An Administrative Review of Uttarakhand : Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

                                                      (  XIII th   Rahul Sanskrityayan Memorial Lecture )

With the limited objective of compartmentalizing our examination of the  evolution of administration, as it took place in what is known as Uttarakhand (1) today, we have divided the entire period into three parts:

The earliest times to 1858 A.D., which may be termed as corresponding to the Yesterday of Lecture-title. This has been termed as The Rule of the Kingdoms and the Company,

From 1858 to 2000 A.D., broadly corresponding to the Today, and termed as The Rule of Rules & Regulations, and  

The seven years following 9th November, 2000, the day Uttarakhand was born, the Tomorrow of our essay. Too close for an objective assessment, yet tempting enough for prognostication and recall, lest failing memory obliterates what must be put down in black and white. This period has been termed as The Freedom from the Rules and Regulations Regime.

Going by the extant knowledge of the region under study, the "Yesterday" accounts for nearly 1100 years of our past administrative history, "Today" some 142 odd years, whereas "Tomorrow" barely seven years. Admittedly, the 142 years of our immediate – past could easily said to be a period which is documented best  (2), when compared to the 1100 years which preceded it or the seven which followed.


                     The Rule of the Kingdoms and The Company

Uttarakhand has had the experience of being governed by as many as three Himalayan Kingdoms, namely the Katyuris and the Panwars, which were of Indian origin whereas the third one, for less than a quarter century, which was of alien origin, the House of the Gorkhas ( Nepal ). Departure of the alien Kingdom ( 1815 ) left the region divided into two parts, one allowed to be retained with one of the indigenous Kingdoms ( the Panwars), the other coming under a totally new kind of administration, managed by a commercial Company ( The East India Company). All in all, the period ( 700 to 1858 AD) ended up, partitioning the region into three distinct modes of administration namely:

  1. The Non – Regulation Provinces, the then British Kumaon, including British Garhwal ( east of Alaknanda river ),

  1. The Regulation tracts, which included the present day Dehra Dun and Haridwar districts, and

  1. The Native Kingdom rule ( Tehri  – Garhwal State, present day Uttar Kashi, Tehri  and the Jaunsar-Bawur part of Dehra Dun districts ).

As if the abovementioned mosaic of administrative arrangements was not complicated enough there were a few lesser-known territories as well, like Jaunsar-Bawur, whose legal-administrative mechanisms remained a great riddle for a long time, even after an all India perspective was brought about through the introduction of the direct British Crown Rule in 1858. P. Whalley and G.R.C. Williams were especially assigned with the task of collecting and arranging information regarding the laws in force in the Non-Regulation tracts, like the British Kumaon and Jhansi, in July, 1869 ( 3 )

The  Katyuri  Administration

The Kaintyuri dynasty occupies an important place in the history of India as this dynasty ruled from 740 AD to 1000 AD from Kartikeyapur as its capital, and thereafter upto 1590 AD, with Karvirpur – Vaidyanath ( present Baijnath in the Katyur valley of Bageshwar district ) as its capital. Besides its extensive period of continued rule it has been credited for its role as   bulwark against the Tibetan marauders from the north for more than 250 years. Atkinson is credited to have first brought to notice the existence of this great dynasty when he included the records and translations of some of the Katyuri kings in his celebrated Gazetteer of Himalayan Districts in 1882. Pati Ram and Harikrishna Raturi make just a passing reference of the Katyuris, Oakley and Badri Dutt Pande follow Atkinson, the latter adding some information of his own, and Powell Price thought the Katyuris were linked to the Kunindas of the yore. Rahul Sanskrityayan, in his Garhwal and Kumaon, besides reproducing documents and translations made first serious effort to ascertain the dates of Katyuri kings and his description is virtually the first serious histriographic attempt on the Katyuris. Shiv Prasad Dabral first in his Uttarakhand Ka Itihas  Volume 3 ( 1969 ), and later in volume 17, has given extensive treatment to this great Himalayan dynasty. Dabral's Katyuri Rajvansh is the first historical treatise which is dedicated to the Katyuri dynasty.  

Dabral is firmly of the view that the genesis of the Katyuri kingdom, founded around 740 AD, was intimately connected with the most pressing problem of the region, namely tackling the marauding campaigns from across the high Himalayan passes situated in the north. The founders of Katyuris dynasty always received patronage of the Kannauj Kings and the relations between the two kingdoms always remained ever-friendly. Hiuen Tsiang ( 629- 645 AD) who passed through this region, almost a century earlier, mentioned existence of Buddhist stupas and ruined cities at Panduwala and Mordhwaj, but nothing about the ruling regime. The chaotic conditions which prevailed after the death of Harsh in 647 AD could have given rise to establishment of a few small Thakurais, all owing allegiance to the Katyuris. (4).

Significantly, the period of departure of Hiuen Tsiang, 629 AD, was an eventful one for China. T'ai-Tsung, the most powerful figure of the brilliant T'ang dynasty, ascended the throne of his father Kao-tsu, the founder of the line. The nomad Tartars, so long the terror of former dynasties, succumbed to his military genius, and Kashgaria was made a province of the Empire. Already the Kingdom of Tibet was tottering to its fall. (5)

Dabral's analysis about the genesis of the Katyuri dynasty, namely as a bulwark against the Tibetan marauders, deserves a much deeper investigation than done hitherto, by comparing the political history of the two adjoining regions. In India there is no documentary evidence about the ancient period of Tibetan history. However, according to Buddhist tradition, the Tibetan kings traced their ancestry to the son of a noble family of Magadh in Bihar, India. Before this the people were adherents of the Bon religion. It was in AD 617 that Namri Songtsen, the 32nd king , had a son named Tride Songtsen, who is better known nowadays as Songtsen Gampo. In Chinese records, he is called Ch'i-ysung-lung-tsan and his birth came just one year before the founding of the T'ang Dynasty, when Kao-tsu became Emperor in 618.

Songtsen Gampo ( AD 630-649 ) ascended the throne at the age of 13 ( AD 630 ), married Nepalese Princess Bhikuti ( Tibetan know her as Belsa, meaning the 'Nepalese Consort' ), daughter of Amshuverman. Gampo sent Thon-mi Sam-bhota to Kashmir to learn the Sanskrit language. On return Sam-bhota used his knowledge of the Brahmi and Gupta scripts to devise a Tibetan script and then translated the book, The Secret, preserved since the time of Tho-tho–ri Nyentsen. That book was considered of such importance as the first introduction of the Buddhist religion into Tibet, that modern currency notes are dated in so many years from the arrival of The Secret, which is said to have been in AD 233. Songtsen sought the hand in marriage of the Princess Wen-ch'eng Kung-chu, a daughter of the Chinese Emperor T'ai-tsung, and had to defeat the ruler of the T'u-yu-hun ( Eastern Tartars) who was also a candidate for an imperial princess. The Tibetan armies also subdued the tribes called Ch'iang, Pai-lan, and Tang-hsiang. Songtsen recruited 200,000 troops in all, the Tibetan then attacked and captured the city of Sungchou, forcing the Emperor to give a princess in marriage. In the year 641 Princess Wen-ch'eng Kung-chu ( referred to by the Tibetans as Gyasa, meaning the Chinese Consort) arrived at the Tibetan border where Songtsen received her. The famous temple of Jokhang and founding of the palace, Tritse Marpo, on the site of the present Potala, is attributed to Belsa. Tibetan conquered parts of upper Burma, and, in 640, occupied Nepal, remaining there for some years. Present day Nepali family names, such as Tsang, Lama, Sherpa, and Tamang, are Tibetan in origin deriving descent from the Tibetans who one occupied Nepal. In Nepal there is still a pillar called Shila Deva, which was erected by a Newari king, Narendra Deva, on which is inscribed details of the tribute owed to the Tibetan king of the time.

In AD 643, Likme, King of Shangshung became a vassal of the Tibetan ruler. Songtsen died in AD 649 at a place called Phanpo, when he caught an epidemic disease.

An interesting episode is recounted by Shakabpa, quoting official Tibetan records, which happened the year before Songtsen Gampo died. In the year 648 the Chinese Emperor sent a goodwill mission to the court of the Indian Emperor Harsha ( 606- 47). The mission was commanded by Wang Yuan-ts'e, who was accompanied by an escort of thirty cavalrymen. By the time the mission arrived in India, Emperor Harsha was already dead, and because he had no son, and heir he had been succeeded by his minister, Arjun. Conditions in India at that were somewhat unsettled and Arjuna himself was intolerant of Buddhism and its followers. Under his order, all members of the good-will mission were slaughtered, with the exception of Wang Yuan-ts'e and one of his men, who managed to escape to Nepal. From Nepal, which was a dependency of Tibet at that time, Wang appealed to Songtsen Gampo for help and received 12,000 mounted troops from Tibet and 7,000 from Nepal. According to some historians, they marched into India and fought a three-day battle Hirahati in Bihar, which ended in the capture and deposition of Arjuna, but Indian sources do not corroborate this account.

Arjuna's rival, King Kama Rupa, was delighted at the defeat of  Arjuna and, as a token of his approval, sent presents of cattle, horses, and other articles to Songtsen Gampo. The Chinese Emperor was so grateful to Songtsen for his action on behlf of Wang Yuan-ts'e that he stipulated that upon his own death, a statue of the Tibetan King should be erected beside his grave.(6)

Dabral, recounting the military campaigns of Songtsen Gampo and acknowledging his contribution in the all round development of the Tibetan empire during the first half of the seventeenth century, disagrees with the incident related to the treatment alleged to have been meted out to Chinese delegation by the successor of Harsh, Arjun or Arunashva. All Dabral is prepared to accept are the skirmishes which might have happened between the Chinese delegation, consisting of Tibetan and Nepalese troops, and the contemporary Tirhut ruler. Dabral concludes from this episode that Songtsen Gampo was very well aware of the weakness of the north Indian kingdoms and he could have taken the advantage of this situation.  This repudiation is surprisingly based on a thin evidence i.e. Rahul Sanskrityayan alone.  Reliance placed exclusively on the authority of Rahul Sanskrityayan has lead to some major factual errors regarding the period of reign of Songtsen Gampo and his successors. Dabral has mistakenly concluded that Songtsen Gampo lived upto AD 689, outliving Harsh by as many as 51 years ! (7).

This is factually incorrect as Shakabpa provides us ample details relating to death of Songtsen Gampo in A.D. 649, at a place called Phanpo where he caught a contagious disease and succumbed to it. According to later religious historians, Songtsen Gampo and his two queens were absorbed into a statute of Avalokitessvara in the Jokhang, when the King was eighty two years old; however, the Tun-huang documents show that Songtsen Gampo died in 649 and the Chinese Princess in 680. The tomb of Songtsen Gampo is located in Chongyas valley near Yalung. (8)  

Dabral's factual inconsistencies commencing with the erroneous dating of death of Songtsen Gampo, period of his successors stretching upto year 983 AD, expansion of a branch to the Western Tibet, Baltistan, Ladakh, Lahul, Kinnaur and even upto lower parts of the present day Uttar Kashi etc are all based on the testimony of Rahul, Goudge, Sylvan Levy, articles of R.C. Majumdar and Baldev Upadhyaya. Surprizingly, Dabral fails to either or mention any historical writings or sources  originating from Tibet or China.  Even a cursory comparison of treatment of three centuries, namely from the seventh to the tenth AD, given by Dabral with what now has become available from Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa's  book calls for a serious re-visiting the facts and figures made available by the Indian sources, including those by Dabral on the Katyuri dynasty.   

Katyuri dynasty's final departure from their capital Joshimath, sometimes during the last decade of the tenth century A.D., according to Dabral was triggered by the second biggest threat which was posed by the Tibetan King in 983 when in one swipe he occupied the entire terrain falling between Lake  Mansarovar to Baltistan-Ladakh, Lahul, Kinnaur, Uttar Kashi and Mana. This situation compounded by a series of avalanches created an unprecedented threat to Joshimath. Unable to drive out the aggressors from the western parts of the kingdom some ambitious members of the royal family took over the reigns of the kingdom and shifted the capital to Kabirpur in Kumaon. Excepting providing the year of occupation, as 983 AD, Dabral very uncharacteristically provides no evidence or clue about his statements, which are quite categorical. (9)

As against a singularly unsatisfactory state of histriographical evidences on and about the Katyuris in the Indian records, in sharp contrast we are provided extensive documentary evidence by  Shakabpa, from the official Tibetan records. According to his political history of Tibet, in the region of Ngari in western Tibet, Tsenpo Khore, a grandson of Kyide Nymagon, had ascended to the throne of the western lineage of kings. He built Toling monastery and then decided to become a monk. Turning over his rule to his younger brother, Songe, Khore then ordained himself a monk and took the name of Lha Lama Yeshe Od. Observing that the practice of Buddhism in western Tibet was degenerating, he decided to send twenty-one lads to Kashmir to learn Sanskrit and to study the Buddhist doctrine. Of those twenty-one, only two survived the heat and rigors of the journey. These two lived to become famous translators; there names were Rinchen Zangpo and Lekpe Sherab. They invited some Indian pundits to accompany them back to western Tibet and on their return, they reported of growing conflict between the Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims.

The arrival of the pandits in Tibet in 978 was considered to be the beginning of the renaissance of Buddhism, which has been described as " a spark rekindled in the east and spread by a wind blowing from the west." The year 978 became known as the first year of Restoration of Buddhism, the 746th year of the coming of The Secret ( Nyenpo Sangwa), and the year 1522 after the death of the Buddha. Although the pandits represented different schools of Buddhism, the Tantrik form of Mahayana school was predominant. Sometimes later, Yeshe Od sent an invitation to Atisha Dipankarajnana, a great Mahayana pandit, then living in the great monastic university of Vikramsila in India. Atisha finally arrived in western Tibet at the Toling monastery in 1041. (10)

The eclipse of the Katyuris, to what extent it was owing to popularity and wide expansion of the latest version of Buddhism across the border, emergence of  western Tibet as the real seat of Buddhism over central Tibet and a serious religious vacuum which existed after the death of Harsha, are the facts which deserve to be investigated on the hard platform of facts, including those available from Tibet and China. A partisan view, in favour of a particular region and inimical to another, can hardly be called histriography. Presently, reconstruction of Uttarakhand history appears to suffer from a particular-religion-syndrome. What need not be overlooked is the fact that Buddhism is as much a product of India as any other and its expansion in a neighbouring country, western Tibet, should not have been viewed with a partisan perspective which manifestly has hitherto been the case.

Recent works covering places like Chaprang, Tholing, Daba, Khiung-lung and Gyanima, all connected with the ancient Indo-Tibetan trade falling on the Satluj river basin highlight the indifference which has been shown by the Indian research scholars towards the pre-Buddhist and post-Buddhism records related to these places, so intimately connected with the re-construction regional histories. Limiting ourselves to the founding years of the Katyuri dynasty ( 700 – 1000 AD), one recent study proves that " in the fire male monkey year, i.e. AD  996, the foundations of Tho.gling gtsug.lag.khang in were laid out. In the earth male dragon year, i.e. AD 1028, the great renovation ( zhal.gso ) of the gtsug.lag.khang was completed  and the name Tho.gling Khang.dmar lhun.gyis'i gtsug.lag.khang was given to it. A statue of the lord of the teachings ('i ) was made. Materials for worship, man-power, goods and estates were regularly provided ( to maintain Tho.ling  )." (11).

The period AD 740 to AD 1000, approximately 250 years, correspond to an intensively active and transitional period in the history of Tibet in general and western Tibet in particular. Tride Songtsen born in AD 617 ascended the throne as Singtsen Gampro in AD 630, when he was just 13, he struck marriage alliances first with the Nepalese King Anshuvarman ( AD 630, Princess Belsa ) and later with the T'ang dynasty of China ( Princes, Gyasa ) developed a script for the Tibetan language after Sam-bhota returned from Kashmir, defeated tribes like Cg'iang, Pai-lan and Tang-hsiang, built famous temples like the Jokhang. Songtsen Gambo systematically organized his kingdom by dividing t in six governorships and appointment of governors (khospon), giving each governor his own military command, with distinct uniforms, flag and colour of horse and at Lhasa appointed nine ministers. Songtsen Gampro died in AD 649. Upto AD 666 Tibet was ruled by Gar Tongtsen, a trusted minister  as the regent and this period say many military campaigns, especially in the Asha region. This Gar family played a key role in building the Tibetan empire in the seventh century. In AD 677 Shangshung revolted but the revolt was criushed the next year. This Shangshung is the neighbooring region adjacent to Garhwal. During this period the military might of Tibet was felt sharply in the neighbouring countries, and to this extent Dabral is correct when he says that the rise of the Katyuris has something to do with the rising and consolidation of the Tibetan empire in the north. (12).

According to  Chinese sources the Tibetan king Dusong Mangje was killed while personally leading the army to suppress a revolt in Nepal and northern India. During the eighth century Tibet had become so strong that the Chinese Emperor gave princess Cin-ch'eng Kung-chu, in marriage to king Tride Tsungtsen in AD 710 with the express hope that it would ease the tension between Tibet and China ! (13). Tride Tsungtsen died in AD 755 and was succeeded by Trisong Detsen, who like his father and grandfather, patronized Buddhism but his court had nay sympathizers of the old Bon religion, including some ministers. It was during this period that first the Indian pandit Santirakshita was invited from Nepal, and when he did not succeed, invite the great Indian Tantrik Master, Padmasambhava, who was in Nepal. Padmasambhava was well versed in the magical arts associated with the terrific forms of Buddhism, which was more acceptable to the Tibetan people. With powerful formula and rituals, Padmasambhava was able to subdue the Bon spirits, many of these spirits were taken into the Buddhist pantheon. Padmasambhava was welcomed by the king, Trisong Detsen, and then Santirakshita was again invited back to Tibet. This led to, twelve years later, into building of the famous Samye monastery, designed after the monastery of Otantpuri. Santirakshita trained seven intelligent Tibetan monks, the first seven Buddhist monks of Tibet, and a school for the study of Sanskrit was established at Samye and a large number of Buddhists texts from Indian were translated into Tibetan language. Atisha, when he visited Samye in the eleventh century wrote that he had never seen such an extensive and thorough system of translation of Buddhist texts, even in India.(14).

Trisong Detsen organized the great debate at Samye, lasting two years ( AD 792-94 ), between the two schools of Buddhism ( Chinese "instantaneous system" defended by the Chinese monk Hoshang versus the Indian " slow system " by Kamalsila), resulting in Detsen proclaiming establishment of the new religion as the orthodox faith for Tibet. The main featores of the proclamation were that the Three Jewels ( the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha) were never to be abandoned, the various Buddhist temples were to be maintained, the amount of support given to the Buddhist temples were to be continued and the future generations of the royal family were to uphold the provisions of the proclamations. The defeat of the Chinese system of Buddhism appeared to have been influenced by the political climate of the time as during this period China and Tibet were in a perpetual state of conflict, throughout the latter half of the eighth century so much so that in AD 763 Detsen ordered an army of 200,000 men to proceed against China, under the leadership of four generals. The Tibetan entered the Chinese capital of Ch'ang-an and the Emperor fled from the capital The Tibetan obtained a letter from the new Emperor guaranteeing annual tribute, withdrawing fifteen days later. (15)

Tsephon Shkabpa provides us a detailed account of King Trisong Detsen's 42 year-long reign ( AD 755- 97), peaking with the Samye proclamation on AD 794 towards the end of his reign. This included moving into the Chinese capital and extracting an annual tribute in AD 763, controling many districts and fortresses of China, in AD 783 a peace treaty ( Ch'ing-shui ) with China settling the boundaries between the two countries, in AD 750 and 778 collaborating with the King of Siam against the Chinese in Szech'uan. Two well-known battle – fields of the early wars with China can still be seen in the Amdo ( Kokonor) region, to the north and east of the Machu ( Yellow River ). They are known today by the Tibetans as Gyatrag Than ( Field of Chinese Blood) and Gyadur Thang ( Field of Chinese Graves) and local guides describe the significance of these battle-fields to visitors and travellers. Many people living in the Amdo region have family names that are associated with the U-Tsang region of Central Tibet. The natives of Amdo region claim that these people are descendants of soldiers from U-Tsang, who fought in the early wars with China and then settled in Amdo territory. Tibetan power spread far and wide in the later of Trisong Detsen's reign In the year AD 790 the Tibetans recaptured garrisons from the Chinese, their army advanced westward to the Pamirs and reached Oxus river, forcing Arabian Caliph Haroon-al-Rashid to ally with the Chinese to keep the Tibetans in check  and this fact itself demonstrates their political capacity and military power. According to Bretscheider the Tibetans were continuously engaged in launching attacks to the west between years AD 785 and 805, consequently their military attention was diverted from China, whose frontier suffered less than they had previously. Tibetan sources, however, make only vague mention of conflict with a country to the west. (16)

Tibetans  and the Arabs sometime combined their forces against the Chinese and that is how Tibet did not escape the attention of early Arab historians, who knew the country as Tubbat and its ruler as Khakan. According to Barthold, the names Tuput and Tuput-Kaghan are found as early as the Orkhon inscriptions. Some trade relations were also established for it is said the Tibetans brought musk to the Muslim world. (17)    

Trisong Detsen retired from public life in AD 797, one of his sons Tride Songtsen was the king in AD 804 and he is commonly referred to as Sadnaleg in Tibetan sources. During his infancy he was assisted by four experienced ministers Indian pandits were invited to Samye to help in the translation of Buddhist texts and as there was opposition to Buddhist religions Sadnaleg called a meeting of his ministers and various vassals from different parts of the country. An extensive documentation was drawn up pledging support for the propagation of the Buddhist faith and it was signed by the king and all those present. During this period Tibetan army continued to harass the Arabs in the west and even besieged the capital of Transoxania, Samarkand. After Sadnaleg's death in AD 815, the simmering opposition to the newly introduced Buddhist religion came to a head. The second son, Darma was by passed by the ministers as he was irreligious, harsh and hot tempered in favour of Tritsung Detsen, also known as Ralpachen, who was pro-Buddhist. Ralpachen invited three Indian pandits, Silendrabodhi, Dansila and Jinamitra, to central Tibet and provided them with two prominent translators, Kawa Paltsek and Chogro Lui Gyaltsen The names of these translators appear at the end of almost all Tibetan books of the period, as they were responsible for the revision of the Buddhist texts, which had been translated earlier. They standardized the terms used for translating Buddhist concepts from Sanskrit. The first dictionary was compiled at that time. Called the Mahavyupalli, it was a Sanskrit-Tibetan lexicon and indispensable for those translating Buddhist texts. (18)

Buddhists in China and Tibet mediated when Ralphachen sent troops towards the Chinese borders and a peace treaty was concluded in AD 821, the text of the treaty being inscribed on three pillars, one erected outside the Chinese Emperor;s palace gate in Ch'ang-an, another on the boundary between the two countries at Gugu Meru and the third in front of the main gate of the Jokhang, at Lhasa. The text of the Sino-Tibetan treaty has been translated several times, which only reaffirmed the boundaries established by 783 treaty of Ch'ing-shui and restored the former relationship of mutual respect and freindship. The stone pillar in Lhasa was erected in year 823.  Ralpachen also introduced from India a new system of weights and measures for silver and grain. As an encouragement to others to become monks, Ralpachen decreed that for each monk seven household would have to provide for his needs. This appears to be the first case of monastic taxation in Tibet. Ralpachen met great opposition from his brother, Darma. Besides the resentment of having been denied the throne, Darma was bitterly opposed to the Buddhist religion. In AD 836 Ralpachen was murdered by his two ministers and the pro-Bon ministers then placed Darma on the throne without any opposition. Laws were promulgated designed to destroy the teaching of Buddhism in Tibet, sealing up all principal monasteries and temples. The Buddhist monks were ordered to choose whether to marry, to carry arms and become huntsmen, or to declare themselves to be followers of the Bon religion by ringing bell wherever they went. Failure to comply with any of these orders was punishable by death. The Indian pandits and scholars, finding themselves with little or no respect, returned to their native land.

Darma was given the name of Lang ( Bullock) Darma by the people because they did not lie the way he treated them and the religion. Lang Darma was able to wipe out Buddhism in central Tibet, but not in other parts of the country where his authority could not be imposed. By 842 religious persecution had become so intense that a monk, Lhalung Palgye Dorje, decided to do something about it, reached Lhasa, killed Lang Darma using his bow and successfully effected his escape.

Lang Darma's son born to the senior queen, named Yumtan ( "Relying on the Mother " ) went to Yalung, establishing a separate lineage of kings; and the son born to the junior queen, named O-sung ( " Protected by the Light" ), succeeded the throne at Lhasa. This marked the first schism in the royal line and central authority. Yet another split in the lineage was caused by O-sung's two grandsons. Tri Tashi Tsepal, the older grandson, ruled in the province of Tsang. Kyide Nyimgon, the younger grandson, was exiled to Purang in western Tibet, where he established the western lineage of kings.  The long lineage of royalty which came to an end with the collapse of the Tibetan kingdom, following the assassination of Lang Darma, marked the early period of Tibetan history as the heroic age of the Chogyal ( Religious Kings).

The assassination of Lang Darma in AD 842 led to a schism in the royal lineage and the beginning of decentralization of authority. As far as central Tibet was concerned nothing approaching a central authority was to be restored for the next four centuries i.e. until AD 1247, when Sakya Pandit was invested with the right to rule over the Trikor Chuksum ( Thirteen Myriarchies ) of Tibet by Prince Godan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. This decentralization shifted the cultural-religious and political focus from the central to the western Tibet. In the region of Ngari in western Tibet, Tsenpo Khore, a grandson of Kyide Nyingon, had ascended to the throne of the western lineage of kings. He built Tholing monastery and then decided to become a monk. Turning over his rule to his younger brother, Songe, Khore then ordained himself a monk and took the name of Lha Lama Yeshe Od. Observing that the practice of Buddhism in western Tibet was degenerating, he decided to send twenty-one lads to Kahmir to learn Sanskrit and to study the Buddhist doctrine. Only two survived and lived to become famous translators; they were Rinchen Zangpo and Lekpe Sherab. They invited some Indian pandits to accompany them back to western Tibet and on their return, they reported of growing conflict between the Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims.

It is the arrival of the pandits in Tibet in  AD 978, which is considered to be the beginning of the renaissance of Buddhism, which has been described as " a spark rekindled in the east and spread by a wind blowing from the west", the year 978 became known as the first year of the Restoration of Buddhism, the 746th year of the coming of the Secret ( Nyenpo Sangwa), and the year 1522 after the death of Buddha. Although the pandits represented different schools of Buddhism, the Tantrik form of Mahayana was predominant. (19)

Dabral assigns ascension of Tsenpo Khore, a grandson of Kyde Nyingon, in Nari western Tibet as the main threat which ended control of the Katyuri kings in  Garhwal. He names Dapal Khore Ch-chen, which is the same as Tsenpo Khore, who after building the Tholing monastery handed over the kingdom to his younger brother, Songe, then ordained himself a monk and took the name of Lha Lama Yeshe Od. It is Lama Yeshe Od who took steps to revive Buddhism in western Tibet, as already observed. Dabral also mentions year AD 983 as the precise year of this great watershed.(20)

The significance of year AD 983 mentioned by Dabral, could actually be read as year AD 986, the year of issuing the 986 bka'.shog ( " great edict " ), in which Yeshe Od fixed the interaction between secularism and religion in Purang. The year of the monkey 996 marked the apex in the efforts of the Nari Khorssum dynasty, and the religious exponents connected to it, to give to the kingdom a network of important temples. Tholing monastery was the most important built by the Nari Khorsum dynasty. Ngag. dbang's  mNga'.ris rgyal.rabsr ( The Kingdoms of Pu.hrang ) provides an account of the legal organization introduced by the Pu.hrang royalty by means of authoritative bka.shog-s, among which the most significant was the 986 bka.shog marking the definitive establishment of Buddhism as the preeminent force in mNga'.ris.stod. These two works of Roberto Vitali,  first on the Kingdoms of Puh.rang and the other on Tho.ling monastery, fill up a major gap in our knowledge of the Tibetan region, Nari Khorssum, along Kumaon-Garhwal, from tenth to the end of the 15th century, almost parallel to the Katyuri dynasty.( 21 ) Physical location of Tho.ling and Daba, on the Sutlej river basin, due north of Garhwal and Badrinath, also explain relative greater penetration of Tibetan Buddhism along the Garhwal-Himachal border, as compared to the Kumaon region.




Notes and References :

1. Uttarakhand has been legally defined as the 27th entry in the First Schedule to the Constitution, amended through section 5 of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2000 and section 3 of the same Act sets out its physical and political boundaries.

2. Thornton's Gazetteer of 1856, covering the East India Company period; accompanied with the E.T. Atkinson's three – volume Gazetteer of the Himalayan Districts ( 1882-84), series of Imperial and District Gazetteers brought out officially, along with Annual Reports of Departments, Proceedings of the Legislatures together with the Proceedings of several Societies like the Asiatic Society of Bengal, makes this period as perhaps  the most documented period in the history of the region.

( 3 ) Whalley's The Laws of the Extra-Regulation Tracts,  Chapter III, Deyrah Doon and Jounsar Bawur, pages 191- 221. This engrossing account of early mix-up of laws, meant originally for the Regulated parts of the Bengal Presidency, extended to newly acquired territories in the westward movement of the East India Company shows how interplay of provisions of  Regulations IV ( 1817 ), XXI ( 1825 ) and V ( 1829 ), ultimately ended in issuing  of a notification, " not extending the Codes, but simply declaring them to be in force " ! ( Notification No.236 A, dated 17th January, 1863 ). Whalley, page introduction 7, Williams page Preface vi ; Whalley's book was published in 1870, William's in April, 1874.  Dr. Shiv Prasad Dabral's letter of the 3rd July, 1999, on receipt of the re-print, is annexed at Appendix: I, highlights his own efforts in searching this valuable book and his acute sense of integrity in historical researches.  

(4) Dabral,  Kaintyuri Ranvansh Utthan  evam Samapan, Uttarakhand Ka Rajnaitik evam Sanskritik Itihas, Volume 17, page 2-3, 12-16, 65,

(5) Beal, Preface, page  vi,

(6) Shakabpa, Tibet, chapter 2, p 23, 25,

(7) Dabral, Kaintyuri Rajvansh, Utthan evam Samapan, Kartikeyapur ka Kaintyuri Rajvansh, pages 14-16, 18 ; also see Dictionary of Buddhism, by Damien Keown, Oxford University Press, 2003, entry on Songtsen Gampo ( c. 609- 50) at page 273.

(8) Shakabpa, Tibet : A Political History. Shakabpa quotes DGA'-STON; DEB-DKAR,  and TUN-HUANG, p 30, PELLIOT, page 10 and TOMBS, as his authorities. In his Foreword to Shakabpa's book Turrell Wyle has mentioned that following the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951, Mr Shakabpa took up residence in India, where he began work on a study of Tibet's political history. Mr. Shakabpa has used some fifty-seven original Tibetan sources. Some are rare Tibetan government records; others represent materials not previously cited in English works. It will be noted noted that when a Tibetan source is cited in a footnote, no page number is given. Although contarry to Western academic methods, this practice is traditional in Tibetan histriography. Beginning with the earliest known Tibetan histories, only the title of a cited work was given-apparently on the assumption that a literate person would be able to locate the page concerned, once he knew which book to read. It was only after working on his history for some time that Mr. Shkabpa came to know the Western method of giving page numbers and publishing data in citation; therefore, his book incorporates the traditional practice for Tibetan sources and the academic method for Western sources. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for him to rewrite all the citation of Tibetan materials, since some of them were unique government records he copied in Tibet and are no longer available. Moreover, those who read Tibetan will have little difficulty in locating the cited pages; those who do not would find page numbers valueless.  Shakabpa has rendered the Tibetan names phonetically; but awre of their inconsistencies and of the confusion caused by numerous homophones in the Tibetan language, he has wisely included the correct Tibetan orthography for each entry in the index, as well as in the Bibliography, which has greatly increased the value of his book to the serious students of Tibetan history. The system of orthographic transcription used is that described in T.Wylie, "A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription," ( Havard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 22, December, 1959.)

(9) Dabral, Kaintyura Rajvansh, ibid, page 18.

(10)  Shakabpa, ibid, pages 56-58.

(11). Vitali, Roberto : Records of THO.LING, A Literary and visual reconstruction of the "Mother" monastery in GU.GE; High Asia, ( AMNYE MACHEN INSTITUTE ), ( 1966 ). In 1996, as a follow-up to the celebration of the millennium of Tho.ling, it was decided to try to reconstruct its temple complex symbolically, basing the work on literary documents, since most of the monastery suffered destruction during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). 1996 celebration was an event which celebrated a thousand years during which Tho.ling had been a light of inspiration for generations and is a symbolic of a wish to see the culture of West Tibet revive to some its ancient splendour. It was also a homage to a legacy, that  of  Tho.ling, which cannot be wiped out with its destruction. This work aims  to  show  that Tho.ling, the main  or the "mother" monastery ( ma.dgon ) of a network of branch or

children "  monasteries ( bu.dgon) in, has been investigated in some detail from a perspective that is based on Tibetan knowledge of the temple found in the literature and in oral accounts and that the records of the temples composing Tho.ling, contained in textual material and the traditional knowledge, are quite accurate. A simple rule holds that to restore a monument is to understand its history., Historical phases at Tho.ling, Section One : pages 19-40 ; also Roberto Vitali, The Kingdoms of Pu.hrang, According to mNga'.ris rgyal.rabs by mkhna. chen Ngag.dbang grags. pa, Asian Edition, Printed at Indraprastha Press (CBT), New Delhi( 1966), page  109.   

(12). Shakabpa, Tibet ibid, pages  27-32.

(13) Pelliot,  Paul, Histoire Ancienne du Tibet, Paris,( 1961), p 12, as in Sakabpa, ibid, page 32 and page 33.

(14) Tucci, Giuseppe, " The Symbolism of the Temples of Bsam-yas", East and West, VI-4 (Rome, 1956), 279-8; The original monsatery of Otanpuri in Indian was destroyed by Ikhtiyar-ud Din Muhammad, in 1193, see Charles Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, 2 ( London, 1954), 112, as in Shakabpa, page 37.

(15) BKA'-THANG; SHEL-BAAG, as in Shkabpa, Tibet, page 39.

(16) Hitti, Philip, History of the Arabs ( London, 1956 ), page 208-09; and E. Bretschneider, On the Knowledge Possessed by the Ancient Chinese of the Arabs ( London, 1875 ), page 10, as in Shakabpa, page 42 – 45.

(17) Barthold, W., Encylopaedia of Islam, 4 (Leiden, 1913-56), 745; as in Shakabpa, page 35.

(18) Shakabpa, ibid, page 49.

(19) Richardson, pp 244-45, as in Shakabpa, and pages  49 – 53 and 55 – 56.  

(20) Dabral, Kaintyuri Rajvansh, ibid, page 16 and compare with Shakabpa, pages 56-57. .

(21).Vitali, Roberto: Records of Tho.ling, A Literary and Visual Reconstruction of the "Mother" Monsatery in, High Asia, An imprint of Amnye Machen Institute, (1999), page 19, and Roberto Vitali, The Kingdoms of Pu.hrang, According to mNga'.ris rgyal.rabs by mkhan.chen Ngag.dbang, Asian edition (  1996), pages  55 – 56 and 533 ).


  1. Dabral, Dr. Shiva Prasad : Uttarakhand Ka Itihas, Volume 3 (1969) ; Kaintyuri Rajvansh Utthan Evam Samapan, in two volumes ( 1993), and  Gorkhyani, volumes 1 and 2 ( 1999, second edition);  Veer-Gatha Prakashn, Dogadda, Garhwal,

  1. Rawat, Dr. Ajay S. : Garhwal Himalaya, A Study in Historical Perspective ( 2002), Indus,

  1. Heber, Dr. Reginald : Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, from Calcutta to Bombay, 1824-1825, (1873), John Murray, London,

  1. Whalley, P. : The Law of the Extra-Regulation Tracts, subordinate to the Government of N.W.P. ( originally published in 1870), Vishwavidyalaya Prakashan, Varanasi ( Reprinted 1991 ),

  2. Williams, G.R.C. : Historical and Statistical Memoir of Dehra Doon ; (First published in 1874), Natraj Publishers ( Reprint 1985),

  1. Stiller, Fr. Ludwig F. : The Rise of the House of Gorkha, A Study in the Unification of Nepal, 1768-1816; Distributors Ratna Pustak Bhandar, Bhotahity, Kathmandu ( First published in 1973, Reprint 1975 ),

  1. Ram, Dr. Pati ( Rai Bahadur  ); Garhwal Ancient and Modern, Vintage Books ( 1992, reprint ),

  1. Pande, Badri Dutt : Kumaon ka Itihas ( HIstory of Kumaon): ( originally printed in  1937, reprint in1990), Sri Almora Book Depot,

  1. Dutt, Romesh : The Economic History of India, Two Volumes ( First published in 1903, Routledge & Kagan Paul, London, First Indian Edition 1960 ), Publications Division,

  1. Directions for the Collectors of Land Revenue, 1846-48, Board of Revenue, N.W.P. ( Reprint by UP Academy of Administration, 1996 ),

  1. Stowell, V.A. : A Manual of the Land Tenures of the Kumaon Division ( Hill Tracts ), ( First printed in 1953, reprinted by UP Academy of Administration, 1996 ),

  1. Memorandum on some of the Results of Indian Administration, during the Past Fifty Years of the British Rule in India, Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by command of His Majesty, in 1911: Reprinted by UP Academy of Administration, Naini Tal, 1996,

  1. Lovett, Sir Verney : Indian Political Movements and Ideals: ( First printed in Lucknow, 1917, Reprinted by UP Academy of Administration, Naini Tal, 1997 ),

  1. Tolia, Dr. R.S. : Tehri Garhwal State on the Even of Merger ; Office of Kumaon Commissioner ; Land, Forest and Village Community, UP  Academy of Administration, 1999;  British Kumaon – Garhwal, Two Volumes, Sri Almora Book Depot ( 1993) ; Food For Thought and Action ( 2004), Patwari, Gharat and Chai ( 2005), Inside Uttarakhand Today (2006), all three published by Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun ; A Practical Guide to RTI, and Handbook for the PIOs ( 2006 and 2007), both by Natraj Publishers, Dehra Dun,

  1.  Penner, Peter : The Patronage Bureaucracy in North India, The Robert M. Bird and James Thomason School 1829-1870; Chanakya Publications ( 1986),

  1. Beckett, J. O'B and Henry Ramsay : Report on the Revision of Settlement in the Kumaon District, 1863-1873; Part I, Allahabad (1874),

  1. Pauw, E.K. : Report on the Tenth Settlement of the Garhwal District, Allahabad( 1896),

  1. The Report of the Cabinet Committee on Uttarakhand, Kaushik Committee Report (                   ), Uttarakhand Development Department, Uttar Pradesh,

  1. Beal, Samuel : The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang; Shaman Hwui Li, with an introduction containing an account of the works of I-Tsing by Samuel Beal, with a Preface by L. Crammer-Byng, First published in 1911 by Kegan Paul, re-print 2003 by Munshiram Mohanlal Publishers, New Delhi.  Shraman Hwui-Li, a disciple of  Hiuen-Tsiang wrote the Life of Hiuen-Tsiang. The Master had already written his immortal Si-yu-ki or Record of the Western Countries, the sixteen years of his quest in far-off India. The Life is supplement to the Record. What is obscure or half told in the one is made clear in the other. Hiuen-Tsiang returned to his country with 637 volumes of the sacred books, seventy four of which he translated into Chinese, while 150 relics of the Buddha, borne by twenty horses, formed the spoil reverently gathered from many parts of India.

  1. Shakabpa, Tsepon W.D. : TIBET, A Political History, Yale University Press (  1966 ). Shakabpa born in January, 1907, In Lhasa entered government service at the age of 23 years an in nine years became head of the Finance Department. In 1948 he headed Tibetan Trade delegation which traveled around the world. Following the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951 Shakabpa took up residence in India. In preparing this book the author has used fifty-seven original Tibetan sources, some are rare Tibetan government records, others represent materials not previously cited in English works. It is a unique contribution because his work marks the first time that a Tibetan lay official of high rank has written a study of his own country's political history. He sheds new light on certain factors in the evolution of that form of religious government unique in Tibet. This work has been edited by Turrel Wyle Associate Professor of Tibetan Language and Civilization, University of Washington.

  1. Ram, Pati ( Rai Pati Ram Bahadur ): Garhwal, Ancient and Modern;       Simla, Army Press ( 1916).

  1. Strachey, John : India, in two volumes. John Strachey served the East India Company in the Judicial Department, and as Under Secretary to Government on the Bengal Establishment. John Strachey was Senior Assistant Commissioner ( later designated as Deputy Commissioner ) of Garhwal district. He was contemporary of Henry Ramsay and his efforts in promotion of tea development, road and bridge making, sanitation etc are as important as his opposition to mindless introduction of complicated rules and regulation after the regulation provinces. It was John Strachey and Henry Ramsay who under Commissioner Johan Hallet Batten considerably molded and shaped the ten administration of British Tolia, RS. British Kumaon-Garhwal and Romesh Dutt, Volume One, p 171 for his Minutes of Evidence & c., on the affairs of the East India Company (1813), pp 124, 127 and 131.


R S Tolia

R S Tolia

Late Dr. R.S. Tolia, Ph.D., was former Chief Secretary ( 2003-05 ) and Chief Information Commissioner ( 2005-10) of Uttarakhand. He also served in various voluntary positions after retirement and devoted his time for Mountain Development Agenda.

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