How Nepal survived as a Hindu Rashtra

Till 2008, Nepal a monarchy was the only Hindu Rashtra in the world. After 2008 it became a democratic republic and dropped the status of ‘Hindu Rashtra’. While neighboring India was under the Mughal and British rule in 18th and 19th centuries, Nepal was a Hindu monarchy. It successfully maintained its Hindu identity despite being a small kingdom. Its rules were based on Hindu scriptures and remained so till 2008. Nepal was never invaded by Muslim invaders, it was never a British colony and never could China enter it.

Strict implementation of rules based on Hindu scriptures never made it conducive for the Muslims to migrate to Nepal, which helped in maintaining the essence of Hinduism there. The credit for undiluted and unpolluted religious identity of Nepal goes to King Prithvi Narayan Shah who ruled Nepal from 1743-1775. At a young age of 20, he fought for his country just like Maharana Pratap and Chatrapati Shivaji, the Hindu kings of India. In the 18th century Muslim rulers in north India were becoming weaker and Marathas were gaining control over most parts of India and were looking for expanding till Afghanistan. Muslim rulers were facing an existential crisis. In 1761, Marathas lost the Third Battle of Panipat which put a brake to the establishment of Hindu rule in India. Small Hindu kingdoms of Himalayas were facing the danger of attack from Muslim rulers of India as Muslim invaders had the history of attacking, plundering and destroying Hindu temples.

That was the time Prithvi Narayan Shah with his brave Gorkha warriors built a strong Himalayan kingdom which was never defeated by Muslim invaders. He won Nuwakot first which was strategically important to control the small Himalayan kingdoms. He broke all relations with Mughals as they were fighting the Hindus of India. His brilliant strategy helped him in keeping the Muslims away from Nepal.

King Prithvi Narayan Shah laid the foundation of modern Nepal by unifying it. After unification, King Shah sealed its border making it inaccessible for British. He never allowed them to trade in Nepal thus protecting its culture, society, and religion.

A few months before King Prithvi died, he recorded the ‘Divya Sandesh’ the divine message. In his divine message he “had envisaged his kingdom as a land of Hindus, contrasting with ‘Mughlana’ (India), the land polluted by the rule of the Mughals and their successors”. Common Nepalese contemptuously called India ‘Mughlana’ because of its Muslim rule. Nepal continued to follow the administrative principles described in the divine message.

Later in 19th century King Jang Bahadur Rana expanded the Divya Sandesh and framed ‘Mulki Ain’ (Law of the Land), which listed Muslims in the lower category of caste order. Muslims of Nepal followed the Nepal Code of 1853 and accepted their lower social status and maintained a very low profile. Because of the strict implementation of Nepal Code of 1853, there has never been any communal tension in Nepal. Muslims in Nepal have lived in perfect harmony in a society based on Hindu scriptures and its laws.

In 1963, King Mahendra replaced the Code of 1853 with the new Code, which provided equal citizenship status to the Muslims. But the larger issues like the ban on conversion or dissolution of marriage remained as they were in Code of 1853. Conversion is a punishable offense in Nepal. Muslim festivals were declared a holiday for the first time in 2008, when the Hindu monarchy ended and Maoist government took over. The relaxations in 1963 Code have opened Nepal’s doors for many Islamist groups. Reports suggest that Pakistan’s ISI is using Nepal as a route to send terrorists in India, hence funding NGOs to support Muslims and their activities in Nepal. Muslims are causing demographic changes in the region like the rest of the world.

A Hindu kingdom led by strong Hindu kings could successfully make Muslims follow the rule of the land, not Sharia. If Hindu kings of Nepal could do, many others can do it too. One land, one law!

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