A brief history of gurung (tamu) society

GURUNG

The Gurung people are an ethnic group who migrated from Tibet in the 6th century to the central region of Nepal. Gurung, Sherpa, Tamang, Thakali, Manaaggi, Mustaaggi, Walunggi and many east Asian featured people of Nepal are the indigenous people of Nepal’s mountainous valleys. Their ancestors practiced Tibetan Buddhism and Bön (shamanism). According to the recent 2007 surveys, most Gurung people are Buddhist. They live primarily in north west Nepal in Gandaki zone, specifically Lamjung, Kaski, Mustang, Dolpa, Tanahu, Gorkha, Parbat and Syangja districts as well as the Manang district around the Annapurna mountain range. Some live in the Baglung, Okhaldhunga and Taplejung districts and Machhapuchhre as well. Small numbers are believed to be living in Sikkim, Bhutan and India’s West Bengal.

There are 686,000 Gurung (Τamu) (0.39% of Nepal’s total population) of which 338,925 speak the Gurung language. Their ancestors, culture and traditions are traced back to Tibet. Though, Tibet is called “Bhot” in Nepali language, the word “Botay” is consider derogatory to refer to Asian featured Nepalis. They coexist well with other ethnic groups of Nepal such as Madhesi and Khas. Khas and Madhesi people are Hindu, Indo-Aryan group who have migrated to Nepal after 12th century and brought with them the Hindu caste system. Most Gurung and other indigenous Nepalese of Asian features are Buddhist and so they are not bound by the Hindu caste system. Nepali of Asian appearance refer themselves as Mongoloid. Sometime, the term Mongoloid gets mistaken by youngsters and they think their ancestors originated from Mongolia. No study findings have pointed Gurungs origin to Mongolia. Instead, many studies and historians had confirmed their origin to Tibet.

Early History

The Tamu (Gurung) Pye refers to the very beginning of civilization, more than eight or nine thousand years ago. They tell the origin of human beings and of the materials that they used. Tamu Priests still use some of these primitive utensils in their rituals. The Pye do not seem to have changed substantially over time.

They refer to the ancestors of the Tamu, their Aji-khe (Khe-ku, nine male ancestors), Aji-ma (Ma-i, seven female ancestors), and Aba Kara Klye, spiritual master, lords, ghosts etc. Tamu Pye tells how the first people lived in Cho (“Tso”, which means lake in Tibetan) Nasa, a lakeside village, where they planted the first grain, barley. Then they dispersed to other places such as Sa Nasa, Dwo Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa, the latter being in the south, hot and fertile. Later the northern Cho Nasa was rich in religious activity, speaking Tamu-Kwyi. Other Tamu villages developed according to their proximity to the northern and southern ends. There are also stories about the discovery of fire, how the drum was first made, and many other things in the Pye.

“Please do not forget to visit my new blogging site where i shall be posting more about our culture from now onwards. http://arjun-gurung.com.np

The ancestors of the Tamu, Ma-i and Khe-ku, seem to have been represented as seven lakes (the former) and nine mountain peaks (the latter). There is a traditional assumption that Cho Nasa, as described in the Pye-ta Lhu-ta, lay in western Tibet, and was ringed by seven lakes and surrounded by three mountain ranges. To the south, in Xinjiang in Western China, north of Tibet, in the Turfan Depression, lay Kro Nasa. Large lakes are called nuur in Tibetan, nor in Western China, and tso(cho) in Tibet. In Tamu tradition, as they migrated from one site to another, they would call the new site by the old name if it was similar in aspect. Tamu Pye tells that the soul of a dead person is believed to go first to Koko-limar-tso, which is under water. In the Qinghai region of China lies a huge lake with an island in the middle called Koko Nor ( or Ching Hai). It is similar to Hara Usa Nuur (one of the seven lakes) of western Mongolia, and some near-by places have names which end in “chow”, conceivably derived from the Cho Nasa of almost six or seven thousand years ago, described in Tamu Pye. Similarly Sa Nasa, Two Nasa, Si Nasa and kro Nasa could be placed in the Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan regions of China respectively, running southward to Tibet and then Nepal.

Please do not forget to visit my new blogging site where i shall be posting more about our culture from now onwards.

http://arjun-gurung.com.np

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42 thoughts on “A brief history of gurung (tamu) society

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  1. Conflicting one …………. that is enough to put somebody in perfect dilemma and illusion…… Arjun needs to study more about Tamu ( Gurung ) but good job its a good try………. their ancestors practiced Tibetan Buddhism ………… Pye refers to the very beginning of the civilization more than eight or nine thousand years ago ………… which one is true man????……….. the one that exists from the very period of the origin and the one that introduced after 7 years later ……….. Our traditions and culture traced back to Tibet ???……. but still they are related to Mongolian shamanism and Tengerism ……. its not good to jumping over the conclusion………….

  2. At 1st i heartly thanks to bj that u show the interest to read about GURUNG culture via our blog.. Well bj i had upragraded the above info from wikipedia.. Since it belongs to history i donot guarentee the exactness on the fact.. If you are so much interested to know the fact about GURUNG culture, please wait for some more days,i will certainly release a post on it!

  3. first of all thanks for making this blog providing information about tamu people we are in need of such more study to stand

  4. Mr.arjun.its a great task to dig the history..however gurung people have special respect in nepal.but i am surprise why u people are misguiding the society by disrespecting the historical pride of khas community.history still has live with strong proof that Khas people has khas rajye extended from northern mountain of early nepal to sikkim n kashmir long before 6th century and these people fought mahavarat war with kauravas alongside of kirat.still theres the written fact and pillar in dailekh dullu..we are not so called brutal aryans with white skin and blue eyes as mentioned,we are. just historic and ancient khas.these days many indigenous tribes are being victim of racist propoganda of broker politicians and europeans who want here a ethnic war.we should understand that disregarding the history and cultural ties will dig us to death..long live communal unity

    1. well suresh ji, thanks for your response indeed and concern.. ummm, like you said i dont think i have mentioned like ” brutal aryans with white skin and blue eyes” in the post.. Other than that, we need to study more go deeply to know the exact history.. The article was based on internet sources so far…

  5. Mr.arjun.its a great task to dig the history..however gurung people have special respect in nepal.but i am surprise why u people are misguiding the society by disrespecting the historical pride of khas community.history still has live with strong proof that Khas people has khas rajye extended from northern mountain of early nepal to sikkim n kashmir long before 6th century and these people fought mahavarat war with kauravas alongside of kirat.still theres the written fact and pillar in dailekh dullu..we are not so called brutal aryans with white skin and blue eyes as mentioned,we are. just historic and ancient khas.these days many indigenous tribes are being victim of racist propoganda of broker politicians and europeans who want here a ethnic war.we should understand that disregarding the history and cultural ties will dig us to death..long live communal unity.

  6. sai ho malai dami lagyo tara Grg harule tibetian Buddhism pachi matra leko ho hamro affnai chaaa Ghyabring bhnchaa hamile chai ghyabring chalaucha hamro purkha harulai prathana grnaa Tibetian ma pujja grdeina Grg bhasa ma grcha hamro culture tibetian bhnda Magar sanga beshi milcha. hamro migration Mongolia bata bhako hooo

  7. i’m always confused about the Origin of our Community :/
    neway, can any1 teach me Gurung/Tamu Language… please… 🙂

  8. hi… i just know about tis blog but at first i like ur blog but wen i saw more comments i m little confused abt our…. so whoever doing post plz update me….. i really like to know abt my culture….or suggest me link

  9. Gurung comunity have own cluture and tradition as well as religion. We people believed in natural power, we have Pye( sastra) there every thing is discribe about gurung cluture and history and how they believe in Bonishm and Gurung priests……, actually Gurungs are not Hindu and Buddist, they are Bon. For further details please log on to http://www.tamupyeluhsangh.org.com

    1. I do believe with ur view but don’t try to highlight black Bon pachu, kyepre or blind priest who can’t read or write and try to read about Bonpo lama pre Buddhist religion call white Bon or philosophy of tonpa senrab this is call religion and black Bon pachu,kyepre is part of the shamanism or animisam to prey the nature that doesn’t call religion.

  10. I have always wondered where our Gurung community originated from and it’s history. Thank you for educating me about this. 🙂

  11. Well, me surprise by the article written by, which is put forth in a different way, whereas other renowned authors have explained origin of Gurung ethnics in a different way in “Hamro Samaj” ( A complete study) published by Shajha Prakashan, written by Janak Lal Sharma and “Thar Gotra Pawaktrawali” written by Sikhar Nath Subedi and also one article reagrding Gurung written by Dr Jagman Gurung.

  12. Hi i am sovit Gurung i wanted to know that we Gurung came from tibet.. so why we are consider as nepali coz nepal is a hindu country and we being Gurung i dont aggred to it coz we are buddhist and we belong from tipical tebit .Dont you think we should have a title rather giving as nepali.

  13. i want know s0me more about our culture tradition and orgin basis ..thank you for arjun tamu dai atleast i get littel knowledege about gurung community

  14. अर्जुन जि तपाईंको प्रयास राम्रो छ । तर सन्धर्व सामाग्री को कमजोरी हो वा तपाईंको बुझाई। जुन तपाईंले गुरुङ समुदायको सभ्यता क्रम ८ वा ९ हजार बर्ष पहिला भन्नु भएको छ फेरी अर्को छैठौ सताब्दिमा नेपाल प्रबेश गरेको कुरा गर्नु भाको छ । यदी गुरुङ को सभ्यता ईतिहास आठ हजार बर्ष हो भने अहिले तपाईंले उल्लेख गर्नु भएको नेपाली भुमी मा उत्पती भएको भनिएको बुद्धिज्म को इतिहास केबल २६०० बर्ष हाराहारिमा दौडिरहेको अवस्था छ। जुन समय हिसाब गर्दा पनि गुरुङ सभ्यता भित्र धर्म र सस्कार पनि पर्छ भने साँढे छ हजार पहिला गुरुङ समुदाय धर्म बिहिन थ्यो वा के? यदी धर्म बिहिन थ्यो भने सामोनिज्म फेजको प्रमुख आधार र धरातल के थ्यो ? त्यो स्पस्ट हुन सकेको छैन। भने अर्को तिर युरोपियन सह्योगमा सम्पन्न भएको नेपाली जनगणना लाई आधार मानेर आधिकाम्स गुरुङ समुदाय बुद्दिस्ट फलोअर छन भनेर चिनाउन खोज्नु भएको छ । जुन वास्तविक फिल्ड सर्वेमा आधारित् छ छैन यो तथ्यान्क । तपाईंको आर्टिकल लाई मान्ने हो भने गुरुङ को धार्मिक पहिचान बुद्धिस्ट हुन जान्छ । जुन उत्पती आधारमा हो या आयातित आधार मा हो। अलमल देखिन्छ । यदी उत्पती आधार मानु खोज्नु भएको हो भने प्राकृतिक आधारमा अङिकार गर्दै आगो धार्मिक अभ्यासअको हैसियत के हुने हो ? तसर्थ आजको लेख भोली ईतिहास बन्न जाने भएकोले अली अड्किएर शाही शाही तथ्य पस्कनु भको भए अझ सम्मानित हुनुहुन्थ्यो भन्ने लाग्छ ।

  15. well, Brother Arjun, thank you very much for putting the effort to write about our history. It means a lot in this century. It will stay forever for our future generation. I hope I will get more knowledge from your blog. I live in the USA, but I really want to learn Gurung (TMAU) language.

  16. its good to know the history of Gurung and its proud to be a gurung. But how we can say that we are a buddhist, becoz we donot have relevant documents as we can say that we are buddhist. As today every gurungs say we are buddhist and we are applying for ST category. but as govt has sacntioned us on OBC – B category but all the students of gurung are getiing their stipend on the basis of Religious Minority.
    so how we can say that we are buddhist.

  17. With due respect to all the contributors to Arjun Ji’s blog, as someone pointed out, I agree, it is difficult task to dig down the history and arrive at any particular point of conclusion. To agree or not, on any particular opinion is subjective, in fact, like any other tribes Gurungs don’t seem to have any written history on record. Mostly nomadic in nature, Gurungs have been moving from place to place across Mongolia, downwards south to mainland China, Tibet, Nepal and further migrated eastwards to Assam, Bengal, Sikkim and Bhutan. In the process of Movement, most Gurungs lost their original culture, tradition, language and religion.
    I was born Hindu to a Gurung family in Bhutan, so I was named Lakshman. I don’t speak Tamukuyi (Gurung language) coz my mother tongue was Nepali. My father practised a number Poojas, I don’t know what it was based on, yet every pooja followed massive animal sacrifices and feasting thereof.
    It so happened, a vast majority of Bhutanese Gurungs left the country to live in the refugees camp in eastern Nepal (Jhapa / Mrang) (1992 AD – 2017 AD) most have been resettled in America, Europe and Australia; while in Nepal most Gurungs converted to Buddhism. So, contemporary Gurung society thrives on a number of weirdly mix-pattern of culture, tradition and religious practices. Often times, I see our people get into spirited debate on what’s Gurung’s right traditional practice and which one is not, esp. such debates occur during marriage ceremonies and funeral.

  18. Hey you piece of shit delete this post asap . I am Gurung and my ancestry result shows higher % of Mongolian DNA . Tell me how can I upload picture of my DNA result in this comment box . By the way I have 0.000 % Tibetian DNA . My 23andme result 33% Mongolian, 20 % Chinese ( naxi/yi) native Mongolian also have naxi/yi. 7.5 % North Indian, 0.5% Korean . remaining % broadly North East Asian. (Siberian).
    My Gedmatch eurogene k36 result
    I am east central Asian , North East Asian, (mainly Mongolian , Korean , Siberian) 70% ,Indian15.52%, South Chinese (naxi/yi) 12%. Tibetian 0000%

  19. A worm appreciation for Mr.Arjun Tamu for providing a great information. It is very good to read about my own community …and with my hold heart i do accept the history .. and little do i like to add it true that Gurung is also a Tibetan people and due to the miration people has been in fluence by Nepali culture also …..And lastly seeing the comment of some people’s,they should belive that fact that we gurung should unite rather then putting up a bitter comment for the one who have love for his community and whole heartly researched it……!

  20. Thanks for your great effort about the history of Tamu. Im slightly unagreed with this line here.
    “Khas and Madhesi people are Hindu, Indo-Aryan group who have migrated to Nepal after 12th century and brought with them the Hindu caste system.”
    Becsuse the history of Nepal suggest that, this line from wiki,
    The Buddha was born into a family of the kshatriya varna in Lumbini,Nepal in 563 BCE. He was called Siddhartha Gautama in his childhood. His father was king Suddhodana, leader of the Shakya clan in what was the growing state of Kosala, and his mother was queen Maya Devi. He was raised by his mother’s younger sister, Maha Pajapati, after his mother died just seven days after childbirth.

    Which means Khas or kshatriya were exist way far then history written. In Purana and Vedas its mention several time about Himalaya and Sadhus.
    Another import history of Nepal is our calendar and our Nepali lipi which was written 2021years ago with the gold on Devanagarik lipi, which is exactly match with our calendar.
    And many more kindom’s history also suggest that Khas were existed here 3/4 thousands years ago also.

    Thanks again and I’m happy with your great job.

  21. I am from Mustang and I studied in Pokhara in 1998. They all follow Hindu religion and celebrate hindu festivals. It has not been that long that Tamu started to practicing Buddhism. Only, People from Mountain (not hilly) area practice Tibetan Buddhism and they have a similar language and culture.

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