Religion, Language, and Architecture of Mallas

There was a religious environment in the Malla period. With the exveption of a few, all the Malla kings were religious. They built such beautiful temples as Krishna Mandir, Nyatapola temple, Hanuman Dhoka, Mahaboudha temple and other temples. Hinduism was the State religion, but the king as well as the people were tolerent to other religgions. Buddhism was also flourishing side by side due to the regular inflow of the Buddhist priests and monks from Tibet and India. The Malla kings built several Buddhist shrines apart from the Hindu temples. The Buddhists used to visit Hindu temples. The Buddhists used to visit Hindu tmples and Hindus spent a lot of money in building ‘Stupas’ and ‘ Chaityas’ for Buddhists. Most of the Malla kings performed religious sacrifices like the ‘Kotihoma’ and the ‘Lakshyahoma’ and the expenses were weighed in gold, which was for charitable purposes.

The kings as well as the rich people spent a substantial portion of their wealth in building religious monumets. Kirkpatrick, a foreign historian, has remarked: ” There were as many temples as the number of houses and as many idols as the heads of people”. The temples and the images of gods and goddesses of Kathmandu, BHaktapur and Patan justify this remark.

Pratap Malla was the first king of Nepal who gave permission to the Roman Catholic mission to stay in his kingdom. From the time of Ratna Malla, the Muslims were also allowed to settle in Nepal. It was then that the Christian missionaries entered Nepal and started preaching Christianity. But, when Prithvi Narayan Shah occupied the valley, he became suspicious of the Christian missionaries and asked them to leave the country.

Above all, it was in the realm of art and architecture that the Malla period showed its glory and greatness. The artists and sculptors under the Mallas had exhibited excellent skill in their work on wood, stone and metal. The artistic designs on the doors, windows, posts and pillars of the temples and housed built in the Malla period, speak of the high skill of the Nepalese artists. Among the excellent patterns of images made in the Malla period are those of Dakshinkali of Farping, the Chariot of the Sun-God of Banepa, Ugrachanda and Bhairab of Bhaktapur Durbar, Bhagawti of Palanchowk, Saraswati of Handigaon, etc. Besides these, beautiful images of gods and goddesses; the artistic works on the water spouts, beautiful wood carvings, etc., are found in plenty in all the towns of the Kathmnadu valley.

The Nepalese artists under the Mallas were equally experts in metal work. They made figures and images on copper, brass, silver and gold. The golden door of the temple of Taleju and golden door of the Bhaktapur Durbar are rare examples of excellent metal work. The metal statues of kings, queens and other chieftains set up at different places are other examples of Malla art. The coins of Mallas were also made artistically. The art of painting was in a highly developed state under the Mallas. At that time, there was popular practice of drawing and painting the pictures of gods and goddesses on the walls of temples and houses. They drew such pictures on durable paper and cloth as well. The pictures drawn and painted on the walls of palaces are seen even today.

The artists during the days of the Mallas were very much advanced in architecture. They had pious and religious thoughts without any commercial motive in their hearts. Most of the timples they built were of Pagoda-type. They also built Indian type of temples. The stupas, chaityas and Vihars made in the Malla period were also of high standard. Thus, the contribution of the Mallas in the field of art and architecture is really praiseworthy.

Nepal developed its language and literature under the Mallas. There were no centres of learning for the masses. But the kings, the nobles, the chiefs and the rich people sere highly educated. People used to go to the monks in the monastries for education and to the houses of Brahmins. Apart from bookish knowledge, the Brahmins and the monks taught spirital education and gave a sort of education for all-round development. Learned men wer ehighly respected in the royal courts. Many of the Malla kings were learned men who wrote dramas, poems and hymns, and encouraged learned ment to write books. Pratap Malla was a great poet who assumed the title of ‘Kabindra’ before his name. Similarly, King Jitamitra Malla and Yoganarendra Malla of Patan, King Bhu-patindra Malla and Ranjit Malla of Bhaktapur also composed poems, dramas and songs. King Pratap Malla was said to have known fifteen different languages. Many of the kings had good knowledge of music, art, classical songs and classical dances. The kings were fond of having their dramas played on stage.

Aparty from Sanskrit, Newari, Maithile and Bengali languages flourished undre the Mallas. The books written in the Malla period testify that literature was then in highly developed state. Printing press was not there; only some hand-written books (manuscripts) of that period are found The most precious literary treasures that are handed down to us from the Malla perid are Pratap Malla’s poems and devotional songs, songs and dramas like Kamsalbadha and Krishna Charitra of Bhupatindra Malla and Ranjit Malla, Prakash Malla’s hymns like ‘Gitanjali’ and ‘Git {anchak’, and Jitamitra’s dramatic works like Madalasa, Ashwamedha Natakum and Jaimini Bharatum. The literary works of the Mallas covered a wid evariety of subjects from tranticism t o techincal arts.

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