भगवान् रामको जन्मभूमि नेपालमा नै छ ?

भानुभक्तको जन्मदिन । उनका रामायणका हरफहरू प्रशस्तै देखिरहेको थिएँ । साँझ ट्वीटरमा राम नाम जप्नेहरूको कमी थिएन । त्यसैको निरन्तरता हो कि जस्तो लाग्यो । एकछिन पछि हेर्छु त राम जन्मभूमि अयोध्या भारतमा होइन नेपालको वीरगन्ज नजिकै ठोरीमा पो छ भनिरहेका छन् । के भएछ भनेर बुझ्दै जाँदा प्रधानमन्त्री ओलीले दिउँसोको कार्यक्रममा त्यसो भन्नुभएको रहेछ । के अयोध्या नेपालमै थियो ? यो प्रश्न उठाएको एउटा लेख (‘भगवान् राम नेपालमै जन्मेका आठ प्रमाण’, २०७५ कात्तिक ३०, सौर्य अनलाइन) घुम्दैफिर्दै आइपुग्यो । लोकमणि पौडेलले लेख्नु भएको त्यो लेखमा आठवटा ‘प्रमाण’ प्रस्तुत गरिएको रहेछ । यी ‘प्रमाण’हरूको विश्लेषण गर्ने प्रयास गर्छु ।

१. ५ सय किलोमिटर टाढाको अयोध्याबाट रथमा चढेर जनकपुर आइपुग्न सम्भव थिएन ।

यो तर्क साह्रै फितलो छ । विश्वामित्रले गर्न लागेको यज्ञ मारीच र ताटका राक्षसराक्षसीले पटकपटक भङ्ग गरेकाले यज्ञको रक्षा गर्न र राक्षसराक्षसीको वध गर्न रामलक्षमणलाई अयोध्याबाट कौशिकी किनारको आश्रममा लागेका थिए । यो कथाले वाल्मीकि रामायणको केही भूगोल बुझ्न मद्दत गर्छ । बाल काण्डको सर्ग २३ देखि ३० सम्म सरयू नदी र गङ्गाको संगमस्थलमा रहेको अङ्ग प्रदेश पुगेको, गङ्गा तरेर ताटकाको वनमा गएर उसको वध गरेको, वन पार गरेर विश्वामित्रको सिद्धाश्रममा मारीच र सुबाहु राक्षसबाट यज्ञ रक्षा गरेपछि बल्ल मिथिलातिर लागेको प्रसङ्ग छ । त्यस्तै सर्ग ३१-६५ मा शोणा नदीको किनारमा बसेर विशाला नगर हुँदै मिथिला पुगेको उल्लेख छ । उता रामजानकी विवाह निश्चित भएपछि दशरथलाई सन्देश पुर्‍याउने दूतहरू तीव्र गतिमा घोडा चढेर तीन दिनमा आइपुगेको बताउँछन् (वाल्मिकी रामायण १.६८.१) । त्यस्तै दशरथ नाना थरीका रथ लिएर चार दिनको बाटोबाट मिथिला पुग्छन् (वाल्मिकी रामायण १.६९.७)।

२. लक्ष्मणले सीतालाई वाल्मीकि आश्रममा छोडेर त्यही दिन फर्किए । भारतको अयोध्याबाट नेपालमा रहेको वाल्मिकी आश्रम २५० किलोमिटरको दूरीमा भएकाले एकै दिनमा फर्किन सम्भव छैन ।

नेपालको चितवनमा मात्रै वाल्मीकि आश्रम रहेको मान्ने हो भने यो ठीकै होला । लवकुशले पिङ खेलेका भनेका लहरा, रामको घोडा बाँधेको खम्बा, पुराना इनार नभएका होइनन् । तर भारतको उत्तर प्रदेश राज्यको बिठोरमा पनि वाल्मिकी आश्रम रहेछ । त्यही आश्रममा सीता र लवकुश बसेको र रामायण पनि त्यहीँ नै लेखिएको मान्यता रहेछ । वाल्मीकिको आश्रम हालको नेपालमा थियो कि भारतमा ? ऋषिमुनिहरू तप गर्दै धेरै ठाउँ पुग्थे । वाल्मीकिको आश्रम एउटा मात्रै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने छैन । एक ठाउँमा मात्रै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने पनि छैन । जसरी अचेल स्कूलका चेन हुन्छन्, गुरुकुल र आश्रमका पनि चेन हुन सक्छन् । हाल बिठोरमा रहेको आश्रममा लक्ष्मण सीतालाईले छाडेपछि हालको चितवनमा आएका पनि हुन सक्छन् । पछि उता गएका पनि हुनसक्छ ।  

यी दुवै आश्रममा सीता र लवकुशको कुनै सम्बन्ध नहुन पनि सक्छ । वाल्मीकि ऋषि हुनु अघि डकैती गर्दै दिन बिताउँथे । नारदले वाल्मीकिलाई राम नाम जप्न सिकाउँदा वाल्मीकिलाई रामका बारेमा थाहा नभए जस्तो लाग्छ । त्यस्तै नारदले वाल्मीकि ऋषि भइसकेपछि रामायण सुनाउँदा वाल्मीकि भन्दा राम धेरै नै प्राचीन जस्ता लाग्छन् । सीतालाई वाल्मीकि आश्रममा छाडिएको प्रसङ्ग उत्तरकाण्डमा छ जसलाई वाल्मीकिले रचेको नभई पछि थपिएको मान्नेहरूको सङ्ख्या पनि धेरै छ । वाल्मीकि रामायण डट नेटले उत्तरकाण्ड आफ्नो साइटमा राखेकै छैन ।       

३. सन् २००० मा प्रकाशित कमलेश्वरको उपन्यास ‘कितने पाकिस्तान’ मा अयोध्या रामको जन्मभूमि नभएको पुष्टि गरिएको छ ।

यो त मेरी म्यागडालिन जिजस क्राइष्टकी पत्नी थिइन् भनेर ड्यान ब्राउनले डा भिन्ची कोड उपन्यासमा भनेजस्तो भयो । अमिश त्रिपाठीले उपन्यासमा लेखेकाले रावण, हनुमान, गणेश म्युटेन्ट हुन् भन्ने पुष्टि भइसक्यो भन्न पनि नमिल्ला ! हुन त प्राचीन ग्रन्थको आधारमा रामको इतिहास केलाउन खोजिँदै छ र केही ऐतिहासिकता भेटिएको पनि छ तर ग्रन्थ र उपन्यासका “तथ्य” र “कल्पना” छुट्याउन पनि त कम गाह्रो छैन ।

४. भारतमा नक्कली लुम्बिनी बनाए जस्तै बाबरी मस्जिदमाथि हिन्दूहरूले हमला गरून् भनेर त्यो ठाउँलाई अयोध्या भनिएको हुनसक्छ ।

बुद्धकालिन सम्पदाहरू नेपाल र भारत मात्रै होइन अफगानिस्तानसम्म पनि भेटिएका छन् । नेपालको लुम्बिनीमा भेटिएको अशोक स्तम्भले त्यहीँ बुद्ध जन्मेका हुन् भन्ने सिद्ध गरिसकेको छ । लुम्बिनी विश्व सम्पदा सूचिमा रहेको पनि बीसौं वर्ष भइसक्यो । भारतले नक्कली लुम्बिनी बनाउन कसरी सक्ला ?

हाल अयोध्या भनिएको ठाउँ धेरै लामो इतिहासबाट गुज्रिएको छ । मुस्लिमहरूले यो क्षेत्रमा आक्रमण मात्र गरेनन्, शासन पनि गरे र कति ठाउँ तहसनहस पनि पारे । तेह्रौं शताब्दीमा सिमरौनगढ पतन भयो । त्यसै ताका कान्तिपुर र भादगाउँमा पनि लुट मच्चाए । बाबरी मस्जिद भएको ठाउँमा राम मन्दिर थियो भनेर हिन्दूहरूले मस्जिद गिराउनु उचित भने थिएन । तेह्रौँ शताब्दीका मुसलमान र बीसौँ शताब्दीका हिन्दू उस्तै हुन् ? होइनन् भने बाबरी मस्जिद ऐतिहासिक धरोहर थियो । साम्प्रदायिक दङ्गा नहुने गरी व्यवस्थापन गर्न सकिन्थ्यो । जति राम मन्दिर त्यति राम्रो भन्ने कुरा पनि सुनियो । त्यसो हो भने जति बुद्धका धाम त्यति राम्रो किन नभन्ने ?

५. नेपालको चितवन जिल्लामा रहेको माडी प्राचीन समयदेखि नै अयोध्यापुरीका नामले पनि जानिन्थ्यो । त्यसैले वास्तविक रामजन्म भूमि अयोध्या हुनुपर्छ । केही समय पहिलेसम्म त्यहाँस्थित एउटा गाविसको नाउँ अयोध्यापुरी रहेको थियो । अहिले टाँडी नगरपालिका भएपछि वडा ७ र ८ मा परेको छ । सो ठाउँबाट जनकपुर करिब १ सय ८० किमी पूर्वमा पर्छ भने वाल्मीकि आश्रम झण्डै ७० किमी पश्चिममा पर्छ । त्यहाँबाट रथमा चढेर एकै दिनमा वाल्मीकि आश्रम पुगेर फर्कन सकिन्छ ।

माडी (चितवन) कि ठोरी (पर्सा) ? प्रधानमन्त्री भन्नुहुन्छ ठोरी । पौडेल भन्नुहुन्छ, “प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यूले मेरो लेख पढेर राम जन्मभूमि नेपालमा पर्छ भन्नुभयो ।” फेरि पौडेलको लेखमा माडी छ । अध्ययन नै नभएको कुरामा दाबी कसरी हुन्छ ? प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यू, कुनै कुरा दाबी गर्दा फ्याक्ट चेक गरौँ न है अनि यो लेख/किताबको आधारमा भनेको पनि भन्दिउँ न है । अस्ति मात्रै भारतीय मिडियालाई फ्याक्ट देखाएनन् भनेर गाली गरियो । हेर्नुस् त, भोलिपल्टै माफी माग्नुपर्यो । लाज भयो ।  

६. “उता वाल्मीकि आश्रम अहिले पनि नेपालमै पर्छ । यो सबैले मानिआएको विषय हो । चितवन राष्ट्रिय निकुञ्ज तथा पर्सा वन्यजन्तु आरक्षको दक्षिणी सिमानामा अवस्थित यस आश्रममा नेपालकै भूमि भएर पुग्न सहज छैन । अहिले पनि त्रिवेणीबाट नारायणी पार गरेर इन्डियाको टंकी बजार पुगी इन्डियाकै वाल्मीकि बाघ संरक्षण क्षेत्र हुँदै सुननदी र पतनदी तरेर पुग्नुपर्ने अवस्था छ । यसमा नेपाल सरकारको खासै ध्यान पुगेको छैन ।“

भारतमा पनि वाल्मीकि आश्रम रहेछ भन्ने त माथि लेखिसकियो । नेपालमा रहेको आश्रम सुगम हुनुपर्छ र संरक्षण गर्नैपर्छ ।

७. “रामायणको अन्तिमतिर वाल्मीकि, सीता र लव कुशलाई लिएर पैदल यात्रा गरी रामलाई भेट्न गएको वर्णन छ । वाल्मीकिले सीताको पवित्रताका बारेमा रामलाई अवगत गराएर सीता तथा लव कुश तीनै जनालाई रामको जिम्मा लगाउने योजना थियो । उनीहरूको भेट भएको ठाउँ अहिलेको देवघाट हो । त्यो वेला रामले सीतालाई स्वीकार गर्दा जनतामा गलत सन्देश जाने सोचेकाले सहजतासँग वाल्मीकिको आग्रह शिरोपर गर्न सकेनन् । यसबाट दुःखी भएकी सीताले धरती मातालाई पुकारिन् । धरती फाटिन् र सीता धरतीमा समाहित भइन् । त्यो ठाउँको दर्शन गर्न अहिले पनि देवघाटमा तीर्थालुहरूको भिड लाग्छ ।“

उत्तरकाण्डको यो पारिवारिक भेटघाट चितवनको देवघाटमा नै भएको ऐतिहासिक प्रमाण छ र ? उत्तरकाण्ड किन सन्देहपूर्ण छ भनेर त माथि आइसक्यो । फेरि नदोहोर्याऊँ । तर रामायणलाई इतिहास मान्ने हो भने धर्ती मातालाई पुकारेको अनि धर्ती फाटेको कुरा चाहिँ पत्यारिलो लाग्दैन । 

८. “अहिलेको अयोध्यापुरीदेखि पश्चिम नारायणी नदी पार गरेपछि रामग्राम आउँछ । अयोध्यापुरीदेखि उत्तरतिर रामपुर छ । अयोध्यापुरीदेखि पूर्व सुनसरी जिल्लाको जंगलमा रामले धुनी जगाई आगो तापेको ठाउँ अद्यापि रामधुनीका नामले प्रसिद्ध छ । उता देवघाटसँग जोडिएको रामनगर पनि बिर्सनु हुँदैन । पाल्पामा पनि रामपुर छ । रामपुरसँगै काली नदीको किनारमा रामघाट छ जहाँबाट राम अन्तध्र्यान भएका थिए । रामायणमा रामले आफ्नो राज्य विस्तार गरेको प्रसङ्ग उल्लिखित छ । वरिपरिका रामनाम युक्त ठाउँहरू रामले विजय प्राप्त गरेका ठाउँहरू हुन सक्छन् ।”

राम जन्मभूमि भनिसकेपछि त्यसको वरिपरी रामको नाम भएका ठाउँ हुनु स्वाभाविक नै होला । तर यो पनि अनुमानमै सीमित छ । अरू नै कुनै राम पनि त हुन सक्छन् नि ! रामायणका रामभन्दा अघिका परशुराम पनि राम नामले नै चिनिन्थे । वाल्मिकी रामायणमा परशुरामलाई पटकपटक भार्गव राम र जामदग्न्य राम भनिएको छ दुई रामका बीचमा कन्फ्युजन नहोस् भनेर । विष्णुका दुई अवतारको नाम राम छ भने अरू कति राम होलान् ?

थप कुरा

माथि वाल्मीकि रामायणका आधारमा मात्रै विश्लेषण गरेँ । अरू रामायणबाट कुरा आए भने मेरा तर्क पनि काटिएलान्, सीमित अध्ययन भएकाले वाल्मीकि रामायणले नै पनि काट्न सक्छ । ठूलो कुरा होइन । रामायण मात्रै ३०० वटा सम्म रहेका छन् । नारद, वाल्मिकी, कालिदास, तुलसीदास, काम्बन, भानुभक्त त मैले थाहा पाएका केही रचयिता हुन् । रामायणका पात्रहरूका अनेक कथा छन् । विभिन्न क्षेत्र र भाषाका लोककथाहरूमा राम कहिले सामान्य मानिस, कहिले राजा त कहिले भगवान् बनेका छन् । पाली भाषाको ‘दशरथ जातक’मा राम र सीता दाजुबहिनी हुन्छन् । कुनैमा रावणवध रामले नभएर लक्ष्मणले गर्छन् । काम्बन रामायणमा सीता रावणकी छोरी हुन्छिन् । पहाड, सागर र पुष्पक विमान बोलेको जस्ता दन्त्यकथा रामायणमा अटाएका छन् भने विश्वामित्रको तपस्या, शिवधनु, परशुराम, जस्ता पौराणिक कथा पनि आएका छन् । यस्ता कठिनाई बावजुद रामायणको ऐतिहासिकता खोज्ने प्रयास भइरहेका छन् जुन निकै गाह्रो काम हो ।

असार १३, २०७७ मा भोगीराज चाम्लिङको ‘रामायणको लंका : श्रीलंका कि भारतमा ?’ शीर्षकको अन्वेषणमा आधारित एउटा लेख कान्तिपुरको कोसेलीमा छापिएको छ । लेखमा भाषिक अध्ययनका आधारमा लंकाको अर्थ टापू हुने, साथै भारतको मध्यप्रदेश स्थित क्षेत्रका आदिवासीका इतिहासका आधारमा उक्त क्षेत्रमा रामायणवर्णित लंका थियो भन्ने तर्कहरू सन्दर्भ सहित प्रस्तुत गरिएको छ । त्यसभन्दा अघि २०७६ असोज २५ मा नयाँ पत्रिकाले ‘लंकाकोण’ शीर्षकमा सौरभको लेख प्रकाशन गरेको छ । यसमा पनि सन्दर्भहरू दिँदै विभिन्न भाषामा लंकाको अर्थ दक्षिण र टापू भनिएको छ र रामायणको लंका मध्यप्रदेशमा पर्छ भन्ने कुरालाई पनि जोड दिइएको छ ।

वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन हुँदै जाँदा पुराना मान्यता फेरिएर नयाँ मान्यता स्थापित हुनु नौलो होइन । राम जन्मभूमिका विषयमा पनि उचित वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन भएर नयाँ कुरा आउनसक्छ तर अकस्मात नयाँ मान्यता आए भने तिनलाई आत्मसात् गर्न गाह्रो पनि हुन सक्छ । कोपर्निकस, ग्यालिलियो, डार्विनजस्ता वैज्ञानिकका प्रमाणित तथ्यलाई समेत जनमानसले सहजै ग्रहण गर्न सकेन ।

रामलाई कथाको पात्र मान्ने हो भने उनी जहाँ जन्मिएका भए पनि के फरक पर्छ र ? ऐतिहासिक पात्र हुन् भने पनि जुन बेला उनी जन्मिए, त्यो बेलाको भूगोल अहिलेको जस्तो छँदै थिएन । उनी न नेपाली थिए न भारतीय । उनलाई मान्नेले उनका कर्मका आधारमा भगवान् मानेका छन् । उनका गल्ती देखाएर उनलाई भगवान् नमान्ने पनि छन् । भगवान् मान्ने हो भने त उनी सर्वव्यापी छन् । न आदि छ न अन्त्य । न जन्म न मरण । बुद्धका हकमा पनि लगभग यस्तै कुरा लागू हुन्छन् । अनि यस्ता विषयमा झगडा किन गर्नुपर्यो ?

तर म बबुरोले मात्रै होला यस्तो सोच्ने ! राम जन्मभूमिका नाममा उठेको विवाद साम्प्रदायिक द्वन्द्वमा परिणत भयो । त्यही द्वन्द्वबाट उठेर भारतीय जनता पार्टी राजनीति गरिरहेका छन् । भारतीय सर्वोच्च अदालतले बाबरी मस्जिद भत्काएको ठाउँमा राम मन्दिर बनाउन पाउने निर्णयलाई भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री मोदीले राम्रै क्यास गरे । जुन रामको नाममा मोदी राजनीति गर्दैछन् तिनै रामको जन्मभूमिलाई फिक्का तर्कको आधारमा नेपालको भनेर दाबी नै गरिदिन्छन् ओली । कताकता डर लागिरहेको छ । भगवानका नाममा झगडा नगरौं भन्दा पनि कहिले बुद्ध त कहिले रामको विषयमा विवाद भइरहँदा रिचर्ड डकिन्सको ‘द गड डिल्युजन’मा पढेका (ठ्याक्कै यस्तै नभए पनि) शब्दहरू याद आइरहेको छ –“नरम भन्दा नरम धर्म (सम्प्रदाय) लाई मान्नेहरू पनि जुनसुकै बेला कट्टर हुन सक्छन् । त्यसैले सबै साम्प्रादाय हटाउनुपर्छ ।“

The Deserted Landscape

Down below is a river valley that widens in the southwest as it mixes with the Sunkoshi. This terrace is fertile, as evident from the cultivated farms. Less than 50 metres higher, where we stand, there is a different scenario. The soil is red, hard, and clayey. Trees, here are rare. Bushes are scanty and prickly. Cacti have reached heights of more than 3 metres.

A view from Ratmate

Are we walking on a desert?

When I say “desert”, the first image you usually come up is that of arid, sandy land with little to no vegetation, no water, mirages, and camels. You are not wrong. Your mind has what popular culture has engraved in it. The popular culture shows just one picture of desert that is actually a rare phenomenon. Only one of the things that you thought of is common in deserts: scarcity of water.

Does this area lack water?

We survey this area close to Ratmate[1] Bazaar, Sindhuli. The surface has been scoured by running water. These rills imply the relative impermeability of the soil. (We also confirmed the very low permeability by a simple infiltration test). This almost impermeable soil does not allow water to infiltrate (and so the rills form!). Thus, there is no possibility for occurrence of spring or well.

The redness suggested otherwise. We theorized, “Some time back in the past, the area could have been a lake, providing water required for oxidation of iron present in the soil.” Can we find iron here?

On examining the origin of the soil, we find allochthonous granite boulders. These boulders apparently settled here during a landslide event. When we produced “fresh” samples, we saw that the boulders themselves were stained in red. Only one of ten samples was unstained. A little further, we found quartzite, and saw similar scene. The red soil, the granite, and quartzite samples, all had high specific gravity. We could conclude: “The iron comes from both the granite and quartzite. This iron reacted with oxygen and produced haematite, a red and heavy iron oxide.

Later when I searched for the properties of red soil on Google, I found some useful information: 1) The red soil is generally acidic; 2) It is low in nitrogen; 3) It is suitable for rice plantation (because of water holding capacity) and some beans; and 4) The soil is naturally infertile.

The land we studied hosted some bushes, as I have mentioned earlier, but the lack of water, acidic nature of the soil and general infertility helped us conclude: “We were on a desert or were seeing some sort of desertification.”

What can lack of water do to villages? We observed this two days later.

That day, we climbed a peak of about 1400 m in Ramechhap and came down a trail. We had thought it would lead us down safely. But that was not to be.

A small landslide had occurred near the main trail. From there we could see a path that went downhill. As we walked, it suddenly ended into what looked like a same baari[2]. There was nothing but colluvium, but it was definitely cultivated in the past. (We had seen a cultivated baari some 10 metres above). We looked around and saw a heap of stones. This, we assumed, where the house was. After the owners left, people nearby might have demolished the house, taken doors and windows for fuel and heaped up the stones in order to take them later.

As we roamed around in despair looking for the main trail, we found four more similar scenes. This, we concluded, was a nice settlement until something forced them out. In our topographic map (some 26 years old), there are some clusters of houses. This, we concluded, was one of those clusters.

Finally, we found the trail but instead of taking us down, it took us up! Sometime later, it disappeared. On observing, the trail was still there but the grasses had made it invisible and slippery. Helping each other, we went down and finally reached the trail we had used to climb up earlier that day.

A Trail that Vanished

What drove off people from that place? The immediate thought was: landslide. But the slide looked younger than the desertion. Lack of water was another reason we discussed about. In that hill and in most of the hills in that district, there is scarcity of water. But was there another reason?

It did not come to me at that time, but the whole of Ramechhap was important place for the Maoists during the 10 years of civil war in the last decade. Many people in the district undertook the ideology and carried guns in the name of revolution. Some families were involved in entirety. Some families were driven away. Some left to safer places to avoid the war. Did the village we walked through die because of nature or politics? While I feel that the nature pressured the desertion, politics could have also played some role. The definite history, however, cannot be drawn unless we find the people who left the place.


[1] Red-soiled.

[2] a small land usually cultivated for flowers, fruits and vegetables by a single household

The day I reached the Birthplace of Gautam Buddha

I can’t believe almost one and a half month has passed since that fateful day because it is still fresh in my mind.

Mangsir 26, 2073 (December 12, 2016), was the day I was waiting for long. I had heard that during our field tour of Butwal-Palpa, we could go to their but I was not sure. Thanks to the teachers, I finally got to observe and walk on the Holy Land of Lumbini–the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.

Lumbini is in Rupandehi district, about 30 minutes drive from Bhairahawa, the headquarter of the district at the co-ordinates 27.484ºN and 83.276ºE in the Terai zone of Nepal. It has an area of (4.8 × 1.6) sq. km. and consists of several temples and monasteries.

It was a fine day at Masyam, Palpa. There sun was shining with its might. The hills were bright green. Some stripes of white clouds could be seen in the sky. We would first visit Semlar and Kalikanagar for our field work. Then we would visit Lumbini. Everyone was excited.

As we moved south towards Butwal, I noticed from the bus that the clouds were getting thicker. By the time we reached Siddhababa, the clouds covered the sun completely. I realized it was going to be cold.

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Fog being formed on the north of the Tinau River. Gives an idea on the cause of Sitlahar.

When people living in the hills think of Terai, they only think of the hot climate. However, Terai is a difficult place to live in. Just before Spring, (we call “Shishir” in Nepali), strong winds uproot trees, blow away roofs. In summer it is scorching hot. Hot air “loo” blows from Rajasthan, India and in winter it is bitterly cold due to “Sitlahar”. This “Sitlahar” occurs because the relatively warm air rising up from the rivers and lakes cool down when they reach the Siwalik hills. As a result, thick fog covers the Terai. Sun remains absent for weeks. The cold gets its hold slowly, killing people who are deprived of proper shelters, clothes and food.

Our field work was completed by half past eleven. It would take a little longer than an hour to reach Lumbini. We sang different melodies. Some of my friends danced on the bus. Everything was going on well until our vehicle was dragged into a case of accident by a local Bolero. The Bolero driver claimed that our bus had hit his vehicle on its front. Our driver denied and said that our bus had been hit on the back. The traffic police got involved, looked into the case but could not say if the vehicles had hit each other. In the end both were charged a fine of a thousand rupees. What a chaos on the way to the land where the preacher of peace was born! This incident not only tensed us but also got us late by an hour.

At 2 o’clock, we reached Lumbini Bus Park. At four, we had to return to the bus. As I said earlier, Lumbini was enveloped by cold dark clouds. Everything looked gloomy, except our hearts. Several structures were being constructed in the area under Lumbini Development Master Plan. We walked joyfully down the bus park through a bazaar. About two hundred metres down, I saw something I had never ever imagined: a canal.

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The structure on the far end gives the feel of a terminal. Also notice the foggy weather.

The first time I saw the canal at Lumbini, I was awestruck. Even those of my friends who had come here before had not seen it. We could see arc-bridges in across the canal from where we stood. As we went a little further, we saw motorboats. This astonished us again. Some took motorboats for the experience. I say for experience because they were not that fast and the canal is almost half a kilometer long. The motorboats were noisy, moved along the mid-canal as if zipping and unzipping a zipper and created huge ripples which hit the banks of the canal. At the end of the canal is a huge bell and a continuous blazing fire, which everyone said was artificial.

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A canal and motorboats at Lumbini

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Ripples produced in the canal by a motorboat

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An arc bridge across the canal

We had time enough to observe one structure only. So we headed to the Maya Devi Temple. On the way we were greeted by the little golden Siddhartha Gautam pointing his right index finger to the sky. About a hundred metres ahead was the entrance to one of the holiest temples of the world.

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The little golden Siddhartha Gautam

It was (and still is) a tradition to send a pregnant woman to her parents as she is about to give birth to a child. Maya Devi, the Queen of Kapilvastu was pregnant. Suddhodhan, the king sent her along with servants to Devdaha from their palace at Tilaurakot . However, before she could reach her parents at Devdaha, she gave birth to a baby boy while she was standing grabbing a branch of a tree precisely at the location of Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini. The boy is believed to have walked seven steps just after his birth. However I believe the boy tumbled down and survived. Both the mother and the son were then bathed in the pond by the name of Puskarini nearby.

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Maya Devi Temple from the bank of the Puskarini Pond. On the left of the Temple is Asoka Pillar

Maya Devi Temple was built circa third century B.C. It was renovated and restructured several times until seventh century A.D. After that the land was forgotten for centuries. The archaeological remains are preserved under the current modern structure. As we walked around the temple to see the stone which is said to have preserved the footmark  of Siddhartha Gautam (Myths say Siddhartha Gautam walked seven steps. I just saw a single footmark!), I saw old, ripped up structure of the ancient temple made up of pale ancient bricks. Above my head however, I saw beams and pillars supporting the modern structure. It is forbidden to take photos inside the temple. Else I could show what I am talking about.

We then observed the Asoka Pillar erected by Asoka, the Emperor of Magadh in the third century B.C. The Pillar bears a strange language which, unfortunately I forgot to take photo of (I thought taking its photo was also forbidden). Several other photos were taken around the Maya Devi Temple and Puskarini Pond.

We returned to the bus park, bought some cakes (They were yummy!), and took our seats. Tired and delighted, we returned back to our camp at Masyam. I wish I can be there again. I still have so much to observe.

 

 

खोइ नागरिक समाज ?

हिजो अचानक यो प्रश्न मनमा उठ्यो । देशमा राजनीतिका नाममा ठगी भइरहँदा, कुटनीतिका नाममा लुटनीति चलिरहँदा अनि राज्य पुनर्संरचना (शब्दै कति गार्‍हो रै’छ टाइप गर्न !)का आवाज उठिरहँदा नागरिक समाज कता हरायो?  दश वर्षअघि राजाको प्रत्यक्ष शासनको विरोध हुँदा “नागरिक समाज” एकदम प्रचलित थियो । नागरिक समाज नभएको भए  २०६२/६३को आन्दोलन नै हुने थिएन ।

तत्कालिन अवस्थामा नागरिक समाजका कसरी बनेको थियो ? के उद्देश्य थिए ? इतिहास नबुझी हुन्न भन्ने ठानेर गुगल सर्च गरेको थिएँ । हिजो नै सेतोपाटिमा चुडामणि बस्नेतको एउटा लेख प्रकाशित भएको रै’छ । उक्त लेखलाई आधार मान्दा त्यो समयको नागरिक समाज तल दिइएका वर्गको समूह पो रै’छ-

  • समाजका केही अगुवाहरू,
  • काठमाडौंमा केही बुद्धिजीवी भनेर कहलिएकाहरू, र
  • सञ्चार क्षेत्र
  • केही गैरसरकारी संस्थाका अगुवाहरू

नागरिक समाजको उद्देश्य थिए- १) माओवादी द्वन्द्वको वार्ताद्वारा समाधान; २) लोकतन्त्र र गणतन्त्रको प्राप्ति; ३) समावेशीकरण; ४) राज्य पुनर्संरचना ।

पछिल्ला दुई उद्देश्य माओवादीलाई मुल धारको राजनीतिमा ल्याउने कडीका रूपमा मैले बुझेको छु । ०६२/६३को आन्दोलनमा ती सवाल कसरी उठेका थिए भन्ने चाहिँ मलाई याद छैन । (म बाह्र वर्षको मात्रै थिएँ नि त !) अघिल्ला दुई उद्देश्यमा जनताको प्रत्यक्ष चासो थियो र राजनीतिक दलको स्वार्थ पनि त्यहीँ गाँसिएको थियो ।

त्यस ताका राजाले शासन आफ्नो हातमा लिँदा दलहरूमाथि जनताको विश्वास नै थिएन । उनीहरूले गर्ने विरोधका कार्यक्रममा जनता जाँदैनथे (रक्तकुण्ड, कृष्ण अविरल) । उनीहरू एउटा माध्यम चाहन्थे जनतासम्म पुग्न । नागरिक समाज त्यस्तो एउटा पुल थियो । त्यही भएर नै नागरिक समाजविना आन्दोलन सम्भव थिएन ।

जनता आन्दोलनमा होमिए । राजाले शासन छोडे । विघटित प्रतिनिधि सभा पुनर्स्थापना भयो । लोकतन्त्र आयो । राजाको शक्ति सीमित भयो । संविधान सभाको निर्वाचन भयो । गणतन्त्र घोषणा भयो । जनताले आन्दोलनमा भनेका थिए- “खबरदार नेतगण धोका देलाउ ।” नागरिक समाजलाई भनेका थिए- “यी नेतालाई मुर्ख्याइँ गर्न नदिनू ।” 

तर लोकतन्त्र र गणतन्त्र आउँदासम्म नागरिक समाज हराउन थालिसकेको थियो ।

सेतोपाटिको लेखअनुसार जतिजति समावेशीकरणको अवाज उठ्यो, नागरिक समाज फुट्दै गयो । जबजब राज्य पुनर्संरचनाको कुरा उठ्यो, नागरिक समाज विभक्त हुँदै गयो । मधेस आन्दोलनले यसमा झन् मद्दत गर्‍यो । क्षणिक उद्देश्यका कारण नागरिक समाज टुक्रिएको हो भन्ने म मान्दछु ।

तत्कालिन नागरिक समाजले देशको मुख्य शत्रुलाई निर्मुल पार्न कुनै कदम नै नचालेको जस्तो म देख्छु । नेपालका मुख्य शत्रु हुन्- अस्थिरता र भ्रष्टाचार । यिनै दुई कारणले गर्दा राजनीतिक दलसँग आजित भएका जनताले राजाको प्रत्यक्ष शासनलाई समर्थन गरेका थिए । यिनै दुई कारणले गर्दा राजाको शासन डगमगाएको थियो । यिनै दुई कारणले भुकम्प पीडित जनताले उचित राहत पाएका  छैनन् । यिनै दुई कारणले नेपाल विदेशी चलखेलको केन्द्र बनेको छ । यिनै दुई कारणले जनता गणतन्त्र देखि नै आजित हुन थालिसके । समस्याको चुरो बुझेर पनि बुझ पचाउने राजनीतिकर्मी र बुद्धिजीवी भनाउदाले गर्दा नै हाम्रा समस्या समाधान नभएका हुन् ।

अफसोस, नेपालका बुद्धिजीवीहरू र सञ्चार क्षेत्र   जातीय, क्षेत्रीय, वर्गीय  रङ्गमा रङ्गिएका छन् । यस्तोमा हाम्रा समस्याहरू झन् बढ्दै छन् । कहिलेसम्म ? प्रश्न अनुत्तरित छ ।

A Story that took eight months to complete

I began writing Leave Me Alone through a concept while I was writing Quest during last year’s NaNoWriMo. I had written about a book Arun (the main character of Quest) reads during his vacation. Sometime later, I thought, ‘Why shouldn’t I write one such story myself?’

On 31st December, 2015, I began writing the story. I had set a goal to write about 4,000 words that resembled the story of the book Arun reads. I decided to use the first-person narration from the girl’s point of view. The first statement in that version was- “I was cold. So cold that it felt like my heart was frozen.”

When I read the first draft later, I was sure the story would not be completed in 4,000 words. Nor would one person’s view was enough. I decided to add one more character- the girl’s boyfriend. I made them enter the girl’s house together, where the boy would be attacked. Until then I had not given them names.

As I added more characters- a lawyer, a maid and a doctor- who, obviously had no names, I had to name the girl and the boy. That would make the narrations of latter characters easier. I gave them names- Ajay and Sasha. That was on May-April, I guess.
A month after I finished my notebook (not a computer) draft, I started typing. By this time, Ajay’s narration had preceded Sasha’s and each character was speaking in the first person PoV. When I reread that draft, I was distressed. They just looked like collection of judicial statements with only two characters having a little interaction.

Then I jumped to the PoV I am more comfortable on- the third person. And I decided to limit it, focusing one character during one chapter. ‘That will add suspense,’ I thought.

So the first time I typed it into the computer, Sasha’s PoV came up in the first chapter again. Sasha and Ajay would go to the girl’s home and Ajay would be attacked.

The same thing would be narrated by Ajay in different place. But there are differences and they are intentional. The foremost chapter has now become the third. The fourth, fifth and the sixth chapters have the stories of a maid, a lawyer, and Sasha’s dream on a back story linked with attack on Ajay. When the story ended, someone else than I had previously thought became the antagonist. I have not pointed them. 

I want you to unravel the mystery.*

*Note:The story is going to be published every Friday beginning on September 2, 2016. Be prepared!

Jhola-An Epic Movie

Introduction

Sati, the first wife of Lord Shiva had jumped into the sacrificial fire in protest of the abuse her parents had done to her husband. Commemorating it, an inhumane tradition continued for thousands of years in which a woman burnt herself alive on the pyre of her dead husband. Women who were saved from the practice were rare. Only Mandev’s mother has been mentioned in the ancient history saved from the tradition. And then there was Rajendra Laxmi, the daughter-in-law of Prithvi Narayan Shah. Thirty one Satis burnt themselves at the death of king of Patan Yog Narendra Malla. During the reign of Laxmi Narsingh Malla, Kaji Bhim Malla was persecuted for a crime he did not commit. His wife, while sacrificing herself on the pyre of her husband, cursed: May the rulers of this country lose their rationality!

image

Jhola (English: Bag) is a movie based on the story of the same name by Krishna Dharavasi (Dharavasi literally translates to- one who lives in the Earth) was the most anticipated movie of 2014. Speaking on the evil practice of Sati, the story of Dharavasi had gained immense popularity- credit to the radio programme Shruti Sambeg and genuine lovers of Nepali literature. What was the custom? What were the pains? Yadav Kumar Bhattarai has shown well as the director of the movie.

As soon as the production declared the making of the movie, everyone was eager to know the development. The movie’s shooting was given utmost importance by the national level magazines and TV shows. The actress, Garima Panta rose to fame. The post-production was keenly watched over. Content, everyone knew. How would it be presented? Major curiosity lied on the presentation of nudity. Complete nudity was mentioned in the story. How it be shown in a movie that had audience of conservative mindset? This curiosity had also made up a newspaper article.

The Movie

The movie opens with a song by Sumnima Singh of Night- the same band I had featured in January. Krishna Dharavasi and his family make a special appearance in the present (2058 B.S.). He discovers a paper (letter) inside a bag left by an elderly man earlier that day and reads it.

The story opens in the year 1971 B.S. at an Eastern Hilly Village of Nepal. The writer of the letter is about 9 or 10 years old while his father is more than seventy years old. Shockingly, his mother is just twenty-seven. As his father lies on deathbed, his mother undergoes many troubles to take care of her son and household.

One day, the old man dies. The boy is then under the care of his uncle and aunt (both older than his mother). His mother is declared a Sati and she is made to perform several rituals before she offers herself to the burning pyre. However, she escapes without the notice of the processors. The boy finds her and takes her away to Manipur, India.

Social Evils and their Eradication

The movie presents some other social evils along with the tradition of Sati. Unequal marriage, treatment by witch-doctors and slavery are the evils of the era movie is based on.

Sati Pratha and Slavery were abolished by the Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher in the years 1977 and 1981 B.S. respectively. But as the movie says- Evils in our society still linger. Widows were burnt once then. Now, they are burnt several times by the society. Unequal marriage, child marriage still prevail. Dowry system is growing up as another evil. Everyone should be united to fight against these evils.

Personal View
The movie has been well presented. Such a presentation is rarely seen in low-budgeted movies of Nepal. Village life in the hills of Nepal has been well depicted. The story is supported by the acting. The illness of the old man seems real. The rituals after his death are well-shown (although there could have been finer details of the procession). The background music is catchy and melodious. The cinematography and the lighting is good, although there is need of improvement at some points. The only thing I felt bad about was the transition between the scenes and the scenes that occur rapidly after the death of the boy’s father.
Overall, the movie is the best literary adaptation in Nepal.

Movie facts:
Director: Yadav Kumar Bhattarai
Story: Krishna Dharavasi
Screenplay: Krishna Dharavasi / Deepak Alok
Music/ Lyrics: Jason Kunwar
Singer: Sumnima Singh
Actors:
Garima Panta
Deepak Chhetri
Deshbhakta Khanal
Laxmi Giri
Sujal Nepal (Lead Child Actor)
Producers:

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10

References
1. Jhola at Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
2. variety.com/2014/film/asia/nepal-picks-jhola-for-foreign-language-oscar-race-1201290740/

You can watch the movie at: https://youtube.com/watch?v=tvSSDYsOHxw

200 Years Of Friendship!

It began with a war.

A conflict of more than fifty years ensured that the war was inevitable.

One of them had dominated more than half of the world. Their Empire was the one on which the sun never set. They wanted to annex all states within the Indian sub-continent. There was one nation left to defeat.

That Nation had just arisen from bits and pieces in the Himalayas. Some Kings and Lords of the petty states had not been satisfied with the unification. They wanted their shares. They sought help of the Empire to get back their states.

That was a golden opportunity for the Empire. They had discovered weak spots of the Himalayan Nation. They sought out ways to defeat them.

It was not easy, however. The new Mukhtiyar (equivalent to modern day Prime Minister) was a patriot. He would not let the Empire seize his nation. He brought about changes in the military. It enraged the Empire.

The Empire had to make a move soon. They gathered their own army and sent a letter to the Himalayan Nation with some terms. They had to respond it in time, else they had to fight with them.

The Monarch of the Himalayan Nation decided not to respond to that letter. The war began. From east, south and west, the army of the Empire marched. They had dreamed of victory over the majestic Himalayas.

The army of the Himalayan Nation, blessed by the ever tall and proud Himalayas fought bravely with the Empire’s army. Of the five major wars, the Empire won three. The two defeats were heavy. Even the ones they won were not as convincing to them. The soldiers of the Himalayan Nation had fought with all their potential.

Sugauli Treaty (Source: Wikipedia
Sugauli Treaty (Source: Wikipedia)

The Empire had to change their strategy of dominating the Himalayan Nation. They did an agreement – the Sugauli Treaty in the year 1816. The Himalayan Nation lost almost half of their territory but they stood up as the biggest independent nation in the Indian sub-continent.

The treaty brought about a diplomatic between the Empire and the Himalayan Nation. It was based on the dominance of the Empire, with the then Rana Prime Ministers improving the status of the relation. The friendship agreement of 1923 declared the Himalayan Nation as an independent nation.

The Empire was helped by the Himalayan Nation during the World War II. They had sent their best soldiers into the war. These soldiers were feared wherever they fought. They were the mighty Gurkhas.

The Empire fell. Revolutions around the world after the Great War brought about its downfall. The Empire lost a huge territory. Ranas of the Himalayan Nation fell. The friendship remained. It continues to exist, almost 200 years now. Long live the friendship!

Notes:

  • Inspired by presentation of Hamlet in Nepali on the occasion of the 200 years of co-operation between Nepal and Britain.
  • In the year 1768 (1825 B.S.), Prithvi Narayan Shah had declared the annexation of Kantipur into Gorkha. That was the formal beginning of Mordern Nepal.
  • The then East Company of the British Empire had waged a war against Nepal. During the treaty of 1816, Rana Bahadur Shah was the King and Bhimsen Thapa was the Prime Minister of Nepal.  
  • During 1923, Chandra Shamsher was the Prime Minister of Nepal. Since then, Gurkhas have been a part of the British Army.
  • The relation between Nepal and Britain has been well described by Mr Andy Sparkes in this speech: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/two-hundred-years-of-nepal-britain-relations-a-way-forward