Medieval Nepal An Introductory Reading Seminar With Yogesh Raj

- Yogesh Raj

Discussion Type: Reading Seminar | Date: 24 Mar 2017 | Time: 10:00 AM


Medieval Nepal
An Introductory Reading Seminar
With Yogesh Raj

Martin Chautari, Kathmandu
27 March – 18 May 2017

This reading seminar is an introduction to the history and historiography of the medieval Nepal (c. 12th-18th centuries). The seminar will enable its readers to familiarise themselves with a variety of source materials, strategies to read and engage with them, and develop a critique of the existing approaches in writing about the medieval life and times as well as their remains. The seminar has been designed as a workshop in part and a discussion in part. In each class, the reader will examine a medieval specimen critically and then discuss readings that have been constructed out of such specimens. This seminar is for you if you are interested in knowing about the long-term processes in Nepal’s past, and are not willing to take the received opinion.

150 mins, Mondays and Thursdays, for 8 weeks
Exact class time will be determined as per the majority wish of the participants.

Course Registration Fees: NRs. 4000
(Inclusive of the course pack and light refreshment) 

Course Registration Deadline: 28 February 2017

For registration, please contact:
Mr. Ankalal Chalaune @ Martin Chautari (
Tel: 01 4238050, 01 4102027

You may also want to discuss the scope and significance of the seminar with the Course Lead. Please call or write to us to fix an appointment for consultation.

Note on the Selected Readings: The course book consists of the following readings (except the audios). It will be available in advance to each registered participant. Each class will have two sessions: the first session (1 hour) will see a close engagement with the primary readings, including strategies to examine, read, and analyse the given source specimen. It is important to note that the participants are not expected to go through the primary readings in advance of the class. The second session, following the first and a short break, will see an intense discussion on the secondary readings. Since the discussion will focus on developing critiques of the existing historiography of the medieval Nepal, participants are expected to thoroughly read and think through the secondary readings before coming to the class. Languages of the readings are Sanskrit, Nepali, Newari, Maithili and the Rai and Limbu, and English. While a working knowledge of the languages other than Nepali and English will be an advantage, such familiarity is not necessary to enrol and take part in the reading seminar. The diacritics have been left out in the following citation for ease.

Class 1 Palm-leaves

Primary Readings:
Malla, K. P. 1990. The Earliest Dated Document in Newari: The Palmleaf from Uku Bahah NS 235/AD 1114. Kailash XVI (1-2):15-25.
Additional: Panta, Maheshraj. Nevarrajyama Brahman. Purnima 84: 49-62.

Secondary Readings:
Kolver, B. and H. Shakya. 1985. Introduction. Documents from Rudravarna-Mahavihar, Patan. Part 1: Sales and Mortgages. Pp. 13-100. Sankt Augustin: VGH Wissenchaftsverlag.

Class 2 Stone and Copper Inscriptions

Primary Readings:
Pant, Mahesraj and Aisvaryadhar Sharma. 1977. The Two Earliest Copper-plate Inscriptions from Nepal. Kathmandu: Nepal Research Centre. pp. 1-31.
Additional: Vajracarya. Dhanvajra. 2068 v.s. Purvamadhyakalko Abhilekh. Pp. 130-131. Kirtipur: Nepal Esiali Anusandhan Kendra.

Secondary Readings: 
Kulke, Hermann. 1997. Some Observations on the Political Functions of Copper-plate Grants in Early Medieval India. In Bernard Kolver and Elisabeth Muller-Luckner (eds) The State, the Law, and Administration in Classical India. Pp. 237-244. Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag.
Bledsoe, Bronwen. 2004. Written in Stone. Inscriptions of the Kathmandu Valley’s Three Kingdoms. Pp. 49-87. PhD Dissertation. University of Chicago.

Class 3 Colophons

Primary Readings:
Raj, Yogesh. 2057 v.s. Simhadeva va Sivadevako Ahilesamma Prakasma naaeko vi sam 1164 ko Puspika Vakya. Pasuka 4(10): cover, p. 13.
Additional: Petech, L. 1984. Medieval History of Nepal, c. 750-1482. Pp. 51-57. Roma: Instituto Italiano Per Il Medio Ed Estremo Oriente.

Secondary Readings:
Petech, L. Medieval History of Nepal, c. 750-1482. Pp. 93-146. Roma: Instituto Italiano Per Il Medio Ed Estremo Oriente.
Malla, K. P. Medieval History of Nepal: A Review of Petech. In From Literature to Culture. Pp. 345-363. Kathmandu: Himal Books.

Class 4 Chatas

Primary Readings:
Vajracarya, Dhanavajra and Kamal P. Malla. 1985. The Gopalarajavamsavali. Fol. 46. Pp. 15, 54, 102, 148-149. Wiesbaden: Fran Steiner Verlag.
Additional: Vajracarya, Dhanavajra. 2064 v.s. Gopalarajavamsavaliko Aitihasik Vivecana. Pp. 35-43. Kirtipur: Nepal Esiali Anusandhan Kendra.

Secondary Readings:
Malla, Kamal P. From Literature to Culture. Pp. 497-535, 536-543. Kathmandu: Himal Books.
Raj, Yogesh. 2012. Towards a Case Typology of Historiography: Reading Historical Texts from South Asia. Studies in Nepali History and Society 17(1): 63-105.

Class 5 The Chants

Primary Readings:
Chamling, Bhogiraj (ed.) Mundum: Sristi. Pp. 73-144. Kathmadau: Kirat Rai Chamling Khambatim.
Additional: Santa Kumar ‘Isara’ Rai. Dovandum Samkaliri. Pp. 25-38. Kathmadau: Kirat Rai Yayokkha.

Secondary Readings.
Chamling, Bhogiraj (ed.) Introduction. Mundum: Sristi. Pp. 17-45. Kathmadau: Kirat Rai Chamling Khambatim.
Maskarinec, Gregory G. 1995. The Rulings of the Night. Pp. 72-115, 194-232. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Class 6 The Khasas

Primary Readings:
Khanal, Mohanprasad. 2068 v.s. Nepali Bhashaka Hajar Varsa. Pp. 17-82. Kathmadau: Raino Publikesan.
Additional: Raj, Yogesh. 2012. A Review of Nepalbhashakaa Hazar Varsha by Mohan Prasad Khanal, Media Adhyayan 7: 342-348.

Secondary Readings:
Adhikari, Suryamani. 2061 v.s. Khas Samrajyako Itihas. Pp. 9-194. Kathmadau: Bhumdipuran Prakasan.

Class 7 The Karnatas

Primary Readings:
Roerich, G. 1959. Biography of Dharmasvamin. pp. 47-60, 98-100. Patna: K P Jayaswal Research Institute.
Additional: Pant, Mahes Raj. Six 15th- and 16th- century Deeds from Tirhut Recording the Purchase of Slaves. In Bernard Kolver and Elisabeth Muller-Luckmner (eds) The State, the Law, and Administration in Classical India. Pp. 159-194. Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag.

Secondary Readings:
Roerich, G. 1959. Biography of Dharmasvamin. Introduction of the General Editor, pp. i-xxxviii, Introduction of the Editor, pp. xxxix-xlv.  Patna: K P Jayaswal Research Institute.
Chaudhari, Radhakrishna. 1976. Mithila in the Age of Vidyapati. Pp. 105-219. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Orientalia.

Class 8 Castes

Primary Readings:
Nepalko Itihas Rajbhogamala. 1969. Ancient Nepal 9:10-17.
Additional: Nepal Desko Itihas. 1971. Ancient Nepal 16: 18-24.

Secondary Readings.
Panta, Nayaraj. 2021 v.s. Sthiti Malla ra Jatapata. Purnima 2: 1-10.
Raj, Yogesh. 1116 n.s. Jativyavastha: Juju Jayasthiti Mallaya Thiti? Nepal Samskrti 51: 43-49.

Class 9 Social Organizations

Primary Readings:
Mulchokko Srinivas Malla Jitamitra Malla Nrpendra Mallako Abhilekh. Abhilekh Samgraha 10: 11-12.
Mulchokko Yoganarendra Mallako Abhilekh. Abhilekh Samgraha 10: 15.

Secondary Readings:
Sharma, Prayag Raj.  2054 v.s. Kul, Bhumi ra Rajya. Pp. 58-95, 96-125. Kathmadau: Nepal Esiyali Anusandhan Kendra.

Class 10 Temple Complexes

Primary Readings:
Tandon, Govinda. 1999. Pasupatiksetrako Samskritik Adhyayan (Abhilekh Khanda). Pp. 134-145. Kathmadau: Jharendra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana and Manju Rana.

Secondary Readings:
Nina Mirnig. 2013. ‘Favoured by the Venerable Lord Pasupati’: Tracing the Rise of a New Tutelary Deity in Epigraphic Expressions of Power in Early Medieval Nepal. Indo-Iranian Journal 56: 325-347.
Raj, Yogesh. 2006. Namakarnko Samajsastrako Euta Prakkathan. Studies in Nepali History and Society 10(2): 403-434.

Class 11 Acoustics

Primary Readings:
Lienhard, S. 1999. Songs of Nepal. Pp. 94-95, 197-198. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass.
Additional: Raj, Yogesh. 2070 v.s. Nau Pracin Newari Git. Pasuka 6(4): 22-31.

Secondary Readings:
Prajapati, S. N. 2057 v.s. Dapha. Pasuka 5(7): 3-27.
Widdess, Richard. 2015. Text, Orality, and Performance in Newar Decotional Music.  In Francisca Orisini and Katherine Butler Schofield (eds) Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature and Performance in North India. Pp. 231-245. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers.

Class 12 Architecture

Primary Readings:
Vaidya, Janaklal. 2061 vs. Siddhagni Kotyahuti Devala Pratistha. Pp. 25-72, 392-401, 660-666. Kathmadau: Nepal Rajakiya Prajnya Pratisthan.

Secondary Readings:
Tiwari, Sudarsha Raj. 2009. Temples of the Nepal Valley. Pp. 79-129. Kathmandu: Himal Books.
Rospatt, Alexander von. 2011. The Past Renovations of Svayambhucaitya. In Tsering Palmo Gellek and Padma Dorje Maitland (eds) Light of the Valley: Renewing the Sacred Art and Traditions of Svayambhu. Pp. 157-206. Cazadero CA: Dharma Publishing.

Class 13 Visual Arts

Primary Readings:
Vyanirdesapatrani. NGMPP A1218/23. Fols. 10.
Blom, M. L.B. 1989. Depicted Deities: Painters’ Model Books in Nepal. Pp. 3-17, 40-58. Groningen: Egbert Forsten.  

Secondary Readings:
Vajracharya, Gautama V. 2013. Frog Hymns and Rain Babies. Pp. 12-22, 23-35, 141-201. Delhi: Marg.
Kim, Jinah. 2015. Painted Palm-Leaf Manuscripts and the Art of the Book in Medieval South Asia. Archives of Asian Art 65(1-2): 57-86.

Class 14 Tastes

Primary Readings:
Vajracharya, Chunda. 2053 v.s. Jitamitra Mallakalin Dahrapau. Pp. 24-32. Kirtipur: Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies.

Secondary Readings:
Lowdin, Per. 1998. Food, Ritual and Society: A Study of Social Structure and Food Symbolism among the Newars. Pp. 73-123, 179-204. Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point. Also available at
Ramanujan, A. K. 1999. The Collected Essays of A. K. Ramanujan. Pp. 73-95. New Delhi: OUP.

Class 15 Rituals

Primary Readings:
Shrestha, Purushottam Lochan. 2060 v.s. Bhaktapurko Navadurga-Gan. Pp. 35-96. Bhaktapur: Babita Shrestha.

Secondary Readings:
Bert, van der Hoek and Balgopal Shrestha. 1992. The Sacrifice of Serpents. Exchange and Non-Exchange in the Sarpabali of Indrāyanï, Kathmandu. Bulletin de l'Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient Tome 79(1):  57-75.
Raj, Yogesh. 2017. Public Enactments of Faith. Forthcoming.

Class 16 Space

Primary Readings:
Vastulaksana. National Archives NGMPP B46/5. Fols. 15.

Secondary Readings:
Gustchow, Niels. Architecture of the Newars. Vol. 1. Pp. 7-103. Chicago: Serendia Publications.
Tiwari, Sudarshan. 2015. From Past Paths to Future Walks: Reading and Learning from the Traditional Streets of the Kathmandu Valley Towns. Ms. Pp. 16. Also available at:

- Yogesh Raj

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