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The Kirāta (Kirat) (Sanskrit: किरात) is a generic term in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
literature for people who had territory in the mountains, particularly in the Himalayas and North-East India
North-East India
and who are believed to have been Sino-Tibetan
Sino-Tibetan
in origin.[1][2] The Kiratas are Limbu and Rai martial tribes of Eastern Nepal
Eastern Nepal
[3][4] The Kiratas in Distant Past A Sanskrit-English Dictionary refer the meaning of 'Kirat' as a 'degraded, mountainous tribe, a savage and barbarian' while other scholars attribute more respectable meanings to this term and say that it denotes people with the lion's character, or mountain dwellers.[5]

Contents

1 Historical mention and mythology 2 Modern scholarship 3 Religious beliefs 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References

Historical mention and mythology[edit] They are mentioned along with Cinas (Chinese), and were slightly different from the Nishadas.[6] They are first mentioned in the Yajurveda
Yajurveda
(Shukla XXX.16; Krisha III.4,12,1), and in the Atharvaveda (X.4,14) . In Manu's Dharmashastra
Dharmashastra
(X.44) they are mentioned as degraded Kshatriyas,[7] but outside the ambit of Brahminical influence. It is speculated that the term is a Sanskritization of a Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman
tribal name, like that of Kirant
Kirant
or Kiranti
Kiranti
of eastern Nepal.[7] In the Periplus, the Kirata are called Kirradai,[8] who are the same people as the Pliny's Scyrites and Aelian's Skiratai; though Ptolemy does not name them, he does mention their land which is called Kirradia. They are characterized as barbaric in their ways, Mongoloid in appearance speaking a Tibeto-Burmese language.[9] The Sesatai (known to Ptolemy
Ptolemy
and Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
as Saesadai or Sosaeadae), who traded the aromatic plant malabathrum, were described – in terms similar to descriptions of the Kirradai – as short and flat-faced, but also shaggy and white.[10] Mythology gives an indication of their geographical position. In the Mahabharata, Bhima
Bhima
meets the Kiratas to the east of Videha, where his son Ghatotkacha
Ghatotkacha
is born; and in general the dwellers of the Himalayas, especially the eastern Himalayas, were called Kiratas.[11] In general they are mentioned as "gold-like", or yellow, unlike the Nishadas or the Dasas, who were dark Austric people.[12] In Yoga Vasistha 1.15.5 Rama
Rama
speaks of kirAteneva vAgurA, "a trap [laid] by Kiratas", so about 10th century BCE[citation needed], they were thought of as jungle trappers, the ones who dug pits to capture roving deer. The same text also speaks of King Suraghu, the head of the Kiratas who is a friend of the Persian King, Parigha. Modern scholarship[edit] Sylvain Lévi (1985) concluded that Kirata was a general term used by the Hindus of the plains to designate the Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman
speaking groups of the Himalayas and Northeast.[13] Religious beliefs[edit] The Kirat
Kirat
people practice shamanism but they call it " Kirat
Kirat
religion". The Kiratis follow Kirat
Kirat
Mundhum. Their holy text is the Mundhum.[14] Kiratis worship nature and their ancestors. Animism and shamanism and belief in their primeval ancestors, Yuma Sammang (Sumnima/Paruhang), are their cultural and religious practices. The names of some of their festivals are Chasok Tangnam, Sakela, Sakle, Tashi, Sakewa, Saleladi Bhunmidev, Yokwa and Folsyandar. They have two main festivals: Chasok Tangnam and Sakela/Sakewa Ubhauli during plantation season and Sakela/Sakewa Udhauli during the time of harvest.[15] Mundhum (also known as Peylan) is the religious scripture and folk literature of the Kirat
Kirat
people of Nepal, central to Kirat
Kirat
Mundhum. Mundhum means "the power of great strength" in the Kirati language.[16] The Mundhum covers many aspects of the Kirat
Kirat
culture, customs and traditions that existed before Vedic civilisation
Vedic civilisation
in Nepal.[17][18][19][20] See also[edit]

Kirata Kingdom: Early beginning of Kirat
Kirat
rule in Nepal
Nepal
centralised in Kathmandu valley
Kathmandu valley
and also believed to be first kingdom of Nepal. Kirat
Kirat
people, the residents of Kirat
Kirat
Kingdom.

Notes[edit]

^ Radhakumud Mukharji (2009), Hindu Shabhyata, Rajkamal Prakashan Pvt Ltd, ISBN 978-81-267-0503-0, ... किरात (मंगोल) : द्रविड़ भाषाओं से भिन्न यह भाषाओं में किरात या ...  ^ Shiva Prasad Dabral, Uttarākhaṇḍ kā itihās, Volume 2, Vīr-Gāthā-Prakāshan, ... प्राचीन साहित्य में किरात-संस्कृति, किरात-भूमि ...  ^ Indian Literature By Sähitya Akademi, 1981 ^ P.218 Problems of Ethnicity in the North-East India
North-East India
By Braja Bihārī Kumāra, Concept Publishing Company, 2007 - Ethnic conflict ^ The Indian Journal of Social Work, Volume 62 By Department of Publications, Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2001 ^ (Chatterji 1974:26) ^ a b (Chatterji 1974:28) ^ "...among whom are the Kirradai, a race of wild men with flattened noses" (Casson 1989, p. 89) ^ "They are characterized as barbaric in their ways and Mongoloid in appearance (Shafer 124). From the widespread area in which the literary sources place the Kiratas Heine-Geldern (167) concludes that the name was a general designation for all the Mongoloid peoples of the north and east. Shafer (124), on the basis of the nomenclature of their kings, concludes that they spoke a Tibeto-Burmic language and were the predecessors of the Kirantis, now living in the easternmost province of Nepal.(Casson 1989, p. 234) ^ " Ptolemy
Ptolemy
calls them Saesadai and describes them more fully; they are not only short and flat-faced, as in the Periplus, but shaggy and white-skinned. ... The characteristics themselves indicate that the Sesatai were similar to the Kirradai, and their access to the border with China indicates that they lived, as Coedes suggests "between Assam and China". (Casson 1989, pp. 242–243) ^ (Chatterji 1974:30) ^ (Chatterji 1974:31) ^ Concept of tribal society 2002 Page 32 Deepak Kumar Behera, Georg Pfeffer "Does this mean that the Kirata were a well-defined group, a kind of ancient Himalayan tribe, which has been there for times immemorial (as popular usage often implies)? A critical look at the evidence leads to different considerations. Already the Indologist Sylvain Lévi concluded that Kirata was a general term used by the Hindus of the plains to designate the Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman
speaking groups of the Himalayas and Northeast Thus it is unlikely that the Kirata who ruled the Kathmandu Valley were a particular ethnic group. Rather the evidence suggests that they were forefathers of the present day Newar (the Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman
speaking indigenous people of the valley) ^ P. 56 Kiratese at a Glance By Gopal Man Tandukar ^ "Kiratis observe Udhauli". The Kathmandu Post. December 21, 2010.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Hardman, Charlotte E. (December 2000). John Gledhill; Barbara Bender; Bruce Kapferer (eds.), eds. Other Worlds: Notions of Self and Emotion among the Lohorung Rai. Berg Publishers. pp. 104–. ISBN 978-1-85973-150-5. CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link) ^ Dor Bahadur Bista (1991). Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization. Orient Longman. pp. 15–17. ISBN 81-250-0188-3.  ^ Cemjoṅga, Īmāna Siṃha (2003). History and Culture of the Kirat People. Kirat
Kirat
Yakthung Chumlung. pp. 2–7. ISBN 99933-809-1-1.  ^ Cultures & people of Darjeeling ^ Gurung, Harka B. (2003). Trident and Thunderbolt: Cultural Dynamics in Nepalese Politics (PDF). Nepal: Social Science Baha. ISBN 99933-43-44-7. OCLC 57068666. 

References[edit]

Chatterji, S. K. (1974). Kirata-Jana-Krti. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society.  Casson, Lionel (1989). The Periplus Maris Erythraei. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-

.