Introduction to the Legal System of Kirat

The Legal System of Kirat Dynasty was guided by the Four Tribunals, Mundhum and Practical Rules, Decrees and Regulations which evolved in accordance with the Kirat Culture.

The legal system of the Kirat Dynasty suffered from a lack of sufficient evidence, resulting in limited knowledge about its workings.

Nonetheless, there were guides and rules in place to facilitate dispute resolution and provide remedies, as seen in the existence of ancient courts such as Kuther, Sulli, Ligwal, and Mapchowk, which derived their names from the Kiranti language.

Moving forward, the Kirant legal system was primarily based on Kirant Mundhum or Kirant Mundhum Khatun, regarded as the Vedas of the Kirant.

Mundhum was transmitted orally across generations, similar to the Vedas, and individuals were expected to align their actions and behavior with its teachings.

These actions and behaviors were guided by customary law, and developed in accordance with the Mundhum.


Regarding the issue of incest, a story in the Mundhum illustrates the tale of Surunge Lalange and Laha Chhegna, who were siblings and the offspring of the first-born individuals of Earth.

As there were no other potential partners available, they engaged in sexual relations. When God discovered their actions, He cursed them, threatening to turn them into ashes.

However, Lalange convinced God that incest was inherent to all humanity, as everyone descended from the same ancestor.

As a result, rules were established to prohibit incest for seven generations, with those engaging in incest being hunted down and killed by God. Paternal and maternal relations were required to remain pure to uphold these rules.

Birth and Death

In matters of birth and death, certain rituals and timelines were observed. When a son was born, his naming ceremony (Nwaran) had to be completed on the fourth day, while for a daughter, it had to be done on the third day.

Once these rituals were performed, both women and children were considered pure. Regarding menstruation, a woman would achieve purity after bathing and washing her clothes.

When a man passed away, a mourning period of four days was observed, whereas, for a woman, it lasted for three days. In the case of a child’s death, their final rites had to be conducted on the same day.

The household where the death occurred refrained from participating in celebrations and festivals for an entire year.

Disputes and Justice

Dharma, or righteousness, is crucial for justice, as those who disrupt the law are despised by God and face an untimely death. To ensure justice, a wise leader, known as Mukhiya, must be selected by the villagers to administer justice impartially.

In the event of intra-family conflicts, brothers should seek resolution through Tumyang or Subba, engaging in meetings and discussions.

This form of problem-solving is considered the most effective way to settle disputes and attain true justice within the family. In the broader state context, the king holds the authority to deliver justice.

The king listens to cases in the presence of ministers who are expected to act in the best interests of society. The king’s decision aligns with the ministers’ verdict. Should the ministers’ decisions prove false, God will punish them.

Crime and Punishment

Certain conducts and actions, such as thieving, looting, fighting, deceiving, pride, greed, provocative behavior, and causing chaos, are strictly prohibited and condemned by God.

Manipulation, lying, killing, unjust treatment of orphans, widows, and the poor, as well as incest, are actions that are detested by God. Individuals engaged in such actions are not favored by God, as their behavior undermines the societal fabric and fosters mistrust.

Speaking evil and acting immorally should be prohibited, with corresponding punishment. Similar to Bentham’s doctrine of fear, legal historians believe fear served as a sanction without clear punishments being defined.

As for punishment, killing is punishable by death, theft by submerging the thief’s hands in boiling water, followed by an oath against theft at a temple or any sacred place.

Severe cases of theft and looting warrant organ mutilation, and if the perpetrator is unable to return what was stolen, additional charges are imposed. Betrayal of the nation or treason leads to exile.

Paternal incest (Hadfora) is punished with lifelong slavery, while maternal incest (Dudhfora) results in exile from home and confinement in a cave.

In cases where evidence is lacking, the accused must take an oath while touching and consuming mud from the earth.

The king personally handles five heinous crimes: theft or looting, incest, treason, homicide, and abetment of these crimes. Local authorities decide upon other offenses.


Marriage can be conducted through two different methods: the traditional Limbu method or by taking the girl away for marriage and conducting the ceremony according to Limbu traditions.

Divorce is permitted for the well-being of marriage and marital relations, symbolized by breaking the Sinko-Pangro stick.

If a married woman is abducted, the aggrieved man or Sadhu has the right to kill the abductor (Jar).

The king redistributes the property of the abductor to the Sadhu for remarriage.

Dash Limbu Thithis

They settled in the Eastern Hills of Nepal, establishing the region known as Limbuwan. Ten Sardars or Colonels were appointed to safeguard the land and its inhabitants.

They devised their own regulations to enforce the law, known as the “10 Limbu Thiti’s.” Some of these rules included:

  1. All political decisions must be made through meetings of the Ten Sardars or Ten Limbus.
  2. A state requires a population for protection and in times of war, therefore, all individuals, regardless of their race, class, or caste, should be welcomed.
  3. If someone marries a different dynasty, caste, or race, they should be forgiven after touching “Dubo-Dhungo” or Bermuda Grass and a Stone and accepted back into the community.
  4. Children born from marriages between different tribes, castes, or races should also be accepted.
  5. Every son should receive training in archery from the age of 12.
  6. Every son should become a soldier by the age of 18.
  7. There should be one Sardar or Colonel for every 300 soldiers.
  8. For every five Sardars or Colonels, there should be a Colonel Major or Tumba to lead them in defense of the state.
  9. The recruitment of the Thak Thumba or Colonel Major should be done by the King or the Colonel Major himself.
  10. The Colonel Major should retain a reasonable amount of land for themselves and distribute the rest among their subordinate Colonels (this gave rise to the Kipat Land System).
  11. The state should be governed by the Bhardar Sabha or Court House, which includes the King, Ministers, Colonel Majors, and other Courtiers or Bhardars as required. They are responsible for making policies and determining punishments.


After settling in the Eastern Hills of Nepal, the Kirant people still faced threats, including attacks from the Lichhavis, Mallas, and Sens. They sought protection under the Sen Dynasty and entered into treaties with the Sen rulers of Makwanpur.

These treaties included adhering to purity rituals after inter-caste, inter-class, or inter-race marriages. Local kings had authority over the Kirant Mandal and administered justice based on ancient practices.

However, in cases of serious offenses (Pancha Aparadh), the kings themselves took charge. This continued until the conquest of the Makwanpur Kingdom and Eastern Nepal by King P.N. Shah and the introduction of the Muluki Ain in 1910 B.S.

Over time, these unique practices gradually declined and were replaced. Today, these customs have vanished, and the punishments and universal laws for certain unacceptable crimes have become part of history, just like the Kirant Dynasty.