Published in Voice of History, Vol. XV, no.2: 39-38, 2000.(some later amendments are indicated by bold or red typeface with consequent change in footnote numbering but not main pagination)
FROM THE BEGINNING: THEMES IN THE PREHISTORY AND ANCIENT HISTORY OF NEPAL John Whelpton
Arising from ongoing work on a history of Nepal, this article aims to review briefly some of the methodological problems in studying early Nepal and also some of the main areas of controversy among students of the period. Since my own primary research has been limited to the 19th. and 20th. centuries, this contribution is offered with apologies to specialists but in the belief that the questions raised can usefully be debated amongst all those with a serious interest in Nepal’s past and its relevance to her present situation.
The Scope of Nepalese History
The word `Nepal’ referred originally to the Kathmandu Valley and it is only in the present century that is has become the official name of the entire country. In addition,, for as far back as we have records the Valley has been the most important economic and political centre in the east-central Himalayas and therefore the one for which the most source material is available. There are thus two reasons tempting historians to concentrate on Nepal in the narrower sense and to take note of other areas only in so far as they effect developments at the centre. A history of Nepal in the wider sense must, however, deal with other regions, including particularly the Tarai, which has long been the most important area for food production and is now home to over half the country’s population.
Linked with the geographical issue is the broader question of precisely what kinds of events and processes we should be studying. If history is defined as the systematic investigation of the past then any aspect of human activity falls legitimately within its scope. Down the centuries, however, historical writing has generally tended to concentrate upon the state and the interrelationships of those who wielded state power or contended for it. This focus on `high politics’ came under increasing criticism during the 20th century and there was a steady growth of interest in economic and social history, in the study of `mentalities’ as advocated by the Annales school in France, and in `history from below.’ For South Asianists, the last-mentioned is particularly associated with the work of Ranjit Guha and his
colleagues in the `subaltern studies’ group. In the Nepalese context, Mahesh Chandra Regmi was an early critic of the traditional approach and chose to focus instead on the state’s economic impact on the ordinary people. In his critique of Nepalese historiography, Krishna Kant Adhikari, partly anticipating the current concerns of the `janajatiyuga,’ argued that `..our history has hitherto been the history of ruling elites…. The common man, including the ethnic groups of the hills and the Tarai, have been ignored. … we need to write the history of the origin of each ethnic group and its past political, social and economic life.’ More recently, Pratyoush Onta similarly criticised historians for an obsession with `elite prosopography’ , calling instead for concentration on the perspective of less privileged groups.
Everybody will have his or her own view on where the balance is to be struck between the more traditional style of history writing and newer approaches. I feel myself that there is still an important place for the former. First, because attitudes and behaviour among the elite in any society do impact on that society generally. Secondly, for the simple reason that political history is an important part of what the reader, particularly the non-specialist reader, wants a historian to provide. Anyone aiming to write a general history of Nepal or any other country has to try to cover both sides of the picture.
Using the sources It is, of course, the available sources for different periods which partly determine what kind of history can be written. The use of interviews is a very effective tool for unearthing `history from below’ for the recent past, as shown, for example, in work by Mary Des Chene on Gurkhas in the British army or David Holmberg and his colleagues on Tamang forced labour. Reliance on tales handed
down from one generation to the next can extend the method’s reach back into the nineteenth century, as with Stanley Stevens investigation of land-use in Solu Khumbu, but it can tell us little about the ways of life and the feelings and beliefs of a more distant past. For the Licchavi and early medieval period, where the scholar is mainly dependent on inscriptions and manuscript colophons, it is often only political history that can be written with any kind of confidence. K.P. Malla’s criticism of Luciano Petech’s concentration on kings and their dates is thus not entirely fair. To go beyond this chronological skeleton is to enter a realm of speculation, as with Prayag Raj Sharma’s interpretation of the land-tenure system or Malla’s own reliance on Engels’ views on the consequences of the introduction of money into ancient society. The speculation may be well worth attempting, especially if it starts from the realisation that the inscriptions are official, public pronouncements and thus, as Malla puts it, the ancient equivalent of Gorkhapatra editorials. Nonetheless, establishing the framework of dynastic history is the logical first step. In contrast, where there is no written record, it is generally only very broad social and economic history that can be written at all. The tools here are archaeology, linguistics and ethnography, which tell us nothing about the doings of individual rulers.
Each of these tools has its individual limitations. Archaeology reveals only material aspects of culture, though we can, of course, use the results to make intelligent guesses about religious belief or social stratification. Major changes in the archaeological sequence in a particular area, for example, the introduction of a new style of pottery, are often taken as evidence of mass migration but may simply be the result of cultural borrowing. Comparison of existing languages enables the linguist to build up a picture of the extinct proto-languages from which they developed. The process is hazardous, however, since the tendency for one language to borrow words or even grammatical patterns from another belies the simplified picture conveyed by the linguist’s conventional tree-diagrams. In addition, differences in language, like differences in pottery, do not necessarily correspond to physical differences in population. Virtually complete replacement of one population by another does sometimes occur, as with the European colonization of North America and the much earlier supplanting of Neanderthal man in Europe by modern humans migrating from Africa. To a large extent, however, `over centuries and millennia, it is generally languages and not peoples that are replaced.’ The main evidence for this last statement is genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA, which is normally transmitted unchanged from the female to her offspring but mutates over long periods of time at a known rate. This is now beginning to give us 42
a window onto the development of biological populations, though the techniques remain controversial. Ethnography offers another window into the past because of the survival into the present age of some groups whose life-styles seem to preserve an earlier stage in the cultural evolution of other communities. Nepal’s Rautes still live as hunter-gatherers, millennia after agriculture became the main source of subsistence for the vast majority of Nepalese. Caution is needed here, however, since a society’s culture is not fully determined by its technology. In particular, it was one thing to be a hunter-gatherer before agriculture became an option, but rather different to make a conscious rejection of that option as encapsulated in the slogan `I’ll die before I farm.’ However, while nowhere on earth is totally free from the influence of modern society, a few remote areas do remain almost untouched. In his recent analysis of the contrasts in development of different societies, Jared Diamond draws extensively on data from Papua New Guinea, where Stone Age cultures have persisted right up to the present century in virtual seclusion from the outside world. Returning to Nepal’s indigenous written record, after the inscriptions and colophons already mentioned, we have the evidence of the vamsavalis. The earliest of these, the Gopalarajavamsavali, dates only from the fourteenth century and there are differing views on the vamsavalis’ value as sources for earlier periods, particularly the pre-Licchavi era. Riccardi argues that their accounts of the `Kirata’ and earlier dynasties lack any historical basis and criticises those who scour the archaeological record trying to find evidence that matches the written one. In contrast, Sylvain Lévi regularly sought to find a basis for the dates in the vamsavalis, believing that although they are clearly inaccurate as they stand, they can frequently be explained by assuming transposition of figures or confusion between the Vikram and Shaka eras etc. Lévi almost certainly went too far in this regard, but there is much in the vamsavali tradition that does match the inscriptional record. There is broad correspondence in the names of rulers, though with some distortion of their order. The dates in terms of the Kaliyuga, which generally put historical figures like Amsuvarman much too far back into the past, may perhaps be partly explained if we assume the tradition originally preserved genealogies but not dates. Assuming too many years for each generation is similarly a reason why some of the traditional dates for early Greek history are too early There is then material evidently produced in Nepal but forming – or purporting to form – part of the broader Indian Puranic tradition. The Puranas in general contain a mixture of the purely mythical with lineage history which might have some basis in fact. In any case the circumstances in which such literature 43
was produced is itself of some historical interest, whatever the accuracy of the actual contents. Preserving an account of the successive generations of ruling families had originally been the function of bards and chroniclers (suta, magadha), but in the early centuries A.D. they were replaced by Brahman families who wrote accounts of the world from its mythical origins down to their own times. The Brahmans presented the finished product as the work of sages living at the close of the Mahabharata War. Events after that time were therefore generally related as a prophecy in the future tense, which generally ended in the Gupta era around the 4th. century and so provided the clue to the real date of composition. The process of compiling the main accounts in fact probably spanned the period from the 1st to 6th centuries. They served the purpose of providing legitimisation for ruling families, now that kshatriya descent, to which the rulers of the Magadhan monarchy had made no claim, was again felt important. They could also constitute propaganda for particular religious shrines in the competitive struggle to attract pilgrims which was becoming an increasingly prominent part of religious life.
For the modern historian, the Puranas can be used as evidence for memories of historical transitions and also of contact between cultures. Romila Thapar argues that their contrasting of the pre- and post-Mahabharata war periods echoes the real change from lineage-based political units to a state system. Similarly, the story of the banishing of Nisada (supposed ancestor of various `barbarian’ tribes) and his replacement by King Prithvi, the inventor of agriculture, could be seen as a guilty recollection of the dispossession of hunter-gatherer populations. She also sees parallels between the Puranic and Sumerian flood myth, which was the prototype for the Old Testament story of Noah and for the Greek Deucalion. Something of this kind may have happened with the Nepalese legend of the draining of the Kathmandu Valley by Manjusri, one suggestion being that this myth was originally associated with Khotan but then transferred south of the Himalayas.
Use of the Nepalese Puranic literature is complicated, however, by the problem of dating. Just as the authors of the better-known Indian Puranas tried to pass them off as written many centuries previously, the Nepalese authors sought to give their own creations greater authority by representing them as a part of the older Indian tradition. In particular the Nepalamahatmya, which gives legends
associated with the main shrines of the Valley, claims to be part of an otherwise unknown `Himavatkhanda’ of the Skandapurana. The Skandapurana is recognised as part of the main Indian canon, and includes legends linked with sacred sites outside Nepal. It appears to be a kind of receptacle for material which could not be fitted into any other Purana. Just when the Nepalese section was written is uncertain as scholars disagree on the interpretation of the date given in the earliest known manuscript of the work.The author of a recent English translation places it in the 9th century whilst K.P.Malla argues for 1755
Conceptual frameworkIf their work is to be more than an anthology of source material, historians need organising concepts to make sense of their data. At the same time, they also have to be aware of the danger of forcing facts into an unsuitable framework, something particularly likely to happen when the abstractions used form part of a strongly held ideological standpoint. A second danger is failure to define clearly and unambiguously the concepts applied.
One of the most commonly employed abstractions for the study of pre-modern society, but also one of the most likely to generate confusion, is `feudalism.’ Over the last generation there has been a lively debate amongst Indian historians over whether this word can be usefully applied to ancient and medieval Indian society and, if so, to precisely what period (s). The crux of the Indian debate seems to be whether the word should in fact be used broadly for any socio-economic order with a peasantry and a class of landlords extracting surplus by `extra-economic means’, or whether it should be restricted to the specific kind of social structure that emerged in western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. The European system involved a quasi-religious bond between lord and vassal and the institution of serfdom, which obliged the peasant to divide his time between his lord’s land and his own. European feudalism was also characterised by `parcellised sovereignty’, under which those at the bottom of the pyramid were governed by their immediate superiors instead of directly by the sovereign ruler at the top of the hierarchy. The lack of many of these features in the South Asian system has lead Mukhia and others to question whether it really qualifies as a `mode of production’ in the classic Marxist sense. Even if it is
decided to use `feudalism’ in the wider sense, some would wish to make a distinction between `feudalism from below’, in which intermediaries manage to interpose themselves between the peasantry in a restricted area and a pre-existing central government, or `feudalism from above’, where a formerly independent king is conquered by a neighbour but remains in place as a subordinate ruler. Significantly, the Sanskrit term samanta, which originally meant `neighbouring ruler’ subsequently came to mean a dependent one.
Thus, although the controversy is to some extent simply a dispute over terms, there are also important disagreements on empirical issues. For example, what was the relative importance for political evolution in medieval South Asia of the land grants to Brahmans which are attested on a large-scale from late Gupta times onwards and of the `samantaization’ of the state as more powerful kingdoms swallowed weaker ones? And, perhaps most crucially, does the state’s alienation of its revenue collection rights to others reflect an internal crisis within a hitherto strongly centralised structure or rather simply the extension of state authority, albeit in an indirect form, into areas where it had not really been exercised before. All these complexities have tended to be ignored by historians of Nepal, who treat `feudalism’ as an unproblematic term. This is true not only of writers such as Dilli Raman and Dhanbajra Bajracharya, whose focus is on the micro-detail of the ancient evidence, but also of those like Prayag Raj Sharma and Kamal Prakash Malla, who have made stimulating attempts to tackle broader issues of interpretation.
A second key concept for the analysis of Nepalese history and society is that of the `tribe’, a tribal order being generally seen in contrast to a Hindu (and feudal) order which supplants it. The theme of South Asian history as the progressive incorporation of `tribal’ elements within the Hindu order has been taken up by many writers. Particularly celebrated is Sylvain Lévi’s suggestion that the process in Nepal, coming later than in the core areas of South Asian civilisation, offers the
historian a window onto the earlier process in India: `Le Népal est l’Inde qui se fait.’ The term `tribe’ is, however, an imprecise one. It can often be used simply as equivalent to what Anthony Smith terms an `ethnic fragment’ – a group of people with strong cultural similarities but no single political structure and no sense of common identity. It is only in this sense that most of the groups now termed janajati could be described as tribes, since, in most cases, they possessed neither political unity nor a real sense of solidarity before their incorporation in the Nepalese state. An alternative definition for `tribe’, however, would be a group with strong cultural homogeneity and a unified political structure but with much simpler institutions and a less stratified social structure than a `state’. This formulation could itself be applied to a great variety of groups and, in the interests of clarity of discussion, I propose to use in this paper the more restricted definition offered by Jared Diamond as part of an overall schematisation of the development of human society. Diamond reserves the term `tribe’ for the stage beyond `bands’ of up to eighty closely related individuals wandering constantly in search of food. Diamond’s `tribe’ is a face-to-face community, consisting of no more than a few hundred individuals, all of whom are known to each other. Its members dwell in a single village or group of adjacent hamlets with a system of ritual exchange between families and individuals and a division into exogamous clans, but no economic stratification and no formal mechanism for the regulation of internal conflicts. A more complex form or organisation probably only first emerged in the in the 6th. millenium B.C, in the form of `chiefdoms’, grouping together up to fifty thousand individuals. The lineage that supplied the chief enjoyed a superior position over the others and a one-way flow of tribute replacing egalitarian exchange. The chief and his relatives frequently owned luxury goods, the unearthing of which by archaeologists may enable the emergence of this political forms in specific areas to be approximately dated. Land was typically under the chief’s control rather than being held in common by the clan as had been the case in tribal communities. A rudimentary bureaucracy might develop at this stage, along with buildings for public purposes but the political unit remained culturally quite homogeneous. The final transition, probably first achieved in the early 4th. millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia, was from `chiefdoms’ to `states’, in which political power was no longer tied to descent and the population might be multi-ethnic. The state was characterised by an elaborate bureaucracy with specialised functions and by the change of `tribute’ into `taxation.’
Diamond’s model would be rejected by some as too much of a simple, linear progression. Indeed, as Diamond himself readily admits, it is a rough-and-ready classification and examples of societies blending the characteristics of two or more of the four stages are frequently found. In particular smaller units representing an earlier stage are frequently found embedded in a larger unit which exemplifies a later one. In the Nepalese context, villages inhabited solely or predominantly by one ethnic group, such as have been the subject of many ethnographic studies, may still retain many `tribal’ features in Diamond’s sense. The kipat land-holding system in such Nepalese settlements will originally have involved straightforward clan-tenure, also as in Diamond’s `tribal’ model, but with a tendency towards control of the land by a village headman or a chieftain with authority over more than one village.
In view of these complexities, use of the word `tribal’ is perhaps best avoided when discussing economy and society above village level. Here the concepts of ethnic group and of nation are regularly brought in as organising principles but also bring their own difficulties. It is obviously possible to write a history of the territory now claimed by a particular group or an account of the biological or cultural forerunners of a present-day population. We cannot, however, assume that a particular nation or ethnic group recognised themselves as such in the past. This is true of populations with strong cultural similarities, as already argued in the case of the Nepalese janajatis and it is even more true in the case of a multi-ethnic state which wishes to see itself as a nation now but which has only a short history as an integrated political unit.
Anachronistic projection of a contemporary reality into the past is a constant danger, whether or not the writer is a member of the group in question. A British archaeologist in 1950 brought out a book entitled Five Thousand Years of Pakistan, although Pakistan had not formed a distinct political unit before 1947 and its inhabitants, apart from their adherence to Islam, had no common culture that was not also shared by South Asia as a whole. In writing British history, writers have often tried to interpret early centuries through the lens of an insular, Protestant English ideology, which was not really present until the early modern period. In
the Nepalese case, many local scholars seek to show that Nepal’s present territory, though obviously fragmented in the centuries immediately preceding Prithvi Narayan Shah, had been politically unified in ancient times. The very use of the term `unification’ for the formation of the modern state in itself also arguably implies an assumed pre-existing sense of shared identity which was only waiting to be given political expression. This might have conceivably been the case and, as I have argued elsewhere, there was at least a certain basis for unity among some parts of the population. However there are reasons for scepticism and sufficient evidence to refute the doubters has not been produced. The same also applies to the assumptions of many janajati activists. The inhabitants of medieval Kathmandu certainly spoke Newari but they are unlikely to have had the same sense of `being Newar’ as developed by their descendants in a modernising state dominated by Parbatiya culture.
If the `Nepalese nation’ is seen as a very late creation – indeed as something still under process of creation – and Gorkha’s expansion as in many areas the imposition of alien rule, can the concept of colonialism be usefully applied? If one believes that the rulers in question were indeed newcomers, can the same be said of Licchavi rule in the Kathmandu Valley in the ancient period and of the establishment of Thakuri principlaities in the hills in medieval times? Janajati activists would often want to answer `Yes’, but, as with `feudalism’, `colonialism’ can be used in both a broad and a narrower sense. If colonialism is defined as one group of people moving into and assuming control of a territory already occupied by another, then the process has been repeated time after time in human history and certainly did not begin with the European expansion of the last few centuries. The outcome varied between: (1) total displacement of the original population (relatively rare); (2) the newcomers constituting a distinct, ruling elite; or (3) the assimilation of one society into the other. Over time, the second scenario of course finally gave way to the third. The expansion of Indo-European languages into Europe and northern
India may have been examples of this kind of colonialism, whilst the southwards expansion of the early Chinese state from the Yellow River and the conquest of England by the Anglo-Saxons certainly were. We may choose, however, to restrict the use of the word to the expansion of European peoples from 1500 onwards, when distant and culturally very different lands were conquered and retained under the control of the metropolitan country, generally without assimilation of the peoples involved. Unlike the new lands occupied by the Han Chinese, Europe’s colonies were generally viewed as `not a component but an annex.’ The conquest of Kiranti territory by the Gorkha armies in the 18th. century could not be termed `colonialism’ in this narrower sense but it certainly could in the broader one. Perhaps, though, the difference is more apparent than real, since assimilation may be the long-term fate for the remaining indigenous peoples of Australia and North America. In addition where non-Europeans expanded, for example as with the Austronesian movement into the islands of South-East Asia, there may have been a very clear-cut separation of indigenous and settler population initially. For the analyst, the solution is perhaps to employ for the process in Nepal the term `internal colonialism’, originally coined to describe the situation of Celtic areas on the periphery of Britain.
The evolution of society and state in Nepal
With any country, the story of human society must begin with the physical environment within which it developed. Nepal’s earliest history is geological history, with the northwards movement of the Indian sub-continent towards central Asia and the slow disappearance of the Tethys (or Ganges) Sea which once separated them. About 70 million years ago came the first stage in the formation of the Tibetan marginal mountains, which still form the watershed between the Ganges and Brahmaputra river systems. Between 16 and ten million years ago, rock strata on the edge of the Indian plate were forced upwards and folded back towards the south. The root zone of this so-called nappe formation became the main line of the Himalayas, whilst the section which now overlay younger rocks to the south was eroded to form the present Nepalese midlands. At around the same time the Tibetan mountains rose further and then, between 800, 000 and 500,000 years ago the main Himalayan range was also uplifted to reach its present height. Finally, further movements produced the Siwalik and Mahabharat hills to the south. 50
These last movements blocked the path of rivers draining towards the Ganges plain, forming lakes in the Duns (inner Terai valleys between the Mahabharat and the Siwaliks) and also in the Kathmandu Valley. The Kathmandu Lake may have dried up as recently as 100,000 years ago by which time its shores were almost certainly inhabited. The mythical account of the draining of the Valley by Manjushri (Buddhist version) or Pradyumna (Hindu version) could thus conceivably represent an oral tradition dating back more than three thousand generations. It is, though, unlikely that memories could have been preserved over such a time depth. By way of comparison, there is a Chinese folk story about a land link between Taiwan and the mainland, which were in fact joined until around 4000 B.C, but, to the best of my knowledge, there is no folk memory of the land bridge between Britain and mainland Europe, which certainly existed until about 7000 B.C.
The way in which the mountains were formed had important consequences. In particular, as the force of the main rivers was normally sufficient to cut their way down as the land beneath then was uplifted, a pattern of rivers flowing south through deep gorges in the main Himalayan chain was created. Young mountains are easily eroded so the loss of top soil and its deposition further south to form the Ganges plain began millions of years before human activities further increased the strain on the slopes. The slopes themselves provided a very different environment depending on whether or not they faced south towards the rain and the sunshine. There were also important climatic consequences for the region as a whole. The uplift of the Tibetan marginal mountains to 6000m, blocked the monsoon winds from reaching the Tibetan plateau. This effect was strengthened by the subsequent raising of the Himalayas to even greater heights. There seem nevertheless to have been major fluctuations in the air circulation pattern after that, at least in the far-western section of the range, as SW monsoon winds may have been reaching Chinese Turkestan as recently as 20,000 years ago. Though climatic change was thus probably a more complex process than generally believed, progressive desiccation is likely to have been one factor inducing population movement from
the Tibetan plateau into the Himalayas. Before the Himalayas attained their present height, they constituted less of a barrier to movement and it may be assumed that many species of animal life could roam relatively unhindered between south and central Asia. One of these may have been Ramapithecus, a primate whose fossil remains were first discovered in the Panjab. In 1980 a Ramapithecus skull was found at Butwal dating from about 11 million years ago, when the Himalayas may have been somewhere between 1000 and 3000 metres high. There was understandable excitement amongst Nepalese researchers and some extravagant claims were made. One scholar wrote in 1989 that members of this species `could walk erect, move their hands freely and had even the power of communicating their ideas with words.’ He also saw them as ancestors of the makers of the earliest tools found in Nepal. Unfortunately, recent thinking is that Ramapithecus was not in the evolutionary line leading directly to man and is more likely to have been a forerunner of the orang-utangs of SE Asia. In any case, it is generally recognised that the first members of the genus Homo evolved in Africa rather than Asia. The earliest evidence of human activity in Nepal is provided by stone tools found in the valleys (Duns) of the Inner Tarai, between the Siwalik and Mahabharat ranges . Further to the east, where the archaeological record starts a little later, discoveries have been made on teraes formed by rivers as they leave the Siwaliks and enter the Gangetic plain The outer foothills of the Himalayas appear to have been a particularly suitable environment for early man, as the Indian Siwaliks have also yielded extensive remains. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers presumably lived on the shores of the lakes formed as the hills were uplifted. A similar environment will have existed on the shores of the lake which once filled much of the Kathmandu Valley: fossils discovered there include those of an alligator and a hippopotamus. It should be remembered, though, that discoveries here have been made easier by the pattern of river erosion exposing formerly buried material and that areas where no remains have yet been found might still have been used by early man. The first discovery of stone tools was made by Ramniwas Pande in the far-western district of Bardia in 1966/7 and it has been claimed that one of his finds 52
is of pre-Chelean type, implying an age of several hundred thousand years. However, this and other early finds had been washed away from their original site and are thus extremely difficult to date. The first discoveries of Palaeolithic remains in stratified contexts were made more recently by Gudrun Corvinus. They included a hand-axe site at Gadari in the Dang valley and another further east at Satpati. The`hand-axe’ (in fact probably used as a scraper rather than axe) is the name conventionally given to a tool typically used by Homo erectus, the predecessor of both the Neanderthals and modern men. Homo erectus was already an inhabitant of much of the globe by 750,00 years B.P, at which time the second uplifting of the main Himalayan range was under way. The Nepalese hand-axes are of a design common in Africa and India but not found north of the Himalayas. Corvinus believes the Dang site dates back `at least to the later Middle Pleistocene’, viz. roughly between 500,000 and 127,00 years BP or perhaps earlier. For comparison, the oldest tools discovered in South Asia (in the Indian Siwaliks further west along the Himalayan foothills) are thought to be about two million years old. A skull discovered in the Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh and belonging either to Homo erectus or an early Homo sapiens, is believed to date from in or just after the later Middle Pleistocene.
From early on, Nepal was a meeting point for different traditions, a feature which was to characterise it in later periods also. Bishnu Bahadur Shrestha, relying on the disputed material available before Corvinus’s work, argued that Nepal was home to separate Palaeolithic cultures, one connected with that of the oldest Indian hand-axes (conventionally termed `Madrasian’) and the other with that of the Soan Valley in Kashmir. The earliest tools discovered in the Kathmandu Valley, dating
from around 30,000 years ago, show similarities to those found in parts of central Asia, while stone tools of the same or earlier date in the Arjun Valley in Dang are on the Indian pattern. The Mesolithic site discovered by Corvinus in the Rato Khola valley in Mahottari (Eastern Tarai), which dates from 5000 B.C. or earlier, has unique features of its own but also some SE Asian affinities, especially to the Hoabinhian culture of Vietnam. The occupants of the Mahottari site used large stone tools (macroliths) in contrast to the smaller ones (microliths) typical of contemporary Indian sites
A similar pattern is found with the neolithic tools found in many different parts of the country, including the Kathmandu Valley, and dated on grounds of typology to the 2nd millennium B.C. These mostly resemble Assamese types but there appears to be an additional influence in the Dang Valley, which has been described as `a… meeting place of two cultures, one expanding from Assam and Sikkim and the other north Indian.’ The distinctive axe-head which prompts this conclusion (again a discovery of Ramniwas Pande) is similar in shape, and probably also in function to the iron blade which, fastened to a pole, is still used by the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley for breaking up clods of earth .
In contrast to the adzes of the Mahottari culture, which appear to have been used for cutting grass and wood, particularly bamboo, the neolithic implements indicate the arrival of agriculture. Excavations of settlement sites in southern Mustang abandoned during the period 300 B.C. to 1650 A.D.have discovered remains of the varieties of barley, wheat and buckwheat still planted in the locality today. This raises the possibility that the crop pattern in most parts of Nepal remained much the same from the beginnings of agriculture until the introduction of New World crops such as maize, chillies and potatoes from Moghul times onwards. Tool discoveries so far perhaps suggest a date in the third millennium B.C. for the arrival in Nepal of the `Neolithic Revolution’ but it could well have been somewhat earlier in view of the current estimates for the transition from hunting and gathering in neighbouring regions.. The references in the vamsavalis to
the legendary Gopala and Mahishpala dynasties and also K.P.Malla’s derivation of the word nepala from the Tibeto-Burman roots nhet (`cattle’) and pa (`man’) suggest that herders may have been the earliest remembered inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. Whilst we are here in the realm of speculation, it is possibly significant that in the Hindu Kush local people were already exploiting wild sheep and goats as early as 14,000 B.C. and that domestication of sheep there had taken place before 5000B.C. Rice may have been under cultivation in the Ganges Valley south of Allahabad before 6000 B.C., while wheat and barley were domesticated in the Indus Valley not long after 7000. Transmission into Nepal from the north or east is another possibility, as some scholars believe that millet and rice agriculture was established in SE Asia around 10,000 B.C. and a similar date for rice in China has also been tentatively proposed. The shift to food production has frequently been linked with language spread, since it gave new immigrants an edge over earlier-established hunter-gatherers, The latter might be supplanted completely, as in the case of the pre-Austronesian population of Java and Sumatra, or, as may have happened with the spread of farming into Europe, they adopted the newcomers’ technology and often their languages also. A third possibility was survival on the margins of the new society. The Kusunda, a small group of hunter-gatherers, still surviving in the Mahabharat hills, exemplify this, as their language is apparently unrelated to any other and may represent the oldest linguistic stratum in Nepal. Another hunter-gather group, the better-known Raute, now speak a recognisably Tibeto-Burman language but are probably also the descendants of a pre-Tibeto-Burman population. In addition, though Tharu speech has now almost totally converged with local Indo-Aryan dialects, it is believed that their language contains a pre-Tibeto-Burman
substratum, while Gaborieau has argued that their social structure resembles that of tribal groups in central and eastern India. A popular candidate both for a substratum language(s) in the Himalayas and for the language of early agriculturalists has been Munda, the western branch of the Austroasiatic family. Munda is now represented in Nepal only by Sant(h)ali which has something over thirty-thousand speakers in Jhapa and Morang districts. Although the present Santal population appears to be the result of migration from India since the mid-19th. century, Munda languages were conceivably spoken widely in Nepal before the arrival of the Tibeto-Burmans from their presumed original homeland in western China. The most frequently cited evidence for this used to be the existence in languages such as Rai and Limbu of a complex system of verbal affixes showing agreement with the grammatical object as well as the subject. This grammatical feature (`pronominalization’) was believed to be due to influence from Munda, but in fact it is common in Tibeto-Burman languages outside Nepal and thus probably inherited from the parent language.
Nevertheless, there still remains the river name Gandaki, which has been plausibly derived from the Munda word for `water’ (gad, gand) and this, together with the survival of Munda languages in pockets of NE and central India, still makes it plausible that its distribution once included a much wider area, including at least part of Nepal. Comparison of the vocabulary of present-day Munda languages suggests that the speakers of the parent language, which is believed to have broken up some time in the second millennium BC, were familiar with subsistence agriculture based on rice, millet and legumes. Early Munda expansion across north India could thus well have been driven by a food production and the NE Indian neolithic culture which influenced developments in Nepal could have been developed (or adopted) by Munda-speaking peoples.
Neolithic population growth may also have been behind the immigration of Tibeto-Burman speaking peoples. The Himalayan foothills in Kashmir saw the development from 3000 BC onwards of the `northern neolithic’, a culture which was roughly contemporaneous with the urban civilisation of the Indus Valley cities to the south but showed few signs of any interaction with the more advanced culture. The `northern neolithic’ had several similarities with the neolithic cultures of northern China, including the use of perforated stone knives and the burial of dogs with their masters. It was suggested first by Parpola that these people were Tibeto-Burmans and the linguist George van Driem has recently suggested that their subsequent movement eastwards through the hills was the process that brought most of Nepal’s Tibeto-Burman languages to their present locations. The possibility of migration from the west rather than from the east or north had already been raised in Witzel’s examination of river names in the hills. These suggest the presence at one time of Rais as far west as Mugu and also of Magars in western hill areas that are now exclusively Nepali-speaking. This evidence is supported by a
tradition among some Rai that they migrated from Mugu and among the Thami that they originally came from Humla. It may finally also be relevant that the term `Kirata’, found in classical Indian sources from the Vedas onwards and usually understood as referring particularly to Tibeto-Burman populations, must originally have referred to inhabitants of the western Himalaya, since this was the only part of the range the Vedic Aryans would initially have had contact with. The facts can, of course, be interpreted in a different way: peoples who entered from the east might have begun moving in the opposite direction later on, whilst the term `Kirata’ may well have been extended to include any aboriginal inhabitant of the Himalayas. Given the probable very low population densities at the time and the fact that most of the groups involved would have remained dependent on part in hunting and have practised shifting rather than settled cultivation, a zig-zag pattern of movement must have been frequent. The theory of a general drift to the east nevertheless remains attractive since it would parallel the later migration trajectory of the Indo-Aryan Khas people and also the eastward advance of Indo-Aryan settlement down the Ganges Valley. The pattern could be part of an even wider one if van Driem is right in placing the original Austroasiatic homeland in South Asia, so that the linguistic forerunners of the Vietnamese and Cambodians must also have migrated eastwards to reach their current position in SE Asia. One conditioning factor for the trend could have been climatic: although there are wide micro-regional variations, rainfall generally increases towards the south-east and, in periods of drought, it would have been the logical direction to move. Also important could have been pressure from other peoples entering the sub-continent from the north-west and penetrating the hills either via the Iranian plateau or directly from central Asia. Whatever the general trend in the hills, some Tibeto-Burmans did certainly enter what is now Nepal directly from the north, the most famous case being the well-documented migration of the Sherpas into Solu-Khumbu in the 16th. century. While less recent arrivals, the Tamang, Gurung and Thakali almost certainly entered in a similar way. The three languages are clearly closely related and they are also closer to Tibetan than are other Nepalese Tibeto-Burman languages. This
migration trajectory is confirmed by the oral traditions preserved in the Gurung pye. A published account based on the pye has the Gurungs settle in Mustang between the 1st cent.B.C. and 1st cent. AD. and cross to the south side of the Himalaya in around 500 A.D. It is, however, difficult to evaluate Bhovar and Yarjung Tamu’s claims as they do not make it clear how far they are relying purely on the pye itself and how far on deductions made from other sources. Estimates based on the degree of divergence of the three languages are said to indicate a date around 800 or 900 A.D for their separation, which probably coincided with the first migration. Glottochronology is a notoriously unreliable tool but, following Witzel, one might suppose that the 7th to 9th centuries A.D., corresponding to the formation, expansion and collapse of a united Tibetan kingdom, might have seen at least one of the migrations involved. Witzel has also suggested that the Newars might also have arrived in the Kathmandu Valley at this time, mainly on the grounds that the old Newari names found in the earliest land sale documents (from 983 AD onwards) appear very different from the non-Sanskrit nominals in the Licchavi inscription. However, as he himself accepts, it is possible both that the forms in the Licchavi inscriptions (5th to 8th centuries) might already have been archaic and also that the post-Licchavi period was one of turbulence which promoted rapid linguistic change. One also wonders whether a large-scale migration from the north at this point would not have left at least some trace in the vamsavali tradition. The search for Newar origins is, as Prayag Raj Sharma aptly puts it, rather like peeling an onion: there is no solid core beneath all the layers. There has been plenty of speculation about original Australoid or Dravidian elements and particularly about a Munda contribution, but it is very hard to evaluate this. The most reliable evidence remains the Newari language itself . Witzel was perhaps influenced by the belief of some Tibeto-Burmanists that Newari is most closely
connected with Tamang and Gurung. However, Benedict’s tentative linking of it with the Kiranti languages (Rai and Limbu) has recently been confirmed by van Driem’s comparison of the latter’s verbal morphology with that of the archaic Newari of Dolakha. This strengthens the case for the generally accepted view that Newar society evolved out of the `Kirata’ period preceding the establishment of the Licchavi rule.. Whatever their genetic make-up, the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley are most likely the linguistic heirs of an earlier, probably eastward movement of peoples and cultures that also brought the Rais, Limbus and Magars into their current locations. Over the centuries they have certainly also assimilated a number of immigrants from the south, as is made clear both by their caste-structure and the origin myths of particular castes. All of the cultures so far discussed, from the paleolithic era to the eve of the Licchavi period, were at the pre-state stages in terms of Diamond’s categories discussed above. Before the neolithic,and in some cases even after it began, human beings in Nepal lived simply in bands. The `tribal’ pattern, with villages normally divided into exogamous clans, then probably became the dominant form in some parts of the country. The crucial stage of chiefdoms – which implies structures larger than a face-to-face community – was presumably reached only under the Kirata rulers of the Kathmandu Valley. Nothing much more can be said about social conditions. It is often assumed that life before the arrival of social stratification and the state was a harmonious affair, and hunter-gatherer communities in present-day South Asia do generally seem able to manage their internal relations quite peacefully. As has been pointed out already, however, we cannot simply extrapolate from such cultural survivals to the situation before such societies were in contact with more technologically advanced neighbours. Even in present conditions , hunter-gatherers do have their internal tensions and defusion of these depends heavily on the ease with which aggrieved parties can put physical distance between themselves. Fürer-Haimendorf’s well-known study refers to the disorder that ensued when at the beginning of the last century the Madras Presidency government brought the Chenchus of Andhra Pradesh together in large settlements. Diamond’s New Guinean data shows that breakdown is also a possibility even without intervention from a modern state. He gives us this account of a friend’s visit to the Fayu, a New Guinean people who had previously had no contact with the modern world, and whose numbers had been cut down drastically by internecine violence: `the Fayu normally lived as single families, scattered through the swamp and coming together once or twice a year to negotiate an exchange of brides. Doug’s visit coincided with such a gathering, of a few dozen Fayu. To us, a few dozen people constitute a small, ordinary gathering, but to the Fayu it was a rare, frightening event. Murderers suddenly found themselves face-to-face with their victim’s relatives. For example, one Fayu man spotted the man who had killed his father. The son raised his axe and rushed at the murderer but was wrestled to the ground by friends; then the murderer came at the prostrate son with an axe and was also wrestled down. Both men were held, screaming in rage, until they seemed sufficiently exhausted to be released. Other men periodically shouted insults at each other, shook with anger and frustration, and pounded the ground with their axes.’ This example is not intended to replace the stereotype of Eden-like harmony with the opposite one of a Hobbesian war of all against all. It should, however, remind us that the reality is a complex one. Early Nepalese hunter-gatherer society need not always have been so dysfunctional, but we can assume some groups had the same problem. It was not
greater gentleness that distinguished such societies from more advanced ones but rather greater intimacy and one can have intimate enemies as well as intimate friends. The transition to state-societies was, of course, made first in the Ganges Valley before influencing the hills. What is now the Tarai was important to this development for two reasons. First, one of the principal routes for migration down the Ganges Valley lay along the base of the hills, probably because it was easier to clear forest for agriculture there than nearer the Ganges itself. According to the Puranic genealogies, the ruling families of Kosala and Videha, the territories below the hills to the west and east of the Gandaki respectively, shared Suryavamsi descent and this might indicate that the dominant lineages (or, less likely, the ancestors of the two peoples generally) might originally have been part of a single eastward expansion. Secondly, the area along both sides of the present Indo-Nepalese border provided the initial context in which Buddhism emerged. The archaeological record also shows that Painted Grey Ware pottery, often associated with the eastward Indo-Aryan expansion, was in use from early on at sites such as Tilaurakot, probably the ancient Kapilavastu. Though much of the Terai was to revert to jungle in medieval times and become something of a marginal area, it played a key role at an earlier date. Several important trends were operating together on the Ganges plain during the first millennium B.C. First was technological progress, in particular the use of iron. The metal, which was already in use in south India, appears to have been used by the Indo-Aryans initially mostly for weapons, but by the middle of the millennium iron implements were probably being used extensively for forest clearance and particularly for plough-shares. This enabled the heavier soils to be exploited more efficiently, even though farming of such soils and settlement in the Ganges-Jamuna doab had already begun with only stone and bronze tools. In any case, the introduction of new varieties of rice and of improvements in transplanting techniques allowed substantial growth in population. Secondly, the Vedic chiefdoms were evolving towards greater stratification with a growing emphasis on
the ideology of kingship. The strong monarchical state that emerged in Magadha (Bihar) was in some way a culmination of this trend, though also breaking with the lineage principle on which the chiedoms had been based. The `republican’ tribes of the Terai and , of which the Licchavis and the Shakyas are the best known, appear to have been confederacies of older-style chieftaincies, perhaps also with a Tibeto-Burman background. A third factor was the growing importance of trade and of towns, dependent on a rural economy boosted by the new techniques and involving now not lineage-tenure but peasant-proprietors (grihasta) working their land with family and also with paid and slave labour. Buddhism and Jainism were from early on particularly linked to the merchant class, which perhaps helps explain why the radically egalitarian implications of their rejection of Brahmanism were not fully worked out. As Romila Thapar puts it. `the element of social protest in Buddhism was ….. limited to providing the intellectual encouragement and justification for the formation of a new elite.’ The renouncer cults also developed close links to the emerging monarchies in Magadha, culminating with the Mauryas in the 3rd. cent.B.C., and then elsewhere. For the Mauryans and for later royalty the monasteries were useful agents of acculturation and of social control. This was a major factor behind the land grants to Buddhists and Jains and, later on, to sects like the Pashupatas, who emerged in the 2nd century A.D.. Grants to monasteries, and also to Brahmans were to become an even more important feature from the time of the Gupta empire in the 3rd. to 5th.centuries A.D. The extent to which the Mauryan state and its would-be imitators exercised direct control over its subjects remains a highly contentious issue. The picture of centralised, almost totalitarian rule presented in the Arthasastra may well have been a royal aspiration rather than a reality, or at any rate represents the reality only at the centre of the royal domain. As Hindu monarchy developed over succeeding centuries this aspiration was not lost but, in contrast to the Magadhan rulers who had made no attempt to conceal low-caste `origins’, there was by Gupta times a renewed emphasis on pedigree and Puranic literature emerged in large part to meet that demand. The Licchavi state in Nepal emerged against this Gangetic background and its public pronouncements, which form the major part of the surviving inscriptions of the period, faithfully reflect Indian developments. The inscriptional record begins
with a statue of 184/5 or 284/5 A.D. commissioned by King Jaya Varman and perhaps depicting the king himself. The statue is in the Kushan style prevalent at the time in India. The earliest substantial inscription, that of Manadeva at Changu Narayan dating from 464/5, likewise corresponds fully with contemporary Gupta epigraphic conventions. The highlighting in that inscription of a supposed dialogue between Manadeva and his mother also perhaps parallels that between Chandra Gupta and Samudra Gupta in the latter’s 4th. century Allahabad inscription. Manadeva is depicted as persuading his mother against ending her own life on his father’s death. Assuming that she was indeed contemplating joining her husband on the funeral pyre, we have here the earliest reference to sati in any South Asian inscription. The earliest in India is a monument at Sagar (Madhya Pradesh) erected in 510 A.D. The practice of widow burning is attested for earlier periods, with some references in the Smritis and Epics, but it appears to have been rare before the latter half of the first millennium. For good or ill, the Licchavi state was abreast, or even slightly ahead, of trends in the south and the matrimonial links of later rulers with prominent north Indian families show that the south itself acknowledged this.
The emergence of such a state in Nepal was part of a general expansion of Hindu kingship into hitherto peripheral areas and the Licchavi rulers grants of revenue rights to intermediaries, particularly religious beneficiaries, was similarly part of a regional trend already alluded to. The Nepalese data is thus relevant to the debate on whether the latter process can usefully be termed feudalisation. As has already been pointed out, this controversy is not solely a dispute over terminology but also involves the real question, of whether such grants reflected a weakening of the central government in the face of peasant resistance, or rather an extension of state authority (albeit indirectly exercised) into areas from which it had earlier been absent. Prayag Raj Sharma’s analysis of the Licchavi land system suggests that the officials who are so often forbidden from entering particular village were parts of
the revenue collection machinery set up by the previous Kirata rulers. On this view, the Licchavis replaced that system with one based on limited direct taxation by royal agents, recognition of a degree of local self-government and delegation of transfer of revenue rights to grantees. If we suppose that the mechanism the new regime sought to replace had functioned only weakly, we can perhaps see the new system as an extension, not a weakening of state authority, even if presented to the public as a policy of leniency. Very probably grants in Nepal to, for example, the Pashupatas, who were clearly linked with the emergence of Pashupatinath as the Valley’s central shrine, reinforced Licchavi authority in a similar way to that in which the Kanphata Yogis aided the establishment of Thakuri principalities in the later medieval period.
A number of writers have pointed out that the Nepalese Licchavis claim to descent from the Licchavis of Vaisali, like the later claims of Shahs and Ranas to Rajput descent, might well have been spurious. Even greater scepticism is justified in the case of H.N.Jha’s suggestion that the Gupta family who rivalled the Licchavis for power in the 6th and 7th centuries were identical with the imperial Indian Guptas. There is no doubt, however, of the cultural links between the Nepalese state and the Vaisali region: recent excavations have found similarities between ceramic remains at Dumakhal in the Valley and at Basarh, the ancient Vaisali. The interesting question is how complete was the break between the older, Tibeto-Burman Nepal and the Sanskritic culture of the the Licchavi period. Prayag Raj Sharma believes that the inscriptions hint at the settlement in existing villages of substantial numbers of immigrants from the plains and that the panchali village committees which figure prominently in the records were composed solely of those immigrants. In contrast, Malla assumes that they were indigenous institutions allowed to continue under the new regime. In any case it should be remembered that the transition from autonomous face-to-face communities to the chiefdom stage must already have been made before the commencement of Licchavi rule. A slow Sanskritisation of an emerging indigenous elite, together with a limited amount of immigration, particularly of Brahmans and ascetics, is quite possible. This would accord well with Erdosy’s model for the `Aryanisation’ of India itself: `Aryas do not constitute a racial group; rather, belonging to diverse
ethnic groups, they are distinguished by a set of ideas and it is these - instead of the people holding them - which spread rapidly over the sub-continent.’
Another controversy mentioned earlier concerns the extent of the territory included in the Licchavi domain. A majority of Nepalese scholars probably still believe that it was approximately the same as the area of modern Nepal. The nationalist consensus is expressed in his 1989 survey by Ramniwas Pandey, who declares that the country `since the time of the Mauryas [fourth century to second century B.C.] … thrived as an independent state to the south of the Alpine Himalayan region between the Mechi and the Mahakali rivers.’ There is a stock list of arguments in favour of this view and they appear in most textbooks written for Nepalese students. They include the figure of 4,000 li (about 1,330 miles) mentioned in the memoirs of the 7th.century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Hsüan-tsang’s memoirs as the total length of the country’s borders; the fact that, according to the Tang dynasty history, Narendradeva was able to field a force of 7000 cavalry in support of the 647 punitive Chinese expedition into northern India; and also Nepal’s being the only state mentioned between Kartipura (Kumaon) and Kamarupa (Assam) in Samudra Gupta’s 4th. century Allahabad inscription. This evidence certainly establishes that the Kathmandu Valley was the only major power centre in the region which is now Nepal, but it does not, of course, prove that the rulers of the Valley were in day-to-day control of the whole area. It first has to be remembered that precise territorial boundaries were not a feature of the pre-modern state and that a king’s authority gradually faded away as one moved further from his capital rather than vanishing abruptly at a fixed line on the map. Secondly, control in any particular area will also have fluctuated over time. If an analogy with modern structures is needed, the best analogy is with a modern state’s sphere of influence, rather than with the state’s own borders. The USA’s sphere, for example, certainly includes Central America and the Balkans, but its ability to intervene in Panama or force a Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo does not make either area part of the United States.
At the height of their power, the Licchavi rulers would similarly have been able to intervene throughout most of present-day Nepal. We cannot be sure, however, that they maintained a regular administration even in the much smaller area where their inscriptions have been discovered: a de facto independent ruler could easily have thought it worth his while to make a nominal submission to Kathmandu to strengthen his hand in struggles with rival chieftains. It is also 65
highly unsafe to argue, as does Jha from a literal interpretation of the references to elephant warfare and an ocean-like river in the Changunarayan inscription of 465, that Manadeva conquered an extensive area of the plains. The most plausible estimate of the area of effective control from Kathmandu is probably that of Dilli Rahman Regmi, who places it between the Trisuli Gandaki in the west and the confluence of the Sun Koshi and the Rosi in the east, with the jungles of the Siwaliks as the southern limit.. The Aramudi who fought against a ruler of Kashmir in the 8th. century on the Kali Gandaki and and is called king of Nepal in Kashmir’s own vamsavali,the Rajataringini, was probably a Magar chieftain whose realm was confused by the Kashmiris with the area further east.
There is also difficulty in determining exactly when Nepal emerged as an entity in the regional state-system and what role it then played. Even though we may suspect that the name Nepala was known on the plains from Mauryan times, there is, in fact, no firm evidence that this was so. Nepalese writers, including even the normally sceptical K.P.Malla, consider that the early date is established by the reference in the Arthasastra to wool blankets imported from Nepal. However, Indologists in general do not believe that the text as we have it today is the work of Kautilya, since the terminology employed seems post-Mauryan and there are references to China, with which Indians were probably not familiar in Kautilya’s time. The most that can safely be said is that it is pre-Guptan and that it might be an elaboration of something Kautilya himself originally wrote. A Buddhist text, the Mulsarvastivada, which refers to merchants journeying to Nepal, was probably composed only in the 6th or 7th cent. AD. The earliest known mention of the
country in Indian literature is most likely in the lost Prakrit original of the Brihatkatha story cycle, which was probably composed in the 2nd.cent.A.D. and contained a reference to a Nepalese king. There is thus a possibility that the word Nepala did not come into general use in north India until the Licchavi dynasty established itself in the Valley, perhaps in the 1st or 2nd century A.D.
The Valley’s strategic importance and its flourishing commerce, which so impressed Chinese visitors in the 7th. century, rested on its location on a major trans-Himalayan route. With the establishment of a united Tibetan kingdom under Srong-tsen-Gampo (reigned c.627-49), the Banepa-Kuti and Rasuwa-Kirong routes into Tibet became important links between India and China. Traded items included musk, yak-tails, iron and copper-utensils and presumably also craftwork. There was also a strong political connection, seen particularly in the Tibetan assistance to Narendradeva in ousting the Guptas in around 642, as a result of which Nepal became a Tibetan dependency. Full independence was restored in 703-705 when the 8th to 9th. century Manjusrimulakalpa records a successful revolt. While the reality of this episode is generally accepted, there is controversy over the existence of a second period of Tibetan domination, which seems to be suggested by one interpretation of the Gopalarajavamsavali; the ambiguity arises because the word Bhota in the vamsavali might instead refer to Banepa. Some historians also doubt the existence of the Bhritkuti, the Nepali princess who, according to Tibetan sources, married Srong-tsen-Gampo. The main argument is the silence of Chinese and Nepalese sources on the marriage but it is also suggested that a kshatriya ruler would not have given his daughter to a mlechha ruler. In fact, of course, if power politics had dictated a marriage, caste difficulties could easily have been overcome. Obliging genealogists might have `discovered’ a suitable ancestry for Srong-tsen-Gampo, and there is indeed one tradition that he was of
Licchavi descent. In any case Srong-tsen-Gampo was not a man to take no for an answer, as his threat of force to obtain the hand of a Chinese princess amply demonstrated. Whatever the exact details of Nepal’s status vis-à-vis Tibet, it is important not to see it within the conceptual framework of inter-state relations prevalent in Europe since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and extended later to most of the world. The Westphalian model is of sovereign states totally free to determine their own internal arrangements and interacting with each other as formal equals, despite disparities of power and size. The theory does not fully match the realities of modern European practice and it fits even less well those of the pre-modern world with its `fuzzy’ boundaries already discussed. On the older view, relations between rulers were conceived of as hierarchical but formal subordination might still in practice leave the lesser ruler with virtual independence. This certainly applied to Nepal’s status as a pratyanta kingdom, proclaimed in Samudra Gupta’s Allahabad Inscription. This was a nominal dependency, which Sylavain Lévi plausibly compares with that of the later Malla rulers on the Moghul Empire or of the Shah dynasty on China during the 19th century. To end where this essay started, what of the condition of the ordinary cultivators under Licchavi rule? The analyses of Licchavi society by Sharma and Malla referred to earlier take different lines. Sharma, following a hint in the Pashupati Purana, sees the dynasty establishing itself by offering milder rule than that of the Kirata rulers and he suggests that `… tenancies prevalent in Nepal in those days of a pre-capitalistic and pre-colonial economy, probably operated more leniently …. Than forms of tenancy practised in recent centuries within Nepal itself or in South Asia as a whole.’ In contrast, Malla sees the system as harshly exploitative, the expressions in the inscriptions of concern for popular welfare as `mystification.’ As the society was one which had only recently seen the introduction of money and the rise of a merchant class, he assumes that it was marked by the `primitive cruidity (sic) and
violence’ that Engels saw as typical of this state in the development of civilisation. The authors’ interpretations perhaps reflect the different stances that Sharma, a hill Brahman, and Malla, a Newar take towards the incorporation of Nepal’s Tibeto-Burman speaking janajatis within the framework of an Indic, caste society, though Malla is very much aware, that the Lichavis themselves were not necessarily immigrants. Sharma’s more positive evaluation of the Licchavi regime is perhaps the mainstream one in Nepal today. A recent essay on the impact of globalisation on food supply for the Kathmandu Valley contrasted a relatively benign Licchavi agrarian order with that of Rana times, and, by implication, with that obtaining under the Congress government’s liberalisation policy. It is hard to say whether Sharma or Malla is nearer the truth as the inscriptional evidence admits either reading and there are also many complicating factors. In ancient and medieval India generally, the peasantry may well have been kept at or near subsistence level, and the fact that land could almost certainly be bought and sold in the Valley in Licchavi times means that reduction of peasants to landlessness was a possibility. While these considerations favour Malla’s view, it is also true that in the hills as a whole there was land for the taking by whoever chose to clear it. Any ruler or revenue grantee who squeezed them too hard ran the risk of seeing them `vote with their feet’ by moving to a new area. In fact, we simply do not at present have enough evidence to answer the question of how harsh Licchavi rule was in comparison either with contemporary Indian states or with later practice. I end then with a confession of ignorance, which is, regrettably, often the only honest course for the historian of the periods with which this essay has been dealing.
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Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: the Poltics of Idemtity in Contemporary Nepal.Amsterdam: Harwood, 1997 Witzel, Michael. 1993. `Nepalese Hydronomy: Towards a History of Settlement in the Himalayas’, In Gérard Toffin (ed), Nepal: Past and Present: Proceedings of the France-German Conference, Arc-et-Senans, June1990. New Delhi: Sterling, 1993.
 For the shift in the meaning of the word, and the political implications behind it, see Richard Burghart, `The Formation of the Concept of Nation-State in Nepal’, Journal of Asian Studies,vol.. 44, no.1 (1984), 118-19 and John Whelpton, `Political Identity in Nepal: State, Nation and community’, in David Gellner et al. (eds.), Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom, Amsterdam: Harwood, 1997, p.45
 See Ranajit Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies 1: Writings on South Asian History and Society, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1982 and subsequent volumes in the series.
 Mahesh Chandra Regmi, A Study in Nepali Economic History, Delhi: Manusri, 1971, p.i-ii;
 Krishna Kant Adhikari, A Brief Survey of Nepali Historiography (Kathmandu: `Buku’, 1980), p.70. Recent advocates of a `subaltern approach’ (notably Mary Des Chene, `Ethnography in the Janjati-yug: Lessons from Reading Rhodi and other Tamu Writings’, Studies in Nepali History and Society, vol.1, no.1 (1996), p.97-161) do, however, go beyond Adhikari in their stress on studying a group through that group’s own self-perceptions.
 Pratyoush Onta, `Whatever became of the golden age?’, Himal 6(4), 1993, p.29-31. His critique is further developed in `Rich possibilities: notes on social history in Nepal’, Contributions to Nepalese Studies 21(1), (Jan 1994), p.1-43, which also responds constructively to my own criticism of his earlier paper.
 Mary Des Chene, `Relics of empire: a cultural history of the Gurkhas, 1815-1987’, PhD thesis, Stanford University, California, 1991; David Holmberg & Kathryn March, `Local production/local knowledge: forced labour from below.’ Studies in Nepali History and Society 4(1), 1999, p.5-64.
 Kamal Prakash Malla, review of Luciano Petech, Medieval History of Nepal c.750-1482 (Rome: ISMEO, 1984), in Contributions to Nepalese Studies, vol.12, no.2 (1985), p.121-36
 For the Neanderthal case, see Bryan Sykes (ed.), The Human Inheritance: Genes, Language and Evolution (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1999), particularly essays by the editor and by Chris Stringer.
 Steven Roger Fischer, A History of Language, London: Reaktion Books, 1999, p.85
 Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, New York: Norton, 1998.
 These remarks are based on Romila Thapar’s Ancient Indian Social History , London: Sangam, 1979, which includes a discussion of the nature of the Puranic tradition and use of it as a source of information on broad historical processes, though she rightly dismisses attempts to reconstruct a chronology of pre-Mauryan India from its genealogical data. In their Nepalko Pauranik Itihas (Kathmandu: CNAS, 2054 V.S.), Ramnivas Pande and Dineshchandra Regmi discuss both Nepal’s own local Puranic material and references to the Nepal Tarai in the wider Indian tradition.
 John Brough, `Legends of Khotan and Nepal’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol.12, part 2, 1948, p.333-39. Although Brough’s specific arguments are open to challenge, some such transfer remains a possibility. Slusser (1983: 303) argues a Khotanese connection with Valley mythology is supported by the style of the monument at Namobuddha, where a Jataka story of Buddha offering himself in the form of a prince to a hungry tiger has been made into an origin story involving a local ruler’s son.
 Sylvain Lévi, Le Népal, Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1905, vol.1, p.201; Ludo Rocher, The Puranas, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1986, p.228-9, cited in Jayaraj Acharya, The Nepala-mahatmya, Jaipur: Nirala, 1992, p.2-3
 Acharya, op.cit,, p.3-7; K.P. Malla,`The Nepala-Mahatmya: a IX-century text or a pious fraud?,' Contributions to Nepalese Studies , vol.19, no.1 (Jan 1992), p.144-158
 See the contributions to Hernmann Kulke (ed.), The State in India 1000-1700, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995, and particularly the essays by R.S. Sharma, the best-known advocate of using `feudalism’ in the broader sense, and H.Mukhia, who prefers the more restricted use.
 The `above/below’ distinction was introduced by D.D.Kosambi (An Introduction to the Study of Indian History. Bombay., 1956, p.294, cited in Kulke, `Introduction’, The State in India., op.cit.) . The term samanta still later came to include even a power holder who had never enjoyed independent status. The modern Nepal/Hindi samantabad is used as an equivalent of `feudalism’ regardless of which meaning of samanta is involved. Gopal ( `Samanta – its varying significance in Ancient India.’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1963, p.21-37, cited by Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, `Political processes and the structure of polity in early medieval India’, in Kulke (ed.), op.cit.) suggests that the meaning of `dependent ruler’ replaced that of `neighbouring ruler’ as the dominant one in the 5th-6th. centuries A.D. However, although the Ashokan inscriptions use the word only in the `independent’ sense, the `dependent’ one is apparently already found in Vedic usage (Monier-Williams, Sanskrit Dictionary, s.v.).
 The former view is particularly associated with R.S.Sharma, the latter suggested by, among others, Hermann Kulke (`The early and the imperial kingdom: a processual model of integrative state formation in early medieval India’, in The State in India., op.cit., p.243) and by Chattopadhyaya, op.cit.p 231.
 `Nepal is India in the making’ (Lévi, op.cit., vol.1, p.28)
 Anthony Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations, Oxford: Blackwell, 1986. See also the discussion by David Gellner (introduction to Gellner et al. (eds), Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom, Amsterdam: Harwood, 1997, p.14-15), who, however, uses `ethnic category’ in a broader sense than Smith, including also the latter’s `ethnie’ (groups with strong similarities plus a sense of solidarity)..
 Diamond’s schematic account (Guns, Germs and Steel, New York: Norton, 1998, p. 267-81) does not elaborate on the precise definition of the two terms but presumably taxation is payment on a fixed and regular basis as against a less formalised tribute system. The latter would then be equivalent to the `prestations’ which Romila Thapar (From Lineage to State, Delhi: OUP, 1984, p.39 sees as typical of the lineage-based political units preceding the rise of the state in early India.
 See Werner M.Egli, `Below the surface of private property: individual rights, common property, and the Nepalese kipat system in historical perspective’, European Bulletin of Himalayan Research no.18, (2000) p.5-16, for the differing perspectives of headman and ordinary cultivators on who the land belonged to. The article also makes clear that, among the Sunuwar community studied, although sale of land to outsiders was not permitted, individual families normally controlled their own plots.
 An example of history in this mould is Paul Johnson, The Offshore Islanders London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972. For a revisionist perspective, see Norman Davies, The Isles: a History.London: Macmillan., 1999. While taking a critical approach towards British (and particularly) English nationalist formulations, Davies at times appears to endorse the reverse simplifications associated with Irish nationalist historiography. A more sceptical account of the latter by a prominent Irish historian is Roy F. Foster, Modern Ireland 1600-1972, London: Allen Lane, 1988.
 On the development of Nepalese identity, see Richard Burghart, `The formation of the concept of nation-state in Nepal’, Journal of Asian Studies, vol.44, no.1 (1984), p.101—25 and Gellner et al. (eds.) Nationalism in a Hindu Kingdom, op.cit., especially chapters by Gurung, Sharma, Pfaff-Czarnecka and Whelpton; and, for Newar identity, Gellner’s `Language, caste, religion and teritory, Newar identity ancient and modern’, European Journal of Sociology, vol.27, 1986, p.102-48. Pratyoush Onta, `Creating a brave Nepali nation in British India,’ Studies in Nepalese History and Society, vol.1, no.1, 1996, p.37-76, argues that a crucial role was played by ethnic Nepalese intellectuals in Darjeeling who needed to raise their own status in Indian society by providing Nepal with a glorious past. For a view of Prithvi Narayan Shah as conqueror rather than unifier, see Kumar Pradhan, The Gorkha Conquests, Delhi::Oxford University Press, 1991.
 Colin Renfrew (`Reflections on the archaeology of linguistic diversity’, in Bryan Sykes (ed.). The Human Inheritance, op.cit.) argues that there may have been straightforward `elite dominance’ by newcomers in India but that in Europe the newcomers, who on his reckoning were the first European agriculturists, had their language adopted by their neighbours without military domination as a factor. In the Indian case, the key factor is in fact how far the new culture was brought in by a totally new population (see below, p.20).
 David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, New York: Norton, 1998, p.425.
 See Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism : the Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536-1966, Berkeley : University of California Press, 1975.
 Toni Hagen, Nepal, New Delhi: Oxford and IBH, 1980,p.97-103.
 M.V. Lee (ed.), Zhong Guo Shen Hua Yu Min Chuan Shuo [Chinese Myths and Legends], Hong Kong: Reader’s Digest Association Far East, 1987, p.206; Chan Kai-cheung, `History’, in Choi Po-king and Ho Lok-sang (eds), The Other Hong Kong Report 1993, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1993, p.463. The land-bridges in both Taiwanese and British cases were created when the sea level fell during the last Ice Age. Hagen suggests the Kathmandu Lake dried up 200,000 years ago but Ramniwas Pandey (`Paleo-environment and prehistory of Nepal.’ Contributions to Nepalese Studies, vol.12, no.2 (1987), p.112) citing work by Japanese geologists in the early 80s, suggests the Bagmati cut through the ridge to the south `in the middle to late pleistocene. The end of the middle pleistocene period for South Asia is currently estimated at around 127,000 B.P..
 Bridget & Raymond Allchin, The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, p.12.
 Ramniwas Pande, `Ancient Nepal’, in Kamal Prakash Malla (ed.), Nepal: Perspectives on Continuity and Change, Kathmandu: CNAS, 1989, p.53.
 Sonakia, Arun. 1992. `Human evolution in south Asia’, in Takeru Azakawa, Kenichi Aoki, Tasuku Kimura (eds), The evolution and dispersal of Modern Humans in Asia. Tokyo: Hokusen-sha, 1992, p.337-9.
 Chris Stringer, `The fossil record of the evolution of Homo sapiens in Europe and Australasia’, in Bryan Sykes (ed.), The Human Inheritance, op. cit., p.33. There is still disagreement over whether the transition to modern man was also made uniquely in Africa though a majority of scholars probably now accept that view. A nationalist-inspired wish to trace a people’s ancestry on their present territory as far back as possible is not, of course, a purely Nepalese phenomenon possible. See Barry Sautman,. `Peking Man and the Politics of Palaeoanthropological Nationalism in China,’Journal of Asian Studies 60(1):95-124 (2001) for its effect on the work of Chinese palaeo-historians.
 Gudrun Corvinus, `Report on the Work done on the Project of Quarternary and PrehistoricStudies in Nepal’, Ancient Nepal 86-88, 1985, p.5; Pande, `Palaeo-Environment’, f.n. no. 33..
 R.N.Pande, op.cit.,p.118 Tools of Chelean style are placed early in the Middle Pleistocene period (J.L.Sharma, Hamro Samaj: Ek Adhyayan, Kathmandu: Sajha, 2039 V.S., Tables on p.11 and 13), which is now reckoned to have lasted from about 900,000 to 127,000 years B.P. (D.K.Chakrabarti, India: an Archaeological History, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999, p.51 ). N.R.Banerjee (`Discovery of the Remains of Prehistoric Man in Nepal’, Ancient Nepal, no.6 (1969), p.6-9) appears to claim that hand-axes which he and J.L.Sharma discovered in 1968/9 date back about 200,000 years. Corvinus’s presentation of her own later discoveries as the earliest reliable ones caused some resentment amongst Nepalese researchers.
 J.M.Roberts, The Penguin History of the World, London: Penguin, 1990, p.28.
 Gudrun Corvinus, The Prehistory of Nepal after Ten Years of Research, In Ram Pratap Thapa & Joachim Baaden (eds.), Nepal: Myths and Realities, Delhi: Book Faith India., 2000. The article also reports the finding of flake and core tools in one of the tributary valleys to the Dang Dun.
 Bishnu Bahadur Shrestha, `The Prehistoric Archaeology of Nepal with Special Reference to the Beginning of Agriculture’, University of Minnesota thesis, 1982, cited in Theodore Riccardi, Jr., `Change and Continuity in the Kathmandu Valley: the Archaeological Perspective,’ in S.Lienhard (ed.), Change and Continuity in the Nepalese Culture of the Kathmandu Valley, Turin: Edizioni dell’Orso, 1996. Riccardi also claims that Shrestha’s work supports a belief that the Kathmandu Valley was inhabited from Lower Paleolithic times. This would imply a date similar to that suggested for the Dang hand-axe industry. It should be noted, however, that the Soan culture itself, formerly regarded as Lower Palaeolithic, is now thought to be mostly Middle Palaeolithic (Bridget & Raymond Allchin, The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, p.36.)
 Schetenko. `The Outcomes of the Scientific Mission to Nepal in Brief.’ Ancient Nepal nos. 43-45 (1977-78), p.1-2.
 D.R.Sharma, `Archaeological Remains in the Dang Valley.’ Ancient Nepal, no.106 (1988) 8-12. See also Banerjee, N.R. & Sharma, Janak Lal, `Neolithic tools from Nepal and Sikkim.’ Ancient Nepal no.9 (1969), p.53-58 and J.L.Sharma, 1983. `Neolithic tools from Nepal.’ AncientNepal 75: 1-5.
 Predita Pohle, `Geographical research on the history of the cultural landscape of Southern Mustang – the Land Use Map of Kagbeni as a Basis.’ Ancient Nepal, no.134, 1993, p.57-81.
 K.P.Malla, `Linguistic Archaeology of the Kathmandu Valley: a Preliminary Report’, Kailas 8(1-2), 1981, p.19; B. & R.Allchin, op.cit., p.97. The Allchins also believe that in the Fertile Crescent animals were domesticated before plants, though Diamond (op.cit., p.99) and Roberts (op.cit., p.50) maintain the reverse.
 Richard Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760, Berkeley: University of California, 1993, p.4-5; Diamond, op.cit., 100-101.
 Roberts, op.cit., p.49; Yan Wenming, `Woguo Daozuo Qiyuan Yanjiu de xin Jinzhan’ [New advances in research on the origins of rice cultivation in China], Kaogu, no.9 (1997), p.71-6, cited in L.Sagart, Roots of Old Chinese, Amsterdam: John Benjamin, 1999, p.180. For Tibet, however, present evidence shows only that millet was under cultivation by around 2500 B.C.( Laurent Sagart, personal communication).
 Although sometimes erroneously classed as Tibeto-Burman, Kusunda’s status as a linguistic isolate (like Basque in SW Europe) is generally recognised. See Michael Witzel, `Nepalese hydronomy: towardsa history of settlement in the Himalayas.’ In: Gérard Toffin (ed), Nepal: Past and Present: Proceedings of the France-German conference, Arc- et-Senans, June1990. New Delhi: Sterling, 224, 256.
 Witzel, op.cit., p.256, n.21. For a discussion of modern Tarai ethnicity, see Arjun Guneratne, `Modernization, the state and the construction of a Tharu identity in Nepal’ Journal of Asian Studies, vol.57, no.3 (August 1998), p.749-73.
 . Marc Gaborieau (Le Népal et ses populations, Brussels: Editions complexes, 1978, p.81). Cavalli-Sforza and his colleagues (The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.239) claim to have discovered a close genetic similarity between Tharus and `Gurkhas’ (the latter term apparently referring to Pahadi speakers in northern Uttar Pradesh) but the Tharu are perhaps best seen, like the Newars, as an agglomeration of peoples who entered the Terai jungles at different times (cf. Giselle Krauskopf., `Corvées (Begaari) in Dang: Ethno-Historical Notes’, in Harold O. Skar (ed.), Nepal: Tharu and Tarai Neighbours, Kathmandu: EMR, 1999 p.50)
 Buggeland, Anne.. `Kali worship among the Santals of Nepal: Hinduization and ethnic boundaries,’ in Michael Allen (ed.). Anthropology of Nepal: People, Problems and Processes,Kathmandu: Mandala, 1994, p.441. The 1991 census gives just over 30,000 speakers of Santali/Satar in Nepal, while there are over 3.5 million in India. Although Satar is treated as a distinct category in census statistics (followed by Salter and Gurung 1996: 77) anthropologists generally regard them as one group.
 Early Tibeto-Burmans were probably at one stage located in Sichuan and Gansu provinces to the west of the area where a distinctively Chinese culture first developed (Sagart, op.cit.p.193; George van Driem, `Neolithic correlates of ancient Tibeto-Burman migrations’, in Roger Blench & Matthew Spriggs (eds.), Archaeology and Language II: Correlating Archaeological and Linguistic Hypotheses, London: Routledge, 1998. Van Driem accepts Matisoff’s hypothesis that proto-Tibeto-Burman was spoken around the headwaters of the Yangtze, Mekong and Brahmaputra.. He then argues that early agriculture in Gansu and on the Chinese Central Plain (the Dadiwan and Peiligang-Cishan civilisations) was the result of migration north from Sichuan in the 7th. millenium B.C. Sagart (personal communication) believes this is too early a date for agriculture in Sichuan and envisages a spread from rather than towards the Gansu section of the Yellow River.
 Jim Bauman, `Pronominal Verb Morphology in Tibeto-Burman.’ Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 1(1) (1974), p. 108-55.; George van Driem, `The Proto-Tibeto-Burman Verbal Agreement System’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol.56, no.2 (1993), p. 292-334. There is thus no reason for regarding languages which retain pronominalization as closely related, although this notion, first proposed by Konow at the beginning of the 20th. century, is still entertained by many writers, probably both because of its enshrining in the Linguistic Survey of India and because it was relied on in Suniti Kumar Chatterji’s influential Kirata-Jana-Krti (Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1951 and 1974)
 Arlene R.K. & Norman H. Zide 1976. `Proto-Munda Cultural Vocabulary: evidence for Early Agriculture’, in Laurence C. Thompson & Stanley Starosta (ed.), Austroasiatic Studies, pt.2, Honolulu: University of Hawaii, cited in Eaton, op.cit., p.4-5.
 Van Driem, `Tibeto-Burman correlates…’, op.cit., p.71. While reporting this theory, Van Driem himself prefers to see an early wave of Tibeto-Burman migrants into Assam as the originators of the NE neolithic.
 Van Driem, `Tibeto-Burman correlates..’, p.77-82. Van Driem’s theory is presented as part of a larger structure, involving a series of migrations corresponding to nodes in the Tibeto-Burman family tree as he himself reconstructs it. It is highly controversial, particularly in placing Chinese as a member of a `Sino-Bodic’ sub-family within Tibeto-Burman and also because of the early dates he has suggested for initial population movements, but the eastward movement can be accepted independent of the rest. See also his `Sino-Bodic’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol.60, no.3 (1997), p.55-88 and (for a strong rebuttal of his evidence for a special link between Chinese and the Bodic languages), J.A.Matisoff (2000).
 Dilli Raman Regmi, Ancient Nepal,Calcutta: Firma K.L.Mukhopadhyay, 1960, p.23.
 Marc Oppitz, ``Myths and facts: considering some data concerning the clan history of the `Sherpas’, in C. von Fürer-Haimendorf (ed), Contributions to the Anthropology of Nepal, Warminster: Aris & Philips, 1974.
 Scott DeLancey, (`Sino-Tibetan Languages’, in Bernard Comrie (ed.),The Major Languages of the World, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, p.802) actually includes them with Tibetan in a Bodish sub-group. Van Driem (`The Quest for Mahakiranti’, Contributions to Nepalese Studies. Vol.19, no.2 (1992), p.243) prefers to make them a co-ordinate unit alongside Bodish and Himalayish (the bulk of the other Nepalese Tibeto-Burman languages). Van Driem also prefers to regard the Manang dialect as a fourth member of the group rather than including its speakers within Gurung.
 Bhovar Palje Tamu and Yarjung Kromchhe Tamu’s account (`A Brief histroy of the Tamu Tribe’, in Bernard Pignède, The Gurungs (English edition by Sarah Harrison and Allan Macfarlane, ), Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar,1993) also gives elaborate details of earlier migration through western China, mentioning both Sichuan and Gansu. The pye’s account of the fist settlement on the south side of the Annapurna range is probably reliable as the ruins of the first settlement (Kohla Sombre) have been located (Mark Temple,`The Ruins of an Early Gurung Settlement’, European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, no.5 (1993), p.43-47; Judith Pettigrew and Yarjung Tamu, `The Kohla Project’, Studies in Nepali history and Society, vol.4, no.2 (1999), p.327-64.
 Witzel, op.cit.p. ; there is also a Tamang folk tradition deriving their name from a Tibetan word for cavalry and claiming that the first Tamang were soldiers of Srong Tsen Gampo, the 7th. century founder of the Tibetan empire (Janak Lal Sharma, Hamro Samaj: Ek Adhyayan, Kathmandu: Sajha, 1983, p.349.)
 See K.P.Malla’s rather sceptical review of earlier suggestions (`Linguistic archaeology’, op.cit.,p.8-11.)
 Scott DeLancey, `Sino-Tibetan Languages’ in Bernard Comrie (ed.), The World’s Major Languages, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, p.799-810; P.Benedict, Sino-Tibetan: a Conspectus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972; George van Driem, `In Quest of Mahakiranti’, Contributions to Nepalese Studies, 19(2), 1992, p.241-7. For a review of earlier work on Nepalese Tibeto-Burman languages see Tej R. Kansakar,`The Tibeto-Burman Languages of Nepal: a General Survey.’ Contributions To Nepalese Studies, vol.20, no.2 (1983), p.165-73.
 Ramila Thapar, From Lineage to State, op.cit., p.70 and 73.
 Ramila Thapar,`Genealogy as a Source of Social History’, in Ancient Indian Social History, op.cit.p.296
 Maintaining the identification of Tilaurakot with the Shakyas’ capital, made first during by 19th. century archaeologists,has become a point of national pride for Nepalese scholars. See, for example, Bhuvan Lal Pradhan’s Lumbini-Kapilwastu-Dewadaha, Kathmandu: CNAS, 1979 and Babu Krishna Rijal, Archaeological remains of Kapilavastu, Lumbini and Devadaha, Kathmandu: Educational Enterprises, 1979. The counter-arguments in favour of Piprahawa in Basti district, Uttar Pradesh, are presented in K.M. Shrivastava, Discovery of Kapilvastu, New Delhi: Book & Books, 1986. Wherever the truth lies, both sides of the present border formed a single cultural unit in the Buddha’s time, as, in some respects, they still do.
 David Gellner (personal communication) reports the belief of the librarian in charge of the Buddhist library at Lumbini that the the area was intensively farmed until around the middle of the first millennium A.D.
 This last point is stressed by R.A.E.Conningham (``Dark Age or Continuum? An Archaeological analysis of the Second Emergence of Urbanism in South Asia’, in F.R.Allchin (ed.), The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
 George Erdosy, `The Prelude to Urbanisation: Ethnicity and the Rise of Late Vedic Chiefdoms’, in Allchin (ed.), Archaeology, op.cit.
 Hit Narayan Jha’s arguments (The Licchavis (of Vaisali), Varanasi: Chowkamba Sanskrit Studies Office, 1970, p.4-11) for rejecting Vincent Smith’s theory of the Licchavis’ Tibeto-Burman connections are rather weak and the Licchavis own origin legend seems to contain non-Aryan elements. In any case, as Erdosy argues (see below, p.21), it is probably wrong to see the Aryans as an ethnic group at all.
 Romila Thapar, Ancient Indian Social History, op.cit, p..53.
 The reading of the date on the statue pedestal is in dispute. Kashinath Tamot & Ian Alsop, (`A Kushan period sculpture from the reign of Jaya Varma - 184/185 A.D., Kathmandu, Nepal.’), Asian Art 10/7/1996, argue for the earlier one. Their article, with some updating is currently (December 2000) available at www.asianart.com/articles/jaya/index.html., with hyper-link to an undated article by Angelo Andrea Di Castro and Riccardo Garbini, `An Inscribed statue of the Year 207 from Maligaon, Kathmandu.’ The third century date would bring the average reign length for kings between Jaya Varman and Manadeva in line with that for later Licchavi rulers. I am grateful to Prayag Raj Sharma for providing information on the find.
 A.L.Basham, The Wonder that was India. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1967, p.188-9. See also, for a discussion of sati in Nepal generally, Axel Michaels, `Widow burning in Nepal’, in Gérard Toffin (ed.), Nepal Past and Present, New Delhi, Sterling, 1993. The inscription does not, however, explicitly mention immolation and the word sati is used only in the context of the life of widoly virtue to which the queen now devoted herself. It is thus possible that Rajyavati was contemplating suicide by some other means.
 Prayag Raj Sharma,,`The Land System of the Licchavis of Nepal’. Kailash, vol.10, nos. 1-2 (1983), p.11-63.
 See for the latter process G.Unbeschied, Kanphata, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1980.
 See Mahesh Chandra Regmi, `Some Questions on Nepal’s History’, Contributions to Nepalese History 3 (2), 1976, p.1-5, K.P. Malla, `Epigraphy and Society; op.cit.and Theodore Riccardi, `Change and Continuity in the Kathmandu Valley: the Archaeological Perspective,’ op.cit Malla (p.80) argues specifically that Samudra Gupta, who boasted of his own Licchavi descent) would have been very unlikely to mention Nepal as a pratyanta if he accepted its rulers as Licchavis.
 Hit Narayan Jha, The Licchavis, op.cit. p.110-111.
 George Erdosy, `The Prelude to Urbanisation: Ethnicity and the Rise of Late Vedic Chiefdoms,’ in F.R.Allchin (ed), The Archaeology of Early Historic south Asia: the Emergence of Cities and States, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, p.90.
 R.N.Pande, `Ancient Nepal’, in K.P.Malla (ed.), Nepal: Perspectives on Continuity and Change, Kathmandu: CNAS, 1989.
 This issue has been discussed by many authors. See, in particular, Ludwig Stiller, The Silent Cry, Kathmandu: Sahayogi, 1976, p.220-21(citing Lord Curzon’s 1907 pronouncement on the matter) and Bernardo A. Michael, `Statemaking and space on the margins of empire: re-thinking the Anglo-Gorkha Way of 1814-1816’, Studies in Nepalese History and Society, vol.4, no.2 (1999), p.247-294.
 Hit Narayan Jha, The Licchavis (of Vaisali), Varanasi: Chowkamba Sanskrit Studies Office, p.108. The claim by the Licchavi ruler Jayadeva II in his 733 Pashupati inscription to overlordship of Kamarupa (Assam), Magadha (Bihar) and other parts of India is on a par with the claims to overlordship of Nepal made by South Indian rulers a few centuries later.
 Regmi, Inscriptions of Ancient Nepal, op.cit.Delhi: Abhinav, 1983,, vol.3, p.16-17. Regmi seems to have abandoned his earlier belief (Ancient Nepal, op.cit. p.143) that Amsuvarman had conquered extensive territory in the plains. The most easterly inscription site is at Dumja near the Sun Kosi-Rosi confluence and finds have also been made as far west at Gorkha. Sylvain Lévi (Le Népal, op.cit., vol.2, p.144, suggests that the story in the vamsavali of Amsuvarman’s bringing back a god from `Prayag’ refers to the shrine of that name near Panauti and that the reality behind the tradition is Amsuvarman’s extension of his authority to the area east of the Valley.
 Regmi, loc.cit. Witzel (op.cit., p.226-27) points out that the suffix di could be the Magar for river and that the ruler may have taken a river or area name as his own.
 Lévi, op.cit., vol.2, p.64-5. A reference to Nepal in the Atharvaparisisti, another favourite with textbook writers, is similarly irrelevant because the work is probably a late one (Levi, vol.2, p.62).
 Lévi Le Népal, op.cit., p.62-3. The mention in both the surviving Sanskrit versions of the otherwise unknown Yashahketu suggests the name was used in the original. Brihatkatha.
 Mary Slusser, Nepal Mandala, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982, p.32-33
 See D.R.Regmi, Ancient Nepal, op.cit., p.155-57; K.K.Adhikari, A Brief Survey of Nepalese Historiography, Kathmandu: `Buku’, p.47-9.Both writers somewhat contradictorily denounce the whole story but also seems to accept it might possibly be true if the princess is regarded as a sister or daughter of Narendradeva, not the daughter of Amsuvarman as supposed by Lévi and others. Slusser (opcit.) also argues making her Narendradeva’s daughter would be easier chronologically.
 Upendra Thakur, History of Mithila Darbhanga, 1956, p.112, cited in Jha, op.cit., p.5,
 For Tibet as a major military power in the 7th and 8th centuries see now Christopher Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987; and Pan Yihong, Son of Heaven and Heavenly Qaghan: Sui-Tang China and its Neighbours. Bellingham: Western Washington University.
 K.P.Malla, `Epigraphy and society’, op.cit., p.84.
 Jagannath Adhikari & Hans-Georg Bohle, `Urbanization, Government Policies and Growing Food Insecurity in the Kathmandu Metropolis’, Studies in Nepalese History and Society, vol.4, no.1 (1999), p.204-5.
 Harbans Mukhia, `Was there feudalism in Indian society?’, op.cit., p.127-28.