History of Bikram Sambat in Nepal: A Retrospect/ Dirgha Raj Prasai

Bikram Sambat is the glory of Nepal. We the Nepalese people are lucky because Nepal was never captured by foreign imperialists. The continual practice of Bikram Sambat in Nepal is powerful proof against imperialists’ attempt to hold Nepal. Bikram Sambat- 2068 starts from Mekh Sankranti-1st of Baishk-Apr.14. Bikram Sambat (BS) is an ancient and original Era of Nepal in Himavatkhanda. Before the Prithvi Narayan Shah, Sen ruled states, Baisi Chaubisi (22 and 24 independent states of Undignified Nepal), Malla dynasty of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and thenafter Prithbinarayan Shah Regimes, Muluki Ain (law) of Janga Bahahdur, before and after the Chandra Shamsher regime, Bikram era was used. Before BS 1961, Bikram era including Nepal Sambat (Nepal era) and Shaka Sambat (Shaka era) were based to Tithi. Since any changes in Tithies produce difficulties in managing the schedule of governmental works Chandra Shamsher on behalf of advice of Jyotishies (astrologers) started to write dates maintaining the same day, Tithi and month. There are 365 days in a year in accordance to Bikram era. However Nepal era and Shaka era counts 354 days in a year. These later eras are in accordance to Tithi, and are therefore unpractical.

Yogi Narahari Nath, a veteran literate and saint has mentioned that someone victorian King Bikramaditya according to Devmala Bansabali, had a throne at place where now Ram Mandir (Temple of God Ram at Battisputali of Kathmandu) has been constructed; and according to Pashupati Puran, the Bikram era was initiated during the regime of first king of Suryabanshi (Sun descendent) Lichchavis, who ruled Nepal after their victory on Kirats, called as Dharmapal or Bhoomi Barma or Bikramaditya. A study on Bhasa Bansabali, (Eds. Nayanath Paudyal) published by Department of Archeology, Government of Nepal) reveals that during the regime of King Dharmagat, on the name of the king a Chatarmukh Narayan (four mouthed statue of God Narayana) along with a spout (now Narayanhiti) was created towards the south of royal palace and open to pay pilgrimage. The Bansabali mentions this was time when Bikram era was initiated and started to practice. 

Lichchhavi king declaring himself Baishalipati (The King of Baishali) and due to power of lord Pashupatinath, became the king of Kashi (Vanarashi) too. Bikram era was initiated when a brave and victorian Suryabanshi king established his capital at Bishalnagar and Battaishputali (Himabatkhand). Here is another proof that Bikram era was started in Nepal from unknown ancient time. Just near above to a temple of Sankhu Bajrayogini there is another temple in which the head of King Bikramaditya has been kept. And till the date it is being worshipped by Bajracharya priests. It is a myth that King Bikramaditya ruled the Uttarapur state (now: Nala of Kavre district). A Bansabali at Harisiddhi temple established by Lichhchivi dynasty has quoted BS 711. Harisidhdhi upapuran mentions that Harisidhdhi drama was demonstrated at BS 945. A Subarna patra (gold plate) of time of Jayasthiti Malla also mentions BS 1448. These all quotations prove that Bikram era was well practiced in ancient Nepal. 

 Some people guess Bikram era was from foreign land and it was started from Madhya Pradesh of India. This is not true. Chandra Gupta II in forth century became king of Ujjayani. He captured Ayodhdhya in around 400 AD and made his capital. He then pasted himself on copper coins as ‘Bikramaditya’. But the same Chandra Gupta declaring himself decorated Bikramaditya, but he was not being originator of Bikram Samat. In fact since Gupta kings of Magadh were influenced by Lichchhavis of Nepal, Chandra Gupta I married princess of Lichchhavi king. Therefore due to influence of bravery of Lichchhavi Kings, Chandra Gupta II might have decorated himself as ‘Bikramaditya’. Still, the logic is not valid that Bikram Sambat started from India as Chandra Gupta II was decorated as Bikramaditya. The famous historian Baburam Acharya has written ‘During 58 BC when Bikram Era was begun, there is no proof of existence of King Bikramaditya in Ujjayani of India. No proof was established when of excavates of Ujjayani were studied.” In this situation it is proved that Bikram Sambat is not foreign Era. Bikram Sambat is original and ancient era of Nepal. 

 In BS 1937, a literate researcher Pandit Bhagawan Lal Indraji from Gujrat India came to Nepal and searched and carried 23 different inscriptions. He believed that the era practiced by Lichchivis was Bikram era. Similarly Radhagovind Basak, Professor of History at Calcutta University writes in History of Northern East part of India – ‘The era of Mandev 386 mentioned in record of Changu is Bikram era. In this way, era starting from 386 to 489 (written in records at Chapali village) is Bikram era. Historian Shankarman Rajbansi also believes that era used by Mandev is also Bikram era. So, there are so many proofs on Bikram era. The era is traditionally being used in different states of India. In Bengal of India, Panchangas based on solar theory in accordance to Bikram era are in practice. Million copy printing news weekly Future edited by Arun Bansal and Panchangas edited by Dr. Geeta Sharma; both based on Bikram era are also being published. 

 Along with Bikram Era, Nepal era was also practiced from Mid Lichchavis to nation builder Prithvi Narayan Shah and Rana regime. Since Tithis are unbalanced, for ease in administrative management Chandra Shamsher started to write the date of Bikram era as in AD (Isvi Sambat). In India Shaka Era was continually being disappeared. However in 1957 after the independence of India (1947) Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru stated passive Shaka Era with belief that the era is of Indian origin. But, since Shaka Era is also run with Tithis and has 354 days in a year, it was unpractical and could not go long run. Therefore India practiced AD (Isvi Sambat). Similarly compared to Bikram Era, Nepal era could not be practical. Bikram Sambat is based and had and has being following the rule and regulation of nature. 

 Naturally, it is proved, Bikram Sambat have been following the functions of nature. Mekh Sankranti, Srawan Sankranti and Makara Sankrant are the most important month on Bikram Sambat. Bikram Sambat starts just Mekh Sankranti almost April 14-15,  the first month of Bikram Era-'Baishak'. Srawan Sankranti starts almost- 17th July. Makara Sankranti starts almost 15th Jan. when the Sun begins the northward journey, marking the beginning of the 'uttaraayana.' from Southern pole. Similarly, from the month of Srawan, the Sun begins the southward journey-'Dakhinarayana.' In Bikram Sambat, the three month are very notable. The Siva Ratri (Birth Day of Lord Shiva) almost-March is also is countable. In these days- there is natural gift where rainfall automatically flows. So, the Bikram Sambat has started according to the rule of nature. In the time of Makara Sankranti Sun passes from one Zodiac sign to another. A Sankranti marks the beginning of every solar month in the Vedic cylindrical system when Sun passes from one sign to the other; it's the cusp of the months as Astro-wallas call. These months and the time of Sivaratri are the remarkable days of all Hindus and Buddhists A most remarkable point is that a pair of fabled orchid flower that used to bloom at Siraha's Salhes Garden exactly on the new year-Bikram Sambat morning. It may be that the orchid flowers bloom to welcome the New Year. The orchid is the symbol of undying love. Thousands and thousands of people from neighboring districts and Indian villages visit this place to watch the blooming of the pair of flowers and attend a local festival. It may be that the orchid flowers hint to all to follow the rules of regulation of Bikram Sambat- the lovable Nepalese Era. 

 Historian Dinesh Raj Pant in Samacharpatra daily (dated 11th Kartik, 2066 BS) says “Bikram Sambat, which was in practice in Nepal before or after Shaka Era and Nepal Era, was spread in 54 states of un-unified Nepal and was more popular than any other Eras. It was well practiced in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur too. Among these, Bikram Era was highly influential in Bhaktapur.” We know the both Bikram and Nepal Sambat are our original era. Bikram Sambat was practiced 936 years before Nepal Sambat. Isvi Sambat (AD) was started 57 years after the Bikram Era. The Bikram Sambat is an original and sign of Nepalese sovereignty where the foreigners could not attack here like India, China and Pakistan. The history always follows the real events, evidence, writings, chronology the hearsay also must be trustworthy. The Bikram Sambat is a glorious asset of Nepal. On this occasion of New Year 2068, thre should be reinstated monarchy and Hindukingdom, And let us extend our good wishes among all Nepalese for our prosperous and successful life.