MAHARAJA RANJIT SINGH (1780-1839 AD)
(A brief account)
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the ruler of Sukarchakia Misl (Principality) from 1790 to 1799 AD. He occupied Lahore on July 7, 1799, and established a great Sikh State in the Punjab – the land of five rivers.
Henry Thoby Prinsep refers to the territorial possessions of the Sikh Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1839), as consisting of the entire Punjab between the rivers Satluj and Indus, Kashmir and the vassal territories in the Himalayas, including Ladakh, 45 ta’alluqas on the British side of the Satluj and Peshawar, Dehra-Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan across the river Indus.
The Sikh Empire or Sarkar Khalsaji consisted of the following four Provinces (subas) :
2. Multan (Darul Aman)
3. Kashmir (Jannat Nazir)
In addition, the large districts which did not fall under any Province were Kangra, Jalandhar Doab, Majha, Wazirabad, Jhang, Pind Dadan Khan, Gujrat, Rajauri, Punchh, Hazara, Bannu Kohat Tank, Dehra Ismail Khan and Dehra Ghazi Khan. They were all governed by Nazims.
Baron Charles Hugel writes, “Never perhaps was so large an empire founded by one man with so little criminality; when we consider the country and the uncivilized people with whom he had to deal, his mild government must be regarded with feelings of astonishment.”
A brief account of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh is given in the following statement:-
1. Name : Ranjit Singh (Original name Budh Singh)
2. Date of Birth : November 13, 1780.
3. Place of Birth : Gujranwala (Pakistan). According to one
theory, he was born at Badrukhan now in Sangrur district of Punjab, the paternal home of his mother.
4. Father : Sardar Mahan Singh (1760-1790 AD), the ruler
of Sukarchakia Misl, with its capital at Gujranwala.
5. Mother : Mai Raj Kaur, popularly known as Mai Malwain,
daughter of Raja Gajpat Singh of Jind, now in Haryana State.
6. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had eight sons, namely:-
Name and Name of Mother
1. Prince Kharak Singh Rani Raj Kaur also known as
(1801-1840) : Datar Kaur or Mai Nakkain.
2. Prince Ishar Singh }
3. Prince Sher Singh } Rani Mehtab Kaur
(1807-1843 AD) }
4. Prince Tara Singh
(1807-1859 AD) }
5. Prince Kashmira Singh*
(1819-1844) } Rani Daya Kaur
6. Prince Peshaura Singh*
(* adopted sons of Maharaja Ranjit Singh)
7. Prince Multana Singh Rani Rattan Kaur
8. Prince Duleep Singh Rani Jind Kaur (Rani
(1838-1893 AD) Jindan)
7. Ranjit Singh becomes a Maharaja ( Sarkar or Sarkar-
Ranjit Singh captured the fort of Lahore on July 7, 1799,
and sat on the throne of the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab. He
assumed the title of Sarkar or Sarkar-i-wala on Baisakhi
day, Sunday, April 12, 1801. The Tilak ceremony on this
auspicious occasion was performed by Baba Sahib Singh
A. Mughal Emperors at Delhi
1. Shah Alam II (Mirza Abdullah Ali Gohar)
2. Akbar Shah II (1806-1837 AD)
3. Bahadur Shah II ‘Zafar’ (1837-1858 AD )
Deposed and deported (1858 AD )
Died at Rangoon in exiIe (1862 AD)
B. English Sovereigns
1. George III (1760-1820 AD)
2. George IV (1820-1830 AD)
3. William IV (1830-1837 AD)
4. Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
C. British Governor-Generals under East India Company’s Rule in India (Regulating Act of 1773)
1. Earl of Mornington (1798-1805 AD)
2. Marquess Cornwallis ( -1805)
3. Sir George Barlow (1805-1807)
4. Baron ( lst. Earl of Minto (I) (1807-1813 AD)
5. Earl of Moira (Marquess of Hastings) (1813-1823AD)
6. John Adam ( 1823 AD ).
7. Baron (Earl) Amherst (1823-1828 AD )
8. William Butterworth Bayley (1828 AD)
9. Lord William Cavendish Bentinck (1828-1835 AD) Charter Act of 1833
10. Sir Charles (Lord) Metcalfe (1835-1836 AD)
11. Baron (Earl of) Auckland (1836-1842)
D. French Emperor
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Birth : August 15, 1769
Becomes Emperor May 18, 1804
Death : May 5, 1821
E. Famous Poets
Mirza Asadullah Khan Beg (Mirza Ghalib)
Birth : December 27, 1797
Death : February 15, 1869
1. Syed Hasham Shah (1753-1823 AD)
2. Shah Muhammad (1782-1862 AD)
3. Qadir Yar Mian (About 1805-1850 AD)
4. Ahmad Yaar (1768-1845 A.D)
Bard Shah Muhammad and Matt wrote national
9. Occupation and Annexation of Territories
(a) Occupation of Lahore
Ranjit Singh occupied Lahore on July 7, 1799 and
founded the Sovereign Sikh kingdom in the North West
(b) Territorial acquisitions
“Previously Ranjit Singh’s ambitions were few. After
conquering Lahore, they rapidly grew. Go East, Go
West, North, South, all are best.” (Dr. Hari Ram Gupta)
Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered the following
territories and merged them into his Kingdom :-
Akalgarh (1801), Chaniot (1802 ), Amritsar (1805),
Kasur (1807), Jhang (1807), Bahawalpur and Akhnur
(1807-1808), Dallewalia Misl (1807), Kangra Fort
(1809), Gujrat (1810), Sahiwal Fort (1810),
Warzirabid (1810), territories of Faizullapurias
(1811), Nakkais (1811) and Kanaihyas Misls
(1821), Attock (1813), Multan (1818), Kashmir
(1819), and annexation of Peshawar to Sikh
Kingdom (1834), etc.
10. Anglo-Sikh Treaties
1. Anglo-Sikh Treaty (1806)
This treaty of friendship and amity between East
India Company and Maharaja Ranjit Singh was
signed by both the parties on January 1, 1806,
according to which Jaswant Rao Holkar was to be
removed from Amritsar and, in return, the English
were not to enter the Punjab and seize any
possession of the Sikh Kingdom of Lahore.
2. Anglo-Sikh Treaty of Amritsar (1809)
This treaty was signed by Mr. Charles Theophilus
Metcalfe on behalf of British Government and
Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Amritsar on April 25, 1809.
According to this Treaty, Ranjit Singh was to
recognize the river Satluj as the boundary and to
accept the British suzerainty over his vassals across
the river, and the English were to recognize the
Maharaja as the sole sovereign on his side of River
3. Treaty of alliance and friendship (1838)
among British, Ranjit Singh and Shah Shuja
This Treaty was signed on June 25, 1838, by the
British, Ranjit Singh and Shah Shuja. This treaty
reaffirmed the 1833 treaty between the Maharaja and
the Shah. The objective of this treaty was the
installation of Shah Shuja as the ruler of the whole
of Afghanistan, minus Herat. Kandhar was captured
on April 25, 1839, and Shah Shuja was enthroned
on May 8, 1839.
11. Ranjit Singh obtains Koh-i-Noor diamond from
Shah Shuja – June 1, 1813
Shah Shuja, ex-King of Afghanistan and his wife
Queen Wafa Begam were reluctant to part with Koh-
i-Noor (Mountain of Light), but later on agreed to
hand over this most dazzling and unique diamond
to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Aradi Amini writes that
on the request of Shah Shuja and his wife, the
Maharaja visited their residence at Lahore and
received the peerless stone Koh-i-Noor, also called
Samantick Mani (Prince and Leader among
diamonds ) from the Ex-King of Afghanistan on
June 1, 1813.
12. Place in History
Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been likened to many
historical personages as Sher Shah Suri, Napoleon,
Bismarck, Abraham Lincoln, Shivaji Marhatta and
13. Civi1 and Military Administration
Ranjit Singh established the first indigenous,
magnificent, secular State, the Sikh Empire (also
known as Sarkar-i-Khalsa) in the Punjab in the north
west of India in 1799 AD. The Austrian traveller
Baron Charles Hugel remarked that the State
established by Ranjit Singh was the most wonderful
object in the whole world.
According to Faqir Waheeduddin, the Government
of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was divided into four
provinces, namely: Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and
Outside these were a number of hill principalities which were not directly administered by the Maharaja, but paid annual tribute. Each province was divided into parganas, each pargana into talukas and each taluka into 50 to 100 mauzas (villages). Each province was administered by a Nazim (Governor), who had a number of Kardars (District Officers) under him.
All the communities of the Sikh Empire were given due share in the Civil and Military administration. The important posts in the Civil and Defence Departments were held by all such communities and suitable persons belonging to all faiths and sects, that is, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Europeans, etc. His main consideration/criteria in selecting them was merit and loyalty.
Ranjit Singh treated his subjects equally without distinction of caste or creed. His people looked upon him not only as their protector but also as one of them.
There were several important civil functionaries at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The names of prominent among the nobles, courtiers or councillors are mentioned below:
1. Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia
2. Sardar Sham Singh Attari
3. Sardar Chattar Singh Attari
4. Sardar Sher Singh Attari
5. Sardar Lehna Singh Majithia
6. Sardar Deva Singh Majithia
7. Sardar Desa Singh Majithia
8. Sardar Amir Singh Sandhanwalia
9. Sardar Budh Singh Sandhanwalia
10. Sardar Attar Singh Sandhanwalia
11. Sardar Dhanna Singh Malwai
12. Bhai Gurmukh Singh
1. Raja Dhian Singh, popularly known as Raja Kalan
2. Raja Gulab Singh
3. Raja Suchet Singh
4. Raja Hira Singh, son of Raja Dhian Singh
5. Jamadar Khushal Singh
6. Bhaia Ram Singh (his brother).
7. Raja Tej Singh (their nephew).
8. Raja Dina Nath
9. Raja Sahib Dyal
10. Raja Ralia Ram
11. Dewan Ajudhia Parshad
12. Dewan Sawan Mal
13. Dewan Bhawani Das
14. Dewan Ganga Ram
15. Dewan Moti Ram, son of Dewan Mohkam Chand
16. Dewan Kirpa Ram
17. Dewan Sukh Dyal
18. Dewan Sarb Dyal
19. Misr Rup Lal
20. Misr Beli Ram
21. Bhai Gobind Ram s/o Bhai Wasti Ram
1. Faqir Azizuddin (Foreign Minister)
2. Faqir Nururuddin
3. Faqir Imamuddin
4. Qazi Nazamuddin
5. Mufti Muhammad Shah and several other Muslim
officers held key positions in the Sikh Kingdom.
B. DEFENCE (Military Generals)
1. General Hari Singh Nalwa
2. General Fateh Singh Kalianwala
3. General Fateh Singh Dul1ewala
4. General Nihal Singh Attariwala
5. General (Dewan) Mohkam Chand (Fateh Naseeb)
6. General Prem Dya1
7. General Ram Dyal
8. General Dewan Chand (Misr)
9. General Illahi Bakhsh
10. General Mian Ghausa (or Ghaus Khan)
11. General Mazhar Ali
12. General Balbhadra
13. General Jean Francois Allard (French)
14 . General Claude Auguste Court (French)
15 . General Jean Baptiste Ventura (Italian)
16. General Paolo de Avitable (Italian)
Other foreigners who held important jobs under the Sikh Kingdom included Alexander Gardner, John Martin Honigberger, Josiah Harlan Henry Steinbach, John Holmes and Dr. Benet, etc. According to Devinder Kumar Verma, the number of foreigners in Ranjit Singh’s employ was sixty two.
14. Capital Punishment and other offences
According to Dr Hari Ram Gupta (History of the Sikhs, 1739-1768, P. 319), during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1839 AD), capital punishment was never inflicted even for murder. In such a case the culprit had to give away either a female in marriage to a member of the injured party or a plot of land cultivable by a plough (125 Bighas) or pay a fine of Rs.1000/-.
The violation of sexual chastity was fined by a sum of Rs.25/- while theft was punishable with a fine of an equal amount of the value of the stolen property. In view of these lax punishments it is remarkable to note that good government and order were found prevailing in country.
Even when there was an attempt on the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh himself, no capital punishment was awarded to the culprit.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled over Punjab for forty years. His subjects loved their Maharaja and their Maharaja loved them. The Punjab enjoyed peace and freedom from religious bigotry, fanaticism and persecution for the first time after the demise of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar the Great (1556-1605 AD). On the whole, the people were happy and the Punjabis enjoyed full freedom from official interference.
DEATH OF THE MAHARAJA
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab, passed away at Lahore on June 27, 1839, on Thursday at 5 p.m. corresponding to Asarh15, 1896 BK. By coincidence, it was just on this day (Asarh 15) exactly forty years earlier, that he had entered Lahore as a victor.
The cremation of the great King of Punjab took place just near the Badshahi Mosque and Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, Lahore. Prince Kharak Singh, the elder son of the Maharaja set the pyre alight. According to Faqir Syed Waheeduddin, there was a gentle shower after some time. A pair of pigeons came from the sky and fell into the flames.
According to Dr Gokul Chand Narang, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839, there was universal mourning in the country and every one felt as if he had lost his own father and guardian. With his death, it was said everywhere, the Punjab had become a widow.
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Ram Manohar Lal Publishers Private Ltd., Rani Jhansi Road, New
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