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Financial, Civil and Military Administration of the Maharaja

The Maharaja's Kingdom

At the time of the Maharaja's death, the area of his vast kingdom that he created has been estimated to be more than one hundred and forty thousand square miles. On one side it extended up to Ladakh and Iskardu towards Tibet, on the other side it extended from Khaibar Pass along the hills of Sulaiman mountain ranges to Shikarpur (Sindh), in the South. Towards the east, river Sutlej had been accepted as boundary line between the British possessions in India and the kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Sarkar-i-Khalsa, as the Maharajas’ kingdom was known, was divided into four provinces and the names mentioned in the Khalsa Darbar records are :

  1.  Suba-i- Lahore',
  2.  Suba-i-Dar-ul-aman, Multan',
  3.  Suba-i-Jannat nazir Kashmir,
  4.  Aulka (Region)-i-Peshawar.

Income of the Maharaja

During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh government's income from land revenue and other sources is shown in the following table :

Table showing income of the Sarkar-i-Khalsa for the year - 1838-39 A.D.

[Note : The following figures have been collected from papers of revenue office-year 1895 Bikrami (1838 A.D.). Income from Kashmir and Multan provinces was received in the form of contract. These figures have taken from the revenue papers for the year 1901-02 Bikrami (1844 A.D.), where the five-yearly account of these provinces has been entered at one place. The income from jagirs has not been entered at any one place. These have been taken from the entries available at different places which are approximately correct.

I. Land Revenues

(i)

Suba-i-Lahore

Rs.

11,494,221

(ii)

Suba-i-Multan

Rs.

2,726,300

(iii)

Suba-i-Kashmir

Rs.

2,115,590

(iv)

Suba-i-Peshawar

Rs.

1,221,630

 

 

Total

Rs.

17,557,741

II. Tributes

(i)

Specified

Rs.

281,557

(ii)

Non-specified

Rs.

322,100

 

 

Total

Rs.

603,657

III. Octroi, Customs, Etc.

(i)

Octroi & customs

Rs.

980,303

(ii)

Excise duty

Rs.

8,696

(iii)

Custom duty

Rs.

78,660

(iv)

Salt mines

Rs.

463,975

 

 

Total

Rs.

1,531,634

IV. Demesne (Personal) estates of the Maharaja

Rs.

8,800,000

 

 

Total Income(Annual estimated)

 

Rs.

28,493,032

[Note : During the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, standard currency was struck under the name of Zarab (Nanak Shahi mint, Amritsar). It contained eleven mashahs and two rattis of silver.

Chart Shoring Annual Expenditure of Sarkar-i-Khalsa

[Note : The under mentioned amounts have been collected from different papers and from different heads. All these amounts are approximately correct].

1.

King's privy purse

Rs.

400,000

2.

Special palace courts

Rs.

41,000

3.

Hospitality, etc.

Rs.

150,000

4.

Endowments

Rs.

120,000

5.

Daily pensioners - Rozina1

Rs.

760,000

6.

Professionals

Rs.

251,300

7.

Officer’s jagirs

Rs.

396,000

8.

Staff

Rs.

125,000

9.

Princes' Allowances2

Rs.

155,000

10.

Prizes and Robes of Honour

Rs.

320,000

11.

Gulabkhana3

Rs.

2,000

12.

Special Stable

Rs.

500,000

13.

Stores and Stocks

Rs.

150,000

 

Grand Total4

Rs.

3,370,300

 

Administration of the Kingdom

Maharaja Ranjit Singh could not pay much attention towards financial and civil administration of his kingdom. The reasons are quite evident. Ranjit Singh was not a literate person. The burden of state had fallen on his shoulders at an early age because of the death of his father. Therefore he could not give attention to his education. Even during the life-time of his father, Sardar Mahan Singh, he did not get any chance to receive education because Sardar Mahan Singh remained busy in strengthening his tiny state. Ranjit Singh had not inherited a big kingdom to administer by which he could have acquired practical experience in the art of administration. Besides this, Sikh Sardars had known only the ways of conquest of territories since generations. For financial and civil administration they neither showed any inclination, nor did they get time enough in an age of anarchy and constant warfare to understand its necessity and importance. This job they usually left to their Hindu accountants and managers. These were the practices which Ranjit Singh had known since his adolescence. Ever since his boyhood; he had to struggle hard to save his small state from the enemies. He was not yet twenty years old when he occupied Lahore. Thereafter he yearned to consolidate the scattered might of the Sikhs and cast it in a steel mould. Therefore, from the very beginning, this task received his full attention and he remained continuously busy with accomplishing conquests one after the other for a period of twenty five years.

There were yet other difficulties in the Maharaja's way. This aspect of administration could be attended to with the help and active support of only such people who possessed complete knowledge and practical experience of the principles of financial and civil affairs of the state. But in the Punjab the system of regular government had fully broken down during the past sixty or seventy years of turmoil. It was therefore difficult to find competent people to organise administration of the emerging state. Despite this, the Maharaja tried his best to organise the departments of his government. He was always on the look-out for such people who were acquainted with the art of government. Therefore, when in 1809 A.D., Diwan Bhiwani Das of the government of Kabul presented himself before the Maharaja, he was immediately taken into service. Diwan Bhiwani Das laid the foundations of a systematic government organisation. He opened departmental offices and treasuries and started maintaining accounts of income and expenditure. After that, the Maharaja employed Diwan Ganga Ram, and then Diwan Dina Nath who came from Delhi also joined. They performed admirable service in organising the financial administration of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. All the papers pertaining to these departments since the date these offices were established up to the annexation of the Khalsa kingdom are available in the Records Office of the Punjab Government. From their study it transpires that civil administration of Maharaja Ranjit Singh functioned in an efficient manner.

Civil Administration

Nazims or governors were appointed for administering the provinces of Multan, Kashmir and Peshawar. In Lahore province kardars (sub- divisional administrators) were appointed parganah wise. Later on several parganahs were merged to form bigger units and senior officers were appointed above the kardars for their administration. For example, the status of districts like Jalandhar, Kangra, Wazirabad and Gujrat was deemed to be equal to that of a division in the modern sense. Nazim (Governor) of a province was responsible for the entire administration. These officials' functioned under the fear of the Maharaja’s sternness and they could not dare create maladministration. The Maharaja often toured the length and breadth of his entire kingdom and enquired from headmen of villages and other notables about the affairs of administration and conduct of his officials. The Maharaja's aim was the well-being of his subjects in every respect. The people of the kingdom also loved him from the core of their hearts.5

Land Revenue

Maharaja Ranjit Singh did not make any significant change in the assessment of land revenue. According to custom of the age, one third and a half of the produce was taken as land rent or revenue. The tiller of land was provided several facilities. Many times money was given from the royal treasury as agricultural loans. No creditor could attach peasants' produce, cattle or plough for recovery of a loan. The cultivators were encouraged and given aid for digging of new wells according to needs.6

Courts and Punishments

The concept of justice in that age and court procedures were simple and straight forward. Civil cases were decided by village panchayats (councils). Until the beginning of British rule, Panchayat System was effective in the Punjab. Cases of recovery of loans were decided by the kardar, of a taluqah (a unit of a group of villages), with the help of local panches, or members of a panchayat. After the implementation of a court-decree, the government recovered twenty five per cent of the decreed amount from the decree-holder as court-fee. Criminal cases were decided in the courts of the kardars and the accused were awarded punishments. During investigation of theft cases, help was taken from foot-print experts (Khojis). When the foot-print track led to and reached a certain village, it became the collective responsibility of the village, as a whole, to produce the thief. The village panchayat made efforts and got the accused arrested. There used to be no regular prisons like the present times, nor was there a penal code listing different kinds of offences. Usually punishment was in the form of fine. Caning or lashes were also inflicted. Sometimes, for serious offences, limbs of the body such as hand, nose, ear, etc. were severed as punishment. During our-study, there is no mention of the Maharaja having awarded death sentence by hanging. Contrary to this, there have been one or two instances where he reprimanded his governors for having awarded death sentence to one or two convicts.7 In the same sequence another British historian writes that when he expressed surprise at the punishment of cutting of hand which the Maharaja had suggested in his presence for someone, the Maharaja had said addressing him, “we do award punishment but we do not take any one's life.” Sometimes strange kinds of punishments were given; for instance the culprit was branded with hot iron on the forehead, or his face was blackened and mounted on a donkey, was taken around the town through lanes and streets. Among papers concerning the army, a mention has been found at one place that when, in 1841 A.D., the sepoys of Lafont Ferringhee's battalion mutinied, some of them were dismissed from service and some were fined. One ear of Sepoy Kahn Singh was chopped off and his forehead was branded. Jami'at Singh proved his innocence by dipping his hand in a cauldron of boiling oil. Therefore, he was not only pardoned but was promoted from seopy to Nayak.8

Maharaja's Treasury and Toshakhana (Treasure House of Valuables)

Munshi Sohan Lai has mentioned once or twice in Umdat-ut-Twarikh that in the beginning, the Maharaja's treasury usually remained short of money and sometimes the payment of salaries to the army fell in arrears. Once even a paltry amount of ten thousand rupees was not available for disbursement of salaries. At last, Diwan Mohkam Chand took five hundred rupees from the Maharaja, made partial payment of salaries to his soldiers and set out to collect tribute. He collected money from the small and big chiefs, facilitated disbursement of pay to the army men and thus saved the Maharaja's prestige. After ruling for forty years, the Maharaja left in his treasury tens of millions of rupees in cash, gold coins and precious stones of the value of about two million rupees at the time of his death. Besides these, the best, known and priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond was the pride possession of his Toshahkhana (the treasure house of valuables). At the time of the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, Ranjit Singh's Toshahkhanah fell into the hands of the British and Dr. Login was appointed as custodian of Toshakhana. He prepared an inventory of all the articles (cash and valuable) contained therein. Out of them, he made a mention of following articles in one of his letters to his wife, in England : Koh-i- Noor, innumerable precious stones and gems, cash and commodities, gold and silver cups, plates, tumblers, jugs with curved spouts, cooking utensils, high-priced Kashmir shawls, gowns and trousers, Maharaja's golden chair, a silver pavilion with twelve doors, a Kashmiri tent and canopy including silver poles, armour with inset gems, Shah Shuja's tent, Gum Gobind Singh's plume, some memorial items of Prophet Mohammad, and the dress which the Maharaja's father, Sardar Mahan Singh had donned at the time of his marriage etc.9 This precious toshahkhana full of riches was the result of prowess of the Maharaja and the prosperity of his kingdom.

Maharaja's Stable

Ranjit Singh was very fond of horses. Whenever he came to know of a beautiful and swift-footed horse available anywhere he ensured its possession for himself. Horses worth twenty-five thousand rupees were bought every year. In the Maharaja's stable one thousand excellent horses were reserved for his personal riding. Out of them some were of pure Arab breed and some belonged to Persian pedigree. Some rare and choicest horses of the time, e.g. Laila, Gauharbar and Safed Pari, were taken from Sultan Mohammad Khan, ruler of Peshawar on various occasions. High-priced saddles and accoutrements were got prepared for them. The Maharaja rode them with special fondness. Ranjit Singh was considered an extraordinary expert rider of his age.

Besides horses, hundreds of elephants also found place in the Maharaja's filkhanas (elephant stables). Hugal, in his travelogue of Kashmir, makes a mention of the stable of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He says that the Maharaja possessed about one hundred grandiose and pomp­ous elephants for his personal carnage. Hugal was wonderstruck at the sight of their adornment and howdahs of gold and silver. He says that the Maharaja spent over one hundred thousand rupees a year on the decoration of his elephants, and forty thousand rupees were spent on their feed and fodder.

Maharaja's Army

A larger portion of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army was well trained. Like European armies, it was divided into infantry battalions and cavalry regiments, and was fully trained in combatant drill. Its uniform was also, like that of European armies which comprised of jacket and pantaloons.

Need for Trained Army

The idea of reorganising the Khalsa army on European lines first occurred to Maharaja Ranjit Singh probably in 1805 A.D. Those days Maratha Raja; Jaswant Rao Holkar came to Amritsar to seek asylum with the Maharaja, Jaswant Rao's army had formations and dresses like the European armies. Ranjit Singh saw this army at drill. The far­sighted Maharaja at once perceived that in the battlefield a trained army would certainly out-do an untrained one. During 1809, the Maharaja saw with his own eyes a small trained contingent of Metcalfe fighting with brave Akalis at Amritsar. That made him more convinced of the superiority of a trained army.10

Therefore the Maharaja decided in his mind to take steps to train and reorganise his army on the European model. He came to believe that the training of his forces would be beneficial on all counts. Khalsa soldier, who was already an intrepid fighter and brave, would become invincible after receiving proper training, i.e. it would work as borax on gold. No enemy would then be able to stand before his army.

The Maharaja took to implementation of his plans to train the army on priority basis because of the British presence on the left bank of river Sutlej in consequence of the Treaty of Amritsar signed in 1809 A.D. The Maharaja was a far-sighted person. He thought that if at any time, it became necessary to face his European neighbour, he could successfully match them only with a trained army.

Measures Adopted to reorganise the Army

In the beginning, in order to train his Khalsa soldiers in drill on the English model, Ranjit Singh employed men who had served in the British army in junior ranks such as corporals, etc., and who had either deserted or had been dismissed from there. They were mostly natives of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, and were known in Punjab as Purabias, Hindustanis or Bhaaiyas. Thus, to begin with the Maharaja raised five mixed battalions of Sikhs and Purbias." Later, the Maharaja employed, French and British officers on high salaries, who trained the Khalsa army exactly on the European pattern.12

Ranjit Singh had to face great difficulty and even counter resistance on the part of Sikh soldiers who were used to fighting on the horseback only The Sikh soldier was not accustomed to be a foot soldier in infantry and fighting while carrying a muskat over his shoulder. Nor could he imagine to be subjected to the rigors of any military discipline. Thus Khalsa soldiers often cut jokes at the soldiers enlisted in the new battalions raised by the Maharaja. But the Maharaja remained firm in his resolve because he had rightly imagined that the Khalsa soldiers would not easily reconcile to the idea of usefulness or superiority of European training. Therefore, he began enrolling young Sikh boys in infantry battalions by giving them jagirs, prizes and such other inducements. To encourage them, the Maharaja personally saw them at parade, expressed his happiness at their performance, personally distributed prizes so that Sikh youth would begin enlisting themselves and the respect and status of infantry would increase in their minds. And it did happen. Within eight to ten years the continuous efforts of the Maharaja bore fruit, and this section of the army became generally popular among the Sikhs.'3 By the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's death the strength of the trained Sikh infantry had reached twenty-seven thousand divided into thirty-one battalions whose expenditure on monthly salary was about two hundred and twenty seven thousand rupees.14

Maharaja's Artillery

As in the case of infantry, Maharaja Ranjit Singh also made special efforts to augment his artillery. The truth is that before the advent of European nations in India, there had been very few people in our country who properly understood the importance of art and science of gunnery. However good the Mughal artillery and gunners might have been, their guns were no match to European artillery. The same was the position in post-Mughal period. Heads of the Sikh misls possessed not many cannons nor they had any knowledge of the manufacture of artillery. The Maharaja well understood the fact that mounted army could not stand for long against the fire rained by artillery Therefore he firmly resolved from the beginning of his reign to provide the Khalsa army with an effective artillery organisation. Huge sums of money were spent to set up foundries for manufacture of guns. Proficient mechanics were employed from different places in Punjab and were set on this job. As a result of the Maharaja's efforts, the artisans of Punjab soon became master craftsmen in the art of gun-manufacture, and they began to make excellent, beautiful and effective guns for the Khalsa army. Guns made in Maharaja's workshops were in no way inferior to the European guns. On the other hand they proved better as vouchsafed by many a European artillery officer. In 1831 A.D. Lord William Bentinck had given a few guns as gift to the Maharaja. The latter got many guns of the same type manufactured. Such was the quality of guns produced by artillery workshops of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that six years later, when Sir Henry Fane, the British Commander-in-Chief, visited Lahore, he could not recognise the guns presented by Lord William Bentinck to the Maharaja.15

The Maharaja had given very attractive names to his guns like Jang Bijli, Fateh Jang, ZafarJang, Nashtar Jang, Sher Dhan, Surajmukhi, etc. Name and year of manufacture of each cannon was inscribed thereon. Besides, there was some text and in some cases verses inscribed on the guns, by decoding which date of manufacture could be known.

At the time of the Maharaja's death, there were some four hundred and seventy guns, large and small, the monthly pay of whose gunness was about thirty-three thousand rupees.16 In gunnery, Sikh soldiers had become so expert that during the Anglo-Sikh war 1845-46, the Sikh gunners faced the British artillery with expertise and bravery of a very high order, and won spontaneous admiration even from the enemy.

Modernisation of Cavalry

Besides infantry and artillery, the Maharaja made significant modifications in his mounted troops as well. The task of organisation of cavalry units on modern lines, was entrusted to a French Officer, General Allard. Except some changes in formations; not much change could be effected in cavalary because the Khalsa soldier was already adept in the art of in fighting on horseback, and was not willing to change his typical tactics.

Traditional Cavalry

Cavalry of traditional type consisted mostly of the Sikh soldiers. A major part of it was a conglomerate of soldiers who at one time had been with those independent misldars whom the Maharaja had conquered from time to time. The Maharaja, after the subjugating the misls, used to take over their troopers and merge them in his own army. It was his policy to enlist brave soldiers and to leave the vanquished chiefs and their fighting soldiers in harness. He acted upon the Persian adage: “God's land is not narrow (and) the beggar's foot is not lame,” meaning thereby that the world provides enough opportunities for the ambitious and beggars have enough area to traverse. The Maharaja kept them busy in expanding the Khalsa's domain. A year before the Maharaja's death, the strength of his cavalry was close the figure of eleven thousands and their annual salary expenses amounted to nearly three million and two hundred thousand rupees.

Jagirdari Forces

Besides the above, big jagirdars were also expected to maintain fixed number of traditional cavalry men called Ghorcharas. This was in fact a continuation of the practice Mughal Mansadari system. The Sikh misldars who accepted the supremacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh constituted the mainstay of this system along with their forces. However, their number continued to decline. The Maharaja, in order to maintain their dignity and status, used to give the misldars, jagirs, so as to bind them to render military service for the state. Therefore every jagirdar had to maintain a specified number of horsemen depending upon the size of his jagir, and participate in campaigns whenever called upon to do so by the Maharaja. All arrangements for the supply of arms, dresses and horses for these contingents were made by the jagirdar concerned. All these conditions were entered in their written deeds signed at the time of grant of jagir. Descriptive rolls of each Ghorchara (as the cavalry man was called) was maintained by the jagirdar, a copy of it was kept in the government's office so that a jagirdar could not commit fraud of any kind. These conditions were not only laid down on paper but were actually enforced during the Maharaja's reign. The jagirdari contingents were checked from time to time and in case of discrepancy even the highest of the chiefs were not spared from punishment.17 Although exact details of the traditional army cannot be ascertained from the papers of the Maharaja's office, yet according to our estimate its strength at the time of the Maharaja's death was not less than five or six thousand, because jagirs worth over two million twenty five thousand were speci­fied for their maintenance.

The Impress of the Bravery of the Khalsa Army

Because of the advent of European nations into India, the traditional mode of warfare had not remained effective. As a consequence Indian armies had always to face defeat before the European armies. Through his farsightedness and sharp intellect, Maharaja Ranjit Singh grasped this reality all at once, and remained engaged in consistent efforts to make the Khalsa army an invincible force. Thus, in 1846 when four very bloody battles were fought between the British and the Sikhs, the Khalsa army proved equal to the British forces despite the fact that the Maharaja had died and there was no capable general of integrity who could inspire and lead the troops. The British commander-in-chief, Lord Gough, himself acknowledges this fact: “If the Khalsa army had a competent general who could provide them with opportunity to demonstrate their skill in art of warfare, we cannot say what would have been the result of this war.”

Opinions of the Europeans

Englishmen and other European travelers often visited the Maharaja's court. The Maharaja used to show them the feats of his army. We give below some of the opinions expressed by them about the Khalsa army:

William Osborne writes on page 134 of his book :

“On the morning of June 24, 1838, we went to see the parade of Maharaja's artillery. We were greatly surprised to see their target practice. The Sikh gunners aimed at the target so well from two-hundred yards that their very first fire broke the target into pieces. Their firing from eight hundred yards to twelve hundred yards was similarly without error. Our wonder knew no bounds when we came to know that the guns and ammunition of that type had been introduced only a short while ago.”

Baron Hugal, an Austrian traveler visited Lahore during 1835-36. He writes in his travelogue:

"Ranjit Singh several times gave me the honour of witnessing the martial skill of his armies. Every time I have been wonderstruck by their smartness, awe-inspiring visage and flawless firing. I can say with justification that this army is far better than any European army enlisted during the same period. On seeing their military competence, I can say with a firm belief that this army shall be victo­rious over any foreign army. Austrian armies are world-famous for their correct target firing, but the Khalsa army is ahead of them. All the bullets and shells which they fired hit the target. There was not a single miss."

William Barr and William Osborne write that:

Khalsa army while marching lift their feet in the same sequence as do the British or any other European army, but in long marches the Khalsa army is ahead of our armies. They can easily march from one place to another. While marching they are not dependent for transportation of goods like our forces. Every regiment has with it a contractor who meets their requirements. The time and expenditure spent by a thirty thousand strong Sikh army to easily march for a certain distance shall remain the same with difficulty, in case of our three-thousand strong force.

Maharaja's Military Strength

A cursory glance at the following table shall provide a complete estimate of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's military strength and expenditure:

Table showing strength and expenditure of the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh 1838-39

Description

Annual Salary in rupees

I. Trained army

 

 

(a) Infantry

28,600

2,750,000

(b) Cavalry

4,600

1,230,000

(c) Artillery

4,800

400,000

II. Mounted troops (Choreharas)

 

 

(a) Deras (Camps) under the Chiefs

9,600

2,520,000

(b) Reserve cavalry (Ghorchara Khas)

1,200

236,000

(c) Jagirdari Deras (Camps)

3,400

1,600,000

III. Fort garrisons

10,000

600,000

Total

72,200

9,736,000

IV. Pay of English and French Officers entered separately in the records estimated

200,000

9,936,000

                          

[Note : Besides the above amounts, about eight hundred thousand rupees per year additional expenditure was incurred on the military department. This included expenses on army's uniforms, transportation of goods and magazine, etc. This means that total expenditure of the army organisation came approximately to ten million and seven hundred thirty six thousand rupees; which comes to about thirty-eight per cent of the Maharaja's total income.]

Table Showing Rates of monthly pay of the Officers and other ranks of Ranjit Singh’s army

Rank

Initial Pay (Rupees)

Maximum Pay (Rupees)

General

400

460

Colonel

300

350

Commandant

60

150

Adjutant

30

60

Major

21

25

Subedar

20

30

Jemadar

15

22

Havildar

13

15

Naik

10

12

Sergeant

8

12

Farrier

8.5

10

Soir (Sepoy)

8

8.5

Amlah [menial staff] including Khalasi [Firing-range worker], saqqah [water-carrier], ghariali [stable-boy], sarban [cameleer], alambardar [standard-bearer] and langari [cook] got four rupees per month; however, beldar (labour supervisor] got five rupees and mistri (armourer, carpenter] six rupees per month.

Policy of the Maharaja

The Maharaja was beyond doubt a political strategist par excellence. Even his courtiers could not fully comprehend the object of his moves. In fact the Maharaja's policy used to be so profound and far-sighted that even intelligent and an extra-ordinarily sharp chief could not reach that far. The truth is that the Maharaja was a connoisseur of human nature. His effort often used to be that even after subduing his adversaries; the latter were not made to feel that their status and prestige had been compromised. Men whose ambition is to found empires, unhesitatingly act upon the policy of conquest of territories. Ranjit Singh too followed this policy throughout his career. Therefore, in our opinion it is useless to search for the reasons of his conquests. We find that his only objective was to weld the small and diverse principalities of the Sikh Sardars, situated amidst inhospitable regions into a powerful kingdom. In his quest to achieve this end, the Maharaja conquered far off territories of Multan, Kashmir, Peshawar and Ladakh and raised the Khalsa flag over them. We do not entertain the least doubt that had river Sutlej not been accepted as boundary with the British government, the Maharaja would have surely expanded the sphere of his conquests up to the bank of Yamana River.

Pleasant Elements

But in his excitement for conquest, the Maharaja had not forgotten everything. His policy of capturing territory also included within it a pleasant feature that he did not push out the conquered rulers, but appointed them in his own service on responsible posts commensurate with their status and caliber, and he bestowed upon them large jagirs for their maintenance and comfort. This open-heartedness was not limited to Sikh sardars alone, but Muhammadan chiefs were also treated in the same way. Nawab Qutab-ud-Din (former ruler of Qasur), Nawab, Hafiz Ahmad Khan of Mankera, Nawab Sarfraz Khan Multani and other big and small chiefs received jagirs and pensions from the Maharaja. They were given respect and honour in the Court according to their rank and status.

Question of Religion and Social Friendship

The kingdom of the Maharaja was equally the government of all Sikhs. Every Sikh possessed full and equal right irrespective of his rank and position. But doors of government were also open to the non-Sikhs as well, in accordance with the standards of their merit and competence. In fact in our opinion, the question of discrimination on account of belief and religion had never come to the fore during the Maharaja's reign. In the beginning the senior most officer of the Maharaja's artillery was Mian Ghaus Khan. After his death, his son, Sultan Mahmud Khan slowly rose to his father's rank. In the royal court no one else possessed rank and status as courtier equal to that of Faqir Aziz-ud-Din. Only Faqir Aziz- ud-Din was appointed for delicate and special civil embassies. Diwan Mohkam Chand and Misr Diwan Chand were among the select and popular generals of the Khalsa army. Diwans Moti Ram and Sawan Mai were top class governors who were entrusted with the administration of the largest of the provinces of the kingdom. The people of Multan till today remember the name of Diwan Sawan Mai with pride and love. During his twenty four years long governorship, Multan saw the best period of development and prosperity. The account of income and expenditure of the entire kingdom used to be under the supervision of Diwan Bhiwani Das, Diwan Ganga Ram and Raja Dina Nath. Government treasury and toshahkhana (storehouse of valuables) used to be under Misr Beli Ram and his brothers. Perhaps no other courtier possessed as much influence in the court of the Maharaja as was enjoyed by Mian Raja Dhian Singh and his brother Mian Raja Gulab Singh Dogra during the last part of the Maharaja's life. To conclude, it can be said that we may study this question from any aspect, we get only one answer: that the Maharaja's administrative policy was based on the principles of toleration and open-heartedness, and there existed no discrimination with any section of society on the basis of religion and social disparities.18

Notes & References

  1.  Rozina means payments made to such pensioners or jagirdars who were given subsistence allowance on daily basis.
  2.  These were pensions given to Prince Ayub Shah Abdali and Nawab Sarfaraz Khan of Multan.
  3.  Gulabkhanu stands for hospital.

The meaning of Gulab Khana construed by the author as above; is not correct. Gulab Khana was an essence repository where usually rose water was stored for sprinkling the same on the dignitaries. - Editor

  1.  This total does not include expenditure on army which is entered in the chart of military expenditure and will be found in the following pages.
  2.  We have seen several regulations (Dastur-ul-amal) in which duties of district officers are entered. The most important duty mentioned in all of them is described thus : “the primary duty of each officer is to ensure the welfare of the people.”
  3.  For detailed account of Ranjit Singh's revenue system see the author's essay in English published in 1918 A.D. Journal of I he Punjab Historical Society.
  4.  For details see Honigberger's book Thirty five Years in the East.
  5.  For details see author's essay published in Journal of Indian History. Madras.
  6.  See Login and Duleep Singh, page 182.
  7.  This has also been mentioned in a preceding chapter of this book.
  8.  Charles Metcalf had seen these battalions with his own eyes; he mentions this in his letters.
  9.  A detailed list of these officers is given at the end of this book.
  10.  This may be confirmed by looking through the papers of army department of the offices of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In the papers pertaining to these new battalions prior to 1813 A.D., often the names of Purbias. Hindustanis, Gurkhas and Pathans appear frequently. Later on Sikh names are found in majority.
  11.  For details about infantry, see the author's essay published in Journal of Indian History, February 1922.
  12.  Sardar Lahena Singh Majithia made handsome contribution towards the establishment of gun factories and high quality production of artillery pieces. This Chief was well-known for his intelligence and knowledge of astronomy, mathematics and science. For detailed account, see Griffin's Punjab Chiefs, volume I.
  13.  This number does not include guns kept in different forts. Light guns were called zumburaks. These were fired from camel-back. For a detailed account of artillery, see the author’s article published in Journal of Indian History, September 1922 A.D.
  14.  Once for a mistake of this nature a highly placed chief like Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa was held liable to punishment. See Umdat-ut-Twarikh, Daftar 11, page 271.
  15. It is often said that it was the presence of these unfavourable and antagonistic elements in the Maharaja's court which in the end became a strong reason for the fall of the Sikh kingdom, especially that the Dogra and Brahman elements had no respect for the Sikh identity and aspirations. Here we shall not raise a discussion as to how much truth and how much exaggeration this contentious view contains. A detailed and full discussion on this will be taken up in the second volume of this very series.