Showing posts with label khukuri. Show all posts
Showing posts with label khukuri. Show all posts

Gorkha Pride: Major Manoj Pandey and His Gorkha Boys

8:01 AM

Writes: Mr Harpreet

This day 2 years ago: Capt MK Pandey's statue in Lucknow - defaced by his fellow Lucknowites, restored by Gorkhas from his Regiment.

The preferred 'tool' of the Gorkhas? Khukri! These guys are sheer magicians with the Khukri. Can just as easily chop off an enemy's head as they can use the same side arm to delicately remove the offending posters that deface their hero's monument.

Hats off to these simple people from the hills of Nepal / Darjeeling / Sikkim who can put anyone to shame with their single-minded dedication to whatever task they are entrusted with and a cheerful nature that can win over even the most evil of their enemy.

Then there are those that lead them into battle. Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey, PVC (P) was a Lucknowite, yet his immortal last words as he fell on the icy slopes of Khalubar were not in his mother tongue but in that of his men.

'Na Chhornu' (Don't spare them) was what he said in 'Gorkhali' as he fell after receiving one final, fatal burst. Even in death, he paved the way for his boys when the grenade in his hand found its mark and took out the Pakis that had fired the last salvo at him.

The enraged Gorkhas of 1/11 GR ensured that their fierce leader's last command was executed with ruthless efficiency. Not a single Paki was taken a prisoner that night at Khalubar. When dawn broke, the battlefield was littered with dead Pakis of the Northern Light Infantry.

A foothold on Khalubar Ridge had been established by the 'Kirantis' of Manoj Kumar Pandey. Restoring our lands till the LoC was but a small formality hereafter.

A huge price had been paid, but willingly. But young Manoj and his 'boys', some of them nearly 2 decades elder to him, knew no other way.

It is these bonds, forged in blood and sacrifice, that ensure that his Gorkhas assume ownership of a memorial in his name, even if in a civilian part of his hometown, and without any second thoughts, let their Khukries flash again to remove the defacement inflicted.

Via TheDC

Gorkha Regiment : The legendary badass warriors

6:45 PM
Writes Naba Raj Chetri

“Better to die than to be a coward" is the motto of the world famous Gorkha army, whose might and valour has transcended boundaries, but what do we really know about the gorkhas, lets try to find out.

Origins
Historically the term ‘Gorkha and Gorkhali” is derived from the hill town and district of Gorkha from where the “Kingdom of Gorkhasthan” expanded. The Gurkhas introduction to the British Army begins in 1814 during the Anglo-Nepalese war.Though the British were militarily successful, attempts to annex Nepal failed and the hostilities ended with the signing of the Sugauli Treaty. The British were so impressed with the Gurkhas fighting abilities, their loyalty and ferocity that they later encouraged them to volunteer. Gurkha troops then fought for the East India Company in its wars in the subcontinent.  The Gorkhas became an integral part of pre-independence British army. From then on, Gorkhas have been a part of Afghan Wars, Indian Rebellion of 1857, both world wars (More than 200,000 fought in both world wars, 43,000 of which lost their lives) and other United Nations peace keeping missions in Lebanon and Sierra Leone too.
British Gurkhas
The very first Gorkha regiments were raised by British to serve in British Indian army. After India’s Independence, six regiments, the 1 GR, 3 GR, 4 GR, 5 GR, 8 GR and 9 GR were retained in the Indian Army, while 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th joined the Brigade of Gorkhas in the British Army. Another regiment was raised by the Indian Army, the 11 Gorkha, to accommodate the soldiers who refused to be transferred to the British Army.

Currently, the Indian army is indebted to the service of 40,000 brave Gorkha soldiers in 42 different battalions of 7 regiments. One of the most famous platoon of Gorkhas, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles is one of the most decorated with 11 vir Chakras, 2 Maha Vir Chakras, 3 Ashok Chakras and 1 Param Vir Chakra. The stories of its Param Vir Chakra winner Lt. Manoj Kumar Pandey are a case study in their glorious history of courageous war footings.​

Another famous battalion of Gorkhas is the third battalion of the 4 Gorkha Rifles which was instrumental in Operation Meghdoot in Siachen. The 8 Gorkha Rifles are also have a glorious past as they produced one of the only two Field Marshals for India – Sam Manekshaw. India’s current chief of army staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, is also from the Gorkha Regiment which is a testament of the most incredible services of Gorkhas.

The Gorkha Brigade
Facts:
i) Gorkhas has been instrumental in all Indian victories in every battle since 1948 till now.The character played by Ajay Devgan in the film LOC Kargil  (Capt. Manoj Kumar Pandey, PVC awardee) was a gorkhali of 1/11 regiment.

ii) Officers in the Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army have to learn the Gorkhali language to be able to interact with their men in their native tongue.

iii) Recently a battalion comprising entirely of Indian Gorkhas was set up, this is the 1st time a new gorkha battalion have come up in 50 years. The Sixth Battalion of the First Gorkha Rifles (6/1GR), christened  "Kanchi Paltan" has been raised at Sabathu in the Shivalik foothills near Shimla, that houses the 14 Gorkha Training Centre.

iv) “If a man says he‘s not afraid of dying, he’s either lying or he’s a Gorkha.”This quote by Sam Manekshaw, Indian Army’s first Field Marshal, aptly describes what it means to be a Gorkha.

v) The queen has two personal Gorkha officers who directly attend official state and key events with the queen. They’ve been present in all state affairs since the Gorkha’s introduction during queen Victoria’s reign.

vi) Dalbeer Singh Suhag the current chief of army staff is also from the Gorkha regiment, he was comissoned in 4/5GR in 1974, and according to the traditions of the 5th GR wears his head gear with the strap below the lower lip. Other regiments wear chin straps below the jaw.
An interesting account need to be told here about the chin strip---
When the Gorkhas joined the British army they proved to be slight primitive in war, they always screamed and then charged at the enemies, which was harmful for launching surprise attacks. So the commander of a gorkha regiment asked his men to wear the chin strips under the lips, So that they would be reminded not to scream when they get into attack mode. The 5th Gorkha Rifles still maintains it.

The Khukri 
The Gurkha’s traditional weapon and all-around utility tool, is the powerful Khukri, an inwardly bent cross between a machete and a knife, measuring 18 inches and able to split a man’s head down the middle midway to the chest in one blow. Ghastly indeed. According to tradition, once drawn, the kukri demands blood, if not the enemy’s, then the owner’s will suffice. The regimental insignia of the gorkha regiment also consists of paired crossed Khukri.

The Khukri
Decorations
Gorkha Regiments are one of the most decorated regiments of Indian Army.They are considered finest soldiers worldwide..

Three Gorkhas has been awarded the highest military decoration "Param Veer Chakra" Which are most by any regiment of Indian army.In addition to this, various Gorkha Regiments have been awarded 33 Maha Vir Chakras, and 84 Vir Chakras besides 26 victoria cross. the British military’s highest distinction for valor,while 2,700 were awarded other medals in World War II alone. More recently, a Gurkha sergeant was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for single-handedly fighting off a Taliban attack to his base in Afghanistan.


Recruitment
More than 28,000 Nepalese from the hills strive to become a Gurkha every year to fill just 200 places. The selection process is said to be the toughest in the world and the competition is stiff. The ranks have always been dominated by four ethnic groups: the Gurungs and Magars from central Nepal; and the Rais and Limbus from the east, who live in impoverished hill villages.


Training
As part of their training, recruits are expected to pass several educational, language and fitness tests, among them running a 3-mile uphill course carrying 70 lbs. on their backs and doing 70 sit-ups in 2 minutes. After meeting the initial age, height, weight and schooling requirements, recruits go on to the second stage for English language training, maths, fitness and an initiative test. The third stage includes: 3-month language training, military skills, Western culture and customs, general weapons training and, of course, several fitness tests.


Stories
Stories of the Gurkhas bravery and skill abound have been well documented, such is the reputation of these hardy nepali hillsmen that stories of enemy fleeing their position upon hearing rumours of their advances abound.


During the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, in the thick of World War I, the Gurkhas gained immortal fame by capturing a heavily-guarded Turkish-held position with relatively few casualties. On the Western front, a Gurkha battalion fought until the last minute and to the last man at the Battle of Loos.

Recently in India, a retired Gurkha officer travelling on a train in India found himself in the midst of a massive robbery by a band of 40 bandits. When they tried to rape a young girl, the retired Gurkha unsheathed his kukri, killed 3 bandits, injured another 8 and sent the rest fleeing.

In Afghanistan, A Gurkha on a mission to kill a “high-value target” needed proof of his mission’s success in the form of DNA, swiftly decapitated the target and brought his head in as proof instead.

Diprasad Pun  a sergenant of the Royal Gorkha Rifles single handedly defeated 30Talibans who were storming the complex, he fired 400 rounds of Ammunition, used 17 hand grenadews and a Claymore mine before battering the last fighter with the tripod of his machine gun.

Cardozo's was a major of the the 5th gorkha rifles, his remarkable military career saw him losing a leg when he stepped on a landmine in the 1971 war. He cut off his mangled leg with his own khukri and told his Gurkha man: "Now go and bury it." Determined not to let the disability affect his career as a soldier, he later became the first disabled officer in the Indian Army to command an infantry brigade. The regiment which then had 750 personels then made 7326 Pakistanis surrender.

These brave soldiers are an asset to all the nations they serve, In India every year there is a tussle in the IMA as the top cadets try to get into this regiment of the braves. Courage on war front and innumerable gallantry awards notwithstanding, the aura of Gorkhas on the field demands immense respect and makes the enemy tremble with fear.


SAS Soldier chopped and killed 3 ISIS terrorists with khukuri

11:35 AM
A Special Air Service (SAS) soldier reportedly stabbed to death three ISIS members with a traditional Gorkha knife when the militants tried to abduct him in Fallujah. The SAS soldiers are reportedly fighting Daesh (as ISIS is also known as) in Libya and Iraq, advising curter attacks and also occasionally taking part in fighting.

The SAS has been operating in Iraq for years. They are responsible for assassinating  Jihadis high-up in the ranks of terrorist organizations and in assisting other forces fighting against the ISIS.

According to reports, earlier in June this year, a SAS snipper debarred two men with a single bullet from carrying out a car bomb attack.

According to a report by Daily Star, a SAS soldier was caught in a stand-off with the ISIS members with an Iraqi team after the jihadists bombed a factory in Fallujah. Several Iraqi soldiers were killed, and four were seriously injured in the face-off.
Gorkha Soldier chopped and killed 3 ISIS terrorists with Khukri
Gorkha Soldier 
The soldier, who quickly went out of ammunition, was left only with the famous Khukuri knife to defend himself.

The 27-year-old Hindu Gorkha soldier had apparently been gifted the Khukuri knife by another British Gorkha soldier.

According to a SAS source,

“As soon as his ammunition was expended, the IS gunmen tried to storm him. As they went to grab him he unsheathed his kukri and began slashing away…He decapitated the first gunman, slit the throat of second and killed another with a third blow. He then sliced away at three others. The IS gunmen fled in panic allowing the SAS soldier to carry the injured men to safety….He expected to be killed but thought he’d take as many of the enemy with him. When he was reunited with Iraqi troops they thought the he was seriously wounded because he was covered in blood but he explained that the blood wasn’t his.”

He added later,

“He cleaned his knife, grabbed some more ammo and then led another Iraqi special forces team into battle.”

Via thelotpot


Gorkha Bicentennary Mahotsav ends with Pawan Chamling's pep talk

2:02 PM
Dehradun: The four-day Gorkha Bicentennary Mahotsav culminated on Sunday with a glittering evening programme in which Sikkim chief minister, Pawan Chamling, was the chief guest. Speaking at the occasion, Chamling congratulated the community for its achievement. He also gave a pep talk especially targeted at the youth. "Wake up early and give more time to school and education. That is the only way our community can grow and achieve great heights." He also had a piece of advise for parents: "Make sure your daughters are encouraged to study and do not get them married till they are 25 years old."

Earlier, the Sikkim CM reached the venue, Mahender ground in Garhi Cantt to a rousing reception by the over 6000-strong crowd. Addressing the audience, he spoke about the identity crisis that Gorkhas had been facing. "I have been CM for five times but still face this line: he is from Nepal. To this I reply that we Gorkhas have been here since the time of Gautam Buddha. We have a centuries-old connection with India where the community has contributed in all spheres. The only way to beat the identity crisis is through education," he said.
Chief Minister of sikkim Mr. Pawan Chamling
Chief Minister of sikkim Mr. Pawan Chamling - a file photo
Chamling also gave emphasis on the need for promoting entrepreneurship in the community. "Youngsters must skill themselves to become entrepreneurs rather than joining the service industry."

The rapturous crowd lapped up every piece of advice that the CM doled out, loudly clapping and cheering his speech. The CM, too, was all praise for Dehradun and the historical significance of the Khalanga battle fought here. "After watching the laser show depicting the cultural history of the Gorkha community and the great Khalanga battle, I feel that the young generation should be made aware about it. This episode in our history also shows the centuries-old connection we have with India."

Visitors also enjoyed cultural performances including the Khukri dance performed by Gorkha soldiers, a stimulating laser show as well as delicacies available at the ongoing Gorkha mela.

Source: Timesofindia

1/11 Gorkha Rifles celebrates raising day on September 1st

2:21 PM
Every year 1/11 Gorkha Rifles celebrates their raising day on 1st September as the regiment  1/11 Gorkha Rifles was raised on 01 Sep 1960 at Clement Town, Dehradun. he troops of the battalion are essentially RAIS and LIMBUS, a famous and dreaded Khukri wielding stock.
1/11 Gorkha Rifles celebrates  raising day on 01 September
1/11 Gorkha Rifles celebrates  raising day on 01 September 
They are known for never having been subjugated by any king or invader and their warrior qualities are very much in evidence to date. Since its raising, "The First" has taken part in almost all operations, which the Indian Army has participated be it in East, West, North or even abroad. The battalion was awarded the first coveted unit CITATION for operations in the North-East in 1993 and the crowning CITATION for its glorious action in capturing KHALUBAR at 17,000ft in Batalik Sector, during OP VIJAY in 1999. The FIRST has got the singular privilege of being conferred with the title of BRAVEST OF BRAVE for Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey being awarded PARAM VIR CHAKRA (Posthumous) and Lieutenant Puneet Nath Datt being awarded ASHOK CHAKRA (Posthumous).

The Martyrs of the Regiment are: -

OP VIJAY
Rfn Sunil Jung Mahat - 15 May 99 LNk Ram Kr
Pradhan - 26 May 99
Rfn Lichon Pradhan - 08 Jun 99 Capt M K
Pandey - 03 Jul 99
Hav Ganga Ram Rai - 03 Jul 99 Rfn Karna Bdr
Limbu - 03 Jul 99
Rfn Kalu Ram Rai - 03 Jul 99 Rfn Arun
Kumar Rai - 04 Jul 99
CHM Jhanak Bdr Rai - 04 Jul 99 LNk Tika Dhwoj
Lawati - 06 Jul 99
Rfn Jit Bdr Limbu - 11 Jul 99 Rfn
Raj Kumar Rai - 11 Jul 99
LNk DN Shrestha - 11 May 99

OP MEGHDOOT
Rfn Shamsher Tamang - 13 Aug 98 Rfn Passang
Shrestha - 03 Sep 98
Rfn Mana Hang Subba - 07 Dec 98 Rfn Arun
Kumar Rai - 04 Jul 99

OP RAKSHAK
Lt Puneet Nath Datt - 20 Jul 97 LNk Debi
Kumar Limbu - 04 Aug 97

NAGA HILL
Capt B Subramaniam - 09 Sep 68 Nb/Sub
Chhabi Lal Limbu - 09 Sep 68
Maj MMS Bajaj, SC - 09 Jan 69 LNk
Bom Bahadur Limbu - 04 Aug 69
Rfn Parsu Ram Rai - 04 Aug 69

MIZO HILLS
Rfn Maita Bdr Rai - 17 Jun 69
WEST BENGAL (RADHIKAPUR)
Rfn Bir Bahadur Limbu - 18 Jun 71

OP CACTUSLILY
Rfn Jai Prasad Limbu - 08 Dec 71 LNk Kul
Bahadur Rai - 08 Dec 71
LNk Bir Bdr Gurung - 11 Dec 71 Rfn
Chandra Bdr Limbu - 08 Dec 71

OP PAWAN (Sri Lanka)
2Lt Ramesh Rawat - 06 Jun 89 Nb Sub
H C Sawan - 18 Aug 89
Hav Amir Rai - 18 Aug 89 Rfn
Suk Bir imbu - 18 Aug 89

Via - pib.nic.in

Gorkhas performed khukuri dance in Indo-Pak War golden jubilee

10:12 AM
The soldier displayed their martial arts skills as part of the programme commemorating the golden jubilee of the 1965 Indo-Pak War. A large number of visitors witnessed the performances.

Organised by the Western Command, Sikh soldiers presented gatka while Gorkhas performed khukuri dance during the show “Hamari Army, Hamari Shaan”.
Gorkhas performed khukuri dance in Indo-Pak War golden jubilee
Gorkhas khukuri dance - representational pic 
A military band from the 14 Gorkha Training Centre, Subathu, and pipers and drummers from the Ladakh Scouts were also present on the occasion. A stall disseminating information on the recruitment process in the Army was also set up.

Large hoardings displaying various aspects of the 1965 war, including major campaigns and gallantry award winners, were also put up. A fitness programme, “zumba fitness’, based upon aerobic-like movements was also presented. Weapons and equipment were also displayed.

Lt Gen KJ Singh, General Officer and Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, was the chief guest on the occasion. A large number of serving and retired officers, including Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh, Lt Gen Depinder Singh and Lt Gen KS Bajwa, all veterans of the 1965 war, were present on the occasion.

Source - Tribune News Service

"The Khukri Braves" Book Review by Anmol Mukhia

10:37 AM
Anmol Mukhia for IG

Book Review on Mani, Jyoti Thapa (2015), “The Khukri Braves: The illustrated history of Gorkhas”, Rupa Publication, New Delhi, Page 407.

The author (Jyoti Thapa Mani) has illustrated the book entitled “The Khukri Braves: The illustrated history of Gorkhas,” not only from the pictorial representation but also from the rich encyclopaedia of Gorkha histories. The book is divided into six parts with its sub chapters, each dealing with the Gorkha in association with his formation, struggle for unification and engagements in service, which makes unique in understanding the Gorkha community. The author says “But it must not be forgotten that the Gorkha name was earned by the sweat, blood and sacrifices of millions over centuries.” What makes this book unique in the relation to Gorkha is ‘double-b’ as pride, which I understood according to author, as the transformation of bravery to brand. Gorkha has become a brand as Trax Gurkha, Gurkha Cigar, Khukri Rum, and Khukri known all over the world.
Anmol Mukhia with Jyoti Thapa Mani
Anmol Mukhia with Jyoti Thapa Mani
Most important part of this book is the illustration of Gorkha from three phases. Firstly, the 19th Century shivetis Baba Gorakhnath whose influence are found from Gorkha district in Gorakhpur (Nepal) to Gorakpur in Uttar Pradesh (India) and the followers or the people living in the surrounding was known as Gorkhas. Secondly, mighty Shah Dynasty ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah was successful in unifying the Gorkha in 1742, where he himself claimed as the king of Magar before dying. During his rule, Gorkha also worship lord Bhairav and in 1785 king Prithvi Narayan Shah raised a company in his army called Bhairav Dal. However historian believe in the genealogy of Raiputs from Parmar Rajputs of Narsinghgarh state in Malwa and Chittore Rajasthan, and the Shah or Sahi were given the title of respect to the warrior. Thirdly, famous Gorkha army encountered by the British in 1815 with the birth of Nurseerree Battalions and the Sirmour Battalion drives them to fight for the foreign nation.

In relation to the Khukri Braves, the book has also justified the Gorka community in association with his Khukri, where majority of Gorkha worship Kali which is also known for Kal Yug. Again the Kal Yug is known for the end days where ‘the evil man kills the evil man’. Therefore the slogan started as Jai Mahakali! Ayo Ayo Gorkhali, which inspired the Gorkha soldiers in different fields as an inspiration during the various wars. Thus the Gorkhali with his khukri became associated with his pride.

However, the book also shows the misrepresentation of Durga Malla statue as the khukri soldiers with his horse, when the author shows the history of Malla as Gorkha intelligence. Also khukri was used for the foot soldiers and not the horse warriors. There are many errors in the Gorkha history with multiple gaps and the book The Khukri Braves are successful in linking the gaps with logical illustration. This book shows Gorkha association not only with the Hindu religion but also with Buddhism and Christians. The final impressive hypothetical assumption made by the author is the Buddha antique statue at the Nepal National Museum, where she shows the elongated ear lobes indicate that he had grown up in a culture which wore circular discs or tubes in the ear holes.

“The Khukri Braves - The Illustrated History of the Gorkhas” interview with the author

10:04 AM
The Darjeeling Chronicle EXCLUSIVE interview with Jyoti Thapa Mani, the author of the newly released book “The Khukri Braves - The Illustrated History of the Gorkhas”

EXCLUSIVE:  “The Khukri Braves - The Illustrated History of the Gorkhas” - JYOTI THAPA MANI 

Jyoti Thapa Mani, the author of newly released book “The Khukri Braves - The Illustrated History of the Gorkhas” joins Adwiti Subba Haffner for a candid interview as she talks about the history of the Gorkhas, her trials and tribulations while writing the book and her stance about female empowerment, which will surprise you. Read the full interview to know your history and find out about the author and her valuable gift to our community.
The Khukri Braves: The Illustrated History of The Gorkha by Jyoti Thapa Mani
The Khukri Braves: The Illustrated History of The Gorkha by Jyoti Thapa Mani
Adwiti : Congratulations on your very extensive and the first-ever illustrated history of the Gorkhalis – “The Khukri Braves - the Illustrated History of the Gorkhas” published by Rupa Publications. Jyoti Thapa Mani you are very aware of the Gorkha community settled in different parts of India, but the fundamental challenge that we face is acquiring a level of unity amongst our Gorkha Community as a whole. Will your book create a sense of cohesiveness within our community?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: Thank you very much Adwiti. Yes, I hope the book I wrote will create a sense of unity and also give a vivid visual of our roots, since the book is filled with stunning images ! “The Khukri Braves” is meant to reach and create awareness and knowledge of our Gorkhali history and culture to unite all Gorkhas with a collective understanding of their history and principles. No real story can be told without pictures so there is a bonanza of them.

Politically the term “ Gorkha” is defined as Nepali-speaking Indians belonging to the Nepali-defined clans and castes. However some do not even know the word comes from the word Gau-rakshak, i.e. Defenders of the Cow. The cow stands for mother or motherland. As Rakshaks it is in our tradition to defend, protect and guard those who seek our help.

The Gorkhas have contributed to world peace by their sacrifices to weather the two Worlds Wars, the continuous cold war going on today, to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism and UN Peacekeeping Forces in civil war zones the major highlights being written in my book. We stand for bravery, honesty, high endurance capabilities and total commitment to duty.

The book can historically and socially create a sense of identity, heritage, culture and the personal set of values and principles that we the brave Gorkhas are synonymous to, and if we abide by these qualities while acknowledging each other through these very strengths and values, we can definitely integrate the perceived differences and gravitate towards solidarity and unity. Knowledge is the key to cultural and social awareness. I don’t want to promote parochialism, this book is not about that. It is about the richness of our outstanding history, heritage and culture.

Adwiti: Your book goes beyond the “word -of-mouth” history and bibliography, it illuminates a wealth of intriguing, hidden, painstakingly researched and buried facts about the Gorkhas. You said that you wanted this book to be in the hands of every Gorkha person, we would love to hear the reason why.
Jyoti Thapa Mani: The book is about the history of the world’s most valiant, popular, deadliest and bravest fighters—the Gorkhas. The book attempts to bust the myth of the complex jaati/thari structure in our society. After you read this book, rest assured that you will be able to understand your cultural heritage and the rich history that we belong to.

I was compelled to actually visit the sites where all the historical events and battles took place. The book I wrote is different because I traced the footsteps of my forefathers, putting myself in their shoes and exploring terrains where blood was shed and battles fought, I even coincided my trips around the same months to capture the environment, the ambience and I took photographs upon photographs encapsulating history and the emotions surrounding the event. It shows.

2015 is a special year for the Gorkhas Rifles. On 24th April 1815, the very First Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) was raised as the Nusseerree Battalions on the slopes of Malaun Fort in Solan district, Himachal Pradesh India. Therefore the history of the 1st Gorkha Rifles forms the special tag of the book. Gorkhas created history but did not write it and hence documented sources were scarcely available to people. Ever since the “Gorkha identity” issue began to crop up, I realized that the Gorkhas did not know their history in India and therefore was unable to represent themselves accurately to Public Opinionates.

Most of our Gorkha history books were written without true research or evidence, for e.g. it’s unclear whether Dharamshala was in the state of Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand. The same for Dehradun. The two towns are major landmarks in Northern India Gorkha history and how can anyone scream about all-India Gorkha identity without even knowing which different states the towns are situated.

Many Gorkha leaders spend huge amounts of time and money discussing and protesting but are lazy to do the groundwork for their claims. They were hitting the battlefield with no preparation. My book gives to you the story of Ram Singh Thakuri with all the credibility required to convince anyone and of many more remarkable people to hold your head high.

Correct and researched history is absolutely necessary to justify their aspirations to being recognized and respected as Indian Gorkhas or Gorkha Indians, either way. This is a 407 pages large-size book with 500 plus full-color photographs. The book has been authenticated and checked by very senior officers from the Indian Army and Nepalese Army, including highly respected Professor and ex-MLA Chanderverker of HP. It has been endorsed by eminent journalists Shekar Gupta of ‘Walk the Talk’ fame and Dr Sanjaya Baru, author of the best-seller book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ and Yubaraj Ghimire of Nepal. And published by Rupa Publications. So the standard of writing, presentation, etc had to be very high.

As I said, the best for the best.

Many in the community suffer from lack of self-esteem and I believe that knowledge of their glorious history will definitely make them more confident and self-assured.

This book is just a beginning to stimulate Gorkhalis to know, discover and preserve their historical heritage. You look for it you will find more of it, everywhere.

You respect yourself, the world will respect you.

Adwiti: What in your opinion is the difference between Gorkhas and Nepalis?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: Gorkhas have a martial heritage. Gorkhas were born as the Gorkha Sena and they moved like a whirlwind in the 18th century taking in its wake all the strongholds of the independent Magar, Gurung, Rai and Limbu chiefdoms and as their men joined the Gorkha army they also became Gorkhas. The wave of identity with induction into the British-Gurkhas from 1815 and Indian Gorkhas after 1947 continued making one community where one culture had also developed defining the Gorkhali community which was united in common traditions. Since the adventures of the soldiers and their families led to new settlements and habitats especially in India what was born was the Gorkha community.

Nepalese citizens are from Nepal or Nepalis or Nepali-speaking people are anywhere in the world. However, I see it as a personal choice to call oneself a Nepali or a Gorkhali. But calling oneself a Gorkhali elevates the status and prestige of an individual for reasons known to the whole world. The Indian Gorkha Rifles has six regiments for Magar-Gurungs, one regiment for Khas-Chhetris and one for the Kirati Rai-Limbus. Others like Tamangs, Newars, etc are eligible for all and tucked into all of them. So all our Gorkhas.

The uniqueness and actual progressiveness of our Gorkhali community today in India stands for an equal society with no caste-class-clan hierarchy system. They intermarry as equals and celebrate common Gorkhali festivals Dasain and Tihar, Christmas with no religious connotations. I believe, Gorkhalis ideally should not accept religious diktats which are constricting and do what we enjoy and believe in the basic message of our religion by birth. It should be a personal choice.

The difference really in my opinion is a matter of personal choice. When one says one is a Nepali, then automatically people tend to think he/she is from Nepal. Gorkhas would be a more universal term.

Adwiti: You have been an agent of change where female empowerment is concerned. The dowry system was not prevalent in the Gorkha culture but it has resisted change in India and lately I am hearing that the system is subtly snaking its way into our culture too. How can we stop this from becoming a fully fledged dowry system so we can revert back to our own tradition?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: Yes Adwiti, I believe in female equality and empowerment. I have zero tolerance towards the dowry system. “Chhori pani dina ani dahej pani? Kasto dalidar hola keta wala haru ( how unfair the system is that we give our daughters but then also send her with dowry).”

Our culture has never propagated this custom and I know of a Gorkhali girl in Dharamshala who cancelled a marriage at the last moment as a dowry list started appearing from the boy’s side including giving a gold coin to all the baraatis which is not in our culture. The odds were high as she was 30 plus considered late for an arranged marriage. But she took her stand supported by her family. Thereafter she has joined a film-making course and society in Hamirpur and free from family and social pressures of marriage she is blooming. The Gorkha community in Dharamshala also took a pledge that nobody from Dharamshala will give their daughter to this boy. How about all other Gorkha communities all around the world do the same?

Marriage and dowries are social institutions and only society can end it or else we are sunk. We will become like the other Indian who are below poverty line and carry dowry debts for life for a one day affair? And we know economic misery makes societies anti-social.

Does money make a happy marriage? We know it does not. Greed leads to more greed. Yes we should fight for it, and not support dowry system.

Adwiti: What advice do you have for the Gorkha youths of today in terms of empowering girls/women in our community?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: Empowerment of girls/ women begins from the male members of the society, fathers, brothers and husbands. Generally, the father is the provider-head of the family so he should provide for his daughter’s education and support her development into self-reliance. Mothers provide the moral strength. I am of course talking about grass roots level development. Obviously at a different level the male-female egalitarian standards can be maintained by mutual understanding and awareness.

But, if we want girls in the villages and rural areas to be educated and we spoke to all the mothers who are dependent on their husbands, they are generally not the decision makers of the family then the information will in turn have to be promoted to their husbands, so unfortunately the education and empowerment of the little girls become contingent on the mothers’ ability to coax the husband. This is a very flimsy method. I say we educate the men. We show them how educating their girls can benefit them, how they too can provide for the family and become strong contributing members of society.

Adwiti: In your book you mention, "The community stands at the brink of breaking tags and stereo-typing to compete in civilian society" - What makes you believe so?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: I have met many young people who want to move away from the Gorkha-tag of soldiers, security personnel, and house help and make their mark as achievers in civilian professions. Many army children do not want to join the army anymore. The world is happening and they want their piece of cake too. That is great!

Soldiering was a profession when other opportunities were limited to the Gorkha community who hailed majorly from agrarian background. Now the options are wide open. We are also writers, artists, entrepreneurs and anything we want to be and the newer generation are starting to see and understand the potential of what they can become by breaking molds and exploring their intelligence and creativity. I hear accomplishments from our Gorkhali brothers and sisters, as writers, photographers, dancers, fashion designers, musicians.

It is very imperative at this point for the parents of the next generation to be open to all possibilities and not restrict them . As for myself I like being called a Gorkha soldier. What an honour!
Adwiti: What difference do you see in the Gorkhas from the Darjeeling district and the Gorkhas in the different parts of India? I know your father studied in North Point College, he must have some insights. What do you think is the future of our Gorkha community as a whole?

The main differences I see among the Gorkhas are the different issues. Identity for some means a Gorkhaland state. Identity for some is a stop to branding as ‘Foreigners’ in their respective states. Gorkhas moving to the People in Himachal Pradesh respect the Gorkhas as fierce warriors.

Identity problem for some is the disappearing of traditions and values which identify the community amongst the majority. In Himachal we were looking for qualified Nepali teachers to introduce the language in the state’s schools but no one was willing to come and stay there.

My father late Pritam Singh Thapa fell in love with Darjeeling during his education stint in North Point. He was the President of the Students Union. He made many friends there. There seems to have been so much warmth and camaraderie in the Darjeeling youth which is unique from any other Indian Gorkhali society. The Darjeelingeys are so full of life-so much of dance and music. It’s a magical world out there.

The future of the Gorkha community is bright as there is fire in the belly to rise and be known. We must teach the newer generation to uplift each other. We just need to band together, build online and real communities, help each other, encourage each other and stay strong under our the Khukri banner!

Adwiti: Your impressive background states that you were the design head of the Economic Times, Business Today and Business World. How did you accomplish so much and then have time to write, not 1 but 2 books!!
Jyoti Thapa Mani: My grandfather late Major MS Thapa, Commandant EFR, Salua, Kharagpur used to say “jo chori lai parnu man lagdaina uslai graduation garayera ramro home-maker banayera ramro gari biha gardine... Jo Chori padai ma hoshiyaar chha uslai paduana parcha... professional course ma best college ma... ani kosaile biha ko pressure halnu hundina.”

Graphic Design at NID in Ahmedabad was the 5 and 1/ years course. When I joined I was just 17 and half. I travelled second class sleeper each time from home to fro for 5 and 1/2 years, ate alu-bhajis from vendors on the way, and tied my baggage to my toes while sleeping. No pampering or molly-coddling from parents except full faith in me.

After graduation a mal-nutritioned me returned home enjoying my mom’s cooking and became plump, till my Granny grumbled saying I was a burden on her retired son and Dad saying that I was wasting the education, so I took the first bus from Dharamshala to Delhi. It was the only way they could make me move and they knew how to do it. It is important for the supporting family members to push a little and I would definitely say that I became a wiser person with every kick in life however horrible I felt then. I would attribute all my success to my family and all goof-ups to myself.

When I first came to Delhi I found my own job, faced the vagaries of the city despite being naïve, travelled in buses and autos for a longtime, before I received a promotion and gained all the rewards of working hard and smart. Life knocked me down several times, I even made some bad decisions but then, you know what I stuck with it, I learned and never gave up. Then the book kept speaking to me even as my work demanded so much out of me. My responsibilities were endless, but I did not find excuses, I found opportunities.

It started as a thought as almost everything creative does; I held on to that idea of writing about my culture, my heritage, my forefathers – I was intrigued beyond tiredness to explore the depth of our history. There was not one book that had it all. This adventure took me to the places where my forefathers shed blood and proved again and again the adage “ Kafar hunu bhunda marnu jati” ( Better to die than be a coward). The caliber and uniqueness, not just in terms of being strategic warriors, but mostly the courage our forefathers carried in their hearts that made them the famous Gorkhas. I had to document this vital account. It was a calling almost like a mission where if I didn’t write and share our legacy then I would not be fulfilling my purpose. It was that strong. It was that passionate. It was fearless. I was a Gorkha myself in this mission.

Adwiti : It took you more than a decade to write this historical piece, a vivid account of valuable work. Share with us briefly the trials and tribulations you faced during your research. What was the most challenging aspect of this extensive project? What drove you single mindedly to write about the Gorkhas, our heritage and history?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: My late father initiated me into the Gorkha quest. It began as a mere interest and then snowballed into a passion and I became a Gorkhaphile. The more I travelled the more I discovered. Nothing was chartered or recorded beyond a point. It was like a treasure hunt as I pieced together information after information, gathered from books, conversations, people and everything took its own time to sink in and connect. I had to dig and dig and dig but loved it all. I tried to reach every place where Gorkha blood had shed, and when I did it, I felt as if they [our ancestors] felt good that they were not forgotten.

I have a collection of stones from battle sites and forts and many wonder why I keep stones in a glass case.

I miss my dad. We used to travel together to Gorkha sites. I used to discuss my work daily with him over the telephone. He was my guide, philosopher and mentor. Today he is not here to see the book but I think he had already visualized it in his mind before he passed away in 2012.

So about 12 years of seeking and two years of fulltime work indoors on my computer to compile, write, design and complete the book. As disasters struck during the production of the book, I died and was reborn many times. It is a spiritual story and was not possible without spiritual sources to charge my batteries which would run out occasionally. A Gorkha warrior-turned-saint who lived centuries ago wrote a journal which is lost. I have not seen it and I do not know where it is. So I wrote it as I believed he would have liked it to be.

In 2010, I curated a first-time exhibition on Himachal Gorkhas history and traditions at the Kangra Museum of Art in Dharamshala with Department of Language and Culture. The idea was for all community members to bring archival photographs, materials, trophies and medals from their homes and the collection was so amazing and huge that we did not have enough space to display them all. The exhibition received great response from the local media with headlines like ‘Gorkha Itihaas 200 saal Purana!’ and so on.

But all these efforts used to be very strenuous as I had to squeeze in time from my job in the media industry where we worked from morning till late night every day. It was not possible to even take leave. Balancing the high responsibilities and my growing Gorkha passion was difficult but I managed to somehow do what I wanted to do. As my brother Dr Aloke tells me, “you must be feeling a vacuum now.” Actually I am feeling lonely. It’s like saying goodbye to the historical characters I lived with for so long.

The journey has been very eventful and if this book does well I will shall share Jyoti on the Gorkha trail. I cannot really define the most challenging part as there were so many. But I did have a tough time climbing up hill sides to remote forts where only goat trails remain. The zigzag paths clinging onto shrubs and stones were very painful and many times my legs turned to jelly and then I just sat down. My poor camera also took many a tumble but remained intact despite dents. How those nimble-footed Gorkha warriors ran up and down these hillsides I cannot imagine. All in all it was a very deep and powerful experience that which changed me forever and hope the history that I have unearthed will change your life too.

Adwiti: Who is your inspiration? What advice do you have for the Youth of our community? How can they become successful in their endeavors like you have been?
Jyoti Thapa Mani: My forefathers, family and of course the Gorkhas themselves! Which Gorkha would not like to write about those who are kith and kin created an internationally acknowledged global status? And which Gorkhali proud of his identity would not like to read about them.

This book would not have been possible without the full support of Maj. General PCS Khati, Vr Chakra (Retd) 1 GR, Brigadier Prem Basnyat, Nepal Army, eminent Indian journalists such as Sandipan Deb, Shekar Gupta, Dr Sanjaya Baru, Nepalese journalist Yubaraj Ghimire and so many other wonderful people whom I have mentioned in my acknowledgements. The number of people (Indian Gorkhalis, Nepalese and non-Gorkhali Indians) all out to support is out of this world.

Think Big. Think Positive. Hard work, endurance, sincerity and Never say die. Face every challenge with determination like a Khukri Brave. Besides professional life make some contribution to the community anytime in your life for whatever span. We Gorkhas are closely connected with nature. Protect animals. Protect nature. Preserve trees. Plant flowers. Protect the environment. Cleanliness and hygiene should be the new mantra. Be clean, be healthy.

I would like to see more nurses (boys and girls) in the hospitals from our rural sectors like the Kerala and North-eastern nurses who reach everywhere to work.

We are the Gorkhas!

Ho ki Hoina?

Ho! Ho! Ho !
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After the impassioned and intense conversation I had with Jyoti Thapa Mani, I could see our forefathers in my mind’s eye, courage in their hearts, khukri in their hands, single minded focus in their eyes shouting out the spine chilling war cry “ Jai Maa kali, Ayo Gorkhaliiii…………..” .

The book that Jyoti Thapa mani wrote is alive because it is not just about The Gorkhas it is about YOU, it is about us and it is about what our forefathers experienced - the blood we shed , the wars we fought, the courage and ferocity we displayed ,the wars we conquered, the lives we lost and the lives we saved. This book is not merely a book, it is something that will speak to you because it is in your blood. Please give yourself this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your history accurately, passionately and fearlessly.

The term Gorkha does not have to be only in the battlefield, we can fight, we can display our fearlessness in every walk of our lives.

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Available in bookstores and online: 

For Overseas buyers:
http://www.southasiabooks.com/the-khukri-braves-the-illustr

In India :
http://www.amazon.in/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+Khukri+Braves

http://www.rupapublications.co.in/authors/jyoti-thapa-mani

Oxford Book Store Darjeeling: Ph # 0354/225 4325

[Adwiti Subba Haffner is an entrepreneur, social worker, writer, freelance journalist, world traveler, mother, wife, meditation teacher. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/AdwitiHaffner and her website is www.alivewithadwiti.com]

Via - The Darjeeling Chronicle

 
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