Newars, a Cultural Identity

Topics: Nepal, Kathmandu, Newar Pages: 5 (2482 words) Published: April 17, 2014
Newars, a Cultural Identity

I have respect for all religion, castes, races and each culture that is associated with them. Each one of them have their own physical features, specialty and importance. Each one of them is different, but not less or inferior than any other. Comparing one to the other would be only for the sake of finding out the differences, and not deciding on which is superior to the other. This should be clarified to everybody. As being born and raised in the environment that we were, each one of us are and should be proud to belong to a specific caste, race, religion, and as a whole, to a specific community. So, it is very important for us to keep in mind these points when we discuss further.

Having said this, let us move on to a briefly stated History of Newars.

Jyapus were the first settlers of Kathmandu valley. They were the descendants of the Gopal Vanshas / ‎Krishna Vanshas. They have been important part of the Newari community, and in those days, they were represented as the farmers of high skill and physical strength. Originally, Jyapus were at first Aryans who came down to the valley. Out of 621 castes, 411 castes belong to this community. Kathmandu Valley witnessed its first King, Bhuktaman, from the descendants of the Gopal Vanshas. Later on, the Kirats invaded the valley and the reign of the Gopal Vanshas was put to an end. After this invasion, the Kirats forced them to be involved only in agricultural works. This is how the Jyapu community first got linked with this occupation. The first traces of Nepal Bhasa is therefore linked the Gopal Vanshas, and also influenced by the Kirats, which is why some of the Kirats who speak or are familiar with this language are called Newar Kirats and they fall within the Newar community.

The Kirat dynasty also came to an end when the Lichhivis attacked in the valley. The Lichhivis also learnt and accepted the local language. Then the Lichhivis again got invaded by the Baish Thakuris, from whom the Malla and Dev Kings reigned the valley. Some of the Kirats and the Lichhivis were mixed with the descendants Gopal Vanshas which is why we can find that the people of the existing Jyapu community belong to both Aryans and Mongolians. This applies to some of the other castes and communities of the valley as well.

During the reign of Baish Thakuris, there consisted of two Rajbanshis, the Devs and the Mallas, who were also known as Thakku Mallas. Several Dev and Thakku Malla Kings ruled over the 3 kingdoms, and also learnt and accepted the slowly evolving Nepal Bhasa. From India entered the Mallas, whose origin was of Rajputs, Chettris and Thakuris, who then took over the Baish Thakuris, and started ruling the valley. They accepted and to a great extent contributed to the Newari culture and language, and were thus known to be the Newar Rajputs, Chettris and Thakuris, who contributed to the Newari civilization as the reknowned Malla kings.

In this way, we can find that the Newari culture is a contribution from various civilizations that were derived and developed not only from the differences that existed, but from the development of a common base and acceptance of those differences that took the shape of Unity in diversity.

The words 'Nepal' and 'Newar' are greatly interrelated. Either, 'Nepal' has been derived from 'Newar' or 'Newar' has been derived from 'Nepal', but it is speculated that both words have been derived from the word 'Nepar'. We can find various evidences from old times where the ancient Newari Kingdom was referred to as 'Nepal'. The references can be found in 1. the scripts written by Kautilya, who is famously known as Chanakya, 2. the script written in Magadi Bhasa (a Prakrit Bhasa) found in Pataliputra, Bihar, now known as Patna, 3. the great pillar constructed by Samundra Gupta in Ihlaahbad. 4. the coins issued during the time, ChandraGupta's reign in certain parts of India.(Chandra Gupta the Ist had...

References: Shrestha, Dr. Tulsi Narayan. Nepal ka Newarharu, Pahichaan ra Pristhabhumi.
Dhaubanjaar, Dr. Gopal. Kathmandu Upatyaka ka Bastiharu.
Wright, Daniel. History of Nepal(translated from Parbatiya).
Amatya, Tulsi Lal. Samsmaran ka Panaharu.
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