Jung Bahadur revisited

Jung Bahadur revisited

The current confusion in Nepal is not unique in the context of the chaotic nation-building processes of the rest of Southasia. Yet, the country's 19th-century history was significantly different. At that time, most of the smaller but stronger states of India were disappearing, one after another, from the political geography of the Subcontinent. British power in the region had reached its height, in large part due to its unchallengeable military supremacy. In this scenario, Nepal was the only country in the region that was able to maintain an independent existence, by resisting the military hegemony of the British colonial might in India.

While aspects of historical personalities might indeed be critiqued even centuries later for their possible failings, the role of individuals in the shaping of states bequeathed to the present generation must be acknowledged. Among such personalities linked to the building of Nepal were the founder king Prithvi Narayan Shah, his son, Bahadur Shah, and the shogun Jung Bahadur. Each of these played important roles in making Nepal a strong state, and in maintaining its independence such that, in modern times, the citizens would have the ability to build a society on the basis of sovereignty. The successful military campaign launched by Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha, for its territorial expansion, was by far the most important event in the history of Nepal. Through this military campaign, more than 100 princely and feudatory states scattered within the territory of present-day Nepal were brought under the control of a single unit. The early rulers of the consolidated Nepal – which was actually an enlarged Gorkha – seemed eager to accept the historic name of 'Nepal', in order to refer to the entire territory that they had brought under the control of the kingdom of Gorkha.

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