THE HISTORY OF KIRAT RAI
Nepal is very ancient country, which was ruled by many dynasties in the past. Among them, the Kirat rule is very significant one being the longest period that extended from pre-historic to historic period. In ancient Hindu Scriptures, Nepal is referred as the “Kirat Desh” or “the Land of Kirats”.
Kirats were indigenous people of Mongolian origin with stout and short stature, high cheekbones, flat noses, narrow black eyes and thin moustaches and beards. They were brave and doughty warriors and very deft archers. Before the advent of the Kirats, there were Ahir and Abhir rule in the valley. Yalambar, the first Kirat King, overthrew the last king of Abhir dynasty Bhuban Shima. Thus after defeating the last ruler of Abhir dynasty, Yalambar laid the foundation of the Kirat dynasty that lasted for about 1225 years.
When Kirats occupied the valley, they made Matatirtha their capital. The Kirat kingdom during the rule of Yalambar had extended to Tista in the East and Trisidi in the West. It is said Yalambar had gone to witness the battle of Mahabharata between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was so brave and powerful that Lord Krishna beheaded him prior to the battle suspecting he might fight for the Kauravas. The Kirats revere him as God King these days.In the chronicle of Banasawali William Kirk Patrick mentions that the Kirat rule existed from about 1500 BC to 300 BC. During this long period altogether 29 Kirat Kings ruled over the country.
The twenty-nine Kings were
1.Yalambar 2.Pari 3. 3.Skandhar 4.Balamba 5.Hriti 6.Humati 7.Jitedasti 8.Galinja 9.Oysgja 10.Suyarma 11.Papa 12.Bunka 13.Swawnand14.Sthunko 15.Jinghri 16.nane 17.luka 18.Thor 19.Thoko 20.Verma 21.Guja 22.Pushkar 23.Keshu 24.Suja 25.Sansa 26.Gunam 27.Khimbu 28.Patuka 29.Gasti
It was during the rule of Jitedasti, the 7th Kirat king; Lord Gautam Buddha had visited the valley with his several disciples. He visited holy places of Swayambhu, guheswari etc and preached his religious gospels. Kirats of the valley refused to follow his doctrine but welcomed Lord Buddha and his disciples. It is also said that King Jitedasti had helped the Pandavas in the battle of Mahabharata. It shows, of course, a historical anachronism because according to another legend, the battle Mahabharata had taken place during the resigm of King Yalambar.
During the rule of 14th Kirat King Sthunko about 2250 Bc, the Indian Emperor Ashok had his inspections engraved on rocks and a stone-pillar. The pillar known as Ahok-pillar still stands. This historical monument was unknown to the world until Dr. Fuher discovered it in December 1985. Nepal Govt. has prepared a master plan to protect and develop Lumbini region as religious tourism destination.
Emperor Ashok also came to the Kathmandu Valley later. The daughter princess Charumati accompanied him. During his stay in the valley, he had built four stupas in four directions and one in the centre of Patan. These monuments speak of the historical fact of Ashok’s visit to the valley. Another fact is he had arranged his daughter Charumati’s marriage with a local young prince named Devpal. Prince Devpal and his consort Charumati lived at Chabahil near Pashupati area. Later Charumati had built the touss of Devpatan after the death of her husband in his memory. Charumati who had later on become a nun herself also got erected a convent where she resided and practiced Lord Buddha’s doctrine.
When the 28th Kirat King Patuka was ruling in the valley, the Sombanshi ruler attacked his regime many times from the west. Although he successfully repelled their attacks, he was forced to move to Shankhamul from gokarna. He had built a royal palace called “Patuka” there for him. The ‘Patuka’ palace is no more to be seen now except its ruins in the form of mound. Patuka had changed Shankhamul into a beautiful town. The last King of the Kirat dynasty was Gasti. He proved to be a weak ruler and was overthrown by the Sombanshi ruler Nimisha. It brought to the end of the powerful Kirat dynasty that had lasted for about 1225 years.
After their defeat, Kirats moved to the Eastern hills of Nepal and settled down divided into small principalities. Their settlements were divided into there regions, i.e. ‘Wallokirat’ that lied to the East of the Kathmandu, ‘Majkirat’ or Central Kirat region and ‘Pallokirat’ that lied to the far East of the Kathmandu valley. These regions are still heavily populated by Kirats.
CIVILISATION AND CULTURE
The long rule of Kirats manifests that were strong and well organized people. Their society, administrative system and economy were well organized. Later, their successors Lichhavis also gave due importance to their legacy. They exerted great influence not only in the valley but also outside it in the Eastern region also. We still find many places, hills and rivers that named after the Kirat languages.
Kirats enjoyed a free and open society. There was no gender discrimination. To facilitate justice system in the public, law courts were established at many places and effective laws were made to deal with crimes and offences. Nepal had trade link with India, Tibet, then a free country and China. Nepali businessmen carried out trade with these countries. Nepal chiefly exported wool, woollen goods, timber and herbs. Chanakya has mention in his famous book “Kautilya Arthasastra” that Nepali blankets had a big market in bihar then called Magadh. As there was more financial prosperity in trade, more people were engaged in business than in agriculture. This factor also led the migration of people of different racial origin with their own customs and cultures to Nepal. In course of time, these people merged into the main national stream and the part and parcel of one nation the helped to create and develop a healthy feeling of nationalism.
By religion, Kirats were originally nature worshippers. They worshipped the Sun, the moon, rivers, trees, animals and stones. Their primeval deities were Paruhang and Sumnima. Hinduism were introduced to and imposed on the Kirats only after the conquest of Gorkhali rulers whose root was in India. Kirats were quite tolerant and liberal to other religions. That’s why Buddhism flourished during the Kirat rule in Nepal. Buddhism had enkindled a new interest and attitude among the people. Kirats had had also built many towns. Shankhamul, Matatirtha, Thankot, khopse, Bhadgoan and Sanga were prosperous cities with dense population. Thus it can be safely said that the Kirat period had paved the way for further development and progress of Nepal in all sectors in future.