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
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