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An arjī from Raṇadala Pā̃ḍe re the capturing of elephants (VS 1894)

ID: DNA_0001_0005

Edited and translated by Axel Michaels, Manik Bajracharya and Rajan Khatiwoda in collaboration with Philip Pierce
Created: 2014-12-04; Last modified: 2018-06-14
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Published by Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Pre-modern Nepal, Heidelberg, Germany, 2017. Published by the courtesy of the National Archives, Kathmandu. The copyright of the facsimile remains with the Nepal Rashtriya Abhilekhalaya (National Archives, Government of Nepal). All use of the digital facsimiles requires prior written permission by the copyright holder. See Terms of Use.
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Raṇadala Pā̃ḍe writes this letter to the authority concerned in respect of offering an elephant named Raṇa Prakāśā from Citavana, Nepal.

Diplomatic edition


1अर्जि­¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯

9ल­मिति­चैत्र­शुदि­१५­रोज­२­मुकाम्‌­तानसेन्‌‌­शुभम्‌­¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯- - -





[Regarding the] following: This time a big ruttish (mattā)1 elephant captured in an area of Citavana [and given the name] Raṇa Prakāśa has been sent to you. [Hopefully], it will have reached you. The elephant [named] Haidaraveg is not always so useful. This time, thanks to the hard labour of the elephant stable manager (dārogā)2 , head of the elephant care team (rāut)3 and elephant riders (māhut), Haidaraveg caught [Raṇa Prakāśa]. The popular chief elephant Aḍaṅga Bahādura from the elephant stable (hātisāra) in Pālpā is the one who is always useful for elephant hunts,4 and catches elephants best suited for your outings. The elephant stable here would [therefore] be much better, if you could also send the elephant Aḍaṅga Bahādura. Once elephants suited for outings are caught, they would be continously turned over to you. [We will do] as you order. What more [to say] to our learned lord whose feet are lotuses!

Monday, the 15th of the bright fortnight of Caitra in the [Vikrama] era 1894 from the Tānasen residence. [Let it be] auspicious.

Tens of millions of eightfold salutations5 from [your] always [faithful] servant Raṇadala Pā̃ḍe, at [your] service. Three times reverence. [Let it be] thousandfold auspicious.


Most documents on elephants deal with elephants used for hunting and riding for kings and nobility. They are regarded as a prized symbol of status and, due to their association with Gaṇeśa, of power combined with auspicious qualities. This became last evident in 1975 when King Vīrendra and Queen Aiśvaryā undertook their coronation proccession on the back of an elephant. The Śāhas and Rāṇās were famous for organizing hunts which could last several weeks and involve hundreds of elephants (Locke 2006: 11). Jaṅga Bahādura Rāṇā’s fondness for elephants and his courage in dealing with them is well-known.

Elephants were important for the economy and lucrative trading commodity (Regmi 1984: 198-199). They were also used in war and in controlling the borders, as is clear from a lālamohara issued by King Gīrvāṇayuddha dated Mārga sudi 1, VS 1867, to all officials where elephant stables had been established and in which the dārogās, rāutas, māhutas etc. are told: “In case you vacate a single inch of the territory under our occupation, you shall be held to have committed a serious crime” (Regmi 1972: 46 referring to RRC, vol. 38, p. 645).


1. An elephant who is erotic for female elephants and whose ear-glands are flowing. []

3. Locke 2006: 148f.: "In the modern era, raut is responsible for managing the team of elephant driving staff (the mahuts, patchuwas, and phanets)"; also a Tharu surname: Krauskopff and Meyer 2000: 185. []

4. Hunt by stockade methode or a "fenced enclosure into which wild elephants were herded before being subjected to training" (Locke 2006): 26. []

5. An expression for a greeting gesture with eight body parts, i.e., the whole body. []