Jung Bahadur Rana

Introduction to Jung Bahadur

Jung Bahadur Rana (Kunwar) was an astounding figure in Nepalese history. He was named “Rana” after his reign as Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of Nepal. He was born on June 18, 1817 A.D., and had a comfortable childhood. He was involved in the duties and responsibilities of an administrator at a young age.

Jung Bahadur’s maternal uncle, Mathwarsingh Thapa, was also the Prime Minister of Nepal. He was the source of encouragement for Jung Bahadur. Mathwarsingh called him “Jang Bahadur,” which means “brave in war.”

Jung Bahadur spent time growing up with his uncle Birnarsingh and Narasimha. Jung Bahadur’s father, Balnarsingh, ruled Dhankuta, Beldhura, Mumma, and other territories. Jung Bahadur learned to wrestle, shoot, and use guns while living with his father.

Jung Bahadur was appointed as a Subedar at the age of 14. However, after his father was dismissed from his office, Jung Bahadur borrowed money, which he squandered on gambling and other frivolities, forcing him to flee to Benaras. Jung Bahadur received dowry after returning and remarrying, which he utilised to pay off his debts and turn his life around.

Jung Bahadur travelled to Terai with the Royal Family with the purpose of capturing elephants for money. His perseverance and hard work drew the notice of the Royal family, and he gradually began to rise through the ranks.

Jung Bahadur’s valor and fantastic tales of defeating fire, water, air, height, and animals aided him in gaining renown and being appointed Captain. With the support of Putalinani, he rose to the position of Kaji of Kumarichowk and became a close ally of Queen Rajya Laxmi.

He was crafty and devious, and he played a decisive role in Nepalese politics. He helped to assassinate his maternal uncle, Mathwar Singh Thapa, and persuaded the Queen and King of his allegiance.

Video By Neebedita Adhikari Pahari

Reasons for Rise of Jung Bahadur Rana

Bhardari Factionalism

The rise of Jung Bahadur was facilitated by the Bhardari factionalism that plagued Nepal’s court. The rise of the Bhardari clans and the formation of their groups resulted in political insecurity, power battles, and sectarianism. Jung Bahadur took advantage of the circumstances and presented himself to the royal family.

Political Instability

The unstable politics that followed the fall of Bhimsen Thapa in 1837 had a key role in Jung Bahadur’s Rise in Nepal. Within nine years, seven ministries were constituted and disbanded, and there was a shortage of qualified and trained authorities to stop such insecurity. Jung Bahadur became the man of the hour.

Interference of the British Resident

The British Residents in Kathmandu faced strict restrictions imposed by the Nepalese government. The British government encouraged the opposing factions of the Nepali Bhardar and widened the differences.

Jung Bahadur supported the British government from the beginning, and the British Residents created a rift among the Nepali nobles and supported Jung Bahadur.

Weak Nature of King Rajendra

King Rajendra‘s inability to balance or reconcile various factions led to hatred and resentment among the queens. The feud between the stepmothers took the form of murders, and the king could not even save the Bhardars from conspiracies and murders. Jung Bahadur benefited from Rajendra’s weakness.

Queen Rajya Lakshmi Devi

After the older queen’s death, the younger queen, Rajya Lakshmi Devi influence increased in the Nepalese court. She was ambitious to make her son Ranendra the king, which was against Nepal’s tradition and religion.

After getting the rights, she called Mathwarsingh Thapa as the prime minister to fulfill her corrupt interests. As Mathwarsingh Thapa could not fulfill her interests, he lost his life, and Jung Bahadur became the confidant of Kanchi Rani.

Murder of Senior Bhardars

During the period of political instability, senior and experienced officials lost their lives. Experienced Politicians were Killed in Kot and only Jung Bahadur remained. The lack of great men with strong and determined personalities like Jung Bahadur created a power vacuum that he filled.

Achieving Trust of King Surendra

Jung Bahadur was a clever individual who understood the situation and could do anything to achieve his goals. He surrounded himself with people who were loyal to him and gave him unquestionable support.

Kot Parva

Kot Parva was the consequence of the Murder of Gagan, which led the Younger Queen Rajya Laxmi to seek Justice for his Murder, whose benefit Jung Bahadur took. After this Event, Jung Bahadur was made the Prime Minister and Commander-In-Chief of Nepal.

She consulted Jung Bahadur, who advised her that the Big Politicians were also involved in the killing and that if they were not eliminated, the queen herself would be in danger. He promised to identify the killer if he could gather all the nobles together.

To gather all the nobles, the queen ordered Abhiman Singh to blow the bugle to assemble them at the Kot. It was a tradition that all the nobles had to attend the Kot without arms. However, Jung Bahadur and his subordinates arrived fully equipped with arms and surrounded the Kot wall with three platoons of the army.

Both the king and queen were present, and the queen sent people to summon the Prime Minister, Fatejang Shah. Jung Bahadur pointed to Birkeshar Pandey as the killer when asked in the assembly. The queen immediately ordered Abhiman Singh to kill Veerkesar, but he maintained his innocence.

The situation quickly escalated, with the younger queen becoming increasingly angry. She announced that no one would be allowed to go out until the killer was found. She also took a naked sword and sent the queen upstairs after being reminded by Arin Kalejung.

Kot’s situation became direr, with Abhiman Singh ordering his army assembled outside the wall to get ready. Jung Bahadur informed Ranikar that Abhiman Singh would try to kill Shakti by relying on military force. The queen ordered Abhiman to be imprisoned, but he tried to force his way out of the door.

At that moment, Jung Bahadur, who was tied to the door by hint, struck Abhiman Singh with a bayonet on his chest. Then, the supporters of Jung Bahadur began hunting and killing their opponents. They killed most of the Pande of Nepali Court Politics and, therefore, were known as Pandey Parva.

Bhandarkhal Parva

In the Bhandarkhal Parva, a Conspiracy unfolded to kill the Prime Minister of Nepal, Jung Bahadur Rana, by Queen Rajya Laxmi, which ultimately failed and resulted in the Exile of the Queen.

After she made Jung Bahadur the prime minister, her objective was fulfilled. She wanted Surendra and Upendra to be killed. She sent a letter to Jung Bahadur, ordering him to carry out the task.

However, Jung Bahadur knew this act would be immoral and against human values. He also knew that he could be imprisoned, along with the Queen, for carrying out such an order.

Jung Bahadur did not want to make Prince Ranendra, the son of the younger queen, the king after killing Surendra, the rightful heir. Instead, his inclination was towards Surendra. However, the younger queen and her allies were planning to kill Jung Bahadur. They organized a banquet in Bhandarkhal and planned to poison or shoot him. They also had a group of soldiers with guns hidden in the area.

Vijayaraj Pandit and a maidservant of the younger queen discovered the conspiracy. Jung Bahadur and Veeradhwaj met on the way, and after a heated exchange, Jung Bahadur killed Veeradhwaj, who was trying to kill him.

Jung Bahadur then appeared at Bhandarkhal with his brothers and armed forces. He ordered the Bhardars present there to surrender, and those who did not were shot dead. The soldiers who were involved in the conspiracy were either imprisoned or killed.

The Bhandarkhal festival saw the beheading of several conspirators, including Birdhwaj Basnet, Mansingh Basnet, Birkeshar Basnet, Umedsingh Basnet, and Purandar Thapa. As most of the Basnet Bhardars died in the event, the festival is called the ‘Basnet Festival.’

The King, crown prince, prime minister, and other dignitaries were all dissatisfied with the Queen’s actions. They held an executive meeting and blamed the Queen for creating unrest in the country, killing hundreds of people, and attempting to kill the crown prince and the prime minister.

They also passed a resolution to send the Maharani to Benares. The Queen and her two brothers and sons decided to leave for Benares with Ranendra and Virendra, and the King also expressed his desire to go to Benares for a pilgrimage.

On November 23, 1846, the royal couple left for Benares with 31 lakhs in cash and 1.5 lakhs of jewels. The Queen took away 13 lakhs in cash and a lot of jewelry.

Alau Parva

In his quest to overthrow Jung Bahadur, King Rajendra senT assassins to Kathmandu to kill him twice. However, Jung Bahadur was wise in his schemes and turned the tables on his would-be assassins.

King Rajendra attempted to incite a rebellion in the Nepali army by sending them a letter urging them to rise up against Jung Bahadur. But his efforts were in vain, and he soon realized that he would need outside help if he was to have any chance of success.

Enter Guru Prasad Shah, a trusted lieutenant of King Rajendra, who was given 30 lakhs in cash to raise a volunteer army in Banaras. The army was comprised of Nepali Bhardars who had escaped the wrath of Jung Bahadur’s massacres and were eager to support Rajendra’s cause.

Rajendra’s ultimate plan was to team up with the East India Company government to take down Jung Bahadur. However, the company government banned him from conspiring against Jung Bahadur while on their territory, forcing him to seek other options.

With the help of the Nepali people, Rajendra decided to fight Jung Bahadur directly and marched to a place called Alou near Birganj. There, he built a fort and gathered four regiments of volunteers, each consisting of 500 jawans.

Rajendra hoped that the Nepali army would support him, as they had done for his predecessor, Ran Bahadur. However, Jung Bahadur was quick to respond and sent one platoon army under the leadership of Sanaksingh toward Alou.

When Sanaksingh reported that the enemy’s army was too large, Jung Bahadur sent three more troops under the command of his brother, Bam Bahadur.

To win over the hearts of the people of the Terai region and Rajendra’s supporters, Upendra, the brother of Surendra, was also sent to Alou with his army. However, on July 27, 1847, the army from Kathmandu suddenly attacked Rajendra’s forces, killing around 200 of his volunteers and injuring others.

The survivors of the attack were forced to flee, while Rajendra attempted to escape on an elephant. However, he was captured by the army from Kathmandu and brought back as a royal prisoner. He was imprisoned in the Hanuman Door Palace in the old Bhaktapur on suspicion that he might rebel again.

King Rajendra died in prison in 1889, having failed to achieve his ultimate goal of toppling Jung Bahadur and restoring the power of the monarchy. Meanwhile, Surendra’s position became stronger, in part due to the annual Ali festival, which celebrated the triumph of good over evil.

Lalmohar’s To Jung Bahadur

He received three Lal Mohar’s from King Surendra. The Lal Mohars helped him centralize power in his hands and establish himself as the De-Facto Ruler of Nepal.

The First Lalmohar: Ranaji Title and Immunity

In May 1849, King Surendra granted the first Lal Mohar to Jung Bahadur, which conferred upon him the title of Ranaji. The Lal Mohar also granted immunity to Jung Bahadur’s family members, regardless of the crimes they may have committed.

Through the Immunity included protection from punishments such as the death penalty, lynching, and castration. Furthermore, the Lal Mohar allowed the Rana family to establish marriage relationships with the Raj family.

The Second Lal Mohar: Maharaj Title and Military Power

The second Lal Mohar was granted to Jung Bahadur in August 1856, just six days after he resigned from his post as Prime Minister. Because of the Seal, he was conferred upon him the title of Maharaj and gave him the power to appoint, promote, dismiss, and punish military and civil servants.

It also allowed him to punish those who disturbed the peace with the death penalty. Moreover, the descendants of Jung Bahadur could enjoy the position of Shree Teen.

The Third Lal Mohar: Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief

Jung Bahadur received the third Lal Mohar in June 1857 after being appointed as Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief. With this seal conferred him the ultimate power to govern Nepal and consolidate his rule. With this seal, he became the real ruler of Nepal.

Visit to Britain

In 1850, Jung Bahadur and his brothers Jagat Shumsher and Dhir Shumsher went on a trip to Britain to establish direct relations with the Queen of Britain.

Their visit was also aimed at discussing the extradition treaty and amending the seventh article of the Sugauli Treaty, among other things. Jung Bahadur was keen on studying Britain’s social, economic, political, geographical, and military activities.

The journey began on January 15, 1850, when Jung Bahadur and his entourage left Kathmandu for their destination. They reached Patna after seven days, continuing their journey toward Calcutta.

On March 11, General Dalhousie, the Governor of the Company Government, greeted Jung Bahadur, who was welcomed with a 19-gun salute by the army of the company government.

On April 7, Jung Bahadur departed from Calcutta for Britain on a 200-fathom-long, seven-storied ship. The ship reached Lankatapu, and from there, it passed through Aden and Egypt, eventually arriving in Malta.

After seven days, the ship arrived at Gibraltar and, seven days later, reached South Hampton port in the UK. On May 25, 1850, Jung Bahadur finally arrived in Britain.

On June 18, Jung Bahadur met Queen Victoria of Britain, where he shared his problems with the board members. Unfortunately, the board did not provide satisfactory answers to Jung Bahadur’s demands, and they suggested that he communicate with the company government to find a solution.

Of the three demands made by Jung Bahadur, the amendment of the seventh article of the Sugauli Treaty was the most significant.

After failing to achieve his objectives, Jung Bahadur left Britain for France on August 21. On August 31, he met with the Emperor of France, Napoleon III, and on September 24, he observed the exercise of 100,000 French troops.

On November 6, he arrived in Calcutta from France, and after visiting the pilgrimage sites of India and doing penance, Jung Bahadur returned to Kathmandu on February 6, 1851. His visit lasted for one year and 29 days.

Jung Bahadur’s visit to Britain significantly impacted Nepal’s history. The British government started addressing the Prime Minister of Nepal as “His Excellency,” which indicated that Nepal was recognized as an independent country by European countries.

Death of Jung Bahadur

Jung Bahadur died on February 25, 1877 (1933 Falgun 16th), returning from a hunting excursion in Patharghatta. At the time of his death, he was 61 years old.

There are several tales of his death – some writers ascribe it to natural causes, while others believe it was the product of a plot involving Dhir Shamsher, and others even claim an elephant crushed him. However, it is in consensus that he died Naturally or out of Disease.

Contributions and Reforms of Jung Bahadur

Legal Reforms

Jung Bahadur drafted and published the Muluki Ain in 1910. The First National Code of Nepal instituted Legal and Administrative Reforms in Nepal. According to Some Sources, it was a Lengthy Act with more than 1400 Pages.

It covered these Topics: land ownership, taxes, justice, public administration, trade, theft, fraud, murder, rape, marriage, slavery, gambling, family property, and contracts. It also imposed heavy penalties on judges who did not respect the legislation and prohibited using physical punishment on prisoners.

Jung Bahadur also established the Kachhari Sabha, which was in charge of collecting and publicizing dispersed norms and laws.

Administrative Reforms

Jung Bahadur brought some changes to the Fundamental Elements of Nepalese Administration.

There was a civil base to manage daily administration, a military base for military administration, an Ainkhana and skill base to make laws, a forest department base to protect forests, an artillery station to maintain cannons, a mint to perform similar functions as the National Bank, and new departments such as bookkeeping to cover military personnel costs and collect government revenue.

Stop the Practice of Sati

He worked to end the practice of Sati. In the Act of 1910, he created various laws to avoid this practice, such as outlawing sati from widows under the age of 16, double widows, women with many spouses, moms after the death of their sons, and virgins.

His Wives and his Successors continued to Practice Sati and an effective measure wasn’t instituted to stop them.

Reduce Gambling

He implemented gambling limitations and promoted entertainment through festivals, but he also introduced penalties for those who gamble, play, watch, or donate money for gambling in violation of the regulations.

He also penalized Debtors who who gambled and failed to pay their loan twice as much as it was due. Furthermore, he opposed slavery by proclaiming that slaves in new regions would be released, and he outlawed enslaving persons from castes other than Masinya without their agreement.

Abolition of slavery

Jung Bahadur forbade any caste or ethnicities in Nepal from selling their sons and daughters as slaves. According to the Law, Individuals engaged in Selling of Slaves could be penalized for up to Rs. 720.

In addition, in 1867, he released 450 Indian slaves acquired by Nepali traffickers and returned them to India. Enslaving a free person would result in a Rs. 350 fine or four months in jail.

English Education

After returning from Britain, Jung Bahadur realised the value of English education. He began teaching English topics to his children in Thapathali Palace and eventually turned it into a school. During his time, Sanskrit education was also prioritised.

Marriage reforms

He forbade the marriage of females under the age of five, and if a father wedded their daughter before the age of two, their entire estate would be seized. He also advocated for widow remarriage.

Health reforms

Jung Bahadur recruited a British resident surgeon in his palace with a salary of Rs. 1200 per month. He also encouraged the development of Ayurvedic medicine

Postal system reform

Jung Bahadur improved the postal system by appointing government postmen and establishing many facilities. Before his time, villagers took turns delivering letters from one village to another. Jung Bahadur introduced two types of postage, Thaple, and Kagate.

Conclusion

Jung Bahadur Rana is one of the Greatest Statesmen of Nepal to have ever lived. He established a Century Old Rana Regime in Nepal. He also coordinated with the British Empire. Because of the Tyrannic Disposition of the Rana Regime, he has been considered to be controversial.

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). Jung Bahadur Rana – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/ranas/jung-bahadur-rana/

FAQ’s

What were the major reforms made by Jung Bahadur?

Jung Bahadur implemented several legal and administrative reforms during his 31-year reign as the Rana Prime Minister of Nepal. He modernized the administrative apparatus of Nepal, stopped the practice of sati, and published a written act in 1910, which aimed to bring legal equality and justice to the country.

Did Jung Bahadur visit Britain?

Yes, he visited Britain for a year. The main purpose of Jung Bahadur’s visit to Britain was to establish direct relations with the Queen of Britain, discuss the extradition treaty, and amend the seventh article of the Sugauli Treaty.

Who was Junga Bahadur Rana history?

Jung Bahadur Kunwar was a prominent figure in Nepalese history who became the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of Nepal after being given the title of “Rana.”

What was the meaning of the name “Jange” to Jung Bahadur?

The name “Jang Bahadur” given to him by his uncle Mathwarsingh Thapa meant “brave in war.”

Where did Jung Bahadur Rana die?

Jung Bahadur passed away on February 25, 1877 (1933 Falgun 16th) while returning from a hunting trip at Patharghatta. He was 61 years old at the time of his death.

How did Jung Bahadur become famous?

Jung Bahadur ventured to Terai with the Royal Family with the intention of catching elephants for money, and his persistence and hard work caught the attention of the Royal Family.

How did Jung Bahadur become Kaji?

Jung Bahadur’s bravery and mythical tales of conquering fire, water, air, height, and animals helped him gain recognition, and with the help of his lover Putalinani, he became the Kaji of Kumarichowk.

Who visited Britain with Jung Bahadur?

Jung Bahadur was accompanied by his brothers, Jagatshamsher and Dhirshamsher, on his visit to Britain in 1850 A.D.

How long did Jung Bahadur’s visit to Britain last?

Jung Bahadur’s visit to Britain lasted for one year and 29 days.