Nepal is said to be one of the oldest nations in Asia. Some references to Nepal have been found in the famous Hindu epic “The Mahabharata”, Purans, Buddhist scriptures, various chronicles, Thyasaphus, ancient coins, Foreigners accounts, and archaeological discoveries, etc. In the Satya Yuga, this land was known as the Satyawoti, Tapovan (land of meditation) in Treta Yuga, Muktisopan in Dwapar Yuga, and Nepal in the present day. But, when and how Nepal got its name? Who named Nepal?
There are several chronicles and legends about the origin of the name of Nepal. But one thing is clear, before the unification of present Nepal by Prithvi Narayan Shah, Nepal was referred to Kathmandu Valley only. While there are myths on the formation of the Kathmandu valley, there are several myths regarding how it got its name.
On the basis of language
1.Tibetan language: Nepal is coined from two Tibetan words, “Ne” which means house, and ” Pal” which means wool. So Nepal is a house of wool. Ancient Nepal was renowned as a woolen producer, in which woolen products were exported to different Indian continental nations.
2. Lepcha language: ” Ne” means sacred and “Pal” means cave or nation that refers to mean the sacred cave or sacred nation in the Lepcha language.
3.Newar language: In the Newar language, Ne means mid/ middle, and ” Pa” means country situated in the center. Nepal is situated in between the two great countries, China and India. So, it was called a central country, i.e., Nepal.
4.Kirat language: In the Kirat language, Nepal is known as Neyothapa here Neyatha means cattle and pa means people. Kathmandu valley had a good grassland for cattle and the main occupation of the people was to rear animals. So, it was called the land of the people who reared animals, i.e., Nepal
On the basis of religious context
6. Buddhist context: According to Buddhist legend, the deity Manjusri drained the water from Nagadaha (a mythical lake that is believed to have filled the Kathmandu valley). The valley became habitable and was ruled by Bhuktaman a cow-herder, who took advice from a sage named “Ne”. Pāla means “protector” or “taking care”, so Nepal reflected the name of the sage who took care of the place
7. Hindu context: A sage called ‘Ne’ son of Lord Brahma lived in penance on the confluence of the Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers. So, the word ‘Nepal’ was derived from the name of the sage ‘Ne’ and ‘Pala’ – his work, to protect the land.
On the basis of inhabitants
8. The Gopals: Nepal was ruled by kings of the Gopal dynasty. They were known as ‘Nepa’. Hence the name Nepal was coined.
9. The Kiratis: Kiratas, the earliest known inhabitants of this country, had a clan called ‘Nepar’ living in the Kathmandu valley. So, Nepal might also be derived from Nepar.
10. The Newars: Thomas Young and Geroge Griharson, the two famous historians gave their opinion that both the terms ‘Nepal’ and ‘Newar’ might be derived from the same root ‘Nyarva’. In this way, Nyarva was turned into Newar and then to Nepal. The Newars are believed to be the early inhabitants of the valley, long before the unification process.
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