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The Karorsinghia Misal

Sham Singh

It is said that during the rule of Emperor Muhammad Shah (1719-1748), Sham Singh, a Sandhu Jat, of village Narli, dissatisfied with the treatment of his parents, left his place and joined the derah of Kapur Singh Singhpuria, who was, at this time, up in arms against the Mughal government of the Punjab. For a few days, Sham Singh remained without arms and other equipment necessary for such a career. He called on Kapur Singh and took pahul (baptism) at his hands. He was also able to procure an old sword and a small horse from Sardar Kapur Singh.1 He started actively participating in the activities of the Dal Khalsa. All the Sikhs sallying out from Majha joined Kapur Singh.2

In due course of time, Sham Singh became one of the most prominent men of Kapur Singh’s derah. He formed a group of ten or fifteen men and managed five or six horses and independently started his activities. Shortly, he was able to gather around him about three hundred horsemen. He came to Doaba and carried out the programmes chalked out by the Dal Khalsa. He took certain places under his protection and later occupied the same.3

According to Rattan Singh Bhangu, Sham Singh was his paternal grandfather (his mother’s father). He fought in many skirmishes against the Mughal government forces, always in the front ranks. He was never afraid of death. He always shared his meals with others and never ate alone. If ever he found that the langar was not enough for the men sitting in the pangat he would eat after all had taken their meals. He also partook of langar along with the non-Sikhs, the down-trodden, and untouchables to keep himself identified with all people irrespective of their castes and also to drive home to them that all were equal in the pangat.

He was sweet-tongued and a very devoted Sikh and for most of his time he recited the gurbani (holy scriptures). Whosoever came to him was duly baptised and converted into a Singh.

Karam Singh

Sham Singh was issueless. After his death in 1739, during Nadir Shah’s invasion, his nephew (brother’s son) Karam Singh, who was a member of his derah, became his successor.4 Before joining the derah he took pahul at the hands of Diwan Darbara Singh. Under Karam Singh the Misal progressed considerably. Besides making additions he was able to keep the possessions of Sham Singh intact.

The men of Zakariya Khan, governor of Lahore, forcibly converted into Musalmans most of the relatives of Sham Singh and Karam Singh. In due course of time, Karam Singh, accompanied by Barbara Singh, adequately chastised the guilty Muslims and brought back their relatives into the fold of Sikhism.

In the battle fought at Jalandhar against its administrator Naseer-ud-Din, Karam Singh participated on the side of Adeena Beg. He cut off the head of Naseer-ud-Din’s sipahsalar Khair Shah, and established his position as a brave and fearless warrior and inspired awe into the hearts of his enemies.

In due course of time, Karam Singh also died without a son.5

Karora Singh

Karam Singh was succeeded by Karora Singh who was a Virk Jat zamindar of Majha. He was also called Barqa after the name of his village Barki in Lahore district. He was a member of the Panjgarhia derah. He had taken baptism at the hands of Sham Singh. Karam Singh’s derah unanimously decided to appoint him his successor.6

Karora Singh added more ilaqas to his possessions as Hariana and Sham Churasi (now in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab). He collected an army of seven or eight thousand horsemen including that of his Misaldars.7

This Misal took its name from Karora Singh, the third and one of the most important leaders of the Misal. Karora Singh was an intelligent and a very influential leader. Under his stewardship his derah made rapid strides. Maharaja of Bharatpur fought some battles successfully with the help of Karora Singh. None was able to resist him up to Farrukhabad.

Once, an Afghan sipahsalar, Buland Khan, clashed with the Sikhs near Batala. Karora Singh routed the Afghans and he unburdened them of their treasures and booty and distributed the same among the Sikh jathas. It was Karora Singh who had cut off the head of Diwan Bishambar Das in the battle of Urmar Tanda (in the present district of Hoshiarpur).

In those days, the Raja of Dek Kumher (in the present Rajasthan state), came to the Sikhs and asked for their assistance. He promised to give ten rupees per swar per day. With a view to providing military assistance to the Raja, Sardar Karora Singh led five thousand horsemen to his place. On the way, when the Sikh army encamped at Azimabad, which is popularly known as Tarawari, the tehalias (menial servants) went out to bring grass or fodder for the horses. They began to cut the crops of the zamindars of Tarawari for their horses. The zamindars resisted the reaping of their crops. Karora Singh, with a few of his companions, went to confront the zamindars. He died there as a result of a bullet-shot fired at him by a zamindar.8 According to another version, he was killed in 1761, in the battle of Tarawari fighting against the Nawab of Kunjpura. He was issueless. Sardar Baghel Singh

After the death of Karora Singh, Baghel Singh was unanimously elected to head the Misal. Baghel Singh, a Dhaliwal Jat, was the resident of Jhabal,9 near Amritsar. Some writers believe that he belonged to Malwa and his sister, Sukhan, was married at Jhabal where he lived. On this account he began to be called Jhabalia.10 He was displeased with his brothers over cultivation and the payment of revenue to the government officials. Baghel Singh left his place and joined the derah of Karora Singh.11 He took pahul and became an active member of the Dal Khalsa. For some time he served Karora Singh as his gadwai (attendant).

In pursuance of Karora Singh’s death-bed announcement that Baghel Singh would succeed to the Sardari of the Misal the latter assumed charge of the same. After having gone through the formalities of taking over the reins of the Misal, Baghel Singh ordered their derah at Tarawari to proceed further as scheduled. When the Sikh forces reached near Dek Kumher, its Raja got frightened on the sight of the huge army. He feared that the presence of such a big army in his territory might cause turmoil and disturbances there.12

The Raja planned to fight against the Sikhs and obstruct their entry into his territory. The Sikhs demanded the stipulated amount, otherwise, they threatened to resort to plundering. Hearing this, the Raja sent his vakils to Baghel Singh who requested him to send back his forces. Sardar Baghel Singh expressed his inability to do so. The Raja invited the Sardar in the fort and entertained him honourably and lavishly. He was given ten thousand rupees in cash and some valuable presents. It is said that there was a skirmish also between the Sikhs and the forces of the Raja. In the fight Jassa Singh Ahluwalia is said to have received two wounds by swords inflicted by the Raja’s men. Baghel Singh stayed in that area for a few days and then returned to Jalandhar Doab, which earlier belonged to Karora Singh.13 More territory was brought under his occupation and he administered his areas very well.

Mian Mahmud Khan Rajput was the chief of Taiwan. Formerly, this place had been largely populated, and had very big and beautiful buildings. Rich shahukars or money-lenders lived there.14

Mahmud Khan maintained a force of three hundred horsemen. When Karora Singh visited the Mian once a year or so he was, each time, presented with a horse by the latter. Karora Singh always supported Mahmud Khan in governing his territory. He also provided the Mian with protection from the attacks of the Sikhs.15 After Karora Singh’s death, his successor Baghel Singh also extended protection to Mahmud Khan and received nazarana from him.

When Ahmad Shah Abdali visited the Punjab on his last invasion, the Sikhs, being numerically very small, left their places and sought asylum in their usual hiding places Mian Mahmud Khan took possession of the sarai of Nur Mahal. After Abdali’s return the Sikhs besieged the sarai. The Mian sought help from Baghel Singh who sent his nephew, Hamir Singh, at the head of two or three thousand men to help the Mian. The joint action of the various Sikh leaders prevented the army of Hamir Singh to reach the sarai. Hamir Singh was wounded at the hands of the Sikhs and the sarai was occupied by them. Mian Mahmud returned to Taiwan. During this time, Baghel Singh stayed at Taiwan for six months.16

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia wrote a confidential letter to Baghel Singh that Karora Singh had been always on the lookout of occupying Taiwan but he could not do it due to the strong contingent of Mian Mahmud. Now, as he (Baghel Singh) was in a better position he was advised to capture the place before it was occupied by someone else.17

The proposal of the Ahluwalia Sardar encouraged Baghel Singh to devise a plan to take possession of Taiwan. He asked the Mian to give him a place where he could construct a fortress in which an army could be kept to guard against the invaders. The Mian accepted the proposal and Baghel Singh built the fort in the course of a month. He set up his thana in the fort, but he did not occupy Taiwan till the lifetime of Mian Mahmud. As settled, Baghel Singh continued realising one fourth of the revenue of Taiwan.18

In the district of Karnal, now in Haryana state, Beghel Singh made the town of Chhalondi his headquarters. He retained the possession of Bist Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur district.19 According to Kanaihya Lal, Baghel Singh had a strong and a brave army of 12,000 horsemen.20

Muhammad Hasan Khan of Jalalabad, who had forcibly admitted to his harem the daughter of a Brahman, was killed by Baghel Singh. On different occasions the Sardar attacked Aligarh, Khurja, Chandausi, Etawa, Farrukhabad, Muradabad, Anupshahar, Bulandshahar, Bajnaur, etc.21

Raja Amar Singh of Patiala was encroaching upon the territories of the other Sikhs. Baghel Singh was also deprived of some of his village’s such as Lalru, Bhuni and Mullanpur. In collaboration with some of the other Sardars, who had suffered at the hands of the ruler of Patiala, Baghel Singh planned to attack the territories of Patiala house. Amar Singh was also joined by some other chiefs including the ruler of Nahan. The rival forces confronted each other at Ghurram, 23 kms south of Patiala, in 1769. Some of Baghel Singh’s men secretly appeared outside Patiala and attacked the town but were driven back. Baghel Singh stepped up his activities against the territory of Amar Singh. This compelled the ruler of Patiala to yield.

He sued for peace through his vakil Chain Singh. Amar Singh met Baghel Singh at Lahal village. Amar Singh got his son baptised by Baghel Singh and, thus, cemented his friendly relations with the latter. Amar Singh granted khillats to Baghel Singh’s companions. Since then, Baghel Singh continued rendering help to the Patiala house whenever need arose.22

Baghel Singh launched his first attack on Delhi on January 18, 1774, and “devastated Shahdara till mid-night, and departed with fifty children (boys) when there still remained an hour and a half of night.”23 The Emperor tried to buy them off. He invited the Sikhs to join his service with a force of 10,000 horse and offered to allot to them the district of Shahbazpur for their maintenance. He also sent khillats (robes of honour) for the Sikh chiefs.

In 1775, Baghel Singh attacked Delhi for the second time and went as far as Paharganj and Jaisinghpura. A battle was fought between the Mughal and the Sikh forces in the areas which now comprise New Delhi.

In October 1779, the Delhi minister, Nawab Abdul Ahad, accompanied by Prince Farkhunda Bakht, attacked Patiala. There was severe fighting between the combined troops of Amar Singh and Tara Singh Ghaiba on one side and the Delhi imperial forces on the other. The imperial forces emerged victorious. They laid siege to Patiala town on the 8th of October 1779, but despite severe fighting the imperialists failed to take the fort of Patiala.

A little earlier, the ruler of Patiala had invited the Majha Sikhs under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, promising to give one rupee per day per horseman.24 They immediately responded. “At that time, Jassa Singh was at Batala. He immediately wrote to the Sikh Sardars not to delay any longer as Abdul Ahad had marched from Delhi into their country. Jai Singh, Hakikat Singh, Trilok Singh, Amar Singh Bagha, Amar Singh Kingra and the other Kanaihya Sardars were asked to came to Achal. . . . They crossed the Satluj at Taiwan ka patan where they were joined by Sada Singh, Tara Singh Kakar, Mohar Singh Nishanwalia and his brother Anup Singh.”25 Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Tara Singh Ghaiba, Jodh Singh of wazirabad, Phulkian chiefs of Jind, Nabha, Bhadaur and Malod also joined Raja Amar Singh.26

When the news of the coming Sikh army, rumoured to be two lakhs in number, reached the Nawab, who was a timid and weak-willed man, he was terribly frightened.27 He consulted Baghel Singh who posed to be neutral in the whole affair. He told him of the formidable force under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, then encamped at Malerkotla. The Nawab, then told Baghel Singh that he had been asked by the Emperor to return to Delhi immediately. Baghel Singh approved of this action. Baghel Singh suggested to the Nawab to bribe the Majha Sikh chiefs before his flight to Delhi. Abdul Ahad, being awfully terrified, at once gave three lakh rupees, which he had realised from Desu Singh of Kaithal,28 to Baghel Singh to be distributed among the Sikh chiefs. Baghel Singh paid 10,000 rupees to Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, 5,000 rupees to Tara Singh Ghaiba, 7,000 rupees to Jai Singh Kanaihya and the rest of the money was appropriated to himself.29

In February 1783, at the head of 60,000 troops, the Sikhs marched towards Delhi under the leadership of Baghel Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar and Khurja were attacked and plundered. According to Gian Singh, “When the Sikhs entered Khurja, the people ran away. The rich men of the town were tied to the pillars and compelled to disclose their hidden treasures. After the plunder Baghel Singh and Jassa Singh spread a cloth on the ground and asked the Sikh chiefs to give away one tenth of their booty, in cash, for the service of the Guru. An amount of one lakh rupees was collected and the money was sent to the Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar.”30

Aligarh, Tundia, Hathras, Shikohabad and Farrukhabad were also sacked and huge quantities of spoils were acquired. A good deal of diamonds, pearls, gold, ornaments and many precious articles, including a stick studded with diamonds worth Rs. 33,000, fell into the hands of Baghel Singh. The immense booty, laden on camels, carts, horses and ponies, escorted by 20,000 Sikhs, was sent to the Punjab. All these articles came into the hands of the British at the time of escheat of Baghel Singh’s estate, later on.

Baghel Singh Enters Delhi

At the head of 40,000 troops, Baghel Singh advanced towards Delhi in the beginning of March 1783. He lay encamped at Barari Ghat on the Jamuna, 16 kms north of Delhi, on March 8, 1783. With this place as his base Baghel Singh attacked Malka Ganj and Sabzi Mandi. Many people were killed at Mughalpura. Prince Mirza Shikoh tried to resist them near Qila Mahtabpur but he suffered a defeat. On March 9, Fazal Ali Khan’s attempt to check them proved of no avail. The Sikhs, passing through Ajmeri Gate, sacked the area of Hauz Qazi. The government thought of recruiting more men for the army but the people, who were much alarmed, did not come forward to replenish the ranks of the army. Mirza Shafi and his brother Zain-ul-Abidin were expressly called to relieve the capital of the Sikh invaders.31 But the situation did not improve.

The Emperor, Shah Alam II, invited Begum Samru to Delhi for negotiations with Baghel Singh.

Begum Samru was the ruler of Sardhana, about 90 kms east of Delhi. Her original name was Zeb-un-nisa. She was the daughter of Asad Khan, a Muslim of Arab descent, settled at Kutana. She was born in 1753. She was married to Reinhard, better known as Samru, a German adventurer, who had received the jagir of Sardhana from Najaf Khan. After his death in 1778, she took over as the head of Sardhana. She maintained a force consisting of five battalions of infantry, a body of irregular horse and about 300 European officers and gunners with forty guns. Gifted with masculine gallantry and a precise and accurate judgement she managed the affairs of her territory. Compton writes, “Contrary to the practice of women in this country, Begum Sumroo always wears a turban, generally of damson colour, which becomes her very much, and is put on with great taste.”32

She was a very faithful and loyal subject of the Mughal Emperor and was at his beck and call.

The Sikh Sardars seldom unheeded her request.

The Sikhs deposited their booty from Delhi at Majnu-ka-tila under a strong guard. Just at this stage Jassa Singh Ramgarhia arrived at Delhi from Hisar hoping to get share in the spoils from the capital. On March 11, 1783, the Sikhs entered the Red Fort. The Emperor and his courtiers hid themselves in their private apartments. The Sikhs made Jassa Singh Ahluwalia sit on the throne and waved peacock feathers, tied in a knot, over his head and made him a king.33 Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and other chiefs condemned this action and the Ahluwalia chief appreciated the feelings of Sikh chiefs regarding his assumption of the distinction of royalty. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia captured four guns and a large variegated slab of stone, 6’ x 4’ x 0.75’ in dimension. It is still preserved in the Ramgarhia Bungah at Amritsar.

Begum Samru reached the capital on March 12, 1783, and she was informed about the activities of the Sikhs by the Emperor. He asked for her help in persuading the Sikhs to retire from Delhi and also to spare. Rohtak and Karnal from plunder. She immediately opened negotiations with Baghel Singh whose camp she visited. The Sardar readily agreed to make peace with the Emperor. The following terms were settled under the signatures of the Emperor and the royal seal:

Firstly, the bulk of the Sikh army would immediately return to the Punjab. Secondly, Baghel Singh would stay on in the capital with 4,000 troops. Thirdly, he was allowed to build seven Gurdwaras at places connected with the Sikh Gurus in the city of Delhi. Fourthly, his headquarters would be located in the Sabzi Mandi. Fifthly, to meet the expenses on the construction of the Sikh shrines and the maintenance of his troops Baghel Singh was permitted to charge six annas in the rupee (i.e., 37.5%) of all the income from octroi duties in the capital. Sixthly, the Sikhs would not misbehave in any way during their stay in the capital. Seventhly, the Gurdwaras were to be constructed as soon as possible but not beyond the current year under any circumstances.34

Baghel Singh took over the charge of all the octroi posts as well as that of the Kotwali in Chandni Chowk. Five-eighths, that is 62.5% of the daily collection was punctually deposited in the government treasury every day. The Sikh horsemen patrolled the streets and the suburbs, day and night, and perfect peace and order was established in the city.

The main body of the Sikh forces retired from Delhi on March 12, 1783. The Sikhs were given cash present of three lakh rupees for the karah prashad. With his contingent of 4,000 troops Baghel Singh remained at Delhi to build the Gurdwaras. First, he built a Gurdwara at Teliwara, a place where Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devan, the wives of Guru Gobind Singh, had stayed during their visit to Delhi.35 The second Gurdwara was constructed in Jaisinghpura where Guru Har Krishan had stayed in the house of Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur.36 It is now called Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. The memorials were erected on the bank of the Jumuna where Guru Har Krishan, Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devan were cremated.37  A Gurdwara was also built there.

Two places were connected with Guru Tegh Bahadur. One was at Kotwali where the Guru was martyred and the other was at Rikabganj where his headless body was secretly cremated by Lakhi Singh Banjara. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu, mosques had been erected at both these places. Baghel Singh first planned to build a Gurdwara at Rikabganj and it could not be constructed without demolishing the mosque. This created a sensation among Muslims who, in a huge body, waited upon the Emperor. They represented that under no circumstances the mosque could be allowed to be demolished. The Emperor, who had approved, in writing, the Sikh proposal of building a Gurdwara there, referred the matter to Baghel Singh who agreed to meet the mullas and other prominent men. He convinced them of the Sikh claim to the site and according to some, he threatened them of dire consequences if they did not accept the genuine claim of the Sikhs. He secured written approval from them for dismantling the mosque and informed the Emperor accordingly. The wazir, then, gave orders for the demolition of the mosque. It is said that the Sikhs demolished the mosque in half a day.38 The Gurdwara was built there.

Baghel Singh took the help of an old lady Sakhan Mai (mashkan)a Muslim water-carrier woman, to trace the site of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom. The place had been shown to her by her father who had washed the place after the Guru’s martyrdom. The Muslims made preparations to offer resistance to Baghel Singh as a mosque had also been erected close to the site. Baghel Singh assured the Muslims that no harm would be done to the mosque. A portion of the wall was pulled down and, in the compound, the Gurdwara Sisganj was allowed to be built.39

A Gurdwara was also built at Majnu ka tila where Guru Nanak and Mardana and Guru Hargobind had stayed. The seventh Gurdwara was built in Moti Bagh where Guru Gobind Singh had stayed for some time. These Gurdwaras were endowed liberally by grants of a number of villages to every one of them.40

The construction of all the Gurdwaras in Delhi was completed by Baghel Singh by the end of November 1783. Pul mithai in Delhi was named after Baghel Singh who was very fond of sweets. An exhibition of sweets was held there. He gave prizes to the best sweet-makers. This place came to be named as pul mithai. He decided to retire from Delhi in the beginning of December. Baghel Singh could not plan to stay on in Delhi for various reasons. He had only a small force of 4,000 men with him, at Delhi, with which he could not control the civil population. Secondly, though the Sikhs were seasoned people in the technique of fighting they did not have any administrative experience. The Sikh jathas also lacked coordination among themselves. Thirdly, in the event of his continuing indefinitely in Delhi, there was every likelihood of losing his territories in the Punjab at the hands of the other Sardars who were keen to expand their possessions.

He thanked the Emperor for his government’s cooperation in the building of the Gurdwaras and his permission to stay on in the capital for all these months. Till then, there was no meeting between the Emperor, Shah Alam II, and Baghel Singh. All the courtiers were happy with the behaviour of the Sardar and his men during their stay in Delhi. The Emperor was keen to have a meeting with Baghel Singh. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu, a royal messenger conveyed to the Sardar the Emperor’s desire to see him. The Sardar told him that the meeting with the Emperor was not an easy matter. The Sikhs had pledged not to bow before any Mughal. Secondly, he would not go to the Emperor all alone. He would be accompanied by an armed contingent. Thirdly, while passing through the streets any unbecoming remark or action by the people, in respect of the Sikhs, would enrage them who could, then, go out of control. The Emperor accepted all his conditions and a meeting was arranged between Baghel Singh and Shah Alam II.41 Along the route, the inhabitants were asked to keep indoors and the butchers’ shops were to remain closed for the day. A minister, a number of mace-bearers and announcers accompanied the Sikh procession42 which started from the Sabzi Mandi. A body of Sikhs in arms riding on fine and decorated horses comprised a part of the procession. Baghel Singh, fully armed, followed his contingent, sitting in a howdaw on an elephant. Having approached the Emperor’s Durbar Baghel Singh and five to seven Sardars including Dulcha Singh and Sada Singh dismounted while the troops remained on horsebacks. They were led to the Diwan-i-Aam. Their guide performed obeisance on their behalf. The Sikhs shouted loudly their greetings of Sat Siri Akal. The Prime Minister offered a chair to Baghel Singh. Usual courtesies were exchanged between the Emperor and the Sardar.

In reply to a question Baghel Singh told the Emperor that although the Sikhs were divided into various jathas and Misals they got together in the face of a national danger, forgetting their separate identities.43

It is said that the Emperor expressed a desire to see the Sikhs in the act of plundering. Baghel Singh gave a demonstration in a sugar-cane field near the Red Fort on the bank of river Jamuna. Some of the Sikhs pulled up sugar-canes, while the others forcibly snatched them, leading to mutual scuffles.44

Before his departure from the Emperor’s court Baghel Singh was given a khillat, fully caparisoned elephant and a horse and a necklace of pearls. The other Sardars, accompanying Baghel Singh, were also given khillats. Baghel Singh was granted 12.5 per cent of the octroi duties of Delhi to be remitted to him at his headquarters at Chhalondi annually on the condition that he would prevent the Sikhs from attacking Delhi.45 He continued receiving that money till his death.46

In May 1783, Baghel Singh and Bhag Singh, at the head of their forces, crossed the Jamuna at the Buriya Ghat and realised their rakhi from many places in Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar districts. There was some disagreement between them as regards the proper division of their shares which they settled later.

In the beginning of 1785, a large force of Sikhs, numbering about 30,000, under the leadership of Baghel Singh, Gurdit Singh and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, crossed the Jamuna and swept over the upper Doab with irresistible fury and ferocity. The Barha Sayyid town, which lay right on their line of march, suffered much. Zabita Khan, to whom this territory belonged, was unable to stem the tide and lay trembling within the ramparts of Ghausgarh. Miranpur, 32 kms south-east of Muzaffarnagar, was particularly signalized for a victim of their wrath. They soon crossed over the Ganga into the country of Oudh.47

On January 13, 1785, Baghel Singh and his companions razed to the ground the villages of Barsi and Mahmudpur, inhabited by the Sayyids. They decided to attack Moradabad but they were advised to attack Chandausi, instead, as it lay upon their route. Banne Khan, the chief of the place, had retired, for fear of the Sikhs, to a distance of two days’ journey. His deputies, Chhattu Lal and Sobharam, had also left the town and bankers and merchants were removing their property to places of safety. Baghel Singh was told that Chandausi would bring them greater riches as it was a famous market place where 2,000 bankers and merchants had their business firms and where transactions of crores of rupees were carried on.48

Chandausi was attacked on 14th January 1783. After a feeble resistance the guards were killed and the Sikhs “rushed in and set fire to all the houses and markets and plundered all the property worth lakhs of rupees.” After devastating the town for two days they retired on the 15th January.

Towards the end of January, Harji Ambaji, an agent of Sindhia, arrived in the Sikh camp to negotiate with Baghel Singh and his companions for peace on behalf of his master.  But the negotiations lingered on for some time. On the 30th March 1785, a provisional treaty was concluded between the Sikhs and the Marathas, according to which the friends and enemies, and the prosperity and adversity of each were to be mutual. No jealousy or difference was to subsist between them and God was witness that there would be no deviation. The contracting parties were to unite their forces to repress any disturbances that might be excited by their enemies.

Ghulam Qadir Khan Rohilla, son of Zabita Khan, was growing hostile to the Emperor of Delhi. On 30th August 1787, the Emperor wrote a letter to Baghel Singh asking him “to seize all the territories of Ghulam Qadir Khan, as we have appointed him our agent of that country.” Ghulam Qadir entered Delhi on the 5th September. The Emperor found it impossible to resist him. He conferred upon the Rohilla chief the office of Mir Bakhshi with the title of Amir-ul-Umara. The Emperor desired of Baghel Singh to fight against Ghulam Qadir but the Sardar joined the latter. Through his letter Baghel Singh informed the Emperor that he had done so because Sindhia had not cared for them. Later the Sikhs turned against Ghulam Qadir also and ravaged his territory.

When George Thomas, an Irish adventurer, directed his campaign against Jind (November 1798—May 1799), Bibi Sahib Kaur of Patiala was joined by Baghel Singh on her march with forces, to the aid of Jind.

Baghel Singh had a very brilliant career of military activities to his credit and, undoubtedly, he was one of the most prominent and outstanding Sikh chiefs of his age.

Baghel Singh remained in the districts of Panipat and Delhi for twelve years and gave a neat and clean administration to the areas under him.49 The territories of Jalandhar Doab and areas adjoining the Shivalik hills were governed by Hamir Singh, son of Baghel Singh’s sister. After Hamir Singh’s death Baghel Singh came to the Jalandhar Doab. He brought more territories under his control. He placed the zamindar of Alawalpur, Rai Alias Kot of Jagraon and the zamindars in the areas on the foot of the Shivalik hills under fixed annual tribute and made Hariana (presently in the Hoshiarpur district) his headquarters.50

Baghel Singh had, throughout, maintained good relations with most of the Sardars of the Misals. He had great regards for Jai Singh Kanaihya whom he always gave unstinted support whenever need arose. Even after Jai Singh’s death Baghel Singh continued supporting the Kanaihyas. A few examples of his support to the Kanaihyas may not be out of place here.

When Saif Ali Khan, the Mughal thanedar of Kangra, died, the fort of Kangra was placed in the hands of Sehaj Ram, a hazari, and Jamadar Zorawar Singh. Sansar Chand Katoch, finding himself incapable of snatching the fort from them, solicited Jai Singh Kanaihya’s help. Jai Singh called Baghel Singh and asked him to lead a campaign to Kangra, accompanied by his son, Gurbakhsh Singh, to help Sansar Chand. Diplomatic as Baghel Singh was, he asked the new custodians of the fort to get subsistence allowance from Sansar Chand and vacate the fort for him. They agreed on written assurance to that effect from the Katoch chief and left the fort which was occupied by Baghel Singh and Gurbakhsh Singh and not handed over to Sansar Chand. The Kangra fort passed under the control of the Kanaihyas51 and Baghel Singh did not claim any share from it.

When Jaimal Singh, son of Haqiqat Singh Kanaihya, was imprisoned by Fateh Singh, son of Mehtab Singh, supported by Gulab Singh Bhangi, Baghel Singh raised a serious objection to it and demanded his immediate release52 which was later done.

In the expulsion of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia from his territories Jai Singh Kanaihya was substantially helped by Baghel Singh. The Karorsinghia chief was given a share from the territory from which the Ramgarhia chief was dispossessed.53

When Jai Singh Kanaihya visited Amritsar in 1784, on the occasion of Diwali, Baghel Singh also reached there on the invitation of the Kanaihya chief.54

In BK. 1851 (A.D. 1794) when Rani Sada Kaur Kanaihya besieged Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in the fort of Miani, situated on the bank of river Beas, Baghel Singh was on the side of the Rani.55

After shifting to Hariana (in Hoshiarpur district), Baghel Singh lived only for two years and died there in BK. 1859 (A.D. 1802).56 He ruled his territories nearly for sixty years.57 Since he had no son to succeed him a vacuum was created in his state. The law and order situation in his principality suffered a setback. Baghel Singh’s two widows, Ram Kaur and Rattan Kaur, looked after their territories for some time.58 Ram Kaur, the elder Sardarni, maintained her control over the district of Hoshiarpur from which a revenue of two lakh rupees accrued annually and Sardarni Rattan Kaur, the younger one, continued to be in possession of Chhalondi, fetching an annual revenue of three lakh rupees. When the British proceeded towards Satluj Rattan Kaur saved the parganas of Behlolpur and Chhalondi by paying a nazarana of five thousand rupees.59

Sometime later, Ranjit Singh usurped Rattan Kaur’s territory of Khurdin which yielded an annual revenue of one lakh rupees and handed it over to Jodh Singh of Kalsia and gave the pargana of Behlolpur to his official, Vir Bhan.60

Jodh Singh, born in 1751, was the son of Baghel Singh’s friend and associate, Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh (1710-1775), the founder of the Kalsia family. After Baghel Singh’s death in 1802, Jodh Singh declared himself to be the head of Karorsinghia house. Jodh Singh helped Baghel Singh in the battles of Jalalabad, Bharatpur, Taiwan and Ghurram.61 Jodh Singh was a man of great ability. He conquered Chichroli and took possession of Dera Bassi from Khazan Singh. Raja Sahib Singh of Patiala married his daughter, Karam Kaur, to Hari Singh son of Jodh Singh, in 1803, and thus saved himself from a strong neighbour. In 1807, Hari Singh fought under Ranjit Singh at the siege of Naraingarh and was rewarded with estates at Budala, Kaneri and Chubbal. He died during the siege of Multan in 1817, and Karorsinghia territories were absorbed into the Kalsia family. His elder son, Sobha Singh, held the estate till his death in February 1858. Sobha Singh and his son, Lehna Singh (1858-69), remained loyal to the British and Lehna Singh’s son, Bishan Singh (1869-1883), inherited an estate worth Rs. 1,30,300 per annum, with a population of 62,000.62 Bishan Singh was succeeded by Jagjit Singh (1883-86), Ranjit Singh (1886-1908), Ravisher Singh (1908-January 1947), and Karam Sher Singh (Jan. 1947-May 1948), when Kalsia territories joined Patiala and East Punjab States Union. By 1948, the population of the Kalsia state rose to 15 thousand and income to rupees ten lakhs.63

There was one Sukhu Singh Pohli, resident of village Rai. Fed up with the ill-treatment of his brothers Sukhu, Singh left his village Rai which was situated near the Afghan town of Kasur. He met Baghel Singh and received baptism at his hands and became the Sardar’s attendant (garwai). He soon became a ghurcharra and rose to be one of the prominent followers of the Sardar.64

When Baghel Singh moved over to Panipat he made Sukhu Singh the chief of the territories of Rohtak, Jind and Gohana. He was provided with the necessary force. Sukhu Singh ameliorated considerably the administration of that territory. He carried fancy in his bead to become independent of Baghel Singh. The Sardar called him into his presence. Sukhu Singh refused to come and became a rebel. Baghel Singh acted diplomatically and pleased him with his practical wisdom. He again called him for interview. After a couple of days Sukhu Singh was reprimanded and imprisoned. He was kept in captivity for five or six days and his possessions were declared as confiscated. Then, he showed his pardon and conferred a doshala (shawl) and a horse on him and his ilaqa was restored to him.65 After Baghel Singh’s death Sukhu Singh went to Hariana to mourn the death of the Sardar, Finding things in disorder in the Karorsinghia house Sukhu Singh declared himself to be Baghel Singh’s successor. All the Misaldars and tabedars of Baghel Singh accepted Sukhu Singh as their chief. The Sardarnis disagreed over this issue. Later, Sukhu Singh joined the elder Sardarni and all the Misaldars sided with the younger one. This resulted in great harm to the Misal.66 Some of the Misaldars revolted and declared themselves independent of the Sardar of the Misal. Sukhu Singh entered the fort of Taiwan. The territory that was under Mahmud Khan also went out of the control of the Karorsinghias, and fell in the hands of Tara Singh Ghaiba. Later, this area passed under the control of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.67

The elder widow of Baghel Singh died at her husband’s headquarters —Hariana. After her death the town of Hariana and the adjoining areas were taken over by Ranjit Singh. He also took possession of her movable property as elephants, horses, domestic articles, etc.68

When Rattan Kaur died in BK. 1905 (A.D. 1848), the British occupied the possessions of Chhalondi. A huge amount of her wealth, in the form of cash, ornaments, invaluable diamonds and many costly articles, was confiscated by the English.69 Thus, came to an end the Misal of Sardar Baghel Singh who had built and raised it to a high level of glory.

Notes and References

  1. Bute Shah, Tawarikh-i-Punjab, IV, MS., Dr Ganda Singh’s personal collection, Patiala, p. 216. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu, Sham Singh joined the derah of Mastan Singh from whom he took pahul. In due course of time he became the jathedar of that derah. Later on, he affiliated his jatha to that of Kapur Singh. Mastan Singh was a doss companion of Banda Singh. He died fighting against the Muslims (Prachin Panth Parkash, ed. 1939 p. 421).
  2. Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Parkash (1841), Amritsar, 1939 p. 422.
  3. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 216.
  4. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 422.
  5. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 216-17.
  6. Ibid., p. 217; cf., Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, reprint Patiala, 1970, p. 255.
  7. Ibid., Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 255.
  8. Ibid., pp. 217-18; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 255.
  9. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 423; Khushwaqat Rai, Tawarikh-i-Sikhan, (1811), MS., GS.; p. 70; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibratnama (1854), Lahore, 1961, p. 207.
  10. Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 241.
  11. Ibid., p. 241.
  12. Ibid., p. 218.
  13. Ibid., p. 219.
  14. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 94.
  15. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 219.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid., pp. 219-20.
  18. Ibid., p. 220; cf., Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 256.
  19. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 255.
  20. Kanaihya Lal, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877, p. 107.
  21. Gian Singh, op. cit., pp. 255-56; cf., Delhi Chronicle, MS., GS. p. 99.
  22. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., (ed. 1914), pp. 540-50; Gian Singh, op. cit., pp. 256, 563-64.
  23. Delhi Chronicle, p. 122.
  24. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 280.
  25. Jassa Singh Binod Punjabi, MS., Archives, Patiala, p. 220.
  26. Lepel Griffin, Rajas of the Punjab, Lahore, 1870, p. 49.
  27. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 280-81.
  28. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., 49-50.
  29. Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs, Vol. III, Delhi, 1380, p. 117.
  30. Gian Singh, Panth Parkash, (ed. 1923), p. 912.
  31. Delhi Chronicle, p. 152; J.N. Sarkar, Foll of the Mughal Empire, Vol. III, Calcutta, 1938, p. 255.
  32. Compton, H. A Particular Account of the European Military Adventurers of Hindostan from 1784 to 1803, London, 1893, pp. 400-01.
  33. Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa. Patiala reprint, 1970, p. 257.
  34. Ibid, p. 258.
  35. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 435.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid., pp. 436-37.
  39. Ibid., pp. 437-38.
  40. Sewa Singh, Sardar Baghel Singh. Urdu, Amritsar, 1925, p. 181.
  41. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 438.
  42. Ibid; p. 439.
  43. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 259.
  44. Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., pp. 440-41.
  45. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 259; Rattan Singh Bhangu, op. cit., p. 440.
  46. Khushwaqat Rai, Tawarikh-i-Sikhan, (1811), MS., Dr Ganda Singh, private collection, Patiala, p. 70.
  47. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit, Vol. III, pp. 198-199.
  48. Ibid., p. 199.
  49. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 220.
  50. Ibid., pp. 220-21.
  51. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, pp. 272-73.
  52. Ibid., pp. 280-81.
  53. Ibid, p. 306; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, Appendix, Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Lahore, 1885, p. 23.
  54. Ibid., p. 277.
  55. Ibid., p. 281.
  56. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 259.
  57. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 70.
  58. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 259; cf., Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 221; Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 70. According to Kushwaqat Rai, the names of Baghel Singh’s widows were Ram Kaur and Raj Kaur. These arc corroborated by Lepel Griffin, Rajas of the Punjab, (ed. 1873), p. 47.
  59. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 70; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 259.
  60. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 71; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 260.
  61. Bhag Singh, Tarikh-i-Khandan-i-Riast Kalsia, (ed. Thakar Nagina Ram, 1930), pp. 533-37.
  62. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 71, fn. I; Muhammad Latif, History of the Punjab, Calcutta, 1891, p. 324.
  63. Naresh, weekly, Ferozepur, dated August, 10, 1948, p. 172.
  64. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 221.
  65. Ibid.
  66. Ibid., pp. 221-22.
  67. Ibid., p. 222.
  68. Ahmad Shah Batalia. Appendix, op. cit., p. 34; Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., pp. 70-71.
  69. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 260.