेल्न आएको बखत उनको हत्या गर्ने लखन थापाको योजना रहेको थियो। सरकारी सेनाले घर घेराउ गरेर लखन, अजपसिंह थापा लगायतका बफादारहरूलाई पक्राउ ग¥यो। उनीहरूलाई पक्राउ गरी केरकार गर्दा लखन थापाले जहरे चुमीलाई जर्नेल, विराज थापा मगर, जुठ्या थापा मगर र जीतमान गुरुङलाई कर्णेल पद दिएको र अन्यलाई जर्नेल, कर्णेल र कप्तान पद दिने कसम खाएको ‘रेग्मी रिसर्च सेरिज’ वर्ष १२ अंक २ (सन् १९८० डिसेम्बरः७२–७५) मा पढ्न पाइन्छ। त्रैलोक्यविक्रमसँगको सम्बन्ध गोरखाबाट जनसाधारण समेतको सहयोगमा राणा प्रधानमन्त्री जंगबहादुर विरुद्ध सशस्त्र विद्रोहको योजना गरेर लखन थापाले असामान्य आँट देखाएका थिए। ‘रेग्मी रिसर्च सेरिज’ (उही) अनुसार लखन थापा शिकारमा गएको बखत जंगबहादुरको हत्यामा असफल भए तिब्बतसँग विद्रोहको लागि गुहार माग्न जाने बताउँथे। हत्या योजना सफल भए शाहजादा उपेन्द्रविक्रम शाहलाई राजा बनाउने र आफू दोस्रो व्यक्ति अर्थात् प्रधानमन्त्री हुने योजना पनि लखन थापाको थियो। नेपाली इतिहासमा राजा सुरेन्द्रविक्रम शाहका छोरा युवराज त्रैलोक्यविक्रम शाहले जीवनभर आफ्नो शिरमा श्रीपेच पहिरिएनन्। राणा शासनको अन्त्य नभइञ्जेज श्रीपेच नलगाउने प्रतिज्ञा उनले गरेका थिए। ३० वर्षकै उमेरमा १९३४ सालमा रहस्यमय ढंगबाट उनको मृत्यु भयो। श्रीपेच नलगाई खुलेआम राणाहरूको विरोधमा लागेका उनलाई राणाहरूले नै विष खुवाएर मारेको हुनसक्ने आशङ्का गरिंदै आएको छ। उनको मृत्युको एक वर्षअघि १९३३ सालमा लखन थापा लगायत उनका अन्य ६ जना बफादारलाई झुण्ड्याएर मृत्युदण्ड दिइएको थियो। लखन थापाले नेपाली सेनाबाट सैन्य सेवा त्याग्नुअघि उनै राणाविरोधी युवराज त्रैलोक्यका अङ्गरक्षक थिए। यो ऐतिहासिक प्रसङ्ग जंगी अड्डा, काठमाडौंबाट छापिएको ‘नेपालको सैनिक इतिहास’ भाग–२ (२०६५ः३६४) मा परेको छ। तुुलसीराम वैद्य, विजयकुमार मानन्धर र प्रेमसिंह बस्न्यातद्वारा सम्पादित यस पुस्तकमा ‘…युवराज त्रैलोक्यविक्रम शाहको आठपहरिया लखन थापाले वि.सं. १९३२ मा श्री ३ जंगबहादुर राणाको विरुद्धमा गोरखा क्षेत्रमा विद्रोह शुरु गरे। सोही कारण उनलाई झुण्ड्याएर मृत्युदण्ड दिइयो’ भन्ने उल्लेख गरिएको छ। त्रैलोक्यको राणाविरोधी भावबाट प्रभावित भएर पनि उनका अङ्गरक्षक लखन थापामा विद्रोही चेत आएको हुनसक्ने अनुमान थप बलियो भएर आउँछ। ‘जंगबहादुरको जीवनयात्रा’ (उही) मा पद्मजंगले लखन थापा लगायत उनका ६ जना बफादारलाई जंगबहादुरले देवीदत्त कम्पनीलाई खटाएर मनकामना मन्दिर अगाडि झुण्ड्याएर मार्न लगाएको उल्लेख छ। तर, गोरखाको बुङ्कोट काहुले भँगारमा लगी उनीहरूलाई मृत्युदण्ड दिइयो भन्ने अर्को स्थानीय अनुश्रुति सत्यको नजिक देखिन्छ। किनभने धार्मिक स्थलहरू पवित्र मानिने हुँदा त्यस्ता स्थलहरूमा मानिसको बध नगरिएको हुनसक्ने देखिन्छ। बरु स्थानीय गाउँलेहरूलाई तर्साउन वा चेतावनी दिन विद्रोहीहरूलाई उनीहरूकै गाउँ बुङ्कोट काहुले भँगारमा लगेर मृत्युदण्ड दिए होलान् भन्न सकिने आधार बलियो देखिन्छ। सोमबार, २२ भदौ, २०७७, २१:३६:०० मा प्रकाशित https://www.himalkhabar.com/news/118082?fbclid=IwAR3yPweHboVrVy_eD0jRehUF0G1iNJtUaLsTIYUKc1h5Hs_0jiTKZEMPTxs
Dr. Bipin Adhikari’s Nepal ka Khas Jaati is an informative booklet that sheds light on the might as well as the plight of one of the most prominent tribes in Nepal, the Khas tribe. The booklet is well researched and contains historical accounts from various early as well as modern European, Indian and Nepali historians. It is easy to read and provides a straight forward account of the historical events.
Originating from modern day Central Asia, the Khas people are said to have migrated from their ancestral land towards the Himalayan region of southern Asia (Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Nepal) in ancient times. The modern day Khas include Chhetri, Bahun, Kami, Thakuri, Sarki, Sannyasi, Badi, Damai, Gaine and others. According to the author, the period of their migration remains ambiguous and stretches back to the pre-christ era. In Nepal, the Khas people first settled around present day Karnali region. The Khas kings formed the famous Malla Kingdom, which ruled Khasan (Jumla) from the eleventh century before collapsing and splintering into local dominions during the fourteenth century.
In this booklet, Dr. Adhikari seeks to debunk a lot of popularized myths about the Khas people. One such myth is that they migrated to Nepal from India to evade the Muslim tyranny. Historical sources have confirmed that this is in fact not true. The existence of Khas people in the Nepali region dates back well before the time of the great Mogul empire in the south. It is accepted that some Brahmins did flee to Nepal, during Mogul regime, and started enforcing the caste system in Nepal. In that regard, some Bahuns today are probably descendents of these Indian refugees; however, the vast majorities are still Khas people.
Also, Dr. Adhikari sheds light on the significant influence Khas people have had on the cultural traditions of Nepal. Practices such as Dheusi, Bhailo are common place in Nepal. These practices are a result of the Khas influence. The prevalent tradition of the oracle, Dhami, is another practice synonymous with Khas traditions. Moreover, the Khas language, modern day Nepali, became the national language when the Shah dynasty of Gorkha unified the splintered Himalayan region into modern Nepal.
Further, Dr. Adhikari takes us on the journey of the evolution of Khas tribes from un-civilized nomadic tribes to the civilized classes of Nepal. The prominent roles of Hinduism and Buddhism have been mentioned here. Further, Dr. Adhikari stresses the benevolent nature of Khas assimilation in Nepali demographic. The cultural exchanges between the Khas and non-Khas have been emphasized in many occasions. Similarly, the adoption of Hinduism and Buddhism, and the conservation of religions heritages have been highlighted during the regimes of Kra Challa, Ashok Challa and Punya Malla.
Moreover, Dr. Adhikari elucidates some of the misconceptions about the Khas origins. He argues that the negative depiction granted to them in the religious Hindu texts such as Mahabharat, as barbarous savages, has had a profound impact on their status. According to him, the lower status of Khas people prescribed by the holy Hindu scrolls, led the early rulers, such as Ram Shah, to falsely claim their ancestral origins when in fact they were none other than the descendants of the nomadic Khas from Eurasia. Further, the introduction of the class system through the Indian influence caused native Khas Bahuns and Chettris to denounce their Khas origins in order to claim a greater status in class hierarchy. Prior to Indian influence, the Khas societies did not have any class structure. In this regards, the author professes that assimilation to Hinduism and Buddhism, despite contributing a great deal in their adaptation to the region, caused the Khas people to lose a lot of their cultural legacy. As a result, majority of Khas descendants today are misguided in accepting their ancestral recognition.
Subsequently, Dr. Adhikari highlights the role of Khas in the unification movement during the Shah era and their subsequent significance to maintenance of Nepalese sovereignty, especially in light of glooming threats in the north and the south. The book is a valuable piece of work that disproves a lot of arguments floating around instigating identity politics in Nepal. The mere fact the Khas people (Bahuns, Chettris, etc) have been inhabitants in modern day Nepal for centuries stakes their equal claim in the restructuring process. The booklet claims that the Khas are as indigenous to Nepal as the Kirants, Bhotiyas and Janajatis. However, read more closely, the book, in enlightening the readers about the evolution of Khas settlement in Nepal, provides a valuable lesson to the future inhabitants.
The Khas tribes came into Nepal; inhabited lands peacefully, respected other tribes, their traditions and also accepted the popular religion of the region. This is a quintessential element of a benevolent tribe. Their nomadic lifestyle, warrior built and Himalayan work ethic condemned them to the footnote of Hindu class structure. Nevertheless, Nepal owes a debt of gratitude to the Khas tribes that inhabited these lands. In fact, there is a lot to learn from them as well. This booklet is indeed a good place to start.
बुटवल । एकता,भातृत्व र प्रगतिको नारासहित नेपाल बलाल मगर परिवारको प्रथम महाधिवेशन शनिवार तिलोत्तमा नगरपालिका मगरघाटमा रहेको बुद्ध सभाहलमा सम्पन्न भएको छ । महाधिवेशनमा परिवारका अध्यक्ष क्याप्टेन दानबहादुर बलालले संस्थाको प्रगति प्रगतिवेदन तथा भावी योजना प्रस्तुत गरेका थिए । सोही अवसरमा संस्थाकी कोषाध्यक्ष गीतारानी बलालले आर्थिक प्रगति प्रतिवेदन पेश गरेकी थिइन् । संस्थाको प्रगति तथा आर्थिक प्रगति प्रतिवेदनलाई महाधिवेशनले परिमार्जनसहित सर्वसहमतले पास गरेको छ ।
प्रथम महाधिवेशनले गीतारानी बलाल(रुपन्देही)को अध्यक्षतामा २१ सदस्यीय नयाँ कार्यसमिति निर्वाचित गरेको छ । जसको उपाध्यक्षहरुमा लालबहादुर बलाल, शेरबहादुर बलाल र नेत्रबहादुर बलाल, महासचिवमा बुद्धिबहादुर बलाल, सचिवमा तारा बलाल र सानु बलाल, कोषाध्यक्षमा कमला बलालसहित १३ जना सदस्यहरु निर्वाचित भएका छन् ।
The Himalaya runs over 3600 kilometres from the Hazarahjat Highlands in the west to the Liangshan in the east. The Himalaya forms no natural watershed, and many of the rivers are of greater antiquity than the mountains themselves. The Kali Gandaki bisects the Himalaya into two halves of roughly equal length. The Eastern Himalaya is the half which runs eastward from the Dhaulagiri across the Himalaya, sub-Himalaya, Meghalaya, lower Brahmaputra basin and associated hills tracts, the eastern Tibetan plateau and Indo-Burmese borderlands into the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan.
As a cradle of ethnogenesis, the Eastern Himalaya served both as staging area and principal thoroughfare in the peopling of Asia following the emergence of anatomically modern humans from Africa. New scientific insights from historical linguistics and population genetics enable us to reconstruct the founding dispersals of language families of Eastern Eurasia and Oceania which ultimately originated in the Eastern Himalaya. In presenting this new account, it is necessary first to dispel two antiquated scholarly ideas, one which still lives on in the popular imagination and another which survives in laggardly quarters of the linguistic community.
ALLIANCE FOR SOCIAL DIALOGUE – HIMAL SOUTHASIAN LECTURE
This is an edited transcript of a July 2014 lecture hosted by Himal Southasian and the Alliance for Social Dialogue in Kathmandu.
The Mongoloid myth As a species, we have always been obsessed with how we look and appear to be similar or different from one another. The ancient Hindu caste system and apartheid in South Africa were just two of many systems based on our perceptions of caste, tribe and race. Even before the Portuguese made landfall in Japan in 1542, Europeans were trying to come to grips with the human phenotypical diversity which they observed in people whom they met on their voyages. Today we understand that in scientific terms there is actually no such thing as race. We are all members of one large human family. The relationship between genes, their phenotypical expression and pleiotropic interplay is inordinately complex. Our individual differences tend often to be larger than the differences between groups.
Long before the discovery of the molecular mechanisms underlying genetics, scholars resorted to superficial classifications in their attempts to understand human diversity. Classification was conducted on the basis of somatology, which involved crude observations about external appearance. On the basis of the descriptions in Dutch and Russian accounts of peoples in other parts of the world, the German scholar Christoph Meiners (1747-1810) set up a classification of races based on what he imagined were the racial prototypes of mankind. His cogitations were published posthumously in three volumes. The ‘Mongoloid race’ was designated by Meiners as one of the main races of mankind:
In physiognomy and physique the Mongol diverges as much from the usual form as does the Negro. If any nation merits being recognised as a racial prototype, then it should rightfully be the Mongol, who differs so markedly from all other Asian peoples in his physical and moral nature.
Meiners described the cruelty of the invading hordes led by Genghis Khan as inherent to the ‘moral nature’ of the Mongoloids, conveniently overlooking the historically well-documented cruelties of Western people. His classification gave rise to the Mongoloid myth. If the Mongols were the primordial tribe from which all peoples of the Mongoloid race descended, then it was logical to think that the homeland of all Mongoloids lay in Mongolia.
I have often been told by people in Nepal and northeastern India that their ancestors came from Mongolia. Some adorn their lorries, vans and motorcycles with captions like ‘Mongol’ or ‘Mongolian’. When I ask them why, they tell me that they are members of the Mongoloid race or maṅgol jāti, whose ancestors, as the name tells us, originated in Mongolia. I do not have the heart to tell them that the idea was dreamt up by a German scholar at the beginning of the 19th century, who was imaginatively trying to make sense of human diversity, although he had no specialist knowledge to do so.
People in the West suffer from the same obsolete ideas. A friend of mine from Abkhazia, who happens to be a renowned linguist, was travelling in the United States of America with a colleague from the Republic of Georgia. Their rented car was pulled over by a police officer. The heavily armed man in uniform demanded to see my friend’s driving licence and asked, “Are you folks Arabs?” The policeman pronounced the word ‘Arabs’ with an American accent as ay-rabz.
Abkhazia and Georgia lie in the Caucasus, and my friend responded, “No, Sir, we are both Caucasians.” This response somehow displeased the police officer, who asserted, “I am a Caucasian!” My friend cooly responded, “No, Sir, you are not a Caucasian, and you do not look particularly Caucasian. We are Caucasians”. The exasperated policeman spluttered, “…but I am white!” My friend ended up having to explain where the Caucasus Mountains lay and who the Caucasians were. He did not bother to explain that the idea that Europeans were Caucasian originated with Meiners. Like the Mongoloid, the Caucasoid was another one of Meiner’s racial prototypes.
Americans who apply for a driving licence, take a Scholastic Aptitude Test or fill in any number of other official forms are asked to specify their race. A person of European ancestry often checks a box saying that he or she is a ‘Caucasian’. Some people are baffled by the choices of race on offer, which differ from one form to another. They are asked to decide whether they are ‘coloured’ or belong to some other ‘race’. The topic of race is taboo in the US, but American society is riddled with antique modes of thinking about race and very much in denial about widely held racist assumptions. The US has no monopoly on such thinking, however.
Geographical distribution of the major Trans-Himalayan subgroups. Each dot represents not just one language, but the putative historical geographical centre of each of 42 major linguistic subgroups. All figures by the author.
The Sino-Tibetan myth The Sino-Tibetan or Indo-Chinese myth likewise has its roots in the now defunct scholarly fashion of ‘scientific’ racism. Sino-Tibetan also owes its longevity to the fact that every age sees many scholars whose ignorance does not make them less prolific than their more knowledgeable colleagues. The Sino-Tibetan episode is all the more shameful because the Tibeto-Burman or Trans-Himalayan language family had already been recognised in 1823.
Julius von Klaproth identified the language family comprising Tibetan, Burmese, Chinese and all languages demonstrably relatable to these three. The Tibeto-Burman family which he had demonstrated was accepted not just on the Continent, but also in the British Isles (e.g. Hodgson 1857, Cust 1878, Forbes 1878, Houghton 1896).
Like Julius von Klaproth, Jean Jacques Huot in Paris and Max Müller in Oxford stressed that language and biological ancestry were two different things. Yet there were those who confounded language and race. In 1850, Heymann Steinthal wrote that language typology was a measure of the “instinctive self-awareness” of a language community. He claimed that: “Language differences reflect differences in the level of consciousness between different peoples.” He qualified typological differences in language structure as “physiological”.
The history of linguistics is strewn with false ‘Sino’ theories that were founded upon methodologically flawed comparisons, bewilderment about the historical grammar of Chinese and inadequate knowledge of Trans-Himalayan languages.
Steinthal set up an evolutionary hierarchy of successive stages of language types, reflecting “the level of development of linguistic consciousness”. He distinguished 12 levels from the most complex, represented by Sanskrit, to the most simple. He relegated Chinese and Thai to the lowest rung of the evolutionary ladder based on their ‘monosyllabicity’ and lack of inflection. Steinthal’s language typology inspired scholars to argue that Chinese and Thai must be close relatives and that neither was close to Tibeto-Burman. Ostensibly, Chinese and Siamese mediated a rudimentary, less evolved way of thinking. In reality, Chinese was a defining member of Klaproth’s Tibeto-Burman family, and Klaproth had already recognised that Thai belonged to another language family than Chinese.
In 1854, the French count Arthur de Gobineau published the four-volume Essay on the Inequality of Human Races, in which he argued for the inferiority or superiority of particular races based on the structure of their languages. To reconcile the technological advancement of Chinese civilisation with its low rung on the ladder of language evolution, Gobineau invented a distinction between so-called male and female races. As one might expect, the count imagined that ‘male races’ possessed a richer and more precise vocabulary than ‘female races’, whose languages were full of vague notions. To the count’s mind, the Chinese ‘race’ was in some sense ‘male’ despite the inferior status which he imputed to its language.
In 1858, Ernest Renan, who would later become president of the Linguistic Society of Paris, wrote:
Is the Chinese language, with its inorganic and incomplete structure not the very image of the dryness of spirit and callousness of heart that characterises the Chinese race? …Sufficient for the needs of daily life, for describing manual skills, for a light literature of no sophistication, for a philosophy that is nothing more than the pretty but never elevated expression of mere common sense, the Chinese language excludes all philosophy, all science and all religion in the sense in which we understand these terms.
Steinthal’s racist language typology caught on in Britain too. John Beames, who wrote the first grammar of Magar in 1870, was an adherent. For Beames, Chinese represented the most primitive stage of language development, but he promoted English and French to the highest rung of the evolutionary ladder, placing them even above Sanskrit. Beames introduced the term ‘analytic’, still in use amongst language typologists today, to describe English and French. His enhancements were approved by James Byrne, who in 1885 argued that “the causes which have determined the structure of language” lay in the varying “degrees of quickness of mental excitability possessed by different races of men”.
Steinthal was German, but his ideas were popular in France and Britain. His thinking was strongly opposed by German linguists, since scholars following the tradition of Wilhelm von Humboldt rejected the racist paradigm. August Pott and Max Müller argued that the relationship between language structure and thought was subtle, intricate and not simplistic. Pott wrote a hefty point-by-point refutation of Gobineau’s work, and the writings of the French count were largely forgotten in Germany. Yet, after the First World War, Gobineau’s writings were rediscovered by Ludwig Schemann and Franz Hahne. Tragically, this time the count’s cogitations were given a warm reception, and his theories were incorporated into the official ideology of Germany’s National Socialist Party.
In the 19th century, racist linguistics took Chinese out of Klaproth’s original Tibeto-Burman family and put Chinese into a separate branch together with Thai. The favoured family tree of the racist language typologists was Indo-Chinese, and in 1924 this phylogenetic model was renamed Sino-Tibetan. In 1938, Berkeley anthropologist Alfred Kroeber started the Sino-Tibetan Philology Project. His use of the new name Sino-Tibetan helped to deflect criticism against the Indo-Chinese model. Ironically, after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese scholars imported Sino-Tibetan from America and enshrined this family tree as linguistic orthodoxy in China. Today an increasing number of Chinese linguists have begun to feel uncomfortable with Sino-Tibetan, as they begin to discover the model’s Sinophobic legacy as well as the fact that no evidence exists for this tree.
Geographical distribution of Trans-Himalayan languages.
Since the 1970s, the Sino-Tibetan model has been defended from Berkeley by Jim Matisoff, who inherited the family tree from his mentor in the 1960s and never questioned it. Sino-Tibetan was challenged and refuted by various scholars, but Matisoff continued to act as the Fidei Defensor, assailing any scholar who questioned the tree. After years of resistance, Matisoff came to realise that the Sino-Tibetan model was wrong. Since his retirement, he publicly recanted on three occasions, acknowledging Sino-Tibetan to be a false tree. Today Matisoff goes in and out of denial, and in an attempt to save face several of his former students continue to defend Sino-Tibetan despite an inability to adduce evidence.
The history of linguistics is strewn with false ‘Sino’ theories that were founded upon methodologically flawed comparisons, bewilderment about the historical grammar of Chinese and inadequate knowledge of Trans-Himalayan languages: Sino-Tibetan (Przyluski 1924), Sino-Yenisseian (Schmidt 1926), Sino-Caucasian (Bouda 1950), Sino-Burman (Ramstedt 1957), Sino-Indo-European (Pulleyblank 1966), Sino-Himalayan (Bodman 1973), Sino-Austronesian (Sagart 1993), Sino-Kiranti (Starostin 1994), Sino-Mayan (Jones 1995) and Sino-Uralic (Gao 2008). None of these models is supported by sound evidence, and they all represent false language family trees.
The legacy of racist language typology misled many linguists for decades even though an informed view was readily available to any linguist who carefully read the history of the field and scrutinised the available evidence dispassionately. In 2004, the neutral geographical term Trans-Himalayan was introduced for Klaproth’s Tibeto-Burman, which after 181 years still turned out to be the most well informed model of the language family.
The name Trans-Himalayan reflects the fact that the world’s second most populous language family straddles the Himalayan range. Most speakers of Trans-Himalayan languages today live to the north and east of the Himalaya, but most of the over 300 different languages and three fourths of Trans-Himalayan subgroups are located to the south of the Himalayan divide.
The legacy of racist language typology misled many linguists for decades even though an informed view was readily available to any linguist who carefully read the history of the field and scrutinised the available evidence dispassionately. Words of caution on language and genes Numerous scholars since the early 19th century have stressed that language and biological ancestry were two different things. There were always others too, like Sir William Jones, who persisted in confusing language and race. Throughout time, people have been inclined to speak the language spoken by their parents, but the language which we happen to speak today may very well not be our parents’ language. Since genes are invariably inherited by offspring from their biological parents, a probabilistic correlation may exist between language and genes in human populations, although this need not necessarily be so.
The past took a very long time, and there are many slices of the past. So a chronologically layered view of ethnolinguistic prehistory is essential. The famous EPAS1 gene which enables Tibetans to live healthy lives at high altitude without having to fabricate excessive amounts of haemoglobin is known to be shared exclusively with the extinct Denisovans, a Palaeolithic people who lived in the Altai mountains of Siberia. Like the Neanderthals, this extinct variety of human is not really entirely extinct because the Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of many existing populations, not just with the ancestors of the Tibetans. A small percentage of DNA is shared between Denisovans and other Asian populations and native Australians as well.
When an ancestral highland Asian population interbred with the Denisovans, these people did not yet speak a language related to Tibetan, and ethnolinguistically they were not yet Tibetan. That was long ago, and linguistically reconstructible prehistory by comparison relates to more recent slices of prehistory. Not only is the time depth accessible to historical linguistics shallower than the time depth accessible to human genetics, but the spread of language families also happens to be a more recent phenomenon than the spread of our anatomically modern ancestors outside of Africa. Language families represent the maximal time depth accessible to historical linguistics because the relatedness of languages belonging to a recognised language family represents the limit of what linguists can empirically demonstrate.
Historical linguistics and human population genetics present two distinct windows on the past. Molecular genetic findings can shed light on ethnolinguistic prehistory and its unrecorded sociolinguistic dimensions. Correlations exist between chromosomal markers and language, but these relationships should not be confused with identity. The correlation of a particular genetic marker with the distribution of a certain language family must not be simplistically equated with populations speaking particular languages.
Moreover, other factors that must be taken into account include the potential skewing effects of natural selection, gene surfing, recurrent bottlenecks during range expansion and the sexually asymmetrical introgression of resident genes into incursive populations. Factors such as ancient population structure and possible ancient Y-chromosomal introgression also affect inferences and interpretations based on any single Y-chromosomal locus when attempting to reconstruct migrations and elucidate the geographical origins of populations.
Even with all these caveats in place, we must remain aware of all provisos built into our inferences and working hypotheses. Only then may we undertake to interpret ethnolinguistic phylogeography from a linguistically informed perspective.
Father Tongues In the 1990s, population geneticists found that it was easier to find correlations between the language of a particular community and paternally inherited markers on the Y chromosome than between language and maternally inherited markers in the mitochondrial DNA of a speech community. This Father Tongue correlation was described by a Swiss-Italian team in 1997, even before the appearance of the first Y-chromosomal tree in 2000. Today we have an even higher resolution picture of the Y-chromosomal haplogroup tree and the world’s paternal lineages.
Paternally inherited polymorphisms were inferred to be markers for linguistic dispersals, and correlations between Y-chromosomal markers and language could point towards male-biased linguistic intrusions. The Father Tongue correlation is ubiquitous but not universal. Its preponderance allows us to deduce that a mother teaching her children their father’s tongue must have been a prevalent and recurrent pattern. It is reasonable to infer that some mechanisms of language change may be inherent to this pathway of transmission.
There are a number of reasons why we might expect this outcome. Initial human colonisation of any part of the planet must have involved both sexes in order for a population of progeny to establish itself. Once a population is in place, however, subsequent migrations could have been gender-biased. Male intruders could impose their language whilst availing themselves of the womenfolk already in place. Sometimes male intruders slaughtered resident males and their offspring, but sometimes they formed an elite and consequently enjoyed preferential access to spouses, reared more offspring and propagated their genes.
By contrast, correlations between maternal lineages and linguistic phylogeography have proved underwhelming. Populations exist which form local exceptions to the Father Tongue correlation, such as the Hungarians and the Balti in northern Pakistan, but the aetiology of these cases is readily explicable. The correlations observed do not always make a precise fit, and correlation must not be confused with identity.
The Father Tongue correlation suggests that linguistic dispersals were, in most parts of the world, posterior to initial human colonisation and that many linguistic dispersals were predominantly male-biased intrusions. Our paternal ancestry only represents a very small segment of our ancestry, but emerging autosomal findings appear to corroborate the reconstructions presented here. These patterns are observed worldwide.
The spread of Niger-Congo languages closely patterns with Y-chromosomal haplogroups. The martial, male-biased historical spread of Han Chinese during the sinification of southern China, recounted in detail in the Chinese chronicles, is just as faithfully reflected in the genetic evidence. A common ancestry between native Americans and indigenous Altaians is based preponderantly on shared Y-chromosomal heritage and is not as well reflected in mitochondrial lineages. The saliency of Y-chromosomal haplogroups in tribal and caste populations in India contrasts with the comparatively featureless antiquity of the mitochondrial landscape. In Europe, the language isolate Basque is the sole surviving linguistic vestige of Palaeolithic European hunter-gatherers, whose predominant paternal lineage was haplogroup I. Even Basques have seen their original paternal heritage diluted by more recent Y-chromosomal lineages subsequently introduced into Europe, perhaps ultimately originating from the Western Himalaya.
The bearers of haplogroup N set out for East Asia just after the Last Glacial Maximum and then moved north in a grand counterclockwise sweep.
The spread of various Y-chromosomal R subclades may be linked to the dispersal of Indo-European from an original homeland in the Pontic-Caspian steppe, but the unfolding story of these R lineages is complex. In an epoch anterior to the expansion of Indo-European from the Pontic Caspian, an older pre-Indo-European homeland could have lain in the Western Himalaya, as suggested by the presence of the ancestral clade R* in Indian populations.
The Y-chromosomal lineage L shows a diversity of subclades on the Iranian plateau and marks a patrilingual dispersal of Elamo-Dravidian from Bactria and Margiana. One of these haplogroup L subclades is likely to be correlated with the patrilingual spread of Dravidian from the Indus Valley into southern India. Haplogroup Q traces the paternal spread of the Greater Yenisseian linguistic phylum. Yet this exciting tale about the Western Himalaya will have to wait for another occasion to be told.
The counterclockwise spread of the paternal lineage N (M231), based on Rootsi et al. (2007)
From the Eastern Himalaya to Lappland The Eastern Himalaya served as the cradle of ethnogenesis for a number of major language families, the molecular tracers of which survive today as the paternal lineages N (M231) and O (M175). These two linguistic phyla are Uralo-Siberian and East Asian. The geographical locus of the ancestral haplogroup NO (M214) lay in the Eastern Himalaya. After the two Y-chromosomal lineages N and O split up between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago, the spatial dynamics of the two haplogroups diverged greatly. The ancient populations bearing haplogroups N and O underwent expansions between 18,000 and 12,000 years ago.
The bearers of haplogroup N set out for East Asia just after the Last Glacial Maximum and then moved north in a grand counterclockwise sweep, braving ice and tundra and gradually migrating across northern Eurasia as far west as Lappland. Y-chromosomal haplogroup N marks the paternal spread of Uralo-Siberian, comprising communities speaking Uralic, Yukagir, Eskimo-Aleut, Nivkh and Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages.
The absence of haplogroup N in the Americas and its prevalence throughout Siberia allow us to infer that the paternal lineage N spread northward after the paternal founder lineages had already established themselves in the Americas. The Greater Yenisseian haplogroup Q must have expanded across Siberia and colonised the Americas by way of Beringia, where it became the predominant paternal lineage, before Y-chromosomal N lineages replaced it in the sparsely populated north.
The N lineages differentiated into N* (M231), N1 (M128), N2 (P43) and N3 (Tat). The most prevalent haplogroup N3 is widespread throughout the Uralo-Siberian area, spreading as far west as Scandinavia. Yet the ancestral haplogroup N* is still found in the highest frequency at the eastern end of the Eastern Himalaya, i.e. in northern Burma, Yunnan and Sichuan. Haplogroup N1 is particularly frequent in the Altai region and to a lesser extent in Manchuria, and N2 shows an especially high frequency on both the Yamal and Tamyr peninsulas in northern Siberia.
The East Asian linguistic phylum Julius von Klaproth was able to distinguish the contours of many of the known Asian language families. Five families form part of the East Asian linguistic phylum: Trans-Himalayan, Hmong-Mien, Kradai, Austronesian and Austroasiatic. Later generations of linguists began to discern possible long-distance relationships between the recognised families. In 1901, Gustave Schlegel argued that Kradai was related to Austronesian. Schlegel’s theory was taken up by Paul Benedict in 1975, but Benedict’s ‘Austro-Thai’ was no more than an ingredient in his misconceived ‘Japanese-Austro-Tai’ theory.
In 2005, Weera Ostapirat became the first to present methodologically sound linguistic evidence that Kradai and Austronesian formed coordinate branches of a single Austro-Tai family. Ostapirat envisages an ancient migration from what today is southern China across the Taiwan Strait to Formosa, where the Austronesian language family established itself. The Kradai proto-language remained behind on the mainland. Much later, the Formosan exodus set in motion the spread of Malayo-Polynesian throughout the Philippines, the Malay peninsula, the Indonesian archipelago, Madagascar and Oceania. By uniting Austronesian and Kradai in an Austro-Tai family, Ostapirat has effectively reduced the number of East Asian language families from five to four.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, historical linguists have been attempting to unite the East Asian language families on purely linguistic grounds. In 1906, Wilhelm Schmidt proposed an ‘Austric’ macrofamily, uniting Austroasiatic and Austronesian. In 2005, Lawrence Reid envisaged an even larger macrofamily, proposing that Austric “may eventually need to be abandoned in favour of a wider language family which can be shown to include both Austronesian and Austroasiatic languages but not necessarily as sisters of a common ancestor”.
August Conrady in 1916 and Kurt Wulff in 1934 each proposed a superfamily consisting of Austroasiatic, Austronesian, Kradai and Tibeto-Burman. Subsequently, Robert Blust in 1996 and Ilia Peiros in 1998 proposed an ‘Austric’ superfamily comprising Austroasiatic, Austronesian, Kradai and Hmong-Mien. In 2001, a year before his death, Stanley Starosta proposed the East Asian linguistic phylum encompassing Kradai, Austronesian, Tibeto-Burman, Hmong-Mien and Austroasiatic. Starosta’s evidence was meagre, yet compelling in being primarily morphological in nature. The ancient morphological processes shared by the families of this phylum were an agentive prefix *<m->, a patient suffix *<-n>, an instrumental prefix <s-> and a perfective prefix *<n->. The East Asian word was ostensibly disyllablic and exhibited the canonical structure CVCVC.
As a theory of linguistic relationship, Starosta’s East Asian theory lies on the horizon of what might be empirically demonstrable in historical linguistics. This hypothesis will remain our best linguistically informed conjecture until better linguistic evidence can be accrued to support or overturn the model.
Geographical distribution of Austroasiatic.
Eastern Himalayan homeland The East Asian linguistic phylum consists of four language families: Trans-Himalayan, Hmong-Mien, Austroasiatic and Austro-Tai. The populations speaking these languages today are not just characterised by a preponderance of the Y-chromosomal lineage O (M175). Language communities of the four families are each characterised by a particular subclade of haplogroup O, suggesting a paternal spread of these language families and a probable time depth for the East Asian linguistic phylum that is coeval with the antiquity of haplogroup O itself. As temperature and humidity increased after the Last Glacial Maximum, haplogroup O split up into the subclades O1 (MSY2.2), O2 (M268) and O3 (M122).
The three subclades can be putatively assigned to three geographical loci along an east-west axis without any claim to geographical precision. Whereas haplogroup O1 moved to the drainage of the Pearl River and its tributaries, the bearers of haplogroup O2 moved to southern Yunnan, whilst bearers of haplogroup O3 remained in the Eastern Himalaya. The O2 clade split into O2a (M95) and O2b (M176). Asian rice may have first been domesticated roughly in the area hypothetically imputed to O2 south of the central Yangtze.
The interaction between ancient Austroasiatics and the early Hmong-Mien not only involved the sharing of rice agriculture technology, but also left high frequencies of haplogroup O2a in today’s Hmong-Mien and haplogroup O3a3b in today’s Austroasiatic populations.
The bearers of the subclade O2a became the ancestors of the Austroasiatics, who spread initially to the Salween drainage in northeastern Burma, to northern Thailand and to western Laos. In time, the Austroasiatics would spread as far as the Mekong delta, the Malay peninsula and the Nicobars. Later, early Austroasiatics would introduce both their language and their paternal lineage to indigenous peoples of eastern India, whose descendants are today’s Munda language communities.
Meanwhile, the bearers of the fraternal subclade O2b spread eastward, where they introduced rice agriculture to areas downstream south of the Yangtze. The bearers of the O2b haplogroup continued to sow seed as they continued to move ever further eastward, but they left no linguistic traces. This paternal lineage moved as far as the Korean peninsula and represents the second major wave of peopling attested in the Japanese genome. Yet the Japanese speak a language of the Altaic linguistic phylum, and the peopling of Japan is a distinct episode of prehistory.
At the dawn of the Holocene in the Eastern Himalaya, haplogroup O3 gave rise to the ancestral Trans-Himalayan paternal lineage O3a3c (M134) and the original Hmong-Mien paternal lineage O3a3b (M7). The bearers of haplogroup O3a3c stayed behind in the Eastern Himalaya, whilst bearers of the O3a3b lineage migrated east to settle in areas south of the Yangtze. On their way, the early Hmong-Mien encountered the ancient Austroasiatics, from whom they adopted rice agriculture.
The interaction between ancient Austroasiatics and the early Hmong-Mien not only involved the sharing of rice agriculture technology, but also left high frequencies of haplogroup O2a in today’s Hmong-Mien and haplogroup O3a3b in today’s Austroasiatic populations. The Austroasiatic paternal contribution to Hmong-Mien populations was modest, but the Hmong-Mien paternal contribution to Austroasiatic populations in Southeast Asia was significant. However, the incidence of haplogroup O3a3b in Austroasiatic communities of the Subcontinent is undetectably low. Subsequently, the Hmong-Mien continued to move eastward, as did bearers of haplogroup O2b.
Even further east, the O1 (MSY2.2) paternal lineage gave rise to the O1a (M119) subclade, which moved from the Pearl River to the Min river drainage in the Fujian hill tracts and then across the Taiwan Strait. Formosa consequently became the homeland of the Austronesians. The Malayo-Polynesian expansion via the Philippines into insular Southeast Asia must have entailed the introduction of Austronesian languages by bearers of haplogroup O1a to resident communities, whose original Austroasiatic paternal haplogroup O2a alongside other older paternal lineages would remain dominant even after linguistic assimilation. Similarly, Malagasy is an Austronesian language, but the Malagasy people trace their biological ancestries equally to Borneo and the African mainland.
Back in the Eastern Himalaya, the paternal spread of Trans-Himalayan is preserved in the distribution of Y-chromosomal haplogroup O3a3c (M134). The centre of phylogenetic diversity of the Trans-Himalayan language family is rooted squarely in the Eastern Himalaya, with outliers trailing off towards the loess plains of the Yellow River basin in the northeast. Initially, Trans-Himalayan expanded through Sichuan and Yunnan, north and northwest across the Tibetan plateau, westward across the Himalaya and southward into the Indo-Burmese borderlands.
On the Brahmaputran plain, early Tibeto-Burmans encountered Austroasiatics, who had preceded them. The ancestral Trans-Himalayan paternal lineage O3a3c also spread from the Eastern Himalaya in a northeastern direction across East Asia to the North China plain. Subsequently, at a shallower time depth, the Tibeto-Burman paternal lineage O3a3c spread south from the Yellow River basin into southern China, beginning with the Han expansion during the Qin dynasty in the third century BC. The Trans-Himalayan paternal lineage O3a3c is intrusively present in the Korean peninsula and beyond, although the Evenki and other Uralo-Siberian populations predominantly retain the paternal lineage N.
The Eastern Himalaya furnished the ultimate cradle for the ethnogenesis of the various Uralo-Siberian and East Asian language families. Language and genes tell us what we might also have deduced from basic facts of geography. In the hoary past, when our ancestors emerged from Africa on their way to East Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Siberia, the Americas and even Lappland, many of them first passed through the Eastern Himalaya and crossed the Brahmaputra.
~ George van Driem is a professor of linguistics at Berne University.
* This is an edited transcript of a July 2014 lecture hosted by Himal and the Alliance for Social Dialogue in Kathmandu
Atkinson, Edwin T., The Khas People of the Western Himalayas
Book review by Bipin Adhikari, Issue Name : Spotlight, Vol:09, No 16, February 19, 2016 (Falgun 7,2072)
The book of Edwin T. Atkinson starts with a remarkable preface. It is divided into ten impressive chapters. Chapters III to VII are devoted to some key aspects of the history of the Western Himalayas. Here he talks about Khasas, Bhotiyas and other immigrants living in the hills and mountains in the background of Vaidik geography, Pauranik ethnography, mythology and the history of different periods. It includes references on the Kumaon invasion of the Gorkhalis
Edwin T. Atkinson is the first author who researched on the Khas people when dealing with the people of the North-Western Himalayas. His book, The Himalayan Districts of the North-Western Provinces of India, Vol II (Allahabad, North-Western Provinces and Oudh Government Press, 1884), which forms Volume XI of The Gazetteer, brings forward many important facts about the Khas people that he discovered during his research.
The book of Edwin T. Atkinson starts with a remarkable preface. It is divided into ten impressive chapters. Chapters III to VII are devoted to some key aspects of the history of the Western Himalayas. Here he talks about Khasas, Bhotiyas and other immigrants living in the hills and mountains in the background of Vaidik geography, Pauranik ethnography, mythology and the history of different periods. It includes references on the Kumaon invasion of the Gorkhalis. The next three chapters explore religions in the Western Himalayas including Kumaon’s specialty in this regard. Here he tries to explain Himalayan Buddhism and Hinduism being practised by the local people.
The book maintains that the Khasas, also called Khasiyas, are the principal inhabitants of the regions to the west of Kashmir, of Kashmir itself and of the hill country as far as Nepal and of a considerable part of the plains. Explaining extensive Vedic, Pauranik and historical sources, Atkinosn speaks about their historical continuity to this day. Relying on Pliny’s account, he claims that while the Khasas occupied the country far to the west of their present location in Kumaon and Nepal, the Kiratakas with the Tanganas held the country between the Tons and the Sarda.
Atkinson is clear in his opinion that the Nagas, Kiratas and Khasas entered the Western Himalayas by the same route as the Aryas. In addition, he makes a point that the Kiratas were the first to arrive in the Himalayas. The Nagas followed them. They were then followed by the Khasas. Taking the clue from Latin, Greek and Sanskrit sources, Atkinson concludes that there is a fairly connected history of the people and the country from the very earliest times. He defends his finding by arguing that the local inscriptions and the records of Nepal fill up many a gap and confirm his analysis.
The Khas people are Aryan people. They have different sub-groups. Yet they are different from other Aryans in their religious and cultural observances. Atkinson states that the name ‘Khasa’ like the name ‘Naga’ is of far too wide significance to be that of a single tribe. He also discusses in the book the question of the connection between the Khasas and Katyuri rulers in Kumaon and the Kho people and Kator rulers in Kashkara at the western end of the Himalaya beyond Kashmir. He says: “the Khasiyas of Kumaon have as much right to be called an Aryan race in its widest sense as many others with a more established name, but the fact that they have not yet come up to their plains brethren in caste and religious observances still excludes them from the ranks of the twice-born.”
The Khas people have thus been described by Atkinson as one of the distinct inhabitants of the North-western provinces. Talking about the population of Kumaon and Garhwal, he describes how the inhabitants belong to the Khasa race and speak a dialect which to him sounds like Hindi. They are different not only of the Mongoloid inhabitants with him they share their land, but also from the Hindus who live in the plains. In recent years, states Atkinson, although these people have their beliefs grounded in the ideals of Hinduism, they sometimes are repugnant of its orthodox ceremonial usages.
No matter their origins, about which he is not quite clear, they have heavily been influenced by the Brahmanical priesthood. By this specification, he means the versions of Hinduism, based on four castes, and a process by which people of other Hindu caste, or tribal or other groups, change their customs, ritual ideology, and way of life in the direction of a high and frequently twice-born caste. The Khas people, notes Atkinson, are increasingly being Brahmanized, which in turn ensures the workings of orthodoxy.
Atkinson’s analysis of religion in the Western Himalayas is also revealing. On the basis of the study of nearly one thousand temples, and the analysis of the forms worshipped in them, he finds that “Buddhism, though nominally dead, yet lives and is still the faith of the masses.” Both Buddhism and Sivaism are being practised in the Western Himalayas. There is a strange melange at work. As Atkinson finds, “Buddhism has been absorbed by Sivaism and that both have been influenced to such a degree by the polydaemonistic cults of the aboriginal tribes as to preserve little of their original structure.
This mingling of the pre-Brahmanical, Buddhistic and Animistic conceptions has given us the existing Hinduism of the masses, and has had even a considerable influence in moulding the tenets of the more esoteric schools.” The author asserts that the history of the Hindu people is laced with fiction, making it hard to distinguish between what is the truth and what is simply made up. However, he also recognizes that without these accounts from Hindu writers, it is hard to derive the history of the local people.
As Atkinson dives into the history of the Himalayas, he talks about how the Himachal was believed to be the inhabitation of the gods themselves. Many sought residence in these areas in order to be closer to the gods. More importantly, the peaks, pools, and waterfalls became the sacred places to embrace priesthood and of pilgrimage in the minds of the Hindus. Many pilgrims from all over India visit and settle in Garhwal, where there are Hindu shrines of Keddrnath and Badrinath. The intermingling of indigenous groups and Hindus from other parts of India is further seen as some of these immigrants marry daughters of princes of the hills. The Bhotiyas that occupy the inter-alpine valleys of Bhot call the people of the lower hills ‘Khasiyas.’ Therefore, Atkinson points out that the region makes up the diverse population together with the immigrants, the Khasiyas and the Bhotiyas.
The author also discusses how in the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas conquered the Utsavasankatas, or the seven tribes of Dasyus that inhabited the mountains. The Dasyus were said to be the degraded members of the Aryan clan because of their lack of intercourse with Brahmans and their refusal to the Brahmanical customs and practices. During the fight, it is said that Saineya, the charioteer of Krishna, spilled the blood and cut the flesh of thousands of Dasyus.
The author claims that the Mahabharata also mentions the Bahikas called Arattasthat live in contemporary Punjab. There was said to be the swelling of degraded Brahmans, also known today as the Prajapati. According to the holy book, these Brahmans had no Veda or Vedic ceremony nor sacrifice. Since they were considered to be servile, the gods apparently did not eat the food they offered. Among these shunned Brahmans of the Punjab were also the Khasas, which demonstrates that perhaps they originated in the hilly regions of Nepal from a more westerly region than Kumaon. The author also claims that orthodox writings have viewed the Khasas as “heretical members” of the Aryan family, rather than outcasts, and an important tribe of the Western Himalayas.
The first two chapters in Atkinson’s book are devoted to the vertebrate and invertebrate animals in the regions. They take stock of the important species providing interesting notes on mammalian. The list of birds is attractive. There is also a compilation of the list of reptiles and land and fresh water shells. The author talks about the various kinds of animals, like the murinaformosa, a yellow bat, and the frionodonpardicolor, a tiger, that live in the diverse regions of Nepal. He talks about the ailurusfulgens, a red cat bear with a distinct red colour of the head that is found in the Terai region of Nepal. He writes that the bear primarily eats ants, fruits, roots, and honey. He also mentions the Nepal hawk-eagle, limnaetusnipalensis, and the Nepal brown wood owl, syrniumnewarense, which are thought to be very rare. They may make a very interesting read to zoologists of Nepal.
इन्द्रबहादुर बराल, राजधानी खबर प्रकाशित मिति: २०१५-१२-०२ ०७:३१ | २१० पटक हेरिएको
मुलुक अहिले गहिरो संकटबाट गुज्रिराखेको छ । अदूरदर्शी र अपरिपक्व कूटनीतिले अरूलाई दोष थुपारेर राष्ट्रका जल्दाबल्दा समस्याको हल निस्कँदैन । त्यसको लागि परिपक्व र गतिशील नेतृत्व मुलुकले खोजिरहेको छ । यसको अभावमा नेपालीहरू तड्पिराख्नुपरेको छ । देशको यस्तो समग्र स्थिति विद्यमान छ एकातिर भने अर्कोतर्फ भर्खरै जारी संविधानले नेपालका बहुसंख्यक खस क्षत्रीको स्वतन्त्र पहिचान स्वीकार गरेको पाइँदैन । यो प्रसंग किन उठाइएको हो भने देशका अनादिवासी खस क्षत्रीहरूले संविधानले गरेको व्यवस्था या त बुझेकै छैनन् या त्यसको दूरगामी परिणामबारे कुनै चिन्तन नै गरेका छैनन् । अन्यथा, जातीय जनसंख्याको हिसाबले सबैभन्दा ठुलो जनसंख्या ओगटेको खस क्षत्री नेपालको नयाँ संविधानप्रति यति बेखबरजस्तै देखिने थिएनन् होला । यसर्थ, संविधानको भाग ३ धारा १८ को उपधारा १ मा ‘सबै नागरिक कानुनको दृष्टिमा समान हुनेछन् । कसैलाई पनि कानुनको समान संरक्षणबाट वञ्चित गरिनेछैन’ भनेर समानताको हकमा उल्लेख गरे पनि सोही भाग ३ को धारा १८ र उपधारा ३ मा ‘तर’ शब्द जोडेर अन्य जाति, क्षेत्र, वर्ग, लिंगबाट खस क्षत्रीलाई विभेद गर्ने गरी ‘आर्थिक रूपले विपन्न’को आधार बनाएर खस आर्यलाई घोर अन्याय गरेको तर्फ खस क्षत्रीको ध्यान पुग्नु जरुरी छ । त्यसमा पनि ‘आर्थिक रूपले विपन्न’ भन्नाले संघीय कानुनमा तोकिएको आयभन्दा कम आय भएको व्यक्ति सम्झनुपर्दछ भन्नुले संविधानमा नै विभेदकारी व्यवस्था गरेर मुलुकले न्यायपूर्ण समाजको निर्माण सोच्नु हास्यास्पद कुरा हो । कुनै जाति वा वर्ग र लिंगलाई सामाजिक वा सांस्कृतिक दृष्टिले पिछडिएका भनी परिभाषित गरिनु त कतै आर्थिक रूपले विपन्न भनिनु नै चरम र ठाडो विभदेकारी कुरा हो । मुलुकको मूल कानुनमै यस्ता शब्द प्रयोग गरिनु आपत्तिजनक छ । त्यसमा खस खार्य शब्द राखेर क्षत्रीहरूको स्वतन्त्र पहिचानलाई मेट्ने काम भएको छ । संघीय कार्यपालिका र व्यवस्थापिकामा समेत खस क्षत्रीलाई खस आर्यकै पंक्तिमा राखेर खस क्षत्रीको अलग पहिचानलाई स्वीकार गरिएको छैन । यसै पनि खस क्षत्रीलाई खस अहंकारको कारण आज मुलुकमा शोषण र उत्पीडनको मूल कारण भनी आरोप लगाइएको छ । त्यसै आरोपको परिणाम खस क्षत्रीविरुद्ध अन्य जाति समूह जसले शोषण गरे, आज तिनैले खस क्षत्रीको स्वतन्त्र पहिचान मेटाएर खस आर्य भनी संविधान लेखाउन समर्थ भए । आफ्नो जाति र समुदायको स्वतन्त्र पहिचान र अस्तित्व मेटाउनसमेत खस क्षत्रीका राजनीतिक तहमा भएका हुन् वा आफूलाई विद्वताको पंक्तिमा राख्नेहरू नै किन नहुन्, चुँइक्क नबोल्ने वा एक शब्द नलेख्नेप्रति केवल धिक्कारबाहेक के नै भन्न सकिन्छ र † संविधान जारीपश्चात् मधेस दन्किराखेको छ तर खस क्षत्री भने आफ्नो स्वतन्त्र पहिचानको खोजीमा घोसे मुन्टो लगाएर बसेका छन् । आखिरी किन यस्तो भइराखेको छ ? खस क्षत्रीहरूको चेतना र जागरुकता बुझिनसक्नु भएको छ । आजको दुनियाँ पहिचान र अस्तित्वका लागि अत्यन्तै सचेत र चनाखो भएको सर्वविदितै छ तर नेपालका खस क्षत्रीहरूले भने आफ्नो स्वतन्त्र पहिचान र अस्तित्वका लागि वास्तवमै कुनै चिन्ता र चासो व्यक्त गरेका पाइँदैन । अब यसको मूल कारणको खोज र अनुसन्धान आवश्यक छ । हुन त संविधानमा क्षत्री नभनीकन ‘खस आर्य’ उल्लेख गरेर त्यसको स्पष्टीकरणमा ‘खस आर्य भन्नाले क्षत्री, बाहुन, ठकुरी र दशनामी (सन्यासी) भन्ने सम्झनुपर्दछ’ भनी उल्लेख गरी क्षत्रीको स्वतन्त्र पहिचानलाई घुमाउरो पाराले अस्वीकार गरिएको छ । त्यसकारण अब खस क्षत्रीले आफ्नो स्वतन्त्र पहिचान र अस्तित्व नामेट नपार्न आर्य संस्कृति र सभ्यताका पक्षधरबाट आफूलाई अलग राख्ने अभियानमा देशव्यापी खस क्षत्रीहरू एकजुट हुन अत्यावश्यक भइसकेको छ । मधेस आन्दोलनलाई सम्बोधन गर्न संसद् सचिवालयमा दर्ता भएको संशोधन विधेयकको कार्यान्वयनका क्रममा खस क्षत्रीको स्वतन्त्र पहिचान र अस्तित्व झल्कने गरी खस आर्यको ठाउँमा कि त खस, आर्य (खस कमा आर्य) लेखिनुप¥यो अन्य खस क्षत्री भनी संविधानको भाग ३ धारा १८ उपधारा ३ को दोस्रो अनुच्छेदमा संशोधन गर्न सम्बन्धित पक्षको ध्यानाकर्षण गर्न जोडदार माग गर्नुको खस क्षत्रीसँग अर्को कुनै वैधानिक विकल्प छैन । यथासम्भव खस क्षत्रीहरू वैधानिक बाटोबाटै आफ्नो स्वतन्त्र पहिचान स्थापित गर्न चाहन्छन् । दोस्रो विकल्प सबैको लागि त्यति सहज र सुखद हुँदैन । अहिले नै महँगो मूल्य चुकाउने बाटो रोज्नु कसैका निम्ति पनि हितकर छैन । सबै बाटा बन्द भएपछि अन्तिम विकल्प ‘गर कि मर’ भन्ने हुन्छ । एकातिर बेलाबखत खस क्षत्रीमाथि अनर्गल र तथ्यहीन आरोपमा अनेक झुटा आरोपबाट तड्पाइराख्ने काम पनि नभएको होइन । विशेष गरेर एनेकपा माओवादीले खस क्षत्रीको खोइरो नै खन्ने काम गरे र त्यसै कारणले मुलुकको सबैभन्दा ठुलो शक्तिका रूपमा आफूलाई स्थापित ग¥यो पनि । तर, खस क्षत्रीले एनेकपा माओवादीलाई दोस्रो संविधानसभाको निर्वाचनमा जब परास्त गरिदिए, तब मात्र खस अहंकार शब्द उनीहरूको शब्दकोशबाट त हटाएनन् तर मुल्तबीमा सम्म राखेका छन् कि जस्तो देखिएको छ । तथापि, अन्य राजनीतिक दल पनि कतिपय खस क्षत्रीका सन्दर्भमा लहैलहैमा लागेर ‘खस क्षत्री’ उल्लेख गर्नुपर्ने ठाउँमा ‘खसआर्य’ लेखी गौरवशाली जाति खस क्षत्रीको स्वतन्त्र पहिचान र अस्तित्व नामेट पार्ने काममा खस आर्य समुदायअन्तर्गतका खस बाहुनहरू सफल देखिए । चाहेर वा नचाहेर अर्थात् संवैधानिक वा अवैधानिक जेसुकै भनौं, मुलुक जातीयता र क्षत्रीयतामा गइसकेको छ । अब त्यो जातीयता र क्षत्रीयताको भावनालाई मेटाउन ‘इन्द्रेको बाउ चन्द्रे’ आए पनि सक्ला जस्तो लाग्दैन । हालैका दिनमा मधेसीहरूको पहाडीप्रतिको नकारात्मक धारणा र पहाडीहरूको मधेसीप्रतिको घृणाभाव अत्यन्तै खतरनाक देखिन्छ । यस्तो अवस्थामा अब देशलाई जोगाउने र बिग्रिसकेको जातीय एवं क्षत्रीय सद्भावलाई चुस्त बनाइराख्ने काम चानचुने प्रयत्नले हुँदैन । हालका राजनीतिक शक्तिहरू लगभग निकम्मा भइसकेका छन् । यसै सन्दर्भमा डा. बाबुराम भट्टराईले विगतमा भड्काएको जातीय एवं सामाजिक सद्भावलाई पूर्ववत् कायम गराउँदै नयाँ परिस्थितिमा नयाँ शक्तिको जुन उद्घोष गरेका छन्, त्यसले साकार रूप लिन सक्छ । अन्यथा, पार्टीभित्रको असन्तुष्टिलाई चुनौती दिनकै लागि नयाँ शक्तिको गफ गरिएको हो भने मणि थापा, मातृका यादव, मोहन वैद्य र नेत्रविक्रम चन्दकै गति हुने पक्का छ । यसर्थ यो मुलुका प्रमुख जातिका मन र मस्तिष्कमा पस्ने हो भने खस क्षत्रीको स्वतन्त्र पहिचान र अस्तित्वलाई स्वीकार गर्दै नयाँ शक्तिमा आवद्ध हुन आह्वान गर्नै पर्छ । डा. बाबुराम भट्टराईलाई यो एउटा राम्रो अवसर पनि हुन सक्छ । हुन त खस क्षत्रीका विरुद्ध कथित आदिवासी÷जनजातिलाई उक्साउने काम पनि डा. साहेबबाट भएको हो, त्यसैले उनीबाट त्यति आशा गरिहाल्ने स्थिति देखिँदैन । तथापि, आफ्ना गल्ती कमजोरीलाई सच्याउँदै समतामूलक र न्यायपूर्ण समाज निर्माण गर्ने हो भने अवश्य पनि सबैभन्दा ठुलो जनसंख्या ओगटेको जाति खस क्षत्रीलाई साथ लिएर जाने प्रयत्न गर्नु बुद्धिमानी हुनेछ । अन्यथा, उही ब्राह्मणवादी चिन्तन र दृष्टिकोणबाट मुक्त नहुने हो भने नेपालमा जातजातिलाई जुधाएर तमासा हेर्नुसिवाय अरू केही हुनेवाला छैन । अब बिस्तारै खस क्षत्रीले पनि आफ्नो जाति समूहमाथि षड्यन्त्र गर्नेहरूको झुण्ड पनि पहिचान गरिसकेका छन्, उपयुक्त समयमा सुहाउँदो जवाफ दिनेछन् । होइन भने स्वतन्त्र पहिचानको खोजीमा खस क्षत्री अब लागिसकेका छन्, सम्बन्धित पक्षले हेक्का राख्नु जरुरी छ । एकातिर बेलाबखत खस क्षत्रीमाथि अनर्गल र तथ्यहीन आरोपमा अनेक झुटो आरोपबाट तड्पाइराख्ने काम पनि नभएको होइन । विशेष गरेर एनेकपा माओवादीले खस क्षत्रीको खोइरो नै खन्ने काम ग¥यो । त्यसकारण उसले मुलुकको सबैभन्दा ठुलो शक्तिका रूपमा आफूलाई स्थापित ग¥यो पनि । तर, खस क्षत्रीले एनेकपा माओवादीलाई दोस्रो संविधानसभाको निर्वाचनमा जब परास्त गरिदिए, तब मात्र खस अहंकार शब्द उनीहरूको शब्दकोशबाट त हटाएनन् तर मुल्तबीमा सम्म राखेका छन् कि जस्तो देखिएको छ । प्रकाशित मिति: २०१५-१२-०२ ०७:३१ | २१० पटक हेरिएको
Interaction with the young generation of the soldiers of King Prithvi Narayan Shah
Prithvi Narayan Shah became king of Nepal in 1742 AD. After his succession, he started attacking several small princedoms. He recruited several Magars into his army. With this mission, he quickly defeated several princedoms surrounding the Kathmandu valley. After his third attempt, he succeeded in defeating Kirtipur, a formidable kingdom in his third attempt. With this victory, he was able to defeat the other three kingdoms—Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. After the war, he began to stay in Kathmandu durbar. His army also stayed with him to protect his kingdom. The Magars also stayed behind with him. Magar Studies Center organized two get-together programs with the children of those soldiers. The first meeting was held at Bhaisepati on 2076/10/11(Jan 25, 2020). The second get-together was organized at Dhahchowk on 2076/10/18(Feb 1, 2020).
During the discussion, it was found Magar were living in other parts of the Kathmandu valley and outskirts. These places are:
Balkhu—Thapa, Rana, Ale
Bhaisepati Magar Gau–45 houses,
Bhaktapur Magar Gau– Thapa 45 houses, Rana 8 houses, Ale 5 houses
Nepal is a melting pot of many races and tribes. There are 126 castes and ethnic groups in Nepal. The prehistory and the early history of Nepal are largely unknown. The ancient origin and history of Magar people is shrouded in speculations. Despite several literary sources on Magars, the origin and history are replete with compounded speculations and inexplicit details. Information on Magars is speckled here and there. Some of these are incomplete, contradict each other, controversial, and quite often there are missing links in between the periods of history. This is so due to the dearth of substantial pieces of evidence, accurate, and chronological documents.
The Magars, the largest among the ethnic groups, is also the third-largest group in Nepal. At the time of the Nepal Census, 2011, the population of Magars was 1,887,733 (7.1% of the population of Nepal). They inhabit throughout the country with the highest population in the western part of the country—nicknamed as ‘Bahra Magarat’ ‘twelve land of Magars’ (821530), followed by the mid-western (484771) and central region (324869) of the country.
The Magars, the aboriginal stock of Nepal, are most undoubtedly Mongolian. From a linguistic point of view, there are three types of Magars living in Nepal. Kaike Magars living in Dolpa district who speak Kaike; Kham Magars who live in Atharha Magarat region and speak Kham; and the Magars who live in Bahra Magarat and speak Dhut Magar dialects. Many foreign anthropologists and sociologists have accomplished their studies or written books on all these three types of Magars. These Magars speak Tibeto-Burman dialect. Even within this Tibeto-Burman family Kham dialect is spoken by Magars in the Mid-Western region, Tarali or Kaike in Dolpa district of North-Western region, and Dhut, mostly in the West and Central part of Nepal. The population of Magars speaking these three Magar language is 2.98% of the total population of Nepal (2011 Census). Other remaining Magars speak Khas and Nepali. The Magar tongue-speaking population in 1952/54, 1991, 2001, and 2011 were 273780, 430264, and 770116, and 788,530 respectively. According to the number of people speaking a language, the Magar language is ranked as the seventh most widely spoken language in Nepal.
The study of languages has sometimes been useful in determining the historical settlements of the people in Nepal. As Witzel explains that the Magarat “extends from the Bheri in the west to Burhi Gandaki in the east and is fairly uniform in its nomenclature: river names invariantly end in –ri or –di. The names in –ri are found in the western part, that is in Kham territory, the names in –di in the eastern part. The River Ba-bai, to the south of the Bheri, may have a Magar name as well: bəy, bəyh is a Kham Magar word for ‘river’.”[i]
Magars as warriors
In the 1750s, Prithibi Narayan Shah, the “father of modern Nepal,” was consolidating the many petty kingdoms scattered across the land. For this task, he counted heavily upon his Magar soldiers. The outside world, however, came to know of the Magar only after the British began recruiting soldiers in Nepal for Gurkha regiments. The British quickly came to appreciate the Magars’ qualities and they became a major part of their Nepal (Gurkha) contingent.
The Gurkha soldiers have written their own history through bravery, by being the ‘Bravest of the Braves’. Five Magars—Kulbir Thapa Magar, Karna Bahadur Rana Magar, Lal Bahadur Thapa Magar, Tul Bahadur Pun Magar, and Netra Bahadur Thapa Magar have earned covetous Victoria Cross (VC) Medals and Dhan Singh Thapa Magar was awarded Param Vir Chakra (PVC) Medal for the gallantry and bravery. “A shrewd critic of the war” had described the situation in those times in the following words: “Almost wherever there was a theatre of war Gurkhas were to be found, and everywhere they added to their name for high courage. Gurkhas helped to hold the sodden trenches of France in that first terrible winter and during the succeeding summer. Their graves are thick on the Penninsula, on Sinai, and on the plains of Tigris and Euphrates, and even among the wild mountains that border the Caspian Sea. And to those who know, when they see the map of that country of Nepal, there must always recur the thought of what the people of that country have done for us.”[ii]
Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, who had been in Gulmi district of Nepal for her study, also refers to the military bravery of their (Magars) ancestors, claiming that it has not been recognized by the state, whatever high-caste leadership they helped to create. For example, in the history of the unification of Nepal, they picture themselves as heroes who built the country, without considering the possibility that they themselves cut the branch on which they sat by annihilating the power they had in petty kingdoms such as Palpa where they were numerically dominant and closely linked to the royal family. This situation is perhaps due to the fact that the petty kingdom which grew into a nation by swallowing its numerous neighbors was precisely a former Magar territory, where members of this group were numerous and closely related to the royal family through their cults. In a way, the Magars undoubtedly have the feeling that “Gorkha’s victory is also their own.”[iii]
Christoph also relates a similar stance of Magars’ proud record of martial exploits, and Magar officers serving in the armies of the early Gurkha kings as well as in those of the Newar states of the valley. In even earlier times, the Magar chieftains of Western Nepal seem to have faced Thakuri and Chetri chiefs on equal terms, and the same clan-names, such as for instance Thapa and Rana, occur among Magars and Chetris. Gurkha soldiers have earned fame across the globe. There can be no better account of the classic character and bravery of “the best soldiers of Asia”[iv] made by Hodgson. Everywhere Magars found they had also gained a reputation for honesty and hard work.[v]
Origin and History
The yearning to know one’s origin and history is to not only establish one’s identity but also for sentimental attachments for the people and place. Knowing past history is something like backtracking into the primitive stages of society. This knowledge may not turn out payback or profits but it is a delight (or sometimes displeasure?) to know the past.
There is a myth about the Magars. According to this, the first Magar was the youngest of four brothers. The eldest worshipped Kalika and became the ancestor of the Thakuris and the youngest sacrificed a pig to Bhairobi and hence became a Magar.[vi] “We have lived here always” types of claims have to be based on facts, not fictions, anything short of these could give out the prospect to remarks like “Magars’ history is lost in obscurity.”[vii]
Michael Witzel mentions “Magars were apparently known already to the Mahabharata as Maga, to the Puranas under the name of Mangara, and in a Nepalese copper plate inscription of 1100/1 A.D. as Mangvara.”[viii] Even in the heartland of the speakers of Western Nepali (the-gad area) indicate a Magar settlement that must have extended much more towards the west before the immigration of the Nepali-speaking Khasa/Khas in the Middle Ages.[ix] These details go together with the presumption that an original population, probably of Tibeto-Burman ethnicity, lived in Nepal some 2500 years ago.[x]
Many Magars think that they have occupied and used their land for centuries; have changed the very shape of the mountain upon which they live with their terraces; have worn footpaths connecting farmsteads deep into the soil and those stone resting platforms for wayfarers under the great roots of the banyan trees planted long ago to provide shade enclose. They feel they belong where they are, “and indeed they do”, for the people fit the land and the land fits them. And not only do the people live on their land as they feel they always have, but their many ‘godlings’ that control life and the resources upon which life is based are at home there also and must be treated with regular sacrifices of food.[xi] Some writers quote the local Magars that they “have no legends of origin from another place.” Contrary to this, M.S. Thapa Magar is of the opinion that “Magars came from East Pamir of China.”[xii]
Vansittart is of the view that “the aboriginal stock of Nepal is most undoubtedly Mongolian. This fact is inscribed in very plain characters, in their faces, forms, and languages.”[xiii] He is also of the opinion that “the principal seat of the Magars was most of the central and lower parts of the mountains between the Jhingrak (Rapti of Gorakhpur) and Marsiangdi Rivers. That they resided about Palpa from time immemorial is well known.”[xiv]
For Gary, the Magars were a Mongolian people who had migrated into Nepal in the predawn of history. Many of the other ethnic groups had legends that told how they had come to Nepal from Tibet or some other places, but not the Magars, for them, at least, history simply began and ended in Nepal. Nevertheless, who were the real Magars—the original ones? Gary found that most likely it was the Magar community which was to be found in Central Nepal in Palpa, Syangja, and Tanahu district.[xv]
Hodgson is also of the opinion that the original seat of the Magars in the Bara Mangranth, or Satahung, Payung, Bhirkot, Dhor, Garahung, Rising, Ghiring, Galmai, Argha, Khachi, Musikot, and Isma; in other words, most of the central and lower parts of the mountains, between the Bheri and Marsyandi Rivers. As is reflected by Landon, Magars seem to have spread widely, both east and west, after surrendering Palpa to invaders.[xvi] Modern events have spread the Magars and Gurungs over most parts of the present kingdom of Nepal.[xvii]
Hitchcock is of the view that “the tribe seems to have been part of a very ancient influx of Mongoloid, Tibeto-Burman speaking peoples into Nepal, probably from the north and east. It also seems probable, in view of differences between its northern and southern halves, that the tribe represents two different streams of migration.”[xviii] He finds differences “especially on each side of a line that divides their homeland roughly into northern and southern halves. The Magar tribe is split into a number of subtribes. In the southern half of the region, the sub-tribes that predominate almost to the exclusion of any others are the Ale, Rana, Thapa, and Burathoki Magars in the northern half of the area belong to different groups of sub tribes, Bura, Gharti, Pun, and Rokha.”[xix]
Pandit Sarat Chandra relates an incident that could have significant importance in this connection: “It was told of the upper Kangpa-chan valley that it was first peopled by Tibetans called Sharpa (Easterners), whose original home was in the mountains of Shar Khambu, or Eastern Kirata. Lower down the valley lived the Magar tribe from Nepal, whose chief extended his sway over the Sharpa, and exacted such oppressive taxes from them that they decided to avenge themselves. The Magar chief, going to the village of Kangpa-chan, he and his followers were murdered, and their bodies buried…Kangpa-chan people, who drank deeply, and fell asleep to awake no more. Nearly a thousand people were in this way done to death, and the babies were carried away by the queen’s followers. The place where this foul deed was done became known as Tongshong Phug, ‘the place which witnessed a thousand murders.’ ……The Tibetans finally expelled the Magars from the Kangpa-chan and Tambur valleys, and restored them to their former possessors.”[xx] Similarly, Iman Singh Chemjong also argues that “Magars are a composite group of Kirant and Monkhu and later on became Mangar.”[xxi] The references made by Sharad Chandra and Iman Singh Chemjong suggest to us the possibility of the existence of Monguor people in the Gansu province of China could also have a relationship with Magars of Nepal.
The origins of Kaike Magars end up with the mystical tales told and retold by local people. According to one of these stories, Kaike Magars were the sons of a woman who had fled from an unspecified village of Kalyal kingdom. She subsequently gave birth to her child, a son. The boy, when he grew up, captured an angel while she was bathing with her friends. As time went by, the son and his angel bride had three sons. These were the ancestors of the Budha, Rokaya, and Gharti clan. The origin of the fourth major clan is different. One of the three sons was a shepherd who kept losing the same female goat every day, so one day he followed her when she wandered away from the rest of the herd. He discovered that she was giving her milk to a baby boy living in the hollow part of a bamboo tree. He brought the baby home. This boy grew up and became the ancestor of the Jhankri clan.[xxii]
Much strikingly, Michael Oppitz also has a similar type of story about the origin of the Northern Magar-Kham- of Rukum district. He relates the three stories of the origin of Magars expressed in different media—one in the written document, the second original story is oral but seemingly fixed wordings and the third version recounted in ad-hoc oral rendering by one Magar of Taka. The three versions agree about the divine or semi-divine origin of the present-day clans or tribal sub-groups of the Northern Magar. The common themes of the three versions differently told and yet the same, rotate around the origin of the first ancestors, their first alliances, the primeval migration movements in their homeland, the origins of agriculture, and of hunting.[xxiii]
Anne de Sales also relates something similar on the origin of Kham Magars. She recounts that the “members of the same clan believe that they share a common ancestor and common geographical origin, which, determines clan exogamy. Each of the four Kham Magar clans-Pun, Gharti, Bura, Rokka-it was known by a second geographical designation, which locates its ancient site of residence.[xxiv]
Though all of this information could serve to establish the origin and history, however, the mystic tales of these kinds can appease neither the anthropologists nor Magars themselves. Owing to the absence of any written history and that, Magars had left their place of origin so long ago that the traces, though surely present, are not yet as easy to pin down. Therefore, it is difficult now to unravel many of the specific aspects of their history.
Religion and culture
The Magars worship nature, idols, spirits, and supernatural beings. This actually points out the belief in the natural phenomenon. In the rural parts of Nepal, even today, we come across a Than (shrine)–little rectangular pieces of gobar or cow dung, on a platform, with a varying number of evenly spaced depressions in the top, such as might be made with the tip of a finger inside the house–besides a path track, beneath a tree, under a large stone, beside a water spring, or in the corner of irrigated fields. Sometimes these platforms are uncovered, resting on a patch of earth that has been hardened and made smooth with a mixture of mud, cow dung, and water. Most of them are inside little “rooms” that are open in front and have been made with flat stones. On occasions, too, one sees a small pavilion with a conical thatched roof made of straw, about the height of a man.
These Than are some of the places where one can make contact with supernatural beings of a particular kind—Gham(sun), Jun(full moon), Pani(water), Bayu(wind), Kuldevata(family god), Sim Bai(devi), Nag (serpent), Jhankari (hunter), Bhoot-Pret-Masan(ghost, spirit), Boskshi(witch), Bandevi(forest goddess)– the beings who mean most to the majority of people because they are the ones who are effective in their lives and really make a difference. Coming to terms with these beings is part of their lives. These are beings of the land and the forces controlling health, growth, and reproduction. These beings, which may be either male, Devta, or female, Devi, are referred to as deities who eat bhog or food–mostly the newly spilled blood of a sacrificial animal – mostly the bhale(a rooster), and quite often the boka(he-goat), and pada(young male buffalo), and Sungur(pig). On many occasions, people offer panchbali—the sacrifice of five animals at a time.
The Puja (prayers) are made at places where it is believed that the godling lives. The sacrifices almost always are made by a young kumar(unmarried) boy, called pujari, who bathes and puts on a clean loincloth. After cleaning the ground with cow dung and water, thus setting it apart and making it acceptable for a holy purpose, he winds dhaja (kerchiefs) around a stone and sets it upright to represent the godling being honored. The dhaja represent the godling’s new clothing. The basic rationale throughout the puja is doing things for the godlings that will be pleasing: clothing him, feeding him, and surrounding him with pleasant things like dhoop (incense) and flowers. It is important to do these things in a properly sanctified place, with rituals conducted by a person who has prepared himself by bathing and who has not yet lost the extra purity believed to belong to the unmarried. This latter quality is especially important to female godlings but is appreciated by the males as well.
After making a cow dung platform for food offerings and setting it before the stone, the pujari decorates the Than(shrine) with turmeric, rice flour, bits of colored cloth, and flowers. Offerings that are then placed in the holes of the cow dung platform include rice flour fried in butter, puffed rice, rice mixed with water and sage, and cow’s milk. The godling also is honored by offerings of flowers and by the presence of fire in the form of a mustard oil lamp in a copper container-diyo (oil lamp.)
Just before the sacrifice, the pujari makes an incense of butter and sage and prays for whatever boon he wishes, pointing out that he is about to offer a sacrifice. The animal to be offered is sanctified by putting water, rice, and sage on the head, the animal then shakes it head or body which is taken as a sign that the animal has given its consent to be sacrificed. Then only it is beheaded. The head is placed before the stone and the blood is spurted in the Than(shrine). After this, the pujari prepares tika by mixing the blood of the sacrificed animal with some rice and places this onto the foreheads of those present. He also receives tika by having one of the worshippers do the same for him. As a gift for the pujari’s services, he gets the head of the sacrificed animal and whatever food has been brought as an offering. The final act of puja is cooking and eating the sacrificed animal that now has been shared with the godling.
On the other hand historically the Tarangpur (Dolpa) Magars – neither a full-fledge Hindu caste nor unalloyed Tibetan Buddhists, but always at the mercy of outsiders, who were one or the other had to defer, serially or simultaneously, to both Hindu and Buddhist sources of power, prestige, and influence.”[xxv] For Fisher, “Buddhism and Hinduism are historical accretions. The Magars and other Tibeto-Burman groups were apparently neither Buddhist nor Hindu originally.”[xxvi] Like tribes elsewhere in South Asia, the Magars of Tarangpur “live on the fringes on Hindu society, but unlike most of these other tribal peoples, they also live on the fringes of Buddhist society. Tarangpur is culturally convoluted, geographically isolated, and socially ingrown.”[xxvii]
i Witzel, Michael, “Nepalese Hydronomy,” Harvard University, July 12, 1991, p. 18 http://nipforum.org/nepalese_hydronomy.pdf.
ii Landon, Perceval, Nepal, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1993 (First Published 1928), p. 243
iii Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, “The history of the messianic and rebel king Lakhan Thapa Magar : Utopia and ideology among the Magar”, CNRS, Paris, This is an augmented version of an article published in EBHR 19, 2000. It was complemented by field data gathered in Lakhan Thapa’s village and I wish to express my gratitude to the villagers of this place (Kahule village, in Bungkot vdc, Gorkha district) for their warm welcome and their cooperation.
[iv] Hodgson, Brian H., Essays on the Languages, Literature, and Religion of Nepal and Tibet, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1991 (First Published 1874), Part II, p. 40
4Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, “Chetri caste of Nepal”, in Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (Ed), Caste & Kin in Nepal, India & Ceylon, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1978, p. 17