First Volume : The Sikh Gurus(1469-1708)
Second Volume : Evolution of Sikh Confederacies
Three Volume : Sikh Domination of The Mughal Empire (1764-1803)
Fourth Volume : The Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of Sikh Misls
Fifth Volume : The Sikh Lion of Lahore (Maharaja Ranjit Singh, 1799-1839)
History of Sikhs is a five volumes survey dealing with all aspects religious, philosophical, military, social economic and cultural, and the contribution of Sikhism to world civilization, in particular to human rights, principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, and to the creed of democracy, secularism and socialism. The aim is to present a comprehensive view of the size, growth and development of Sikh thought and action almost in every direction. The entire series is based on original contemporary sources in English, Gurmukhi, Hindi, Marathi, Persian and Urdu Known to exist in India and abroad.
The first volume gives the story of ten masters who provided leadership to the down-trodden people of the Punjab both in religious and political fields for about two centuries. Their aim was to remove the bitterness that had persisted between the rulers and their subjects for the past five hundred years. They wished to create a new society based upon mutual brotherhood, and freedom of thought, expression and action. It was under the circumstances almost an impossible task. But there is nothing like a dream to create the future. Utopia today, flesh and blood tomorrow.
Man’s onward march requires that he heights around him should be ablaze with noble and glorious deeds of valour and self sacrifice to serve as guiding lights. Such evolutionary and revolutionary models were furnished by Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh, and his our sons Ajit Singh(18 Years), Jujhar Singh(14 years), Zorawar Singh(8 years), and Fateh Singh(5 years) as wellas by their numerous disciples like Bhais Mati Das, Sati Das and Dayal Das. The main features of this book are: A critical appraisement of Guru Nanak’s Janam Sakhis, Justification for celebrating Guru Nanak’s birthday in November instead of in April, Guru Nanak’s compositions, Mardana’s death at Baghdad, how Amritsar developed into a Sikh centre, Guru Arjan’s martyrdom, why guru Hargobind took to militarism, guru Har Rae’s residence at nahan, Hukam names of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru, Guru Gobind Singh’s formula of five into five, his literary works and Hukam names, Emperor Bahadur Shah’s pious fraud, eminent personalities and instructions, impact of Gurus, teachings on Indian Society, and why jats became followers of Khatri Gurus.
History of the Sikhs is planned as a five-volume survey aiming to present a comprehensive view of the rise, growth and development of Sikh thought and action in every direction. This volume is second in the series. The whole series is based on original contemporary sources in Persian, Marathi Gurumukhi, Urdu, Hindi and English Known to exist in India and abroad.
The dominating theme of the second volume is the Mughal-Sikh and Sikh-Afghan contest for the lordship of the second volume is the Mughal Emperors and the Sikhs under Banda Bahadur lasted from 1709 to 1716, when Banda was executed.
The second period of conflict was from 1916 to 1753 between the Sikhs and five Mughal viceroys of the Punjab Abdus Samad Khan and Shanawaz Khan and their cousin Muin-ul-Mulk, popularly called Mir Mannu. The third period extended from 1754 to 1768 in the strife against Ahmad Shah Durrani who had annexed the Punjab in 1752. He inflicted the heaviest blows on the Sikhs like the one struck in the Marathas at Panipat in 1761. Having sacrified about two lakhs of young men in the whole struggle the Sikhs came out victorious. The two chapters at the end give an account of Mughlani begam and Adina beg Khan, the last Muslim viceroys of the Punjab.
History of the Sikhs is planned as a five volume survey aiming to present a comprehensive view of the rise, growth and development of Sikh thought and action in every direction. This volume Sikh Domination of the Mughal Empire, 1964-1803 is third in the series. The whole series is based on original contemporary sources in Persian, Marathi, Gurumukhi, Urdu, Hindi and English known to exist in India and Abroad.
The dominating theme of the third volume is how and why the Sikhs missed numerous opportunities of establishing a Sikh State over the whole northern India. Najib-ud-daulah Rohilla, the first dictator of Delhi, and the vanquisher of Marathas and the Jats, publicly confessed having failed to subdue he Sikhs. Once he paid them a blackmail of eleven lakhs of rupees. His son and successor saved himself by embracing Sikhism. His window and son lived in the Panjab on a Jagir granted by Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in his safe custody for seventeen years. The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1759-1806) was prepared to place himself and his empire under Sikh protection. Najaf Khan, his prime minister, granted sovereign rights to the Sikhs. Mahadji Sindhia, the second dictator of the Mughal Empire, always maintained peace with them inspite of their frequent provocation. Lord Cornwallis, the British Governor-General in vain cajoled and coaxed them in order to secure the liberty from Sikh captivity of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stuart who was set free after ten months on receiving a ransom. The Jat rajas of Bharatpur, Rajput Princes, Nawabs of Oudh, and the hill rajas, all troubled before them.
As the Sikhs has raised power and predominance from extreme poverty and penury, their imagination could not go outside their homeland acquisition of gold from the rich, rakhi from Zamindars, and Kambh from artisans.
History of the Sikhs is a five volume series which deals with all aspects religious, philosophical, political, military, social, economic and cultural, and the contribution of Sikhism to world civilization, in particular to human right, principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, and to the creed of democracy and secularism. The aim is to present a comprehensive view of the rise, growth and development of Sikh thought and action almost in every directin. The whole series is based on original contemporary sources in English, Gurmukhi, Marathi, Persian and Urdu known to exist in India and abroad.
This fourth volume deals with the rise and fall of Sikh misls. In Sikh history this term was first used by Guru Gobind Singh in the battle Bhangani in 1688, when he organized his forces into eleven misls. Banda Bahadur adopted the same organization of eleven divisions in the battle of Sarhind in May 1710. In 1734 Nawab Kapur Singh divided the Khalsa into Budha Dal and Taruna Dal, both comprising eleven groups. This division was permanently adopted at the formation of Dal Khalsa in 1748.
The Phulkian states were not a Sikh misl. They developed as petty kingdoms from the beginning. They owed allegiance to the Mughals and Durranis,the enemies of their faith. They purchased titles from them. The Sikh misls never agreed to serve under Muslim masters. Lahna Singh Bhangi flatly rejected to become Ahmad Shah Durrani’s viceroy of Panjab. Baghel Singh Karorasinghia controlled Delhi for nine months as an independent chief. He thrice turned down Emperor Shah Alam’s fireman appointing him governor of the Upper Ganga Doab.
The Sikh misls dominated the whole country form river Indus to the Ganga, and from Punchh in Kashmir to the borders of Sind and Baluchistan. The Mughal Emperor, his prime minsters, Rohillas, Jats Rajputs, Marathas the British, hill rajas, and Durrani monarchs, all were terribly afraid of Sikh misls in spite of their complete disunity and mutual warfare. The misls in the western region were unceremoniously finished by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and by the British Government in the eastern region.
History of the Sikhs is planned as a five-volume survey aiming to present a comprehensive view of the rise, growth and development of Sikh thought and action in every direction. This volume (V) The Sikh Lion of Lahore (Maharaja Ranjit Singh, 1799-1839), deals with Ranjit Singh.
Ranjit Singh rose from the status of a petty chieftain to become the king of an empire extending from Gilgit and Tibet to the deserts of Sindh and from the Khyber Pass to the Satluj. He persuaded the turbulent Sikhs and Muslims to the Punjab to become the willing instruments of an expansionist policy which brought the Kashmiris and the Pathans of North West Frontier and Baluchis of Multan province under his subjugation. His success was undoubtedly due to his ability to arouse the nascent sense of nationalism amongst his people and make them conscious that more important hat their religion was the fact of their becoming a united people leading a harmonious life.
The book consists of six parts, part one deals with the campaigns and conquests of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Part depicts his relation with his describes Ranjit Singh’s interest in establishing a cosmopolitan an element of merriment in economic prosperity with special reference to the development of agriculture and growth of industry, trade and commerce. Part six gives vivid portrait of the Sikh Lion of Lahore.
Professor Hari Ram Gupta had his education at Lahore. He was a lecturer at Forman Christian College, Lahore, Founder Principal of Vaish College, Bhiwani (1944), and Head of the department of history of Aitchison College, Lahore. He served as Professor and Head of the Department of History, and Dean University Instruction, Punjab University, Chandigarh. Later he worked as Honorary Professor in the Department of History, University of Delhi. He has also been Honorary Professor of History at Dev Samaj College for women, Ferozpur, Punjab.
Among the important works of Dr. Gupta are five volumes of history of the Sikhs; Punjab on the Eve of First Sikh War,Marathas and Panipat, Sir Jadunath Sarkar Commemoration Volumes, Life and work of Mohan Lal Kashmiri with a foreword by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, and three Volumes on India Pakistan War, 1965. He passed away in April 1992.
Dr. Hari Ram Gupta (1902-93), had his education at Lahore. He was the first person to receive the degrees of Ph. D. and Litt. In History from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, and his examiners were Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Sir Edward Maclagan, ex-Governor of the Punjab and Professor H.H. Dodwell of London University.
Dr. Gupta was lecturer at Forman Christian College, Lahore fouder principal of Vaish College, Bhiwani (Harayan), and Head of the Department of History at Aitchison College, Lahore. He served for thirteen years as professor and head of the department of history, and for over a year as dean university instruction, Punjab University, Chandigarh. Later he worked for three years as honorary Professor at Dev Samaj College for women, Firozpur, Punjab.
Dr. Gupta is the author of over a dozen research volumes including three volumes on India-Pakistan war, 1965. He enjoyed international reputation as an authority on the history of Punjab and North-west Frontier. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, conferred upon him in 1949 the Sir Jadunath Sarkar gold medal for his “outstanding original contribution to the history of Punjab.
Preface to the First Edition
Spread over nearly two centuries and a half, the story of the Ten Master, given these pages has one common characteristic struggle. It was the struggle in pursuit of a new challenging idea, to create a nation of self-respecting people out of a down trodden and suppressed society. There is nothing like a dream to create the future. Utopia today, flesh and bold tomorrow. Their aim was the elevation of man.
The men and women who took part in that struggle under the guidance of the Gurus from time to time have one common feature courage. It was the courage of the mind which refused to accept the idea of defeat. It was the courage of the heart which enabled ordinary folk to endure imprisonment, torture and death. It can truly be said that they were defiant in defeat.
Man’s onward march requires that the height around him should be ablaze with noble and enduring lessons of valour. Deeds of daring dazzle history, and form one of the guiding lights. To strive to brave all risks to persist, to persevere to grapple with destiny, to be faithful to oneself to hold fast and to hold hard such is the example which nations need to electrify them, and this period is the examples.
It was in 1931 that the author wrote Dastan-e-Punjab in Urdu in two parts. Next year he published sikh Dharm ki Phulwari and Khalsa ke anmol moti which carred a foreword by the renowned sikh scholar bhai kahan singh of nabha.
The author’s venture in writing on such a delicate but inspiring subject after forty years of continuous work, also, has a common aspect of his life faith. It is the faith that the Gurus put new life in the minds of a decadent people. It is the faith in one general fact, that he chief source of spiritual nourishment for any nation is its own past perpetually rediscovered and renewed for the education of every generation.
The new features of this book are critical account of Janam Sakhis of Guru Nanak; Bhai Gurdas’s testimony and other reasons for celebrating Guru Nanak’s Birthday in November instead of in April Mardana’s death at Baghdad; appointment of Masands by Guru Arjun and not by Guru Ram Das as stated by Macauliffe and other; Shaikh Ahmad Sarhind’s role in the martyrdom of Guru Arjun authenticity of Mohsin Fani’s statement that Guru Hargobind remained in Gwalior fort for twelve years , his six battles against Shah Jahan who had either forcibly converted to islam or executed 4,500 Hindus of Punjab for marrying Muslim girls; guru Har Rai residence at Nahan and not at Thapal for twelve years Mirza Raja jai Singh’s escorting Guru Har Krishan from Kiratpur to Delhi meaning of the Khalsa formula of five into five Guru Gobind Singh’s first letter to Aurangzeb from Raikot and the second from Dina Guru’s death as a result of Emperor Bahadur Shah’s pious fraud; twelve eminent personalities and institutions, prominent sources of the Guru period; Guru Gobind Singh Marg and impact of Gurus teachings on Indian Society.
The author is indebted to principal, R.G. Bajpai, of Government Brijindra college, Faridkot, and Shri Gurbaksh Singh, Guide, Takht, Sri Keshgarh Sahib Anandpur for their kind perusal of the manuscript and making valuable suggestion for its improvement. His thaks are also due to Shri Bhagat Singh Bajwa and Mrs. Kusum Lata Bamba for placing at the author’s disposal the rare collection of books preserved at sikh kanya Mahavidyalaya, Firozpur, to Shri Mohinder Kumar Kapur and Shri Gurbachan Singh Nayyar of Paitala for reading out to him numerous Punjabi works to his youngest son, shri Ajay Kumar Gupta, for correcting the typescript and proofs, and to Miss Kanchan Jyoti for preparing the index.
Preface to the Second Edition
The Sikhs are the most interesting people in the whole of India. They appear on the stage of life everywhere and in every walk of life as men of action. The hidden spirit and potential energy of a sikh give him a peculiar dignity. A sikh believes that God is always present with him, to help and guide him. This feeling has made him no only adventurous but also bold fearless. He can dare anything and endure everything under the sun in the name of God, Guru and Granth.
The story of the rise and development of Sikhism is one of the most stirring and striking chapters in world history. It is a people’s movement based on democracy, secularism and socialism, without any barriers of caste, colour or country.
The appearance of a great man is not an isolated event or a mere accident. A great man is invariably the product of his age. Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of Sikh religion, was not an exception to this rule.
In Europe it was an age of renaissance, reformation and geographical discoveries. In Italy there was an outburst of activity in fine arts. The renowned masters, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo (1475-1564), and Rapheal (1483-1520) made a lasting contribution. Colet founded the first Grammar School of st. Paul’s in Landon in 1510. Erasmus opened the Corpus Christi College at oxford in 1516. Martin Luther, a German professor, began reformation in 1517. Colvin (1509-1564) took up this work in Switzerland. Columbus, an Italian, discovered the sea route to America in 1492. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese, found sea route to India in 1498. In 1519 another Portuguese, Ferdinand magellen, made the first voyage round the world. The establishment of Tudor rule in Britain in 1485 heralded political awakening and ushered in the modern age.
India, with its great ancient civilization and culture, could not remain unaffected. Hinduism, though ground to dust by the country’s foreign rulers, began to assert itself in the most inoffensive form. It was the Bhakti movement of which Nanak was a prominent exponent. Its main object was to give hope to the suppressed Hindu community and to check forcible conversion of lower classes to Islam.
The Gurus laid emphasis on the worship of one God only through simran and bhakti. This has made the Sikhs the most vital community. The sikh faith in the sword is a faith in sacrifice. The story of martyrdom of Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh and his four sons together with thousands of other heroes, is one of the richest treasures in world history.
The ancient sages divided the life of a Hindu into four equal parts (i) Brahmcharya ashram or student life, (ii) Grihastha ashram or householder, (iii) Vanprastha ashram or hoseholder cum retirement or sadhu or life of preparation for renunciation and (iv)Sanyas ashram or life of complete renunciation or yogi. The Sikh Gurus gave only one stage to human life, living with parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives and then raising one’s own family, viz. Griha stha ashram. The first five Gurus were the builders and the last five were the defenders of the faith. Guru Nanak was a teacher and master. Guru Gobind Singh was a comrade and leader.
The sacred book of the Sikhs was called pothi Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh whole ending physical guruship called it Granth. It is a combination of two words, Gur and Ant, meaning the Eternal Guru. The Sikhs named it Adi Granth or the original holy book. Guru Gobind Singh’s compositions were collectively called the Dasam Granth. Adi Granth signifies Bhakti or religious devotion, while the Dasam Granth represents Shakti or living force of the Sikhs. As a matter of fact the Sikh character is a combination of bhakti and shakti. Shakti can be displayed not only in martial activities, but also in agriculture, business, and industry and in other professions s well as in mutual wrangles, dacoit and murders.
Preface to the First Edition
Of all the provinces of India the Punjab the point of impact between India and the ever moving peoples of the North West must always have a peculiar interest to a student of Indian history. Similarly in the history of the Punjab, there is no other feature so interesting as the history of the Sikhs. Some aspects of the history of these people have been pretty fully treated by previous writers. For instance the history of the Sikh Church and the early struggle between this community and the Mughal Government (1469-1715) have been very well described by European and Indian scholars. Again, the history of the sikh monarchy under Ranjit Singh and his successors (1799-1849) has also been ably dealt with by standard writers.
The intervening period (1716-1799), however, if not altogether neglected, has not received the attention it deserves. This period forms one of the most important chapters of sikh history. It was during this time that the Sikhs evolved themselves, by the strength of their own arms, into one of the finest military peoples of the world. It was now that the Sikhs entered on their meteoric career by availing themselves of the many opportunities open to genius and ambition, for carving out independent principalities on the ashes of the Mughal Empire. It was then that they developed the germs of a worthier political existence and began to make themselves fit for the task of building up a kingdom. It was at this time that they played the most important part in the politics of Northern India, during the whirlwind incursions of foreign hordes from 1739 to 1799. It was in these days that the Sikhs rendered the most invaluable services to the cause of our country by putting a dead stop to all foreign invasions from the North-west.
It was this importance of the period that induced the present writer to take up this subject, which proved in the end to be the most fascinating field that was ever found waiting for exploration by a student of history. How far he has succeeded in his attempt it is for the reader to judge.
The author very much wished that he could have dealt with the whole of this intervening period. But with great disappointment, he had eventually to excise the earlier portion of it as there was very scanty material available. Whatever material exists comes from Sikhs sources are based on tradition alone, with no contemporary evidence on record. Hence he has found 1939 as his most suitable starting point. It was in this year that the terrible Nadir, at the head of a numerous sturdy races of warrior, swept down the unprotected plain of India with irresistible violence. Not only did his campaign give the finishing stroke to the crumbling house of Babar, but also brought to perfection the confusion and chaos prevailing in the country. It was now that the Hindu peasantry, crushed under the oppression of centuries was disillusioned of the greatness of the mighty Mughals and as a consequence rose up in arms, out of sheer exasperation against the Mughal Government. They joined the ranks of the Khalsa because they knew that these were the only people in the Punjab who could offer stout opposition to their oppressors. Consequently, the whole country between the Ravi and the Jumna was turned into a theatre of ceaseless struggle by a people fighting for independence. The present outbreak of the Sikhs differed from those preceding it under guru Hargobind, Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Bahadur, in this that whereas the letter were religious outbursts which had sprung up out of hatred and vengeance for the loss of their leader and their own oppression at the hand of the Government, the present struggle was a fight for the ideal of independence and sovereignty which the Sikhs had now placed before themselves.
The reason for selecting 1768 as the other limit of my enquiry is that this year witnessed the establishment of the Sikhs as political and territorial power. They had successfully repelled the last invasion of Ahmad Shah Abdali in the previous year. They had become undisputed masters of Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, and exercised sovereign power in the major portion of the province. They, therefore, stood between the Mughal Empire of Delhi and the Durrani kingdom of Kabul, and not only prevented the mutual contact of these two empires, but also starved the Indian Muslim potentates by stopping the importation of fresh blood from the North-Western regions to replenish their exhausted forces, and thus brought about their speedy death. This period, therefore, is the point of division between the disruption of the old Empire and the formation of the new kingdom.
Preface to the Second Edition
Since this book goes forth as a revised edition, it may be pointed out that the entire text has been revised with a view to clarifying its statements and to enriching its factual content.
Preface to the Third Edition
In this edition some changes have been made in the text, and mistakes of facts and figures in the light of recent researches have been corrected. In order to maintain the continuity of the subject with the first volume of the series entitled the Sikh Gurus, two new chapters covering the period from 1709 to 1738 have been added. The pages of the old volume 145-148,214-215, 220-224, 249-258, 273-278, 284-328 have been removed without injuring the proper theme of the content. This matter has been incorporated in the relevant books of this series entitled Sikh domination of the Mughal Empire, and Sikh Misls close Invader’s gateways important information given in the footnotes has been included in the body of the book to make the narrative more comprehensive and interesting. Two chapter on Mughlani Begam and Adina Beg Khan have been added.
Preface to the First Edition
Of all the activities of the mind, religion and love have most profoundly influenced man. It was for religion that the Sikhs of the past generation made the most stupendous sacrifices. The generation made the most stupendous sacrifices. The generation of the period under review, however, was impelled only by the love of power, which, divorced from religion, turned into lust.
Guru Gobind Singh had taught the Sikhs to assume two phases of life. In times of peace and prosperity they were to take on the character of a Bhai by becoming meek, humble and serviceable. In days of difficulty and danger they were to act like a stiff necked hero who would stand for fair play and resist the wrongs done to him and others with all his might and main.
In playing the part of a Sardar the Sikhs had done their duty marvelously well, but when the period of adversity was over and that of prosperity commenced they refused to take upon themselves the traits of a Bhai.
Previously the Sikks had followed the principles of universalism by subordinating the individual to the community. Now they pursued the policy of individualism by raising the individual above the will of the community.
It is therefore not surprising to find how those very people who had shown themselves the protectors of the weak and the oppressed during the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, became the persecutors of the innocent and the defenseless.
The story of the deeds of the Cis-Sutlej Sikhs from 1769 to 1799 is one of their almost annual plundering raids into the Upper Gangetic Doab; and a tale either of warfare among themselves or of their struggle with the Mughals, the Marathas the Rahillas, and George Thomas, and Irish adventurer.
The predatory excursions of the Cis-Sutleg Sikhs have left behind nothing but horrid recollections, which fact is not an unprofitable lesson in itself. Like individuals nations are subject to fury and frenzy. This is a natural consequence which follows from rude armies gaining knowledge of their power. But with this knowledge there was a great lesson. This, unfortunately, the Sikhs had forgotten. The lesson was that if brute force was with them, the intellect that commanded physical power was with the Guru.
The absence of this great factor clouded their wits, blurred their vision, and checked their growth and development. Otherwise there was no dearth of opportunities for the Sikhs to display their energy and enthusiasm and with a little statesmanship they could have become the masters of nearly the whole of Northern India.
The Mughal Empire lay almost prostrate before them. The Rajputs, the Jats, the Rohillas, and the Nawab of Oudh trembled before their armies. Out of the remaining two powers of all- India importance, the Maratha Empire was spent force, though this fact was not yet visible. The Marathas were trying to maintain their power, and did their level best to win over the Sikhs against the English who were gradually rising in the east.
Preface to the second edition
The book has been completely revised. Some obscure points have been clarified. A few corrections of detail have been made, and some doubts have been resolved. Four new chapters have been added. The original text is generally allowed to stand with some modifications, though the little of the book is changed. I am deeply indebted to Shri Sham Lal Gupta, M. Sc., for his kindly preparing the index.
The book is divided into three parts. Parts one deals with the Budha Dal consisting of six misls. The field of its activities lay from river Beas to the Gang. Its main task was to strike at Delhi. In a body of about 50,000 men the Budha Dal attacked the Delhi province and the Ganga Doab, two, three, even four times a year continuously from 1764 to 1803. The great Najib-ud-daulah, Dictator of the Mughal Empire, and hero of the third battle of Panipat was so much harassed by them that he submitted resignation of his office, and without waiting for its acceptance retired to Najibabad, and died a few months later in October, 1770. His son Zabita Khan saved himself by publicly embracing Sikhism under the name of Dharam Singh in 1777. Zabita’s son Bhambu Khan and his mother remained Sikh pensioners from 1788 to 1803.
As for Emperor Shah Alam II, 1759-1806, the crownlands which supported the royal family, were severely squeezed of their material resources. Once all the queens and princesses went without food for three days. Linking their hands they appeared before the Emperor and threatened to drown themselves into the Jamuna. On another occasion the Emperor Beat his head with both hand and cried he had no second coat in his wardrobe. He offered Baghel Singh to take charge of the Ganga Doab, but he declined to serve under a Muslim ruler.
Part two concerns the Taruna Dal comprising five misls. It operated from river Beas to the Indus. The Taruna Dal faced the totally Muslim West Punjab as well as the Afgan invaders both being in collusion. Ahmad Shah Durrani was wholly successful against the Marathas. He was partially victorious over the Sikhs only once. During his next two invasions he remained on the defensive. In his last three attempts he could not cross river Jehlam. The Sikhs cut off the claws and broke the teeth of this Afgan lion. Only his growl was left. The Sikhs merely laughed at it. This also ceased with his death in April 1772.
His son and successor Timur Shah Durrani invaded Punjab five times. He did seize Multan from the Sikhs, but he could never reach Lahore. His son Shah Zaman led four invasions. He arrived at Lahore twice. The whole Muslim India and Hindu Rajasthan, castrated by the Great Mughals, hailed him as a liberator. Emperor Shah Alam II offered the invader money and princess. He could not go beyond farther than Amritsar. In 1799 Taruna Dal wrote an epitaph in letter of gold on the tomb of the invaders from the north-west this forms part three of this volume.
The Phulkian States did not join in the Sikh war of independence they remained loyal both to Delhi and Kandhar-Kabul. Yet they took full advantage of their religious bond with the Dal Khalsa in expanding their territory and material resources.
Of all the Indian people who rose on the ruins of the Mughal Empire, none were more distinguished and outstanding than the Sikhs. Their struggle against the enemies of their faith and homeland was marked by their overwhelming fighting capacity, astonishing energy, stubborn perseverance, unprecedented sacrifices, unshakable faith in their destiny, predicted by Guru Gobind Singh, and the brilliancy of their success.
Unfortunately for the Sikhs the spirit of individual freedom to tan abnormal degree is inherent in the Khalsa brotherhood. The spirit of faction among the Sikh Jats is their inheritance from tribal instinct. The combination of these two factors converted the Sikhs misls, in the absence of an external danger, into warring groups among themselves.
To rectify it a leader appeared on the scene. In the last decade of the eighteenth century Ranjit Singh Sukarachakia had emerged as the most powerful Sikh sardar. He had fully and completely inherited his father’s ambition to become the sole monarch of Northern India. No sooner did the foreign invasions come to an end than Ranjit Singh turned against the Sikh misls. In a few years the century old Sikh nobility was wiped out. In his kingdom only Ahluwalias were saved by the British. All others were mown down like hay.
If the historian is to fix the time in the history of the Punjab in medieval period, during which the people Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others were most happy and prosperous, he would, without the least hesitation, name the reign of the Sikh Lion of Lahore, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Indeed, it was an era of order, tranquility, prosperity, religions liberty and communal harmony, established for the first time in eight hundred years.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was undoubtedly a great king. He stands equal to renowned rulers like Chandragupta Maurya the Great, his grandson Ashoka the Great, great Gupta Emperors, Harshavardhana of Thaneasar and Akbar the Great, in world History he can favourably be compared with Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire, Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Germany, Napoleon Banaparte of France and George Washington of the United States of America.
Ranjit Singh’s claim to greatness rests on the following five factors:
1. Peace, Order and Tranquility
During the past one hundred years the Punjab had been in the throes of anarchy due to maladministration and foreign invasions. The invaders had caused immense destruction in men, money and material. In their trail they left behind chaos and confusion, plague and pestilence, and numerous dacoits and robbers in the indigenous population Ranjit Singh established peace, order and tranquility. Captain A. Mathews of the British Army travelled from the Yamuna to the Chenab. On 16 May 1808, he recorded that military posts had been appointed in the whole country to check any disturbance. Travelling was safe a capital crime or a robbery seldom occurred. In some cases plunderers and headmen of the villages near which robbery or murder had taken place were shot dead. As a result a single person with cash ornaments could travel without apprehension of danger. Mathew’s observation is confirmed by other contemporary writers and court chronicler, Sohan Lal Suri.
2. Gateways of Invaders closed
Ranjit Singh closed the passed in the Sulaiman mountains four times in his reign did the Kabul Cheifs try to enter India. They were hurled back with enormous loss in men, horses and arms. He also ended the regular stream of hungry gangs from the North West. They came here in search of bread and to settle down in the most fertile regions as permanent inhabitants like the Rohillas who changed the name of Katehar to Rohilkhand. The Maharaja held back the current of history which had flowed unchecked since the beginning of eleventh century. The whole Punjab had been ruined. In west Punjab between the Indus and the Ravi 3,756 deserted sites existed in Ranjit Singh’s time.
3. The Secular State
The Maharaja created the first indigenous, magnificent, non-communal secular state in the current millennium. The Muslim rulers ruled by force and fear alone. The Sikhs, a small community, had suffered the most. Out of ten Gurus six had been subjected to cruel treatment. Nearly two lakh Sikhs, men, women and children, were killed by Mughals, Durrains and their henchmen. As a result the total population of the Sikhs at the beginning of Ranjit Singh’s reign was not more than five lakhs. Ranjit Singh gave full freedom to Muslims except azan or a loud call from a mosque to indicate prayer time and cow killing. They were given due share in administration. Even the most sensitive departments of external affairs and artillery were controlled by Musalamans throughout his reign. In consequence the entire Muslim population in the Punjab stood by him during twelve years of holy war in the North-West Fronitier Province against the Sikhs.
4. Personal Traits
Ranjit Singh was courteous, kind and generous to his defeated enemies. He received them in a public durbar by rising in his chair, and provided them with a decent cash allowance and grants of jagirs. M’Gregor, secretary to the Governor-General of India, who met Ranjit Singh a number of time, wrote that he Maharaja was “possessed of powers of mind rarely met with either in the estern or western world”. He was a strict disciplinarian of a sort and insisted on execution of his orders promptly and fully. For disobedience of his general letter not addressed by name he fined Sham Singh Atarwala fifty thousand rupees. Diwan Kirpa Ram, Governor or Kashmir and grandson of Diwan Mohkam Chand, the builder of his power in early days, for disobedience of his prime minister Dhin Singh, was dismissed, fettered, imprisoned and fined nine lakh rupees. On payment in full he became a hermit and escaped to Banaras never to return to the Punjab. After Ranjit he was offered Prime Ministership, which he declined. In Chief of Ranjit Singh, was fighting against Fatah Muhammad Khan, Prime Minister of Afghanistan and his brother Dost Muhammad Khan. Ghaus Muhammad Khan, Darogha Topkhana, was there to support the Diwan. At the time of fighting Ghaus Muhanmmad declined to fire his artillery. The Diwan asked two Muslim deputies of Ghaus Muhammad to fire their guns. They also refused. The diwan won the battle in spite of them. Ranjit Singh took no action against them. In the Durbar he only observed. “it was not proper for Ghaus Muhammad to remain inactive and we had almost lost the battle.
Professor Hari Ram Gupta’s thesis on the Evolution of the Sikhs Confederacies which I examined, along with Sir Edward Maclagan, the scholarly ex-Governor of the Punjab, for the Ph.D. degree of the Punjab University struck me as a work of outstanding merit which competently fills up a gap in our knowledge of modern Indian History. I have, therefore, urged the author to print it and have put him on the way to securing financial assistance for the purpose.
As Dr. Gupta has pointed out, while the history of the sikh Gurus has been repeatedly worked over, and that of Ranjit Singh is still better known, the intervening period of the rise of the misls and their occupation of the Punjab has not been studied by scholars. And yet this period is one is one of absorbing interest and historical importance, because it represents the formative stage of the Sikhs as political power.
The subject at the outset, presented difficulties only commensurate with its attractiveness and importance. How the avidence lay scattered mostly in manuscript sources in more than half a dozen languages and the manuscripts could be consulted only in several libraries in one case more than a thousand miles distant has been described by the author. I have seen this thesis when under construction and also in its finished state, and can testify to the industry and success with which Dr. Gupta has utilsed an immense number of scraps with which Dr. Gupta has utilsed an immense number of scraps of information and pieced them together into a compact readable whole. The necessity of reducing the cost of printing has forced him to cut out all oriental quotations and even justificative pieces in English and also to compress the foot notes with extreme severity and henee there is some danger of the reader underestimating the author’s erudition and the reliability of his narrative. Bu I who went through his history in its original complete form in manuscript, feel confident that is stands in an unassailable position. The long critical bibliography first written by him has been similarly cut down, in printing, to a bare list of names, but it proves that the author has left no sources untapped and taken nothing without a critical examination.
One period of Punjab history and that of the Delhi Empire too has thus been set up on a granite foundation. It ought to serve as a model to other workers on Indian history.
Mr. Hari Ram Gupta has the gift of summoning processions of the pictures of the Past, and revivifying them with the breath of life. He has deled deep into the records of nearly two hundred years past, and from the fragments of scattered documents built up a connected story, revealing the decay of Moghul Empire and the adventurous rise of the power of the Khalsa.
The gospel of the Gurus had shattered the shell of supersitition and released the spirit from bondage. Men of power no more removed themselves from the field of action in the hope of self realization in cloistered scclusion. They were awakened by the tenth Guru with a new sense of manhood and animated by new determination to end all tyrannies by manfully opposing them. The result was the rise to power of a small community of religious devotees into bands of valiant soldiers, who faced the armies of Moghals and Marthattas without fear. They livied a Rakhi a cess and guaranteed protection from the banks of the Indus to the banks of the Gangs.
These bands, however, failed to unite under a single leader and frequently changed their all allegiance. The result was that they failed to realize their high destiny, to unite the country and to give a good government. Had they found a leader, who could command their allegiance and to lead them, a new chapter would have opened in the history of India.
The Khalsa bound in the closest links brotherhood by the Guru broke into parties and factions and failed to enjoy the fruit of its success or to make any enduring contribution in raising India from a state of dependence into independence and from poverty to power. The khalsa had the opportunity of uniting India and missed it.
The shadows of the past are still pursuing to present. The Khalsa is split up into parties which waste their energies in under mining the strength of the Panth. The Sikh Press, unlike the press of other communities, concentrates its attention on person and promotes disruptive influences within the community itself. The leaders, such as they are, are always under the microscope. The Khalsa prays every day for power to overlook the shortcomings of its members but as soon a prayers are over it fastens its attention on these shortcomings. It cannot be the Sikh religion some tribal heritage which the community has not been able to overcome in the past as well as in the present.
History is of little value unless we learn from it the lesson of tracing the causes of our failures and by removing the causes build a better future.
Mr. Hari Ram Gupta has held aloft the magic mirror reflecting events which happened nearly two hundred years ago in their true perspective. Let us open our ears and listen eagerly to what the history has to teach. For we who believe in the Guru must learn to see the face of a brother even in an enemy, and when we see a Sikh, in the words of the Guru, must seek his feet and serve him. It is thus that we can fulfill the mission of the Guru.
The Khalsa is deeply indebted to Mr. Gupta for his researches. Every Sikh should read his book and resolve at all costs to bring unity within the Panth, and with it power to mould its own future and of India.
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