Social Science Baha

The Gorkha Conquests

The Gorkha Conquests
The process and consequences of the unification of Nepal,
with particular reference to Eastern Nepal
by Kumar Pradhan

with a new introduction by John Whelpton

Nepal was forged out of the conquests by the principality of Gorkha, and Nepalese historians often view this process as consisting of ‘national unification’. This work is a probe to see whether cohesive elements of nation-building were present in the past to warrant such a description. It examines some of the real motives behind Gorkha’s desire to expand over the neighbouring hills and plains and beyond, together with its consequences on the society and economy of the peoples of great diversity living in those areas.

Eastern Nepal, also called Kirat, was one of the last areas to be conquered by Gorkha, but has received somewhat scant attention from Nepalese historians. This book provides a region-specific coverage to allow for a deeper understanding of the process of Nepal’s political unification, and its impact.

The publication of Kumar Pradhan’s The Gorkha Conquests in India in 1991 marked an important milestone in Nepalese historiography because it was a direct challenge to a ‘nationalist’ orthodoxy presenting the military campaigns of King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha and his immediate successors as an heroic venture on behalf of all the people of Nepal…The environment in which this book is now being republished is radically different from that in which it originally appeared since Nepal is now no longer a kingdom and an emphasis on ethnicity, regarded as almost taboo before 1990, has now moved to the centre of the Nepalese political arena…In these new circumstances, it is possible that a negative evaluation of Prithvi Narayan himself will become the new orthodoxy…The debate will in any case continue and The Gorkha Conquests will remain an early but very important contribution to it.

– From the introduction by John Whelpton, author of A History of Nepal