Unravelling the life of a forgotten Rana GeneralThe author has given intrinsic details of the life of his great-grandfather General Juddha Jang that encompasses a riches-to-rags saga, an assassination and a hapless refugee.
Bureaucrat Sushil Jang Bahadur Rana has recently come out with an interesting book. The book reveals the life of his great-grandfather, General Juddha Jang, a prominent but least talked about son of Jang Bahadur Rana, founder of the century-old Rana regime and second longest-serving Prime Minister in Nepal’s history.
The book, entitled Jarnel Juddha Jang ra Uhanka Santatiharu, which can roughly be translated as General Juddha Jang and his Descendants, though small in size, seems to be the output of a very hard and tenacious job involving sustained research that the author has carried out for many years. Besides good writing, the well-documented book even has valuable tables, charts, bibliography, appendices and photographs of the family.
The book with an attractive portrait of General Juddha Jang, who passed away at 52 more than a hundred years ago, on the front cover has eight chapters. Krishna Jang Rana, who normally wrote as Dr Rana Krishna Jang, during his long innings with the World Health Organization and is himself a descendant of Jagat Jang, has written the foreword to the book.
As mentioned in the book, General Juddha Jang was the tenth among 14 sons of Prime Minister Jang Bahadur but was included among four favourite sons, others being Padma Jang, Babar Jang and Ranbir Jang. It is also a sheer coincidence that all these four favourites happened to share another feature, proficiency in English. Babar Jang predeceased his father and escaped the ordeals that his brothers were forced to undergo. Being fair-skinned, General Juddha Jang was nicknamed Seto Musa meaning white mouse by his father.
It is quite strange that the legendary Rana strongman who was able to successfully negotiate the return of the Naya Muluk involving four Terai districts, Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur, from the British side, was not favourably inclined towards two of his prominent sons. They included Mukhya Jarnel alias Jangi Laath alias Senior Commanding General Jagat Jang who was killed in the bloody coup of 1885 and his younger brother General Jit Jang who had reached the position of Commander-in-Chief but quietly sneaked into India just ahead of coup sensing troubles on the pretext of medical treatment.
From the mother’s side, General Juddha Jang was the son of Shanta Kumari who was among four female members of the family of Chautariyas to marry Jang Bahadur after he came to power. They included Hiranya Garbha Kumari alias Maiya Maharani who was the first to be conferred the title of Shri Teen Badamaharani. She was the daughter of Chautariya Pran Shah and younger sister of Prime Minister Fatteh Jang Shah who was killed in the infamous Kot Massacre of September 14, 1846. Three of her nieces, one Bishnu Kumari (mother of General Padma Jang), and two other uterine sisters, Yagya Kumari (Nauli Maharani) and Shanta Kumari (Kanchha Maharani), were the daughters of her brothers, Colonel Ranasher Shah and Bir Babu Shah respectively. Bir Bahu Shah was also killed at Kot along with his elder brother Fatteh Jang Shah.
Sushil Rana has given a detailed account of trials and tribulations that involved the flight of an established family in Kathmandu after a sudden but well-orchestrated political upheaval that seems to remind and depict in a miniature deep and far-reaching social, economic and even psychological repercussions that accompanied a decade-old armed insurgency in Nepal—leaving 17,000 killed and many more uprooted.
The author has given intrinsic details of the life of his great-grandfather General Juddha Jang that encompasses a rich-to-rags saga that involved the flight of family members of the founder of Rana dynasty after the assassination of the third Rana Prime Minister Shri Teen Ranoddip Singh alias Ram Bahadur alias Gwayemaru Jarnel (a General with no moustache) to India as a hapless refugee for 23 years and later rehabilitation at present-day Nepalganj. The coup led by future Prime Minister Bir Shumshere killed not only the reigning Prime Minister but also two senior members of the roll of succession, Jang Bahadur’s son General Jagat Jang and his son Yuddh Pratap Jang alias Naati Jarnel who was incidentally the first among five family members who got the rank of General on birth during a century of Rana rule in Nepal. The properties of all these unfortunate people save General Padma Jang who was able to negotiate his exile along with substantial money and jewellery, were confiscated. It was coincidental that Bir Shumshere after his mother’s death soon after giving the birth, was nurtured by one of the favourite spouses of Jang Bahadur Rana and was even named Narbir Jang.
Another important aspect of the book is its judicious treatment of female members of the family along with their marital relations that seems to look like another account of the matrimonial ties that existed among Ranas, Nepali aristocracy and Indian royals.
The book is a welcome addition in the list of books of the Rana period that still continues to evoke a lot of interest in the country and outside. However, despite best efforts on the part of the author, there are some mistakes in the book however. These include the name of Sahebju Upendra Bikram Shah, a leading tantrik of his time that has been wrongly written as Ranendra Bikram Shah. Likewise, there is a repetition of some aspects of the story about the family.
JARNEL JUDDHA JANG RA UHANKA SANTATIHARU
Sushil Jang Bahadur Rana
Publishers: Pinnacle Publication