Nepalbhasa is the original language of Nepal. Its original script is Nepal-lipi. It has a 3500 year-long history that it has become an independent language from Sino-Tibetan language family before 1500 B.C. (Glover, 1970; Tuladhar, 2000). Nepalbhasa is the oldest language in Nepal. It has been the mother tongue of the Nepami (the original citizens, indigenous or the first nation) people and the royal court of this country. It was the State language (Desabhasa) of Nepal during the Malla period (1200-1769) until it was replaced by the present “Nepali” in 1962.
Nepalbhasa was the language of the world’s first written law known as Jayasthiti code (Pant 2008). It has been the language of hundreds of inscriptions, thousands of manuscripts on diverse subjects from Holy Scripture, law, medical sciences to arts and the language of diplomacy.
However, with the Gorkha invasion of Nepal in 1768, Nepalbhasa was first discouraged in the royal court occupied by the outsider, illegalized by Rana rulers in 1904 with continued repression during their 104 years long rule, and banned by the Panchayat rule that imposed single language policy in the country for another 30 long years from 1960s, Nepalbhasa suffered so much that its revival became unthinkable. However, thanks to several worthy community leaders such as Nisthananda Vajracharya (1857-1934), Siddhidas Mahaju (1866-1929), Jagat Sundar Malla (1882-1952) and Yogweersingh Kansakar (1885-1941), who are known as four pillars for saving of Nepalbhasa, for which sake they faced enormous penalty, imprisonment and even confiscation of their properties by the rulers of Nepal, Nepalbhasa has somehow survived today. The peaceful agitation they continued and strengthened by Dr. Padma Ratna Tuladhar (1941-2018) a writer turned freedom fighter against the repression on their language Nepalbhasa was not only fruitful but it also led to the emerging of Peoples’ Movement in 1990. The movement was successful to reduce the absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy that relieved the harsh policy on Nepalbhasa and other languages in Nepal. The second Peoples’ Movement overthrew the monarchy in 2008, finally changing the ruling system into republic system. The New Constitution (2015) of the Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal has guaranteed the promotion and preservation of the languages of present Nepal.
However, the damages done to Nepalbhasa by the past repressions on languages have become irreparable that even the Nepami – the Nepalbhasa speaking people have got used to use ruler’s Khasbhasa (“Nepali”) instead of their own native Nepalbhasa. They have even given up or become unaware of the original name of their language. Many still call it Newar, Newari or Newa despite the Nepami people’s campaign for freedom of using their native language have been recognized by the New Government. The Government corrected the usage of wrong term “Newari” to Nepalbhasa in 1995. But even today while some important Government agencies have yet to heed the Government directive to use the correct term Nepalbhasa, even many uninformed Nepami themselves continue to use the wrong terms such as Newar / Newari / Newa, while many past and the present generation has given up passing their mother tongue to their children.
With regards to the Nepal-lipi, the people have abandoned the use of it to the extent even some Nepalbhasa speaking community leaders campaigned to “give up the desire for Nepal-lipi,” instead use Indian Devanagari script, which the Indo-Nepalese have adopted to write their Khasbhasa. These habits and behaviors indifferent to their own mother tongue have led Nepalbhasa to become an endangered language (UNESCO Report, 2003). If nothing is done, Nepalbhasa will be either become dead or a weird language that has lost its native terms soon. Thus, this portal is a small effort to stop the immature extinction of Nepalbhasa, which was once the state language of Nepal.
Thanks to some worthy like-minded peers and friends of the Nepal Study Center, Japan (NSCJ), we have started this portal – Nepal Lipi Online since 2009 with the following goals and a dream.
Our short-term goal is to immediately support those who desire to learn Nepal Lipi and Nepalbhasa in Nepali-lipi.
Our long-term goal is to revitalize Nepalbhasa in Nepal-lipi into its past prestige of Nepal’s State language. As the first step, we plan to train 1000 individuals to become literate in Nepalbhasa by 2030 AD (NS 1150).
We also dream of making Nepalbhasa another world language.
If we are to believe former US President Obama, “Yes, We can!” Join us in hand. Leave a message here.
October 19, 2009
(NS 1130.1 (Kachhala) 1
This article was updated on October 2, 2021.