Misleading claim

We are indeed committed, like Deepak Thapa [“In defence of alternative narratives”, The Kathmandu Post, October 28, 2021] to Rajan Khatiwada, Simon Cubelic and Alex Michaels from the University of Heidelberg for the translation of the 1854 Muluki Ain by Jung Bahadur and for making it freely available online, also for the “huge masses (of the Nepalese) who are not aware of our history”.

However, it is misleading to claim that the pioneering code of law is “almost purposefully focused on propping up the caste system”. Muluki Ain rationalized the judicial structure and codified the legal principles of a common law across the country that established the status of a sovereign state. By defining the powers and definite responsibilities inherent in government institutions, including those of the monarch and the prime minister, it ensured that certain provisions of the law replaced or minimized previously common arbitrary judgments, thereby recognizing the concept of the rule of law, an integral part of democratic norms and norms Constitutions.

The four-tier caste varna Division was with the talent and occupation of the individual during the formative Vedic Age Sanatana Dharma. It was later given a “dire twist and linked to the accident of childbirth,” as Swami Chinmayananda commented on Gita in The holy Gita. In the late 14th century, King Jayasthiti Malla of Kathmandu compiled and adopted the previously informal or unwritten legal and spiritual teachings based on the existing practices (including the caste system) and named it: Nepala Rashtra Shastra.

The comprehensive and mammoth Muluki Ain was put together by a 230-strong council formed by Jung Bahadur after nearly three years of arduous travel and extensive discussions across the country. It covered every aspect of life in the country, including “farting someone in the face,” as was curiously pointed out in Thapa’s column, The Religious shastras, Practices, customs and social traditions of different regions and communities that necessarily included the injustices embedded in the caste system.

The document is undoubtedly based on the moral principles of the Shastras and existing traditions including the caste system, but it also recognizes the need for timely reform and therefore stipulates that (in the past) conflicting judgments will appear for similar cases or crimes: breaking the law is the penalty uniform for all people, depending on the caste of the perpetrator.

After all, it has to be remembered Muluki AinAs the title makes clear, it is a code of law and not a paper on socio-cultural-religious reforms. Nevertheless, she sporadically expresses her declaration of intent for such reforms.

Sagar SJB Rana, Lalitpur

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