Nepal Sanskritik Parisad and the Circulation of Research in Immediate Post-Rana Nepal
The end of Rana rule in 1951 was an important rupture in the history of social science research in Nepal. The scholar of literature and history Kamal P. Malla (1970) has characterized the 1950s in the following manner:
The post-1950 decade in Nepal is characterized, in the first place, by a sense of release and emancipation of the intellect from a century-old political and priestly yoke, and in the second place, by an unprecedented expansion of intellectual and cultural opportunities. The decade can aptly be called a decade of extroversion. For it was a decade of explosion of all manner of ideas, activities and organized efforts.
The political and civil freedoms that became available to Nepali citizens after the end of Rana-rule allowed for the possibility of many experiments in the domain of, as Malla suggests “ideas, activities and organized efforts.” These experiments included some serious ventures in research about Nepal in the non-governmental and private sectors. It would not be possible to provide a comprehensive review of all of these initiatives in the span of this paper. However, I will present a history of one such experiment of Nepal Studies within Nepal during the immediate post-Rana years.
Not even three months had passed since the end of Rana Rule when efforts to establish an organization dedicated to studies of Nepal were begun. Such an entity was eventually founded before the close of 1951 and it was called the Nepal Samskritik Parisad (NSP). Its founders were some of the most influential Nepali writers, researchers and politicians at that time. NSP’s main objective, as mentioned in its constitution was “the overall development of Nepali culture and to do research on ancient past subjects.” During the 1950s, NSP became a platform for research and publications as well as an experiment in an organized effort between some newly freed citizens of Nepal and an erstwhile leading member of the Rana oligarchy.
In this paper I argue that the founding of the NSP had largely taken place as part of the larger utopian project of cultural revival in immediate post-Rana Nepal. I also demonstrate how multiple interests and influences came to bear upon the NSP’s formation and activities. By looking at linkages between NSP and similar nascent research formations, this paper also sheds some light on the early circulation of research in Nepal. This paper is thus a contribution to the history of intellectual activities in Nepal during the 1950s and it enhances our understanding of the lives and agency of some specific individuals who have left their footprints in the history of academic production in Nepal.