News & Updates

August 24, 2017

 

Kurukshetra Sakhi and Meat – Debunks the theory that Guru Sahib advocated meat eating at Kurukshetra through revealed Shabads of ‘Maas Maas Kar’.

 

May 08, 2017

 

KuTha Meat in Gurmat – Explores the correct definition of KuTha in light of Gurmat and Islamic sources to ascertain whether Sikhs are prohibited from eating only Islamic or any meat.

 

Check Past Updates

Find Us On...

Find Sikhism: Sikh Religion, Beliefs, Philosophy and Principles on FacebookFind Sikhism: Sikh Religion, Beliefs, Philosophy and Principles on Twitter

The Koh-i-Noor and Other Affairs

Marriage of Prince Kharak Singh

Preparations for Prince Kharak Singh's marriage commenced in January 1812. Sweetmeats as well as invitations for joining the marriage party were sent to rulers of Cis-Sutlej States, and all the Chiefs and the elite of the Punjab. British government was also invited through Mr. Metcalfe and the Resident at Delhi. Accordingly Colonel Ochterlony also got permission to join the marriage party. Raja Bhag Singh of Jind, Raja Jaswant Singh of Nabha and Bhai Lal Singh ruler of Kaithal accompanied the said Colonel and congratulated the Maharaja. The honourable officiating heads of Bahawalpore, Multan and Mankerah also arrived. Raja Sansar Chand and other hill rajas also joined the festivities.

Diwan Amar Nath and Munshi Sohan Lal write in their books detailed account of this marriage. It transpires from their writings that on this occasion the Maharaja remained liberal in incurring expenditure. All sepoys and officers of the army were given, according to their ranks, new dresses, Kalghis gold necklaces etc., and they joined the marriage party in full regalia. The pyrotechnics extracted spontaneous applause and approbation from the audience by their wonderful display of fireworks. The Maharaja received about two hundred and thirty-six thousand rupees as wedding presents in cash.1

Departure of the Marriage Party

Leaving Lahore, the marriage party halted at Amritsar and then at Majitha, and from there it left with great pomp in a procession of elephants and reached the house of Jaimal Singh Kanheya in the town of Fatehpur in district Gurdaspur. All members of the marriage party were wearing glittering dresses. The Kanheya chief left no stone unturned in hospitality. There flowed cash like water. Diwan Amar Nath writes that he offered fifty thousand rupees to the Maharaja as offering at the time of the meeting (milni) ceremony, and continued to send fifteen thousand rupees daily as the Maharaja's feast. At the time of departure he offered to each guest a turban or a robe depending on his rank. The costly dowry included elephants, horses, camels, innumerable vessels of gold and silver and dresses of gold lace and brocade. The marriage party returned to Lahore on February 6, 1817. On way back the Maharaja stayed at Amritsar and offered a large sum of money at Darbar Sahib as offering in connection with the marriage function.

Hospitality of the British Agent

On this occasion the Maharaja paid special attention towards the hospitality of the British Agent, Colonel Ochterlony and took full advantage of the occasion by trying to remain in constant touch with him and remove all misgivings which he had held about the Maharaja. Back at Lahore, the Maharaja kept him for a few more days as his personal guest. During this time, he was taken round the Lahore fort and was invited to witness troops on parade. Prinsep writes in his book that while the Maharaja showed to the British Agent his fort and munitions of war, Diwan Mohkam Chand and Sardar Ganda Singh opposed him. But Ranjit Singh, according to his virtuous nature, when once made someone his friend, he did not keep anything hidden from him.

Kabul Government's Vakil at Lahore

By then, it had become crystal clear that the Durrani empire was disintegrating. Due to frequent changes in their central government, the governors of Peshawar, Attock and Kashmir refused to owe allegiance to Kabul. Therefore when Shah Mahmud and Wazir Fateh Khan regained power, they decided to subdue Atta Mohammad Khan, Subahdar of Kashmir. But at that time Ranjit Singh had gained strength and they knew it full well. Jammu, Jehlum and Gujrat which had remained entry doors for the Kashmir Valley, had been occupied by the Maharaja. Therefore, strategically, it would be not be prudent to invade Kashmir without the consent of the Maharaja. Wazir Fateh Khan sent his reliable Vakil Godar Mai, to Maharaja’s court to broach the subject. The latter reached the Lahore Darbar with exquisite presents from Afghanistan in December 1812 A.D. and delivered his master’s message. The Maharaja gave him a patient hearing but put him off by saying that he was busy with the arrangements for his son’s marriage, and that he would help Wazir Fateh Khan after that. The Afghan Vakil went back disappointed.

Attack on Bhimbar, Rajouri and Akhnoor - May 1812

As soon as the Maharaja was free from the affairs of marriage, he turned his attention towards Bhimbar and Rajouri area, and he also resolved to completely occupy Jammu and Kashmir. The above named places provided openings to the Kashmir Valley from the eastern side. Therefore the conquest of these places was an essential prelude to the conquest of Kashmir. Bhai Ram Singh was entrusted with this task and he advanced towards Bhimbar with a large army under the over-all command of Prince Kharak Singh. Raja Sultan Khan of Bhimbar and Raja Ugar Khan of Rajouri offered stiff resistance. But after the arrival of reinforcements under Diwan Mohkam Chand their resistance gave way. The Maharaja detained the above named Chiefs at Lahore for some time. Akhnoor was annexed to the kingdom of Lahore.

Wafa Begum and the Koh-i-Noor

When Shah Shaja’-ul-Mulk was imprisoned in Kashmir his queens and princes had come to Lahore. The Maharaja had given them asylum and extended to them facilities befitting their status and dignity. When the queens of Shah Shujah came to know of the intention of Wazir Fateh Khan and Shah Mahmud to conquer Kashmir, they got panic stricken. Shah Shujah and Shah Mahmud were sworn enemies and Shah Mahmud was known to be a heartless tyrant by nature. He had blinded his second brother Shah Zaman by getting his eyes extracted. The Begams of Shah Shujah feared that after the conquest of Kashmir, the cruel Shah Mahmud might treat Shah Shujah in the same manner. When Shah’s wife, Wafa Begum, heard that the Maharaja was planning to dispatch some of his contingents to accompany Fateh Khan to Kashmir, she sent a message to the Maharaja through Faqir Aziz-ud-Din and Diwan Bhiwani Das that if he rescued Shah Shujah from imprisonment and the latter reached Lahore safely to join his family, she would present the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond to the Maharaja as token of gratitude. Ranjit Singh accepted this, and when his army was about to move to Kashmir, the Maharaja strictly enjoined General Mohkam Chand that howsoever possible, he should in all probability bring Shah Shujah alive; to Lahore.2

Wazir Fateh Khan's Meeting with the Maharaja - November 1812 A.D.

When Fateh Khan's Vakil, Godar Mai, went back to Kabul and reported Ranjit Singh's response, Fateh Khan started making prepara­tions for the expedition of Kashmir, and in November 1812 A.D. he crossed river Attack and advanced toward the Punjab. The Maharaja too crossed the River Jehlum with his army and encamped near Rohtas. Both met in Maharaja's camp and decided to undertake a joint expedition. On the Maharaja's advice, Wazir Fateh Khan agreed that instead of Muzaffarabad route, which was likely to be covered with snow at that time and would be difficult to pass through, they should march via the Bhimbar and Rajouri and enter the Kashmir Valley by crossing the Pir Panjal.

Maharaja's considerations for a Joint Expedition

The Maharaja consulted his commanders and ministers regarding his proposal for a joint expedition. All of them opined to take advantage of that opportunity because that would facilitate the release of Shah Shujah from the governor of Kashmir. He had in mind Wafa Begam’s promise of presenting to him the Koh-i-Noor diamond in case the Maharaja secured the safe release of Shah Shujah. He was also prepared to launch an expedition to Kashmir on his own. Secondly, the Lion of Punjab himself wanted to conquer Kashmir. With this end in view, the Maharaja wanted the armies of the Khalsa to get familiar with both the valleys and the hilly terrain which could prove useful to them later.

Journey to Kashmir

Therefore twelve thousand Sikh young men under the command of Sardars Dal Singh and Jiwan Singh Pindiwala, and under the hill Rajas of Jasrota, Basohli, Nurpur, etc., set out for Kashmir. Diwan Mohkam Chand was named as the campaign commander. Both sections of the army left Jehlum on December 1, 1812 A.D., and travelling by the Bhimbar, Rajouri and Thai route they crossed Pir Panjal and entered the valley of Kashmir.

Reassurance and Consolation to Wafa Begum

From Jehlum, Ranjit Singh went back to Lahore, and sent Faqir Aziz-ud-Din and Diwan Bhiwani Das to Wafa Begum to tell her that Khalsa Commanders had been given specific instructions to get Shah Shujah released and bring him safely to Lahore. At this, Wafa Begum sent her reliable courtiers Mir Abu-al-Hasan, Mulla Ja'far and Qazi Sher Mohammad to the Maharaja with the message that she would surely honour her promise. “As soon as”, she said, “Shah Shujah reaches Lahore, that piece of diamond will be presented to you without hesitation or hinderance.”3

Shrewdness of Diwan Mohkam Chand

Both armies were marching fast. The Sikhs as well as the Afghans wanted to excel each other in strength and bravery. Each one of the commanders desired that their armies should prove their prowess and dash. In this struggle the Afghan army, which was well accustomed to cross difficult hilly terrain, got much ahead of the Khalsa army. However, Diwan Mohkam Chand was a great planner. He at once motivated the rajas of Bhimbar and Rajouri, who were in the vanguard the Khalsa army, with the promise of big jagirs and asked them to guide Khalsa army through such a route by which they might reach Kashmir Valley along with the Afghan army. Mohkam Chand’s strategy had the desired effect and the Khalsa army entered the Valley of Kashmir ahead of Fateh Khan's army.

Conquest of the Fort of Shergarh

When Atta Muhammad Khan learnt about this invasion, he strengthened his defences to stop the advance of these armies near the fort of Shergarh. He made the narrow passes and difficult routes impassable by closing them with rocks and trees. Winter had also fully set in. It was snowing heavily. The Khalsa army was not used to fight in such an intense cold weather. It therefore lost about two hundred soldiers.4 Food products became scarce. But these hardships did not deter the Sikhs, and they continued to advance side by side with the Afghan army. Shergarh was besieged. Atta Muhammad fought tenaciously for some time but was overpowered at last. The Khalsa and Afghan armies took possession of the fort. A huge quantity of costly goods fell into the hands of the conquerers.5 Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk was detained in this very fort with chains around his legs. He was at once brought to the camp of Diwan Mohkam Chand, who got his chains cut and comforted him with assurances of safety.

Unpleasantness between Mohkam Chand and Fateh Khan

Wazir Fateh Khan, too, searched for Shah Shujah immediately after entering the fort, but how could he find him there? He tried, unsuccessfully, to get the person Shah Shujah from Diwan Mohkam Chand, but the Diwan was wise to have predicted such an eventuality and had taken all precautions while keeping Shuja-ul-Mulk in his custody. This created unpleasantness between Wazir Fateh Khan and Diwan Mohkam Chand. Therefore, the Diwan parted company with the Afghan chief and returned to Lahore along with the Khalsa army and Shah Shujah. On reaching Wazirabad, the Diwan sent a detailed report to the Maharaja about all the happenings. Two days later, he reached Lahore. The Maharaja welcomed Shah Shujah with full warmth, and offered him a vast and spacious mansion for residenc which till today is famous as Haveli Mubarak or auspicious mansion.

Dispute over Koh-i-Noor

Now the Maharaja demanded the promised Koh-i-Noor, and for this purpose he sent Faqir Aziz-ud-Din and Bhai Ram Singh to the Shah. But parting with this very costly diamond was no simple matter. So, the Shah and his Begum evaded the issue and sent their own Vakils Habib Ullah Khan and Hafiz Ruh Allah Khan to the Maharaja in the fort. They pretended that Koh-i-Noor was not in their possession then and that Wafa Begum had mortgaged it with someone in Kandhar for sixty million rupees. The Shah had spent this amount, they said, on his expeditions. But how could a shrewd person like Ranjit Singh be taken in by such imaginary tales and averments that were hard to believe? He had spent two hundred thousand rupees on the Kashmir expedition only to get the Koh-i-Noor, and had lost hundreds of gallant Sikh soldiers. He himself and his generals had suffered many hardships and tribulations. Also, it was for the sake of the Shah that he had annoyed Wazir Fateh Khan in the end. Were a few evasive words enough to match the innumerable sacrifices? Naturally, he was extremely up-set for this procrastination. Shadi Khan Kotwal was ordered to immediately tighten the vigil around the Shah's house so that no one could enter or come out of it. After a few days a message was sent to the Shah saying that he would be paid for Koh-i-Noor three hundred thousand rupees in cash and a jagir worth fifty thousand rupees if he parted with the precious diamond. At last, forced by these tribulations, the Shah promised that the Koh-i-Noor would be handed over to the Maharaja within fifty days. When this period was about to end in the beginning of June 1813 A.D., the Maharaja (on Shah Shujah’s word) went to the Shah in his Haveli Mubarak, accompanied by one thousand horse and foot and a few nobles. Shah Shuja' stood up and welcomed the Maharaja and presented Koh-i-Noor to him. The Maharaja gave to the Shah a written undertaking that the guard around his house will be lifted and in future there would be no interference of any kind with him.

Opinions of Historians about the Koh-i-Noor Affair

Captain Murray, mentioning this incident in his report, and, following him, Sayyad Mohammad Latif, have tried to show that the Maharaja was avaricious. He deliberately frightened Wafa Begum about her husband’s life and then kindled the hope that if she promised to give him Koh-i-Noor, the Maharaja would get her husband released from the grip of Fateh Khan and would bring him to her safe and sound. Later he grabbed the diamond after subjecting them to many hardships. As opposed to this, Bhai (Baba) Prem Singh (Hoti) reveals in his book that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had not meddled in this matter. Wafa Begum had voluntarily assured Diwan Mohkam Chand and Faqir Aziz-ud-Din to present Koh-i-Noor to the Maharaja as a token of gratitude. These very two dignitaries tried to persuade the Begum to part with the diamond so that they might not be put to shame before the Maharaja. We are not interested in proving Maharaja Ranjit Singh innocent or otherwise. Our professional duty is only to present the bare facts correctly. In our opinion the views of the above historians are not free from prejudice. To colour or suppress the facts is their own doing. Our statement is based on the books of Munshi Sohan Lal and Diwan Amar Nath. Both of them were diarists in the court of the Maharaja, and as far as we perceive they have described the events correctly. While they have clearly made a mention of Begum’s promise, they have also written that when the Shah and his Begum showed reluctance to part with the Koh-i-Noor, the Maharaja ordered that strict vigil should be kept around their mansion and tortured the Shah as well.6

Shah Shuja also mentions this incident in his autobiography. Its close study reveals that the Shah was definitely put to some hardships, but not as much as Captain Murray would like us to believe. There is a lot of difference between what Captain Murray says and what Shah Shuja' himself states. (See Autobiography, Shah Shuja' Chapter 15).

Story of Shah Shuja

After the Koh-i-Noor episode Shah Shuja and his family stayed at Lahore for a year and a half. But the desire for kingship still remained kindling in his heart. (In the Shah's heart desire for kingship reappeared - Diwan Amar Nath). Therefore he resolved to run away from Lahore. On November 1, 1814 A.D., the Shah's Begums disappeared from Lahore and after crossing the river Sutlej, took asylum at Ludhiana. When the Maharaja came to know of this, he again established a police post (at the Mubarak Haveli) and ordered strict vigil to be kept. But during April 1815 A.D. Shah Shujah also escaped in disguise to get asylum at Ludhiana. There he stayed a pensioner of the British government till 1838 A.D. During this period he repeatedly tried to escape towards Kashmir, Peshawar, Sindh and Kabul, but each time he failed. At last he sat on the throne of Kabul in 1839 A.D. with the help of the British, but was murdered during the following year. The Maharaja had formed an opinion about Shah Shujah based on his own assessment, that this man would not be able to regain his lost kingship. It happened exactly like that.7

Occupation of Attock Fort - March 1813 A.D.

The mighty fort of Attock is situated right on the bank of the river Indus, and is considered the door step of the Punjab for people coming and going through the northwestern passes. At that time the fort of Attock was in possession of an Afghan Sardar, Jahandar Khan. The fact had been firmly understood by Ranjit Singh that as long as this fort was not occupied by him, it would be extremely difficult for him to stop the Afghan incursions. Fortunately a chance came his way soon. The fort commander of Attock, Jahandad Khan, was the brother of Atta Muhammad Khan, Subedar of Kashmir. On hearing of the defeat of Atta Mohd. Khan in Kashmir he felt tremors for himself too. He clearly understood that he would not be able to stand on his own against Shah Mahmud and his minister Wazir Khan. So he entered into negotiations with Ranjit Singh and expressed his willingness to vacate the fort if he was granted reasonable jagir for his subsistence. The Maharaja at once earmarked the parganah of Wazirabad for the grant of jagir to Jahandar Khan and sent a strong detachment of the Khalsa army to occupy Attock.

Before vacating the fort, the Afghan soldiers demanded payment of one hundred thousand rupee on account of arrears of pay due from Jahandar Khan. The Maharaja paid the money and the Khalsa army occupied the Fort.

Wazir Fateh Khan’s Anguish

All the proceedings of the capture of Attock fort were kept a closely guarded secret and Wazir Fateh Khan got no inkling of the doings of Jahandar Khan. He came to know only when the fort of Attock had been occupied by the Maharaja. He felt greatly agitated. He at once entrusted the governorship of Kashmir to his brother Azim Khan, and himself following the hilly route via Pakhli and Dhamtaur reached Peshawar and sent a message to the Maharaja to vacate fort of Attock. The Maharaja wanted to gain time to strengthen his entrenchments within the fort by sending reinforcements. As such, he spent some time in pleasantries and negotiations and meanwhile strengthened his garrison in the Attock fort. After that, he refused to vacate the fort.

The First Sikh-Afghan War

Fateh Khan immediately encamped in Chhachh territory with a large army and besieged the fort. From the other side Maharaja's army and artillery commanded by Diwan Mohkam Chand crossed the river Jehlum and advanced for the defence of the fort. The two armies stood opposite each other for three months. During the siege it became difficult to send rations to the inmates of the fort. Therefore Diwan Mohkam Chand sent for Maharaja's permission and launched a major military assault on the Afghan positions. On July 12, 1813 A.D., a squadron of select horsemen of the Khalsa army had advanced and was reconnoitering the enemy positions when they saw an Afghan camp quite close to them. They took it as an opportunity and suddenly charged at them. Meanwhile the rest of the Sikh army also reached. A fierce battle took place. A large number of soldiers were killed on both the sides. The darkness of night made both armies to scabbard their swords. On July 13, Diwan Mohkam Chand arrayed his army near Hazro. Cavalry was divided in four parts and artillery and infantry were formed in a square. Reinforcements commanded by Dost Muhammad Khan had also arrived for the Afghans. Therefore the more numerous army of the Afghans attacked the Khalsa army with renewed zeal. The Khalsa soldiers also emerged from their trenches and fortifications and gave such a fight that the enemy attack got repulsed. The Afghans began to retreat. The Khalsa cavalry chasing them displayed such swordsmanship that thousands fell dead within seconds.8 Victory remained in the hands of the Khalsa. Besides, huge amount of money, com, tents, camels, horses and about seven light guns of the Afghan army fell into their hands. Rejoicings started at Lahore when the news of success reached there. The messenger who brought the happy news was given a pair of gold bangles and costly robes by the Maharaja. Wazir Fateh Khan fled the field and halted only at Peshawar. The Maharaja occupied Makhar and other forts and brought the entire area under his occupation. McGregor writes that this was the first great victory of the Sikhs over the Afghans which left the Khalsa's imprint on the Afghan mind and that proved extremely useful later.

Preparations for Invasion of Kashmir - October 1813 A.D.

The Khalsa army had now formed an idea of Afghan military power - that they possessed no superior military skill than them. As a master strategician the Maharaja could perceive that the fort of Attock could remain with him only if Wazir Khan was divested of Kashmir and its surrounding mountain region. Therefore in the beginning of October, the Maharaja made up his mind to undertake an expedition against Kashmir. He discussed this with his advisers and commenced preparations for this expedition. The Maharaja himself set out on the first navaratra day before Dussehra. Having visited Amritsar, he made offerings at the holy place of Jawala Ji in Kangra district.9 Then going via Pathankot and Dinanagar he encamped at Sialkot. The entire Khalsa army was collected there. It was divided into separate brigades under Sardar Nihal Singh Attariwala, Sardar Desa Singh Majithia, Diwan Ram Dayal, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa and Bhayya Ram Singh, etc. During November, the Maharaja reached Rohtas where he got the information that Wazir Fateh Khan was proceeding from Peshawar towards Derjat and intended to conquer Multan. He also learnt that snowing had started in Pir Panjal. Therefore the Maharaja had to postpone his Kashmir campaign. Even then he sent one brigade under Diwan Ram Dayal grandson of Diwan Mohkam Chand, a brave young man of twenty years, towards Rajauri so that he could occupy the passes along that route and could identify suitable places for stocking grain etc. The Maharaja came back to Lahore on December 26.

The Kashmir Campaign - April 1814 A.D.

With the onset of summer in April 1814 A.D., preparations for Kashmir campaign were renewed. The chiefs of Kangra Hills were asked join to the Maharaja with their respective contingents. On June 4, the entire army was inspected at Wazirabad10, and divided into different brigades. The army marched on, and touching Gujrat and Bhimbar, reached Rajauri on June 11. There, the Maharaja reorganised his forces. He left heavy artillery there and took with him light camel-laden guns. He divided the army into two large divisions. One division of about thirty thousand soldiers under the command of Diwan Ram Dayal, Sardar Dal Singh, Ghaus Khan commander of artillery, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa and Sardar Mit Singh Padhania proceeded along the Bahrain Gala pass route for entering the Kashmir Valley at Shopian. And the second division, which had a greater numerical strength and was commanded by the Maharaja himself, set out along the Poonch route for entering the valley through Tosha Maidan Pass.

Failure of Kashmir Campaign

Diwan Ram Dayal with his army, halting on the way; stage by stage reached Bahram Gala pass on June 18 and occupied the passes in the valley of Pir Panjal. A couple of minor battles took place at Bahram .Gala. The Khalsa soldiers continued to advance regularly and going through Sarai reached Imadpur and at once occupied Hamirpur. A strong formation of the army of Azim Khan, the governor of Kashmir, came forward to fight, and a fierce battle took place between the Sikhs and the Afghans on June 24. The Afghans were defeated and they retreated. Marching forward; the Sikh army reached Shopian. A large Afghan army under the command of Mohammad Shakur Khan was present there. A bloody battle was fought at this place, wherein a brave officer of Prince Kharak Singh's brigade, Jiwan Mai fell fighting with a sword in hand in the front lines. Nature, too, perhaps did not want to grant victory to the Khalsa. Right during the battle, heavy rains started. The Khasla army had no way out except to advance on Srinagar. Therefore Diwan Ram Dayal marching ahead, encamped near Srinagar and started waiting for fresh reinforcements. But because of the rain and cowardice of Bhayya Ram Singh, under whose command the Maharaja had sent a five thousand strong reinforcement, no help could reach on time. For this debacle, Ram Singh remained suspended from his post for some time.

Return of the Maharaja

The second division of the Khalsa army travelling with the Maharaja himself remained stuck at Rajauri till the end of June because of excessive rains. At last it reached Poonchh on June 28. Here too, it had to stay for fifteen days because Ruh-Ullah-Khan, ruler of Poonchh, was in collusion with the Subedar of Kashmir. Therefore, the Maharaja's army met with great difficulty in procuring provisions. The Maharaja then decided to go through the pass of Tosha Maidan. But from there too, safe return did not seem to be possible. Therefore the Maharaja advanced towards Marandah, but Ruh-Ullah-Khan began to badger the forces from the hillocks. Volleys of bullets from hill-tops forced the Maharaja to lose ground. Azim Khan too opened his attack at that time. The Maharaja got surrounded from all the sides. So there remained no alternative but to retreat. Passing through Poonchh, Kotli, Mirpur, etc., the Maharaja reached back at Lahore during August 1814 A.D.

Valour of Diwan Ram Dayal

Diwan Ram Dayal's division which was staying near Srinagar remained very steadfast and continued to fight against Azim Khan with great courage and fortitude without caring for their lives. Diwan Amar Nath writes that during Ram Dayal's battles about two thousand Afghans were killed." Azim Khan, was perhaps anxious to ensure the return of the Khalsa army at the earliest. Therefore he opted to make peace with Diwan Ram Dyal and, as Sayyad Mohammad Latif avers,, he sent costly presents for the Maharaja and assured Diwan Ram Dayal that in future he would remain a well-wisher of the Maharaja.12

Death of Diwan Mohkam Chand - October 1814

Diwan Mohkam Chand, the brave, and intrepid general of the Khalsa army had been sick for some time. He could not survive and departed in October 1814. Diwan Mohkam Chand was the first non-Sikh officer among the select personalities who served the Khalsa heart and soul, and who died in the fulfilment of his duties. Mohkam Chand's heart was the fountain-spring of love and loyalty who did not leave any stone unturned in the service of the Maharaja. Besides the high qualities of head and heart, the said Diwan was an embodiment of physical prowess and courage. He never cared for the toughest hardships, and was a natural general of the highest order. He was a patriot par excellence.

Ranjit Singh was greatly proud of the said Diwan, and he was greatly shocked at his death.. The entire Khalsa Darbar was overtaken by grief and sorrow. His last rites were performed with utmost respect and according to military traditions. His Samadhi was erected in the big Garden of Phillaur, where it exists till today. The Maharaja awarded the title of Diwan to his son Moti Ram whom he confirmed in his father's Jagir. The young son of Diwan Moti Ram, Ram Dayal was appointed an officer in the garrison of Diwan Mohkam Chand.

The Arrival of British Envoys

A few days later, Adul Gani Khan and Rai Nand Singh, envoys of the British government, arrived at Lahore and presented costly gifts to the Maharaja on behalf of the Governor-General. The Maharaja treated them as his guests, looked after them with generous hospitality, and saw them off with valuable presents for the Governor-General and for Sir David Ochterlony.

Notes & References

  1. This amount of cash presents is entered in detail in the official papers of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which the present writer consolidated ten years ago. Its details are given below :
    1. Rajas of hilly region — Rs. 50,000
    2. From Maharaja’s own territory — Rs. 35,775
    3. From Chiefs and Nobles — Rs.106,300
    4. From officers and sepoys of the army — Rs. 23,707-8-6
    5. From Cavalry officers — Rs.16,000
    6. From goldsmiths and jewellers of the city — Rs. 3,050
    7. Miscellaneous — Rs. 1,205

       Total — Rs. 2,36,037-8-6

Item 3 includes the sum of five thousand rupees which the Maharaja received as cash present from the British government through Colonel Ochterlony. Munshi Sohan Lal has also entered in his book some detail of the cash presents. He has given the names of chiefs and nobles who presented large sums of money to the Maharaja. The totals of amounts entered in the official papers and of the amounts recorded by Munshi Sohan Lal do not tally.

  1. For details see Munshi Sohan Lal, Diwan Amar Nath and McGregor. All of them clearly mention the promise of Wafa Begum.
  2. For details see Munshi Sohan Lal's Umclat-ut-Twarikh. Diwan Amar Nath, the famous historian of the Sikhs, in fact writes that to get Shah Shujah released was the only aim of the Maharaja in this expedition. "The great Sarkar had appointed Diwan Mohkam Chand apparantly for the expedition, but inwardly for bringing Shah Shujah." [Zafarnamah-i- Ranjit Singh, page 71]. Cunningham also confirms this.
  3. Munshi Sohan Lal writes, “About one hundred infantry men were killed during this sudden disaster, and one hundred horsemen found eternal sleep while still in thier saddles.”
  4. Princep, and many historians following him, have written that Wazir Fateh Khan alone had defeated Atta Muhammad Khan and the Khalsa army had been left behind. This statement is absolutely wrong. For details see Munshi Sohan Lal.
  5. “A police post was established, and day and night vigil of a high degree was ordered to be kept at the gate of the Haveli for everyone to see” (Sohan Lal). Diwan Amar Nath writes in more clear words than these : “The High Ruler appointed Shadi Khan Kotwal for keeping watch. He saved the Shah from thousands of hardship and calamities which he would have suffered in hell on account of breach of promise. And also the sustainer God protected Koh-i-Noor, the miracle of Nature."
  6. “The great king said as a comment during a conversation: ‘On the day the Shah came to meet me, at that time from black spot on his forehead an idea came to me that the Shah is not destined to sit on the throne at all, howsoever he may struggle in this respect, the boat of his desire will not reach the coast." Diwan Amar Nath, page 89.
  7. According to Diwan Amar Nath, two thousand Afghans were killed in this battle. “Two thousand rolled on the dust of destruction."
  8. For details see Munshi Sohan Lal's Umdat-ut-Twarikh, Daftar II.
  9. Before reaching Wazirabad, the Maharaja got the news that in the nearby forests; two ferocious tigers were causing huge loss of human and animal life. The Maharaja himself, loved tiger-hunting. Therefore he sojourned there for a day for tiger hunt. The Maharaja riding an elephant went into the forest along with a few horsemen. Hari Singh, a Dogra Rajput and a very nimble and intrepid horse-rider, was preceding the Maharaja; when a tiger was sighted. Hari Singh gave a blow to the tiger with his sword. Immediately, Sardar Jagat Singh Attariwala, who was riding close to the Maharaja, spurred his horse and reached near him. The petulant tiger leapt at Jagat Singh and slapped his horse so hard that the horse died then and there. Meanwhile Hari Singh attacked the tiger again with his sword and killed it. The Maharaja brought the tiger, loaded on his elephant to Wazirabad, and ordered his treasurer that a pair of gold bracelets and a costly robe be given to Hari Singh. To Jagat Singh he gave a beautiful Arabic horse and two thousand rupees in cash.
  10. Zafarnamah Ranjit Singh, page 84.
  11. In this regard, Princep’s assumption that Azim Khan let Ram Dayal leave Kashmir without hindrance because of his regard for the friendship of Ram Dayal's grandfather, is absolutely incorrect and is not based on any evidence.