Introduce: Dharma Ratna Yami

A Man Ahead of His Time

Dharma Ratna Yami was a revolutionist who paved the way of advocating for democracy against the authoritarian values imposed by the Rana Regime against the people of Nepal. A man with ideals who challenged the notions of society views on the caste system.

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Born in 18th August 1915 Asan Kamalachhi, Kathmandu. Yami was from the affluent family but was left impoverished after the Rana Regime confiscates his family’s property. Yami travelled to Lhasa, Tibet in the 1930s working with Dharma Man Tuladhar, a trader known the renovation project of the Swayambhu Stupa in Kathmandu in 1921.

In 1937, he returned to Kathmandu to join the democracy movement against the Rana regime which, led to his imprisonment in 1940 for 17 years. However, he got released after serving only five years in addition to his properties possessed again. In 1948, we would see him becoming a founding member of the Nepal Democratic Congress Party that combined with the National Congress against the Rana dynasty. He faced another imprisonment. But, was released in February 1951 when the Rana Regime abolished and democracy established in Nepal. In November 1951, Yami inducted as the Deputy Forest Minister. However, 1960 saw the suspension of the government as King Mahendra would see to seize control of the government resulted in placing Dharma Ratna Yami under house arrest for months.

Yami was an excellent writer as well. Meeting Rahul Sankrityanan “The Father of Indian Travel Literature” was a turning point for Yami, which inspired him towards his writing career. He imposed his values in his renowned novel ‘Reply from Tibet’, a story about a love affair between a Newar merchant in Lhasa and a Tibetan Girl.

Politics and Literature aside the man was a social advocate, outspoken on issues such as untouchability and vocal about abolishing laws based on unjust caste beliefs. Even when his proposal was rejected by the Parliament that did not deter his values or motivation on the issues. He replaces his Surname Tuladhur to Yami (Native of Kathmandu) as a message that he had shed his caste name in support for the abolishment of caste system laws. Controversial for marrying a woman outside his caste (Bahun) to hiring someone as a cook in his house from an “untouchable” caste. These actions were unthinkable or anti-society at the time. He was not one who conformed to societal norms, instead adamant on the unjust faced by the lower castes citizens of Nepal.

Yami believed in the potential of the people, not the label which society imprinted on them from birth based on their caste. He always fought for what was right. Whatever caste we were labelled and brought up into should not define who we hang out with, who we discriminate, who we love or who we are. His views were radical at the time, but today society is changing and adopting values shared by the great Dharma Ratna Yami. Loving our country is not sufficient enough we must fight for the people too.

 

Written by Manish Gaha.
Sources:
Dharma Ratna Yami: Nepalese activist (1915 – 1975) | Biography, Facts, Career, Wiki,
Nepal profile – Timeline
Dharma Ratna Yami

 

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