Thursday, April 21, 2011

History of Gurung


According to the Tamu Pye, the Gurung account of their own history, the very beginning of civilization began at least eight or nine thousand years ago. The Pye recounts the origin of human beings and the materials and tools they used. Tamu priests still use some of these primitive utensils in their rituals. The Pye seems to have remained substantially the same over time.

The Kirati are the oldest inhabitants of Nepal. Soyenbumanu who lived in the land of Hemonta had several children, The second Thoinua, went off towards Japan. The third went towards Thailand, Burma and Cochin-China. The eldest went towards China, then Tibet, and arrived at the northern frontier of India. His name was Munainua. He had ten children: Yoktumba, founder of the Limbus, Yakakowa, founder of the race of Rais, Lunpheba, founder of the Larus, Thanpheba, Suhacepa, founder of the Sunwars (Chepangs, Thamis), Gurupa, founder of the Gurungs, Mankapa, founder of the Magars, Toklokapa, founder of the Thakalis, Tamangs and Sherpas, Thandwas, founder of the Tharus and of the Danwars. For thirty-three generations, the Kirati governed in Kathmandu.

The Pye records the ancestors of the Tamu, their Aji-khe, or Khe-ku, nine male ancestors; Aji-ma, or Ma-i, seven female ancestors; and Aba Kara Klye, including spiritual masters, lords, and ghosts. Tamu Pye tell how the first people lived in Cho Nasa (or Tso Nasa, Tibetan for "Nasa Lake"), a lakeside village, where they planted the first grain, barley. Then they spread to other locales such as Sa Nasa, Dwo Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa. Kro Nasa is described as being in the south, with hot and fertile climes. The northern Cho Nasa was later rich in religious activity, its inhabitants speaking Tamu-Kwyi. Other Tamu villages were influenced according to their proximity to these two northern and southern villages. The Pye contains stories about the discovery of fire and the making of the first drum among many others.

The origins of the Gurungs, Tamangs of central Nepal seem to be connected with the ancestors of the Kirats, an ancient Mongolian tribal group, who occupied the northern area of the Indo-Gangetic plain and the foothills of the whole Himalayan range which extends from the Kashmir valley to Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

The earliest civilization of Kathmandu valley was founded by Kirats. They lived in the foothills and the large inner valleys of Nepal. They appear to have fled to the green mountain tops for safety after the overthrow of the Kirat ruler in the first century A.D.

There are many possibilities for the original location of the ancestral Tamu. The ancestors of the Tamu – the Ma-i and Khe-ku seem to have represented seven lakes (female Ma-i) and nine mountain peaks (male Khe-ku). There is a traditional assumption that Cho Nasa, as described in the Pye-ta Lhu-ta, refers to a place in western Tibet, and was ringed by seven lakes and surrounded by three mountain ranges. To the south, in Xinjiang in Western China, north of Tibet, in the Turfan Depression, lay Kro Nasa. As the Tamu migrated from one site to another, they would call the new site by an old name as if it were similar in some aspect (Cf. New York). According to the Tamu Pye, the soul of the dead is believed to go first to Koko-limar-tso, which is under water. In the Qinghai region of China lies a huge lake with an island in the middle called Koko Nor (or Ching Hai). It is similar to Hara Usa Nuur (one of the seven lakes) of western Mongolia, and some near-by places have names which end in "chow", conceivably derived from the Cho Nasa ofalmost six or seven thousand years ago, described in Tamu Pye. Similarly Sa Nasa, Two Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa could be placed in the Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan regions of China respectively, running southward to Tibet and then Nepal.

Besides this document, other texts from various sources that tell the origin of Gurungs. One Nepali text from the east of Nepal, from the Rai and Limbu areas, recounts: C.B Ghotane, a Gurung scholar has the following interpretation of Gurung history:

This research was conducted in the 1950s when most Gurungs were still living in their ancient villages with their culture and traditions were well preserved. Today, many Gurungs have urbanized or moved abroad. Gurungs nowadays struggle to preserve their language and culture. While Pignede's research can serve as a source of knowledge, its validity is controversial

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