Saturday, July 4, 2015

Why Nepalese are considered as bravest in the world ?

" If a man says he isn't afraid of dying, he is lying or he is a Gurkha "This is the spirit of Nepalese people.

The Tale of Nepalese Bravery

The British declared war against Nepal on November 1, 1814, after full preparations for the invasion years back. The British had deployed four divisions of their army numbering over 150,000 and invaded Nepal on four fronts. The Commander in Chief was Lord Hastings, and each division was led by a major general.

On October 30/31, 1814, General Rollo Gillispie-led British companies of 4,000 troops moved close to seize the Fort of Kalunga, Dehradoon where Bal Bhadra was holding with a force of a mere 600, including women and children. At 10 a.m., the British army launched an assault on the Fort of Kalunga. With the battle cry “Ayo Gorkhali, Ayo Gorkhali”, the Gorkha troops were out of the fort, followed by a band playing the tune “Ae Nepali, Sheer Uchali” (“Ae Nepali keep your head high”). Leading them was Bal Bhadra on a horse, swinging his sword and holding the flag with the image of Hanuman.

Bravest of the brave

The Gorkha attack with their glistening Khukuris killed many enemies. The rest fled, leaving their wounded and dead behind. On October 31, at 11:15 a.m., General Gillespie himself charged but only to be killed instantly. This brave general lost his life fighting with a braver enemy. In the battle of Nalapani, Bal Bhadra and his soldiers earned the cognomen of the “bravest of the brave”. “It is here the British also got to know the Gorkha as an admirable soldier, individual and human being. Bal Bhadra allowed them to collect their dead and wounded without mutilating them”. (A Re-discovered History of Gorkhas by Chandra B Khanduri.)

“The defeats and reverses inflicted on the British asphyxiated and virtually benumbed them at Kalunga, Jaithak, Jitgarh and Pearsa - Samanpur. So terrifying assumed the name of the Gorkhas that they dreaded them as frightfully as Napoleon’s in England. Lord Moira and Generals Ochterlony, Bennet Marley, Geroge Wood and Sullivan Wood, and Martindell (who moved as relief of the most brave and dynamic Rollo Gillespie killed at Kalunga) did not know how to handle ‘those little barbarians’, the Gorkhas. They outsmarted them in every aspect of the intrepidity and tactics. It went on interminably when raw bravery and valour on the battlefield had to be won by the British through deceit and cunning.”

Bengal Artillery records, “History tells of army running away from the generals, but there is no record of a general running away from his army as General Marley did.” Gen. Marley had left his camp of Binjara Pokhra before daylight on February 10, 1815. This deserter Gen. Marley was not only allowed to remain in the army but was promoted to serve as Commandant of the Allahabad garrison. He died as a full general at Barrackpore on June 14, 1842 – a full 27 years later.

In similar circumstances, Marley’s “one time Gorkha opponent Bhagat Singh, according to British sources with similar acts of indolence, was paraded in petticoat in the Durbar”. Britain, determined to overrun entire South Asia in a short period, never imagined that it would have to encounter soon a different kind of enemy who “stood his ground and whose soldiers would chase the British for miles with Khukuris in their hands”.

“To the Gorkhas, women were both wives and mothers as also fighters. Some of them moved about dressed as men. Besides nursing the wounded and the dying, they built walls and collected stones to be thrown as missiles. Perhaps, the first example of women joining the men in fighting a modern enemy was found in this war”. The western modern army, who employed female folks as stretcher bearers or musicians, must have viewed these brave women with awe.” Speaking of the women’s role at the battle of Kalunga, Kennedy, Vansitart and Fraser wrote of the Gorkha women’s valour: “During the assaults on the fort, women were seen hurling stones and undauntly exposing themselves.”

Mac Muun, a lieutenant in the British Army, in his book “Vignettes from the British War”, compares Kalunga with Chittor when he writes, “After evacuation of the fort by Bal Bhadra, it was like the scene of desolation of  Chittor in 1533 when 32,000 Rajputs, including 13,000 in their flower of youths and beauty, lay dead through Jauhar and fight.” The difference lay only in one thing, whereas the Rajputs sacrificed themselves more due to fear of indignity the Muslims would afflict to them, the Gorkhas in Kalunga had inflicted defeat on their mighty foe and come out dignified. They transcended Rajput bravery.

Pender Moon writes: “The overall setback of the British and their defeats at Kalunga and Jaithak, the timidity of General Wood and desertion of General Marley had shaken the British self-confidence and gave rise to their enemies’ wide hopes of strengthening their arms to drive them out. The Marathas, Scindias, Holkars and Peshwas, Amir Khan, the Nizam and Ranjit Singh were unanimous in their design - though not united to do so. The Gorkha bravery and resistance sent waves of jubilation all over India and, indeed, sensation”.

But these great warrior nations didn’t join the Nepalese in the war against Britain. The British had cunningly managed to hook them in their alliance. A historian writes, “Had the Sikhs (of Ranjit Singh), Marathas and even Oudh supported the Gorkhas - forgetting Nepalese arrogance as an inaccessible trivia - history of colonialism in Asia would have had a full stop”. 

Prior to and throughout the war, Amar Singh Thapa, in the words of Hamilton, was like a second Hannibal of Asia who tried to forge Asian solidarity against British imperialism. All Asian nations were appealed to join the war but Nepal had to go alone against its mighty foe that ruled half of the world.

However, the Anglo-Nepal war ended with the signing of the Sugauli Treaty, which established Britain as the partial victor. On April 16, 1815 at 3:15 a.m., 74-year-old Bhakti Thapa lost his life in the Battle of Deontal and created the next legend of the bravest of the braves. Hasti Dal, “a jewel of a Gorkha commander”, fell victim to British deceit on April 23, 1815. This was one among the many deceitful means the British had opted to defeat Nepal.

Kathmandu’s inept politicians
The irony of the war was that the Durbar, by the end of 1815, had made nonentities the deciders of Nepal’s fate. Even Kaji Amar Singh Thapa was marginalised. “For the British it was a triumph of a bluff and bluster”. When Prime Minister Bhim Sen Thapa agreed for a truce to prepare for another war, “the great sacrifices of the Gorkhas had been squandered by the inept politicians at Kathmandu and their field commanders on the Nepalese border”. The Anglo-Nepal war thus ended with the signing of the Sugauli Treaty on December 11, 1816.

Nepal had to cede nearly half of its territory. Nevertheless, 20 years after the Sugauli Treaty, the British still feared of the possibility of Nepalese revenge for tricking them into the Treaty of Sugauli. In 1833 Brain Hodgson wrote, “Nepal is biding time to avenge its defeat in the last war”.

This phobia of Gorkha retaliation haunted the British for centuries and has never faded. “The fear of causing debilitating damages to the British military’s reputation of the so-called invincibility or the rock foundation of power” as Sir Charles Metcalfe called it, “haunted them for almost a century”.

Former Chief of staff of the Indian Army, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw - See more at:
Former Chief of staff of the Indian Army, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw - See more at:
Former Chief of staff of the Indian Army, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw - See more at:

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