Newa Juju Jaya Prakash Malla of Kantipur

When I was a child, my father used to show me the picture of Jaya Prakash Malla in Bhajan (newa ritual: singing and chanting) area of Jana Baha (popular temple in Kathmandu). It was only the picture of him left behind. I was fascinated looking at his picture and realized that there must be something in this character. He was the last King of Kathmandu Valley; (Yen:) of those times. The core city was divided into three states, Kantipur, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur.

Jaya Prakash Malla was the rival of king Prithivi Narayan Shah, the popular king of Gorkha. As the conspiracy was maximum in those times, he was only the ruler who undauntedly ruled Kathmandu till 1825 B.S. He had to face lots of obstacles during his time when trusting one other was a curse. As the rulers of other valleys were blood relation to him, but they were jealous of each other and did not want others to rise but to fight for the whole life. But the 18th century of the Malla Era was sustained because of this courageous and patriotic king Jaya Prakash.

But why? Because Lalitpur (yela in those times) was ruled by six pradhans. They were the ultimate decision-maker whereas Ranajit Malla, the ruler of Bhaktapur (khowpa) was a religious-minded king with less interest in politics. When the administrative situation was worsening, instead of being united, they were pulling the legs of one other. Gorkha forces on the other hand were the biggest threats who were in the verse of conquering these cities.

The toughest rival for those courageous enemies was Juju Jaya Prakash whose whole life was indulged in struggle and battle. He was the man of action and not easily influenced by his courtiers and the people of his service. Those service-oriented persons (Omrao and Kajis) of those times wanted the rulers to be weak and unstable with less decisive capacity so that they would control the state making the king only the symbol of the state. But Jaya Prakash was of the opposite nature. So, this attitude and ruling style as the situation demanded led to many enemies along with his own wife Dayawati to revolt against him and demolish the state.

He also lived his life in exile when he was outraged by his own courtiers but gained the support of the locals and able to regain back the lost power. It was believed that the career of the king started falling after punishing and killing Kashiram Thapa; the most influential and powerful member of the court of Kathmandu. Thapa was the commander of Nuwakot fort when Prithivi Narayan Shah won after fighting several battles. He was against the king from the day of his kingship and opposing that Narendra Prakash, the son of Jagajaya Malla should be apparent heir to the throne even though he was the younger brother of Jaya Prakash. But Jaya Prakash never took this personally and entrusted that Kashiram Thapa would bring back the lost territory of Nuwakot, the integral trade route that connects Kantipur and Tibet.

But the commander was not responsible and was careless about his task. After inviting for the numerous times to know about the situation, he did not show up so finally he was killed by the administration of Jaya Prakash which was natural and normal for any king to do in such a political turmoil. So the historians believing that the downfall of the last Malla king begun after murdering Kashirma Thapa could be quoted false as any ruler working for the nation would do the same.

The political environment of Kantipur had already worsened after the untimely death of Pratap Malla. He wanted his youngest son Mahipatendra Malla to rule the state as he was the child of his most trusted and beloved wife. But his wish was not successful in his lifetime and he did not organize any rituals or agreements to make him the king. The poor son’s death was tragic as there were many conspirators and his brothers who wanted to kill him and remove him quickly. From that period, there was no constant ruler of Kathmandu. The minor ruled the state but the power was in the hand of the queen’s mother or the Chautara. When Jaya Praksh became the king, the state got the stable, courageous, patriotic ruler.

Till his last moment, he fought for the sovereignty of the people in order to take back his lost state. But in front of the clever and treacherous acts lead by the Gorkhali forces, everything was already out of control. He was severely injured during the final battle of Bhaktapur. He took his final breath in Pashupati.

Jaya Prakash Malla was an administrative, social and cultural reformer with having a keen interest in philosophy and literature. Being a cultural devotee, he was especially inclined towards the living goddess Kumari. He started the tradition of the chariot procession of Kumari Dya (Goddess). With much respect and devotion towards Kumari, he constructed Kumari Chen (House) nearer to the royal palace of Hanuman Dhoka. Apart from that, he also renovated the temples and chaityas around Swyambhunath and Pashupati. He was the builder of Baisdhara of Balaju. He constructed Dharmasala (buildings for pilgrims) along with ghat (area near the river) in Guheswori, the place where he spent his exiled life.

The king had a special contribution to the Nepal Bhasa literature with special homage and tribute to Lord Nrityanath, the god of music (Nasadya in Newari). He was only the dramatist and philosopher of that time who wrote the dramas and acting breaking the traditional chains. Many of the popular kings wrote the dramas referring to the life history of Ramayan, Mahabharat, Shree Krishna. For example, Katik Nach pioneered by the King of Lalitpur, Siddhi Narsimha Malla. But Juju Jaya Prakash broke the ongoing trend and wrote the drama and manuscript defining the moments and events of his own life which was full of struggle and hardship. The drama reflected his patriotic feeling towards his people and society and the serious political situation during his time. The popular dramas of the Newa Juju was Ratnesvar Pradurbhava, Viradhvojapakhayana and Bhairab Pradurbhava.

The pride of Newa, King Jaya Prakash Malla was not any ordinary person. Even though his whole life was involved in battle and fight for the identity of their own existence, he was a reformer in the field of art and architecture, culture and religion, administration, and literature. The evidence regarding his life history is very rare. As history is written in favor of the conquering parties, he was looked and judged as an oppressed and tyrant Malla ruler which is far from reality. He is the only king in the history of Nepal whose name is listed in the Guinness Book of World Record for establishing the smallest coin in the world named as Jawa. He will always remain as the brave, daunting, and patriotic ruler in the history of Nepal.

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