History of Nepali Literature

Nepali Language has evolved from Sanskrit. Initially, Nepali language was termed as “Gorkhali” or  “Khas” language but the king Prithivi Narayan Shah united the country, it got its name Nepali.

The oldest evidence found written in Nepali Language is Ashok Chilla’s bronze plate, carved in 1321 B.S. The oldest book written in Nepali language found to date is ‘Khanda Khadya‘ (1642). The writer of the book however is not known.

Other ancient books without their author’s name are ‘Swasthani Bharatkatha’ written sometime in 1658 BS and ‘Baj Parikxya‘ written sometime in 1700. The oldest known writer of Nepali books is Prem Nidhi Pant. Two of his books ‘Jwarup Pati Chikitsha‘ written in 1773 BS and ‘Prayashit Predi’ were both translation from Sanskrit books.


Dr. Tara Nath Sharma, has divided the history of Nepali Literature into 5 different eras:

  1. Pre Bhanu Bhakta Era (from beginning to 1871 B.S.)
  2. Bhanu Bhakta Era (from 1872 B.S. to 1936 B.S.)
  3. Moti Ram Era  (from 1940B.S. to 1976 B.S.)
  4. Pre Revolution Era  (from 1977 B.S. to 2007 B.S.)
  5. Post Revolution Era  (from 2007 B.S. to present.)


Pre Bhanu Bhakta Era

1. Pre Bhanu Bhakta Era ( beginning to 1871B.S.)

The first era of Nepali literature was generally written upon bravery. As in any languages, the early literature in Nepali language were also written mostly in the form of poetry. But, a poetry can only be written by the proper development of  prose. So, prose should also have dominated in the Pre-Bhanu Bhakta era.

Prithivi_narayan_planning over conquering Kathmandu Valley

Important authors of the Pre-Bhanu Bhakta era were:

Shuwananda Das: Born in Lalitpur, Shuwananda Das was a poet of Newari lang
uage. Instead of routine Sanskrit verses, he used lyrical folksongs in his poem. Shuwananda’s works include poems about king Prithivi Narayan Shah’s bravery ,victories and journey to Kasi. He is believed to have written two of the three Shadhya ko kabita series – the series contain the presentation of a fight between bulls, an event considered to be an emblem of victories of Gorkhali army .  He also wrote many poetries  about king  Prithivi Narayan Shah’s bravery ,victories , journey to Kasi etc.

Radha Ballav Arjyal: Radha Ballav was another great poet in the time of Shuwananda, who wrote the the third Shadhya ko kabita.

prithivi_narayan_shah Prithivi Narayan Shah: The king who united the smaller kingdoms into a bigger Nepal and considered to be the founder of modern Nepal, hasn’t written any book himself. But, his advices and sayings were written into book as a guidelines called ‘Divya Upadesh‘. During the last days of his life his sayings were converted into written form by the writer in the palace. ‘Divya Upedesh written in 1832 is considered to be the oldest original  prose written in Nepali. The book shows how the people live and the society worked in the ancient time. Based on his own experiences, Prithivi Narayan had given insights into ruling and governing a country.

Shakti Ballav Arjyal – A scholar and a writer, Shakti Ballav wrote both poems and prose. Shakti Ballav was the royal priest of Prithivi Narayan Shah’s palace and the brother of poet Radha Ballav Arjyal. Shakti Ballav translated “Hanshyakaduba,” a text he himself wrote in Sanskrit, to Nepali languag
e. His another work, a play, “Jayaratnakar Natak” was written in Sanskrit.  He wrote numerous poems to praise the king.

Udaya Nanda Arjyal: The cousin of Shakti Ballav Arjyal was also a poet who had written a lot of poems to praise the king Prithivi Narayan Shah.

Bhanu Datta: Bhanu Datta translated “Hitopadesh Mitralav” in Nepali in 1833.
Pt. Divya Kasheri Arjyal (1847-1904) wrote “Goraksha Yog Shastra”. Gumani Pant (1847-1904) a resident of Almoda started to write about Prithivi Narayan Shah’s bravery when the king’s army won Almoda. Bir Shali Panta wrote “Bimalbodhanuvaba”, and Bidhya Kasheri Arjyal (1863-1912) had written “Ugal Geet” and “Droupadi Stuti”.


Bhanu Bhakta Era (from 1872 BS to 1936 BS)

Sugauli Sandhi with the British rulers in India socked the nation and the literature in this era is much influenced by the incident. The writers in this era became fed up with politics and started writing on mythology. Although the kings and wars still

Notable authors of Bhanu Bhakta era include:

bhanu_bhakta Bhanu Bhakta Aacharya (1871 BS -1925 BS), after whom the era is named is considered the all-time-legend of the Nepali literature. Born in Ramgha village of Tanahu district, Bhanu Bhakta’s grandfather Shri Krishna Acharya taught him to read and write. Later, he took him to Kasi for further st
udy. As his father, Dhananjaya Aacharya, was a government employee who worked for General Amar Singh Thapa, Governor of Palpa at that time. Bhanu Bhakta’s major contributions include – Ramayan, Badhu Shiksha, Bhakta Mala, Prasnotari, Ram Gita. This letters to Ram Nath, Tamasukas, and Applications are also published.

Basanta Padhya Luitel (1860 BS -1901 BS) is known for writing Shree Krishna Charitra, Shamundra Lahari

Yadu Nath Pokhrel: A resident of Shaptari, Yadu Nath was a patriotic writer. He had mostly written about the Nepal Army’s bravery, Bhim Sen Thapa’s tactful leadership. He had used a few English words in his works. He is most probably the first poet to use English words in Nepali literature. His works include Stutipadhya and Krishna Charitra.

Hinbya Karni Bidhayapati: Hinbya Karni is known to be the first poet to introduce lyrical poetry in Nepali literature. He
is also considered to be the first poet to to write about sex. Hinby Karni is know for his works like Geet Baani, Saat Raag, and Saat Naika.

Lalit Tripura Sundari: The youngest queen of king Rana Bahadur Shah, Lalit Tripura Sundari is believed to have translated Raaj Dharma in Nepali language in around 1888 BS.

3 Moti Ram Era  (from 1940B.S. to 1976 B.S.)

The tradition of writing novel and gazals were introduced in this era . Various literary and news magazines, on Nepali , were started from outside and inside Nepal. The organization “Gorkha Bhasha Prakasani Samiti”, which was established by Ranas, was authorized to select which book can be published and which can not. Poet Motiram and his company did a fine job for promoting NL.

The important authors of this era and their major works

Rajiv Lochan Joshi (1905-1986):He was born and grown up in Kathmandu and was an active member of Motiram’s group . Moti Ram was so inspired by his poetries that he used to call  Rajiv as a “Kabi Sheromani”.
His works: Kabir Kalpa and many more.

Homnath Khatiwada(1911-1984):Born and grown in Nepal but due to political regions was obliged to move to foreign. Though he kept on serving Nepali
literature by writing and translating holy poetries.
His works: Rama Aaswamedh, Krishna Charitra, Nrisingha Charitra etc.

ShikharNath Subedi(1921-2005):Born in Lalitpur, Nepal and moved to Banaras.
His works: Shikharnath Bhaya, Tharagotraprawarawali, Bir-Shastika, Shringar Darpan, Karna Parwa, Pinashko Katha, Swasthani, etc.

Laxmi Dutta Panta(1922-1962): One of the members of Moti Ram’s group.
His works: Various poems in books like Gafastak, Sangit Chandrodaya, Sukti Sindhu etc.

Moti Ram Bhatta (1923-1953): Great literary figure, born in Kathmandu and moved to Banaras after age 5. Lived only for thirty years. But, it was enough for him to prove himself. Introduced Gazal in Nepal. He made a group to promote NL. His group included Padma Bilas Panta, Kasi Nath, Ranga Nath, Chet Singh, Tej Bahadur Rana etc.
His works: Pikdut, Gajendramokchhya, Pralhad Bhakti Katha, Usha Charitra, Manodwag P
rawaha, Kabisamuhabarnan, Bhramar Geet, Kamal Bhramar Sambad, Life history of Bhanu Bhakta, Swapnadhyaya, Shakunauti etc.

Tirtha Raj Pandey (1929-1979): Born in Dordor, west of Nepal. Joined Moti Ram’s group.
His works: Upadesh Manjari, Bidyasundar Sambad.

Gopi Nath Lohani (1930-1974): One of the members of Moti Ram’s group.
His works: Satya Durga Bhasa, Dhurba Charitra, Nriga Charitra, Nala Damayanti, Nalopa Yan, Satyawadi Harischandra Katha.

Kulchandra Gautam (1932-2015): Born in Jiwanpur of Bagmati zone. He was a great scholar and was honored by the title “Bidwat Siromani”.
His works: Duttacharya, Unmad, Raghawalankar, Purusarthakalpawalli, Prapanchcharcha, Swayambaidya etc.

Kedar Nath Khatiwada (1935-2003): Son of popular poet Homa Nath Khatiwada, more talented than his father.
His works: Naladamyantiko Katha, Subha Biwaha, Shringardarpan, Barham
ase, Ritubichar, Rambhasukasambad.

Krishna Prasad Regmi (1940-1985): Born in Dhunibesi, west of Kathmandu valley. Went to Banaras and published various books.
His works: Aadi Parba, Devi Parba, Rambhasukasambad, Shivagita, Vedstuti, Satya Harischandra, Hariharstuthi, Buddimala, Bhaktimala, Laxman Prasnauttari, Patthi-Patthiko Preeti Prabandha, Barhamase, Kamini Birahalahari, shringarmala, Pravawati Charitra  etc.

Soma Nath Sikdhyal (1941-2029): Great scholar of Sanskrit language, born in Jhochhe, Kathmandu. He was honored by the title “Panditraj”. He also obtained “Trivuwan Prize” for his contribution.
His works: Translation of Upedesh Satak, Aadharsa Raghav, Chandrika, Sahitya Pradeep etc.

Shambhu Prasad Dhungel (1946-1986): He was born in Kathmandu and grownup  in Birganj. He was very talented poet and was honored by the title “Aasu Kabi”.
His works:< /i> Shreechandrapratapbarnan, Chandrodayadarshan, Kartavya, Hi Gorkhali Patra, Bandhan, Jagat Ra Ma, Hatimtaiko Katha, Tota-Maina, Aakbar Birbal Binod, Sunkeshra Rani, Lalhirako Katha, Satya Madhu Malati, Betalpachisi, Mahendramali, Junkiri, Ratnavati Natika, Bhanu Bhaktako Jivan Charitra etc.

Chakrapani Chalise(1940-2015): Lyricist of national anthem, “Shreeman gambhira…”, was a fine poet of his time. He was honored with “Tribhuvan Prize” for his contributions.
His works: Chakrakabitatarangini, Nepali Samchhipta Ramayan, Nepali Samchhipta Mahabharat, Nepal Sichhya, Bagali Kosh, Paryayabachi Kosh and  many poems published in various magazines.

Chiranjivi Sharma(1924-1997): Born in Bhadgaun and started his literary life in Banaras.
His works: Aaphnu Katha, Editor ko Raya etc.

Naradev Pandey(1928-2001): Maternal uncle of Moti Ram Bhatta.
His works: Aadbhut Milap, Merina
Charitrya, Kabibar Moti Ram Bhatta Jivan-Charitrya.

Jaya Prithivi Bahadur Singh(1934-1997): Was the Executive General of Gorkhapatra from 1960-1971. 
His works:
Prakrit Byakaran, Aacharmala, Balbodh, Shresthabodh, Padarthatatwabibek, Byawaharma, Bhugolbidhya, Tatwa prashansa etc.

Pahalman Singh Swar(1935-1991): He was born in Achham and is a renown play writer.
His works: Atalbahadur, Bimala Devi, Bishnu Maya, Laluvaga, Achhamko Chadparve, Swarko Kura etc.

Ram Mani Aa. Di.(1939-2028): Edited magazine “Madhavi”. Became the first president of “Gorkha Bhasa Prakasini Samiti”.
His works: Purano Samjhana, Kabitariti, Ek Samichha etc.

Other authors of this era are:
Kalidas Parajuli, Jagannath Sedhai, Baijnath Sedhai, Deepkeshwar Sharma, Kunjabilas Gautam,  Bhuwan Prashad, Hari Bikram, Ram Prasad, Dadhi Ram Marasini, Tara Nath S
harma Nepal, Kasi Nath, Krishna Lal Aadhikari, Hem Raj Sharma, Girish Ballav Joshi, Sada Shiva Sharma, Padma Nav Sapkota, Birendra Keshari, Kedar Samsher

II.Pre Revolution Era (from 1977 B.S. to 2007 B.S.)

The important authors of this era and their major works

Lekh Nath Paudyal (1941-2022): Born in Pokhara and is honored by title of “Kabi Shiromani”. He is one of the best poets of Nepal. He got “Tribhuvan Prize”.
His works: Taruntapasi, Buddhibinod, Satyakali Sambad, Mero Ram, Ritubichar, Satyasmriti, Lalitya(2 volumes) etc.

Bal Krishna Sama (1959-238): Greatest play writer of Nepal. He changed the name of “Gorkha Bhasa Prakasani Samiti” to “Nepal Bhasa Prakasani Samiti” and worked as the president of it for long time. He was honored from “Tribhuvan Prize”, “Prithvi Pragya Prize”. He is also honored by the title “Natakkar”.
Aago Ra Pani, Chiso Chulho,

Laxmi Prasad Devkota (1966-2016): He is the Greatest poet of Nepal. He was born in Kathmandu. He edited a magazine “Yugvani” and also became education minister for 3 months. He is honored by the title “Mahakabi”. He was also given “Tribhuvan Prize” after his death.
His works: Shakuntal, Sulochana, Kunjini, Muna Madan, Basanti, Rajkumar prabhakar, Luni, Maharana Pratap, Bankusum, Gaine Geet, Putali, Bhikari, Sunko Bihan, Mendu, Chilla Patharu, Sita Haran, Ravan Jatayu Yudha, Bhawanagangeya, Manoranjan, Chhahara, Navaras, Aakash Bolchha, Katak, Chhangasanga Kura, Mayavini Sarsi, Krishbala, Pramithas, Prithiviraj Chawhan, Maina, Nepali Meghdut, Laxmi Geet Sangraha, Laxmi Kabita Sangraha, Laxmi Katha Sangraha, Laxmi Nivanda Sangraha etc.

Gopal Prasad Rimal(1975-2030): He is very significant poet of NL. He arose his strong voice against the Ranas through his poems. He was honored
by “Madan Prize” and “Tribhuvan Prize”. He is also known as “Aadhunik Kabi”.
His works: Aamako Sapana.

Madhav Prasad Ghimire(1976): He was born in Pustun village, Lamjung. He worked in “Bhasaanuwad Parishad”, Gorkhapatra and Royal Nepal Academy.
His works: Gauri, Rajeshwari, Kinnar Kinnari, Papini Aama, Ballahari, Ghampani, Shakuntala, Malati Mangale, Rashtranirmata etc.

Dharani Dhar Koirala (1949-2036): Born in Betali village of Ramechhap. He spent many years in Darjining as a teacher. He is a renown poet of Nepal and was honored by “Tribhuvab Prize”.
His works: Naibedya, Spandan.

Bhim Nidhi Tiwari (1968-2030): He was born in Dillibazar, Kathmandu. He is one of the greatest literary figure of NL. He has published almost 38 books which is a record for NL.
His works: Bayasi Ra Bis Gazal, Tarpan, Kabita Nanda, Baya
si Bhajan, Barsichhya, Yashaswi Shav, Bisphot, Kabita Kunja, Singhadarbar, Titaura Ra Masyoura, Chadbad, Battis Putali, etc.

Siddhi Charan Shrestha (1969-2049):

Other authors of this era are:
Mahananda Sapkota, Sambabhakta Sharma Murari, Madhav Prasad Devkota, Yudha Prasad Mishra, Laxmi Nandan Sharma, Shyam Raja, Bhawani Prasad Sharma, Chhabi Kanta Upadhyaya, Bindu Nath Sharma, Guna Raj Upadhyaya, Hari Prasad Gorkha, Nayan Raj Panta, Gopi Madhav Devkota, Badari Nath Bhattrai etc.

II.Post Revolution Era (from 2007 B.S. to present.)

The important authors of this era

Kanchan Pudasaini, Aagam Singh Giri, Basu Dev Tripathi, Krishna Prasad Gyawali, Damaru Ballav Aryal, Bharat Raj panta, Ratna Dev Sharma, Bhanu Bhakta Pokhrel, Bharat Raj Sharma Manthiliya, Daivagya Raj Naupane, Bidya Devi Dixit, Ghata Raj Bhattrai, Lila Singh Karma, Laxman Lohani, Ma.B.B. Shah, Rabindra Shah, Nir Bikram Pyasi, Shyam Das Baisnav, Lila Dhwaj Thapa,
Susila Koirala, Sabitri Sundas, Mahesh Prasai, Bijaya Malla, Poshan Pandey, Bhupi Serchan, Mohan Koirala, Bairagi Kainla, Kali Prasad Rijal, Basu Shashi, Hari Bhakta Katuwal, Ishwor Baral, Ishwar Ballav, Basu Dev Sharma Luitel, Mod Nath Prashrit, Nagendra Thapa, Gopal Younjan, Prema Shah, Manjul, Sailendra Shakar, Bimal Niva, Bijaya Bajimaya, Toya Gurung, Dinesh Adhikari, Bishnu Bibhu Ghimire, Shyamal, Kunta Sharma, Uday Niraula, Gobinda Bahadur Malla Gothale, Bijaya Malla, Daulat Bikram Bista, Ramesh Bikal, Poshan pandey, Harish Bamjan, Dhurba Chandra Gautam, Indra Bahadur Rai, Shankar Lamichhane, Parsu Pradhan, Madan Mani Dixit, Bhairav Aryal, Manu Brajaki, Basu Baral, Ashesh Malla, Kul Chandra Koirala, Arun Sayami, Shankar Koirala, Rishi Raj Baral, Kabita Ram Shrestha, Krishna Kumari Rai, Ganesh Rasik, Gita Kesari, Chetan Karki, Jas Yonjan, Tarini Prasad Koirala, Dha. Cha. Gotame, Dhuswa Sayami, Nirmohi Byas, Parijaat, Bhabani Bhikchhu, Bhaupanthi, Rajeshwar Devkota, Lil Bahadur Chhetri, Banira Giri, Basu
Rimal Yatri, B.P. Koirala, Saru Bhakta, Subas Ghising, Diamond Shamser Rana,  Shyam Prasad, Lain Singh Bangdel, Nagendra Sharma, Rochak Ghimire, Janak Lal Sharma, Tara Nath Sharma, Chuda Mani Bandhu, Kamal Mani Dixit, Binod Dixit, Mohan Raj Sharma, Gobardhanpuja, Chanki Shreshtha, Kartikeya Ghimire, Buddhi Sagar Chapain, Sangita Gurung, Binu Baba, Gyanuwalker Paudel, Ratna Shamser Thapa etc.

To be added later:
Pre Revolution Era  (from 1977 B.S. to 2007 B.S.)

Post Revolution Era  (from 2007 B.S. to present.)

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