Sunday, 20 June, 2021

Amar Singh Thapa A Great National Hero


Dr. Shreeram Prasad Upadhyaya


Great people reside in the hearts of the millions around the world. Amar Singh Thapa, who was born at Siranchok of Gorkha, embraced a mission to expand Nepal from the Tista River in the east to the Ravi River in the west. His enviable deeds in expanding the nation's boundaries made him the darling of many Nepalese. He is taken in high esteem for exhibiting bravery and valour during many wars with enemies.
Amar Singh Thapa was a worthy son of a worthy father. His father Bagh Bhim Singh stood on the mound at Palanchok and challenged his enemies to face his strength. At the same time, a bullet pierced into his chest and he fell. Amar Singh Thapa was only 8 when his father was killed on the battlefield. Prithivinarayan Shah gave him family allowances called Marwat and looked after him until he grew up to be enrolled in the army.
In 1768, Amar Singh Thapa took part in the battle of Kantipur at the age of 17. On 6 October 1768 (24 Aswin 1825 ), Sardar Ramkrishna Kuwar and Amar Singh Thapa were honoured as Sardar in the army. In 1769, they took part in the battle of Bhaktpur and got the victory. In 1770, Pritivinarayan Shah assigned them to extend the kingdom to the east up to the Mechi River. General Abhiman Singh Basnyat was given the responsibility to conquer Chaudandi and Bijayapur in the Terai Madhes in eastern Nepal. Sardar Ramkrishna Kuwar and Sardar Amar Singh Thapa moved towards Kirat Prades in the eastern hill. Prithivinarayan Shah warned them not to cross the Mechi River and attack Bhutan which was supposed under the jurisdiction of Tibet and China.

He didn't want battles on two different fronts with two different countries. He also mentioned it in his Dibya Upadesh (Great Preaching ) not to fight with two powers at the same time. He didn't want to fight with Tibet –China and the East India Company at the same time. However, Sardar Ramkrishna Kuwar, Sardar Amar Singh Thapa and Sardar Abhiman Singh Basnyat were not ready to stop the mission. They defeated Bhutan and compelled to sign the treaty in favour of Nepal. General Abhiman Singh Basnyat conquered Chaudandi and Vijayapur in eastern Terai. They had to use a boat to cross the Koshi River with the help of the Tharu communities of Chaudandi ( Saptari Siraha ). They occupied the whole land between Makwanpur and Tista river in the hill and terai within three years.
Pratap Singh Shah was also willing to follow the footprints of his father and requested Sardar Ramkrishna Kuwar, Abhiman Singh Basnyat and Amar Singh Thapa to occupy Chitwan according to the advice of his brother Bahadur Shah who was in exile in Betia, India. Chitwan and Upper Dang Gadhi were under the Sen dynasty of Tanahu. They occupied these places easily.
After the death of Pratap Singh Shah, Rajendra Laxmi and Bahadur Shah ruled as a regent one after another and they had full faith in the capacity and the strength of Sardar Amar Singh Thapa. They gave all the responsibilities to Amar Singh Thapa to expand western territories up to the Mahakali River.
Amar Singh Thapa occupied Lamjung and captured Sardar Bhakti Thapa who agreed to join the Nepalese army. Sardar Amar Singh Thapa and Sardar Bhakti Thapa join hand in hand to move the Nepalese army to occupy the whole land west of the Mahakali River. At that time the people in the west of Mahakali River used to say that they came, they saw and they conquered. All the States across the Mahakali River became parts of Greater Nepal. Sardar Bhakti Thapa, Colonel Balbhadra Kuwar( Nalapani) Nayan Singh Thapa (Kangda )Bhakhtabar Singh Thapa, (Srinagar and Gadhwal )Bam Shhah and his brother Hastidal Shah ( Kumau and Almoda ) were under the command of Sardar Amar Singh Thapa.
In 1811 (1868 Bs at the age of34) Sardar Nayan Singh Thapa was killed in the battle in his bid to capture Kagnda Fort. Amar Singh Thapa tried his best to get the supports of Emperor Ranjeet Singh of Panjab to capture the fort. But on the contrary Shikh army attacked the Nepalese army from the backside. Amar Singh Thapa requested Ranjeet Singh to unite to fight against British Imperialism. But he did not listen to the Mukhtiyar and General Bhimsen Thapa and Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa to move hand in hand to end Company rule in India.

In 1811, Sardar Amar Singh Thapa was promoted as Bada Kazi by the Government of Nepal. He was in the Arki Fort to look after the administration of Nepal west of the Mahakali River and make the strategy of the war against small principalities of western territory. Nepalese boundary reached up to Ravi River across Satlaj in the west.
On 1 November 1814, the war between Nepal and the British East India Company started. Nepal had to face stiff resistance from all sides of its territories. British Major General Sir David Ochterlony had to face Amar Singh Thapa in the western frontier. Before this Sir David Ochterlony proposed Amar Singh Thapa to have a friendship. The proposal was not accepted by Bada Kazi Amar Sign Thapa.
However, they agreed to make a friendship between their two sons named Ram Das Thapa and R.R. Ochterlony by exchanging turban. Major General Sir David Ochterlony decided to bribe Amar Singh Thapa with plenty of money. However, he didn't accept a single penny but replied that he was the son of Loins, not Dog who eats dead body.
In 1814 ( 1865 ), the Anglo-Nepal war started. The main command of the Nepalese army was in the hands of Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa. Colonel Balbhadra Kuwar fought with great resistance against the British army in the fort of Nalapani. There were many casualties from the British side including Major General Gillespie. Colonel Balbhadra Kuwar had to leave the fort lack to scarcity of water and food.
On 16 April 1815 ( 1872 Baisakh 6) Sardar Bhakti Thapa( 73 ) was also killed in the battle of Deuthal in his attempt to capture British cannon. Hastidal Shah, the brother of Bam Shah, was also killed in the battle of Almoda at the end of April. Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa was too much disappointed with the loss of Bhakti Thapa and Hastidal Shah.
Sir David Ochterlony had great respect for Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa and his son Kazi Ranjor Singh Thapa. On 15 May 18 15 (1872 Jesth 4) Major General Sir David Ochterlony and Amar Singh Thapa signed a treaty which mentioned, "In consideration of the high rank and character of Kazi Amar Sigh Thapa, and of the skill, bravery and fidelity with which he has defended the country committed to his change, it is agreed ".The treaty also addresses Kazi Ranjor Singh Thapa with great honour.
Kazi Amar Singh Thapa didn't like the treaty of Sugauli concluded on 2 December 1815 and revised version on 4 March 1816. He requested King Girwan Yuddha Vikram Shah not to sign the treaty. On 29 July 1816 (1873 Srawan 17 Monday) Bada Kazi died in Gosai Kund of Rasuwa Gadhi.
Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa was honoured by all the foreign and national historians. British Historian Hamilton compared him with Hannibal, the Carthaginian General of the ancient period who never surrendered. On 21 May 1815, British Resident CT Metcoff in his letter to the Secretary of British India addressed him as a King Amar Singh Thapa. His son Randhoj Thapa was a great adviser to Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa.
Nepalese historian Surya Vikram Gyawali wrote three books on his life two in Nepali and one in Hindi published from Darjeeling dated 1943 and 1950. He has mentioned the name of his wife as Dharmabati and 9 sons as Surbir, Randhoj, Ran Singh, Ranjor, Bhakt Bir, Ram Das, Narsingh, Arjun Singh and Bhupal. All of them had good contributions to the unification of Nepal.
Dr Dilliraman Regmi in his book on Modern Nepal Volume 11 mentioned the turban exchange ceremony and my teacher Ludwig F. Stiller has appreciated the contributions of Amar Singh Thapa in the expansions of Nepal up to the Ravi River in his book on "The Rise of the House of Gorkha". Chandra B.Khanduri in his book entitled, "A Rediscovery of History of Gorkha "highlighted detail of the strategic plan and the contributions of Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa and his sons.

Expansion Of Nation
Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa was the only general of the Nepalese army who was continuously involved in the expansion of the nation from the Tista to the Ravi River in the west. He was not only general but great devoted to God and Goddess. He constructed Ram Mandir a hundred years before Queen Brishbhanu built Ram Janaki Temple in 1874. He donated land to the Badimalika Devi in Doti. His wife Dharmabati built many inns on the way going to Kedarnath and Badrinath. Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa and his wife were also involved in the renovation of the Pashupatinath and Guheshowri temple.
Some Youths of Nepal has proposed a master plan to construct Amar Singh Circuit connecting all the places visited by our great national hero. The government of Nepal is very positive about the master plan. The circuit, once built, would be a major milestone for our tourism sector.

(The author is a professor)