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The Ahluwalia Misal

Whatever the real origin of this Misal it appears first in history as of the Jat caste to which Sadao Singh, the founder of the villages of Ahlu, Hallu-Sadho, Tor and Chak, belonged.1

As the tradition goes, Sadawa,2 the younger brother of Sadao Singh fell violently in love with a girl of the Kalal (or distiller) caste. The marriage of Sadawa with the Kalal girl was not approved by his relatives. But finding the lover getting dangerously ill the marriage was allowed. The parents of the bride imposed the condition on Sadawa that, in future, all their children would be married among the Kalals to which he agreed. Thus, Ahluwalias or residents of the village of Ahlu came to be called Kalals.3 Four sons, including Gopal, were born to Sadawa. Later, Dewa Singh was born to Gopal. Dewa Singh had three sons named, Badar Singh, Sadar Singh and Gurbakhsh Singh. Badar Singh was married to the sister of Bagh Singh, a petty zamindar of the Lahore district.

Jassa Singh (1718-1783)

For many years, Badar Singh had no child. It is said that Badar Singh sought the blessings of the Guru imploring that if a son was born to him he would be made the disciple of the Guru. As a result of his father’s prayers, Jassa Singh was born on Baisakh Sudi 15, Puranmashi, Samvat 1775, May 3, 1718.4 Badar Singh died in 1722, when Jassa Singh was just five years of age.5 Badar Singh’s widow went to Delhi with her child to place him in the care of Guru Gobind Singh’s widow, Mata Sundari who was living there. Jassa Singh and his mother remained at Delhi for quite some time.6Mata Sundari became much attached to both the mother and the son.

When Jassa Singh was seven years of age,7 his maternal uncle Bagh Singh, who was issueless, requested Mata Sundari to spare the young boy to succeed him. Mata Sundari blessed and allowed Jassa Singh and his mother to go to Bagh Singh’s house.8

According to Sohan Lal Suri, Bagh Singh raided and captured many villages and exacted tributes from the zamindars.9

On their return from Delhi Jassa Singh, his mother and his maternal uncle, Bagh Singh, stayed at Jalandhar where they were visited by Kapur Singh Faizullapuria. He was very much pleased to hear Bagh Singh’s sister or Jassa Singh’s mother singing bani (holy hymns) with melodious voice.10 He demanded the custody of her son Jassa Singh who was entrusted to his care. Jassa Singh was baptised by Kapur Singh11 who, later, put him on the duty of distributing grains to his followers for their horses. When he resented that duty he was told that, in future, he would be shouldering a much greater responsibility.12  Kapur Singh always treated Jassa Singh as his own son.

Jassa Singh once brought a complaint to Nawab Kapur Singh, saying that the Sikhs in his camp ridiculed his manner of speech. Having spent his earlier days in Delhi he had acquired the habit of mixing Urdu words with his Punjabi. The Sikhs ragged him for this and called him ‘ham ko—tum ko.’ Kapur Singh tried to console him with the words: ‘Why should you mind what the Khalsa say? They got for me a nawabship, and might make you a padshah.’ The Sikhs at once caught up the words as a prophecy and began to call Jassa Singh a padshah.13

Soon after, Bagh Singh died. At the time of Bagh Singh’s death Jassa Singh was only 13. He inherited the property of his maternal uncle.14 He grew into a very brave and fearless young man. His “political talent, religious zeal and lofty aspirations combined, rendered him one of the most powerful federal chiefs of the Punjab.”15

The Sikhs considered it a privilege to take baptism of double-edged sword at Jassa Singh’s hands. Raja Amar Singh, the successor of Ala Singh of Phulkian family, was one of the many prominent Sikhs to have been administered pahul by Jassa Singh.16

Like others, Jassa Singh created a jatha of his own and with the resources inherited from his maternal uncle, he became one of the leading Sikh Sardars.

Nadir Shah attacked India in 1739, and when, on his return, he was carrying away an enormous amount of money as booty he was attacked by the Sikhs and was dispossessed of most of his plunder. Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia is said to have played an important part in this enterprise. Shortly thereafter, the Ahluwalia chief built the fort of Dallewal on the bank of the Ravi. In 1743, he attacked and carried away a large government treasure that was being taken from Eminabad to Lahore. Jaspat Rai, the brother of Diwan Lakpat Rai, was killed by the Sikhs fighting under the command of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

By 1747, the Sikhs had created among them as many as 65 jathas, each under its respective leader. There was an imperative need of uniting these jathas into a lesser number and placing them under the overall command of a competent leader. In the words of Hari Ram Gupta, “Luckily for the Sikhs, a very capable leader who commanded high respect from all the Sikhs and possessed remarkable power of organization had appeared among them. This was Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, who had received his training under the famous leader Nawab Kapur Singh. The Nawab was the most venerable Sikh leader. Owing to the constant help and guidance of the Nawab and his own sterling virtues Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had corns to occupy a very prominent position among the Sikh leaders. The Nawab was growing old and he wanted to give the leadership of the warlike Khalsa to somebody else. He had his eye on the promising Jassa Singh and he was on the lookout for an opportunity to do so.”17

After Ahmad Shah Durrani’s return from the province, following his first invasion of India, the Sikhs met at Amritsar on the Baisakhi day, March 29, 1748, and on the proposal of Nawab Kapur Singh that the Panth needed solidarity and union, the entire fighting body of the Sikhs was named, the Dal Khalsa jio, and placed under the supreme command; of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.18 The various groups were leagued together under twelve prominent chiefs.

In 1749, Jassa Singh, whose reputation had, by then, become great because of his bravery and ability, was invited by Diwan Kaura Mal, to help’ him expelling Shah Nawaz Khan, the former governor of Lahore, who was, then, in occupation of Multan on the authority of Ahmad Shah Durrani. Mir Mannu, the governor of Lahore, could not stand a rival in the Punjab. Jassa Singh willingly offered help and cooperated with Kaura Mal in reducing Multan to Mir Mannu’s submission. Shah Nawaz was killed in the battle and Jassa Singh received a rich share of booty and honours for him from Muin-ul-Mulk (Mir Mannu).19

The Lahore government again began to follow the policy of persecution against the Sikhs. In 1753, a large army under Aziz Khan was sent against the Sikhs and the government force was utterly routed by Jassa Singh. In 1755, the Ahluwalia chief defeated Adeena Beg at Kadar, and snatched from him the territory of Fatehbad. He established his headquarters at Fatehbad on the right bank of river Beas, where he set up his military post in the serai which was developed into a fort and was called Khalwara. Fatehbad continued to be Jassa Singh’s headquarters up to 1780, when it was shifted to Kapurthala. Shortly thereafter, Umed Khan and Aziz Khan were defeated in yet another trial. In 1756, Sarbuland Khan, one of the Afghan generals whom Ahmad Shah Durrani, the ruler of Kabul, had left behind him in charge of Jalandhar, was defeated by Jassa Singh and his comrades. In 1758, Adeena Beg invited the help of the Marathas and the Sikhs to occupy Lahore. Prince Timur and his minister Jahan Khan fled to Afghanistan.20

In October 1759, Ahmad Shah Durrani appointed Raja Ghamand Chand of Kangra as governor of Jalandhar Doab and the hill territory lying between the Ravi and the Satluj. Jassa Singh moved against Ghamand Chand and routed him in the battle of Mahilpur near Hoshiarpur and made him pay tribute to the Dal Khalsa. He realised tributes from the hill states of Mandi and Kulu. Nalagarh and Bilaspur were made tributary in March 1763.

He also placed under his control Jalalpur, Goindwal, Istala, Butala, Tarn Taran and Khadur.21 After crossing river Beas he occupied Sultanpur, Talwandi and some other territories.

According to Ahmad Shah Batalia, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia gave away Nidala, Miani, Begowal, etc., totalling about hundred villages, to the Sikhs of Wazir village and Machunki, Dhilwan, Sidhwan, Haliwal, Brahmwal, Chakoki, Boh, Dogran and the surrounding areas and portions of the pargana of Nurmahal were conferred upon his tumandars and Misaldars. The zamindars of Phagwara, who were very affluent and maintained big contingents, accepted his fealty and conceded to pay regular annual revenue to him. The Afghans of Urmar Tanda and Yahiyapur had taken an employment under Jassa Singh. Crossing river Satluj he occupied Isru and Kot Isa Khan and their zamindars accepted to pay a fixed nazarana. Rai of Jagraon also came under his overlordship and accepted to pay revenue to him. In short, in the Bist Jalandhar Doab, Jassa Singh became the most important and powerful Sardar.22

After the celebration of Diwali, Jassa Singh directed the Dal Khalsa to attack Lahore in November 1761. Khawaja Ubaid Khan, governor of Lahore, sought protection in the fort. The prominent citizens of Lahore waited upon Jassa Singh and offered to admit the Sikhs into the city provided the people were promised safety and security. After occupying the city the Sikhs attacked the fort. Ubaid Khan was killed in the course of fighting and the fort was captured by the Sikhs.

Jassa Singh, very actively, participated against the Afghans luring the wada ghallughara in 1762.

After the departure of Ahmad Shah Abdali the Sikhs decided to turn upon Ala Singh, who had been taken a prisoner early in the year 1762, by the Afghans, but he had pleased the conqueror so much that he had been created a Raja and honoured with rich presents. But Jassa Singh’s influence prevented an open quarrel and he tried to persuade his co-religionists that Ala Singh had no option as to his acceptance of the title, which had not, till then, been known among the Sikhs.23

The Sikhs now prepared to attack the Afghan garrisons which Ahmed Shah had left behind him. But before anything else they decided to try their strength against Kasur, a rich Pathan colony, and a very strongly fortified town which had long been the object of desire of the Sikhs. Kasur was invested by the combined forces of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Hari Singh, Jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh Bhangi, Jai Singh Kanaihya, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and many more Sardars. Alif Khan, the Pathan leader, was beaten back with great loss, two of the Afghan chiefs, Kamal-ud-Din Khan and Hasan Khan were slain and the town was sacked. The fort, holding out for some days more, also fell. Kasur territory was made over to the Bhangi chiefs who held it till 1794,24 when Nizam-ud-Din Khan occupied it.

Under the general command of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, the Karora Singhia, Bhangi, Shahid, Kanaihya and Phulkian chiefs led an expedition against Sirhind. Zain Khan, the governor of Sirhind, gave them battle but was defeated and killed on January 14, 1764.25 The town was razed to the ground as the Sikhs nursed a deep-rooted hatred against lit as the place where Baba Fateh Singh and Baba Zorawar Singh, the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, had been bricked alive. The whole of the surrounding territory fell into the hands of the Sikhs.

From Sirhind Jassa Singh proceeded to Naraingarh, 85 kilometres away. Raja Kirat Parkash of Nahan presented to him a horse and a sum of rupees 10,000 as a nazar through his Diwan Bulaqi Mal. The Mir of Garhi Kotla and Garib Das of Manimajra (near Chandigarh) also paid him nazars. The Raja of Garhwal came from Srinagar to pay homage to him.

In the district of Ambala Jassa Singh seized twenty four villages forming the ilaqa of Suhoran. Some of these villages were given by him to Bundalia Sikhs who were in his train.26 The villages retained by the Ahluwalia chief were seized by the chief of Patiala, shortly after his recrossing the Satluj.

Jassa Singh, then, returned to Amritsar where he contributed liberally towards rebuilding the Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) which Ahmad Shah Abdali, before his departure to his country, had defiled with the blood of cows and then blown up with gun-powder.27 He also built the Ahluwalia bazar.

Najib-ud-Doulah, the Rohilla chief, who had been stationed at Delhi by Ahmad Shah in 1756, had, in due course of time, become a powerful minister there. Jassa Singh had for some time been a close ally of Suraj Mal, the Jat ruler of Bharatpur. When this chief was killed in a skirmish in 1764, his son Jawahar Singh invited Jassa Singh to join him to take vengeance on Sher Khan, the killer of his father, who had taken asylum with Najib Khan. Jassa Singh, accompanied by Maratha forces, marched against their common enemy Najib Khan who refused to surrender Sher Khan and the allies emerged victorious near Shahjahanabad.28 Najib Khan took refuge in Delhi which was invested by the Sikhs and the Marathas and it would have fallen had not the besiegers learnt about the invasion of the Punjab by Ahmed Shah Durrani. The Durrani invader could come up to Sirhind from where he retired to Kabul, not without molestation from the Sikhs who captured almost the whole of his baggage at Chenab.

The Sikhs resented Jammu Raja Ranjit Deo’s being tributary of Ahmad Shah Durrani. In 1765, on Durrani’s return to Kabul the Jammu chief paid him a tribute. A section of the Dal Khalsa under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, attacked Jammu and realised from Ranjit Deo, by way of fine, a sum of three lakh and seventy five thousand rupees and made him a tributary of the Dal Khalsa.29

On the death of Ala Singh in 1765, his grandson Amar Singh succeeded him. Since Amar Singh had been baptised by Jassa Singh the former had great regards for the latter, Amar Singh made a request to Jassa Singh to attend his coronation, as chief guest, to confer on him the emblems of royalty which he did. Jassa Singh received the pargana of Isru as a nazar.30 This pargana remained with the Ahluwalias till the First Anglo-Sikh War when it was reverted to its former owner—the ruler of Patiala.

When Ahmad Shah entered the Punjab for the last time in the winter of 1766, he was constantly harassed by the Sikhs. He is said to have written letters to Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and other Sardars that they should meet him to conclude peace with him. The suggestion was spurned and the Afghan invader returned to Kabul.31

In 1766, Jassa Singh marched southward with the chiefs of Patiala and Jind and ravaged Jhajjar, Rewari and Baghpat. He captured Payal, etc., from the Kotla Afghans. During his last invasion in 1766-1767, Ahmad Shah found that it was not possible to reconquer the Punjab most of which had, by this time, come in the hands of the Sikhs. In 1768, Jassa Singh overran the neighbourhood of Delhi and Anupshahr defeating Mirza Sukhan, who was sent against him by the Emperor.

In 1769, Jassa Singh captured Jalandhar and the adjoining territory in collaboration with the Singhpuria chief, Khushal Singh. Jassa Singh kept Jalandhar with him and the neighbouring villages were given to Khushal Singh. After a few years, out of respect and affection which Jassa Singh had for his patron Newab Kapur Singh, he gave Jalandhar, also to Khushal Singh who made it his headquarters.

In 1771, Jassa Singh captured Raikot from the Pathans and Rajputs of Berowal. Next year, that is, in 1772, he marched against Kapurthala, held by Rai Ibrahim32 who had promised to pay annual tribute. It was only after reducing thirteen forts in the neighbourhood of Kapurthala and investing the town itself, that the Rai paid what was due. But Jassa Singh’s authority was not really established and in 1777, his son-in-law, Mohar Singh, was shot at from the fort and killed. It was pretended that this was an accident, and Jassa Singh was compelled to accept the explanation offered. In 1780, Jassa Singh took advantage of the tribute again falling into arrears to seize the town of Kapurthala and he made it his capital.33 Rai Ibrahim Was allowed to leave the place with his moveable property and his family. According to James Skinner, Jassa Singh gave a village in jagir to Ibrahim’s son and daughter for their subsistence.34  Jassa Singh lived at Kapurthala till his death.

In 1775 one day when Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was on his way to Achal, near Batala, to attend a fair, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia’s brother, Mali Singh, who was going from Sri Hargobindpur to Batala with his men, wounded him by a bullet. Mali Singh carried him to Batala. The Ahluwalia chief felt so much hurt in his mind and humiliated that during his two days’ stay there he did not eat or drink anything, nor did he talk to anybody. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia felt extremely sorry for the incident and sincerely apologized. On the third day the Ahluwalia chief was sent back to his headquarters Fatehbad in a palki (palanquin) with all honours and adequate escort.35

In 1776, to avenge an attack made on him by the Ramgarhia Sardars, Jassa Singh formed a coalition with the Bhangis, Kanaihyas, Sukarchakias and some others, to expel Jassa Singh Ramgarhia from the Punjab and seize his possessions. The expedition was a complete success. The Ramgarhias were utterly defeated and the Ramgarhia chief was forced to fly to cis-Satluj areas especially towards Hansi and Hisar in the Haryana36 from where he returned later with the help of Mahan Singh Sukarchakia and Katoch chief of Kangra.

In September 1779, when Abdul Ahad, a minister of Delhi, invaded Patiala, Maharaja Amar Singh of Patiala invited help from Jassa Singh Ahluwalia who responded immediately and came to Patiala with his collaborators Khushal Singh Singhpuria and Tara Singh Ghaiba whose son was married to the princess of Patiala. The minister from Delhi got frightened and retired to the Mughal capital.

In 1782, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia attended the marriage of Raja Sahib Singh with the daughter of Ganda Singh Bhangi. He joined the marriage party when it passed through Kapurthala. He administered pahul to Sahib Singh at the Gurdwara of Tarn Taran.37 The marriage was solemnised at Panjwar and, on the return of the marriage party, he gave rich presents to Sahib Singh.

Accompanied by Sardar Baghel Singh and others Jassa Singh Ahluwalia entered Delhi in early March 1783. On March 11, he made for the Red Fort. The Emperor and his courtiers hid themselves in their private apartments. The Sikhs entered the Diwan-i-Am. In a fit of enthusiasm they fulfilled the prophecy of Nawab Kapur Singh who had expressed his hope for padshahi for Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. The Sikhs made him sit on the throne and waved peacock feathers, tied in a knot, over his head.38 Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and some other Sardars resented it. So the Ahluwalia chief immediately declined the honour thrust upon him, and be left the Durbar. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia discarded the distinction of royalty twice, once in 1761, and again in 1783.

Jassa Singh died on October 22, 1783,39 at the age of 65, due to his having eaten a watermelon at Bandala which gave him colic pain of which he could not survive. His body was taken to Amritsar where it was cremated, and a monument to his memory was raised in the derah of Baba Atal, near that of Nawab Kapur Singh.

‘He was a man of the greatest ability, and much respected by the Sikhs.’ In person he was tall with a fair complexion, over-hanging eye-brows, broad fore-head, wide chest, sonorous voice and piercing eyes. He was famous as a marksman, both with the matchlock and the bow. He was a great warrior, a valiant general and a splendid organiser. He had nearly three dozen scars of sword- cuts and bullet marks40 in the front part of his body and none on the back which he never turned to the enemy. Qazi Nur Mohammad who saw him fighting during Ahmad Shah’s seventh invasion in 1765, wrote in his Jangnama, “In the centre was Jassa Kalal, who fearlessly stood like a mountain.”41

Although a most successful general in the battlefield, it was rather as the most saintly and orthodox of their leaders that the Sikhs respected him and many powerful and prominent Sardars, including Amar Singh of Patiala, received pahul from his hands.42 The rulers of Patiala and Jind stood before him in all reverence and humility. The Rajas of Jammu, Kangra, Bilaspur and Nalagarh touched his knees. The Nawabs of Malerkotla and Kunjpura paid him homage. This did not turn his head. He always considered himself a humble and docile devotee and disciple of Guru Gobind Singh.

Although the Ahluwalia Misal was not the biggest, yet the influence of Jassa Singh was great and whenever any combination of Misals took place he was made the commander-in-chief though each body of troops fought under its own leader.

Jassa Singh did more than any other chief to consolidate the Sikh power which after his death got disorganised, until the strong hand of Maharaja Ranjit Singh again forced it into cohesion.

Jassa Singh was an enlightened and liberal-minded man. He practised an utmost religious toleration. He was not an enemy of the Muslims or Islam. A very large number of Muhammadans were employed in his service and they were allowed to follow their own religious observances without any ban or molestation. In his behaviour he was never prejudiced against the Muslims rather his attitude towards them was praise-worthy.43 He was opposed only to the Mughal or Afghan rule based upon deep religious bigotry and bitter fanaticism. He was always liberal and considerate. The Sodhis of Kartarpur, who had been boycotted by the Sikhs who neither ate nor drank anything from their hands, beseeched Jassa Singh to readmit them in the Sikh faith by publicly eating and drinking with them. Jassa Singh who was busy in his consolidation work deputed Bhag Singh along with some prominent Sikhs to go to Kartarpur to eat with them. They ate from their plates and readmitted them into Sikhism. He had strictly prohibited the slaughter of cow. He took expeditions against the cow-killers of Kasur and Lahore.

The liberality of the Ahluwalia chief was very great. He wore a new dress and when it was soiled in a day or so he would put it off and give it to his people to wear and thus never put on washed clothes.44 He, at great expense, constructed a large reservoir at Anandpur and gave large grants to the Sodhis residing there. His hospitality was extended to all who asked for it and hundreds were fed daily in his langar or public kitchen.45

In normal days Jassa Singh had a very regular daily programme. At day-break he would rise, perform his ablutions, and dress himself, repeating the morning prayer and the Sukhmani. He, then, took his morning meal and set about the business of the day and at 3-00 p.m., held Durbar or assembly for all who chose to attend, where all matters of general interest were discussed. After the evening meal musicians played and sang hymns called rahras and an hour after sunset all retired to rest, having repeated the ardas or the evening prayer. And in the words of Lepel Griffin, “he was a Sikh by honest conviction,” He never kept a visitor waiting and called him immediately without any consideration of time at his hands.

The city of Amritsar was, in a great measure, rebuilt and beautified by him. A bazar called Katra Ahluwalian was laid out by him.

Some writers believe that the Sikhs after the conquest of Lahore in November 1761, seizing the royal mint, struck the first rupee which bore the inscription:

Sikka zad dar jahan ba fazle Akal, Mulke Ahmad grift Jassa Kalal.

(Jassa Kalal having seized the country of Ahmad (Shah Durrani) struck coin in the world by the grace of God).

But it does not seem to be correct. It is very improbable that any Sikh ruler, much less a religious zealot like Jassa Singh, should have issued a coin in his own name, and that too a clipped name, i.e., mere ‘Jassa’ instead of ‘Jassa Singh.’ In reality the local Muslims and Mullahs felt very perturbed on Jassa Singh’s occupation of Lahore and the establishment of his badshahat there. With a view to instigating the Durrani invader they struck a few coins and sent the same to Ahmad Shah.46

Since Jassa Singh remained the undisputed leader of the Sikh community they had begun to call him Sultan-ul-qaum or the badshah,47 but he never arrogated to himself any prerogatives of the badshah. He only considered himself as one of the senior members of the Dal Khalsa.

Towards his later years he could not keep the whole Sikh community and their rulers united. They got split up into different groups and Jassa Singh joined one of them. He was friendly to the Kanaihyas and hostile to the Ramgarhias. Despite his open opposition to the Ramgarhias, the Ramgarhia chief had maintained personal regards for the Ahluwalia chief.

Bhag Singh (1783—1801)

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had no male child. He had two daughters of whom one was married to Mehar Singh and the other to Mohar Singh.48 Jassa Singh’s wife Raj Kaur had impressed upon him to nominate one of their sons-in-law or her brother to succeed him but he did not agree as he did not find the necessary qualities of a ruler in any of them.

Bhag Singh, a close relative of Jassa Singh and Diwan Burha Mal, had been responsibly shouldering most of the burden of the administrative affairs of the state. Bhag Singh believed that the Diwan was not an honest man who sometimes misappropriated the state funds. But since the Diwan was an important man Bhag Singh could not do anything against him during Jassa Singh’s time.49

After Jassa Singh’s death, both of his sons-in-law claimed inheritance to his territory and property. The Sikhs assembled on condolence of Jassa Singh at Kapurthala and desired that the late Sardar’s elder son-in-law should succeed him. But Jai Singh Kanaihya, who was friendly to Jassa Singh’s cousin Bhag Singh, born in 1747, managed to get the latter appointed as the new ruler of the Ahluwalia Misal.50 He was in his 38th year at the time of succession to the gaddi.51 Bhag Singh had to face a constant challenge from the sons-in-law of his predecessor. Although Bhag Singh did not have high opinion of Diwan Burha Mal he did not like to take a drastic step of doing away with his services at the very outset of his rule.

Appointing Diwan Burha Mal and Sher Karim Din to look after his administration Bhag Singh came out of Kapurthala and toured the whole of the Doaba. He realised nazaranas from the jagirdars of Phagwara and Nurmahal.52 The first quarrel that Bhag Singh found at his hands was one bequeathed to him by the late Ahluwalia chief who had joined Hakikat Singh Kanaihya in attacking Jammu, then ruled by Raja Brij Raj Deo. Bhag Singh renewed his alliance with the Kanaihya chief and his first expedition was, in company with Jai Singh Kanaihya, against Wazir Singh and Bhagwan Singh, chiefs of the Nakka territory between Lahore and Gogaira. In the next year Bhag Singh went to the assistance of Jai Singh, when Mahan Singh Sukarchakia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra united to destroy him. His help could not be effective and Jai Singh suffered a defeat near Batala.53

In 1784, on the complaint of the people of Salan, Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh was removed from the territory placed under his care. Then, Bhag Singh took Sharkpur from the Nakkais. Accompanied by some other Sardars, he conquered Kasur. It was there that he learnt the news of the birth of his son who was named Fateh Singh in memory of their victory at Kasur.54

Shortly after this, he allied himself with Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra and their infant sons Fateh Singh and Anrodh Chand exchanged turbans in the fort of Kangra in token of brotherhood. Bhag Singh and Raja Sansar Chand are also said to have exchanged turbans.55

In 1787, Bhag Singh dismissed Diwan Burha Mal whom he had found to be a man of questionable character. He was insolent and disrespectful to the extent of smoking huqa at the Durbar.56 In 1787, the Diwan occupied Begowal and came in open confrontation with the state forces. He was captured and later released. He again revolted in 1789, and occupied Chakoki. Encouraged by Burha Mal’s action Diwan Sheikh Karim Allah also revolted and captured Sultanpur. Diwan Burha Mal was made captive from Chakoki and ordered to be beheaded but his life was spared on the intercession of Sayad Chirag Shah of Sultanpur.57 A contingent was also sent against Sheikh Karim Allah who ran away from Sultanpur. He was overpowered by some robbers and killed near Mianwind village.58

Diwan Singh was appointed in Burha Mal’s place. He made some changes on administrative grounds.59  Hamir Singh was made the administrator of Sultanpur.

Bhag Singh then quarrelled with Gulab Singh Bhangi who owned Amritsar and the neighbouring areas and whose people had put to death an Ahluwalia agent at Jhubal. He occupied Jandiala and Tarn Taran but made no effort to retain these acquisitions and returned to Kapurthala satisfied with his success. This took place in 1793.60

After some time, Bhag Singh crossed river Beas and got the territory of Chamkaur for the Bedis who had been dispossessed of that area by Sardar Hari Singh Dallewalia.61

In 1796, Bhag Singh joined the Kanaihyas, under the leadership of Sada Kaur, in their attack upon Jassa Singh Ramgarhia who had entrenched himself at Miani in the present district of Jalandhar. But there was a sudden rise of the river Beas that compelled the allies to retreat in all haste with the loss of their baggage.62

In 1801, Bhag Singh, along with his son Fateh Singh, went to the Akal Takht ( at Amritsar ) and got his son baptised there by Sadhu Singh Akal Bungia.63 Next year Fateh Singh was married with befitting pomp and show.64

In 1801, Bhag Singh sent a force under Hamir Singh against the Ramgarhias, who had been joined by Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. The Ahluwalias were completely routed, Hamir Singh being severely wounded. Learning about this defeat Bhag Singh collected his remaining forces and marched as far as Phagwara against his opponents. He got a serious and painful trouble in his foot which grew worse day by day. He was taken to Kapurthala where he passed away soon after, on July 10, 1801.65

Sardar Bhag Singh was a man of docile and affable disposition which sometimes stood in the way of an efficient administration. Griffin considered him, “a man of very slight caliber.” At times he could not exhibit the needed statesmanship and diplomacy which resulted in the alienation of some of his Misaldars and tumandars who got independent of the Ahluwalia chief.66 Certain places as Begowal and Miani went out of his hands and the payments of revenue of some areas, including Jagraon, were withheld by the officials and zamindars of these places.67  Bhag Singh was constantly on war-path against Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. Sometimes he was defeated by the Ramgarhias and at other times he defeated them.68

The Ahluwalia Sardar even tried to befriend Sansar Chand Katoch of Kangra but they, mostly, ranged themselves on opposite sides in the event of a battle. The important battles of this period were those of Nagoke, Miani, Begowal and Garhdiwala. The assistance rendered to the Ahluwalia chief by the Kanaihyas and Sukarchakias against the Ramgarhias marked the continuing pattern of politics practised in this part of the Punjab.

Bhag Singh was given to constant meditation and he gave alms to Brahmans.69 He got excavated at Kapurthala a Devi Tank and a Devi Dawara was also got repaired. The pujaris were provided with subsistence. All the new Sadhus entering Kapurthala ware entertained sumptuously by him.70 He was an extremely kind-hearted man and would not tolerate cruelty even to the animal and insect life. In his early days he was required to look after the needs of the mendicants.71 This had made him sympathetic to the poor to whom he gave a great deal in charity. He ruled his Misal for nearly eighteen years.

Fateh Singh (1801-1837)

As referred to earlier, according to Lepel Griffin and Giani Gian Singh, Fateh Singh was born in 1784, but according to Khushwaqat Rai72 and Bute Shah,73 Fateh Singh was twelve years of age at the time of his accession to the Sardari of the Misal in 1801. He was the only son of Bhag Singh. One of his first acts was to form an alliance, offensive and defensive, with Ranjit Singh, who was, then, gaining power in the Punjab. The young Ahluwalia and Sukarchakia chiefs exchanged turbans at Fatehbad and swore on Guru Granth Sahib to become each other’s brothers.74 They also exchanged some gifts including horses and dresses. In the presence of the holy Guru Granth Sahib they accepted to abide by three conditions. One, that the enemy of one would be considered as enemy of the other. Two, in the course of their meetings in the territory of Ranjit Singh or that of Fateh Singh, they would not claim any expenses from each other. Three, if they jointly conquered any territory, suitable jagir from the same would be given to Fateh Singh.75

Mehar Singh, son-in-law of Jassa Singh, and some Misaldars including Thakur Singh and Brar Singh, who bad consolidated power during the period of Bhag Singh and had become independent of the Ahluwalia chief, were attacked and deprived of their estates and property by Fateh Singh.76

Fateh Singh appointed Qadar Bakhsh, a Rajput, and a resident of Talwandi, as his mukhtar or administrator, and then sent him to Maharaja Ranjit Singh as his envoy.77

When Jaswant Rao Holkar came to the Punjab in 1805, he met Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh Ahluwalia at Amritsar. Holkar was obliged to make a treaty with the English. Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh made a supplementary treaty with the English by which they caused Holkar to leave Amritsar, pledging themselves to maintain no connection or friendship with him, while on the other hand, the British government promised to them a peaceful possession of their territories so long as their conduct remained friendly.78

Fateh Singh accompanied Ranjit Singh in his expedition to the south of the Satluj in October 1806. In the next year he accompanied the Maharaja to Jhang, when its fort was captured and Sial chief, Ahmad Khan, expelled.

During Ranjit Singh’s second expedition to cis-Satluj region in 1807, Fateh Singh also accompanied him.79 The Ahluwalia chief requested Ranjit Singh to recover his territory of Naraingarh from Kanwar Kishan Singh of Nahan who held it. Mohkam Chand besieged the fort of Naraingarh. The Maharaja personally supervised the siege and the fort fell after a hard battle for nearly three weeks. Kanwar Kishan Singh ran into the hills. In the course of operations at the fort of Naraingarh Ranjit Singh lost a prominent commander, Fateh Singh Kalianwala. Tara Singh Ghaiba was also seriously wounded there and he died on his way back to Rahon.80

Fateh Singh also accompanied the Maharaja on his campaign against Kasur which was captured after an obstinate resistance. When Metcalfe came to Kasur in September 1808 to meet Ranjit Singh the Ahluwalia chief was deputed to meet him with Diwan Mohkam Chand and ten thousand troops, at a distance of four miles from the Maharaja’s camp and escort him to his tents.81

Fateh Singh was present in the Kangra expedition of 1809, when Ranjit Singh took possession of the fort of Raja Sansar Chand, which had been long besieged by the Gurkhas under Amar Singh Thapa.

In February 1811, Fateh Singh accompanied the Maharaja to Rawalpindi to meet Shah Mahmud, the brother of Shah Shujah, who was on his way to Kashmir.  In October 1811, the Ahluwalia chief marched against Budh Singh of Jalandhar along with Diwan Mohkam Chand and Jodh Singh Ramgarhia. Budh Singh fled across the Satluj and his estates were confiscated to Lahore.

After Jodh Singh’s death, the Ramgarhia possessions were occupied by Ranjit Singh. The areas of Tanda and Yahyapur, which were formerly Ramgarhia possessions, were given over to Fateh Singh by the Maharaja. The Ahluwalia chief received the pargana of Phagwara from Ranjit Singh in return for Sharakpur.82

In the majority of Ranjit Singh’s campaigns Fateh Singh served him with his contingents. He fought at the battle of Hazro on July 13, 1813,83 when Fateh Khan, the Kabul minister, was utterly defeated. The Ahluwalia chief held a command in the Bhimbar, Rajauri and Bahawalpur campaigns. In 1818, he participated in the siege of Multan when the whole province fell into the hands of Ranjit Singh. During the Kashmir campaign of 1819, Fateh Singh remained in charge of Lahore.84 In 1821, be assisted the Lahore Durber in the reduction of the fort of Mankera. In 1823, when Ranjit Singh went to Khushab he left Lahore in the charge of Fateh Singh.85

Besides the above mentioned expeditions Fateh Singh accompanied the Maharaja in the following expeditions also:

Jamke and Kathua (1802), Sujanpur (1803), Kasur (1804 and 1807), Amritsar (1805), Jhang (1807), Sialkot (1807), and across the Satluj (1806-08). He was also present in the expeditions against Find Dadan Khan (1809-10), Jalandhar (1810-11), Mandi (1811), Kulu (1811), Hazara (1813), Kashmir (1814), and the Yusufzai territories (1824).

The estate of Bhirog which consisted of about one hundred villages was conferred by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia on a dependent, Mirza Singh, whose son Jawahar Singh fought and died under the Ahluwalia standard. When Jawahar Singh’s son Mahan Singh was directed in 1810, and 1814, by the British representative to fulfil his engagements as a chief under the protection of the British government, he declared to be the vassal of Fateh Singh Ahluwalia. In 1817, David Ochterlony, because of Mahan Singh’s outrageous conduct, called upon Fateh Singh to confiscate his territory, who accordingly took possession of the whole estate. In consideration of Mahan Singh’s young age of thirteen Ochterlony pardoned him and asked the Ahluwalia chief to reinstate him, who unwillingly did so. In 1825, Mahan Singh refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Ahluwalia chief and also paid no attention to the remonstrance of the British agent who recommended the attachment of his jagir until he obeyed the orders conveyed to him. Mahan Singh was not prepared to acknowledge the supremacy of Fateh Singh. The British allowed Fateh Singh to enforce his supremacy by any measures he might see fit to employ but they would not give permission to the Lahore troops to cross the Satluj with those of Kapurthala.86

The small fort of Kotla was situated in the centre of Fateh Singh’s cis-Satluj territories and was owned by a Pathan family, the eldest representative of which was Nihang Khan. The Ahluwalia chief was determined to assert his supremacy and in the summer of 1822, forcibly occupied the fort of Kotla and retained it despite the repeated orders of the British officer at Ambala. Balwant Khan, one of the younger brothers of the Kotla chief, was friendly to Fateh Singh and inimical to his own family members. He encouraged the Ahluwalia chief to continue retaining the possession of the Kotla fort. Ultimately, the British warned Fateh Singh against attempting to exercise any intervention in the affairs of the Kotla chiefship. Nihang Khan was reinstated in his rights and the fort was forfeited to his elder brother.87

Qadir Bakhsh, the Wazir of Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, had become very powerful. He visited Ranjit Singh very often, as envoy of the Ahluwalia chief. He wrongly conveyed to the Maharaja that Fateh Singh was planning to revolt against the Lahore Durbar. Ranjit Singh sent two battalions of the Lahore army to Doaba Bist Jalandhar. Qadar Bakhsh provoked and frightened Fateh Singh by telling him that Ranjit Singh had sent a force to conquer his territory and make him a captive.88

Fateh Singh got terribly alarmed and crossed river Satluj on December 27, 1825, and went to his possession of Jagraon in the cis-Satluj area and sought the British protection there. Ranjit Singh took possession of the territories of Fateh Singh in the trans-Satluj area and appointed Faqir Aziz- ud-Din to look after the same.89

The Ahluwalia chief wanted to obtain from the British government some sort of guarantee for the security of his trans-Satluj possessions. What Fateh Singh wanted was not possible for the British government to grant. Under the treaty of 1809, they could not interfere with the Maharaja’s proceeding north of the Satluj nor were the whole of his cis-Satluj estates under British protection. These consisted at this time, of 454 villages of which 291 were held by Fateh Singh in sovereignty, and 165 were in possession of jagirdars. Naraingarh and Jagraon, consisting respectively of 46 and 66 villages, had been received by grant from the Maharaja in 1807, and over these two estates the supremacy of Lahore was admitted by the British.90

The apprehensions of Fateh Singh were totally baseless and Ranjit Singh was as sincere to him as ever. In the words of Lepel Griffin, “The fears of Fateh Singh were exaggerated and that he was one of the few men for whom the Maharaja had any sincere feeling of regard.”91

Ranjit Singh sincerely wanted Fateh Singh to return. According to Ahmad Shah Batalia, Fateh Singh, unable to secure adequate support from the British, decided to approach Ranjit Singh and beg pardon from him for his conduct and entertaining baseless apprehensions regarding the Maharaja’s treatment towards him. He sent his vakil, Diwan Sher Ali Khan, to the Maharaja with the desired request which the latter accepted with utmost magnanimity.92

Ranjit Singh sent Dhian Singh, his seven-year old grandson Naunihal Singh, Desa Singh Majithia, Shiv Dyal and Jawahar Singh Bastini to Jagraon to convince Fateh Singh of his sincerity towards him and bring him to the Maharaja with all the honours due to him. Fateh Singh came back to Kapurthala in 1827, and met Maharaja at Lahore. His territories, including Kapurthala and Sultanpur, were restored to him. But Ranjit Singh retained his possession of some of the territory of Fateh Singh despite assurances otherwise.93 His cis-Satluj possessions of Jagraon, Isru, Naraingarh, etc., remained in his hands.

During the later years of his life Fateh Singh remained at Kapurthala in comparative retirement. He died on October 20, 1837, with malarial fever.94

In the words of the contemporary British diplomat, Charles Metcalfe,

“The quiet character of Fateh Singh, who was the equal, if not the superior, in rank and power, of Ranjit Singh, has yielded to the bold commanding spirit of the other, and he has been the ladder by which Ranjit Singh has mounted to greatness. He now finds himself, not companion and friend of an equal as formerly, but the nominal favourite of a master. . . He marches with a considerable force in the train of Ranjit Singh without knowing whither or for what purpose. . . He is mild and good-natured, seemingly simple, and undoubtedly wanting energy.”95

Fateh Singh seems to have been reduced to the level, at the most, of a distinguished general of Ranjit Singh.

The beginning of a formal alliance between Fateh Singh and Ranjit Singh was made with the treaty of 1802, solemnised in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, at Fatehbad. As referred to earlier, the ahd-nama was accompanied by an exchange of turbans to mark the establishment of perpetual friendship and brotherhood. According to this treaty, Fateh Singh and Ranjit Singh were to join in defence and offence and regard each other’s friends and foes as their own. Also they were to share equally in all the conquests made jointly, each bearing the expenses of his respective army in these ventures.96

Both the chiefs met frequently and in the meetings the usual formalities and protocol were observed. Besides a formal reception these meetings were particularly marked by exchange of costly presents including horses and riding of an elephant together. Fateh Singh paid nazaranas to Ranjit Singh and it was symbolic of an inferior position. The position is further clarified when one finds unintentional evidence furnished by Ram Sukh Rao on this point. Fateh Singh’s vakils were always stationed at the court of Ranjit Singh while there is no reference to an accredited vakil of Lahore Durbar permanently stationed at Kapurthala.

A number of Lahore courtiers including Raja Dhian Singh, Fateh Singh Kalianwala, the Sandhanwalia Sardars, the Attariwala Sardars, Dal Singh Kalianwala, Nand Singh Vakil, Sukh Dayal, Desa Singh Majithia. Mit Singh Bhadhania, Sewa Singh Kumedan and Ghaus Khan received jagirs from Fateh Singh.97

Even in the status of, more or less, a vassal, Fateh Singh seems to have held an important position in the affairs of the Lahore Durbar for a long time. The Maharaja publicly acknowledged Fateh Singh’s bravery and diligence in accomplishing many of their joint ventures, Ranjit Singh often told his officers that there was no difference between him and the Ahluwalia chief and that his orders should also be obeyed. The vakils of Fateh Singh were generally given a seat in the Durbar of the Maharaja and this was taken as a mark of special favour and distinction.98 Ranjit Singh always addressed Fateh Singh as ‘Bhai Sahib’ and consulted him on all important matters.

According to Ram Sukh Rao, Fateh Singh was a powerful and enlightened ruler, a good administrator, a fearless general and a brave warrior. He was a seasoned horse-rider and horse- tamer and chugan (a sort of polo) was a game very close to his heart. It continued to be his favourite game throughout his life. He was exceedingly fond of horses and in memory of a black charger, for which he had taken a fancy, he erected a beautiful tomb which exists to this day at the entrance of Kapurthala.99 He was known for his skill in marksmanship, archery and fencing. Ram Sukh Rao underlines Fateh Singh’s valour in the battles of Miani, Duraha, Drauli, Kasur, Kangra, Attock, Hazara, Kashmir, Multan and Peshawar. He would always like to fight in the front line, quite oblivious of the dangers to which he was exposed. But he was always humble in regard to his own acts of bravery. He was a great patron of arts and letters. He was God-fearing, generous, charitable and magnanimous and a very dependable and sincere ally.

He started his education under the care of a Persian teacher and acquired a workable knowledge of Persian language. He is also said to have written a few books in the traditional style of Punjabi verse.

According to Ram Sukh Rao he was always kind and humane even to the defeated foes. He would provide full Protection to the people of the conquered territories. He considered it meanness to plunder the property of the people who were in a state of utter helplessness and misery. He would never allow his people to avail themselves of the deplorable condition of the defeated. At the time of prolonged siege of Multan the parents started selling their children in slavery. Fateh Singh told his mm not to purchase the children and, instead, he financially helped those who were found selling their children.100 He visited the holy places of the Sikhs and the Hindus and gave liberal jagirs to them. He patronised the Muslim institutions also. He was an extremely religious person and performed his nit-name (daily prayers) even in the battle-field. He always shared the hardships and the war hazards with his men in the field of battle. During Ranjit Singh’s first expedition to Kashmir Fateh Singh placed his elephant at the disposal of the wounded soldiers and he himself trudged some distance on foot.101

He had the bad habit of excessive indulgence in liquor. He had marked indifference towards amassing wealth. He was very kind to his officials and was always ready to forgive and overlook even serious lapses on their part. He constructed many buildings in his capital. To promote trade and commerce in Kapurthala he attracted many bankers, businessmen and traders from Jagraon, Ludhiana, Phagwara and Sultanpur and settled them there. He once remarked that he would be mightily pleased if the bazars of the capital town were so full of stocks of goods and salable commodities that his elephant might find it difficult to pass through them. He gave khillats to the bankers and traders who had outstanding performance to their credit.102 It eminently displays Fateh Singh’s keen interest in the promotion of the economic condition of his state.

Raja Nihal Singh (1836-1852)

After Fateh Singh’s death, his elder son Nihal Singh, who was born on March 10, 1817, succeeded him. Amar Singh, the younger brother of Nihal Singh, hatched a conspiracy against his brother. When Nihal Singh was leaving his residence with only one attendant he was attacked by Amar Singh’s men. The attendant threw himself before his master and was cut to pieces by the enemies but the Raja was saved with a few wounds. Ranjit Singh called both the brothers to Lahore and expressed sympathy with Nihal Singh and directed him to allow Amar Singh a separate maintenance allowance of Rs. 30,000, a year. Amar Singh always remained insincere to his elder brother. Nihal Singh would have remained in fear of being dispossessed but for the premature death of Amar Singh.

On the 28th of March, 1841, Maharaja Sher Singh went on a boating excursion on the Ravi along with Dhian Singh, Hira Singh, Jamadar Khushal Singh, Bhai Gurmukh Singh, Rai Kesara Singh, Attar Singh Kalianwala and Amar Singh Ahluwalia. The boat was suddenly filled with water. Amar Singh Ahluwalia was drowned and the rest of the party escaped with difficulty by means of their riding elephants which were waiting on the bank and which were driven into the river to their assistance.103

Nihal Singh assisted the British in their march to Kabul. In the First Anglo-Sikh war of 1845 Nihal Singh did not side with the British. He was ordered by the British to cross Satluj and join them but he did not comply with the orders. On 31st of November, 1845, news was received by Major Broadfoot to the effect that the Ahluwalia subjects had joined the Lahore forces. They fought against the British at Aliwal and Buddowal.104 As a punishment for his conduct, Nihal Singh’s territories, south of Satluj, estimated at Rs. 5,65,00, a year, were confiscated by the British. In the Second Sikh War, Nihal Singh offered to help the English. After the war was over the Governor-General of the East India Company visited Kapurthala. Nihal Singh died on 13th September, 1852.

“Raja Nihal Singh was popular with his subjects and was of benevolent disposition. He had little strength of character, and was completely in the hands of his favourites, whose influence was rarely for good. His apathy and vacillation were such that he was unable to carry out measures which he acknowledged to be advantageous and he brought on himself and his state troubles which the most ordinary energy and courage might have averted.”105

Raja Randhir Singh (1852-1870)

Nihal Singh was succeeded by his eldest son, Randhir Singh, who was born in Mach 1831, and was then in his twenty-second year. He was an accomplished ruler. He sided with the British during the Mutiny of 1857. In Jalandhar his troops guarded the civil station, the treasury and the jail. Both in Jalandhar Doab and cis-Satluj he and his brother Bikarma Singh rendered important services to the British who acknowledging the same, remitted a full year’s tribute of Rs. 1,23,000 payable by the Raja and also reduced the annual sum by Rs. 25,000. He got the honorary title of farzand dilband106 and Prince Bikrama Singh was honoured with the title of ‘Bahadur.’ In 1858, both the Raja and his brother rendered valuable service to the British government in Oudh. For his services the Raja was given two estates called Boundi and Bithouli in Oudh, which yielded government one lakh of rupees per annum on istimrari tenure, at half rate. Prince Bikrama Singh received an estate worth Rs. 45,000, a year, in the Baraich district.107

After the annexation of the Punjab by the British the position of the Ahluwalia chief, although not strictly sovereign, had yet independent power, which had been confirmed to him by the English. The districts in the Jalandhar Doab, “will be maintained in the independent possession of the Sardar.” This was in perpetuity, and the government had no right to take away the police jurisdiction from the Raja.108

On 17th October, 1864, Randhir Singh was invested with the insignia of the most exalted order of the ‘Star of India’ at a Durbar held at Lahore which was attended by the rulers of Kashmir, Patiala, Jind, Faridkot and many others.109

Randhir Singh had for a long time been desirous of paying a visit to England. He left Kapurthala for Bombay on the 15th of March, 1870. When the ship reached Aden he became seriously ill and died there on the 2nd of April. His body was brought to Bombay and handed over to his son, Prince Kharak Singh, who took it to Nasik where the ceremony of cremation was performed.110

Randhir Singh was a good scholar of English. He was interested in the promotion of education in the state.

By his first wife, who died in 1853, Randhir Singh had two sons, Kanwar Kharak Singh, born in August 1850, and Harnam Singh, born in November 1852. His only daughter, born in 851, was married in 1863. His second wife bore him one son who died two months after his birth.111

Raja Kharak Singh (1870-1877)

Kharak Singh was born in 1850. After his father’s death is installation to the gaddi took place on the 12th May, 1870. The ceremony was attended by Col. Coxe, Commissioner of Jalandhar and a large number of visitors. On the request of his subjects Kharak Singh announced the opening of a college and a hospital in the name of his father and sanctioned the amount for the construction of the buildings of the college and the hospital.112 Kharak Singh could not live long. In 1874, on his return from Bhagsu, (district Kangra) it was discovered on May 9, 1874, at Hoshiarpur that the Raja was suffering from some brain ailment. Treatment proved of no avail. In order to look after the administrative affairs of the state government, Council of Regency was formed. On April 18, 1875, Lepel Griffin was appointed in charge of this Council. The Raja died at Bhagsu on September 5, 1877.113 He was cremated at Kapurthala.

Maharaja Jagatjit Singh (1877-1948)

Jagatjit Singh, who was born on November 23, 1872, succeeded his father on November 17, 1877. Since he was just a child at the time of his father’s death the administration of the state remained in the hands of the British superintendents for a number of years. He attained his majority on November 24, 1890, and was invested with ruling powers, with due ceremony, by Sir James Lyall, the then Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab. He was gifted with a gentle and an amiable disposition and was just and a considerate ruler of his subjects. He always took keen personal interest in the administration. It was due to this that Kapurthala had ranked as one of the foremost of the well-run tales in India.

Jagatjit Singh was among the earliest to sanction free primary education throughout the state. Many High Schools for boys and girls were run in the state. Randhir College, Kapurthala, was also built during his regime.

He had full powers of life and death over his subjects and administered justice through properly constituted courts which were run on similar lines as those in British India. Sentences of death and life imprisonment were referred to him for confirmation. He never sanctioned the sentence of death in any case.114

For the benefit of the agriculturists, agricultural banks were spread all over the state, providing cheap capital for the zamindars. Cooperative societies did a lot of good to the people. Veterinary hospitals were opened at many places.

Besides building a remarkable Gurdwara in his capital, he gave a proof of his broad-minded sympathy with his Muslim subjects by adding a new mosque to Kapurthala. The mosque designed by a French architect is, indeed, a unique building in India, built in a Moorish style and its architectural effect is remarkably beautiful. It cost six lakh rupees and it was consecrated in the presence of Nawab of Bahawalpur and some of the leading Indian Muslims. Kapurthala can, thus, boast of not only the most magnificent palaces and villas but also of the most imposing places of worship for the subjects of all castes and creeds.

The Maharaja was a perfect host and his hospitality was proverbial. He had entertained some of the most prominent personalities of the world at his capital, which included the viceroys, royal princes, governors, Rajas, diplomats, etc.

The Maharaja was a great traveler. It was a hobby with him not only to visit distant lands but also to make personal acquaintances and friendships with the leading personalities of the places he visited. During his time he was not only the most travelled Indian ruler but also one with the widest circle of cosmopolitan friends. He had visited North Africa, Central and South America, China, Japan, Siam, Java, Indo-China, Egypt, Turkey and the Bali islands. Besides Great Britain and France he had visited Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Holland and Norway. Amongst the travels undertaken by him on political and diplomatic missions he represented the princely order of India at the League of Nations in 1926, 1927, and 1929. The Maharaja had a long list of interesting anecdotes of his tours. At a social function in America, during his second visit in 1915, after an interval of twenty two years, a prominent American came up to him and mentioned that he had met his father when the latter had come there in the United States. The gentleman was surprised to be told in reply that he was addressing the same Maharaja whom he had met in 1893.

The Maharaja continued in office up to 1948, when the state lapsed into the Indian dominion. He was made an Up-Rajpramukh (Deputy Governor) of the Pepsu, which position he held till his death on June 19, 1949.

Notes and References

  1. Lepel Griffin, The Rajas of the Punjab, Lahore, (Second ed., 1873) p 452. Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa II, reprint Patiala, 1970, p. 721.
  2. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 452; Gian Singh names the boy as Wadhawa Singh (op. cit., p. 721).
  3. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 721.
  4. Lepel Griffin, op, cit., p. 454; Diwan Ramjas, Tawarikh-i-Riast Kapurthala, Lahore, 1897, pp. 97- 9S; Ganda Singh, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (Punjabi), Patiala, 1969, p. 22.
  5. Ramjas. op. cit., pp. 99-100.
  6. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 454-55; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 722.
  7. Khushwaqat Rai, Tawarikh-i-Sikhan (1811), (MS., Dr Ganda Singh collection, Patiala), p. 66.
  8. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 77; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 455; Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 100-102.
  9. Sohan Lal Suri, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Daftar I, Lahore, 1885, p. 109.
  10. Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Parkash (1841), Amritsar, 1939, p. 204; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibratnama, Vol. I (1854), Lahore, 1961, p. 310; cf., M’Gregor, The History of the Sikhs, I (1846), Allahabad reprint, 1979. pp. 146-47; Kanaihya Lal, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877, p. 99.
  11. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p, 204; Ahmad Shah Batalia. Appendix to Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat- ut-Tawarikh, I, p. 27; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., p. 810; Bute Shah, Twarikh-i-Punjab. Daftar IV, MS., Dr Ganda Singh collection, Patiala, p. 265; Kanaihya Lal, op. cit., p. 99; Ramjas, op. cit., p. 104.
  12. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 204.
  13. Ibid., Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 723; Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, Bombay, 1950, p. 123.
  14. Ali-ud-Din Multi, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 311; Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 66.
  15. Muhammad Latif, History of the Panjab, Calcutta, 1891, p. 314.
  16. Ramjas, op. cit., p. 150; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 733.
  17. Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs, Vol. I, Calcutta 1939, p. 51.
  18. Gian Singh, Panth Parkash, (5th edition), p. 907.
  19. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 457; Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, II, p. 725; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 315; Ganesh Das Badehra, Char Bagh-i-Punjab (1855), Amritsar. 1965, p. 93.
  20. Ghulam Husain, Syarul Mutakhirin (1782), Cawnpore, 1897, p. 909, Haqiqat-i-bina-o-uruj-i-firqa-i- Sikhan, MS., PUP., p. 19; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., I, p. 144; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 220; Jadunath Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire, Vol. II, Calcutta, reprint 1971, pp. 73-74.
  21. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p, 27.
  22. Ibid., Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 66.
  23. Tazkirah-i-Khandan-i-Rajah-i-Phulkian, MS., GS., pp. 16-17; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 260; Lepel Griffin, op, cit., p. 462; Ramjas, op. cit, pp. 194-95.
  24. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 463.
  25. Haqiqat-i-bina-o-uruj-i-firqa-i-Sikhan. MS., PUP., p. 30; Muhammad Latif, op., cit., p. 326.
  26. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 464.
  27. Ibid., pp. 464-65; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 316.
  28. Qanungo, K.R., History of the Jats, Calcutta, 1925, p. 176.
  29. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., IV, Delhi, 1982, p. 35.
  30. Tazkirah-i-Khandan-i-Rajah-i-Phulkian, p. 19; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 31; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 563; Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 231-32.
  31. Ramjas, op. cit., p. 236, cf., Correspondence of Persian Calendar, II, 50.
  32. Ahmed Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 28; James Skinner, Kitab-i-Haqaiq-i-Rajgan also called Tazkirah-ul- Umra, Persian MS., 1830, Dr Ganda Singh collection, Patiala, p. 182; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 265; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. T, pp. 312-13.

Formerly Kapurthala was a village in the taaluqa of Sheikhu pura. It developed into a town under Rai Ibrahim (Kalfiat-i-Sardaran-i-Ahluwalia, Persian MS., Dr Ganda Singh collection, Patiala), p. 2.

  1. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 467; Ramjas, op. cit., p. 265; Gian Singh op. cit., p. 731.
  2. James Skinner, op. cit., p. 182.
  3. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 73; Ahmad Shah Batata, op. cit., p. 27; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 56.
  4. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 67; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 58.
  5. Ramjas, op, cit., p. 277.
  6. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 730.
  7. Gian Singh, op. cit,. p. 733; Ganda Singh, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Patiala, 1969, p. 210.
  8. Ramjas, op. cit., p. 112.
  9. Qazi Nur Muhammad, Jangnama (1765), ed. Ganda Singh, Amritsar, 1939, p. 50.
  10. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 468.
  11. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 27; M’Gregor, op. cit., I, p, 147.
  12. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 27; M’Gregor, op. cit., I. p. 147.
  13. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 472. According to James Skinner, pulses weighing 10 maunds pukhta were cooked in his langar daily for the consumption of those who partook food from there (Tazkirah-ul-Umra, p. 182); Ramjas, op. cit., p. 110.
  14. Ganesh Dass Badehra, Char Bagh-i-Punjab (1855), Amritsar, 1965, pp. 130-31; Lepel Griffin holds Ganesh Das Badehra’s version as correct (The Rajas of the Punjab, p. 461); C.L. Rogers also agrees with Ganesh Das (Asiatic Society Journal, 1881-L (1), 71-93).
  15. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 27; James Skinner, op. cit., p. 182, Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 313; M’ Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 147.
  16. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 313; cf., Bute Shah, op. cit., IV p. 267.
  17. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 268.
  18. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 313. cf., James Skinner, op. cit., p. 183. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 733, According to Ahmad Shah Batalia (p. 27) and Bute Shah (p. 267) Bhag Singh was Jassa Singh’s nephew.
  19. Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 302-03.
  20. Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 317.
  21. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 473; Rarnjas, op. cit., p. 312.
  22. Gian Singh, op. cit., 735; cf., Lepel Griffin, op. at., p. 473.
  23. Ramjas, op. cit., p. 313, 318-19.
  24. Ibid., p. 311.
  25. Ibid., pp. 314-17.
  26. Ibid., pp. 317-18.
  27. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 735; Bute  Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 268; Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 311, 314, 316-18.
  28. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 473; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 735; ‘Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 313-314.
  29. Ramjas, op. cit., p. 316.
  30. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 20; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 308-09; Lepel Griffin, Punjab Chiefs, pp. 173-74; The Rajas of the Punjab, p. 473; Gian Singh, op. cit, p. 238; Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 325-26.
  31. Ramjas, op. cit., p. 324.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Lepel Griffin, The Rajas of the Punjab, pp. 473-74, Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 736. According to Khushwaqat Rai, Bhag Singh died of great uneasiness and regrets (Tawarikh-i-Sikhan, MS., GS., p. 67).
  34. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 67; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p 27; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 261.
  35. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 67; Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 268.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 67; Ramjas, op. cit; p. 329.
  38. Ramjas, op, cit., pp. 342-44.
  39. Kafiat-i-Sardaran-i-Ahluwalia, MS., GS., p. 16.
  40. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 67.
  41. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 268-69.
  42. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 68; James Skinner, op. cit., p. 185; Bute Shah op. cit, IV, p. 269; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 474; Kafiat-i-Sardaran-i-Ahluwalia, p. 21; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 313.
  43. Kafiat-i-Sardaran-i-Ahluwalia, p. 21.
  44. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 68; Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 269; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., pp. 27-28.
  45. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 28; M’Gregor, op. cit., I, pp. 147-48.
  46. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 474-75, cf., Prinsep, Origin of the Sikh Power in The Punjab and Political Life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1834), reprint, Patiala, 1970, p. 46; Cunningham, A History of the Sikhs. (1849), reprint, Delhi, 1955. p. 120.
  47. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 60; Bute Shah, op. cit., V, pp. 35-36.
  48. According to Bute Shah, (op. cit; p. 173), Lepel Griffin (Rajas of the Punjab, ed. 1873, p. 45 foot note 2) and Prinsep (op. cit., p. 49), Tara Singh Ghaiba died at Naraingarh.
  49. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., Daftar 11, pp. 72-73; Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 48.
  50. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 269.
  51. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 156.
  52. Bute Shah, op. cit., V, p. 171.
  53. 85. Ibid., p, 204.
  54. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 482-85; Gian Singh, op. cit., pp. 739-41.
  55. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 485-86; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 742.
  56. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 28; James Skinner, op. cit., p. 186; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 270- 71; M’Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 148.
  57. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p, 28. But according to Bute Shah, Budh Singh Sandhanwalia was appointed to administer the Ahluwalia territory, op. cit., IV, p. 271); Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 488; cf., Prinsep, op. cit., P. 114; M’Gregor, op. cit.; I, p. 148; Cunningham, op. cit., p. 164.
  58. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 489; cf., James Skinner, op. cit., p. 185.
  59. Ibid., Ram Sukh Rao, Sri Fateh Singh Partap Prabhakar, MS., Archives, Patiala. p. 337 b.
  60. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 28; Ramjas, op. cit., p. 439; cf., M’ Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 148.
  61. Ram Sukh Rao, op. cit., folios 338a-339b; Prinsep. op. cit., p. 114; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., pp. 28-29; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 272; James Skinner, op. cit., p. 187; Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 439- 40; Cunningham, op. cit., pp. 164-65; Gian Singh, op. cit., pp. 743-45.
  62. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 745; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 318.
  63. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 478-79.
  64. Ram Sukh Rao, op. cit., f, 89 a-b.
  65. Ibid., f. 341 b.
  66. Ibid., f. 105 b.
  67. M’Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 149; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 319.
  68. Ram Sukh Rao, op. cit., f. 289 b.
  69. Ibid., f. 265 a-b.
  70. Ramjas, op. cit., pp. 458-59.
  71. Ali-ud.Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol, I, p. 317; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 272-73; M’Gregor, op. cit., I. pp. 148-49; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 492-93; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 746.
  72. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., 1, Vol. I, pp. 499-500.
  73. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 503.
  74. Ibid., pp. 526-28; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 320; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 760.
  75. Ibid., p. 529; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 320; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 760.
  76. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 510-11.
  77. Ibid., p. 535; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 763.
  78. Ibid., pp. 537-38; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 764.
  79. Ibid., p. 504.
  80. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 765.
  81. Ibid., pp. 765-66.
  82. Raj Kumar, Modern Kapurthala and its Maker, p. 12.