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Gurkha

Gurkha

ETHNONYM: Gurkhali

"Gurkha" is not the name of an ethnic group but rather the name given those Nepalese nationals who serve in the British army. Gurkhas are drawn from a number of Nepalese ethnic groups including the Gurung (who contribute the greatest percentage of their population of all the groups), Magar, Tamang, Sunwar, Limbu, and Rai. Gurkhas claim Descent from the warlike Rajputs of Chittaur, in Rajasthan, saying they were driven thence to the Nepalese hills by the Muslim invasions. The Gurkha military tradition can be traced back to the sixteenth century when the kingdom of Gorkha was conquered by the first kings of the Shah Thakuri dynasty. By the end of the eighteenth century the Gurkha Kingdom, as it was then known, had expanded control over much of what is now Nepal and had begun pushing north into China and Tibet. Expansion south into India was resisted by the British (who were expanding northward), but in 1815 the Nepalese were defeated. The British were impressed by the Gurkhas and obtained permission to recruit them for the British-Indian Army. The recruits were organized into ethnic regiments and participated with distinction (on the government side) in the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, the Second Afghan War (1878-1880), and the Boxer Rebellion (1900). By 1908 the 12,000 Gurkhas were organized into ten regiments as the Gurkha Brigade. During World War I and World War II the number of Nepalese military volunteers increased to more than 200,000 and additional units were formed. In 1947 the Gurkha Brigade was disbanded and since then various Gurkha units have served with the British army, the Indian army, the Nepal army, and the United Nations peacekeeping forces. Today, they are mainly used in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong (which will revert to China in 1997). With Britain's integration into Europe, Gurkhas are being phased out of the British army.

Gurkha veterans play a significant social and economic role in Nepalese society. They enjoy high status and are often elected community leaders, and the income from their pensions provides a steady source of cash for their families and communities. Nepalese working in India as watchmen are also sometimes referred to as Gurkha.

See also Gurung; Limbu; Magar; Nepali; Rai; Sunwar; Tamang

Bibliography

Vansittart, Eden, and B. V. Nicolay (1915). Gurkhās. Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing. Reprint. 1985. New Delhi: B. R. Publishing Corp.

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Gurkha

Gurkha (gŏŏr´kə), ethnic group of Nepal and neighboring areas. They claim descent from the Rajputs of N India and entered Nepal from the west after being driven from India. They conquered (early 16th cent.) the small Nepalese state of Gurkha (or Gorkha) and henceforth called themselves Gurkhas. They expanded eastward, and by the mid-18th cent. had established their authority over all of Nepal. Their invasion of Tibet in 1791 brought Chinese retaliation, and a war (1814–16) with the British in India resulted in bringing strong British influence to Nepal. The Gurkhas, predominantly Tibeto-Mongolians, speak Khas, a Rajasthani dialect of Sanskritic origin. Under the Gurkha dynasty, Hinduism became the state religion of Nepal. Gurkhas in the region around Darjeeling in West Bengal state, India, have agitated for a separate state. Gurkhas have served in the armies of India and of Great Britain; 33 battalions served alongside the British in World War I, and 45 battalions in World War II. Gurkha soldiers bear the famed kukri, a short curved sword.

See studies by H. James and D. Sheil-Small (1965) and D. L. Bolt (1967, repr. 1969).

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Gurkha

Gurkha a member of any of several peoples of Nepal noted for their military prowess; in particular, a member of a regiment in the British army established specifically for Nepalese recruits in the mid 19th century. Gurkha is the name of a locality, from the Sanskrit word for ‘cowherd’, used as an epithet of their patron deity.

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"Gurkha." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Gurkha

Gur·kha / ˈgoŏrkə/ • n. a member of any of several peoples of Nepal noted for their military prowess. ∎  a member of units of the British army established specifically for Nepalese recruits in the mid 19th century.

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"Gurkha." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Gurkha

Gurkha Hindu ruling caste of Nepal since 1768. They speak a Sanskrit language. The name also denotes a Nepalese soldier in the British or Indian Army.

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Gurkha

Gurkhabazooka, euchre, farruca, lucre, palooka, pooka, rebuker, snooker, Stuka, verruca •babushka •booker, cooker, hookah, hooker, looker, Sukkur •Junker • onlooker • yarmulke •Hanukkah • manuka •chukka (US chukker), ducker, felucca, fucker, mucker, plucker, pucker, pukka, shucker, succour (US succor), sucker, trucker, tucker, yucca •skulker, sulker •bunker, hunker, lunker, punkah, spelunker •busker, tusker •latke • motherfucker • bloodsucker •seersucker • abaca • stomacher •Linacre, spinnaker •massacre •Jataka, Karnataka •Tripitaka • Ithaca •burka, circa, Gurkha, jerker, lurker, mazurka, shirker, smirker, worker •tearjerker • craftworker •metalworker • networker •caseworker • fieldworker •teleworker • shopworker • outworker •homeworker • stoneworker •woodworker

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