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ABSOLUTION FOR HIS BROTHER'S SINS

Kathmandu, 14th September, 1846 A.D.
The Kot Massacre was a defining moment in Nepal's history. It healed long festering sores in one giant act of cauterizing. It was a free for all: unrehearsed, un-umpired, unpredictable, just like sometimes we hope the televised WWE wrestling matches would be but are not. Ancient noble houses were swept away and royalty lost its luster. The cleansing was complete. The period of instability was over forever. The last man standing was Bir Narsingh Kunwar: brave, vainglorious, resolute. He would shape Nepal in his own image for the next one hundred years by taking the title of Jung Bahadur Rana, borrowed from the glorious tradition of Rajputana.
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Jagat Shumsher Rana was the second youngest brother of Jung summoned to the palace that fateful night by the heinous sound of the nagara bells that tolled the fury of the queen gone berserk. Her paramour Gagan Singh, the shadow behind the queen regent, detested and despised by the rest of the court, was dead; shot by an unknown assassin. The queen wanted to find out who had done it and exact revenge so severe that eons would remember.

The nineteen year old Jagat, rudely awakened from a deep slumber, jumped out of bed and dressed in khaki quickly and peeked through his window to find the empty streets of the night now a bedlam of barking dogs, neighing horses and yelling retainers. Presently a summons came from his elder brother Jung Bahadur to make haste and meet him at the Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace fully armed. Jung had already left. From Lagan Tole their residence it would take a good ten minutes to ride to the royal palace; there was no time to waste! Quickly other shadows joined him until he grew more confident in the numbers; six of his brothers had by now grouped together and were on their way.

Commanding General Jagat Shumsher and his two wives
Queen Rajya Luxmi was standing in the Kot the Courtyard of the Armoury with a drawn swod in her hand. She was shrieking at the gathered courtiers incoherently and asking for the name of the murderer of her paramour. Jung was already there and standing behind the queen as he was surveying the landscape ofr any eventuality. Jagat and his other brothers joined him. The queen was addressing her agitation to the assemblage including Prime Minister Fatteh Jung Shah, Chautariya Dalmardhan Shah and General Abhiman Singh Rana Magar. The focus of her ire was Bir Kishore Pande, a member of the Council, the person suspected of carrying out the murder due to a personal enmity with the deceased but without any evidence produced before the court. He denied any wrongdoing vociferously and begged for justice from the court. The Queen summarily wanted to behead Pande with her own raised sword but Fatteh Jung and Jung Bahadur held her back.

Queen Rajyaluxmi

Jagat Shumsher Rana
News came that the battalion under General Abhiman Singh was on its way to the court. Jung alerted the queen and told her that it was not safe for her. General Abhiman at this point wanted to leave the court but was prevented from doing so by a guard. An altercation followed and the general was bayoneted to death. Alarmed by the turn of events the son of Prime Minister Fatteh Jung, Khadga Bikram, accused Jung and his brothers of the assassination of Gagan Singh. Sword drawn he rushed at Krishna Jung, a younger brother of Jung and struck him. Shielding himself Krishna raised his arm and lost his thumb. Bom Bahadur the second brother of Jung was struck on his head by Khadga cutting a deep gash before he could draw his own sword from the scabbard. A general melee followed. Jagat glimpsed his younger brother Dhir cut the assailant down. At this point Jung's soldiers burst into the courtyard and started shooting. It is recorded that 58 persons in total lost their lives that night including the prime minister.

Over 30 years had passed since that fateful night. Jagat Shumsher clearly recalled the assassination of Prime Minister Mathbir Singh Thapa by his brother Jung Bahadur. Walls still whispered that it was Jung who did Gagan Singh in, Ram Janay! Providence had made them survive the Kot Massacre. Now his family was unassailable. His elder brother Ranauddip Singh was the prime minister. Jagat was promoted to the post of the Commander of the garrison stationed at Patan. Jagat was an artist at heart. Although he had led his forces into Tibet in the campaign he did not have the fighting spirit of his younger brother Dhir. Jagat felt more at home amidst the Malla era templescape of the city called Eternity Itself. But he still felt ill at ease in his great fortune, his mind still troubled and restless.

Jagat knew that retribution for all the sins of his brother Jung would come if not in this life then in next. Jagat wanted to build a temple and seek absolution. He located grounds along the Bagmati River at Sankhamul and constructed the gorgeous Jagat Narayan Temple in Shikara-style that still stands today, a poignant reminder of the love of the pious Jagat for his brother Maharajah Jung Bahadur Rana.


Comments

  1. Ah, you finally found the temple. Great photo too.

    Always thrilling to read about our ancestors. Can't get enough of the Kot events. You rightly call it a "cleansing"; the term "massacre" is really not appropriate.

    Who will cleanse present-day Nepal, I wonder.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Always thrilling to read about our ancestors. Can't get enough of the Kot events. You rightly call it a "cleansing"; the term "massacre" is really not appropriate"

    Really?!!! Pre planned event where all the novelty of Nepal was ambushed and slaughtered and you find it thrilling to read about this part your ancestor’s history? In this day and age, Jung would be considered a murderer, tyrant and a dictator.

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  3. very interesting, but how can you be so sure about the sequence of events?

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  4. Dear Sewa, Thanks for your comment. What transpired at the Kot Massacre has been written by many authors, both Nepali and foreign. I am taking Percival Landon as my source for many of these incidents. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh, ok!!! you have a wonderful site, lots of interesting info in great language, keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you.this is wonderful.would love to learn more

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  7. This is a prestigious collection of history Shri subodh sir.

    Thanks a million sir .

    ReplyDelete
  8. any idea of what happened to the queen after the kot massacre? very little is known of her after the bhandarkhal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She went into exile with the King and lived in Benaras with her two sons.

      Delete
  9. Dear Subodh, thanks for sharing your insights regarding the glorious yet tumultuous history of DevBhumi that is Nepal. Queen Rajyalakhsmi and King Rajendra were exiled to Varanasi by Gen.Jung Bahadur Rana after the failed Basnyat conspiracy where she lived to a ripe old age probably crossing the 7th or 8th decade (born 1914 - died prior 1900) though the feeble and allegedly cuckolded King was to return to Nepal a prisoner and spend the remaining years of his life in house arrest at Bhadgaon. She must have been barely 32 years of age when the infamous Kot massacre took place. And only a couple of years older in her exodus (1946 or 47?). Would you kindly share more information, I was hoping a rather elaborate write-up since you write so well and so many of us so very much enjoy reading them👍 - on
    (1) the background of the Queen, her paternal and maternal families before she was married to the Maharajadhiraj of Nepal.
    (2) How was the Basnyat conspiracy hatched and how did the events unfold that led to its disasterous failure, who was the mole and events that followed once the secret enterprise was exposed.
    (3) Life of the erstwhile Queen Regent of Nepal,Maharani RajyaLakshmi Devi in exile in Varanasi and her children thereafter.
    And (4) Apparently the Maharaj Jung Bahdur Rana himself visited Varanasi in 1951 after his return from the European tour and the Queen and her two son prince Ranendra and his younger brother met with Maharaj Jung Bahadur Rana. Very sketchy information of that meeting is available. Could you provide us with how it was arranged, how did it go, what transpired between them during that meeting.
    Thank you so much.

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