Origin of Malla Kings as Wrestlers

Origin of Malla Kings

The Malla dynasty had a lengthy history in the Indian Subcontinent. The word “wrestler” (or malla) refers to both a surname and a dynasty that the Kings bestowed upon themselves. The Name Malla, therefore, is used to evoke the identity of a Brave Warrior.

The Mallas are said to have existed as kings in Ancient India. Their rule extended to the city of Kushinagar, where Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, died.

The Lichhavi, Kuru, Malla, and other Kings are mentioned as reigning dynasties in the area in the ancient Indian literature Arthashastra. However, many of these Kings, like the Mallas, began to migrate to the Nepalese plains once the Mauryan Empire rose to power in India.

Indian Origin of Malla Kings

Historian H.C. Roy claims that the Mallas who first arrived in the Terai plains were originated from ancient India. They ultimately made their way to the Kathmandu Valley by migrating via the Bagmati River. They were recognized as the dominant dynasty in Nepal throughout time.

Mallapuri Origin of Malla Kings

Other historians believe that the Mallas migrated to the hills of Nepal in the west and established a feudal territory called Mallapuri. During the Lichhavi era, Mallapuri revolted against King Manadev.

However, despite these historical events, the Mallas are not mentioned in the Lichhavi dynasty. It was only during the 1100 A.D. period that the Khas Malla Kingdom was established in Western Nepal, under the rule of Nagaraja.

Titular Origin of Malla Kings

According to Baburam Acharya, the Mallas who changed the course of Nepalese history were not the ancient Mallas, but rather the Neo-Mallas. The early Mallas who arrived in Nepal mixed with Nepalese culture and had no identity of their own.

The Mallas we know today as the Kings of Kathmandu were from another Kshetriya race. It was common for Kings or rulers who wanted to demonstrate their physical prowess or bravery to adopt the title of Malla and this is how the Origin of Malla Kings happened in Nepal.

Rise of Malla Kings

Historians continue to disagree regarding the ancestry of the Malla Kings, who governed Nepal for more than 500 years. However, there is a consensus that the first King of the Malla Dynasty was Ari Malla followed by Abhay Malla, who ascended to the throne in 1200 A.D. after replacing Vijayakamadeva.

Origin of Malla Kings Illustration

The Name ‘Malla’

According to Bhasabansawali, a historical archive, Ari Malla was a wrestling enthusiast. It is said that while wrestling, he received news of his wife giving birth to a son.

He called his kid “Malla” in honor of the coincidence and in the hope that his son would be as powerful as him. It also pave the way for the Malla Dynasty to emerge in Nepal.

Bansawali’s on Ari Malla’s Origin

Chronicles and Bansawali mention a connection between the Malla Dynasty and Adi Sankaracharya.

Bansawali states that a Malla Prince named Yaso Malla was impressed by Sankaracharya’s teachings and became highly regarded in the politics of the time. Yaso Malla was succeeded by his son, Jayasingh Malla, who was Ari Malla’s father. This was how the Origin of Malla Kings happened in Nepal.

Gyanmani Nepal on Ari Malla’s Origin

Gyanmani Nepal has a different version of Ari Malla’s birth story. Nepal claims that after being banished from the Tirhut Kingdom, a dynasty known as Poha immigrated to Nepal and settled in Banepa as feudal rulers. They gained authority throughout time and took over as Nepal’s rulers.

The Initial Reign of the Malla Kings

While the initial reign of the Malla Kings is not well-documented, it is evident that they faced significant challenges during their rule. According to William Kirkpatrick, a dearth or scarcity plagued the region during the reign of Ari Malla and his successors.

Although the cause of this scarcity is unclear, it suggests that something significant happened during this period. After him, Abhay Malla ruled Nepal.

The downfall of the Lichhavi Dynasty is also not entirely clear. Whether the Mallas defeated them in a war or through political tactics is uncertain.

However, what is clear is that the Malla Dynasty reigned supreme over Nepal for over five centuries until the Age of War changed the course of Nepalese history forever.

This strength to Malla Dynasty was given by Jayastithi Malla and the Family of House Tripura including Jayarudra Malla and Devaladevi.

Conclusion

Historians continue to disagree on the origins of the Malla Kings. Some say that the Mallas originated in ancient India. Others have proposed that they were a later-emerging Nepalese kingdom.

In 1200 A.D., Ari Malla, the first Malla King of Nepal, founded the Malla Dynasty. Historians continue to disagree over the Malla Kings’ place of origin.

References

  • Regmi, Dilli Raman. “Medieval Nepal” Four Volumes. Firma K, 1965-66
  • Shaha, R. (2001). Ancient and Medieval Nepal. India: Manohar.
  • Vajracharya, Dhanavajra, and Kamal P. Malla. “The Gopalraja Vamsavali” Nepal Research Centre Publications, 1985
  • Slusser, Mary S Nepal Mandala, “A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley Two Volumes” Princeton University Press, 1982 C.E.
  • Levi Sylvain: Le Nepal, Etuda Historique d’um royaume Izindou, 3 volumes, Paris, 1905
  • Subedi, Raja Ram, 2061, “Nepalko Tathya Itihas,” Sajha Prakashan
  • Kirkpatrick: An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul, London, 1811.
  • Sangraula, Narayan Prasad, 2068, “Prachin tatha Madhyakalin Nepal,” Kankai Publishers and Distributors

Citation

Pokhrel, A. (2023). Rise and Origin of Malla Dynasty – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/malla-kings/origin-of-mallas/