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The word ‘Nepal’ has significantly been used as the name of our country. There are various opinions about it :
1. A sage called ‘Ne’ son of Lord Brahma lived in penance on the confluence of the Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers. So, the word ‘Nepal’ was derived from the name of the sage ‘Ne’ and ‘Pala’ – his work, to protect the land.
“So our nation Nepal has been protected by son of God Brahma, the creator of Universe, himself from time immemorial.”
2. Long, long ago, the kings of the Gopala dynasty ruled over it. They were called ‘Nepa’, so, after the name of the dynasty who ruled over it, the country was named as ‘Nepal’.
3. ‘Nepal’ might also be derived from ‘Newar’, one of the ancient tribes living in Kathmandu valley.
4. In the Gandaki Mahatmya, it is mentioned that a king called ‘Nepa’ ruled over it. He conquered many kingdoms and established Shanker as his deity. He founded a country and called it ‘Nepal’, after his own name.
5. In the Tibetan language ‘Ne’ means ‘home’ and ‘pal’ means ‘wool’. Sheep were reared in Kathmandu valley and much wool was produced. So, it was called the home of wool, i.e., Ne Pal.
6. In the Newari language ‘Ne’ means ‘center’ and ‘pa’ means ‘country’. So, ‘Ne pa’ means a country situated at the center. Nepal is situated in between the two great countries, China and India. So, it was called a central country, i.e., Nepal.
7. In the Limbu dialect ‘Ne’ means ‘plain area’. Kathmandu valley is a plain, so it was called ‘Nepal’.
8. In the dialect of the Lepchas, ‘Ne’ means ‘holy’ and ‘pal’ means ‘cave’. As it is a holy place – the center of pilgrimage of Hindus and Buddhists, it was called a holy cave or Nepal.
9. In the language of the Tibeto-Burma people, ‘Ne’ means ‘cattle’ and ‘pa’ means ‘people’. Kathmandu valley had a good grassland for cattle and the main occupation of the people was to rear animals. So, it was called the land of the people who reared animals, i.e., Nepal.
10. Thomas Young and Geroge Grierson, the two famous historians gave their opinion that both the terms ‘Nepal’ and ‘Newar’ might be derived from the same root ‘Narva’. In this way, Narva was turned into Newar and then to Nepal.
11. Kiratas, the earliest known inhabitants of this country, had a clan called ‘Nepar‘ living in Kathmandu valley. So, Nepal might also be derived from Nepar.