Rajendra Bikram Shah

Introduction to Rajendra Bikram Shah

King Rajendra Bikram Shah was crowned at the age of three in Nepal, following the death of his father, Girvan. Although he was the monarch, his step-grandmother and Prime Minister ruled the country as regents and kept him in isolation. He was denied the freedom to leave the palace without permission during most of his reign.

After turning 18, Rajendra started to quarrel with his Prime Minister, Bhimsen Thapa, leading to a clash that increased with the help of other Ministers and Court Officers. Following the death of the youngest son of Rajendra’s elder queen, Bhimsen Thapa was blamed for poisoning the prince, arrested, and later committed suicide in prison in 1839.

Rajendra then became the De-Facto Ruler for a temporary time, and his wife, Rajya Laxmi, and some courtiers started to gain more power. Rajendra planned the massacre of Mathwar Singh Thapa, the First Prime Minister of Nepal, with Gagan Singh Khawas and Jung Bahadur Rana.

However, his weak nature caused him to delegate power to other Court Officials. Kot Parva happened in Nepal, leading to the rise of Jung Bahadur Kunwar as the Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of Nepal.

King Rajendra was widely described as a weak, incapable, and indecisive ruler. After the death of his senior wife, the junior queen became the de facto regent of Nepal.

Rise of Rajendra Bikram Shah

Age of Regency

Rajendra Bikram Shah was born in 1813 A.D. as the son of Siddhi Rajyalaxmi Devi and Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah. Girvan was only 16 years old when Rajendra was born. The Father of Rajendra Bikram Shah was of weak and childish manner and Rajendra Bikram Shah also showed such traits in his childhood.

Rajendra Bikram Shah was actually crowned the King of Nepal at the age of three years old. He was married to Samrajya Laxmi as well as Rajya Laxmi Shah. His eldest Son Surendra Bikram Shah became the King of Nepal after his house imprisonment.

After the death of his Father Girvan Bikram Shah and his mother Siddhi Rajya Laxmi Devi in 1816 A.D., Lalita Tripura Sundari, his step-grandmother became the Queen Regent. Bhimsen Thapa was the De-Facto Ruler of Nepal and provided limited power to Rajendra. As Lalita Tripura Sundari was the nephew of Bhimsen Thapa, they exercised power together.

Conflict with Bhimsen Thapa

After Rajendra Bikram Shah turned the age of 18 years old in 1834 A.D., he and Bhimsen Thapa started to quarrel with each other. Nepal always sent some diplomats to Tibet and China to increase their relations and communicate with each other.

Bhimsen Thapa wanted to send his Brothers and Relatives whereas The King wanted to send his own men to the Mission. Therefore, Bhimsen Thapa and Rajendra Bikram Shah had a great clash.

This Clash was further increased by other Ministers and Court Officers that misguided the King to revolt against Bhimsen Thapa. Therefore, Rajendra declared his intention to rule independently of the prime minister, after coming of age. He stripped Bhimsen Thapa of all powers and duties.

This event happened Following the death of the youngest son of Rajendra’s elder queen. Bhimsen Thapa was blamed for the poisoning of the son of Samrajya Laxmi. Although Bhimsen Thapa denied such charges, he couldn’t prove otherwise. Bhimsen Thapa was arrested on a trumped-up charge of poisoning the prince, and all the property of the Thapas was confiscated.

Although Bhimsen Thapa was acquitted after an eight-month trial, the Thapas were left in disarray. Rana Jang Pandey became the prime minister and imprisoned Bhimsen Thapa once again. Later, Bhimsen Thapa committed suicide in prison in 1839.

After the death of Bhimsen Thapa, Rajendra Bikram Shah became the De-Facto Ruler for a temporary time. His Wife Rajya Laxmi and some courtiers started to gain more power. Many Prime Ministers were changed during the time.

Events before 1903 A.D.

Rajendra Bikram Shah also planned for the massacre of Mathwar Singh Thapa, the First Prime Minister of Nepal with Gagan Singh Khawas and Jung Bahadur Rana. With the assassination of Mathwar Singh Thapa, he increased his power. However, the weak nature of Rajendra Bikram Shah caused him to delegate power to other Court Officials.

This event happened Following the death of the youngest son of Rajendra’s elder queen. Bhimsen Thapa was blamed for the poisoning of the son of Samrajya Laxmi. Although Bhimsen Thapa denied such charges, he couldn’t prove otherwise.

Bhimsen Thapa was arrested on a trumped-up charge of poisoning the prince, and all the property of the Thapas was confiscated. Although Bhimsen Thapa was acquitted after an eight-month trial, the Thapas were left in disarray. Rana Jang Pandey became the prime minister and imprisoned Bhimsen Thapa once again. Later, Bhimsen Thapa committed suicide in prison in 1839.

Kaji Gagan Singh Khawas was also assassinated and the Kot Parva happened in Nepal. This caused the rise of Jung Bahadur Kunwar as the Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of Nepal. However, Rajendra Bikram Shah, despite being the King couldn’t control the events that led to the rise of Jung Bahadur.

Fall of Rajendra Bikram Shah

King Rajendra was widely described as a weak, incapable, and indecisive ruler. From 1839 A.D. to 1841 A.D., his senior wife, Queen Samrajya, acted as the de facto regent of Nepal, as Rajendra decided to stay out of all ruling activities.

After the senior queen’s death in 1841 A.D., the junior queen, Queen Rajya Laxmi, became the de facto regent. In January 1843 A.D., Rajendra declared that he would rule the country only with the advice and agreement of his junior queen, Rajyalakshmi, and commanded his subjects to obey her even over his own son, Surendra Bikram Shah. The continued infighting among noble factions eventually led to the Kot Massacre in 1846 A.D.

In the Kot Massacre, Prime Minister Phatte Jung Shah and his family were all killed. The Pande Family including Rana Jung Pande were also brutally murdered. Jung Bahadur Kunwar with the help of his brothers rose to the top of the Pyramid, Rajya Laxmi made him the Commander-in-Chief and Prime Minister of Nepal.

Not only that, King Rajendra was insulted, and his trusted bodyguard was beheaded. Jung Bahadur Rana had convinced Queen Rajyalakshmi that he would help her ensure that her son Prince Ranendra would succeed to the throne, but he had ulterior motives.

Because of the double nature of Jung Bahadur Kunwar, Queen Rajya Laxmi plotted a massacre in Bhandarkhal without informing Rajendra Bikram Shah. When the plot was discovered, Jung Bahadur Shah informed Rajendra Bikram Shah. He immediately ordered the exile of Rajya Laxmi and her son Ranendra Bikram Shah. The King himself also decided to exile himself.

King Rajendra Bikram Shah was planning to reclaim his throne in Nepal and remove Jung Bahadur. However, Jung Bahadur Rana issued a seven-day ultimatum to Rajendra Bikram Shah to return to Nepal and accused him of various crimes and acts of treason.

These included the murders of Bhimsen Thapa and Mathwar Singh Thapa, as well as multiple attempts on Jung Bahadur Rana’s life. However, Rajendra Bikram Shah was not satisfied with these consequences, and his supporters encouraged him to win over the army and attack Nepal.

In 1904 A.D., Rajendra Bikram Shah established a camp with 4000 men, but only 1600 of them were armed soldiers, in a place called Alau in present-day Parsa. When Jung Bahadur learned of this army, he ordered the killing of everyone except for Rajendra Bikram Shah and sent more soldiers to reinforce the defense.

The army of Rajendra Bikram Shah was ambushed at night and could not fight back. 200 of the 4000 men were killed. Fortunately, the army sent by Jung Bahadur was able to capture Rajendra Bikram Shah, and he was brought back to Nepal. This incident, known as Alau Parva, solidified J.B.R. as the Prime Minister of Nepal and ended the Reign of Rajendra Bikram Shah.

Later Years

Jung Bahadur Rana ensured that nobody could meet the ex-King Rajendra without his permission. He made sure that Rajendra’s second son, Prince Upendra, could not visit him without the consent of the minister. King Surendra had to visit his father once every month.

However, Jung Bahadur made sure that Rajendra could not be consulted on any foreign or domestic affairs, and he was not allowed to leave the durbar without the consent of the king. Rajendra spent the rest of his life under house arrest and died at the age of 67 in 1881 A.D. on July 14th when Ranoddip Singh was Prime Minister and Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah was King.

Conclusion

The Reign of Rajendra Bikram Shah is Tragic, Instable, Weak and a turning Point in the History of Nepal. His indecisiveness and Weak Leadership resulted in the rise of Jung Bahadur and other Power Regents. In the end, he died a lonely death.

Miscellaneous

References

  • Subedi, Raja Ram, 2061, “Nepalko Tathya Itihas,” Sajha Prakashan
  • Acharya, Baburam. “Nepalko Sanchipta Britanta”, Pramodshumsher-Nirbikram Pyasi 2022 B.S.
  • Regmi, D.R. “Modern Nepal, Volume I and II. F.K.L.M., 1975
  • Pradhan, Kumar. “The Gorkha Conquest” Oxford University Press, Kalkutta 1991
  • Stiller, L.F. “The Rise of House of Gorkha” Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1975
  • Gyawali, Surya Bikram. “Nepalka Shahbanshi Rajaharu”. Government of Nepal, 2031 B.S.
  • Kumar, Satish. “The Rana Polity in Nepal”. Asian Publishing House, 1967
  • Pande, Bhimbahadur. “Tyas Bakhatko Nepal” Part 1, 2, 3. CNAS, 2032 B.S.
  • Yadav, Pitambar Lal. “Nepalko Rajnaitik Itihas”, 2040 B.S.

Cite

Pokhrel, A. (2023). King Rajendra Bikram Shah – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/modern-kings/rajendra-bikram-shah/

FAQ’s

Who was Rajendra Bikram Shah?

Rajendra Bikram Shah was the King of Nepal who was crowned at the age of three following the death of his father. He is the Imprisoned King of Nepal By Jung Bahadur Rana.

How was Rajendra Bikram Shah described by many?

Rajendra Bikram Shah was widely described as a weak, incapable, and indecisive ruler.

Who ruled Nepal during most of Rajendra Bikram Shah’s reign?

His step-grandmother Lalitatripurasundari and Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa ruled the country as regents and kept him in isolation, denying him the freedom to leave the palace without permission during most of his reign.

What caused the clash between Rajendra Bikram Shah and Bhimsen Thapa?

They started to quarrel when Bhimsen Thapa wanted to send his Brothers and Relatives to the Mission in Tibet and China, whereas the King wanted to send his own men to increase their relations.

What was Bhimsen Thapa accused of before his Death?

Bhimsen Thapa was blamed for the poisoning of the youngest son of Rajendra’s elder queen and later imprisoned after which he committed Suicide.

Who became the De-Facto Ruler after the death of Bhimsen Thapa?

Rajendra Bikram Shah became the De-Facto Ruler for a temporary time, and his wife, Rajya Laxmi, and some courtiers started to gain more power and became the Real Powers behind the Throne.