The Gurkhas and Khukuri
The relation between Gurkha and khukuri has come a long way and something that is strongly embedded right from the glorious history of Nepal. It is like synonymous where one is incomplete without another. The Gurkha and Kukri are inseparable with countless incredible stories, victorious battles and even legendary tales on it involving the two. The romance created is simply mind-blogging and something that keeps us mesmerized. A Gurkha is incomplete without a kukri and kukri becomes meaningless without a Gurkha. This flesh and blood relationship between Gurkha-Kukri has been at its pinnacle right from old Nepal till today and something that will live on forever with pride and glory. The association is like, Khukuri is the extension of the arm of a Gurkha where as Gurkha gives value and recognition to the khukuri otherwise just an ordinary knife.
Right from the classical days when Gurkhas were first faced and documented by British till today in 21st century the Gurkha and khukuri have always stood till the test of time. They have made a special bond together, fought battle together, survived the hardship together and served a task or the mission together hand in hand; made a living together so to speak. Both have made mark for one another and a paramount relationship that is so intense, genuine and undividable. Gurkha and Khukuri have simply become a word phrase, a kind of love affair made up in heaven. The lethal combination of an angry Gurkha and a sharp khukuri becomes an indestructible force to beat off any opponent in any situation on which many tales and sayings have been forever carved on the historic pages.
" Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you. "
- Sir Ralph Lilley Turner MC
" If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha. "
- Sam Manekshaw (Former Indian Army Chief of Staff)
" The Gurkha is a soldier of high battle-skill, a world-famed fighting man and respected in every country where men fought alongside us in the last war. "
- Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tuker, 'While Memory Serves' (1950)
a Gurkha ??
Presently speaking, a Gurkha is a soldier who has joined the Brigade of Gurkhas of the British Army OR various Gurkha regiments of Indian Army. The ones who join British Gurkhas are Nepalese where as Gurkhas in Indian Army are Indian but Nepalese by origin. These are hardcore soldiers mainly Hindus and most belong to ethnic minority groups like Rai, Limbu, Magar, Tamang etc. These are men belonging to the hilly regions of Nepal and agriculture, cultivation and farming are their main occupation.
Historically speaking, these are people especially men from Gorkha; an army belonging to a place called Gorkha in the mid west of Nepal that lies about 120 km from the capital (Kathmandu). Gorkha was an old kingdom ruled by the great king Prithivi Narayan Shah who’s army came head to head with the British (East India Company) during the territory expansion campaign in mid-late 1700’s. This was the first time ever British encountered the hilly people and wasted no time in calling them Gorkhas (denizens of Gorkha). Both parties fought numerous bloody wars against each other yet develop an admiration and appreciation for one another in the process. Later after the treaty of Sagauli in 1815 Nepal and Britain signed a tri party agreement with Indian in which British could recruit Gorkhas under their flagship for their interest and benefit. After the 1947 independence of India from the British Raj, of the many regiments of Gorkha some were left to India and some were taken to Britain. The British renamed them as the BRITISH GURKHAS; with “U” instead of “O”.
a Khukuri ??
Kukri as a “Knife” holds a great value as a very effective and durable knife that can be used for various purposes from domestic to jungle to warfare reasons. Its ability to cut, slice, hack, stab etc has been second to none and considered to be the best amongst any other knives. Khukuri is the national knife/weapon of Nepal having historic significance. It is national pride and an iconic symbol to represent the country and its glory in international fronts. Nepal was ruled by various kings and during his absence his kukri represented him. Such was the pride and value of the kukri. Even every national security forces are issued with it as an identity and emblem bestowed as recognition of their achievement. Khukuri was invented in Nepal and it played and still plays a significant role in people’s lives since Nepal is 80% vegetation (forest). In Nepal, mountains, Gurkha and kukri go together as one as the national recognition and enchantment.
The people that most values a kukri are the poor and hilly denizens of Nepal where life is an everyday struggle in which you feed and you feed others to go about a rural life. Kukri has been a part of their domestic life/activities where a man uses right from his tender age until his days are numbered. The relationship is very prolong and the user highly depends on his khukuri to make a decent living. On the other hand, as stated above, khukuri is ID of a Gurkha. A Gurkha with a khukuri in his hand is a force to reconcile with, something not to mess with. Gurkhas are issued with the knife and it is retained throughout his army career with utmost care, respect and honor. In a battle, khukuri becomes a must, the first thing that a Gurkha would think of. It will not only give him the physical advantage but also gives him the mental calmness, the spiritual force and a sense of security as khukuri has always been a part of his culture, belief and religion. Gurkha and Khukuri share a bond that is grand, divine and inseparable.
I am confused. Is it kukri, khukuri or khukri ??
It actually means the same thing, just different words to call the same knife. However “Khukuri” is the original word given to call the knife when it was first made in Nepal. “Kukri” is more accepted by common people as the word was first used by British when the knife was first documented by them and came out in writing. “Khukri” is more used in Asia subcontinent mainly in India. The knife largely rotates around Nepal, British and India.