gurkhas: as indian as should be

Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw once famously said of the Gurkhas, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.”

The identity of Gurkhas is often marred in controversy and their nationality frequently questioned. This post is a tribute to all the Gurkhas who fought for their nation, helped in her growth and despite the ignorance of a huge section of people about their origin and nature continue to love their motherland with utmost dignity and selfless service.

Etymology and Origin:

A popular saint of North India, Baba Gorakshanath roamed across the country spreading his ideologies of brotherhood and his encounter with Bappa Rawal, a Guhilot Rajput prince in Rajasthan is of specific importance. Baba Gorakshanath called his disciples “go rakkha” (which translates to cow protector in Prakrit language) and thus Bappa was the first Gurkha and this is how the name came into existence. Bappa went on to lay the foundation of the Mewar Dynasty and his later descendants migrated to east of Rajasthan and spread to various areas including modern Nepal and modern North East India (mostly Sikkim and Darjeeling). They formed their own kingdoms and though the original Gurkhas were Rajputs from west India with passing time many Indo-Tibetan and Mongoloid groups also joined them including Gurungs, Rais, Magars, Limbus, Tamangs, Kirantis etc. The modern kingdom of Nepal has for most of its history being ruled by Gurkhas and the Gorkha district is named after them. The Indian town of Gorakhpur, located in eastern Uttar Pradesh is also named after Baba Gorakshanath.

baba gorakshnath

Martial Race:

The Gurkhas were assigned as a martial race by the British and were known for their courage, loyalty, self-sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness, the ability to work hard for long periods of time, fighting tenacity and military strategy and the British Indian army heavily recruited from amongst them. There were altogether ten regiments of the Gurkhas serving the British army but after India’s independence six of them were given to India and the rest were to serve United Kingdom. India added one more Gurkha regiment post independence taking the count to seven. The regiments that presently serve Indian Army (1 Gorkha Rifles, 3 Gorkha Rifles, 4 Gorkha Rifles, 5 Gorkha Rifles, 8 Gorkha Rifles, 9 Gorkha Rifles and 11 Gorkha Rifles) heavily recruits Gurkhas from both India and Nepal and one of them, Major Dhan Singh Thapa, has also won India’s highest wartime award, Param Veer Chakra for his exemplary courage and duty during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

PVC major dhan singh thapa

Present status in India:

There are close to ten millions Gurkhas in India living mostly in Sikkim, Darjeeling, Shillong, Dehradun and other pockets of India but primarily in the North East. They are mostly Hindus and exclusively speak Nepali as their mother tongue. With their continuous effort, Nepali was included as one of the 23 official languages of India. The Gurkhas of Darjeeling in particular have been very vociferous of their demands of a separate state, Gorkhaland, so that they too can consolidate their identity and help in nation building and contribute to the growth of India as her true son of soil.

It is now known that Gurkhas trace their ancestry to India and they are a group of people found in India and Nepal both. The ones who are in India (whether they migrated from Nepal during British times or are aboriginal inhabitants of India post the Suagauli Sandhi of 1815 shouldn’t be of any concern). Post independence, all the Gurkhas who made India their homeland are as much her citizens as we all are and we have no right whatsoever to ensue in any discrimination whatsoever. They are peace loving people who love their motherland and are ready to become martyrs anytime.

9 gorkha rifles, india

Their contribution to other fields including arts, politics etc is also significant and with all due respect I reiterate their war cry, “Jai Mahakali! Ayo Gorkhali.”


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on 01/01/2011 at 6:12 pm

    Outstanding 🙂
    Good start with historical posts. thanks a lot for sharing nice info..


  2. thanks anu.. the rani durgavati post was also historical.. isnt it? 😛


  3. Posted by Anumita on 01/01/2011 at 10:54 pm

    how did u know that i have given this comment?


  4. Posted by Enigma on 15/04/2011 at 9:19 pm

    This article is absolutely false. More than 90% of Gurkhas are a pure mongoloid race who has no connection to Rajputs what so ever. The bulk of the Gurkhas are made up of Magars/Gurungs men and followed by Rais/limbus. These four Nepalese hills tribes are who the Gurkhas are. Tamang/Sunwars and some sherpas and bhotia tribes are also present in the Gurkhas and all of these tribes are pure Tibeto-Burman race who trace their ancestry from Mongolia/china/Burma etc. The Baba Gorakshanath story has no significance to the Gurkhas and is a complete myth as far as we are concerned. We got our name from the British, who named us after a town called Gorkha in Nepal. The only Gurkhas, who claim to have Rajput bloods are Chettris/Thakuris who form the 9th Gurkha rifles. These men claim Rajput blood but they are really a mixture of Brahmins men and local women, mainly Magars. The descendent of these were given the Chettri (Khastriya) titles and local chiefs were given Thakuri titles by Brahmins and glorified them with stories that they are descendent of kings from chittor in Rajasthan. This was done to make them legitimate Hindu Kings. Chettris and Thakuris only make 1 out of 11 Gurkhas regiments. Rest are pure Mongolian race and all of us including the chettris/thakuris has no connection with Baba Gorakshanath or any Rajputs. Feel free to question me about the real Gurkha history if you have any doubt.


  5. Posted by Anonymous on 09/06/2011 at 4:46 pm

    I agree with Enigma, except to say that the Chettri /Thakuri group comprises more than just children from Brahmin and hill women (mainly Magar I agree as they lived at lower altitudes where Brahmins can survive). Some Chettris are original ‘Khas’ from Nepal. Thakuris on the other hand are a moxed group comprising os some groups that came in from the east such as the Singhs in Bhajang. Others such as Mallas descend from Magar and other kings. Shahi Thakuri are yet another group that some say descend from the kings of the forest. The Gurung, Magar, Rai, Limbu groups most certainly originated from the north and east into nepal, not the south or west.


  6. Posted by vikramaditya singh pawar on 12/06/2012 at 12:02 pm

    from mother side they were mongoloids and father side they were north Indian rajputs and also they are not pure mongoloids nepal royal family also claim decedents from guhilots rajputs from rajasthan


  7. Posted by Avi Gorkha (chettri) on 14/06/2016 at 12:39 pm

    we are gorkhas not any descendents of the rajputs .besides chettris,bahuns and thakuris were not hindus before the 8th century we used to follow a religion named masto and we later converted to buddhist and then hinduism.khas people are also described in mahabharat were they along with kirats were fighting agains the pandavs.SO we have no connections with rajputs…


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