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The Nikkai Misal

According to Lepel Griffin, there is a legend believed at Bahrwal that runs as under: About the year 1595 Guru Arjan, travelling with a few followers in the Lahore district, reached the small town of Bahrwal which had been founded by an Arora Khatri, named Bahr. The Guru was not received with due hospitality. So he passed on to the neighbouring village of Jambar where he lay down on a charpai (cot) under a shady tree. By this time, Hem Raj, a Sandhu Jat, chaudhari or headman of Bahrwal, who was absent when the Guru passed through his village, heard of what had occurred and ashamed of his town-men’s inhospitality went to Jambar and brought the Guru to his town. The Guru blessed Hem Raj and prophesied that his son and successor, Hira Singh, would be a great and powerful chief.1

This legend would have been more correctly applied to Alam, the father or to Mahmana, the grandfather of Hem Raj, for Hira Singh, who was certainly the first man of note in the family, was not born till nearly a hundred years after the death of Guru Arjan which took place in 1606.2

Hira Singh

Hira Singh was the son of Hem Raj, of Bahrwal village in the pargana of Fasilabad and in the province of Multan. He was born in A.D. 1706 (BK. 1763). He was initiated into the Khalsa in 1731,3 and he joined the Sikh movement in the Punjab in 1748.4 In the course of a few days’ time about two hundred Sikhs gave him  following and remained in attendance on him, day and night.5 Hira Singh gathered power about the middle of the eighteenth century. He took possession of the Nakka territory lying between Lahore and Gogaira and between the rivers, Satluj and Ravi, which has given its name to the family of Hira Singh and to the Misal which he commanded. In 1749, he took Satghara and Chunian from the Afghans and augmented his resources considerably.6 Shortly thereafter, the number of his horse and foot rose to three thousand.7 His territorial possessions included Bahrwal, Faridabad, Jethpur, Chunian, Khudian, Mustfabad and Shergarh and areas from river Ravi to Dogran and Manwan, situated on the bank of river Satuj.8 Day by day, Hira Singh’s status and position increased.

At that time, Sheikh Subhan was the gaddi-nashin of Baba Parid-ud-Din of Pak Pattan. He hid, at his command, one thousand horsemen and two thousand pyadas. He was carrying on the administration of the estate attached to the dargah.9 According to Gian Singh and Muhammad Latif, Subhan Khan Qureshi, the rais (landlord) of Pak Pattan wanted of Muslims to slaughter the cows in large numbers, without compunction. His Hindu subjects felt deeply hurt over it. They made appeals to Hira Singh to ask Subhan Khan to desist from hurting the feelings of the Hindus. But Subhan Khan cared neither for the Hindus nor for Hira Singh’s request.10 Hira Singh launched an attack on Sheikh Subhan. Hira Singh received a gun-shot on his forehead and died instantaneously. His companions brought his dead body to Bahrwal where it was cremated.11

Nahar Singh

Hira Singh had a suckling son, named Dal Singh. But the Sikhs of the derah assembled and unanimously decided to place his nephew Nahar Singh12 on the gaddi of the Nakkai house. Nahar Singh died nine months after his succession,13 in a fight at Kot Kamalia in 1768.14 His younger brother, Ran Singh, became the next Sardar of the Misal and he administered his territory in his own way.15

Ran Singh

Under Ran Singh, Misal rose to a strong and important position. The Misal was, no doubt, not very powerful as compared with some other Misals but it could play an effective role in the battle-field when needed, with a sizable army equipped with the adequate arms. The Jats of the Nakka derah were known for their strength and bravery and this small Misal always did good fighting with the Afghans and other neighbours, till, at last, a tract worth nine lakhs of rupees was in the hands of Sardar Ran Singh and his Misaldars.16

They held Chunian, part of Kasur, Sharakpur, Gogaira pargana and Kot Kamalia, at one time, the headquarters of the Kharral tribe.17

During this time, Kamar Singh was the chief of Sayidwala, Satghara and Kot Kamalia and had four hundred horsemen at his command. Ganga Singh Gill looked after the villages of Bujaki and Baga Sudha and maintained two hundred horsemen. Lal Singh was living in his ancestral village of Jamsher Bandu and commanded one hundred horsemen.18

After some time, all these Sardars assembled at a place and proposed an alliance. Since Kamar Singh, Ganga Singh and Lal Singh had seven hundred horsemen at their command and Ran Singh Bahrwalia had one thousand horsemen under him, they decided to pool their military resources and carry out conquests into the territories of others and later distribute their gains among themselves according to their shares.19 In that case the area would be populated and it would yield full produce and all of them would live in plenty.20

Sardar Kamar Singh of Sayidwala married his daughter to Dal Singh, son of Sardar Hira Singh. Kamar Singh got interested in Dal Singh’s succeeding to the command of the Misal. This led to hostility between Kamar Singh and Ran Singh. In the conflict that ensued between them21 Lal Singh Panthi sided with Ran Singh and Ganga Singh Gill joined Kamar Singh. A big zamindar, named Amir, the Sardar of Janan community, who had the following of two or three thousand peasants, had been for a long time the subject and a tenant or revenue payee to Kamar Singh. He alienated his allegiance from Kamar Singh and joined Ran Singh.22 The conflict between the above referred to contending parties continued for three years and there were occasional fighting. In the hostilities Ran Singh had an upper hand and Kamar Singh was dispossessed of his territories excepting Sayidwala and Satghara and the adjoining villages.23

Ultimately, Kamar Singh became helpless and he extended the hand of friendship towards Amir in 1776. Sardar Amir sent him a word that it was not possible for him to come to him under the circumstances. He should first come to him and after the ill-will and bad-blood created between them was removed he (Amir) would visit him (Kamar Singh) and pay him his due regards and offer his services.24

Since Kamar Singh was in need of Sardar Amir’s help he visited his place, accompanied by nineteen horsemen. He was received very hospitably and with very respectful regards. At night, when Kamar Singh was asleep his head was cut off and the weapons and horses of his companions were usurped and they were allowed to go. They took away the dead body of Kamar Singh to Sayidwala where it was cremated.25

Kamar Singh’s son-in-law, Dal Singh, succeeded him to the estate. Wazir Singh, the son-in- law of Kamar Singh’s sister, also lived at Sayidwala. He was a very influential man. Most of the affairs relating to the estate particularly the revenue administration were referred to him and nobody bothered about Dal Singh.26

With the passage of time, when the administrative affairs were straightened Wazir Singh decided to wreak vengeance on the enemies of Kamar Singh. The warfare continued for quite some time. In the course of fighting Sardar Amir died of a gunshot. His followers were turned out of Sandal Bar.27 When Wazir Singh felt relieved from the side of Sardar Amir he turned his attention to Ran Singh Babrwalia and started armed operations against him. Ran Singh died at Bahrwal in 1781.28

Bhagwan Singh

Ran Singh was succeeded by his eldest son, Bhagwan Singh, who was not able to hold the territory his father had acquired. Wazir Singh continued fighting against Bhagwan Singh also, and occupied most of his territories. Sardarni Karmo, wife of Sardar Ran Singh, accompanied by her three sons—Bhagwan Singh, Gian Singh and Khazan Singh, came to a garden in Sayidwala and accepted allegiance to Wazir Singh and got her villages released.29

After some time, Sardarni Karmo, in consultation with her people, betrothed her daughter. Raj Kaur, also called Datar Kaur, and popularly known as Mai Nakkain, with Sardar Mahan Singh’s son, through Diwan Tek Chand.30

Hearing about this matrimonial relationship Wazir Singh got apprehensive lest the Sukarchakia chief should help Karmo and put him into trouble. Wazir Singh tried to mislead her saying that the Sandhu Jats were much superior to Sansi Jats as the Sukarchakias were called. Wazir Singh advised her to snap matrimonial connections with the Sukarchakias who were at the bottom among the Jats and engage her daughter in some superior sub-caste of Jats. Sardarni Karmo did not accept the advice31 and refused to break off this match.

At last, Wazir Singh sent a vakil, named Sangat Rai, a confidant of his, to Mahan Singh to create and cement friendly relations with him. Wazir Singh also sent a word to Mahan Singh that he had one thousand horsemen under his command and whenever the need arose he could come to serve him with his contingent. Mahan Singh, who was a wise and a capable man, decided to avail himself of this offer and in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship he sent a reliable and trust- worthy Brahman, named Naunihal, to stay with him32 as his vakil or an envoy. The two vakils performed their duties very well and their efforts went a long way in bringing Wazir Singh and Mahan Singh closer.

Ganga Singh Gill had died in a battle and Lal Singh, avoiding the companionship of Bhagwan Singh, passed his days at his place peacefully. In 1840 Bk. or A.D. 1783, Wazir Singh, Bhagwan Singh and Rupa Singh, brother of Ganga Singh Gill, assembled their forces and attacked Dayalpur and occupied all the adjoining villages.33

Jalal-ud-Din Khan, the Afghan ruler of Dayalpur, who had forty horsemen and fifty pyadas at his command, sent a communication to the above mentioned invaders that all the villages occupied by them were attached to the fort which was still under him. So long as he was in possession of the fort none could take away any part of his territory. He told them that as soon as they returned to their places he would get his villages released and in the course of his bid to recapture his lost villages there would be plundering and setting places on fire. Therefore, it was in the fitness of things that they should take a part of the revenue of that territory and retire from there.34 Wazir Singh and Bhagwan Singh, in consultation with each other, got some revenue fixed for themselves. Then, they entered Burki and Murki and, occupying areas that yielded an annual revenue of about fifty thousand rupees, returned to their places. One fifth of the total revenue, that they received from the newly annexed places, was given to Rupa Singh, brother of Ganga Singh, and the remaining was divided among themselves equally by the two Sardars.35

After some time, Jai Singh Kanaihya led his forces into the territories of the Nakkais and sent a message to Wazir Singh and Bhagwan Singh to present themselves to him. Helplessly, they joined him and in his company they reached Chiniot via Multan and Jhang. From there, Jai Singh headed for Amritsar and Wazir Singh and Bhagwan Singh retired to their places. In 1842 BK. corresponding to A.D. 1785, Jai Singh Kanaihya demanded the booty obtained by Mahan Singh from Jammu and threatened him with dire consequences in the event of his refusal to part with plunder. Mahan Singh, finding himself in a tight corner, wrote a letter to Wazir Singh to come to his help with all possible haste.36

When Wazir Singh received the invitation from Mahan Singh he was short of funds. He plundered the town of Hujra, and accompanied by Bhagwan Singh, by quick marches, reached and set up his derah at about five kos from Amritsar. Mahan Singh went to Wazir Singh’s derah to welcome him and offered him sweets as a token of love and regards. Wazir Singh accompanied Mahan Singh to the latter’s derah and helped him in ruining Jai Singh,37 At the time of his return to his place Wazir Singh was highly honoured by Mahan Singh who gave him horses and precious dresses out of gratitude for his help.

In the above affair, Bhagwan Singh was completely ignored. He felt slighted. When he returned to Bahrwal Bhagwan Singh, in collaboration with Mehtab Singh Assal, Dharam Singh Bhaiya and Rupa Singh Jatariwal, made a stir against Wazir Singh.38 When Mahan Singh heard about the hostilities between the two he came, all the way, from Gujranwala and brought about recon- ciliation between them. Outwardly, they posed to have patched up their differences but in the heart of their hearts they had a deep-seated and lingering animosity between them. After some time the hostilities again erupted which resulted in the death of Bhagwan Singh in the battle-field.39

Gian Singh

Bhagwan Singh was issueless, so his younger brother, Gian Singh, succeeded him in 1789.

After some time Gian Singh was blessed with a son, named Kahan Singh.40

In the meantime Dal Singh, son of Hira Singh, who lived with Wazir Singh, came of age. He chopped off the head of Wazir Singh when he was asleep. In his attempt to escape he was overpowered by one of the servants of Wazir Singh and done to death.41

Wazir Singh had two sons, named Mehar Singh and Mohar Singh. The Sikhs of his derah assembled and appointed Mehar Singh the elder son, to succeed his father. Mehar Singh kept the taaluqa of Sayidwala and Kot Kamalia in his hands and conferred Satghara to his younger brother Mohar Singh. Some years after the death of Mahan Singh, Gian Singh solemnised the marriage of his sister, Raj Kaur, with Ranjit Singh. She became the mother of Kharak Singh.

When Ranjit Singh was on his way to creating a kingdom and was gaining power day by day, Sardar Mehar Singh of Sayidwala engaged his daughter to Ishar Singh, son of Ranjit Singh and grandson of Sada Kaur. But the young prince died when he was hardly one and a half years of age.42

Khazan Singh and Kahan Singh

After the death of Gian Singh, his younger brother Khazan Singh succeeded to the Sardari of the Misal. In 1807, after annexing Kasur, Maharaja Ranjit Singh headed towards Multan through the territory of Nakka. Jalal Khan, ruler of Dipalpur, fled his territory along with his children and relatives. The Maharaja occupied these territories and conferred the same on Khazan Singh and his brother-in-law, Kahan Singh, and proceeded further.43

The same year (i.e. in 1807), twin sons were born to Mehtab Kaur, daughter of Sada Kaur. After the death of Mehar Singh of Sayidwala his widow married her daughter to Prince Sher Singh but the girl died a year later. The Maharaja occupied Sayidwala and other possessions of the widow of Mehar Singh and also that of Mohar Singh. He gave a jagir of seven villages, including Nokra, to the dispossessed persons for their subsistence.44

Kahan Singh accepted the overlord ship of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. When the Nakkai chief had gone to Multan in 1811, to realise the tribute from Muzaffar Khan on behalf of the Lahore Durbar, Ranjit Singh sent Mohkam Chand and Prince Kharak Singh to the territories of the Nakkais to take charge of the same.45 The Nakkai administrator (vakil) Diwan Hakim Rai immediately approached Ranjit Singh with the request that it was not proper for the Lahore forces to take military action against the Misal. In case the territory of the Nakkais was allowed to continue in the hands of Sardar Kahan Singh, a big nazarana would be given to the Maharaja.46 In the words of Munshi Sohan Lal Suri, the Maharaja told Hakam Rai, “I have nothing to do in the matter. Prince Kharak Singh is the maternal grandson of the Nakkais. Only he knows as to what is to be done.”47

Mohkam Chand conquered the fortresses of Chunia, Dipalpur and Satghara. Sardar Kahan Singh came back from Multan to find his territories gone out of his hands. He was given a jagir worth twenty thousand rupees annually.48 Khazan Singh was also given a jagir at Nawankot which was situated in Doaba Rachna, adjoining Sharakpur. The jagir yielded an annual income of twelve thousand rupees.49

Kahan Singh always lived at Bahrwal and remained loyal to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Jamiat Singh, son of Khazan Singh, and Chet Singh, son of Gian Singh, served in the ghhorcharras under Ranjit Singh.50 After the Maharaja’s death Kahan Singh did not participate in politics. In 1848, his troops and his second son, Attar Singh, who were with the army at Multan, joined the rebels but Kahan Singh, who was, then, an old man, was not suspected of being a party to his son’s disaffection. In 1860, he was made a jagirdar Magistrate by the British.51 He died in A.D. 1874 (1931 Bk.). His eldest son Chattar Singh had died earlier in 1857. After Kahan Singh’s death his grandson, Ranjodh Singh, succeeded to the jagir. His brothers, Thakur Singh and Partap Singh, and cousin brother, Lehna Singh and other members of the family lived on petty jagirs.52

Notes and References

  1. Lepel Griffin, The Panjab Chiefs, Lahore, 1890, pp. 118-19.
  2. Ibid, p. 119.
  3. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of the Sikh Religion, part I, Lahore, 1914, p. 272.
  4. Bute Shah, Tawarikh-i-Punjab, IV, MS., Ganda Singh collection, Patiala, p. 63; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibratnama, I, (1854), Lahore, 1961, p. 283.
  5. Ibid., p. 63; Ali-ud-Din, op. cit., p. 283.
  6. Ibid., p. 64; Ibid., p. 284.
  7. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 282.
  8. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 61; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 284.
  9. Ibid., Ibid.
  10. Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, reprint, Patiala, 1970. p. 248; Muhammad Latif, History of the Punjab, Lahore, ed. 1916, p. 108.
  11. Ibid., Ibid.
  12. According to Bute Shah, his name was Tara Singh (op. cit., Vol. IV, p.64). Ali-ud-Din Mufti names him as Nar Singh (Vol. I, p. 284) and Gian Singh calls him Nahar Singh (op. cit., p. 248).
  13. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 64; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, I, p. 284.
  14. According to Gian Singh and Kanaihya Lal, Nahar Singh died of tuberculosis. (Gian Singh, op. cit., 11, p. 248; Kanaihya Lal, Tawarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877, p. 97.
  15. Bule Shah, op. cit., p. 63.
  16. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 120; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 109.
  17. Ibid., Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 10.
  18. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 63; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 284.
  19. Ibid., pp. 63-64. Ibid.
  20. Ibid., p. 64. Ibid.
  21. Ibid, Ibid., p. 285.
  22. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 64; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 285.
  23. Ibid., p. 64. Ibid.
  24. Ibid. Ibid.
  25. Ibid. Ibid., cf., Khushwaqat Rai. Tawarikh-i-Sikhan, MS., GS. collection, pp. 88-89.
  26. Ibid., pp. 64-65; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., p. 285. According to some writers Kamar Singh and Wazir Singh were brothers Mohammad Latif, op. cit., p. 109; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 248).
  27. Bute Shah; op. cit, IV, p. 65; Ali-ud -Din Mufti, op. cit.; I, pp. 285.
  28. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 120.
  29. Bute Shah. op. cit., p. 65; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 286.
  30. Ibid. Ibid.
  31. Ibid. Ibid.
  32. Ibid., pp. 65-66.
  33. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 287; Buta Singh, op. cit., pp. 66.
  34. Ibid., Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 66.
  35. Ibid. Ibid.
  36. Ibid., Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 120; Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 67.
  37. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., pp. 287-88; Ibid., p. 67.
  38. Ibid., p. 288; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 120.
  39. Ibid. Ibid; Bute Shah, op. cit., pp. 67-68.
  40. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 89; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 288.
  41. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I p. 288; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 121; Gian. Singh, op. cit., p. 249; Bute Shah, op. cit, p. 68.
  42. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 28E-89; Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 68.
  43. Ibid, Bute Shah op. cit., pp. 68-69.
  44. Ibid. Ibid., p. 69.
  45. Sohan Lal Suri, Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, II, Lahore, 1885, pp. 108-09; Amar Nath, Zafarnama-i-Ranjit Singh, (1836-37), Lahore, 1928, p. 61.
  46. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 108.
  47. Ibid., pp. 108-09.
  48. Ibid., p. 109; cf., Ali-ud-Din Mufti, I, p. 289; cf.. Bate Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 69; cf., Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 89.
  49. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 121.
  50. Ibid.
  51. Ibid., p. 122; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 249.
  52. Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 249; Kanaihya Lal, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Punjabi version, Patiala, 1968, p. 93.