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From the Cross to the Crown

Challenge to the Mughal Supremacy under Banda Singh

After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs soon developed into a political power under the leadership of Banda Singh who came to the Punjab, not as Guru but as commander of the forces of the Khalsa1 and equipped with the Guru’s hukamnamas or letter to the Sikhs all over the country to join in his expedition. Before Banda Singh’s departure from the Deccan the Guru bestowed upon him a drum and a flag as emblems of temporal authority and five arrows2 from his quiver. He was blessed with victory provided he considered himself to be a comrade, a servant, of the Khalsa with whom would rest, in future, the supreme authority of the community. Persons like Binod Singh, Kahan Singh, Baj Singh, Daya Singh and Ram Singh,3 who were to assist him in his activities and future programme, accompanied him to the Punjab.

Arriving in northern India Banda Singh despatched the hukamnamas of Guru Gobind Singh to prominent Sikhs in the Punjab.4 His main target, to begin with, was Wazir Khan, the faujdar of Sirhind, the killer of Guru Gobind Singh’s young sons.5 The cold-blooded murder of the innocent children of the Guru had given the Sikhs a shock and they were burning with rage against him. The leading Sikhs of the Punjab, Bhai Patch Singh, Karam Singh, Dharam Singh, Nagahia Singh, Ali Singh and Mali Singh flocked round him, along with their followers.

There were mainly two types of men that had rallied round Banda Singh. Firstly, there were those Sikhs who had previously been with Guru Gobind Singh and were always ready to fight with a spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice. The second category comprised those who had been supplied by persons like Ram Singh and Tilok Singh of the Phul family who liberally contributed to Banda Singh’s resources and gave every possible help in the accomplishment of his mission.6

According to Khafi Khan, in two or three months’ time, four or five thousand horsemen and seven or eight thousand foot soldiers joined him, and their number soon rose to 40,000.7

Places like Samana, Kurham, Thaska and Shahabad fell without resistance. The battle against Wazir Khan of Sirhind was fought on the plain of Chappar-Chiri on May 12, 1710, and he was killed. The Khalsa flag was hoisted on the fort of Sirhind.8 Baj Singh, the leader of the trans- Satluj Sikhs, was appointed governor of Sirhind, with Ali Singh, the leader of the cis-Sutlej Sikhs, as his deputy.9 Fateh Singh was appointed the governor of Samana and Ram Singh was posted to Thanesar as its governor, jointly with Binod Singh.10

According to Akhbar-i-Darbar-i-Mualla, “the peasant followers of the Guru (Banda Singh) were in control of Sirhind. Muhammad Nasir Bakhshi, an imperial news writer, who fell into the hands of the Guru (Banda Singh) had been named as Nasir Singh and appointed treasury officer. There was no government mutsaddi left in Sirhind.”11

As the Sikhs had been feeling very sore about Wazir Khan’s role in the harassment of Guru Gobind Singh, their action at Sirhind was evidently instigated by a spirit of revenge.12 But the Muslim writers have given exaggerated accounts of the activities of the Sikhs. “The Siyarul Mutakhrin and also the Muntakhab-ul-Lubab contain terrible details of the atrocious deeds of the Sikhs” writes Thornton, “but a Mohammdan writers is not to be implicitly trusted upon such a point.”12 Later writers, like Mohammad Latif,13 have blindly followed the statements of Ghulam Husain Khan and Khafi Khan. The booty that fell into the hands of the Sikhs is estimated at two crores in money and goods, belonging to Wazir Khan, and some lakhs found in the deserted houses of Sucha Nand and others.14

The victory at Sirhind added to the enthusiasm of the Sikhs. Banda Singh was told that Jalal Khan and Ali Hamid Khan, the faujdars of Deoband and Saharanpur, were harassing the Sikh converts there. He repaired to that part of the country and addressed a letter14A to Jalal Khan to release the Sikhs who had been taken prisoners by him and submit to the authority of the Khalsa. Far from accepting this demand, the Sikh messengers were mounted on asses, paraded through the streets of Jalalabad and then turned out of the town.15 Jalalabad and Saharanpur were, therefore, attacked. The Sikhs were reinforced by the Gujjar peasants who had suffered long at the hands of the Shaikhzadas of Saharanpur. It assumed the form of a class struggle with the tenants on one side and the zamindars on the other. In the bloody fighting about three hundred Shaikhzadas fell dead in the courtyard of Sheikh Mohammed Afzal alone.

Now the Sikhs addressed a letter to Shamas Khan, the faujdar of Jullundur, calling upon him to effect some reforms and to personally hand over his treasury to the Khalsa. In reply, he declared a jehad or a crusade against the Sikhs in September-October 1710. According to Khafi Khan16 more than a hundred thousand Muslims, mostly weavers, marched from Sultanpur. In addition to these, Shamas Khan could muster four or five thousand horse and thirty thousand foot. And according to Khafi Khan, the Sikhs had seventy to eighty thousand horse and foot (the number is obviously an inflated one). No doubt in the flush of victory a large number of Hindus also joined the forces of Banda Singh to reap the benefits and enjoy the fruits of success over their Mughal masters.17 Many of the spirited and daring Hindus adopted Sikhism.18 After a few days the Muslims dispersed and the Sikhs got an easy control over Jullundur and Hoshiarpur. This was done during the last quarter of the year 1710. Banda Singh, then, turned his attention to Batala and Kalanaur and some other Sikh leaders occupied the pargana of Pathankot.19 Then the Sikhs went very close to the walls of Lahore and a little later a part of the territory of Majha and riarki also came under the Sikh control.20

The Sikhs now became the masters of the territory of the Punjab that lay to the east of Lahore. “There was no noblemen daring enough to march from Delhi against them.”21 In the words of Malcolm, “If Bahadur Shah had not quitted the Deccan, which he did in 1710, there is every reason to think that the whole of Hindustan would have been subdued by these Sikh invaders.”22 Emperor Bahadur Shah had the bearded Sikhs always on his nerves. On 8th September, 1710, the Emperor issued an order that “all Hindus employed in the imperial offices should get their beards shaved.” And again on the 10th December, 1710 (29th Shawwal, 1122 Hijri) the Emperor issued an edict ordering a wholesale genocide of the Sikhs—the worshippers of Nanak — wherever found, saying: “Nanak prastan ra har ja kih ba-yaband ba-qatl rasanand.”23 This order was later repeated by Emperor Farukh Siyar in almost the same words.23A

Hearing of the alarming news of the Sikh conquests in the Punjab Emperor Bahadur Shah personally came to the Punjab to deal with the Sikhs. The imperial forces attacked Lohgarh (the iron castle), the capital of Banda Singh’s government at Mukhlispur, at the foot of Shivalik hills, to the east of Sadhaura.24 Khafi Khan writes, “It is impossible for me to describe the fight which followed. The Sikhs in their fakirs’ dress struck terror into the royal troops. The number of the dead and the dying of the imperialists was so large that for a time it appeared as if they were going to lose.”25 But Banda Singh, finding it difficult to stand against the imperial forces, slipped away from Lohgarh under the cover of darkness. He went to Mandi and from there to Chamba.

Thereafter, Banda Singh attacked Jammu, Raipur, Bahrampur, Kalanaur and Batala. He was victorious everywhere but the occupation of these places was only short-lived.

Banda Singh was driven to take asylum in the enclosure of Duni Chand at the village of Gurdas Nangal. The Sikhs there were so closely besieged that ‘not a blade of grass or a grain of corn’ could find its way into that enclosure. The besiegers wanted to starve the Sikhs into submission. “The Sikhs were with blistered feet and empty hands (without provisions) but they displayed every type of bravery and intrepidity.”26 Mohammad Qasim, the author of the Ibratnama, who was an eye-witness to these operations, writes that such was the terror of these people and the fear of the sorceries of their chief that commanders of the royal army prayed that God might so ordain things that Banda should seek his safety in flight from the garhi (fortress).27

Ultimately, Banda Singh, along with his companions, was captured on the 7th December, 1715. They were ordered by the Emperor to be brought to Delhi on camels with disgrace and humiliation.28 Zakariya Khan feeling the number of prisoners to be too small, roped in more29 from the villages on the way until the number of prisoners rose to about 800 and of the heads hoisted on spears to 2,000. Besides, seven hundred cart loads of the Sikh heads also accompanied the gruesome show.30 The prisoners were executed at Delhi. As if insensitive to the pains of death, they would calmly offer their necks to the executioner’s sword and drink the cup of martyrdom with the name of God ‘Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru,’ on their lips.31

They refused reprieve contemptuously whenever offered. To them their cause was dearer than their lives.32 Surman and Stephenson, who were then in Delhi write that, “to the last, it has not been found that one apostatised from this new-formed religion. It is not a little remarkable with what patience they undergo their fate.”32A The Sikhs showed utter disregard of death. When they were told about their fate they said that if they had been afraid of death they could never have fought against such heavy odds. Fear was a thing unknown to them.33

It is said that the Emperor asked Banda Singh as to how he should be killed. The latter replied that he might be killed in the manner in which the Emperor proposed death for himself.34 This shows Banda Singh’s faith in the ultimate victory of the Sikhs. Banda Singh was executed on June 10, 1716,35 along with his suckling son, in the neighbourhood of the dargah (mausoleum) of Hazrat Khawaja Qutb-ud-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki near Mehraulli, Delhi.36 In the words of Elphinstone Banda Singh died “glorying in having been raised up by God to be the scourge to the iniquities and oppression of the age.”37

Banda Singh shook one of the mightiest empires in the world to its very foundations with such terrible violence that it was never able to re-establish its authority as firmly as before.

Khuswant Singh has remarked that “the movement to infuse the sentiment of Punjabi nationalism in the masses received a setback with Banda Singh.38 But where was that movement of Punjabi nationalism? Nationalism of Khushwant Singh’s conception is a much later idea. Banda Singh reiterated the Sikhs’ determination of not taking the government policy of repression lying down and made a bid for the liberation of the land from their oppressive masters.

During the days of his successes Banda Singh was almost irresistible in the eastern Punjab. Normally the result of his achievements should have been the establishment of a personal monarchy with coins and seals engraved in his name. But that is what he did not do. He did establish a new state, no doubt, but he ruled not in his own name but in the name of the Khalsa and the Guru. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu, “The Guru bad enjoined upon Banda to serve the Panth. And it was not he but the collective Sikh community that was blessed with the sovereignty by the Sacha Padshah Guru Gobind Singh.”39 Banda Singh proved equal to the responsibility entrusted to him and he abided by his master’s instructions.

Banda Singh assumed royal authority, issued coins introduced an official seal and a new calendar dating from the capture of Sirhind.40 His coins, however, bore the names of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh:

Sikka zad bar har do alam Tegh-i-Nanak wahib ast,

Fateh Gobind Singh Shah-i-Shahan Fazal-i-Sacha Sahib ast.

(By the grace of the True Lord is struck the coin in the two worlds. The sword of Nanak is the granter of all boons and the victory is of Guru Gobind Singh, the king of kings.)

And on the reverse of the coin was inscribed

“Struck in the city of peace, illustrating the beauty of civil life and the ornament of the blessed throne.”

He also introduced an official seal for state documents and letters patent. The inscription on the seal is expressive of a deep sense of devotion and loyalty to the Gurus:

Deg-o-Tegh-o-Fateh-o-Nusrat bedirang, Yaft az Nanak Guru Gobind Singh.

The kettle and the sword (symbols of service and power), victory and ready patronage have been obtained from the Gurus, Nanak and Gobind Singh.

He, thus, not only acknowledged the patronage of the great masters but also took upon himself the duty of serving the people through deg and tegh, the cauldron and the sword, the symbols of feeding the hungry and protecting the weak and helpless.

Ganda Singh’s remark that ‘with the establishment of his power, Banda Singh assumed regal state.’41 presumably means that the Sikhs under Banda Singh established a state of their own.

In his letter of 12th December, 1710, addressed to the Sikhs of Jaunpur, Banda Singh writes, “The Guru will protect you. Call upon the Guru’s name. On seeing this letter repair to the presence, wearing five arms. Observe the rules of conduct laid down for the Khalsa. . . We have brought about the golden age (Satya Yuga). Love one another. This is my wish. He who lives according to the rules of the Khalsa shall be saved by the Guru.”42

This is very significant letter indeed, giving us a peep into Banda Singh’s polity. He strongly recommends that the conduct of the Sikhs, the Khalsa, in the liberated country, was to be in strict conformity with the principles laid down by Guru Gobind Singh at the time of their initiation ceremony into the order of the Khalsa. He pointed out that the golden age had been ushered in.

He meant to tell the people at large that a welfare state of their dreams had been established to the exclusion of the tyrannical government of the Mughal governors. He tacitly meant to convey to them that unjust officials had been substituted by the just, deserving and competent persons who could appreciate the aspirations of the oppressed and wronged people. He wanted to make them alive to the consciousness created in the masses for their rights and awaken them to a strong sense of resistance and defiance to oppression.

So, despite the fact that Banda Singh seemed almost like a king, with a capital at Lohgarh and an army standing at his beck and call, and palatial buildings for him to live in, the erroneous view held by some writers that he had tried to assume kingly power personally, to the neglect of the Khalsa, is not in consonance with the wishes of the last Guru to whom he ascribed all his success and with his own as expressed in the hukamnama mentioned above.

Banda Singh could not get enough time to be able to evolve a concrete form of government. Besides being a war against the Mughal government the Sikh movement under Banda Singh also signified a powerful protest against the beneficiaries of the structure of authority. One measure which influenced the future fiscal history of the Punjab was the liquidation of the zamindari system. The Mughal zamindars or landlords were responsible for the payment of a fixed amount of land revenue from the villages entrusted to them. They extorted from the peasants any amounts they liked and the government did not interfere, with the result that the poor farmers were reduced to the position of slaves. On Banda Singh’s suggestion43 the tillers of soil ejected the landlords and the peasants themselves became the masters of their lands. Large estates were broken into smaller holdings in the hands of the Sikh or Hindu peasants. These agrarian changes, to a great extent, ameliorated the lot of the Poor peasantry.

With victory coming to the Sikhs, they began to be looked upon as defenders of the faith and the protectors of the land. Banda Singh’s brief rule gave the Sikhs a foretaste of independence and from that time onwards they could not be satisfied with anything short of the emancipation of their territory from the Mughal yoke, in pursuit of which they launched a ceaseless struggle against the Mughal government of the Punjab, and, later, against the Afghan usurpers from across the Indus.

During the short span of Banda Singh’s rule, there was both a political as well as social revolution in the Punjab which has been well summed up by William Irvine saying that: “in all the pargarnas occupied by the Sikhs the reversal of the previous customs was striking and complete. A low scavenger of leather dresser, the lowest of the low in Indian estimation had only to leave home and join the Guru (meaning Banda), when in a short space of time he would return to his birth-place as its ruler, with his order of appointment in his hand. As soon as he set foot within the boundaries, the well-born and wealthy went out to greet him and escort him home. Arrived there, they stood before him with joined palms, awaiting his orders. . . Not a soul dared to disobey an order and men who had often risked themselves in battle-fields, became so cowed that they were afraid even to remonstrate.”44

Banda Singh ousted the Mughal officers from the various parganas of Sirhind division and put his own men in their places.45 Hindu qanungos and amils that had been replaced by Muslims under Aurangzeb were dismissed and the jobs of the displaced Hindus were restored to them.46

There seems to have arisen some minor differences between Banda Singh and some of his companions, but these were of no moment. Later writers failed to discover that most of the differences referred to by them belonged to the period after Banda Singh’s death. In his life time there was hardly anything in his behaviour or policy that might be interpreted as schismatic. It is clear from the letters that he wrote to certain sangats that he never arrogated to himself the title or position of a Guru. Rather he took pride in being called the Banda or the master’s slave and always exhorted the Sikhs to follow the tenets and injunctions of Guru Gobind Singh.47 His conforming to the conduct of the Khalsa has been confirmed by Ghulam Husain also.48

It is true that he suggested fateh darshan but it was only a war-cry and was given up when he was told that it might, at some future time, replace the usual Sikh salutation: “Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji ki fateh.” Banda Singh’s strict vegetarianism might have created some whisperings among the meat-eaters. But over this issue there could be no serious split as meat- eating has never been compulsory or essential in Sikhism. No evidence is available to us to show that there was at any stage any quarrel between Banda Singh and his companions about religion or that his comrades parted company with him for any of his schismatic tendencies. In the last stage of his struggle against the government Binod Singh’s desertion from Gurdas Nangal proves nothing more than a difference of opinion about tactics and strategy to be followed in a particular situation.

Banda Singh had received baptism of the Khalsa from the hands of Guru Gobind Singh and throughout his life remained a staunch believer in the Guru’s mission. He followed with perfect strictness the Sikh rules of conduct. He used to point out to his officials that, “according to the holy Granth the best worship for a ruler is to be just. . . If you call yourselves Sikhs of the great man (Guru Gobind Singh), do not do anything that is sinful, irreligious or unjust. Advance the cause of true Sikhism and smite those who behave in an un-Sikh manner.”49 Besides his love for justice, this also shows his devotion and attachment to the code of conduct prescribed by Guru Gobind Singh.

The negligible difference of opinion, if at all, that arose in view of any innovation envisaged by Banda Singh, seems to have been immediately patched up. From a constitutional point of view all this goes to assert the supremacy of the Khalsa over individual members, however great or popular they might have been; and no Sikh ever had the courage to challenge the Khalsa and its rahit (rules of conduct).

Banda Singh had converted a large number of Hindus and Muslims to Sikhism but he does not seem to have used any force to propagate his religion. Some people might have joined the Sikh fold to escape punishment for their former misdeeds or to promote their prospects of livelihood.50 Throughout the history of the Sikhs it has been a glowing feature of the polity of various rulers to adopt a non-communal and tolerant policy towards those who agreed to be their subjects. Banda Singh was no exception to it. Banda Singh never allowed his struggle to be reduced to the level of a communal strife. His was a political struggle. He would not, therefore, impose any religious restrictions upon the Muslims as such and they flocked to him in large numbers.

According to a report made to Emperor Bahadur Shah by an official news-writer, “the follower of Nanak (Banda Singh) was in the Kalanur up to 26th April, 1711. He had assured the Mohammadans that he would not in any way interfere with them and those who would join his ranks would be duly paid. They would enjoy full religious liberty including that of saying namaz and azan. As a result of this five thousand Mohammands enlisted themselves in his army.”51 A similar reference was made by Amin-ud-Daula in June 1710 that “the authority of that deluded sect (of the Sikhs) had reached such extremes that many Hindus and Mohammadans adopted their faith and ritual. Their chief (Banda Singh) captivated the hearts of all towards his inclinations and, whether a Hindu or a Mohammadan, whosoever came into contact with him was addressed as a Singh. Accordingly Dindar Khan, a powerful ruler of the neighbourhood was named Dindar Singh and Mir Nasir-ud-Din, the official reporter of Sirhind, become Mir Nasir Singh. In the same way a large number of Mohammadans abandoned Islam and followed the misguided path (of Sikhism) and took solemn oaths and firm pledges to stand by Banda.”52

Thus we see that the policy of religious toleration preached by the Sikh Gurus was strictly followed by Banda Singh and was pursued by the Sikhs during their ensuing struggle. The Gurus had organised the Sikhs to defend their rights and secure freedom of worship, freedom of expression and freedom of missionary activities. If they had taken up arms it was purely with the object of self-defence. Banda Singh was the first to organise the Sikhs and to build a political power. He fought battles not only to weaken the Mughal power but also to replace it by a better one. He had, therefore, no alternative but to oust the Mughal government officials, appoint his own men, introduce changes in the governmental set-up and adopt a policy that aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of the Sikhs.

During Banda Singh’s period, “there was a revolution effected in the minds of the people, of which history often fails to take note. A will was created in the ordinary masses to resist tyranny and to live and die for a national cause. The example set by Banda Singh and his companions in this respect was to serve them as a beacon light in the days to come. The idea of a national state, long dead, once again become a living aspiration and although suppressed for the time being by relentless persecution, it went on working underground like a smouldering fire and came out forty years later with a fuller effulgence, never to be suppressed again.”53

Relentless Struggle of the Sikhs

After Banda Singh’s death, with brief intervals of respite here and there, the history of the Sikhs is a record of a great struggle between the Sikhs on one side and the Mughals or the Afghans on the other. It ultimately resulted in the occupation of the Punjab by the Sikhs about the middle of the sixties of the eighteenth century. During this period, the successes of the Sikhs were interspersed with horrible persecutions at the hands of the Mughal government. At this time, differences among themselves were patched up in the interest of the community on the intervention of Mata Sundari—the widow of Guru Gobind Singh —who resided at Delhi. Instead of visiting her there, she advised the Sikhs to hold their periodical meetings at Amritsar.54

With the appointment of Bhai Mani Singh as the head priest of Harmandir, Amritsar, in 1721, the Lahore government set up a police post there to restrict the Sikhs from gathering there in large numbers. The pilgrims were harassed but they could not be completely overawed. The Delhi government replaced Abdus Samad Khan, the governor of Lahore, by his more enthusiastic son, Zakariya Khan, who took over the charge of his new assignment in 1726. Zakariya Khan, popularly known as Khan Bahadur, ordered that the hair and the beards of the Sikhs should be removed. This harsh order drove the Sikhs in thousands into the forests and the hills.55 Zakariya Khan sent out moving columns in all directions to hunt them out,56 and the punitive parties combed the villages and forests and daily brought batches of Sikhs in chains who were publicly beheaded at Lahore at the nakhas (horse market) now called the Shahidganj. The whole machinery of the government, including muqadams, chaudharis and non-official zamindars, were set into motion to see that the Sikhs found no shelter within their areas. When the captured Sikhs were offered the choice between Islam and death they chose the latter. The Sikhs repaired to the deep forests, where, at times, they were driven to extremities and subsisted on vegetables and roots and blades of grass.57 Their vow, however, was to keep the torch of freedom burning even in exile and they reconciled themselves to their lot. Once Zakariya Khan mockingly said about the Sikhs, “By God, they live on grass and claim kingship.”58

The government moved against the Sikhs, living in villages, on very flimsy and generally false and unjustified complaints. On a protest by Tara Singh of village Van against Sahib Rai of Nowshehra Pannuan, letting loose his horses on the green fields of the village, the latter remarked, “You talk of my horses trespassing into your fields, let me tell you that my scissors shall trespass into your beards and long hair.” And shortly thereafter a contingent from Lahore arrived and extirpated Tara Singh along with his twenty-two companions.

Khan Bahadur fixed prices of the heads of the Sikhs. A regular and graded schedule of the rewards was set up for the persons who cooperated with the government to liquidate them. A person, providing shelter and food to a Sikh, suffered the death penalty or was forcibly converted to Islam. With renewed vigour in the villages and towns, and in hills and jungles, spies and informers plied their odious trade and the captured Sikhs were tortured and killed. Nadir Shah, the ruler of Persia, overran the Punjab and Delhi, in 1739. On his return journey from Delhi the Sikhs thought it an opportune time to enrich their depleted resources, and, falling upon his rear, relieved him of much of his booty.59 When halting at Lahore Nadir Shah questioned Zakariya Khan about the whereabouts of the people who had dared to harass his men, “Who are these mischief-makers?” Zakariya Khan replied, “They are a group of faqirs who visit their Guru’s tank twice a year and bathing in it disappear.” “Where do they live?” asked Nadir Shah. “Their houses are their saddles” was the reply. Nadir warned him saying, “Take care, the day is not distant when these rebels will take possession of the country.”60 In spite of Zakariya Khan’s all-out efforts to put the administration in proper gear the Sikhs were determined to ultimately establish their rule in the Punjab by totally paralysing state administrative machinery. Zakariya Khan died on July 1, 1745.

“High moral values, service, discipline and sacrifice were the ever guiding mottos of the Sikhs. To them their earthly belongings and bodies were not their own but belonged to the Guru who had merged his personality into the Khalsa. They believed that sacrifice made in the cause of the Panth would place them in the lap of their Guru. We do not find any instance in the Sikh history where a captured Sikh gave up his religion to save his life.”61 To mock at their hardships they coined luxurious names for very ordinary things of daily use. For example, a single Sikh was called one lakh and a quarter, grams called almonds and one-eyed man an Argus-eyed lion.62

The murder of Jaspat Rai, when harassing the Sikhs at Eminabad, maddened his brother Lakhpat Rai, a diwan of the Lahore government, with fury against the Sikhs.63 He took a vow to destroy them root and branch. Backed by Yahiya Khan, the son and successor of Zakariya Khan, the diwan adopted a ruthless policy towards the Sikhs, persecuting them, “with thousands of tortures.”64 He said, “I am a Khatri, as was Guru Gobind Singh, the creator of the Khalsa, but I shall not call myself by that name until I have erased their name from the page of existence.”65 He forbade the Sikhs from reading their scriptures, prohibited the use of the word gur for sugar candy as it sounded like Guru and as also of the word Granth which was to be replaced by Pothi.66 According to Rattan Singh Bhangu, Diwan Lakhpat Rai of Eminabad ordered the destruction of all Sikh books— Granths and Pothis.67 And as a result of the personal vendetta of Lakhpat Rai the Sikhs suffered a very heavy loss of life, in June 1746, and this is known, in the history of the Punjab, as the first holocaust— pahia or chhota ghallughara.

Zakariya Khan’s second son and governor of Lahore, “Shah Niwaz got the bellies of the Sikhs ripped open, got the iron pegs struck into their heads and got their brains removed in his presence. If ever a Sikh mother complained of her son’s indifference towards her he would order the execution of the son, and in case the mother bewailed the order of execution of her son, both the son and the mother were killed.”68

For the Sikhs a dip in the holy tank of Amritsar and homage at Harmandir were essential parts of their pilgrimage for which they came there from far and near on the occasions of Baisakhi and Diwali.69 On these occasions, the Lahore government made special arrangements to capture them. And, not unoften, the Sikhs had to fight their way out of the town.

The period of governorship of Muin-ul-Mulk (1748-53), popularly known as Mir Mannu, was perhaps the darkest in the history of the Punjab when even Sikh women and children were seized and imprisoned, starved and tortured to death in the dark and narrow dungeons in the Landa Bazar of Lahore. The sufferings of the Sikhs at this time were very severe indeed, and alluring rewards were offered for destroying them. In the words of Miskin, “Everyone who brought Sikh heads to Muin received rewards of rupees ten per head. Anyone who brought a horse belonging to a Sikh could keep it as his own; whosoever lost his own horse by chance in the fight with the Sikhs got another in its place from the government stable.”70 Adeena Beg, who was at one time considered to be a sympathiser of the Sikhs, reacted violently against them after Ahmad Shah’s return in 1757, and ordered that no Sikh should be allowed to remain alive. The forests where the Sikhs hid themselves were ordered to be cut and the hiding Sikhs hunted down.71 According to Forster, “such was the keen spirit that animated the persecution, such was the success of the exertions that the name of a Sique no longer existed in the Mughal dominion.”72

Despite the fact that the Sikhs had been outlawed by the government Kapur Singh Faizullapuria divided the Sikhs into two dals (groups). One group was called Budha Dal, League of the Elders, which included men above the age of forty and the other was named Taruna Dal, League of the Young, which comprised the young Sikhs below forty. These dals, later named Dal Khalsa, spear-headed the Sikh movement in the Punjab and led its people to their liberation from the tyrannical Mughal government. The Dal Khalsa and its organisation may be studied in detail in the chapter entitled ‘The Military system of the Sikhs.’

As the Sikhs had been inspired with the object of achieving political emancipation from the Mughal rule they would not accept any terms of the rulers. Grants of jagirs from the government could not placate them.73 Their enthusiasm for their faith, their hatred for the Muhammadan rulers who had so long trampled them under foot, who had killed their prophets and thrown down their altars, gave them a certain dignity and to their objects and expeditions an almost national interest.74

The Sikhs are generally sensitive to the sanctity of their religious places. When Massa Ranghar of Mandiali converted the holy precincts of the Durbar Sahib, at Amritsar, into a stable and the inner sanctuary into a dancing-hall where he used to smoke and drink to the utter desecration of the holy place, Mehtab Singh of Mirankot rushed to Amritsar from the deserts of Bikaner and cut off the head of the offending Ranghar.

In spite of all the hardships they had to undergo, the Sikhs doggedly held out against their enemies. According to Ahmad Shah Batalia, the Sikhs were helped by the zamindars in four different ways. They provided them with protection, supplied them with means of living, bid them in their houses in small batches and joined their ranks.75 The peasantry of the Punjab had grown restless because of the heavy revenue charges and the shabby treatment of the revenue staff and the Mughal troops.76 And thus, many of them were obliged to give up cultivation. They joined the Sikh dais or adopted other means of subsistence. This state of affairs hindered the progress of agriculture and trade and considerably upset the economy of the province.77

Adeena Beg, the faujdar of Jullundur Doab, at times, entered into secret negotiations with the Sikhs,78 and Kaura Mal, the diwan of Lahore, sympathised with them.79 On many occasions, the Lahore government felt that the Sikhs might be humoured. They offered to befriend them, provided they suspended their hostility towards the government. Thus, the Sikhs got intermittent respites which were utilised by them to strengthen their organisation. The government, after condu- cting their hunting expeditions against the Sikhs would, now and then, declare that they had been completely annihilated. But to their great surprise, they soon found the Sikhs very much alive. Many Hindus in the villages, harassed by the government, also preferred to adopt Sikhism. This kept the ranks of the Sikhs replenished,80 and, with unsubdued spirits, they sang:

“Mannu is our sickle,

And we are a crop for him to mow,

The more he cuts us, the more we grow.”81

Their determined courage and unconquerable spirit of resistance always kept their flame in high splendour. It is an unforgettable lesson of history that persecution stimulates the spirit that it designs to suppress.

It may be mentioned here that the Sikhs did not entertain any enmity against the Mohammadans or their religion. Their struggle was against the government and not against the Muslim people. There is no instance on record of the Dal Khalsa or of any Misal force having ever attacked any Muslim village or place of worship as such. According to Ganda Singh, if at any time Muslim mosques came to be attacked by them it was because these were the nerve-centres of their jehad (religious war) against the Sikhs in these days. Otherwise, there are instances amongst the Sikh Gurus and Sikh chiefs building mosques for their Muslim friends and subjects.82

The Lahore government had been convinced that the Sikhs could not be cowed by a policy of ruthlessness; rather they would react adversely at the earliest opportunity. Therefore, the government always continued preparing themselves militarily for future collisions with them.

Kaura Mal, who had tried to keep the Sikhs pacified and had secured for them jagirs at Patti, Chunian and Jhabal, died in 1752, in an action against Ahmad Shah Durrani. Mir Mannu offered an abject submission to the Durrani invader and changed his allegiance from Delhi to Kabul and consequently the Punjab was made a part of the Afghan Empire. The Khalsa, who aimed at freeing the land from the Mughal yoke, could not like Mir Mannu take this somersault as it would make their task more difficult. The anti-Sikh activities of Mir Mannu, combined with Ahmad Shah’s contempt for the Sikhs, could expose them to a much greater danger. But despite the fact that Mir Mannu struggled with the Sikhs for a little over five years he cannot be said to have succeeded. Several forces, internal as well as external, working during this period, were responsible for this state of affairs. The organisation of the Sikhs stood them in good stead in such dangerous days. The common danger and strong religious feelings kept them under discipline and made every Sikh obey his leader in order to work for the cause of the Panth.

On the other hand, the peasantry of the Punjab had grown restless and discontented under heavy revenue charge and by the ill-treatment of the revenue officers of the Mughals. They preferred the adoption of Sikhism in order to get rid of their sad plight by joining the Dal Khalsa. Muin’s keeping of a large army for crushing the Sikhs was itself a very potent cause leading to his failure. His large army entailed upon him a very heavy expenditure and to meet this he had to squeeze the people of their blood. This led to a large scale alienation and these people began to look to the Sikhs for their deliverance. The members of the Dal Khalsa came forward with the offer of the needed protection.

Thus, the very forces which were aimed at the destruction of the Sikhs, failing in hitting the mark, hurt the initiator of the plan and strengthened that which they meant to destroy.

The leaders of the Dal Khalsa were good judges of the situations. Finding Mir Mannu in a precarious condition they sacked the Bari and Jullundur Doabs and chastised such of the officials and their supporters there as had helped the government against the Sikhs. The Sikhs also extended their activities in the Rachna and Chaj Doabs. After Mannu’s death, according to Col. Polier, the Sikhs “began to grow formidable and assume real independence. They formed themselves into a kind of republic and in the course of a few years possessed themselves of the full government of the province of Lahore and Multan.”83 And sometime about this period Sayid Bulhe Shah (1680-1758) wrote:

Mughlan zahir piale pite, Bhurian wale Raje kite; Sabh ashraf phirn chup kite Bhala unhan nun jhariai.84

‘The Mughals had drunk the cups of (destroying) poison, and the blanket-wearing Sikhs had become the Rajas. The nobles are all wandering about in silence, well have they been swept off.’

This refers to the establishment of the Sikh power in the Punjab on the debris of the fallen Mughal structure during the sixth and seventh decades of the eighteenth century. About the end of 1754, the Dal Khalsa carried their arms into the Ambala district and Sirhind and at the same time they continued threatening the provincial capital.85 Even during Mir Mannu’s days Nawab Kapur Singh had once entered Lahore and taken his seat on the platform of the city kotwali, quietly slipping away on the arrival of the government troops.86

Ahmad Shah Abdali came to the Punjab time and again between 1747, and 1769, which was a crucial period in the rise and growth of the Sikh power. Their conflict with the Durrani involved them in immense difficulties. They were driven from place to place, but they heroically held out against him. Jahan Khan, the Durrani commander, always kept his powder dry to fight the Sikhs. But the Sikhs were not to be disheartened. According to the Tarikh-i-Muzafri, the forces of Jahan Khan were occasionally defeated in the clashes between the Afghans and the Sikhs. Encouraged by these successes, the Sikhs found opportunities to expand in different parts of the country.87

The Dal Khalsa, at times, cooperated with Adeena Beg to oust the Afghans from the Punjab. The Sikhs did not mean to reconcile themselves to Adeena’s rule in the country but they wanted to be rid of a more dangerous enemy first. With the help of the Sikhs and Marathas, Adeena attacked Sirhind, captured Abdul Samad Khan, Abdali’s governor of that place, and sacked the town.88 The allies, then, proceeded towards the provincial capital and, in April 1758, Jahan Khan and Timur Shah were driven away from Lahore. They were pursued and overtaken by the Sikhs and the Marathas,89 and a number of Afghan captives were brought to Amritsar to clean the holy tank which Ahmad Shah and Jahan Khan had desecrated with rubbish. In this action ten to fifteen thousand Sikhs took part along with their leaders like Charhat Singh Sukarchakia, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Tara Singh Ghaiba, Hari Singh, Lehna Singh, Gujjar Singh and Jhanda Singh Bhangis.90

The Dal Khalsa incessantly continued the struggle. In pursuance of a gurmata passed in early November 1760, at Amritsar, on the occasion of the Diwali festival, they attacked Lahore with 10,000 Sikhs. On the persuasion of the prominent citizens of Lahore the governor paid 30,000 rupees to the Sikhs is an offering for the karah parshad (sacred pudding) out of the revenues meant for Ahmad Shah Durrani. With this, the Sikhs retired from the capital.91

On the occasion of the Diwali festival which fell on 22nd of October, 1761, the Sikhs passed a gurmata in the general assembly, held at Amritsar, that Aqil Das of Jandiala, a supporter of Ahmad Shah Abdali, should be chastised and the provincial capital captured.92 As the Dal Khalsa moved upon Lahore, he citizens, knowing the weakness of the governor, opened the gates of the city. Jassa Singh entered the capital and the Sikhs proclaimed him king with the title of Sultan-ul-qaum and struck coins in the name of the Guru.93

Aqil Das immediately wrote to Ahmad Shah for help.94 Abdali, who was already on the march, came at once. The Sikhs were surrounded by the Afghan forces on February 5, 1762, near the village of Kupp, in the tract around Malerkotla. The Sikhs suffered a heavy loss of about ten to twelve thousand killed at the lowest estimate.95 This dreadful carnage is known as wadda ghallughara or the Great Holocaust. During this invasion, Ahmad Shah blew up the building of the Sikh temple at Amritsar and filled up the sacred tank with the debris.96 But the Sikhs did not accept things lying down and continued the life and death struggle till, not long afterwards, they became the masters of their land. The Sikhs led desperate expeditions against the Afghans of Sirhind in 1763-64, and of Lahore in 1764, and within two years drove away the agents and governors of Ahmad Shah from the Punjab. James Browne writes that Ahmad Shah sent a person to the Sikh leaders to negotiate peace with them but he was not listened to and was driven away.97 No doubt, Ahmad Shah inflicted heavy defeats upon the Sikhs but he could not subdue them, and the tact and skill of the greatest military genius of the time, in Asia, gave way before the zeal and determination, of the Sikhs, born of religious fervour and spirit of sacrifice.98

The Jat Sikhs were the fighting arm of the community. By their tribal characteristics they were unamenable to a despotic rule, still more to a hostile foreign rule. They have always been nostalgically disposed towards their land and could never tolerate to part with it. When they were dispossessed of it and made to wander in the jungles or deserts it was very natural that they should try to come back to the lands which they and their ancestors had been ploughing for generations. And in a bid to get political freedom, they bad paralysed the Mughal power in the Punjab and consequently the Mughals had abdicated for all intents and purposes. The Sikhs could not allow the opportunist foreign invaders—the Afghans—to steal a march over them in establishing sovereignty in the province. Being the sons of the soil and through a long-drawn struggle for dependence and a series of sacrifices, the Sikhs had a genuine case for the possession of the Punjab both on moral and gal grounds.

Rakhi System Establishment of Virtual Parallel Government

The most important development which took place during this period was the introduction of the rakhi system which sowed the seeds of the Sikh political authority in the land. In the early stages, the rakhi or protection was sought by the people from the Sikhs and later, in order to bring more territories under the rakhi system, the offer of rakhi was made to the people of the towns and villages of the Punjab and was actively pursued by the Sikhs, as a regular feature of their activities. The word rakhi literally means ‘protection’ and in practice, it was a tribute received by the Sikhs for the protection provided or guaranteed by them against external aggression to the people paying it. The circumstances which led to the creation of this system were correlated with the rise of the Sikhs power.

During the three years that followed Mir Mannu’s death ere were nine swift changes in the governorship of the Punjab99 that resulted in chaotic conditions in the province. The Punjab was thrown into the trough of such political confusion and conflicting political claims that peace was completely shattered and the stability of this land wrecked. On Mir Mannu’s death, Emperor Ahmad Shah appointed his three-year old son, Mahmud Khan, viceroy of the two provinces of Lahore and Multan, on the 13th November 1753, and, interestingly enough, the baby viceroy was provided with a two-year old deputy in the person of Muhammad Amin Khan, son of late Mir Mannu. It was a mockery of administration. Baron Hugel commenting upon it says, “It was a plain proof of the miserable state of affairs at Delhi that in such difficult times children and women were thought capable of being entrusted with places of such high importance.”100 Between the inefficient administration of Mir Mannu’s widow, Mughalani Begum, and the intrigues of artful Adeena Beg, the land of the Punjab became a prize for which the hereditary claim of the political authority at Delhi contended with the military genius at Kabul. The people of Punjab were suffering from the evils of a dual monarchy, not knowing whether the province was a part of Indian Empire to be controlled in its administration from Delhi or from Kandhar or Kabul. During these years the state political apparatus had literally collapsed and, as such, the protection of law and life could not be given to the people by the nominal governments professing to be holding charge of the state. Trade had practically come to a standstill as the highways and trade routes were not safe.

Under these circumstances, the dire need of the people was an institution that should protect them from internal lawlessness and external danger which perpetually loomed large before the people. The province was divided into a number of principalities, their jurisdictions conflicted and the different authorities squeezed the poor peasants of their hard-earned money without any prospect of law and security. Economically, the people were being ruined, and politically, there was no hope of peace or Justice. This was a long-sought opportunity for the Sikhs from which they drew full advantage. As sons of the soil, the Sikhs knew how the people of the Punjab had suffered because of insecure and unstable conditions under the Mughals. Besides other considerations if any, they genuinely felt the need of providing asylum to their follow-beings in the Punjab. The Dal Khalsa, being a well organised body of the Sikhs, devised the institution of rakhi. They considered themselves competent to extend their protection to the people where they required it.

Under this system the protection was granted to the people against foreign invasion and internal exploitation of zamindars and government officials and against the depredations of the local adventurers.  It meant that the full safety of their persons and property was to be assumed.

Generally, in return they received one fifth of their income twice a year after each harvest, that is, harhi and sauni or rabi and kharif, but the rate of rakhi seems to be one-fifth of the revenue. James Browne writes, “In the districts not reduced to their absolute subjection but into which they make occasional incursions they levy a tribute which they call Roukey and which is about one fifth (as the Maratha Chouth is one fourth) of the annual rent; whenever a zamindar has agreed to pay this tribute to any Sikh chief, that chief not only himself refrains from plundering him, but will protect him from all others; and this protection is by general consent held so far sacred, that even if the grand army passes through a zamindari where the safe guards of the lowest Sikh chief are stationed, it will not violate them.”101 And according to Polier, “no further hindrance or molestation will be received from them, on the contrary the chief to whom the tribute or racky is paid, takes the district under his protection and is ready to fight against any of, brethren who might think of disturbing it.”102

According to Ghulam Muhyy-ud-Din (Bute Shah),

“When even a Sardar of ten troopers placed an area under his rakhi even one of the biggest Sardars having five hundred or more troopers under him could not interfere in that area.”103

On the other hand, according to Jadunath Sarkar,

“the payment of chauth merely saved a place from the unwelcome presence of the Maratha soldiers and civil underlings, but did not impose on Shivaji any corresponding obligation to guard the district from foreign invasion or internal disorder. The Marathas looked only to their own gain and not to the fate of their prey after they had left. The chauth was only a means of buying off one robber; and not a subsidiary system for the maintenance of peace and order against all enemies. The lands subject to the chauth cannot, therefore, be rightly called spheres of influence.”104

Thus rakhi system was certainly an improvement upon chauth as the Sardar offering rakhi to a village or an area considered himself under obligation to give protection to the people from oppression and attack from whichever quarter it came, as against the practice of chauth. Secondly, the areas under rakhi could rightly be called the spheres of influence and these areas formed the basis of the future Misals.

Rakhi has been conceived generally as a definite phase in the political career of the Sikhs, as a step that supplied them with the idea of raising themselves into territorial chieftains. This view finds support in Ali-ud-Din Mufti’s conception of the phase of nazarana-giri or aman (The Persian equivalent of rakhi) as a prelude to the phase of annexation.105 However, Bute Shah refers to Charhat Singh’s conquest of one area and assertion of rakhi over another at the same time.106 Rakhi did serve as a prelude to territorial occupation but not as a phase. Territorial occupation and rakhi could be established, at one and the same time, in two different areas. Rakhi was, thus, a transitional arrangement existing side by side with territorial occupation. The areas once brought under rakhi were, often but not always, actually occupied and directly administered sooner or later.

The units of the Dal Khalsa moved about offering the rakhi plan to each village individually. The zamindars readily accepted this offer as this system created a sense of security. The people, in general, were happy or, at least, were consoled with the thought that the militant Khalsa was there to protect them. This rakhi scheme opened out vistas of territorial sovereignty to the Sikhs. The leaders of the Dal Khalsa were assigned by the Khalsa organisation a number of districts for providing rakhi and each leader was required or expected to set up his derah (camp) at a strategic point, to build new garhis (mud fortresses) and to repair the old Mughal forts for his use.

“This practice worked successfully, partly for the reason that the interval between the successive invasions of the Abdali afforded the Khalsa leaders time enough to organise their territorial acquisitions, and partly for the reason that most of the central Punjab districts soon elected to come under the new ‘Protective System’ of the Khalsa. Having thus secured a habitat and a more or less regular source of income from the rakhi scheme and a wider field for recruitment to its ranks, the dal was in a better position to contest with the Abdali this transfer of their homeland.”107

This protection was extended equally to the Hindu and Muslim zamindars and people belonging to both the communities benefited from it. The Mughals and Muslim Rajputs, who rejected this offer on account of religious fanaticism and opposed the Sikhs otherwise, were squeezed out to find homes elsewhere.108 In fact, these Muslims who were ousted included most of those people who had usurped the lands of the Sikhs, when they had, under government pressure, left their homes to seek shelter in jungles and deserts. Having recovered the possession of their lands and having entrenched themselves in their respective areas, the Sikhs began to organise some sort of government which became the basis of the administration known as the Misaldari system.

When the representatives of the Dal Khalsa came to collect the stipulated portion of the produce of the village due to them as protectors, they received the welcome due to the deliverer and not the frowns meant for the tax collector.

In a short time four out of the five Doabs of the Punjab came under the protection of the Dal Khalsa. To make the system function successfully one or more units of the dal could combine to take charge of a big slice of territory that came under their protection. To meet a situation in emergency a reserve force was stationed at Amritsar in addition to the moving units of the dais. According to Sohan Lal Suri, Amritsar began to be guarded by Nishanwalias and Dallewalias. The territory, south-west of Lahore, fell under the protection of Nakais; the Chaj and Rachna Doab territories came under the protection of Hari Singh Bhangi and Charhat Singh Sukarchakia. Some territories north of Amritsar also fell under the rakhi of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Jai Singh Kanaihya. The southern bank of the Satluj came under the protection of Deep Singh and Karora Singh, while the Ahluwalias and the Singhpurias occupied some territories on both banks of the Satluj.109 To reward and humour the Sikhs for their help, Adeena Beg paid them a lakh and a quarter of rupees as rakhi or protection money for the Jalandhar Doab. To ingratiate and identify himself further with them, he acknowledged or styled himself to be a sort of round-head Sikh and brought karah prasad (communion food) worth a thousand rupees on festive occasions to be distributed among them.110

A little later, the Sikhs developed their power and influence in the Gangetic Doab; they levied tribute on many towns and villages between the Jamuna and the Ganga. Describing their method of operations, Franklin writes, “When having first demanded the rakhi or tribute, if it be complied with, they retire peacefully, but when denied, hostilities commence.”111 The Sikhs moved vigorously against those who showed hostility.

G.R.C. William writes,

“As regularly as the crops were cut, the border chieftains crossed over and levied black-mail from almost every village, in the most systematic manner. The requisitions were termed rakhi, sometimes euphemistically kambli, that is, ‘blanket money,’ perhaps equal to the price of a blanket.112 Each of them had certain well-known beat or circle so well-recognised and so clearly defined that it is not unusual for the peasantry at the present day to speak of some places being, for instances, in Jodh Singh’s Patti, others in Diwan Singh’s or Himmat Singh’s and so on.”113

Economically rakhi was a large source of income to the Sikh leaders. The Sikhs of the neighbouring villages were coming under their protection voluntarily. The extent of the territory that the Khalsa had to protect was so large that it felt it necessary to divide itself into units or divisions called the Misals. On the territories which had hitherto served as their rakhi grounds they set themselves up as territorial chieftains. And these Misals continued to remain part of the national army or the Dal Khalsa ji and remained bound to the common decisions taken through the gurmata in the name of the Guru. The Khalsa always utilized the time to popularise its rakhi system whenever it got respite from the Durrani invasions and it went a long way in breaking the Afghan administration that the victor of Panipat sought to impose on the Punjab after the battle of Panipat in January 1761. By their rapid extension and development of the rakhi system the Sikhs became the undisputed masters of a large portion of the Punjab. They could very successfully and effectively resist the alien invader. They succeeded in acquiring new territories. They treated very generously the people whom they had placed under their subjection and treated their neighbours with regard and consideration.114

Thus, rakhi proved as a boon both for those who availed of it and for those who gave it. The former settled to their peaceful avocations and the latter laid the foundations of their independent principalities in the Punjab.

Assumption of Sovereignty

After the exit of Ahmad Shah Durrani from the Punjab in the end of March 1765, Lehna Singh and Gujjar Singh occupied the fort of Lahore on April 16, 1765. Sobha Singh also joined them, the following day, on April 17. On the request of a deputation of the grandees of the town, the Sardars issued a proclamation that persons who oppressed the people would be severely dealt with, and the plundering of the town was stopped forth-with. The town was divided by the above Sardars into three divisions and they took to administering it whole-heartedly.115

As a token of assuming power the Sardars struck coins in the name of the Guru and the Sikh rupees came to be called ‘Gobindshahi.’ The coin bore the old inscription:

Deg o tegh o fateh o nusrat bedirang Yaft az Nanak Guru Gobind Singh

The Sikhs extended their sway in the Bari, Rachna, Chaj and Sind Sagar Doabs. In the Bari Doab, the district of Amritsar had been divided amongst the four Sikhs Misals. The territory around Amritsar and Tarn Taran was under Bhangis; Jassa Singh Ahluwalia held the towns of Fatehbad and Goindwal; Ramgarhias held Sri Hargobindpur and Qadian, and the Kanaihyas held the territory about Batala. Amritsar was a common town of the whole Sikh community where all Sikhs assembled on important occasions and festivals.116

Charhat Singh Sukarchakia took the major portion of Rechna Doab under his sway. He entrusted Wazirabad to Gurbakhsh Singh Waraich and the parganas of Hafizabad, Shaikhupura and Naushehra were given to Bhag Singh Virk. The Bhangi Sardars, Tara Singh, Sahib Singh and Jiwan Singh, occupied the district of Sialkot. Karam Singh Bhangi had Firozki, Kaleki, Rurki, and Bajra in the Sialkot district besides holding Chhinah and the neighbouring villages.117

From 1741 to 1765, Muqarrab Khan, Gakhar chief, had been in complete control of Chaj Doab. Gujjar Singh Bhangi proceeded from Lahore and defeated Muqarrab who retired to his capital, Gujrat, and later left that town as well. Gujjar Singh established his capital there and conquered the whole of the district. The Salt Range fell to the share of Charhat Singh.

From September 1765 to May 1766, the Sikhs fought against Najib-ud-Daulah, Ahmad Shah’s plenipotentiary, and virtually a dictator at Delhi. They defeated him in many clashes and ransacked his territories. This completely shattered the Afghan authority in India.

Ahmad Shah again invaded Hindustan in December 1766. Sobha Singh, Lehna Singh and Gujjar Singh; who were at Lahore at that time, were obliged to leave their posts.118 A deputation of the prominent persons of Lahore then waited upon Ahmad Shah Abdali and told him that Lehna Singh was a good ruler and was sympathetic towards his subjects. He made no distinctions between Hindus and Muslims. He bestowed turbans on the qazis, muftis and imams of the mosques on the festivals of Id-ul-zuha.119 The Muslims of Lahore had no fear of the Khalsa, said the deputationists, and they had started looking upon them as their comrades rather than hostile enemies. This happy circumstance, said they, had made the Muslim leaders of Lahore recommend to Ahmad Shah the appointment of Sardar Lehna Singh as their governor in preference to a Muslim nominee of his. Ahmad Shah wrote to Lehna Singh, offering him the governorship of Lahore and sent him some dry fruit of Kabul. Lehna Singh declined the offer saying that to accept an offer from an invader was against the policy and honour of his community and returned the fruit saying that that was not his food as he lived on parched grams.120

Jahan Khan, the Afghan general, was defeated by the Sikhs of the central Punjab. And from the tough resistance that Ahmad Shah met at the hands of the Sikhs this time, he considered it advisable to return home without making much ado about it. The Sikhs would not give him easy headway into the Punjab. A despatch, issued from Calcutta to the Nawab Wazir of Oudh, dated 19th February, 1767, says, “Lord Clive (the British Governor of Calcutta) is extremely glad to know that the Shah’s progress has been impeded by the Sikhs. If they continue to cut off his supplies and plunder his baggage, he will be ruined without fighting and then he will either return to his country or meet with shame and disgrace. As long as he does not defeat the Sikhs or come to terms with them, he cannot penetrate into India. And neither of these events seems probable since the Sikhs have adopted such effective tactics and since they hate the Shah on account of his destruction of Chak(Amritsar).”121

Ahmad Shah speedily returned to his country, leaving the whole of the territory of the Punjab in the hands of the Sikhs. After Ahmad Shah’s departure, Gujjar Singh, Lehna Singh and Sobha Singh marched towards Lahore. The nobles of Dadan Khan, the new governor of Lahore, told him plainly that the people were satisfied with the Sikh rule and they might open the city gates and admit the Sikh chiefs into the town. Dadan Khan, therefore, on the advice of his friends, met the Sikh Sardars who treated him with respect and consideration and granted him a daily allowance of rupees twenty and occupied Lahore.122

In 1768, Najib-ud-Daulah fought many battles against the Sikhs and suffered terrible defeats at their hands. He was so shaken in his determination and weakened by the Sikhs that he thought of attaining political salvation by making a pilgrimage to Mecca or by retiring into some obscure corner.123

From the analysis of the above discussion of the Sikh struggle for sovereignty, the following four stages emerge distinctly. First, from 1708 to 1716, under Banda Singh, the Sikh movement was militantly offensive. Second, from 1717 to 1747, under the Lahore Mughal governors—Abdus Samad Khan, Zakariya Khan, Yahiya Khan and Shah Nawaz Khan—the role of the Sikhs was mainly defensive. Third, from 1748 to 1761, Ahmad Shah Durrani fought against the Mughals and the Marathas, providing opportunity to the Sikhs to recoup and organise themselves for a final bid for power. Fourth, from 1762 to 1768, there was a straight contest for power between the Sikhs and the Afghans in which the Sikhs emerged triumphant ultimately.

In the first stage, the Sikhs planned the destruction and replacement of the Mughal government. This period witnessed the first Sikh attempt, though unsuccessful, to carve out an independent state under the leadership of the valiant Banda Singh. In the second stage (1717-1747), the Mughal governors of Lahore made an all-out effort to stamp out the Sikh movement, which at times received staggering blows, horrible persecutions and martyrdoms of the Sikhs. The role of the Sikhs during this period was primarily defensive in nature. The situation compelled the Sikh leaders to plan some vigorous organisational changes. The emergence of the Dal Khalsa—the Sikh national army—was a highly significant consequence of the Sikh suppression by the state. In the third stage (1748-1761), the Sikh leaders moved into the vacuum created in the central Punjab by the Mughal- Afghan contest. In the fourth stage (1762 to 1768), only two contestants, the Afghans and the Sikhs, were left in the arena of the Punjab. The Afghan-Sikh contest was decisive; the Sikhs emerged victorious after a long-drawn and fateful struggle.

It goes to the credit of the Sikhs that they did not allow the struggle against the Mughals or the Afghans to degenerate into a vendetta against the Muslim population. Ahmad Shah Durrani was faced with the Sikhs who were possessed of sterling qualities of character and conduct. The Sikhs got released from the hands of the Afghans hundreds of Indian women, being carried away to Afghanistan and restored them to their families. Such noble behaviour of the Sikhs was bound to elicit respect for them in the Indian society. On the other hand Ahmad Shah Durrani, at the grand- fatherly age, had stooped so low as to have forcibly married Hazart Begum, a sixteen year old daughter of the late Emperor Muhammad Shah, in 1756, in spite of the tearful protests other widowed mother. Besides, he took away sixteen other ladies of the Mughal royal harem with 400 maidservants belonging to them. Thus, the Afghans alienated every regard and sympathy of the entire population of the country.

Amritsar played a very important role in the Sikh struggle for independence. It was a great source of their inspiration. The more the Durrani tried to destroy their temple and tank, the bolder and more revengeful they grew. Amritsar, to the Sikhs, was a symbol of their national unity and independence.

The second and third quarters of the eighteenth century produced a galaxy of valiant and very competent Sikh leaders as Kapur Singh Faizullapuria, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Ala Singh, Tara Singh Ghaiba, Jai Singh Kanaihya, Lehna Singh and Gujjar Singh Bhangis, Charhat Singh and Baghel Singh. These leaders made a notable contribution to wresting power from the hands of the Mughals and foiling all attempts of Ahmad Shah Durrani to make Punjab a province of his kingdom.

The immensity of sacrifice in human blood, made by the Sikhs to gain mastery over their own homeland was tremendously vast. Dr Hari Ram Gupta points out that at the most modest estimates Guru Gobind Singh, in several battles fought against him by the Mughals, lost about five thousand of his newly created Khalsa. Under Banda Singh, at least twenty five thousand Sikhs laid their lives in their fight against the Mughals. After Banda Singh’s execution Abdus Samad Khan, governor of Punjab (1713-26), killed not less than twenty thousand Sikhs. His son and successor, Zakariya Khan (1726-45), was responsible for the death of an equal number. Yahiya Khan (1746-47) destroyed about ten thousand Sikhs in a single campaign called chhota ghallughara. His brother Shah Nawaz Khan, in 1747, assassinated nearly one thousand Sikhs. Yahiya Khan’s brother-in-law, Muin-ul-Mulk (1748-53), slaughtered more than thirty thousand. These rulers were all Turks from Central Asia. Adeena Beg Khan, a Punjabi Arain, put to death at least five thousand in 1758. Ahmad Shah Abdali and his Afghan governors killed around sixty thousand from 1753 to 1767. Abdali’s deputy, Najib-ud-Daulah, also an Afghan, slew nearly twenty thousand. Petty officials and public must have killed four thousand. The total comes to two lakh men.

The Marathas had taken ten years to recover their losses at the battle of Panipat in January 1761. The Sikhs took only ten weeks to make up their losses fully and regain their spirit of defiance after the February 1762 carnage. They rose like a suppressed flame with greater vigour, and repulsed all his governors and the Abdali himself.

Sometimes the government announced that the Sikhs had been completely liquidated but a few days later they received the intelligence that a large number of them had assembled at a particular place. In fact, chivalrous Hindus, who felt that the Sikhs were being wronged against and harassed unduly, got themselves baptised into Singhs with the double-edged sword and replenished the ranks of the Sikhs. The Sikhs believed that sacrifice made for the cause of the Panth would place them in the lap of their Guru. It is difficult to find any instance in Sikh history where a captured Sikh gave up his religion to save his life. Ultimately, their sacrifice bore fruit. The tremendous human loss, when linked with the achievement of sovereignty, does not match very unfavourably with the commendable gains of the Sikhs. The sacrifice is the price of such gains for which the Sikhs had put at stake, for six decades, everything including their domestic comforts, their belongings and even their lives.

Abdali failed against the Sikhs and like a shrewd statesman he realised his limitations to deal with them effectively. He, therefore, helplessly, left most of the Punjab, including the provincial capital, in the hands of the Sikhs. The Sikhs, thus, emerged victorious after a long-drawn and fateful struggle. N.K. Sinha has rightly remarked that

“for the successful termination of the Sikh war of independence we should give the credit to the entire nation, not to any individual, that would be against the spirit of the whole enterprise.”124

A.C. Banerjee observed that,

“the war of independence brought out the internal strength of the community. Sikh democracy was put to a severe test and it was not found wanting. The community not only survived half a century of persecution and war it created a state.125

Notes and References

  1. Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Parkash (1841), Amritsar, 1939, p. 68; Muhammad Latif, History of the Punjab, Calcutta, 1891. p. 294 Payne, C.H., A Short History of the Sikhs, London, n.d., p. 43.
  2. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 67.
  3. Ibid., Ganda Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur (Punjabi), Amritsar, 1964 , pp. 24-25.
  4. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 67.
  5. Akhbar-i-Darbar-I-Mualla (MS. Ganda Singh Private Collection, Patiala), p. 122; Rattan Singh, op. cit., p. 72.
  6. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit.. p. 81; Karam Singh, Banda Bahadur, Amritsar, 1907 p. 41; G.C. Narang, Transformation of Sikhism, Lahore 1912, pp. 100-01; Ganda Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur, Amritsar, 1935, p. 83.
  7. Khafi Khan, Muntakhab-ul-Lubab, Vol. II (1722), Calcutta, 1874, p. 652.
  8. Karam Singh, Banda Bahadur, Amritsar, 1907, p. 77. Iradat Khan, Tarikh-i-Iradat Khan (1714), MS, PUP., p. 68.
  9. Ibid., p. 87; Mohammad Qasim, Ibratnama (1719), MS., G.S., pp. 38-39.
  10. Mohammad Qasim, op. cit., p. 21. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, Bombay, 1950, p. 85.
  11. Akhbar-i-Darbar-i-Mualla, News-litter, July 23, 1710. The Persian manuscript is preserved in the private collection of Dr Ganda Singh, Patiala. The collection of news from the royal Mughal Court relating to the Punjab originally preserved at Jaipur is now shifted to the State Archives, Bikaner.

Besides Nasir, Qalandhar also mentions Dinar Khan having been named Dindar Singh (Yar, Muhammed Qalandhar, Dastural Insha (1710), MS., G.S., p. 3.

  1. Ibid., a. dateless entry to this effect after the entry dated February 13, 1712, Ahmad Shah Batalia, Appendix to Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, p. 11, Irvine, Later Mughals, Calcutta, 1922, p. 94.

Thornton, History of the Punjab, Vol. I, London, 1846, p. 176.

  1. Muhammad Latif, History of the Panjab, (edition 1964), pp. 274-75.
  2. Kamwar Khan, Tazkiratus Salatin-i-Chugtia (1723), MS, PUP, p. 334.

       14A. It was a practice with Banda Singh to ask the ruler or Chaudhary of the place that he proposed to proceed against to accept his allegiance. In the case of a negative reply he considered himself justified to make an assault. (Ganda Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur, p. 80).

  1. Akhbar-i-Darbar-i Mualla, news dated July 2, 1710; Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 655; Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, Vol. VII, London, 1877, p. 416; Irvine, Later Mughals Vol. I, Calcutta, 1922, pp. 101-102.
  2. Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II. p. 658, Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., p. 417.
  3. Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 123.
  4. Ibid., p. 122.
  5. Muhammad Qasim, op. cit., p. 22; Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 660; Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 117.
  6. Muhammed Qasim, op. cit., p. 23; Ganesh Das Badehra, Char Bagh-i-Punjab, (1855), Amritsar, 1965, p. 119; Sohan Lal Suri, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Daftar I, Lahore, 1885, pp. 79-80.
  7. Iradat Khan, Tawarakh-i-Iradat Khan (1714), M.S., PUP, p. 68.
  8. Malcolm, Sketch of the Sikhs, London, 1812, p. 79.
  9. Akhbar-i-Darbar-i-Mualla, December 10, 1710.

       23A. Miftah-ul-Tawarikh, p, 398, Forster. A Journey from Bengal to England Vol. I. London, 1788, p. 312.

  1. Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 138.
  2. Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 669-70, Kamwar Khan, Tazkirah-i-Salatin-t-Chughtal (1723), MS., PUP., p. 352; Elliot and Dowson, op. cit. Vol. VII, p. 423.
  3. Muhammad Shujah-ud-Din (ed.), Asrar-i-Samadi (1728-29), Lahore, 1965, p. 18.
  4. Muhammad Qasim, op. cit., p. 42.
  5. Asrar-i-Samadi, p. 15; Muhammad Harisi. Ibratnama (1719), M.S. PUP, pp. 86-87: Khafi Khan op. cit., II, p. 765.
  6. Kesar Singh Chibber, Bansavalinama (1780), M.S., R.S., p. 294.
  7. Muhammad Harisi, op cit., 86-87; Kamwar Khan, op. cit., p. 460; Ganesh Das Badehra, Char Bagh-i-Punjab (1855), Amritsar. 1965, p. 123., Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs Bombay, 1950, p. 99.
  8. Ganesh Dass Badehra, op. cit., p. 123.
  9. Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 766; Haqiqat-i-Bina-o-Uruj-i-Sikhan, M.S., p. 10. Ghazi-ud-Din Khan, Tazkira Imad-ul-Mulk, 1758 M.S., Khalsa College, Amritsar, p. 189.

       32A. Letter dated March 10, 1716 written by John Surman and Edward Stephenson, members of the British Embassy to the Court of Farrukh Siyar and addressed to the President and Governor of Fort Williams (Calcutta). Relevant portion of the letter is reproduced in Ganda Singh (ed.). Early European Accounts of the Sikhs, p. 52.

  1. Muhammad Harisi, op. cit., M.S., PUP., p. 87.
  2. Ahwal-i-Adeena Beg, M.S., G.S., p. 20; Khushwaqat Rai, M.S., PUP p. 42b.
  3. Akhbar-i-Darbar-i-Mualla, News June 10, 1716; Asrar-i-Samadi, p. 15.
  4. Akhbar-i-Darbar-i-Mualla, June 10, 1716; Mirza Muhammad Harisi, op. cit, p. 103. Muhammad Qasim Lahori op. cit., p, 76; Muhammad Hadi Kamwar Khan, Tarikh-i-Sikhan (1811), p. 180; Muhammad Shafi Warid, Mirat-i-Waridat, pp. 168/122; Sohan Lal Suri, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Daftar I, Lahore, 1885, p. 91, Ganesh Das, op. cit., p. 143.
  5. Elphinstone, History of India, London, 1874; p. 670; Muhammad Harisi, op. cit., p. 103; Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., Vol. VII, pp. 458-59. Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 765-66; cf. Irvine. Later Mughals, Vol. I. Calcutta. 1922, p. 319.
  6. Kushwant Singh, History of the Sikhs, Vol. I, Princeton, 1963, p. 118.
  7. Rattan Singh, op. cit., p. 117.
  8. Irvine, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 110.
  9. Ganda Singh, Life of Banda Singh Bahadur, Amritsar, 1935, p. 80.
  10. Hukamname (ed. Canda Singh, Patiala, 1967), No. 67, p. 195.
  11. According to the local tradition once farmers from the neighbourhood of Sadhaura came to complain to Banda Singh about their suffering at the hands of the land-lords. Banda Singh ordered Baj Singh to open fire on them. On being asked he told them that they deserved no better deal. They were thousands in number and still they allowed themselves to be harassed by a handful of landlords. They acted on the suggestion and did away with the big zamidars of malwa and Jullundur Doab.
  12. Irvine. op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 98-99.
  13. Khafi Khan, op. cit. Vol. II, pp. 652; Mirza Mohammad Harisi, op. cit., p. 72; Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 118.
  14. Karam Singh, op. cit., pp. 77-78.
  15. Kesar Singh Chhibbar, op. cit., p. 136.
  16. Ghulam Husain, Siyar-ul-Mufakhrin (English translation), Raymond. Vol. I, London, 1789, p. 82.
  17. Kesar Singh Chhibbar, op. cit., p. 136.
  18. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 96.
  19. Akhbar-i-Darbar-i-Mualla (Jaipur), newsletter, April 28, 1711.
  20. Ruqaat-i-Amin-ud-Daula, letter III; Yar Mohammad Qalandar, Dastur-ul-Insha, Letter III, M.S., KCA.; Budh Singh Arora, Rasala-i-Nanak Shah, M.S., PUP, p. 9.
  21. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, op, cit; pp. 107-08; cf., George Forster, op. cit.; Vol. I, p. 313.
  22. Kesar Singh Chhibber, op. cit; pp. 142.
  23. Kanaihya Lal, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877, p. 71.
  24. Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 124; cf.. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 218.
  25. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 44., cf. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., I, p. 103; Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 124.
  26. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 44.
  27. George Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England, Vol. I (1798), reprint, Patiala, 1970, p. 313.
  28. Porster. op. cit., I, p. 272,- Malcolm, Sketch of the Sikhs, London, 1812, p. 86; Abroad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 13; Gordon, The Sikhs, London, 1904, pp. 57-58; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, pp. 139-40; M’Gregor, The History of The Sikhs. Vol. I, London, 1846, p. 115.
  29. Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 126; Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., pp. 55-56; Bakhat Mal, Khalsanama, M.S., R.S.; p. 28; Budh Singh Arora, Risala-i-Nanak Shah (1783), M.S., PUP, p. 12; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 213.
  30. Similarly they called onions silver pieces; a rupee—an empty crust, a blind man wide awake hero; death—an expedition to the next world, a fine by the Panth—getting one’s salary, etc. For more such terms see Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit.. Vol. I, pp. 366-67.
  31. Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 124; Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., M.S.G.S., p. 59, Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 375.
  32. Khushwaqat Rai. op. cit., p. 48.
  33. Ibid., p. 47, Rattan Singh, op. cit., pp. 291-293, Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 199.
  34. Rattan Singh, ]op. cit., pp. 293-94; Gian Singh, Panth Parkash, p. 519; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 199; Mohammad Latif, op. cit., P. 213; Gian Singh, Shamsher Khalsa (edition 1892), pp. 102-03.
  35. Rattan Singh, op. cit., pp. 378, 395.
  36. Haqiqat-i Bina-o-uruj-i-Firqa-i-Sikhan. M.S., PUP, p. 13.
  37. Budh Singh Arora, op. cit., p. 14.
  38. Tahmas Khan Miskin, Tahmasnama (1779), M.S., G.S., pp. 35b, 42a.
  39. Ahmad Shah Batalia, Appendix, op. cit; Daftar I of Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Lahore, 1885, p. 18.
  40. Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England, London, 1798, Vol. I, pp. 312-13; cf, Browne, India Tracts, II, p. 13; Malcolm, op. cit., p. 85; Mitlah-ul-Tawarikh, p. 398; Cunningham, A History of the Sikhs, London, 1849, p. 95; M’ Gregor, The History of the Sikhs, Vol. I, London, 1846, pp. 113- 14.
  41. Gian Singh, Shamsher Khalsa, Part II, p. 30.
  42. Griffin, Rajas of the Punjab, p. 17; cf., Gordon, pp. 58-59.
  43. Ahmad Shah Batalia, Zikr-i-Guruan, Appendix, Daftar I, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, p. 13.
  44. Tahmas Khan, op. cit., p 84; M’Gregor, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 114.
  45. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 19.
  46. Browne, op. cit., ii, p. 17; Malcolm, op. cit., p. 92; Bakhat Mal, op. cit., pp. 71-72; Forster, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 314.
  47. Forster, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 314; cf., Malcolm, op. cit, pp. 91.92.
  48. Siyar-ul-Mufakhrin, Vol. Ill, pp. 50-51; Browne, op. cit., ii, p. 16, Bakhat Mal, op. cit., pp. 67-68; Ahmad Shah Batalia. Appendix, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Daftar I, p. 12; Budh Singh Arora, op. cit., p. 30.
  49. Mannu asadi datri asin Mannu de soe, jion jion Mannu wadhda asai dun sawai hoe. cf., Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibratnama (1854), Lahore, 1961, Vol. I, p. 208.
  50. Ganda Singh (ed.). Early European Accounts of the Sikhs, Calcutta, 1962, footnote 18, p. 58.
  51. Ibid., p. 58.
  52. Kafian Bule Shah, Kafi No. 65.
  53. Rattan Singh, op. cit., p. 311-12; Gian Singh, Panth Parkash, pp. 713-15.
  54. Khushwaqat Rai, M.S., G.S., p. 53, Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 209.
  55. Mohammad Ali Ansari, Tarikh-i-Muzafri (1810), M.S., G.S., p. 364.
  56. Tarikh-i-Alamgir Sani, p. 311; Selections from the Peshawa (SPD, XXVII p. 220), Daftar Vol. 27, p. 220; Budh Singh Arora, op. cit., p. 26, Tahmas Khan, Tahmas Nama (1779), English translation, by P. Setu Madhava Rao, Bombay, 1967, p. 67. Ghulam Ali Azad Mir, Khazana-i-Amra (1762- 63), Cawnpore, 1900. p. 100; J.D. Cunningham, A History of the Sikhs (1849), Delhi, reprint 1955, p. 106, Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 97; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., I, p. 144.
  57. Tarikh-i-Alamgir Sani, p. 312; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 37; Tahmas Khan, op. cit., pp. 81- 83.
  58. Budh Singh, Arora, p. 26., Haqiqat-i-Bina-o-uruj-I-Firqai Sikhan; p. 19; Ganda Singh Ahmad Shah Durrani, Bombay, 195V, p. 206.
  59. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 226-27, Sohan Lal, op. cit., Daftar I, p. 150; Kanaihya Lal, op. cit., p. 83.
  60. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 94; cf, Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 229; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., Daftar I, p. 154.
  61. Hari Ram Gupta’s assertion, in his books, Sikh History, Vol. I, pp. 162-68, and Studies in Later Mughal History of the Punjab, pp. 307-17, that Jassa Singh Ahluwalia minted coins in his own name, has been examined under ‘The Sikh Coins’.
  62. Ali-ud-Din Mufti op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 229-30, Gazetteer of Amritsar (1892-93) p. 165; Kanaihya Lal, op. oit, p. 85.
  63. The Sikh losses in this battle have been variously estimated: Tahmas Khan, op. cit., p. 106 (25,000); Ghulam Ali Azad, op. cit., p. 114 (20,000); Ghulam Husain, Siyar-ul-Mutakhirin, III, p. 74 (20,000); Tarikh-i-Husain Shahi, p. 83 (30,000); Tarikh- i-Ahmad, p. 17 (30,000); Khushwaqat Kai, op. cit., p. 61 and Ganesh Das Badehra, op. cit., p. 125 (30,000); Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 230 (30,000); Forster, A Journey From Bengal to England (1798), Vol. I, p. 319 (25,000); Malcolm , Sketch of the Sikhs, p. 98 (Upwards of 20,000); Pricsep, Origin of the Sikh Power (1834), p. 24 (25 to 30,000); M’Gregar, op. cit., Vol. I. p. 132 (17,000), Cunningham, op. cit., p. 92 (12 to 25,000); Baron Hugel, Travels in Cashmere and the Punjab (1845), p. 271 (20 to 30,000); Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 348, as told by the people out of one lakh Sikhs 50,000 Sikhs died and as he heard from his father and uncle, present in the battle, out of the total Sikhs, 20,000 came back to the camp in the evening and thus 10,000 killed; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 206 (13,000); Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 221 (15 to 20,000); Jadunath Sarkar, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 486 (10,000).
  64. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 65; Ganesh Das, op. cit., p. 125; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., p. 232.
  65. James Browne, History of the Rise and Progress of the Sikhs, London, 788, p. 25; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., I, p. 160.
  66. Browne, op. cit., II, pp. 25.26; Forster, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 100-101.
  67. Mohammad Amin Khan was the governor of the province from November 1753 to May 1754; Mughlani Begum from May 1754 to October 1754, Momin Khan from October to December 1754; Khawaja Mirza from December 1754 to April 1755; Mughlani Begum from April to July 1755; Khawaja Abdullah from July to September 1755; Adeena Beg Khan from September to December 1755; Mughlani Begum from January to March 1756; Adeena Beg Khan from March to October 1756.
  68. Baron Hugel, Travels in Kashmir and the Punjab (1849), Patiala reprint, 1970, p. 265.
  69. James Browne, Introduction to the History of the Origin and Progress of the Sikhs p. 16; reproduced in Early European Accounts of the Sikhs (ed. Ganda Singh), Calcutta, 1962, Browne-Introduction, vii.
  70. Polier, Col. ‘An Account of Sikhs’ reproduced in Early European Accounts of The Sikhs (ed. Ganda Singh), p. 62.
  71. Bute Shah, Tarik-i-Punjab, Daftar III, M.S., G.S., p. 97.
  72. Jadunath Sarkar, History of Aurangzeb, Vol. IV, Calcutta, Orient reprint, 1972, p. 186.
  73. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., T, pp. 371-72., Sita Ram Kohli’s ‘Organization of the Khalsa Army,’ Maharaja Ranjit Singh—First Death Centenary Memorial (ed. Ganda Singh) Amritsar, 1939, pp. 63- 64.
  74. Bute Shah, Tarikh-i-Punjab, V, (1848), MS, PUP., p. 4; cf., Sohan Lal Suri, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Daftar II, Lahore, 1885, p. 5.
  75. Sita Ram Kohli, Foreword to the English translation of Umdat-ut-Tawarikh Daftar III, by V.S. Suri, Delhi, 1962, p. viii.
  76. Browne, op. cit., p. viii; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 312.
  77. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 5.
  78. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 158.
  79. Franklin, Shah Allum, London, 1798, pp. 76-77.
  80. This blanket money was meant to defray the expenses of the horse and the rider. During their excursions the Sikh chiefs were sheltered by only a small canopy of coarse cotton cloth while the soldiers rested on the bare ground under a blanket (kambli) spread over two lances in case of rain and sun. They used a saddle and blanket to serve the office of a mattress and pillow. In the winter they wrapped themselves in these blankets. On a mach they put the blankets beneath the saddle and with this scanty accoutrement they could encamp or decamp in a few minutes time. (Forster, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 332-34; Browne, Introduction, ix, x; Franklin, Memoirs of George Thomas, Calcutta, 1803, pp. 71-73; Malcolm, op. cit., pp. 141-42.)
  81. G.R.C. William, Calcutta Renew (1875), pp. 28-29.
  82. Bute Shah, op. cit., Daftar III, p. 97. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit; pp. 489-92; Gian Singh, Panth Parkash, 5th edition, pp. 750-51.
  83. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit, Vol. I, p. 239; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., Daftar L PP. 163-64; Mian Ahmad Yar Maulvi, Shahnama-i-Ranjit Singh (ed. Ganda Singh), Amritsar, 1951, p. 52.
  84. Amritsar Gazetteer (1892-93), pp. 10-11.
  85. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., pp. 133.34; Lepel Griffin, The Punjab Chiefs, Lahore, 1865, p. 373.
  86. Uruj-i-Firqa-i-Sikfian, MS., PUP., p. 20.
  87. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 240; cf., Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 85.
  88. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 240.
  89. Calendar of Persian Correspondence, Vol. II, 52; Also cf., Vol. II, 161A.
  90. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 241.
  91. Calendar of Persian Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 847.
  92. N.K. Sinha, Rise of the Sikh Power. Calcutta, 1936, p. 68.
  93. A.C. Banerjee, Anglo-Sikh Relations, Calcutta, 1949, p. lxvii.