Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nepal's Tharus belong to Lord Buddha's Clan

A brief interview with Dr. Laxmi Lal Chaudhary, CA Member, Nepal Democratic Socialist Party taken by Telegraphnepal.com (Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com)

After four decades long association in the teaching profession at the Tribhuwan University and lately at the Purbanchal University, Dr. Laxmi Lal Chaudhary (66, born in Hariharpur VDC, Saptari) only few years back decided to join politics. Currently, Dr. Chaudhary is a member of the Constituent Assembly representing the Nepal Democratic Socialist Party.

Dr. Laxmi Lal Chaudhary who mainly taught Nepalese History at Nepal’s major colleges in the eastern Tarai holds a PhD degree in the field of Nepalese History from the Tribhuwan University.

Dr. Chaudhary wrote his thesis in Conspiratorial Politics of Nepal which mainly focuses over the period of 1794A.D to 1806 A.D in the Nepalese political history.
Dr. Chaudhary is also a life time member of the Tharu Welfare Society and is a strong critic of the One Madhesh One Province demand forwarded by some Madhesi regional parties.

TGQ1: How you Dr. Chaudhary assess the formation of the incumbent three party government, given the existence of 25 parties represented in the CA? Is it a consensus/national government?

Dr. Chaudhary: This government can’t be said to be a national government. To me, frankly speaking, this is just a coalition of sort or at best a joint government. Speaking in political terms, this government can better be described as a coalition government because out of twenty-five parties represented in the current Constituent Assembly, only three or four political parties have their formal representation in the Maoist led government. Would it be proper to call an all party government? Certainly not!

TGQ2: President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has very freshly made it clear that he is against the notion of One Madhesh One Pradesh and also has stated that he stands against the formation of the federal states on the basis of ethnicity. How do you interpret his statements? What would be your interpretation? Also tell us as to whether a ceremonial president can make a political statement of this sort?

Dr. Chaudhary: So far as the much hyped notion of “One Madhesh-One Province” is concerned, I am also against the said notion. In this regard, I do agree with what President Dr. Ram Baran yadav has recently aired. But with respect to the formation of Federal states, I differ from Dr. Yadav’s declaration.
Up to this time historically it has just been seen that the basis of Federal structure are community, language and geographical setting.

Dr. Yadav as being ceremonial President, he must not have made such “political statement”. He probably might have done so to preserve socio-cultural harmony and to preserve National Unity.

TGQ3: You Dr. Chaudhary as a historian please tell us about the ancient history of the Tharus, their settlement in the Tarai and also why this community posses different cultural behavior than other communities living in the Tarai? How can you historically prove with references that your community is the indigenous one?

Dr. Chaudhary: I would like to clearly say that the THARUS are the indigenous people. They belong to Lord Buddha’s clan. They are the descendents of the Shakyas. They possess their own distinct identity, unique traditions and exclusive customs and its usages and also have their own entirely different but exceptional beliefs. Their customs and usages are similar to that of the Buddhists. The Terai lands which were out of cultivation, it were only the Tharus who brought a change by cultivating the barren lands. The Tharus call themselves the Sons of the Land (Dharati Putra). They are the original settlers in the entire Terai plains. According to Martuiney Cobo’s criteria: “Indigenous communities, peoples and nation’s are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories;
-They consider themselves distinct from other sections of the society now prevailing in the territories or parts of them;
- They form at present non-dominant section of the society and are determined to preserve, develop and pas over to the future generations their ancestral territories and their distinct identity as the basis of their continued existence as peoples in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.

(References: A- Syaha Mohars found during the reign of Ran Bahadur Shah, Pratap Singh Shah, Girvan Yudha Bikram Shah and Rajendra Bikram Shah; Shah Kings of Nepal and the Tharus of Terai; Shakya Muni Buddha-Teja Narayan Panjiyar; The return of the Mauryas-by Subodh Kumar Singh).

TGQ4: As a member of the Constituent Assembly how the so far neglected genuine issues of the Tharus could be brought at par with other sections of the society that matches the globalization process?

Dr. Chaudhary: The present government needs to adopt the policy of reservation in order to bring the Tharus, if not on an equal footing, at least to bring them parallel with what others are at the moment. But the reservation thus granted to the Tharus for their upliftment should be a periodical one but not for ever.

Besides this, in order to bring them at par with other sections of the society, the government is required to implement the ILO convention-I69.
The Nepal government has only accepted the ILO convention but is yet to implement the signed convention. The government is dilly-dallying its implementation for unknown reasons. If the ILO convention is implemented in both letter and spirit, the indigenous peoples will have pre-rights on natural resources that are on land, rivers and forests. Furthermore, they require full-proportionate representation system. If the government implements it, all sorts of discrimination will come to an end.

TGQ5: Instead of concentrating in the drafting of the new constitution, the country’s politics appears to be geared towards making and the breaking of the government. How will such activities hurt the Constitution making process? Will not such political aberration allow regressive forces to pounce upon the new order?

Dr. Chaudhary: If we go through the politics of the nation, we find that the country’s politics seems to be bent upon making and overthrowing the government(s). To me the present government is also a transitional one and nothing more than that.

This government is meant only for two and a half years. Such activities will definitely affect the constitution making process. Such political aberration will certainly pave the way to the regressive forces to pounce upon the new order what we have today. But so far as I think, the major political parties are gradually coming on track. They are becoming conscious and the regressive forces will not dare to play foul against the new order.

2008-09-17 06:09:14

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Until there are Tharus and Tharuhat Nepali sovereignty will remain intact!

Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com
2008-08-13 06:42:42

Advocate Maheshwor Prasad Chaudhary, Tharu
Supreme Court of Nepal

Born in Saptari District, Maheshwor Chaudhary, Tharu (37), has a master’s degree in the field of Humanities from the Tribhuwan University. Mr. Tharu did his Bachelors of Law degree from Mahendra Bindeshwari Multiple Campus, Rajbiraj, Saptari.
He has participated in several national and international level discourses on Human Rights, Conflict management and Environmental Protection. Recently Mr. Tharu presented a paper in an international conference held in Bali, Indonesia, organized by International Center for Transitional Justice.

A member of the Nepal Bar Association, Mr. Tharu is currently the General Secretary of Tharu intellectual and Research Centre.

In the interview below, Mr. Tharu mainly talks of the plight of the Tharu Community and contemporary politics of the country.

TGQ1: As a member of the distinguished Tharu community, Mr. Tharu please tell us about the objectives of the ongoing Tharu uprising? Your valuable comments please!

Mr. Tharu: It has become by now a universal fact that the Tharu community has been strategically sidelined by the successive ruling classes from time immemorial. However, even after the success of the Maoists’ led rebellion and the peoples’ uprising that pledged to institutionalize the rights of the Dalits, Madhesi, Women and all other marginalized community including the Tharu Community followed by the end of the 240 yeas long feudal monarchy, conspiracies are still afoot to further sideline the Tharu Community and undermine our inherent rights of self-identity. To our surprise, the Madhesi leadership has now taken over the Nepal’s age-old leadership to ignore the rights of the Tharu community. Now that the process of the constitution making has begun, the objective of the Tharu Uprising this time is to institutionalize firmly the rights of the Tharu community in the new constitution. We are also largely focused on minimizing the blatant attack instigated by the Madhesi community towards us. Our main objective now is to make sure that the Tharu Community has to face no further conspiracies from any quarters.
Our movement is mainly against the notion of “One Madhesh-One Sovereign Province” and liberating the Tharu community from the age-old slavery and above all we want that all the country men no matter which community they belong to, exercise their socio-economic and political rights through the establishment of fully functioning federal states.

We do still remember that the Madhesh centric parties had obstructed the normal proceedings of the Constituent Assembly for over fourteen days thus obstructing the constitution making process. Gheraoing the CA rostrum---halting the constitution making process and raising secessionist demands are objectionable under any circumstances. The Tharu uprising also aims to keep the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and nationalism intact. We will not compromise on these vital issues.

TGQ2: The Tharu Welfare Society is being alleged to have been manipulated by some political parties, specifically the UML. As a member of the Society practicing Law, how do you Mr. Tharu brush aside these allegations? Or do you agree to these charges? Your comments please!

Mr. Tharu: First, Niraj Ji, let us go into the facts and figures before dwelling on to such wild, unsubstantiated and baseless allegations made specifically by some Madhesi leaders to malign our spotless credentials. The Tharu Welfare Society was born in the year 1948 and the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist Leninist, UML, has less than two decades of political history of its inception. The UML to be precise was formed after the Peoples’ Uprising-I of the 1990. Thus this Communist party is much younger than the Tharu Welfare Society. Thus the claim that our society is affiliated to the UML is just high voltage propaganda to malign the entire Tharu community.

Be that as it may, I think such allegations are made either out of sheer ignorance or complete frustration associated with irritation. Anyway such allegations, as we know it, are meant for discouraging our movement now being waged by the entire Tharu Community and also to undermine our distinct and prestigious identity that we possess in abundance.

As I have already said that our uprising is aimed at liberating the entire marginalized communities of Nepal’s Tarai. It is not that we too toe the Madhesi communal line. We take into consideration the grievances of all the marginalized Nepalese people. Thus, if any political party or a group wish to join or extend support to the Tharu uprising they are most welcome. Not just the UML, but leaders of almost all the central political parties, even some intellectuals and academicians stationed in various Madhesh centric parties and non-partisan men do support the Tharu uprising and our genuine agenda. The Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalists have been continuing to support the Tharu uprising which is certainly encouraging.

TGQ3: Nepal’s Madhesh centric parties are India sponsored and that Vice-President Parmananda Jha taking oath and secrecy of the office is a part of the Grand Indian Design aimed at bifurcating Nepal. Do you find these allegations correct or dismiss it summarily? Your comments please!

Mr. Tharu: Look Mr. Niraj, I can not tell you exactly who is sponsored by whom. But surely if you look into the Party Flag of the Madhesh Centric Parties – the Tri-color and their intense love to the Hindi language, it does tell so many things unspoken. Certainly, the Tri-color and Hindi are linked to Indian nationalism. And I see this is a part of the design to establish the Indian identity in Nepal--- the design is thus to linguistically and geographically colonize Nepal.
We have seen of late that the Nepali nationalists have objected to the design by none less than the president of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, Upendra Yadav and well executed by his party candidate for the vice president Parmananda Jha to establish Indian identity in Nepal. Thus I would like to urge the Nepali Nationalists, the respected CA members and the parliamentarians who have voted in favor of Parmananda Jha to remain highly attentive in the days ahead and know the inner intentions of such people. The need of the hour is to remain vigilant.

TGQ4: As per the interim constitution and more so all the parties have agreed for the formation of the Federal States, you Mr. Tharu please tell us your personal opinions on the Federal State of Governance? What say you?

Mr. Tharu: Agreed that Republican System and Federal System is well accepted by our political parties and more importantly, by the Interim Constitution but the needed unanimity over the type of federal structure, system of judiciary, economic structure and most importantly delineation of federal states boundaries geographically are yet to be discussed in details. World experience does tell that ethnicity, language, culture, geographical Contiguity and Natural Resource form the basis for the formation of the Federal States. The federal System is the best System of Governance to transform administrative, political and judicial rights to the grass root. It could prove to be a tool to transform conflict and eradicate discrimination from the society. There are agents of local feudal forces and foreign power centers who have been trying to foil the prospects of the Federal System by raising demands of Single Madhesh-One Province, Single Pahad-One Province and Single Himal-One Province. Such demand definitely go against the present spirit and, by implication, tries to reestablish the supremacy of a unitary system of governance. The demand for “Single Madhes- Single Province” is against granting equal rights to all the ethnic communities, equal opportunities for all languages, against the uniform and the equitable use of natural resources and overall human development. This is noting but a poly to disrupt the age-old communal harmony and then to disintegrate the motherland ultimately.

And I must tell you very frankly that there is no Madhesh in Nepal. The Madhesh or the Madhya Desh or the Mid Country is situated very well in India. Historical and geographical proofs do amply indicate that the region confined by Bindhyachal Parbat in the South, hills close to India’s capital New Delhi in the North, Mathura in East and Saraswati River in the West is in fact the State of Madhesh and the ruler of Madhesh was a Rajput King (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Bharat Ki Prachin Rup Rekha ). Thus the historical Madhya Desh that is well placed in India cannot replace Nepal’s Tharuhat. Until and unless there are Tharus and Tharuhat in Nepal, the Nepali sovereignty will remain intact. Rest assured. Well within the Tharuhat there can be smaller sovereign states based on ethnicity or language, we are ready to hold serious discussion over the issue.

TGQ5: The Constitution Assembly is more centered on playing the role of a legislative body than in the constitution making process? In addition, the political skirmish is delaying the constitution making. As a student of law and as well as of political science what you have to say in this regard?

Mr. Tharu: This is one of the best questions that are perhaps attached to the future of this country and it is indeed being discussed among the academics and the common men alike. People have shown deep concern over the growing political uncertainly that is having its impact on the writing of the constitution itself. National and International observers have been closely watching the ugly political squabble in Nepal. As a student of Law and Political Science, I believe that the political parties in Nepal must write the Federal Democratic constitution and concurrently ensure that an inclusive set-up is placed in all the State Organs and also provide relief measures, resettlement to the violence affected people and guarantee the end of exploitation and discrimination in the society.

However, it is really difficult to see to date, if the CA members have acted upon their roles properly. The political parties represented in the CA are more concerned on making amendments to the interim constitution which is against the mandate of the CA. The CA could have instead focused on preparing the plan of action and rules and regulations for the Constitution Making. The political parties that were not represented in the Interim Parliament look more concerned on delaying the process. However, it is not too late. The government must be formed at the earliest, with that the beginning to writing the constitution must be initiated.

The Political parties in Nepal seem to have forgotten a very simple fact and that is to abide by the rules of the game…when defeated they must accept the result. However, they are not doing this. This is the root cause of the current political skirmish.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paintings and dances on Krishna's day


Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post
25 August 2008

“Astimki and Paiya Sakhya Dance,” a one-day workshop based on the ethnic culture of Tharu people was carried out by Sutra, Alternative Art Group, at Nepal Art Council, Babar Mahal this past Saturday evening.

The workshop held the live sketching of Astimki painting, a special form of Mithila art, which is drawn particularly on the day of Krishna Janma Astami (birthday of Lord Krishna).

“Since today is Krishna Janma Astami, we thought it was the perfect time to introduce this rich Tharu culture,” informed Ashok Tharu, resource person of the workshop. “It is one of the major aspects of Tharu folklore, which is still unknown to many urbanites.”

According to him, this unique cultural heritage is yet to transcend the narrow borders of Tharu community and reach broader audiences.
“Rather unfortunately, this painting is limited to some specific places like Dang, Bardia, Banke, Kailali, to name a few,” Manish Lal Shrestha, artist and coordinator of Sutra, remarked as he agreed with Ashok.

To have organizers say, the artists, who paint Astimki, observe fasting throughout the day. They break their fast in dusk and worship the Astimki painting. Worshipping is followed by celebration and Paiya Sakhya dance.

The workshop was wrapped up with Paiya Sakhya dance by the special dancers from the Tharu community.

Evolution of Tharus took place right in Nepal’s Dang-Deukhuri valley

Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com
2008-08-20 08:41:59

Mr. Mahesh Tharu, now a Constitutional Assembly member was a former State minister for Local Development. He has also served as an associate professor in the past at the Mahendra Multiple Campus, Dang district.
He has several books to his credit.

Mr. Chaudhary is the author of the books “Madhesh Kahan Cha” and “Nepali Tarai Ra Teska Bhumi Putra Haru”. In line for publications are “Scientific study of the Tharu Language”, “Historical Study of Dang and the Tharu Community”.

Mr. Tharu is basically a research scholar whose articles are taken in good taste by the Nepali academicians though some would like to differ with his contentions.
Last week, we approached this suave research scholar for a tête-à-tête on contemporary political events unfolding in Nepal and also on some issues related with his community.
Follows the Telegraph’s interview with Mr. Chaudhary-Editor.

TGQ1: With the so-called “Unholy Alliance” between the Nepali Congress, UML and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum coming to an abrupt end how could it be that the alliance between the Maoists, UML and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum all of a sudden become a Holy one? How do you see the Maoists politics proceeding after the party of the ex-rebels coming to the mainstream?

Mr. Chaudhary: It is completely an apolitical allegation on the part of the Maoists’ to claim that the NC-UML-MJF alliances as to have been an unholy one. The alliance was formed to win the election for their common candidate for the post of the president. Except the Maoists and the NCP-Unity center, the rest of the communist parties in the Constituent Assembly had in fact voted in favor of Dr. Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first president ever.

Now, no alliance as such could be seen or can be interpreted in the manner it is being done by the Maoists and the likes. The Maoists or the MJF (Madhesi Janadhikar Forum) none of the parties in the alliance are involved in a violent conflict, they have in fact abandoned violence and accepted the politics of consensus and have been jointly taking initiatives in the nation building process and institutionalizing democracy. Thus, any political alliance between the political parties represented in the CA can not be called an unholy alliance.

Nevertheless, the alliance that is formed among two parties having two different objectives, such as one of them if engaged in violent conflict and the other adopting democratic principles, could be interpreted as being an unholy one.
The Maoists are in the mainstream politics now, though they have their own armed men in the cantonments and the effective management of them is yet to be accomplished. The Maoists paramilitary outfit the Young Communist league (YCL) is still to be tamed properly and that is why people are still suspecting the Maoists. However, we know that the offshoot of the violent conflict will remain for some time to come until it takes few more time to a complete end. If the Maoists change their behavior which they must do, then there is no second opinion that the Maoists will become most-liked party by the people of this country. But we cannot continue suspecting the Maoists.

TGQ2: The majority of Nepalese people voted in favor of the communist parties. Nevertheless, communist parties seem always divided under one pretext or the other. What is in fact the reason behind the differences between these parties? What say you for the possibility of the broader communist unity?

Mr. Chaudhary: One Communist, One Thought, One Ideology, One Belief, these are all but a centralized way of thinking as is found in an unitary State. Yes, there is the Communists’ majority in the country, more than 60 per cent of the population has voted in favor of the communist parties in the last CA election, nevertheless, in a pluralistic society like ours we cannot simply impose one communist ideology. These are only but natural phenomenon that in the course of time polarization in and among the Communists themselves are observed. Comrade Mohan Bikram Singh, the leader of the NCP-Mashal is still partially underground. The ex-general secretary of the NCP-UML, Comrade Madan Bhandari when forwarded the idea of Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy was alleged as a rightist by many communist leaders. The Maoist- the radical communist party, launched a violent revolt and practiced their ideals right here in the country. Nevertheless, the Maoists after more than a decade long revolt well contemplated that in the changing global and local political situation bullets are not best choices to come to power in Nepal.

The UML nevertheless, always believed that competitive politics is the only way to come to power in Nepal. Democratic polity, peaceful revolt to capture the state, followed by implementing plans and strategies based on Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy and to achieve the final goal of total Communism, this UML roadmap is in fact flawless. The peaceful revolt of 1990 and then the movement of 2004-2005, we have experienced have brought the communists to power. Now it is being talked that the Maoists are ready to give up to the ideals of Maoism and Prachanda-Path.
However, we have to learn a lot from the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Great Proletarian Chinese Cultural Revolution launched by none other than Chairman Mao Tse Dung from 1966 to 1976 is said to have pushed China back to 100 years development wise. Nevertheless, the Chinese communists realized that they had indeed made a blunder. The state of the NCP-Maoists- the radicals, is very similar to that of the Chinese Communists thus quite rightly the Maoists seemed to have understood the flaws they have committed so far. The Maoists have thus indirectly adopted the principles of Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy propounded by Comrade late Madan Bhandari.
Having said all these, I can not completely ridicule the idea of broader communist unity though it would be a task equivalent to climbing a mountain.

TGQ3: The last government that included the Maoists, had signed an agreement with the then Madhesi alliance. How has the agreement undermined the rights of the Tharu Community? What say you to the Madhesi parties who have been propagating the One Madhesh demand?

Mr. Chaudhary: The Maoist party is not guided by the principles of materialism; the Maoists are instead guided by the Hindu Religious texts written by sage Manu in ancient times who later compiled his observations which is called today as Manu Smriti---which claims Nepal as Madhesh. Thus the Maoists called the Tarai as Madhesh except for five districts- the Tharuwan and Inner Madhesh.

In the Rana Period (AD 1888), while dividing the districts, the Tarai Administration was converted into the Madhesh administration. This is the only time when the then rulers had recognized the Tarai as Madhesh.

Nevertheless, in the Janga Bahadur period there were eight Tarai courts, in the Dev Shumsher period there were Tarai Postal Services and in the period of Chandra Shumser as the ruler of Nepal, 13 districts of Tarai had a single Court called as “13-Tarai Court”. Such evidences are enough to prove that there is no Madhesh in Nepal, there is only but the Tarai. Even after 1957(2007 B.S) the word Tarai was used frequently not Madhesh.

The demands for equal treatment, proportional representation, Nepali citizenship certificates to the Madhesi community and the recognition of Hindi Language and after 1990 demanding a separate autonomous State of Madhesh are all but illegal and irrelevant demands.

In fact even in the present day India, there is no Madhesh as such which, even if that exist at all, has been well replaced by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, thus to raise the demand for a separate Madhesh in Nepal seems illogical and inappropriate to me.
Nepal is no more the land of Hindus because the Interim Constitution has declared the country a secular state and thus all contradicting constitutional provisions becomes null and void after this declaration.

The 2002 census indicates that there are 19 % Madhesis in the Tarai---among which Brahman-Kshetri makes 1.9 %; Middle Caste is 12.9 %; and Madhesi Dalits 4.7 %. Similarly, the indigenous people of the Tarai are 9.8 % and Religious minorities 4.3 %. Nevertheless, the Indigenous people of the Tarai and Religious minorities do not fall into the Madhesi category. Visibly, the Madhesi community is in a state of minority in the Tarai, thus there is no question of declaring the Tarai as Madhesh. As far as sovereignty of Madhesi population is concerned, the ILO 169 and the UN has instead granted sovereignty to the Indigenous and other minorities not to the immigrants.

This realty is slowly but surely being understood by the Indigenous and other minorities of the Tarai thus in the long run the Madhesi political parties will be the losers.

TGQ4: You Mr. Chaudhary as a member of the CA which type of constitution you foresee could at best restructure the State in the entire.

Mr. Chaudhary: A constitution is in fact the laws governing the entire nation. Thus the constitution that we are going to make must assure that the National interests are preserved. Our power is our National Unity and territorial Integrity which we cannot forget—thus this must be guaranteed. Then the Constitution should ensure all economic, social, political, cultural, regional, caste and gender based discriminations are not there any more. An inclusive, equal, democratic and rights based constitution is the need of the hour.

What models are there in existence internationally—we do not know in fact. We seek the international support in this regard as well. There are numerous states and thus each of them have their own constitution, and we need to study the situation of a country which has very similar condition to our own.

TGQ5: Mr. Chaudhary, you as a scholar/researcher who have been involved in tracing the history of the Tharu community make the claim that Tharus are merely the subset of the Madhesi Community? Please tell our readers in detail what is wrong with this Madhesi perception and what evidences you can provide to establish that the Tharus were the indigenous people of the Tarai?

Mr. Chaudhary: Whether they are the materialists who believe that the entire human kind is the gift of nature or the spiritualists who believe in mythology and think humankind is the gift of god, in common all believe that all human beings are the same.

However, as per the place of origin and the development of a particular society we see that there are considerable differences among various people. Thus to believe that the Tharus who are the indigenous people of the Tarai and the Madhesi who have migrated from some where else, belong to the same set is like comparing “the Elephant and the Elephant Brand Slippers”.

The fact is that the Tharus belong to the Astro-Asian race and the Madhesis belong to the Caucasian race, sometimes called the Caucasoids. There is no division of caste and discrimination in and among the Tharus as per an individual’s birth, which is in contrary very common in the Madhesi community and also there is rampant discrimination in the Madhesi community bestowed upon by the Hindu System of Caste.
How can the Tharus who have been living in the Churey and Tarai region of Nepal since medieval times be compared with the Madhesis who have recently migrated from India’s Madhya Desh or the Madhya Pradesh or the Middle country? The Tharus are the agrarian people and the Madhesis, Marwaris and Baniya are involved in business activities. Anthropologists say that “Culturally, however, the term denotes an inferior place, this image of the Tarai could have been originally linked to its deadly Malarial and relatively uncivilized environment. Such a division is also reflected in the demographic division, particularly in terms of ethnic power structure and control. Joshi, B.L. and Rose, L.E. (1966:10) accurately note that the most important group numerically, socially, and politically in much of Nepal is composed of Indo-Aryans: Migrants from the plain as well as hill areas of northern India. They inhabit the more fertile lower hills, river, valleys and plains. The second major group consists of communities of Mongolian origin which inhabit the higher hills from the West to the East (also see Kaplan 1970). A third and much smaller stratum comprise a number of tribal communities such as the Tharus and the Dhimals of the Tarai, they may be remnants of indigenous communities whose habitation predates the advent of Indo-Aryan and Mongolian elements. (Shrestha, N.R. 1990:166).

Similarly, a news printed in the Times of India (29 December, 1987) quoting the then anthropologists of India indicated that the early man lived in the Himalayas and just below the Himalayas. Bryan Hudson, Dr. Ram Nivas Pandey and the great Nepalese Historian Babu Ram Acharya held that the early man to have lived in the Himalayas and below the Himalayas were none other than the Tharus. Thus the Tharu community is the oldest inhabitants of Nepal.

Now I would like to draw your attention to the Chronological table or the Geological Time scale. More than 280 million years back, the Mahabharat range was formed from the middle of the Tethys Ocean in the Permian period. Later, 145 million years after in the cretaceous period the Himalayas- the youngest mountain range were formed in the cretaceous. Finally in the third phase, almost 14 million years back the Churey range was formed in the Pliocene period. After the formation of the Chure Range, Gudrun Corvinus(1996) believed that the Dang-Deukhari Valley and the Sat-Pati Area of Nawalparasi all of a sudden emerged from the ocean. Until then, neither the plains of Sindh-Ganga nor Nepal’s Tarai east of Bara, Parsa districts were formed---they were all in fact under the water.

Friedrich Engles in his unfinished essay entitled “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man”, has indicated that in the Tertiary Period of the Cenogoic Era as some parts of the Equatorial region was under the Indian Ocean, water from the plains of the Sindh-Ganges started to flow towards the Bay of Bengal which is the eastern part of the South Asian Region, and the process of drying of water started from the Western Sindh towards the east.

I would here like to stress with examples that before this period there were already human settlements in the Churey region of Nepal. Dr. Gudrun Corvinus in her report (Report on the work done in the Project of Quaternary and Prehistoric Studies in Nepal 1990:1) mentioned that, “…the first two years period were mainly exploratory work to determine the extent of work of the project and above all make the basic studies in the projected field of investigation. It was a two-fold aim; one more geologically oriented and the other more prehistorically oriented yet connected with each other by the fact that the period of the Siwalik’s preceding period of the prehistoric investigations and that during the early Siwalik period the earliest possible ancestor of man, Ramapithicus lived”. She writes further in her report-2002 “Middle Paleolithic sites are not as common in the Indian Peninsula as the earlier and the later industries. This is also the case in Nepal. The site of Arjun 3 in the Deukhuri valley in the western Nepal is the only site with a Middle Paleolithic industry discovered in over 15 years of works in Nepal”.

A research project to study the pollen deposits of ancient plants by Dr. N. Awasthi and M. Prasad of the Birbal Sahrai Institute of Deheradun (India) and Dr. Sarkar from the Poleo Botany Institute in Lucknow in the Surai Location between Deukhuri Valley and the Kapilbastu district, indicates that the climatic condition in the area in ancient times was more humid than today that is more monsoon dependent. They mentioned that there used to be 200 days of heavy rainfall per year in those times. The plants found in these areas are similar to those found in Assam and Kerela of India. G. Corvinus has termed the flora and fauna from these areas as being those from the Paleolithic Age. The climate was friendly for plants animals and humans, which indicates that the Tharus were evolved right in the valley. Later as the water in the Sindh-Ganga started to dry up the Tharus started to settle in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other parts of the Subcontinent but they never quit their birth place that is the Churey and the Tarai.

The word Tarai, which is derived from Persian means “damp” and appropriately describes its hot and humid climatic condition. The land formed after the drying of water-the marshy area is in fact the land of the Tharus. The northern part of the Jambu Dweep-the snow clapped mountains, east of the Kangada River up to Sikkim-Bhutan, are in fact the land of the Tharus. However, I strictly oppose to the views that the Tharus in fact migrated from Rajasthan in the 12th Century after being attacked by the Muslim invaders. This claim holds no water. Nevertheless, people from the Madhya Desh of the ancient India (Buddha era, 500 B.C) started migrating towards the north, thus they are called the Madhesis.

For the Tharu community, Madhesis are those who have migrated from the South

Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com
2008-02-26 20:21:57

Narendra Kumar Chaudhary, Member of Parliament/Central Committee Member RPP-Rana

Narendra Kumar Chaudhary is not an entirely new name for the regular readers of this weekly. Mr. Chaudhary until recently was the chairman of the Tharu Welfare Committee. At the moment he is the Central Committee member of the RPP-Rana faction and the member of the Interim Parliament.

Mr. Chaudhary is bestowed upon with the duty of looking into the issues and the problems of the Madhesh and the Madhesis by his mother party. Below the results-ed

TGQ1: How you look into the Terai unrest?
Mr. Chaudhary: The Terai has been exploited since ages.In my opinion, even after the restoration of democratic order in 1950, the Tarai people continued to be exploited by the ruling elites. They have never been given a chance and opportunity to bring them in the main stream by the ruling elites stationed in Kathmandu. The fact is that the Teraians were never allowed or encouraged to be a part of the system under any government policies since 1950. They were always treated as second class citizens. The rightful demands coming from Terai were even not addressed or listened to while promulgating the interim constitution. The current unrest is the sum total of these discriminatory state behavior that the Teraians this time came to the streets spontaneously demanding their rightful dues from the state.

TGQ2: Tell us Mr. Chaudhary as a member of the Tharu Community what is all about Tharuhat?
Mr. Chaudhary: The fact is that, it has been proved that Gautam Buddha belonged to the Tharu Community. This means the Tharus are the real inhabitants of the Terai. The areas which are being now termed as Madhesh by some Nepali Intellectuals are basically the land of the Tharus- the Tharuhat. The Mourya Emperor, Chandra Gupt of Patali Putra-currently Patna in India, was an inhabitant of Champaran district in India who was crowned as the Emperor by none less than Chanakya-the noted diplomat of that time, who later pronounced his own code called even today as Chankaya Niti or Chankaya code. Champaran district even today continues to be densely inhabited by the Tharus. This implies that the personality whom Chankaya took with him and made him the emperor was none less than a Tharu. To substantiate this claim, I would suggest all to go through the book, “Two Great Sons of Tharus” penned by Subodh Singh. Mr. Singh’s book contains all the details of Emperor Chandra Gupta Mourya. Emperor Ashoka who later spread Buddhism all over the world is on record to have said that Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. Mr. Singh in his book mentions that the two great Tharus were none less than Lord Buddha and Emperor Ashoka-the Great. Its corollary would be that the entire region of Terai was basically a Tharuhat but not Madhesh.

TGQ3: What is the current debate of Terai as Tharuhat but not Madhesh?
Mr. Chaudhary: As to the issue of Madhesh/Tharuhat and Terai, intellectual debates are always a welcome move. I am happy to note that your newspaper became a platform for such a debate. However, let me put the things in right perspective.
From the Southern plains, people those who gradually migrated to this area and settled for good began to call themselves as Madhesis. We the Tharus used to call such migrants as Deshi or Bazi. After the Sugauli treaty in 1816, and further later when the British-India handed over some territories back to Nepal, which created a New Nepal what it is today, thus the people residing in these areas became all Nepalese but not the Indians. Those who are residing in this area since long time must not be seen and taken otherwise. Now coming to the debate of Madhesh and Tharuhat, I would say that the identities of the Tharus must be accepted by all. We stand for an identity but not for waging an unnecessary debate or fight over an issue that if prolonged might weaken us all.

TGQ4: How can the debate be solved?
Mr. Chaudhary: In my view, the word Madhesh and Madheshi must be redefined first because in the present context, these two words do not include the Tharus and other indigenous people living in the same Terai plains. To the Tharus, Madhesh and the Madhesis mean those who migrated from South. There is this confusion which demands redefining of these two specific words. As regards this debate, I feel strongly that all we both demand from the state is our respective identities. We can sort out our differences, if any, amicably. We both must come closer and fight with the state for the formation of a federal structure in our area and it should be one and only one federal state wherein we both can live peacefully. Frankly speaking, we both possess some similarities on matters of livelihood, language and some of our traditions have intermingled with each other. This aspect can’t be dismissed. We must live together.

TGQ5: Talks of unity among the various factions of the RPP have surfaced of late, what is the latest view of your party for such unification. What is your personal opinion?
Mr. Chaudhary: As a RPP central committee member, the party has not yet officially decided on the unification matters. However, as regards matters of unification in my opinion the Surya Bahadur Thapa led RJP must be brought back to the mother party. If this does not happen it would be most unfortunate for us all the liberal forces.
The need of the hour is unity among and between the liberal/nationalist/democratic forces for obvious political reasons. Even the cadres in both the camps to the best of my knowledge appear to be in a mood to unify. If this does happen the strength of liberal forces will come up which would allow them to face the CA polls in a much more competitive manner.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jhutti – the rice stalk artistry

Kakahi - the comb
Kauwa tholi - the crow's beak
Maur - the bridegroom's turban
Patiya - the mat
The month of November bears a special significance for Terai dwellers in Nepal. Usually regarded as the month of harvest it brings with it loads of joy to all. The fields, villages and streets are all filled with the aroma of freshly cut paddy. The granaries are generally full with newly harvested rice and the aroma of new rice wafts away from every kitchen in the villages.

The children await the harvest with much eagerness. After school hours or taking turns to herd the cattle and goats they glean rice from fields. Scouring the fields they search the rice stalks missed by the reapers. The collected rice is bartered with the petty sellers offering local delicacies (jilebi, kachari, and sweets). The rice is often sold in shops and the sum is saved to spend in the melas (village fetes) and haats (make-shift markets).

Meanwhile the farmers prepare jhuttis – artistic form of rice stalk sheaf weaving. Especially, the Tharus prepare jhuttis for each variety of rice they harvest. The jhuttis are hung high on the meh (the bamboo pole to which the oxen are tethered while threshing rice).

Art inspired by nature, for love of nature
Jhuttis are of different shapes and sizes. They are inspired by the nature and the things around like, kauwa tholi – the crow’s beak, patiya – the mat, kakahi – the comb, jhunjhuna – the baby’s toy, bena – the fan, bakhari – the granary, maur – the turban a bridegroom wears in Terai.

The belief is that – after the rice is harvested, there remains nothing for the birds to peck at. Hence, the tradition started, with keeping a jhutti of each species of rice harvested. The jhuttis thus, hung provided food for the birds. It shows the love for nature and conservation among the Tharus.

“Our ancestors loved and worshipped the nature,” says Chandra Kishore Kalyan, President of Tharu Welfare Society, Siraha. “They weaved jhuttis so that the birds didn’t die of hunger after harvest.”

Reviving the age-old culture
With the introduction of machines, the farmers are leaving behind the tradition. Even the traditional rice threshing is becoming obsolete. Now the farmers resort to using machines for the purpose. The joy and celebration of rice threshing using oxen, hanging jhuttis on the bamboo pole is becoming rarer.

To revive the age-old tradition, Barchhawar Community Development Forum organized a ‘Jhutti Competition’ last year. The competition attracted interest from local people with one hundred and fifty entries and brought out the Tharu culture in the national media. The organizers opine that the competition has not only informed the young generation about their culture but also reawakened their love towards the dying tradition. The forum will give continuity to it in the days to come.

Traditional healing
The Tharus believe that the jhutti rice is a cure for nausea. Nathar Tharu of Sishwani village, Siraha in east Nepal has a collection of 20-25 years old rice. He provides the rice for free to the people suffering from nausea.

Month of creativity
The month of November is special to Tharu women. It’s the time to show their creativity. They weave the jhuttis in their leisure time and the young girls learn the trick while herding the goats and cattle. Playing with the rice sheaf they come up with the beautiful shapes and size.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tharu Identity Being Ignored Deliberately

Bhulai Chaudhari
Ex-General Secretary, Tharu Welfare Society, Nepal

My previous article printed in this newspaper drew attention among the interested intellectuals, who raised various questions. Hereby, I dare to clarify their misunderstandings through this new article based on facts.

Tarai and Madhesh

Firstly, I would like to clarify that in Tharu language, we call “lowland” as Tar and thus Tarai is more natural than “Ter” or Terrain aus pointed out by some.

If Lowland or Tar, would carry all the senses and meanings as mentioned by the 'Encyclopedia Britannica' however, one thing we must understand that all lowlands do not mean wet, moisten, damp, drench and marshland. Some lowlands may be dry and fertile as well. Thus, as per the geographical features Tar/Tarai is more logical rather than Ter/Terrain. Even in our common practices we do not call Ter/ Terrain.

Another point where I would like to draw the attention is that the notion that the Tharus learnt to call 'Tar and Upar' (Low and High in English) words only after the introduction of English or Persian language into our sphere in completely wrong. A point to be noted, Tharu community is more than 3000 years old in this locality, thus the word “Tar” and “Upar” comes from the original Tharu language. (Read, Mr. Brayan Hodson; “Tharus are the pioneer of civilization stated by Willium Krooks”, 1870)

To the question that there is the presence of Terrain (not Tarai) in India, Bhutan and Bangladesh, my clarification in this regard would be that the Terrain is also found in other countries except those mentioned here. Geographically similar places could be found else where, but it does not make any harm to the Nepali Tarai and the Tharus in particular with Terrain found else where. The fact that Terai exists elsewhere as well also proves that “Madhesh” in particular is not only synonymous to Nepali Terai, however, Madhesh in particular still belongs to India but not in Nepal Tarai. The notion that Madhesh is synonymous to Terai is completely wrong.

Birat Nager: the capital of “Madhyadesh”?

It is not true that Birat Nager is the capital of Madhyadesh or “Matasyadesh” (fish country). In reality, Hastinapur was the capital of Madhyadesh or Matasyadesh. It would be wrong to claim Birat Nager as the capital of Madhyadesh only for the sake of proving the presence of Madhesh in the Nepali Tarai, as some Madhesi intellectuals do it regularly.

And also that Birat Nagar is not yet found in India and also at that time, Birat-Nagar was the capital of Birat Desh where Birat was the king and Arjun passed his underground life there during his exile period. How could it be that Dhristharasta-the King of Madhesh and Birat Raja-the king of Birat Desh at the same time rule over the same territory- that are in reality geographically apart [From Hindu Epic Mahabharata]. Thus it also proves that Madhesh has no relation whatsoever with Nepali Terai.

The fact is, Tarai is in Nepal but there is also the presence of Madheshi people in the Nepali Tarai, and they are also Nepali citizens. But, it does not mean that since Madhesi people have lived in Nepal’s Tarai- the place should be called Madhesh. There are also many aborigine ethnic groups like Tharus, Danwar, Rajbansi, Stayal, Jhangar .............. and other hilly people living together in Tarai- who would not like to be called a Madheshi. So, it would simply be an injustice to call Tarai as Madhesh Pradesh in the name of Madheshi. Thus, it is more preferable to address Tarai rather than Madhesh.

Further, claiming that Tarai-as a “connotation of internal colonization” is a sheer ignorance which will add up to putting question mark on our own nationality and sincerity towards the nation- which some Madhesi intellectuals have been doing that as well, of late. It would also mean that one is refuting to being a Nepali national.

Back to History books:

Prithivi Narayan Shah, at first, married princess Indra Kumari Devi, the daughter of a Sen King called as Hemkarn Sen of Makawanpur. The Sen King did not send his daughter just after they got married, which was as per the Tharu culture and tradition. But as King Prithivi Narayan Shah got angry with the “Sen King”, the relation between them soured; finally, the Shah king attacked the kingdom of Makwanpur, where he got the victory. Then the Sen rulers moved towards Champaran(in India), wherein Sen Tharus could still be found.

Later, for the second time, King Prithivi Narayan married princess of Kashi and he brought many Indians to Nepal while returning home. Those Indians were mainly employed and assigned the task to take revenge with the Tharus. These Madheshi/Indian people from Kashi at first started propagating Madhesh philosophy in Tarai and in course of institutionalizing their philosophy, these Madheshi people gave birth to many administrative units like-"Madhesh Bandobasta Adda" or "Madhesh Report Niksari" or "Kumarichowk Madhesh Pahila Phant" in the Tarai region. The main task of such administrative units were mainly to punish and exploit people of the Tharu origin. But the Tharus never accepted such imposed philosophies rather in turn formed their own organization to counter such Madhesi units. Replacing the “Madhesi Baybastha”, the Tharus constituted "Gady(throne)-Chaurashi (for 84 Pragana),”- which is a Tharu Political Organization that came into existence mainly to replace the Madhesi system and it served the nation for long time. Thus, since then, the Madheshi people, time and again, have tried their best to establish Madhesh in Nepali Tarai, claiming Madhesh as Tarai.

And mistakes are committed sometimes from people from other community too, I would rather say that such mistakes are committed due to ignorance, without having adequate knowledge about who are the real inhabitants of Tarai and that “Madhesh” is not synonymous to Terai. That is why it could be found in some literatures as well Madhesh beign used for Tarai, but mind it never in any authentic records. So, it does not mean that if Tarai is referred sometime as Madhesh in some books, would mean that Tarai is Madhesh.

For example, NEFIN (Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities) has been addressing Madheshi problems for almost four years, though the Madhesis are neither Aadibasi Janjaati nor a member of NEFIN. But, in the future if the Madhesi issues are continuously being raised by such organizations, would it mean that the Madhesis will become Aadibasi Janjaati? Thus it means that only if Madhesi words here and there if referred in some informal documents of the past does not prove that Madhesh can replace Nepal’s Tarai.

Plight of Tharus

In the past, the whole of Tarai was in-habitated only by the Tharu population. But, later, the eastern Nepal Tarai was covered by migrants from India and the western Tarai covered by the migrants from the hills. At present, both the eastern and the western Tarai have been covered mostly by migrants and the Tharus are themselves living in a minority in their own home land.

In the southern part of the eastern Tarai(India included), there are still many Tharu villages, however, there is no Tharu population at all, but the name of the village is still Tharuwahi (for example near Laukahi in Bihar, India). In future, I think this case will become more common in both the East and the West Tarai, if Tharu community themselves do not take the present situation seriously.

Most of us know that the southern boarder of Nepal extended up to “Mungair Killa(Pillar)” in the south of Ganga River but due to the ill intensions of the Indian migrants brought from Kashi, Nepal lost most of its southern part, finally, squeezed into the present size. Nepal mainly lost its land because the Madhesis living in those areas remained silent over the Indian/British takeover. Further, claiming the Tarai as being the colonial sentiment of Madheshi people brings some negative sense against the country.

What is Tiruhut?

The meaning of “Tirhut” should not be distorted as some Madhesi people do. This Tirhut word has been advocated here in favor of Tharuhat. Mr. Al Beruni, a Muslim historian, in 11th century visited the Tirhut part and put forward the motion that it is in reality "Tharuhat". He advocated that previously it was Tharuhat, then Tilhat and from Tilhat to Tirhut was its transformation. It is due to the ill intension of Madheshi people that Tharuhat is called as Tiruhut. More importantly, they don't want to show the presence of Tharus in their own geography and in reality as well the presence of Tharus in Tharuhat is very low. Same is the case of Dhanusa district. In Dhanusa district, there is a village called Kurtha in the west of Janakpur which was in the past completely a Tharu village, but currently there is only one Tharu family led by Garbhu Dhami. This is almost from 20 years back record. This story was explained to me by a Mahaseth of the same village. His grand father was the first Mahaseth to settle there. He made me clear that his grand father came from India. But, these days who can believe that it was a Tharu village. This is what is happening in reality and a fact without any proof but with physically verifiable records.

Tharu People:
Tharus are aborigines of Nepal Tarai. They originated in Nepal and they are qualified Nepalis. (Dr.Babu Ram Acharya " yf?sf] d"n 3/ sxf+”. If somebody says that they are migrated from India in the 15th and 16th centuries, they are making mistakes. They lack the knowledge about Tharus. Because, by DNA test, it is proved that the Tharus are resistant to Malaria(disease) and to acquire this immunity, a community would have to stay in a malarial environment for at least for 3000 years or more. It indicates that Tharu history in Nepal is more than 3000 years. So, the proponent of the 15th and 16th century of Tharu migration to Nepal from India is an irony and it should have been proposed intentionally for the humiliation of Tharu community.

The meaning of Tharuhat is a “Tharu Republic” as it is the transition of “Shakya Republic”. As Shakya Republic does not indicate only Shakya Tharus, in the same way Tharu Republic does not only mean Tharus. It is clear that the whole Tarai was once Shakya Republic from east to the west. (Sharma, Janak Lal, 2039 B.S.: Hamro Samaj: Yek Addhyan).

Madhesi People
Madheshi people in Nepal are basically Indian people who have migrated to Nepal from India however, do qualify as a Nepali citizen and presently inhabit the Nepali Tarai. So, if anybody deviates from this sense, it is his/her ill intension.

Tharu perception on Madhesi

When we Tharu people think about the Madhesis and experience their acts and behaviors being in the same vicinity, we get pretty annoyed. We become more afraid of Madheshi community than other communities. The question is what have the Madhesis given to us? Their attitude and behaviors that is only to take from us is also irritating. Instead of helping our community, the Madhesis have always abused us. No Madhesi writers have ever written even a single word in our favor? However, they have abused us only? And the Madhesis further abusing us claim that we learnt language and started to speak only after the arrival of the ARYAs is too humiliating.

Our concern in only that if the Madhesis have the right to demand their identity from the state, we the Tharus too have the right to demand our rightful identity.

(Taken from http://www.telegraphnepal.com)
The author can be writer can be contacted at chaudharybhulai@yahoo.com

The Tharu Barka Naach of Dangauras

THE THARU BARKA NAACH: Nepal's Dangaura Tharu folk version of Mahabharata
Ed Kurt Meyer & Pamela Deuel, translation by Dinesh Chamling Rai,
Himal Books, Lalitpur Nepal 1998

Summary by Pradip Bhattacharya

Background
Tharu community is the first inhabitant of the foothills of Nepal, in the Dang Valley. Its Origins unknown. Cultivators of the Tarai. The Dangaura subgroup is in the west in Dang/Deukhuri district and the Barka Naach is unique to them. The dance is part of the BARKIMAR, big war, of Tharu legend. Bhim is their hero having sheltered King Dangi Sharan, the Tharu ruler, against Krishna's wrath when Duryodhana had turned him away. Their Barka Atwari festival celebrates Mahadeva's marriage to the goddess, daughter of the First Tharu, in which the Pandavas are invited, the 1st Sunday of the bright fortnight of August. Tharu men fast in honour of the Pandavas who they regard as the first farmers of their land and its protectors. The Tharu cleared forests of Nawalparasi for cultivation, ignoring god Kumarvarti's injunction not to become farmers by abandoning the sacred thread. The forest was the god's garden. To punish them, he ordered Bhim to flood the valley by damming the Narayani River flowing through it. So, the Tharu king began to worship Kumarvarti and started Kantari Puja that is celebrated every five years by Tharus of Nawalparasi. Pandavas visited here after defeating Kauravas and feasted at Sat Gaun (7 villages) southwest of Nawalpur, cooking in seven ovens that are still shown. The excess water drained from the rice became a river. The Pandavas ate all the food, leaving nothing for their cooks, who went away in anger to live in Ruslahari (anger=rusal). There are 10 songs performed to dance with a chorus. The differences from the epic are noted below.

First song is "Lakhagirak Paidhar" relating the house of lac episode in 29 stanzas. Kunti stays behind in Jaitapur. Shakuni is sent on an elephant to invite the brothers from Jaitapur to Hastinapur. Shadev refuses to mount it, and is persuaded by his brothers "Oh! Brother Shadev, climb up or we shall be killed by the elephant." On reaching, he refuses to dismount and is persuaded. Similarly, he refuses to enter the house of wax and is told, "Come into the house or we will be thrown on the ground and killed". Daunagir locks the door at Duryodhan's orders. Shadev reviews the plan of the house and advises pulling out the pearl pillar, below which is a tunnel to escape underground. Bhim saves his brothers.

Second song is "Jatiyak Paidhar" told in 30 stanzas, each ends with the chorus: "King Yudhishthir is a pious king, And the Pandavas' kingdom must be returned". En route Jaitapur after escaping the house of lac, the Pandavas prepare to cook the alms they have collected. Nakul, Bhim, Arjun, Yudhishthir go by turn with a golden kettle to fetch water guarded by Danu who demands to eat one of them. Yudhishthir thinks: if he sacrifices Nakul, he loses a brother; if Shadev, he loses a scholar; if himself, the kingdom loses a king; sacrificing Bhim he loses his strength; sacrificing Arjun he loses his weapons. Unable to decide, he plants a stick in the middle of the river and leaves it to decide. It sounds "beem beem beem". So, Yudhishthir sends Bhim. Bhim addresses Danu that Queen Kunti is his sister, hence he is his Uncle and so while eating him, he should not use his teeth. Danu agrees. Bhim sits with folded legs and Danu swallows him. Danu gets stomach pain. Bhim cuts Danu's liver, blocks the rectum, cuts the lungs, blocks his mouth, rips open his stomach, emerges and heads home, crying out for his older brother. Then he makes crutches from branches, ties a sacred thread round his neck, disguising himself as a Brahmin priest. Pandavas reach Jaitapur. Kunti demands the true story. They tell her how they were locked up in Hastinapur and escaped pulling out the ruby pillar (changed from pearl) and later Bhim was eaten by Danu the giant. For performing his last rites they send Duhariya the messenger to locate a priest in Jaitapur. He meets Bhim disguised and returns with him. After he has done the rites, food is brought. Kunti says: "When the lentils are served, you eat lentils. When rice is served, you eat rice. You eat like my son Bhim used to eat, oh priest!" Bhim blames her for being blind and mourning her son who is before her but she cannot recognise him. "Pluck seven leaves of purain (a lotus like plant) and lay them over my mouth and sprinkle your milk over them." Duwariya brings and she sprinkles her milk that tears a hole through the leaves and goes into his mouth. "Oh dear Son, if you had revealed yourself before, I would have cooked 52 kinds of fritters just for you", says Kunti and celebrates that her five sons are again with her.

The third song in 68 stanzas relates to Draupadi's svayamvara and is called "Rau Bedhak Paidhar". Drupad's vow is to wed her to the person who hits the beautiful rau bird. Every stanza ends with the refrain "The one chosen by Princess Draupadi will be immortal forever". First to try is Daunagir, a brother of Duryodhan. Dronacharya is referred to as "Prince" who comes to see for himself how lovely Draupadi is and to observe the target. Next Shakuni tries and fails, followed by King Chuchanka, King Sapkewa, King Hasta, King Bidur, King Vagdanta, King Balabhadra, Duryodhan, and Padovir; all fail. Draupadi waxes furious and scolds Duryodhan for failing and leaving her unmarried: "I will be left unmarried. For 12 years I have been unmarried. Now who shall ask for my hand in marriage"? Bhim wishes to compete at this insult if permitted by his older brother, but Yudhishthir advises patience. Arjun, to test Karna's interest, poses as a Brahmin priest and asks for his secret knowledge of war as alms and Karna agrees provided he is allowed to marry Draupadi. Arjun says, "I am a priest and she is our priestess, How dare you ask for our priestess!" And he forecasts a carnage on Kurukshetra. Karna makes out he is Arjun and confirms the prophecy. So Arjun approaches his uncle Krishna and begs to fill his brain with knowledge and wisdom to win Draupadi. Krishna obliges. But it is Bhima who shoots and hits the rau bird. Draupadi climbs into his chariot and reaches his mother saying, "I have found a fruit, and with your permission I will eat it alone". Kunti says her five sons are equally dear to her so all must equally share the fruit. Bhim says, "If it were anyone else, I would tear open her belly, Or slap her across the face, but you are my mother, Queen Kunti, I shall let it pass". She says, "All the brothers will sleep in one room".

Fourth song is "Pashawarak Paidhar" on the dice game told in 54 stanzas each ending, "Virtuous Prince Yudhishthir follows the path of honesty, But we must deny the Pandavas their kingdom".
Yudhishthir wins the first throw, whereupon Duryodhan calls in Shakuni and his crooked dice. Bhim is sent off to fetch water with Duhshasan. Bhim finds the pail does not hold water and is delayed. In his absence Yudhishthir loses everything. Bhim returns and heaves Duryodhan and Dushasan aside, threatening to smash the crooked dice with his club. Draupadi too is lost but there is no disrobing. They go into exile via Jaitapur where they tell Kunti what happened. She laments, "Five sons I have, all beloved by me, And, among all, the youngest Nakul is the most dear". In the epic the favourite is Sahadev.

Fifth song is "Banabasak Paidhar" in 35 stanzas with the chorus: "King Yudhishthir is a pious king, And the Pandavas' kingdom must be returned".
This narrates the exile. Bhim collects fruits but brings back only the unripe ones, which Draupadi cooks for all of them, having eaten all the ripe fruits. In the 13th year Bhim is angry at being accused of eating the ripe fruits. He now fails to fill even one basket. Bhim protests against living on fruit and losing their strength. Shadev advises the kingdom of Banaras. En route they find the villages of Ahirs whom Bhim criticises as " virtuous, but also devious. They must give me an axe to work or I will slap their faces." Arjun advises going to a place of religious faith, viz. King Bairath (Virat of the epic). The brothers decide upon their disguises. Nakul instead of Sahadev is the astrologer and herds cows with the Ahirs. Shadev milks cows. Bhim takes care of horses instead of becoming the cook. Arjun carries a flute and a drum, disguised as a woman. Yudhishthir becomes the tutor of the king's children.

The sixth song, "Gharbasak paidhar" deals with the journey to King Bairath and parking of the weapons in a "sainik" tree, in 25 stanzas. The choric refrain is the same as above. The brothers lament:
"For 12 years I have wandered with my broken dreams,
And all my knowledge has turned to ashes.
I have forgotten all I knew and now
I must tend grazing cows with Ahirs."
Bhim is reluctant to hide his club in case there is trouble in the city. Nakul appears to be singled out:
"Suffering stays with Nakul just as musk Stays forever with the kasturi deer". Bairath allows them to stay provided they work as gardeners, take care of the stables, and work as gatekeepers. They agree. Yudhishthir sends Draupadi to serve the Queen.

The seventh song is "Hathiyak paidar" in 23 stanzas with the same choric refrain, in which Bairath forces Bhim to fight an elephant because Kanka (Yudhishthir) will not prevent a goat from destroying the king's fields. Bairath says if his elephant is killed, he will bear the loss, but otherwise Ballava (Bhim) has to die. Ballava is fed well with a hundred dishes and the elephant is intoxicated. Bhim has to fight in a torn loincloth, as there is no other. Bhim kills the elephant Bhauranand, removing its tusks to prove his strength, and accepts a betel nut offered by the king as a sign of friendship. Bairath requests him to protect the kingdom. Bhim agrees.

The eighth song is "Kichakak paidhar" that follows the Kichak-Draupadi episode of the epic in 28 stanzas with the refrain, "Whatever happens is the will of God". It begins with an enigmatic statement by Shakuni who says that in November ghosts are at work, so he advises the Kauravas, "you now can call on the pure Queen Draupadi. But the important words are those of your nephews, And the days of Kichaka are over." This is not explained and is not connected to anything that follows. The Kauravas appears somehow to be related to Kichaka. There is an elaborate description of Draupadi's toilette, draping a shawl on her left shoulder, beautiful decorations on her hair, bracelets on wrists, rings on fingers, toes, ears, crying out "An Ahir spied on me as I dressed!" whose significance is not clear. She wears an embroidered sari with silken sashes, lines her eyes with kohl, vermilion on her forehead and goes to Kichaka's house. There is no assignation at night, but Kichaka takes Draupadi to the front door of his house, which is blocked by Ballava who kills him after a wrestling bout. Long after (much after the prescribed 14th day for the funeral ceremonies) the Kauravas hear the news and cremate his body, swearing revenge on Ballava. In the epic this is what the Upa-kichakas do.

The 9th song in 124 stanzas relates Susharma and Duryodhan's attack on King Bairath and has the refrain: "Bhim is one of the best and Arjun is the best of archers, But the Kauravas are going to steal all the cows." When Arjun sends Uttara to take down their weapons from the tree, they are all found destroyed, except Arjun who says, "My weapon has started talking. Wherever it is sent, it reaches its goal; And whatever task it is given, it achieves it." There is a single couplet of interest that seems to have been transposed from the dice-game, as it has no link with anything in this song:
"The challenge is yours, Bhim and Arjun, to prevent
The Kauravas from defiling their own sister-in-law."
Bhim has an invincible left shoulder with which he withstands all the special missiles flung at him by Susharma, who begs for sparing his life. Bhim demotes him to a lowly blacksmith from a king.

The 10th song concludes the great war in 62 stanzas, ending with Kunti telling them that the mighty Kshatriya they slew whose arms were as big and strong as his things and whose chest was wider than 8 yards was their older brother Karna. The killing of Duryodhan is not described, only his fleeing, dropping his parasol, which Uttara Kumar holds in triumph. There is an enigmatic stanza 52 at this stage:
"Don't go herding without your cattle.
Don't visit your in-laws without your wife.
A man's lips are not beautiful without a moustache!
Speak twice your mantra: "Weapon, weapon".
Stanza 53 is a puzzle, as it is not clear who is the speaker and it is unconnected with the dialogue that follows between the Pandavas and Kunti ending in her disclosure of Karna being their brother:
"Oh my sister Queen Kunti, I am your uncle.
You are my nephews; I have taught you and given you knowledge.
Now I request my teacher's fee."


There is an Epilogue describing the ascent to heaven by the Pandavas, full of local touches. Bhim blocks the door after the brothers and Draupadi have eaten what Kunti has served. He announces with compassion that Kaliyug has arrived. First Draupadi leaves for the north on the pilgrimage of fire. Then Sahadev, of whom the watchman says he shall never reach the state of holiness. The same is said for the remaining brothers. Yudhishthir travels to heaven, sitting on the golden throne in Indra's palace and with Indra decides the path to be followed by his brothers and wife. He finds Bhim, Arjun, Nakul, Sahadev, and Draupadi, all there before him and asks them how this happened. Every one of them answers, "I cam here through the wind. That is the only way to heaven, so I arrived here before you."
So, indeed, has he.

Link to the original article: http://www.geocities.com/harindranath_a/maha/variation/tharubarkanach_mbh.htm

Tharu Autonomy: When the Slaves Rise up on the Nepal Plains

A note to readers: Although this article appeared almost four years ago, it still has relevance in today's context. The figures (population) quoted in the article has inflated by and large during this time span - Tharus are almost three million in numbers today.

By A World to Win News Service
06 May 2004

In the western lowlands of the country, the Tharu ethnic community has long been dispossessed of its land and turned into serfs by wealthier migrants from the hilly regions to the north. These powerful landlords, or Zamindars, as they are called, are more often than not members of so-called higher caste groups, mainly Brahmin and Kshetri, who have also access to political power. These Zamindars wield positions in the bureaucracy, the military and business. Moreover, they control the mass media. In short, they represent the most important section of the ruling class in Nepal.

Having appropriated the land from the Tharu community, the Zamindars subjugated the Tharus and turned them into bonded labourers (in return for food, clothing and shelter) on the very land they previously owned. This is a system of slavery by another name, the kamaiya system.

The Tharus are an aboriginal people who inhabit the western plains of Nepal. They constitute a sizeable minority of the population, a national minority (around 1.2 million), who at one time were self-sufficient farmers. Several years ago National Geographic magazine graphically portrayed these people as exotic beings with their very quaint customs and traditions. For many years the Anti-Slavery Society, based in Britain, has been trying to reach a wider audience about the Kamaiya system in Nepal. In 1997, the Times of London carried an exposure on the plight of the Tharu people under the Kamaiya system.

Since the people's war reached the Terai (lowlands), it has greatly inspired the masses of the people, especially the dispossessed and the downtrodden, who rose up to reclaim their ancestral land. The programme of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) calling for the seizure and redistribution of these lands found resonance among the underdogs in the southwestern plains of Nepal. The party's words and deeds aroused a great deal of revolutionary enthusiasm among these formerly deprived, who readily joined Maoist cadres and the fighters of the People's Liberation Army. At the outset of the people's war, the party announced its programme, which includes the slogans "Land to the tiller" and "Land to the landless". For the first time, women as well as men were able to own land. Indeed, this programme, part and parcel of the new democratic revolution led by the CPN(M), the first stage of a revolution which will eventually open the doors to socialism, was given effect and made meaningful
through the people's war. It has proved to be the real harbinger of freedom from oppression and slavery for the people of the Terai.

In 2002, the parliament under the king, declared the Tharu people free from the Kamaiya system even as these people, by then rebellious, had begun to retake their property - with many of the landlords already in full flight - under the impetus of the Maoist advances in the south-western region.

It became all too apparent that the parliament's declaration was more than a mere political stunt. It was a vicious conspiracy between the imperialist powers, the government, and certain foreign-funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to wean the Tharus away from the Maoist revolution. Indeed, this declaration of "freedom" by the parliament rang hollow in the ears of the former Kamaiyas.

To hoodwink these Kamaiyas, the regime sanctioned the distribution of tiny plots of land to a small number of families. What took place however was that, in the areas still under the old regime's control, some land earmarked for distribution has indeed been parcelled out to some select members of the Tharu community, while the rest of the land is being held as "a carrot to the donkey". Thus the regime schemes to keep the people hoping, in vain, that the rest of the land would be distributed among them. Until today, no further land has been distributed, simply because that was never the old state's plan. Moreover, it is not possible to redistribute them under the present reactionary system. Hence, many of the former "freed" Kamaiyas are moving back to their former landlords to resell themselves into bondage. The New York Times (6 February 2004) revealed, for example, that Phool Kesari, a Tharu former slave whose husband was taken away by the Royal Army as a suspected Maoist
sympathiser, was considering going back to her former zamindar. Phool Kesari believes that she will never see her husband alive again. Cases such as hers are common in the areas controlled by the Royal Nepal Army today.

Flying in the face of an obvious reality, that is, the truly chain-shattering process of people's war that is gaining momentum, the same article asserts that "the Maoists did little or nothing to free the Tharus from bonded labour; the pressure on the government came from domestic and international organizations." Nevertheless, it had to concede that in the village of Bardya, "young Tharus talk happily about how the landlords have had to flee the Maoist wrath." Bal Krishna Chaudhary, an 18-year-old Tharu student from a family of former bounded labourers - and whose eldest sister, Sita, was a Maoist supporter, taken away by the RNA two years ago - was quoted as proudly saying, "all the zamindars are scared of us now". The Maoists, he insisted, "speak for the people, speak for the Tharus."

While claiming that the insurgency has "wreaked havoc" and caused "great damage" to the country, the article admits that the people's war "wrought changes in the balance of power between the landed and the landless that the multiparty democracy failed to do since 1990."

Very recently, the royal government announced a new plan "to eradicate poverty" by redistributing land. This plan calls for imposing limitations on the amount of land a landowner can hold. The government proposes to compensate the land it acquires from the zamindars, supposedly to be redistributed to the landless poor. These peasants would, however, have to pay the government by instalment.

Through this process, there is every likelihood that an enormous concentration of land ownership would take place, and would provide great opportunities for foreign investors, foreign banks and the World Bank to acquire this land. Consequently, poor and even middle farmers (let alone the Kamaiyas of the Tharu community) would lose their land and become dispossessed - further impoverished, even pauperised, thereby having to sell themselves into bondage. In marked contrast to such machinations, the revolutionaries have been, as they promised, expropriating the land and redistributing it to the landless poor.

The uprising of the Tharus has indeed shocked the old establishment of Nepal. Colonel Dipak Gurung, the spokesman of the Royal Army, said that the Tharus are a "very meek people; they normally don't resist." He claims that "by nature, by culture, they are submissive." But under conditions of the prevailing people's war, these so-called "meek" and "submissive" people have begun to take up arms to throw off the yoke of oppression, and for the first time, to take their destiny into their own hands.

In the same week the New York Times article appeared, new and startling changes were taking place in the very same region: amidst joyous outpouring among the people, the Tharuwan National Autonomous Region was declared . Scores of thousands of former Kamaiyas openly rejoiced at their new-won freedom and empowerment. Events such as these are possible only under a new power, in the red base areas of the region, controlled by Maoist forces.

(Taken from http://www.countercurrents.org)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tharuhat, the Land of Tharus

Subodh K. Singh
Political Analyst, Nepal
Right is right, even if everyone is against it;
and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.
- William Penn

There lies at the foothills of the Sumeru (Himalayas) the land of the Tharus, popularly known as the Terai or Tharuhat which issued enlightened Buddha, Emperor Ashok, Gargi, Amshu-Varma, Bhrikuti, Dangisharan, Ratannath Yogi and Sen and Singh Kings of the Terai. (K.C. 1971: 31) states that Gautam Buddha was born in the Gandaki basin of Nepal under the satin of the shimmering Annapurna, Macchapuchre (the Fish tail) and Dhaulagiri Himalayas, and that he was deeply influenced by the Buddhist free thinkers in his native city of Kapilvastu… Early in life he was married to his cousin Yasodhara who, like her mother, was of Koli stock, and lived with her amidst birds and flowers and gazelles along the slopes of the blue midland mountains chasing clouds-capes which created a chiaroscuro of light and shade. He categorically mentions that Gargi Lopa was the ancestor of the Sam-buddha (page 329). It was Gargi who challenged the Brahmanic leader Yagyavalka and totally defeated him by her powerful arguments to the effect that examples from the real life and death of men and of the universe would be much more useful than the precept of the incomprehensible Three Vedic Steps of Vishnu. Unable to find a practical answer the priestly leader Yagyavalka admonished her from proceeding further with her unnecessary questions under the threat of beheading Gargi Lopa. She had no option but to sit down and mask her hatred of the arrogant Brahmanic patriarch under the feminine cloak of sufferance. How that heated scene has survived with us even to this day, - the brilliant argument of the woman philosopher and the angry voice of the Brahmanic saint, who threatened to kill those who did not agree with him! (K.C. 1971: 31).

Sambuddha

In order to understand the meaning of Sambuddha I would like to quote T.W. Rhys Davids where he mentions that Samma is perfect, complete in all its parts; and Sambuddba is merely, as we should say, “A very Buddha,” He further states that “A very Buddha,” one who has the insight and can also make others see, appear in the world, and hap: are they who meet him.

Terai is not Madhesh

It is important to explain here that the Terai is not Madhesh, and Madhesh is a word derived from Madhyadesh or the Majhimdesh (middle country). The boundaries of the Majhimdesh or the middle country have been refereed to and explained in both Brahmanical and Buddhist literature of the ancient past. It is described as that area lying to the east of River Saraswoti and to the west of the Kalakvana or Black forest somewhere near Prayag. Altogether fourteen out of the sixteen Mahajanapadas or the states that existed in ancient India during the time of Buddha were said to have been the part of the Majhimdesh. They are: Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vaji, Malla, Cetiya (Cedi), Vamsa (Vatsa), Kuru, Panchala, Maccha (Matsya), Surasena, Assaka and Avanti (Law 1979: 2). These fourteen Mahajanapadas are now either part of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar state of India. This would certainly help one to understand that the Teral lowland of Nepal was never a part of Madhyadesh and in no way can be branded as Madhesh. It is important to point out here that none of the eminent Indian or foreign authorities has stated that the Terai was Madhesh, and the obvious reason is that the latter never existed in the Terai. The word “Madhesh” was coined by the Shah and Rana rulers with a view to degrade the status of the vanquished Tharu rulers of the Terai.

(K.C. 1971: 6) states that we find the first reference to the glorious tribe of Sakys in the verses 422-423 of the ancient Buddhist text, Suttanpato dating back to the sixth century B.C., in which our Seventh Tathagat Sakyamuni tells in his own Prakrit language about himself and his country of origin to King Bimbisara in the latter’s capital of Rajgrha as follows:

“Ujum janapado Raja Himvantassa passato…..”

To render the two entire verses into English “Up there, o King, there is a republican country at the foot of the Himvant dowered with strength and wealth, on the border of Kosli. From that people I descend; I am by birth a Sakya. I have renounced that home, and long no more enjoyment. I have seen that enjoyment is suffering and I try to avoid it. I go forward fighting and in this my soul rejoices.”

The aforesaid saying of the Buddha clearly reveals the fact that the Terai was never a part of Madhyadesh, and thus it cannot be labeled as Madhesh.

Paharization of the Terai

According to my book, The Great Sons of the Tharus: Sakyamuni Buddha and Asoka the Great”, paharization of the Terai, the land of the Tharus, started after the unification of Nepal, as the Shah and the Rana rulers saw the virgin Terai as a source of revenue and distributed land to the courtiers and to the army generals and colonels to garner their support (Shrestha 1990: 172-174) states that the Rana rulers were no less interested in attracting the paharis (hill people) to relocate to the Teral and achieve the goal of paharization of the Terai. So the Ranas adopted two liberal solutions;

(1) to encourage the settlement of runaway slaves and debtors and

(2) to continue to emphasize immigration, free movement of people from other countries, particularly from across the border in northern India”. It can be said that Tharuhat can be demographically termed as a replica of Nepal, a yam between two boulders, as being sandwiched between the Indian and the pahari immigrants that swarmed the Terai after the eradication of malaria in the 50s and the 60s.

(Gurung 1998: 27) explains by pointing out the census of 1991 that hill-to-Terai flow was dominant pattern of in-immigration. Hill migrants destined to the adjoining Terai region constituted 70.8 percent in the eastern Terai, 42.9 percent in central Terai, 83.6 percent in western Terai, 65.6 percent in mid-western Terai and 53.8 percent in far-western Terai. These data explain how the indigenous people were displaced from their own land, and how paharization took its roots in the fertile land of Terai.

Influx of Indians in the Terai

Similarly, various scholars have explained about the influx of Indians in the Terai. The Citizenship Act of 1953 allowed the Indian to immigrate to Nepal and acquire Nepalese citizenship without hindrances. (Dahal 1978: 67) says that the Citizenship Act of 2009 B. S (1953 A. D.) was rather loose requiring only a five-year stay in Nepal to hold Nepalese citizenship. He adds that in the general election of 1959, most of the Indian settlers in Nepal were included in the voter’s list. Thus the liberal attitudes of the early interim government towards the immigrants from India to Nepal were also responsible for the increase of the Indian population in the country.

According to (Gurung 1998: 34-36), the lowland, particularly the Terai, has emerged as the prime destination of migrants in Nepal in recent decades. Migration trajectories directed to the Terai have two main sources. One is external, from across the border in India and another is internal, originating in the highlands. Both represent movement of population from a high-to low-pressure area. The international boundary between Nepal and India is not regulated regarding human movement. Neither is there any physical restriction, as two-third of the boundary traverses a level plain. The main reason for immigration seems to be the low density of population in Nepal Terai. In 1961, the average density of Bihar districts was two to three times higher than eastern Terai, and that of Uttar Pradesh districts three to four times higher than the Central Terai. Although such disparities in crude density have declined in recent decades, Indian states across the border are over-populated. Measurement of pressure of rural population on land resources showed that Bihar and Uttar Pradesh contiguous to Nepal has the highest level of overpopulation in India. Therefore, the demographic pressure operating in densely populated middle Ganges plain has affected Nepal Terai as its obvious extension through migration.

(Joshi and Rose 1966: 7-8) state that the hill people were reluctance to move to this hot, fever-ridden area, the Terai was opened to settlement by plains dwellers from across the border. Thus even today most persons of the cultivator class and several of the landowning and commercial families in the Terai are Indians in origin and still have extensive kinship and marriage ties across the border.

Joshi and Rose further explains that the opening of the Nepal Terai to cultivation in the nineteenth century A.D. attracted numerous settlers from India, some of whom later moved into the hill areas as merchants or to Kathmandu as politicians, government servants, and teachers.

(Regmi 1988: 114) says that more important, the early Rana rulers like their predecessors, actively encouraged immigration from India into the Terai region… There are numerous references to the open immigration policy followed by the pre-Rana rulers for agricultural development in the Terai region during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Ranas continued this policy and implemented vigorously.

Why Terai is known as Tharuhat?

Let me recapitulate that the Terai was known as abahat in Persian language which means swampy and marshy region, and because it was the land of the Tharus it came to be known as Tharuhat. The obvious reason is that the Tharus have been living in the Terai since time immemorial. Robert Gersony in Sowing the Wind explains that they have lived for such a long period in the Terai that they are considered virtually indigenous. They survived in the area because of a partial immunity to malaria. Research suggests that Tharus have a genetic resistance to the disease through the athalassaemia gene, which decreases malaria morbidity up to tenfold.* Duncan Forbes while describing about the dense forest of Chitwan in his book ‘The Heart of Nepal” states that more dangerous than the tigers, rhinoceros and elephants that roam there, however, is the anopheles mosquito, bearer of the deadly “aul” malaria, which in the part meant probable death to any outsiders trying to cross the doons (inner Teral) in the rainy or autumn seasons… But the reality of course, it was the mosquito that kept the country reserved for one race only- the Tharus- who had developed a measure of immunity from the disease.

(According to Tucci 1962: 74), the Terai is one of the largest jungles in India: its dense forests run like a girdle inside the southern frontiers of Nepal and act as defense… But it must not be thought that because the Terai is unhealthy it is devoid of life; there is no place and no danger that can halt migrations searching for fresh habitations. Even into such places one of the ethnic mosaics of Nepal found its way in ancient times, this race is the Tharu. They have not despaired, and with great toil and diligence have cleared broad oases of cultivation in the dense of the forest. Their homes are comfortable, usually clean, and built in a manner that makes the summer heat more bearable.

Oldfield writes, “The Nipalese are averse to the “cleaning” of these forests, as they look upon the malarious jungle at the foot of their hills as the safest and surest barrier against the advance of any army of invasion from the plains of Hindustan”. Previous to the first Nepal war, the Duns of Chitwan and Makwanpur were extensively cultivated; but since the peace of 1816 the Gorkha government, from motives of policy, has caused the inhabitants to abandon the greater part of them, and they have been allowed to revert to their natural state of forest and grass jungle (Regmi 1988: 12).

According to Cavenagh, Hetauda was “a great emporium for trade and during the cold seasons was a considerable village, but being considered one of the unhealthiest spots in the Terai, from April to November is almost deserted.” This clearly explains why the Tharus were the only people residing amidst the deadly mosquitoes of the Terai.

Mahesh Chandra Regmi quotes Hamilton and states that the Narayani-Arra belt in the western Nepal comprised several market-towns, including Butwal, Koilabas and Captaingnj. Butwal was the most important of these towns. It was “a considerable mart’ even during the early years of the nineteenth century, although it was “so dreadfully unhealthy, that no one resides there in the rainy season”.

Similarly the easternmost portion of the Terai region, situated east of Kosi River and west of the Mechi River, known as Morang, was then mostly under forest… The reason why the Morang region long remained largely under forest can be easily explained, for it was “the most malarious and unhealthy district in the whole of Terai (Regmi 1988: 152- 153).

The far-western Terai region, which came under Nepal’s control in 1858 A.D. was largely under forest throughout the nineteenth century. In 1876, Girdlestone noted that the region “contains large tracs of forest and grazing ground, but agriculture is far from general owing to the prevalence of malaria in the rains (Regmi 1988: 154).

The aforesaid environmental and climatic descriptions of the Terai during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries explain why the Terai belt of Nepal was reserved for only one race- the Tharus, and this is the very reason why the Terai is called Tharuhat, the land of the Tharus, even to this day.

[* The author is a Masters Degree Holder in Political Science from Tribhuwan University, Nepal; Excerpts from author’s book, “The Return of the Mauryas”, NRS: 200, US$ 10-Ed]

The article has been republished from http://madhesi.wordpress.com

The Social Structure of Madheshi Community Resembles More to the Indian States Like UP and Bihar than any Nepalese Society

Bhulai Chaudhary
General Secretary, Tharu Welfare Society
Preamble: Nowadays, particularly on the issues of Tarai and Madhesh, Tharu and Madheshi, people in the country are in confusion. If, in proper time, this confusion is not clarified, it may invite additional problems. Therefore, the objective of this article is to clarify such confusions.


Nepali Tarai and Tharus: The southern plain part(land) of Nepal from Mechi in the east to Mahakali in the west about 1000 km long and from nothern boarder of India up to 25 - 35 km towards north within Nepal is known as Tarai.
Tarai land was formed along with the formation of new Nepal, but the indigenous Tharus have been original citizens of Tarai, inhabiting since ancient times. Even after the formation of new Nepal, Tharus have been giving their services by nurturing Nepal. This is the reason that the Tharus are supposed to be the oldest, original habitants and sons of the soil and Tarai is known as granary of the country.

Since the beginning, the Tarai has remained as a ‘Tharuhat’, in other word also known as the state of Tharus. This is not new information for Nepalese people though. Tarai is the lowest land of Nepal. In Tharu language ‘Tar’ means low, thus Tarai word is derived from Tharu language, which is a proven fact. That is the main reason why all people have accepted Tharus as main habitant of Tarai, original habitant and son of the soil. There is no contention over this issue.

In the beginning Tharus, alone, inhabited the Tarai. This Tarai was covered by dense forest. In the forest, there was dominance of tigers, lions, bears, bores and wild elephants whereas deserted places within the forest were occupied by Tharu Population and were struggling with the wild animals.

More or less hundreds of years after, around 1826 B.S, with the formation of new Nepal, as the population increased, the need for more grains meant deforestation and falling of trees to create lands for cultivation, thus to continue feed the ever increasing population.

The Tharus then started bringing in Indian manpower and allotted some land to them to grow grains, and in return started to take taxes from them in order to pay taxes to the Kings. If the amount of taxes imposed on the Indian manpower used to be high, they (the Indians) used to go back home only to return whenever imposed on them were low (see Lalmohar no 18,20,21,41,43).

Tharus had their own language (dialect), culture and management system and still have. From very beginning, they had very much an autonomous ruling system and their ruling centers were Kadamaha (Morhang), Vijaypur (Sunsary Dharan), Baramajhhiya (Saptary), Rautahat, Butwal and Dang, among others.

As time went by, despite their ruling rights, it could not be more influential except their social activities. After eradicating Malaria in 2019 B.S, the government started felling trees in order to make space for the increasing population. It was at this time people from India and hilly region in Nepal, migrated to the Tarai plains which in essence was and still is a Tharuhat.

Due to this huge influx of people from India mainly and from the hills made Tharu’s livelihood in their own land pretty difficult. Now if this issue is not addressed properly on time, sooner than later the Tharus in their own Tharuhat might face extinction.

People, deliberate or otherwise call Tarai as Madhesh, which it is not. This is a misnomer and a wrong understanding. The Tarai and Madhesh are not the same but both are different from geographical perspective. Tarai and Madhesh are not synonymous to each other. Thus it is wrong to use Madhesh as synonymous to Tarai. This has created unnecessary confusion all over the country. In the available authoritative records of Nepal, from the time of formation of New Nepal and up to now “Madhesh” word has not been used for Tarai.

In “Naya Nepal Parichaya” written by Hiranya Lal Shrestha in 2039B.S which is taught in I.A course too, Nepal has been divided in three natural part- Himal, Pahad and Tarai.

Similarly in “A Nepalese Discovers His Country” written by Prakash.A.Raj in 2035B.S “Madhesh” word has not been mentioned anywhere in the entire book.

In 1960, Tony Hagen divided Nepal into seven natural parts (Tibetian Marginal Mountain, Inner Himalayas, Mid-lands, Mahabharat range, Shivalik hills and Tarai).
In 1971, Dr. Hark Bahadur Gurung divided Nepal into nine natural geographical parts (Border range, Doons, Himalayan Valley, Himalayan Temperate, Sub temperate, Mahabharata range, Inner Tarai, Chure range, and Tarai).
Likewise, in a survey conducted by F.A.O/ H.M.G/ U.N.D.P, in 1980 by Mr. Nelen divided Nepal into five natural geographical parts e.g High Himalaya, Transposition Zone, Middle Mountains, Shivalik range and Tarai. But nowhere, Madhesh is mentioned.
Similarly in 1986 a HMG made a “land resource plan” wherein Nepal has been divided into five natural zones e.g High Himalayas; High Mountains; Middle Mountains; Shivalik range and Tarai. This division only speaks of the existence of Tarai but no where Madhesh has been mentioned.
This amply clarifies that Madhesh is as such a part of Nepal is completely wrong, ill intentioned and also a deception of the real facts as well. Tarai is not Madhesh. Thus, it would be an injustice to call Tarai a Madhesh.


Madhesh and Madheshi: Tarai region of Nepal is not a Madhesh (Mid Land). Madhesh (Mid Land) has been mentioned on page no.387 of ‘History of Civilization of Ancient India’ written by Fahiyan in 400 A.D, who was a Chinese historian.
When Fahiyan reached Mathura- on the banks of Jamuna river, he termed the southern mid land as ‘Madhesh’ - the land of Rajputs.

In the same way on page no.1203 “Sanskriti Hindi Kosh” collected and written by Bavan Shivaram Apte and published by Moti Banarasi Das-Delhi, indicates that Kushwanti or Kushasthali which was capital of Kol state- is the real Madhesh, which lies on the northern banks of the river Narmada and on southern side of the Vindhyachal hill.

Probably it is the place which is known as Ramnagar in Bundelkhand. Rajashekhar- a historian has called the King of Kushsthali as the king of Madhesh, which also means middle land or king of Bundelkhand.

According to Nepalese historian Dr. Babu Ram Acharya, in the north from Ambala upto Prayag in the south Madhyadesh (Madhesh) is situated.

Likewise, as described by “Shabda Sagar” in Nepali, the land lying in between- in the north by the Himalayas, in the west Kuruchhetra, in the south Bindhya, and in the east up to Prayag is called a Madhesh.

Hereby, if it analyzed properly the Concept of Madhesh, the Himalayas mean “Himanchal Pradesh”, which is situated in the western side of Nepal in the Indian Territory. And as Eastern border of Madhyadesh is mentioned as “Prayag” so it will be foolish to trace Madhesh in the east and north of Prayag. Here by it is clear that the boundary in the east of Madhesh is Prayag.

According to above described historical facts it is proved that Madhesh was situated in Uttar Pradesh of India or on the south of Vindhyachal hill or nearby Vindhyachal, and those inhabiting there were known as Madheshi.

These historical and geographical evidences show that Tarai of Nepal is situated very far from Narbada River, Vindhyachal hill of the Uttar Pradesh, Prayag, Ambala and Kuruchettra.

This shows that Madhyadesh has never been close to the border of Nepal or adjoined the Nepali territory.

Analyzing all these facts to call Tarai as Madhesh would not only be a treacherous act against own nation but would also tantamount to be called a colonial mindset.

In “Nepal Ko Kanuni Itihas- Ravti Raman Khanal”, during the reign of queen Rajendra Laxmi, in the one hand mentioning exile of Daljit Shah to Madhesh and on the other in the same book (in the page no.99), mentioning Tarai as well in different context implies that Madhesh and Tarai mean different.

The Sugauli Treaty ( signed on 8 December, 1816) between British Government and Nepal, in its memorandum of understanding letter on clauses 2 and 6 states that the land between Koshi and Gandaki river is mentioned as Tirhut (Tharuhat) which again has been mentioned as Tarai land. All these facts show that since ancient times, Tarai region, Tharu language and Tharu culture were developed.

Next evidence is the recollection letter written by British Government on 11 December, 1816 to Nepal Government, wherein it has been straightly mentioned word as Tarai but not Madhesh. In spite of these factual evidences at hand, to interpret Tarai as Madhesh by some interested quarters is how much correct and justifiable it is? It is a serious matter that demands attention. See the lines mentioned below (moreover, the Rajah of Nepal agrees to refrain from prosecuting any inhabitants of Tarai, after its revertance to his rule, on account of having favored the cause of British Government during the war, and should any of those persons, expecting the cultivators of soil, be desirous of quitting their estates and retiring within the company’s territories, he shall not be liable to hindrance-Point 7-Memorandum of Approval from British Government and Accepted by Nepal on Dec 11,1816.

Likewise, noted author Dr. Haribans Jha –a Tarai scholar, has described, in his “Madheshi Samudai: Samajik Ra Arthik Biawastha” entitled book, Madheshi word in real meaning ,he has mentioned Tarai word for Tarai, but not Medhesh. A few lines from what Dr. Jha says, “ Madheshis living in Tarai territory, have their own glorious history, art, culture and economy. The Social structure of Madheshi community resembles with the social structure of the Indian states like UP and Bihar rather than the social structure of any Nepalese society. So, those gentlemen who call Madhesh with Tarai, they do it so either from ignorance or make it with mal-intent.

Generally, Madhesh residents are known as Madheshi. While, Madheshi from Madhyadesh of India, for their livelihood, migrated to Nepal, Tharu people of Tarai started to call them the new comers as “Bajiya” that means people from out side or from Brijee Republic and still they call them “Bajiya”. Later on, in 20th century when people from hill region migrated to Tarai and came in contact with these outsider migrants they also began to call the new comers as Madheshi-Madhya deshi-(of Indian origin). Even today the hilly people call to these migrants Madheshi, is true. But they are not the Nepalese will not be a correct evaluation.

C.K. Lal has also supported to this fact. In his own word, “The early 20th century clearing of Tarai forest and almost simultaneous famine in the neighboring states of Bengal, Bihar and Awadh forced many Indians to choose a life of considerable difficulty in the plains of Nepal. Overtime, they became to be known as Madhesis- the people of Madhesh. In this way the entrance of Madhesi can be seen and this is a fact but at present time the facts are being distorted to the extent that some want to delete the word “Indian origin” to serve their own political and vested interests. Madhesh continues to be there in India where it was. Madheshi is a sentimental word. Madhesi is not as such a special caste. If it were the otherwise, they should have their own separate and special culture and tradition. If this is so, then how come they become an indigenous group of Nepal? They are just giving an imaginary name “Madhesh” and due to relation with it they are trying with might and mind to prove through organizations, and also with the support of some political parties and making all these as a ladder to prove that Madheshis are ancient inhabitants of Tarai. Madhesh is not any kind of geography of Nepal. Madhesh is there where it was in India and Madheshi is a sentimental word. Madhesi is not a particular caste, nor they have a fixed place, culture, own mother tongue, then how could they become the ancient inhabitants of Nepal? This must be thought. Remember it that Tarai and Inner Tarai is fundamental base and this is definitely Tharuhat. Tharus are original inhabitants of Tarai. We Tharus humbly request to political parties or organizations not to take any wrong decision that is advantageous to their short term political interests which neglects the criterions forwarded by the Tharus. I wan to put the fact that ”Bajiya” is of Tharu language that implies the meaning for people from out side or from Brajee Republic. As time went by the people from hill region migrated to Tarai and heard the word “Bajiya” from the Tharus repeatedly, the hill people considered the word Bajya as a derogatory word. This later was interpreted by the Nepali dictionary as a word which denoted some sort of abuse. Thus there was distortion of the word.

In this way, real evidences prove that Tarai is not Madhesh but Tharuhat. It is therefore to call Tarai as Madhesh will not be an act of wisdom. Madhesh was and still a part of India. However, in present time, Nepal Government, exploiters of Tharus and colonists are hatching a new strategy to exploit the Tharus by establishing a non-existent entity as a Madhesh state. The interim constitution does mention Madhesh but deliberately avoids the mentioning of the Tharuhat. This is a ploy to ignore the indigenous Tharus. This is a sort of Tsunami not only for the Tharus but also for Nepal as a nation-state. We all Tharus must come together unitedly and protest the arrangement that allows space for the Madheshis. If at this crucial time, we do not act, we will not be able to protect the Tharuhat and this will lead to the very extinction of the Tharus from their own land-the Tharuhat.

We must oppose to the conspiracy that is being hatched in the name of Madhesh. If we could not protect the Tharuhat and Tarai, we will be compelled to be refugee with full of sorrows in our own land.

I make humble request to those who possess love for their country not to accept the concept which equates Tarai with Madhesh. If we fail to understand the gravity of the situation, we might push the nation to become a colony of some powers. The decision that has been made in the name of the Madhesh should be immediately scrapped. I hope that all Nepalese people will put their efforts in scrapping the decisions taken in the recent months by the government, political parties including the Maoists in order to save Tharuhat.


[Mr Chaudhary is currently a member of the NEFIN talks team with the Government, representing Tharu Community]

The article has been taken from http://www.telegraphnepal.com