Letter of Sikkim Durbar to The Calcutta University (1935)

The modern system of education was adopted by the Government of Sikkim in the first decade of the last century. In my last post I have talked about the foundation of Gangtok School in 1906. The interesting fact about the then education system is that all the schools of Sikkim were affiliated to the Calcutta University. From the correspondence between the Judicial Secretary to His Highness the Maharaja of Sikkim and the Registrar Calcutta University it appears that, the appointment of the teachers in various schools of Sikkim was also watch over by the said University itself. The letter gives the impression that; a list of desired candidates was to be forwarded by the Sikkim Durbar to the University of Calcutta for the approval. As the endorsement letter of the University reached to the concerned department, the Sikkim Durbar had to assign them as the teachers in the different schools.

A Rare photograph of Lepcha Bhutia and Nepali.....

This is a rare photograph of three ethnic groups of Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya which is being preserved by Das Studio Darjeeling since a long time. These kinds of document are few ladders from where we can reach to the past. It really makes us miserable when we are not capable to get it from our own state. I am not getting regionalist nor have I ever supported this evil perception. But, this is the veracity of our state where one has to depend upon other states to get information about Sikkim. May be this is the first instance about the matter. After the Indian independence, people of Sikkim were clamoring for democracy which they finally got in 1975. Now it seems that our people are satisfied, they do not need those documents because for them it is a dead past. However, being a great admirer of history of this forgotten kingdom I sometimes ask myself…Where are those documents and accords which were signed between India and Sikkim? Where are those Royal Decrees issued by the Sikkim Durbar?  Where are other priceless credentials of Sikkim? Very few of them are available in National Archives, NIT Gangtok and a small number of them are at the Sikkim State Archive.But, what about the rest?  Did an independent kingdom of Sikkim only have a handful of papers? I have a hesitation to say, but, I believe that they are still in the possession of erstwhile super class of Sikkim and it is very tough for a present meager to get them....
(Pic. L-R Lepcha, Nepali and Bhutia village men in their traditional attire)

A hand written Hall Ticket of Calcutta University issued in 1932...

This hall ticket of Calcutta University is in all probability an oldest certificate as far as the education of Sikkim is concerned. Issued in 1932, the document has given detail information about the subjects that were taught at Calcutta University during the colonial era. The important feature of this hall ticket is that it is hand written. In that period, there were very few schools in Sikkim and most of them were providing education only up to the primary level. The first Government school of Gangtok was Gangtok School which was started in 1906, and this is where the late Maharaja of Sikkim, Sir Tashi Namgyal also studied as a first batch student. Later, the name of the Gangtok School was changed as Gangtok High School.
Before 1920, there were two Boarding Schools at Gangtok: The Bhutia Boarding School and The Nepali Boarding School. It was due to the diligent endeavor of late Rashmi Prasad Alley both the Schools were united which  later played a vital role for the foundation of first ever high school at Gangtok. The Gangtok High School was later named after the name of its first batch student and the then Maharaja of Sikkim Sir Tashi Namgyal. Though, with the efforts made by Lt. Rashmi Prasad Alley Gangtok got its first ever High school but, it was not an easy task for him to run it successfully. Due to the lack of higher institution in the proximity of the Kingdom, the only High School of Sikkim (Gangtok High School) was then affiliated to the Calcutta University.
 I am greatly indebted to Dr. Parshu Ram Poudyal Assistant Professor, Namchi Govt. College for sharing this valuable document with me. 

Sunakhari-The Pioneering Nepali Literary Journal of Sikkim...

Sunakhari is one of the pioneering Nepali literary journals of Sikkim. A contemporary of Kanchenjungha, the earliest news based journal of the previous Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim, Sunakhari has played an imperative part for the endorsement of the literary ideas among the Sikkimese masses. The journal was started in 1957 by the earliest Nepali Literary Association of Sikkim, Apatan Sahitya Parishad, Gangtok. The picture pasted with this post is of Sunakhari which was published on the special eve of Bhanu Jayanti on 13th July 1958 (B.S 2015). Published by the very famous Apatan Sahitya Parishad, the front page of this issue is all about the introduction of Apatan Sahitya Parishad the first Nepali Literary Association of Sikkim. Published through typewriter, this issue of Sunakhari has given detail information about the various literary figures of then Sikkim with their portfolios in the Literary Association.
According to the report of this issue, the late Rai Saheb Hari Prasad Pradhan (M.A. L.L.B) was elected as the first President of the Apatan Sahitya Parishad. Further, through this issue of Sunakhari, the Apatan Sahitya Parishad has express gratitude to the eminent Nepali writers of Nepal like Bal Krishna Sama, Lakshmi Prasad Devkota, Mahananda Sapkota, Tara Chandra Sharma, Narayan Upadhyay, Shiva Kumar Rai (A Sikkimese by birth, latter settled in Darjeeling) and to Dev Kumari Sinha. The most interesting facet of the publication is that on every issue of Sunakhari the word Sikkim is written as Suk-kim.
(Picture Above Sunakhari  published on 13th July 1958 from Gangtok)

Talk of Mr. A. D. Moddie at Capital Hall Nainital...

In my earlier posts, I have published little information about Mr. A. D. Moddie who is a Historian, a gigantic stature in the Himalayan Studies, an IAS, a well-known figure in the corporate world, a thinker, a writer, a mountaineer and of course an adoring and a loving husband and a father. The most important thing about him is that he was the first Indian mountaineer who scaled Mt. Lama Aden in North Sikkim in the pre independence period. Further, Mr. Moodie had visited Gangtok in the late 50’s as a trading agent of Unilever Company and went up to Gyantze in Tibet via Nathu-La with a passport issued to him by the authorities from Pandra Mile in Sikkim. During his stay at Gangtok, he had been able to meet our Chogyal Sir Tashi Namgyal who according to him was a very pious person. I got an opportunity to be present at a talk by the most ascribed person that I have ever interacted, today at the Capital Hall, Nainital. The arrangements for the event were made by People’s Association for Himalaya Area Research also known as PAHAR, Nainital. The topic of his talk was ‘Opening of Himalayan Doors ‘Jewel in the Lotus’ to Geo-Politics’. The subject matter itself was an enthralling one for a student of history like me. I reached the venue nearly 15 minutes before the given time to interact to that old man of 90, who was going to have a discussion on the Himalayan Doors.
On his discussion, Mr. Moddie covered almost every sphere like the social, political and economic subject of the Himalayas. He focused on the aspect that the political boundaries are the brain child of the colonists and due to it the present Himalayan states are under pressure. They were having their own norms of governance and owing to the imposition of the laws gifted by the British they are agitating. In his talk of nearly two hours,  Mr. Moddie described the Himalayas in three different phases. “First, the early centuries of the jewel of Lotus, the second phase of Shangri-La and the last half century of turbulent geo-politics, and restless people in rapid transition to the uncertainties and chaos of modern times”.  
As Mr Moddie had to cover the entire Himalayas at a short time, he discussed about Sikkim in a brief. He said “the spirit of adventurous discovery also brought the early European natural scientists to the region to explore Nature’s secrets in Shangri-La. The most memorable Example was Dr. Hooker (A Botanist friend of Darwin) to discover Sikkim’s Rhododendron high hills in 1840’s”. Mr. Moddie further stated that Sikkim is a good instance of transition from kingdom to democratic development.

The important rationale of the event was to felicitate Mr. Moodie by the PAHAR along with various other distinguished personalities of Uttarakhand. The entire event was a mesmerizing one not only for me, but, for everyone who have their interest to explore the unseen and neglected spheres of the Himalayas. 

(Pic. Above Mr. Moddie delivering his lecture at Capital Hall, Nainital on 14th Nov.2010 , Pic. Below publication of PAHAR on his topic of Discussion)

First Helicopter at Gangtok....

"Orville Wright (1871-1948) and Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) requested a patent application for a "flying machine" nine months before their glorious flight in December 1903, which Orville Wright recorded in his diary. As part of the Wright Brothers' efficient practice of photographing every prototype and test of their various flying machines, they had swayed an attendant from a nearby lifesaving station to snap Orville Wright in full flight. The craft soared to an altitude of 10 feet, traveled 120 feet, and landed 12 seconds after takeoff. After making two longer flights that day, Orville and Wilbur Wright sent a telegram to their father, instructing him to "inform press."

Detached from all these developments in the West, Sikkim preferred to live a secluded life even after its contact with British India. The then society of the former Himalayan Kingdom had never imagined about such kind of “flying machine” which was by now witnessed by the contemporary West. At that time, our society was for ever and a day guided by the mythologies which do not put up with any judgment in today’s perception. The people had a great faith on their mythological stories written in their religious books which always lacks logic and scientific standards to get fit in the modern perspectives. Accordingly, they might have a conception that an enormous religious person or the creator only can fly and take a round of sky.

Such a social set-up of Sikkim was able to witness the huge “flying machine” nearly after five decades of its innovation by the Wright Brothers. This rare photograph is preserved by the Alley Family of Gangtok which was taken on the day when the unimaginable flying object landed at Palzor Stadium then known as Polo Ground. We do not have a clear idea about the event but, the huge crowd behind the helicopter suggests us that how curios were the Sikkimese commoners to see the “flying machine” in front of them. It arrived at Gangtok at such an age when just to see a vehicle was not less than a great fortune to a commoner. 

(On the picture Family of  Lt. Rashmi Prasad Alley of Gangtok at Palzor Stadium, behind them the first Helicopter at Gangtok.)

First Nepali literary meet of Sikkim...

The growth in the awareness about the Nepali literature in India was undoubtedly pioneered by the Nepalese of Darjeeling. People of that expanse got enlightened about their language and literature due to their propinquity to the British. Sikkim was thence in a nap which was a sleep of illiteracy and unawareness. Very few of the Sikkimese were educated on the eve of the First World War and who belonged to the Super class and were not engrossed to make their subordinates aware about their literatures nor did they themselves had written anything. They were simply cramped in their revenue making practice. In such a state of affairs, to imagine a literary society was not less than a hallucination in the Sikkimese scenario. When Chandrika (A Nepali Newspaper edited and published by the jewel of Indian Nepali Literature lt. Paras Mani Pradhan) was widely circulated in the contiguous of Darjeeling, there were hardly a small amount of people in Sikkim who could write their names in their language. Though, the establishment of educational institutes was taken place in the first decade of the 20th century, but they were unable to produce the literary minds with their out dated theological syllabus. It was only after the arrival of Lt. Rashmi Prasad Alley to Sikkim the system of imparting education in Nepali language was started. The vigorous attempts of Lt. Alley are unforgettable and would be considered the same by every Sikkimese ceaselessly.
The credit for the prologue of the Nepali language in the Sikkimese schools goes to the then Maharaja Tashi Namgyal who allowed to approve Nepali as a language for the idea of giving out education to his Nepali subjects. With the introduction of Nepali as a vernacular language in the educational institutes, Sikkim had contributed lots in the Nepali Literary world. Many radical and rational writers were born in Sikkim among them the writers of the APATAN literary society are of importance. The Apatan Sahitya Parishad is the pioneer literary association of Sikkim founded by four eminent Sikkimese Nepali poets namely Agam Singh Tamang, Padam Singh Subba, Tulshi Bahadur Chettri and Nima Wangdi Lepcha. They had a cry in their writings a legitimate cry against the crooked practices customary in the society like landlordism and its associated vices.
Under the inventiveness of the APATAN literary society, the first literary meet was organized at White Hall Gangtok on 18th and 19th of November 1952. The important literary figures who were present in that meet were Kavi Siromani Lekh Nath Poudyal, Lt. Rashmi Prasad Alley, Bal Krishna Sama, Padam Singh Subba Apatan, Tulshi Bahadur Chettri Apatan, Lt. Kashi Raj Pradhan and among them the figure of great importance was Mahakavi Lakshmi Prasad Devkota. The conclusion of the first literary meet had a far reaching impact in the Sikkimese literature in general and the Nepali literature in particular. The essential accomplishment of the meet was the publication of the first news based journal of Sikkim Kanchanjunga from 15th of August 1957. The Newspaper was edited and published by Lt. Kashi Raj Pradhan which had played an imperative ingredient in heralding a new epoch of democracy in Sikkim. 

(In the picture tall man in suit is Rashmi Prasad Alley, left to him in black suit is Kavi Tulshi Bahadur Chettri Apatan, Right to Alley is Bal Krishna Sama, next to Sama tall man in Nepali attire is Padam Singh Subba Apatan, the last man on the row in a black coat is Kavi Siromani Lekh Nath Poudyal)
Muna Madan: A Play in the Jhyaure Folk Tradition

Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota at Gangtok.....

Lakshmi Prasad Devkota is regarded as the propounding father of romanticism in the Nepali literature. Devkota was deeply influenced by the writings of William Wordsworth, P.B. Shelley, Byron and John Keats. He is the pioneer of modernity or modernism in Nepali literature, especially in essays and poetry, and he is also regarded as 'Anshu Kavi'(spontaneous poet). He could write poems in a spontaneous manner and even while signing autographs for his fans, he used to write a poem before putting his signature. Devkota’s poetry depicts the romantic characteristics like humanism, metaphysical relationships, aesthetic values, past glories, praise of nature etc. Apart from romantic writings, he wrote some potent revolutionary poems possibly under the impact of P.B.Shelley.

The  masterpiece which renders him the loftiest position in Nepali Literature is his 'Muna-Madan'  in which he tried to depict the deplorable economic condition of Nepal in the most celebrated characters of two youths  Muna- a Nepali village girl and Madan- a Nepali peasant. The short epic can be compared to 'Romeo and Juliet' of William Shakespeare in the context of love and emotion 'Muna-Madan' is written in Jhyaurey prosody, the typical Nepali folk lore. This work of Devkota has been translated into several languages like German, French, English, Russian, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese etc. and it has gained same popularity as it gained in the Nepali literary world. 

The glorious Nepali poet had once visited the Demasong Valley. He was invited here by the APATAN Sahitya Parishad in November 1952. The Apatan Sahitya Parishad is the pioneer literary association of Sikkim founded by four eminent Sikkimese Nepali poets namely Agam Singh Tamang, Padam Singh Subba, Tulshi Bahadur Chettri and Nima Wangdi Lepcha. This Association has contributed a lot for the propagation of literary ideas among the Sikkimese society. He was felicitated at White Hall, Gangtok on November 15th 1952, where Lt. Kashi Raj Pradhan made an introductory speech about Devkota and Padam Singh Subba read the Letter of Appreciation, which was presented to him. The then Sikkim Maharaja Tashi Namgyal roared in laughter when Devkota recited an English poem in Vedic prosody. His Majesty, the Maharaja of Sikkim Sir Tashi Namgyal was splendidly hailed by Mahakavi Lakshmi Prasad Devkota in a poem which reads like the following:

Hail! Glorious ruler of this mount in state, 

Sikkim, the paradise of peaceful peaceful hills,

This lively sweet abode of angels, great,

Great in thy name. Thy well known bounty fills

With plenty of thy kingdom. Stainless soul,

Deeply devoted to the God that thrills

Thy inmost depth, thou findest him all whole

Thy own angelic subjects in their wills

Amassed forever in love to their great good

Selflessly hast thou lived, the Buddha life

In thy keen veins where human love must brood 

And multiply, rich and intense to thrive

Thy teeming millions to whom a holy shire

Thou dost with sense of human sacrifice aye in spire.

(The tall man in a coat in the middle of the row is Lt. Rashmi Prasad Alley, to his right Mahakavi Lakshmi Prasad Devkota, Right to Devkota is Padam Singh Subba of  'Apatan' literary association of Sikkim, to the left side of Alley, is Bal Krishna Sama a legendary figure of Nepali Language. The picture was taken at the palace corridor Gangtok in November 1952)