A Tale Of The Brave – Nepalese Gurkhas
Gurkhas – The indigenous warriors of Nepal, the brave that had the courage to take over the world, Khukuri (a wickedly curved large Knife/Nepalese weapon) and so many other things come to our minds that can justly associate with this term.
The term Gurkha (commonly known as Nepali Gorkha/Gurkha) is derived from the Hindu warrior ‘Guru Gorakhnath’. Best known for their legendary exploits of bravery and tenacity, a Gurkha armed with a khukuri is not somebody you want to mess with. Even a mere sight of the unsheathed khukuri is enough to discourage the enemies’ next move.
While Gurkhas are fearless, they are also gentle and humble people. Their graciousness, loyalty and courage are what they believe to be their assets. With so much love in their heart for their country, they are dignified people and ideal soldiers.
The potential of these warriors was first identified by the British when they were at the height of conquering the world. Gurkhas were declared as the ‘Martial Race’ by the British officials in the 19th century. This term is used for those groups of people that are naturally born tough and aggressive in battle; that are courageous, loyal, self sufficient, physically strong and resilient.
They possess the strength to work hard for longer periods of time. These brave people are always ready to push themselves one step ahead when it comes to working hard.
Gurkha Military has always been the number one choice in India and Britain. These ‘fearless fighters’ earned great respect that helped them gain a significant place in their force, namely, Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments and the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas.
In recognition for their service for The Great Britain against Indian rebellion, the 2nd Gurkha Rifles were awarded the Queen’s Truncheon. Many believe that this unique emblem has magical powers in it!
They say that U.S Marines consider very few modern foreign warriors that equal their strength. On the top of that list is the Gurkha military!
This is what they said about Gurkhas
“If I had Gurkhas, no armies in the world will defeat me.
– Adolf Hitler
“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.”
– Former Chief of staff of the Indian Army, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
“As I write these last words, my thoughts return to you who were my comrades, the stubborn and indomitable peasants of Nepal. Once more I hear the laughter with which you greeted every hardship. Once more I see you in your bivouacs or about your fires, on forced march or in the trenches, now shivering with wet and cold, now scorched by a pitiless and burning sun. Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you.”
– Professor Sir Ralph Lilley Turner, MC, who served with the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles in the First World War
The tale of their bravery
From 1857 until 1947, the Gurkha regiments served in many countries like Burma | Afghanistan | the North-East and North-West Frontiers of India | Malta (The Russo-Turkish War 1877-78) | Cyprus | Malaya | China (the Boxer rebellion of 1900)| Tibet and in many other First and Second World Wars.
Their heroic tales were incorporated in many songs, poems and stories. ‘Gainay’ (traditional singers of Nepal) are well known story tellers of the heroic tales and unflinching courage of Gurkha martyrs. They sing about their bravery, their sacrifice, about a widow of a gurkha soldier who died in the battle field, a tale of a lonely mother whose son goes never to return.
These heartbreaking tunes and lyrics sound even more saddening when they play ‘Sarangi’ (a violin look-alike Nepali instrument). The whole environment they create takes you to another level. The love for these warriors sinks deeper and respect goes higher.
Even to this day, people write about them and their sacrifices for the love of their country. It is believed that a mother would happily send her son to a war-zone if it was to fight for their mother land.
The bone-chilling “Jay Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali”– which means ‘Glory to Kali (Hindu Goddess), the Gurkhas approach’, was and still is their war cry.
No one knows how true this is but the legend has it that once a khukuri was drawn in a battle, it had to ‘taste blood’. If it did not, its owner had to cut himself before returning it to its sheath!
We all believe that the old traditions will persist and their soldierly qualities will prove equal to every demand forever and ever.