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Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana (Nepali: जंग बहादुर राणा) (or Jung Bahadur Kunwar (Nepali: जंग बहादुर कुँवर), GCB, GCSI, June 18, 1816, Kathmandu, Nepal -February 25, 1877, borlang,gorkha ) was a ruler of Nepal and founder of the Rana dynasty of Nepal. His real name was Bir Narsingh Kunwar but he became famous by the name Jung Bahadur, given to him by Mathebar Thapa, his maternal uncle.
During his lifetime, he eliminated the factional fighting at the court, introduced innovations into the bureaucracy and the judiciary, and made efforts to "modernize" Nepal. He remains one of the most important figures in Nepalese history, though modern historians have also blamed Jung Bahadur for setting up the dictatorship that repressed the nation for more than 100 years and left it in a primitive economic condition. Others exclusively blame his nephews, the Shumsher Ranas, for Nepal's dark period of history.
His father, Bal Narsingh Kunwar (aka Bala Narsingh Kunwar), was in court the day Rana Bahadur Shah was murdered by his own half-brother Sher Bahadur Shah; as a retaliation Bal Narsingh killed him on the spot. For this action, he was rewarded with the position of Kaji, which was made hereditary in his family, also he was the only person allowed to carry weapons inside the court.
Jung Bahadur Kunwar joined the military service (1832–33) at the age of sixteen. As maternal grandson of Bhimsen Thapa, he lost his job and his property when the latter fell. After wandering in north India for several years, he returned to Nepal as a captain in the artillery in 1840. In November 1841, he was asked by the king to join his bodyguard, and in January 1842 he began work as Kaji in the palace. When his maternal uncle Mathbar Singh Thapa returned to power, Jung Bahadur rose with him. However Mathbar Singh disliked Jung Bahadur's ambition and had him removed to a lesser position on the staff of the heir apparent. When Fateh Jung Chautaria came to power, Jung Bahadur became fourth in the hierarchy of the coalition government and took pains to flatter the queen while showing no signs of ambition to general Gagan Singh Bhandari. A career opportunist, he was ready and waiting when the time came to act at the Kot massacre.
Queen Lakshmidevi, the favorite wife of King Rajendra Bikram was not pleased by the new prime minister. She conspired to eliminate Jung Bahadur Kunwar and elevate her son to the throne. The Basnyat Conspiracy—so called because many of its participants belonged to one of the last leading noble families, the Basnyat—was betrayed and its ringleaders were rounded up and executed in 1846 at Bhandarkhal Parva. A meeting of leading notables packed with Rana supporters found the queen guilty of complicity in the plot, stripped her of her powers, and sent her into exile in Banaras along with King Rajendra. The king still had delusions of grandeur and began plotting his return from India. In 1847 Jung Bahadur informed the troops of the exiled king's treasonous activities, announced his dethronement, and elevated Rajendra's son to the throne as Surendra Bikram Shah (1847–81). King Rajendra Bikram was captured later that year in the Tarai and brought back as a prisoner to Bhadgaon, where he spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
By 1850 Jung Bahadur had eliminated all of his major rivals, installed his own candidate on the throne, appointed his brothers and cronies to all the important posts, and ensured that major administrative decisions were made by himself as prime minister. At this point, he took the unprecedented step of travelling to Britain and France, leaving from Calcutta in April 1850 and returning to Kathmandu in February 1851. Although he unsuccessfully tried to deal directly with the British government while he was there, the main result of the tour was a great increase in goodwill between the British and Nepal. Recognizing the power of industrialized Europe, he became convinced that close cooperation with the British was the best way to guarantee Nepal's independence. From then on, European architecture, fashion, and furnishings became more prevalent in Kathmandu and among the Nepalese aristocracy in general.
As part of his modernization plans, Jung Bahadur commissioned leading administrators and interpreters of texts on dharma to revise and codify the legal system of the nation into a single body of laws, a process that had not been carried out since the seventeenth century under Ram Shah of Gorkha. The result was the 1,400-page Muluki Ain of 1854, a collection of administrative procedures and legal frameworks for interpreting civil and criminal matters, revenue collection, landlord and peasant relations, intercaste disputes, and marriage and family law. In contrast to the older system, which had allowed execution or bodily mutilation for a wide range of offences, the Muluki Ain severely limited—without abolishing—corporal punishment. For example, the old system gave wide scope for blood vengeance by aggrieved parties, such as cuckolded husbands, but the Muluki Ain restricted such opportunities. Substitutions included confiscation of property or prison terms. Torture to obtain confessions was abolished. Strict penalties were set down for the abusers of judicial positions and also for persons maliciously accusing judges of corruption. There were statutes of limitations for judicial actions. Caste-based differences in the degree of punishments remained throughout, with higher castes (for example, Brahmans) exempt from the corporal punishments and heavy fines that lower-caste members incurred for the same crimes. This distinction was in keeping with the traditional approach of the dharma shastras, or ancient legal treatises.
Control of Nepal
After Jung Bahadur's visit to Europe, he took steps to increase his hold over the country. He reduced the king to a prisoner in his own palace, surrounded by agents of the prime minister and restricted and supervised at all times. No one outside the king's immediate family could see the king without permission from the prime minister. All communications in the name of the king were censored, and he was allowed to read only approved literature. In 1856 the king issued a royal decree (sanad) that formalized the dominance of the Kunwar family. There were three main provisions in this crucial document. First, the prime minister had complete authority over all internal administration, including civil, military, and judicial affairs, and all foreign relations, including the powers to make war and peace. Second, Jung Bahadur was made great king (maharajah) of Kaski and Lamjung districts, in effect serving as their independent ruler. The Shah king retained the title of maharajadhiraja (supreme king) and the right to use the honorific term shri five times with his name. The prime minister could use shri three times with his name. In this way, Jung Bahadur stopped short of taking the throne outright but elevated his family to a level second only to the royal house, which remained as a symbol of the nation. Finally, provisions were established for hereditary succession to the post of prime minister. Brothers and then sons would inherit the position in order of seniority. These provisions meant that the dictatorship of the Kunwar family, a virtual monarchy within the monarchy, would be passed down in the family for generations, with no legal mechanism for changing the government. Later, Jung Bahadur established official Rolls of Succession that ranked all his descendants in relation to their hereditary rights to the office of prime minister.
Jung Bahadur sealed the arrangement with the Shah Dynasty by arranging marriages between his heirs and the royal house. In 1854, his eldest son Jagat Jung (aged eight) married the eldest daughter (aged six) of king Surendra. In 1855 his second son married the second daughter of the king. The ultimate test was passed in 1857, when heir apparent Trilokya Bir Bikram married two daughters of Jung Bahadur. A son of this union, Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah, ascended to the throne in 1881.
Nepal began to experience some successes in international affairs during the tenure of Jung Bahadur. To the north, relations with Tibet had been mediated through China since Nepal's defeat in 1792, and during the early nineteenth century embassies had to make the arduous journey to Beijing every five years with local products as tribute to the Qing emperor. By 1854, however, China was in decline and had fallen into a protracted period of disturbances, including the Taiping Rebellion (1851–64), revolts by Muslim ethnic groups north of Tibet, and war with European powers. The Nepalese mission to Beijing in 1852, just after the death of the sixth Panchen Lama, was allegedly mistreated in Tibet. Because of this slight, the Nepalese government sent a protest letter to Beijing and Lhasa outlining several grievances, including excessive customs duties on Nepalese trade. In 1855 Nepalese troops overran the Kuti and Kairang areas. The Nepalese-Tibetan War lasted for about a year, with successes and failures on both sides, until a treaty negotiated by the Chinese resident and ratified in March 1856 gave Nepalese merchants duty-free trade privileges, forced Tibet to pay an annual tribute of 10,000 rupees to Nepal, and allowed a Nepalese resident in Lhasa. In return, Nepal gave up territorial gains and agreed that it, as well as Tibet, would remain a tributary state subject to China. As the Qing Empire disintegrated later in the century, this tributary status was allowed to lapse, and even Tibet began to shake off its subordination.
Prime-Minister of Nepal and Maharaja of Kaski & Lamjung, Jung Bahadur Rana was the first Rajah and Prime-Minister to get state honors in the court of Queen Victoria in 1850. Nepal and Britain became strong allies after Jung Bahadur's return from England visit.
The outbreak of disorder to the south also allowed the Nepalese army to take a more active role in international affairs. The Indian Rebellion of 1857, beginning in May 1857, was a series of related uprisings throughout north India that threatened to topple the power of the British East India Company. The uprisings began with widespread mutinies in the company's army and spread to include peasant revolts and alliances of the old Mughal aristocracy against the foreigner. Most of the major cities west of Bengal fell into rebel hands, and the aged Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II, was proclaimed the leader of a national revolution. Initially there was some fear in British circles that Nepal would side with the rebels and turn the tide irrevocably against the British East India Company, but Jung Bahadur proved to be a loyal and reliable ally. At that point, immediately following hostilities in Tibet, the army of Nepal had grown to around 25,000 troops. Jung Bahadur sent several columns ahead and then marched with 9,000 troops into northern India in December 1857. Heading an army of 15,000 troops, he fought several hard battles and aided the British in their campaigns around Gorakhpur and Lucknow. The prime minister returned to Nepal triumphantly in March 1858 and continued to aid the British in rooting out "rebels" who had been dislocated during the chaos and sought refuge in the Tarai.
After the Sepoy Rebellion had been crushed and Britain had abolished the British East India Company and taken direct control of India in 1858, Nepal received a reward for its loyalty. Western sections of the Tarai that had been ceded through the Sugauli Treaty in 1816 were returned. Henceforth, the British were firm supporters of Jung Bahadur's government, and Nepal later became an important source of military recruits for the British army.
In 1858 King Surendra bestowed upon Jung Bahadur Kunwar the honorific title of Rana, an old title denoting martial glory used by Rajput princes in northern India. He then became Jung Bahadur Rana, and the later prime ministers descended from his family added his name to their own in honor of his accomplishments. Their line became known as the house of the Ranas. Jung Bahadur remained prime minister until 1877, suppressing conspiracies and local revolts and enjoying the fruits of his early successes. He exercised almost unlimited power over internal affairs, taking for his own use whatever funds were available in the treasury. He lived in the high style of an Anglicised native prince in the British Raj, although unlike the Indian princes he was the ruler of a truly independent nation, an ally rather than a subordinate of the British.
Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana's eldest son was Gen. Jagat Jung, known as "Mukhiya Jarnel". His eldest grandson and Gen. Jagat Jung's eldest son was Gen. Yuddha Pratap Jung, known as "Naati Jarnel". Their descendants currently live in Manohara, Kathmandu.
Presently if someone carries the name Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, then they come from Dhir Shumsher's lineage (Jung Bahadur's younger brother) whose son Bir Shumsher committed the coup d'etat of 1885 murdering most of Jung Bahadur's sons and forcing the remaining sons, as well as, Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana (adopted son of the childless Prime Minister Ranodip Singh) to seek refuge in India. The descendants of Jung and Ranodip live today in North India (mainly Dehra Dun, Allahabad and Udaipur) and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, some did return to Nepal and live in Kathmandu, Nepalgunj and Pokhara.
Another branch of descendants of Jung Bahadur are from two of his sons Gen. Ranabir Jung and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana KIH Gold Medal 1877 who were escorted to Allahabad. Gen. Ranabir Jung later attempted to reclaim his position, after having raised an army, but was thwarted and finally killed in battle. Ranabir Jungs descendants with the title Bir Jung Bahadur are very widespread, and live in Kathmandu, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Kolkata, Australia and The UK.
Descendants of Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana today live in Allahabad, Nepalgunj, Dehradun, Kathmandu, New York, Australia and United Kingdom. Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana later wrote the book called "Life of Sir Jung Bahadur" which was published in early 1900 in India.
His sons and grand-sons fought and commanded forces in places like France, Italy, Afghanistan, Burma, Flanders, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Wazirstan during World War I and World War II and won long list of medals.
Many of his daughters, grand-daughters and great-grand-daughters were/are married to various Maharajas of Indian Principality States. Similarly many of his sons, grand-sons and great-grand-sons were/are married to various Princesses of Indian Royal Houses. Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana of Kaski & Lamjung himself started the process of marrying Rana Gentlemen and Ladies to the Indian Royal Households in mid 1800 AD. Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung continued the process of marrying his sons and daughters to the Indian Royal Households in late 1800 AD.
One of his great-grand-daughter Sita Rani Devi is Rajmata of Indian Princely State of Makrai. Another great-grand-daughter is Geeta Rani Rana who is married to Late Thakuri Prachanda Singh of Royal House of Tulsipur.
Present rulers of Kingdom of Nepal, Jajorkot, Bajhang and Indian Princely States such as Jhalai, Jubbal, Bagribari, Tripura, Oel Kaimara, Khairagarh, Rajgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Khajurgaon Thalrai, Benaras, Ramnagar, Mayurbanj, Poonch, Sikar and many other states share a direct bloodline with Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana and Maharaja of Kaski & Lamjung Sir Jung Bahadur Rana.
- 1817-1835: Jung Bahadur Kunwar
- 1835-1840: Second Lieutenant Jung Bahadur Kunwar
- 1840-1841: Captain Jung Bahadur Kunwar
- 1841-1845: Kaji Captain Jung Bahadur Kunwar
- 1845-1848: Kaji Major-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar
- 1848-1856: Kaji Major-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana
- 1856-1857: Kaji Commanding-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski
- 1857-1858: His Highness Commanding-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski
- 1858-1872: His Highness Commanding-General Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski, GCB
- 1872-1873: His Highness Commanding-General Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, T'ung-ling-ping-ma-Kuo-Kang-wang, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski, GCB
- 1873-1877: His Highness Commanding-General Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, T'ung-ling-ping-ma-Kuo-Kang-wang, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski, GCB, GCSI
- Sword of Honour from Napoleon III-1851
- India General Service Medal-1854
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)-1858
- Indian Mutiny Medal-1858
- Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI)-1873
- Prince of Wales's Medal-1876
- Rana, Jung bahadur rana: The story of his rise and glory
- Conference of Mr Jean Français ambassador of France to Nepal, April 24, 1967.
- From the Anglo-Nepalese War to World War II , ch. 5)
- Regmi, D.R. (1958). A century of family autocracy in Nepal: being the account of the condition and history of Nepal during the last hundred years of Rana autocracy, 1846-1949. Kathmandu: Nepali National Congress.
- Rana, Purushottam S.J.B. (1998). Jung Bahadur Rana: the story of his rise and glory. Book Faith India. ISBN 81-7303-087-1.
- Library of Congress
- Gautam, Prawash. (2011-10-02). Kot legacy and lessons. www.ekantipur.com. Retrieved: Dec 26, 2011.