The Unexplored Dukha
Mingma Lhamu Pakhrin
AYO GORKHALI: A HISTORY OF THE GURKHAS by Tim I. Gurung Westland Books, Chennai, 2020, 344 pp., 799.00
January 2022, volume 46, No 1

Ayo Gorkhali: A History of the Gurkhas offers an interesting addition to the ever growing study of Gurkhas. Gurkhas and their history continue to remain one of the subjects receiving wide scholarship, both academic and non-academic. The almost yearly publications of literature on the theme make it evident that the common thread among them is that most of these have been written by former military officers-turned-historians, often from the Gurkha Regiments.[1] Lionel Caplan has illustrated how these writings have shaped the discourse on the Gurkhas relying heavily on stereotypical representations produced by ‘romantic approvers’ with an almost ‘formulaic quality’.[2] Hence, the often reiterated yet celebratory tales of bravery and loyalty of Gurkhas in the service of the British Empire have dominated the writings and understanding of the history of Gurkhas. However, the individual and collective life experiences and suffering or dukha[3] of Gurkhas, which formed a crucial part in the making of that history, have remained outside the writers’ gaze or have been glossed over by the glorified accounts of their dogged courage and war-like qualities.

Continue reading this review