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The Ramgarhia Misal

The founder of the Ramgarhia Misal was a Jat Sikh, named Khushal Singh1, of Guga village, near Amritsar. He received pahul (baptism) from the hands of Banda Singh. During the Sikh revolt against the Mughal tyranny he came into prominence through his daring adventures. Khushal Singh was succeeded by another Jat, Nand Singh, who belonged to village Sanghani, near Amritsar.2 Under Nand Singh’s command the band grew more powerful and they expanded their activities considerably. Nand Singh, after his death, was succeeded by a much more enterprising and a valiant man, named Jassa Singh, under whose stewardship the band assumed the status and the name of the Misal.

Hardas Singh, the grandfather of Jassa Singh, a carpenter by caste, was the resident of Sur Singh3 which is situated about nineteen miles east of Khem Karan, in the present district of Amritsar. Hardas Singh was initiated into the Khalsa faith by Guru Gobind Singh himself from whose hands he took pahul and fought some battles from the Guru’s side. When the Guru proceeded towards the Deccan Hardas Singh retired to his village. When Banda Singh organised the Sikhs to fight against the Mughals Hardas Singh joined his followers and participated in most of the battles fought by him. He died in the battle of Bajwara in A.D. 1715 (B.K. 1772).4

Jassa Singh (1723-1803)

Bhagwan Singh, the only son of Hardas Singh, was of a still more adventurous disposition. He had also mastered, the Adi Granth, the Sikh scripture, and was called Gyani. He shifted to village Ichhogil which lay about twelve miles east of Lahore.5 He preached the Sikh faith in the neighbouring villages. He was an intrepid soldier. Bhagwan Singh had five sons, named. Jai Singh, Jassa Singh, Khushal Singh, Mali Singh and Tara Singh.6 Bhagwan Singh, who was in the service of Adeena Beg Khan, commanded a contingent of one hundred horsemen. In 1739, during the invasion of Nadir Shah, Bhagwan Singh saved the life of the governor of Lahore at the cost of his own. To reward his brave deed the governor gave a village each to all of his five sons. The villages gifted were: Valla, Verka, Sultanwind, Tung and Chubhal.7 Of these villages Valla came to the share of Jassa Singh.

In the battle fought between Nadir Shah and Zakariya Khan, at Wazirabad, Bhagwan Singh fought very bravely but lost his life. Jassa Singh and his two brothers Mali Singh and Tara Singh are also said to have fought against Nadir Shah.

Adeena Beg, the faujdar of Jalandhar Doab, was strengthening his position in the territory under his control, despite the rising power of the Sikhs. The Sikhs were determined to restrain Adeena Beg’s power under all circumstances. As a conciliatory measure, the Sikhs sent Jassa Singh to Adeena Beg as their representative for negotiations. Adeena Beg was very much impressed by the sharp intelligence, winning eloquence and brave and manly bearing of Jassa Singh. He persuaded him to join his service as an officer.8 He was appointed tehsildar of a sizeable territory.9 He gained a lot of administrative experience while in the service of Adeena Beg.

A little later, Jassa Singh, along with his two brothers, Mali Singh and Tara Singh, joined the band of Nand Singh. He soon earned the distinction of being the most daring and fearless of the band. After Nand Singh’s death he was acknowledged as the leader of the band.

After some time, Jassa Singh was again invited by Adeena Beg, faujdar of Jalandhar Doab, to join his service as an important officer which he did. Jassa Singh, along with his two brothers, fought on the side of Adeena Beg when the latter launched upon hostilities against Ahmad Shah Abdali. Jassa Singh’s gallantry was so conspicuous that Adeena Beg gave him the command of his own troops.

Besieged Ram Rauni

In October 1748, when the Sikhs assembled at Amritsar to celebrate Diwali, Adeena Beg was ordered by Muin-ul-Mulk, popularly known as Mir Mannu, the governor of Lahore, to march against them. The fort of Ram Rauni at Amritsar, where 500 Sikhs were staying, was besieged by Jassa Singh, accompanied by Adeena Beg and Aziz Khan. The siege lasted nearly for three months10 and two hundred of the besieged Sikhs laid down their lives fighting against the besiegers. Since all supplies of foodstuffs, etc., from outside had been cut off and the inmates of the fort were pushed into the state of stark starvation, the Sikhs saw death staring them in the face.11 Jassa Singh, who was fighting against the Sikhs from outside, was feeling very sore about the plight of his co- religionists inside the fort. The besieged Sikhs wrote a letter to Jassa Singh that if he joined them in their hour of difficulty he would be excused of his previous lapses and readmitted into the fold of Sikhism otherwise he would stand excommunicated for all time to come. Honouring the invitation from the Sikhs he joined the inmates of the fort of Ram Rauni.12

From within the fort Jassa Singh addressed a personal letter to Diwan Kaura Mal at Lahore, requesting him to save the lives of the besieged Sikhs. Kaura Mal, who was sympathetically disposed towards the Sikhs, prevailed upon Mir Mannu, the governor of Lahore, to order the withdrawal of the forces besieging Ram Rauni. Jassa Singh’s appeal to Kaura Mal had the desired effect. The Punjab was, just at this time, threatened with an invasion of Ahmad Shah Durrani. Under Kaura Mal’s advice, Muin-ul-Mulk agreed to lift the siege and grant the Sikhs a jagir to settle down as peaceful citizens.

Jassa Singh remained in the fort of Ram Rauni or Ramgarh for quite some time. He repaired it after its destruction and his Misal took its name from the name of this fort. And he began to be called Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. It is amusing to note that the whole of the carpenter community began to call itself Ramgarhias which is a misnomer.

In due course of time, the relations between the Sikhs and Mir Mannu again got strained. Mir Mannu commissioned Adeena Beg and Sadiq Beg to attack Ramgarh and give a crushing blow to the Sikhs. Jassa Singh fought valiantly against his foes and finding further resistance to the Mughal forces extremely difficult he managed to escape to a place of safety. The fort was destroyed by the Mughals. Availing himself of the disorder caused in the Punjab after the death of Muin-ul- Mulk in 1753, Jassa Singh rebuilt the fort of Ramgarh.13 It was again destroyed in 1757, now by Timur, the Durrani governor of Lahore. But after the expulsion of Timur in 1758, by the combined forces of the Sikhs, the Marathas and Adeena Beg, the fort was again rebuilt by Jassa Singh.

Territorial Acquisitions of Jassa Singh

Jassa Singh actively participated in the battles against Jahan Khan of Lahore and Zain Khan of Sirhind. He joined the Sikhs in their incursion of Bharatpur. Accompanied by his brother Mali Singh, he launched upon a career of conquests in the Shivalik hills and the Majha areas. He placed under his control the parganas of Batala, Kalanaur, Mastiwal, Dasuha, Talwara Lakhpur, Sanguwala, Sharif Chak, Miani, Begowal, etc. These territories fetched him an annual income of seven lakh rupees.14 Jassa Singh also subordinated Raja Ghumand Chand Katoch of Kangra and the Rajas of Haripur, Jaswan, Datarpur and many other petty hill chiefs that yielded him a revenue of two lakh rupees.15 Jassa Singh entrusted Batala and its surrounding areas to his brother Mali Singh and Kalanaur and its adjoining territories to his other brother, Tara Singh. He himself would not confine himself to one place. He kept on visiting regularly the various places under the Misal’s control.16 If on a certain day he was at Rahilla, next day he would be at Batala and on the third day he would go to Meghowal. Most of their relatives lived at Meghowal where they had pucca havelis. He constructed a fort at Talwara on the bank of river Beas so that he could keep the hill chiefs under awe. He also realised one-fourth of the produce from the zamindars of Phagwara. His influence increased considerably. He had under his command ten thousand horsemen.17 The Ramgarhias reduced Batala to submission in February-March 1763. All the zamindars of the taaluqa of Batala, including Saran Das of Jandiala, Dharam Das of Toli and Mirza Nur Muhammad of Qadian, accepted the overlordship of Jassa Singh and started paying revenue to him.18 He had also captured Urmar Tanda, Yahyapur and some territories in the neighbourhood of Hoshiarpur. The new additions, referred to above, brought him an additional income of about ten lakh rupees. In due course of time, his possessions included almost the whole of Shivalik territories between the Ravi and the Beas and the territories of the Jalandhar Doab in the plains. Now Ramgarh could not serve as his ideal headquarters, so he made Sri Hargobindpur, near Batala, on the river Beas, his capital.19 He built many forts at strategic places within his territories, and extended full protection to his subordinate principalities. For example, Chamba was protected against Ranjit Deo of Jammu. Jassa Singh established his reputation as one of the strongest chiefs of the Punjab.20 He had been actively participating in all the Sikh incursions and displaying deeds of gallantry in all the battle-fields wherever he fought.

Differences with Kanaihyas

The rising power of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia could not remain unchallenged even from his best friends. He had very friendly and cordial relations with Jai Singh Kanaihya. They had jointly led many expeditions against their enemies. Jassa Singh joined by his ally, Jai Singh, had subjected the territories, north of Amritsar, and those in the neighbourhood of Batala, to his rule. Jai Singh had also participated on the side of Jassa Singh in the protection and later reoccupation of the fort of Ramgarh, at Amritsar. They had also jointly attacked Kasur. Their relations remained smooth and unruffled till 1763. It is said that during their joint attack of Kasur they got huge amount of booty. Mali Singh, brother of Jassa Singh, was alleged to have concealed a valuable part of the booty against Jassa Singh’s wishes. When this fact was discovered later the friendship between the Ramgarhia and Kanaihya chiefs came to an end.

It is said that Ghumand Chand Katoch, who was one of the subordinates of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, once remarked that the Ramgarhia chief’s influence in the hills was due to him. Jassa Singh told him that it was because of the grace of Lord and not because of him. He asked the Katoch chief to be careful in future, in respect of such remarks. Raja Ghumand Chand got enraged and decided to shed off the overlordship of Jassa Singh, by fighting against him. The Raja, who was defeated, solicited the help of Jai Singh Kanaihya by offering to pay the expenses. The Kanaihya chief gave assistance to the Katoch Raja.  Jassa Singh defeated both of them and plundered the derahs of Ghumand Chand and Jai Singh. From that day onwards, Jai Singh nursed a deep-seated hostility against Jassa Singh.21

When Jassa Singh happened to fight against Charhat Singh Sukarchakia the latter was defeated and his power was shattered. His zamburks and other goods were taken away as booty by the Ramgarhia chief. So, Ghumand Chand, Jai Singh and Charhat Singh turned hostile to Jassa Singh to the extent that they decided to completely crush his power and turn him out of the Punjab.22

In the meantime Ghumand Chand died and he was succeeded by his son Nek Chand. The allies, referred to above, jointly continued their hostilities for a period of four years with indecisive skirmishes between the contestants. This resulted in the loss of revenue accruing to Jassa Singh from the hill areas.23 But the Ramgarhia chief’s power remained unbroken. He stood the strain caused by the allies.

In 1774, Jai Singh Kanaihya occupied the fort of Kangra by a clever stratagem. This impaired the supremacy of Jassa Singh in the Shivalik hills. The widow of Nand Singh, a Bhangi Misaldar, gave away Pathankot as jagir to her son-in-law, Tara Singh, the brother of Hakikat Singh Kanaihya. Ganda Singh, Bhangi Sardar, asked the Kanaihyas to return him Pathankot which, he said, had been bestowed by his brother Jhanda Singh on Nand Singh. Kanaihyas refused to accept the proposal and, assisted by Jassa Singh, Ahluwalia, prepared for a battle. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia came to the help of Ganda Singh. The two armies met each other at Dinanagar. Ganda Singh fell ill in the course of fighting and died.24 Jassa Singh also met with an accident though not seriously hurt. The Bhangis dispersed from the battle-field, and it served as a big blow to the prestige of the Ramgarhia chief also. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia’s enmity with the Kanaihyas was now extended to that of the Ahluwalias also.

Relations with Ahluwalias

Till 1766, the relations between the Ramgarhias and the Ahluwalias remained very cordial and friendly. They jointly fought against the internal enemies and foreign or external invaders. They had cooperated with each other against Ahmad Shah Abdali. In the battle-field of Dinanagar they found themselves arrayed in the opposite camps. The escalation of hostilities between the two resulted in their open warfare.

Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was wounded by a gun-shot fired by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in the battle fought between the two at Zahura, on the river Beas. A little later, in 1775, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was passing near Gurdaspur on his way to Achal, a place of pilgrimage, or, as some say, he was hunting somewhere around Batala when he was attacked by Jassa Singh Ramgarhia’s brothers—Khushal Singh, Mali Singh and Tara Singh. The troops of the Ahluwalia chief were dispersed and he was taken prisoner.25 Since Ahluwalia Sardar was a very revered Sikh leader he was duly honoured by Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and released with rich gifts, including a robe of honour (a khillat) and a palanquin in which he was sent back.26 As Lepel Griffin puts it, ‘the old Sikh barons had much of the spirit of chivalry.’ But Jassa Singh harboured a deep animosity against the Ramgarhias for the indignity suffered by him on account of his imprisonment at their hands.27 He was not going to be appeased. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, whose followers called him sultan-ul-qaum (the Sikh king), felt deeply wounded in prestige and insulted in self-respect by the Ramgarhia youths. He swore an oath to seize all the possessions of the Ramgarhias and drive them out of the Punjab. Many chiefs came to Ahluwalia Sardar’s aid. They included Ganda Singh and Jhanda Singh Bhangis and Jai Singh and Hakikat Singh Kanaihyas who were the old friends of the Ramgarhias, Charhat Singh Sukarchakia, Nar Singh Chamiariwala and many others.28

Gurbakhsh Singh, son of Jai Singh Kanaihya, attacked Dasuha and the adjoining areas on the other side of river Beas and occupied the same. Then, he attacked Batala, in 1780, which was under Jassa Singh’s brother, Mali Singh. Mali Singh had been branded as a cruel man and had earned the displeasure of the people of the town. To the chagrin of Mali Singh, and relief of the people, Gurbakhsh Singh secured an easy entry into the town.29 Raja Singh, Deva Singh and Mansa Dhari qanungos and Tara Singh Brahman, Kala and other muqadams and zamindars, by a joint decision, opened the gate of the fort.30 Hakikat Singh Kanaihya forcibly snatched Kalanaur from Jassa Singh’s brother, Tara Singh.31

Gradually, the Ramgarhias lost all their possessions, one by one, until not a village was left with them and were forced into exile in the territory of Malwa.32 He had four thousand horse-men with him. Raja Amar Singh of Patiala gave away Hisar and Hansi to Jassa Singh as a jagir. His son, Jodh Singh, stayed with Amar Singh and the Ramgarhia chief crossed river Jamuna and realised revenue from the parganas of Sambhal, Chandausi, Kash Ganj, Khurja, Sikandra, Meerut, etc.33 Zabita Khan, the Nawab of Meerut, paid a tribute of 10,000 rupees, a year, to save his territory from the occupation of Jassa Singh.34

The Ramgarhia chief entered Delhi and plundered Mohalla Mughlan and some places were set on fire. He carried off four guns from the Mughal arsenal and many other things from there. The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam, in utter helplessness, sent message to Jassa Singh that he would gain nothing by burning down the city of Delhi and implored that he should not do it. The people of Delhi made an offering of five hundred rupees to him and escaped the ruination.35 He remained in the cis-Satluj areas for nearly five years.36

It is said that one day a Brahman complained to Jassa Singh that the governor of Hisar had carried off his two daughters by force. Jassa Singh collected his men and marched against Hisar, recovered the girls and restored them to their father.37

At times, the Ramgarhia chief was reduced to great straits. There is a story which may be true as Lepel Griffin believes that at Sirsa, a servant of the Sardar happening to drop his vessel down a well, a diver was sent to fetch it. He discovered at the bottom four boxes full of gold mohurs, to the value of five lakhs of rupees enabling Jassa Singh to pay his troops and enlist new followers.38

In the year 1785, Mahan Singh came to Amritsar, on the occasion of Diwali. Most of the chiefs of the Misals, including Jai Singh Kanaihya, had assembled there.39 Jai Singh was held in high esteem by all other Sardars of the Misals. Mahan Singh visited Jai Singh to pay his regards to him. In the course of the meeting Jai Singh, who was jealous of the growing power of the Sukarchakias, insulted Mahan Singh by his remarks, “Go away you bhagtia (dancing boy); I do not want to hear your sentimental talk.” “This was too much to be borne in silence by so haughty and impervious a young chief as Mahan Singh was.”40 Jai Singh demanded a share from the booty which Mahan Singh had brought from Jammu.41

Mahan Singh felt highly enraged at the rude treatment meted out to him by the Kanaihya chief, but he was not in a position to proceed against him single-handed. Mahan Singh knew that without Jassa Singh Ramgarhia’s help be could not have success against Jai Singh. Mahan Singh sent him a word that in case of his cooperation and support his former possessions would be restored.42Jassa Singh availed himself of the invitation from his exile into which he had been driven by Jai Singh.43 Sansar Chand Katoch, the ruler of Kangra, was called by Mahan Singh to join him. The three chiefs, with their combined forces, marched against the Kanaihyas. The battle was fought at Batala and Jai Singh’s son Gurbakhsh Singh was killed44 in the course of fighting and the Kanaihyas were routed, thus humbling the old Kanaihya chief. The Ramgarhia and the Katoch chiefs got back their territories already captured by the Kanaihyas. Jassa Singh occupied the parganas of Rahilla, Sri Hargobindpur, Kalanaur, Mastiwal, Wadyal, Dhoot and Hajipur, which fetched him an annual revenue of three lakh rupees.

According to Khushwaqat Rai, when all the possessions of Jai Singh Kanaihya had gone out of his hands be retained the occupation of the fort of Kangra.45 Jassa Singh was of the opinion that with the fort of Kangra in his hands Jai Singh would again strengthen his possessions. So, in order to subdue him completely the Ramgarhia chief suggested to Sansar Chand, ruler of Kangra, that he (Jassa Singh), along with his allies, would harass Jai Singh, and on the other hand he, the Katoch chief, should get closer to the Kanaihya chief and get the fort of Kangra from him. That was the most opportune time for the same. The strategy worked and Jai Singh handed over the fort of Kangra to Sansar Chand. But soon after it Jai Singh engaged his son Gurbakhsh Singh’s daughter to Ranjit Singh, son of Mahan Singh. Thus Jai Singh won over to him Sansar Chand and Mahan Singh.46

Shortly thereafter, the towns of Batala and Kalanaur went out of the hands of the Ramgarhias. Due to the oppressive rule of the Ramgarhias the Bhandaris, Khatris of Batala, joined Sada Kaur, the widow of Gurbakhsh Singh Kanaihya. They made an opening in the outer wall of the town and admitted the Kanaihyas into it. For two or three days the Ramgarhia contingent remained entrapped in the haveli of Dasondhi Mal, inside the fort. When they lost all hope of reinforcement from outside they escaped from the fort and joined Jassa Singh who had gone to subdue Haqiqat Singh’s son, Jaimal Singh.47

Jassa Singh’s last and most severe struggle with the Kanaihyas took place in 1796. Sada Kaur, widow of Gurbakhsh Singh Kanaihya, was, then, heading the Misal. With all her own forces and those of her young son-in-law, Ranjit Singh, she besieged the Ramgarhia chief in the Miani fort, in the Hoshiarpur district, near river Beas. Jassa Singh defended himself for some time but his provisions ran short and he sent a messenger to Sahib Singh Bedi at Amritsar, requesting him to interpose between him and his opponents. Sahib Singh sent a word to Sada Kaur and Ranjit Singh asking them to raise the siege of Miani. But Sada Kaur was intent upon taking revenge for her husband’s death. So, she took no notice of Sahib Singh’s advice. Again, Jassa Singh sent a messenger, and Sahib Singh said, “They will not mind me; but God Himself will aid you.” The messenger returned to Miani and that very night river Beas came down in flood and swept a large portion of the Kanaihya camp, men, horses and camels. Sada Kaur and Ranjit Singh escaped with difficulty and retired to Gujranwala.48

After Ranjit Singh occupied Lahore, many chiefs of the Sikh Misals and others became apprehensive of his rising power. They joined hands to restrain Ranjit Singh from his policy of territorial aggrandisement. After the festival of holi, in 1800, Sahib Singh of Gujrat, Gulab Singh Bhangi, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Nizam-ud-Din of Kasur assembled their forces at the village of Bhasin, about 9 kos on the east of Lahore.49 Ranjit Singh came from Lahore. Both sides arrayed themselves in the battle-field and no action took place between the contending forces for two months.50 Gulab Singh Bhangi drank himself to death.51 The leaders of the confederacy dispersed without achieving anything. During the next couple of years the Ramgarhia chief lived at Sri Hargobindpur. He continued having friendly relations with the Bhangis till his death.52

Jassa Singh died on April 20, 1803, at the ripe age of 80, after having led his band and later his Misal for 60 years.53 No recorded contemporary evidence is available about Jassa Singh’s date of birth. But the contemporary records are unanimous about his death in 1803, at the age of 80. From this, it can be deduced that he was born in 1723.

According to Khushwaqat Rai, Jassa Singh possessed winning manners. He was bounteous to the strangers as well as his officials who sought his protection even after committing crimes. He helped the needy even at heavy costs to him. He provided asylum to the strangers even for years together. Nawab Bhambu Khan, grandson of Najib-ud-Daulah, the dictator of Delhi (1761-70), after having been charged with a murder, took protection under Jassa Singh who bestowed upon him the needed care. The position and honour due to the Nawab, on the basis of his earlier status, were maintained. The Sikhs told the Ramgarhia chief that Bhambu Khan was a robber in the eyes of the Emperor of Delhi, therefore, he should not be given an asylum. The Sardar told them that they were also considered robbers by the Delhi rulers. This country had not been under the Mughal rulers forever. Once a Brahman, named Lal Singh, earning the displeasure of Ranjit Singh, sought asylum with Jassa Singh. Ranjit Singh expressly demanded the restoration of the Brahman to him but he was not repatriated though the Ramgarhia chief had to face hostilities from the Sukarchakia ruler.

Khushwaqat Rai further writes that in the event of fighting, with his small numbers against the heavy odds of the enemies he would display extraordinary bravery and intrepidity. He would jump into the battle-field amidst booming guns, totally indifferent and insensitive to the grave hazards to his life.54 Out of deep regards Jassa Singh was addressed by his followers as ‘Baba ji’. At times, his generosity and magnanimity knew no bounds. He was a staunch Sikh and was always ready to lay down his life for the cause of Sikhism. During Abroad Shah’s invasions of the Punjab Jassa Singh always fought in the front ranks against the foreign invader.

Jodh Singh (1803-1815)

Jassa Singh Ramgarhia had two sons, Jodh Singh and Bir Singh. Jodh Singh succeeded to his father after his death. He contracted friendship with Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra with whose help he occupied parganas of Batala, Bhunga, Hoshiarpur and the surrounding areas.55

When Maharaja Ranjit Singh demanded the zamzama gun from Mai Sukhan, the widow of Gulab Singh Bhangi, in 1805, she gave a flat refusal to hand over the gun and prepared to fight against the Maharaja. Jodh Singh sent a secret reinforcement of three hundred soldiers to Sukhan. At the same time he advised her either to hand over the bone of contention—the zamzama gun, to Ranjit Singh or destroy the gun. She did not accept either of the suggestions. The Maharaja, accompanied by his allies, Sada Kaur and Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, besieged Amritsar. When the opposing forces were at the point of severely clashing, Jodh Singh and Akali Phula Singh intervened and persuaded Sukhan to surrender. Thus, they were able to avert the bloodshed.56 Mai Sukhan and Gurdit Singh accepted the hospitality of Jodh Singh and stayed with him for some time.57 In earlier stages, Jodh Singh was very friendly towards Sansar Chand Katoch but later their relations got strained due to the former’s inability to help the latter against the Gurkhas.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh felt that unless Ramgarhias were befriended he could not occupy the whole of the Punjab. So, with this thing in view, Ranjit Singh wrote a letter to Jodh Singh, soliciting his friendship and cooperation. After the things were settled the Maharaja sent Hishan Singh Munshi, Mehar Singh Lamba and Patch Singh Kalianwala to conduct Jodh Singh to Lahore. Jodh Singh told them that he would join Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the acceptance of two conditions. First, that Batala, Kalanaur, Bajwara, and Sangowal which previously belonged to them and, of late, were in the hands of their opponents, should be restored to them. Second, Gurdit Singh Bhangi, who was lying at his door, should be provided with a jagir for his subsistence. The Maharaja accepted both the conditions. Jodh Singh, accompanied by his close associates, came to Amritsar and met Ranjit Singh at Harmandir Sahib and he was duly honoured by the latter.58

The demanded territories were restored to Jodh Singh and Panjore and five or six villages were given in jagir to Mai Sukhan and her son, Gurdit Singh.59 Jodh Singh was very much known for his magnanimity of heart and lavish generosity. Any defeated chief or impoverished person could go to him and enjoy his hospitality. He always sympathised with those on whom the fortunes frowned. In his Misal, he had introduced strict discipline and anybody found guilty of theft or any other crime was strictly dealt with. He would never sell justice but administer it with utmost honesty.60 He was very keen to give neat and clean administration to his people and there was nothing nearer his heart than the welfare of his subjects.

Jodh Singh participated in the battle of Kasur on the side of Ranjit Singh. After the occupation of Kasur the Maharaja gifted an elephant to the Ramgarhia chief. Later Jodh Singh always sided with Ranjit Singh in his expeditions against Multan and his other adversaries.61

Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave away in jagir the pargana of Ghuman to Jodh Singh. It gave an annual revenue of twenty five thousand rupees. Formerly, this area belonged to the Ramgarhias and at that time it was in the bands of Gulab Singh Bhangi.62

In 1811, Ranjit Singh gave to Jodh Singh eleven villages from the pargana of Sikhowala (Sikhowala, according to Khushwaqat Rai, and Sheikhupura, according to Gian Singh) which was in the possession of the sons of Fateh Singh Kanaihya, which fetched an annual revenue of twelve thousand rupees.63 Of all the Sikh Sardars the Maharaja had the greatest regards for Jodh Singh Ramgarhia and addressed him as ‘Baba Ji.’ When he came to see Maharaja Ranjit Singh the latter would go out a few steps to receive him and seated him by his side.”64 Jodh Singh, mostly, lived at Lahore or Amritsar and he always mobilised his forces according to the instructions of the Maharaja.65 Because of his unstinted loyalty to the Maharaja the Ramgarhia chief retained his possessions intact till his death on August 23, 1815. He remained hostile to the Ahluwalias and Rani Sada Kaur.66

Jodh Singh’s Successors

After Jodh Singh’s death, the members of his family began to quarrel for the division of the Misal’s possessions. Diwan Singh (son of Tara Singh), cousion brother of Jodh Singh, Vir Singh (brother of Jodh Singh) and widow of Jodh Singh were all claimants to the principality. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, hearing of their dispute, called the three claimants: Vir Singh, Diwan Singh and Mehtab Singh (son of Khushal Singh and cousin brother of Jodh Singh) to him at Nadaun, with a view to settling their dispute by arbitration. The Maharaja received them with courtesy but they misbehaved towards one another so rudely that Ranjit Singh was obliged to keep them in detention.67 Then, the Maharaja marched on Amritsar and after some fighting took the fort of Ramgarh. He seized all the Ramgarhia jagirs and, in a short time, reduced all their forts, upwards of a hundred and fifty in number. They contained abundant provisions in them. Almost all of them were pulled down.68

On the intercession of Sardar Chanda Singh Kanaihya the Ramgarhia Sardars were released from the jail and an annual jagir of 35,000 rupees was granted to them. Diwan Singh refused to accept his share. He fled to Patiala where he was well received. He also left that place and moved about for some time. Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent a word to Diwan Singh, through Desa Singh Majithia, assuring him the grant of a big jagir. He was respect fully received by the Maharaja at Lahore and was given command of 700 men in the expedition then setting out for Kashmir. There, he remained in charge of Baramula, a difficult hill post, till his death in 1834.69 The widows of Jodh Singh were given jagirs of four villages for their maintenance. Vir Singh was given Dharmkot Randhawa in jagir. These were service-free jagirs.70 Vir Singh had died six years earlier, in 1828, when two-third of his jagirs were resumed by the Maharaja.71

After Diwan Singh’s death his son Mangal Singh, who was born in 1800, succeeded to his father’s estate. During his younger days he served Ranjit Singh on his personal staff. The Maharaja gave him jagirs in Dharmkot, Kalowala, Tibrah and Kundilah worth 9,000 rupees of which 3,600 rupees were personal, and 5,400 rupees for service.72

After his father’s death Mangal Singh was sent to Peshawar in a command of 400 foot and 110 swars. There, he did commendable service under Hari Singh Nalwa and Tej Singh and fought in the famous battle of Jamrud in April 1837, where the brave Hari Singh Nalwa laid down his life.73

In 1839, Mangal Singh was recalled and sent to the hill territories between the Beas and the Satluj under orders of Lehna Singh Majithia and during the absence of that chief at Peshawar he was placed in charge of the hill forts, and was active in the suppression of the insurrection of 1840.74 During the reign of Maharaja Sher Singh he was employed under Lehna Singh in Suket, Mandi and Kulu and he remained there till the close of the Satluj Anglo-Sikh war in 1846. During the second Sikh war, Mangal Singh remained loyal to the British and served them in guarding the roads and maintaining order in the Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. Later, he worked as a manager of the affairs of Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar.

Mangal Singh was a man of education and liberal ideas. It was mostly owing to his influence that the cause of female education was systematically taken up in Amritsar.75 Mangal Singh’s two sons, Gurdit Singh and Mitt Singh, served the British government in the police and civil departments respectively.

Notes and References

  1. Ahmad Shah Batalia, Appendix, Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, Lahore, 1885, p. 18; Muhammad Latif, History of the Panjab, (1891), Delhi, 1964, p. 306. According to M’Gregor Khushal Singh belonged to Guga village (A History of the Sikhs, I, (1846), Allahabad reprint, 1979, p. 130. According to Ahmad Shah, Khushal Singh belonged to Kukarpur (p. 18).
  2. Ibid., M’Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 130.
  3. Lepel Griffin, Punjab Chiefs, Lahore, 1865, p. 170; Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, Part II, reprint, Patiala, 1970, pp. 233-34; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 306.
  4. Gian Singh, op. cit; II, p. 334.
  5. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibratnama (1854), Vol. 1, Lahore, 1961, p. 304; Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 171; Kanaihya Lal, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877. p. 91.
  6. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 171; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 234. According to some writers Bhagwan Singh had three or four sons. See Bute Shah Tarikh-i-Punjab, IV, Dr. Ganda Singh’s private collection, Patiala, p. 55. Ahmad Shah Batalia names three sons. He excludes Jai Singh and Khushal Singh, op. cit., p. 18. It is probable that only three or four of them actively participated in the Sikh movement.
  7. Gian Singh, op. cit.. II, p. 234; Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs, IV, Delhi, 1982, p. 276.
  8. Kanaihya Lal, op. cit., p. 94; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 234; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 18; Ati-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 304.
  9. Kanaihya Lal, op. cit., p. 94; Suraj Singh and Darbara Singh, Ithas Ramgarhian. Vol. I, Lahore, 1915, p. 411.
  10. Khushwaqat Rai, Tarikh-i-Sikhan (1811), MS., Dr Ganda Singh, private collection, Patiala, p. 72; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 55.
  11. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 304-05; Gian Singh, op. cit., n, pp. 163, 234.
  12. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 72; Bute Stiah, op. cit., IV, p. 55. The Sikh writers believe that Jassa Singh’s conscience smote him for having deserted his brethren. He decided to rejoin them. A message was sent in the fort by him, requesting his comrades-in-faith to forgive him and to have him back. They welcomed him with open arms and he came in with a hundred followers. (Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Parkash (1841), Amritsar, 1939, pp. 311-15; Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, Bombay, 1950, p. 139; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 163).
  13. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 72, Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 56.
  14. Ibid., pp. 72-73; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 19; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 56; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op, cit., Vol. I, p. 305; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 235.
  15. Ibid, p. 73; Bute Shah. op. cit., IV, p. 56; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 235.
  16. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 19; M’Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 134; cf., Gian Singh, op. cit., II. p. 235; Muhammad Latif. op. cit., p. 308.
  17. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 73; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 56.
  18. Ahmad Shah Batalia, cp. cit., p. 19.
  19. Gian Singh, op. cit., II. 235.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 73; Bute Shah, op. cit; IV, pp; 56-57.
  22. Ibid., Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 57.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 16; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 14; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit; Vol. I, p. 250.
  25. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 172; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit; p. 27.
  26. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 73; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 56.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 172; cf., Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 67.
  29. Ahmad Shah Bataila, op. cit., pp. 19-20.
  30. Ibid, p. 20.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 74; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV. p. 58; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 308.
  33. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 74; Bute Shah op. cit., IV, p. 58.
  34. Ibid., Lepel Gaiffin, op. cit., p. 172; Gian Singh ,op. cit., 11, p. 237.
  35. Khushwaqat Rai, op, cit., p. 74; Bute Shah, op. cit; IV, p. 58; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 237.
  36. Ibid., Gian Singh, op, cit., II, p. 237.
  37. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 172-73; cf., Gian Singh. op. cit., II, p. 236.
  38. Ibid., p. 173; Gian Singh, op. cit; II, pp. 236-37; Suraj Singh and Darbara Singh, op. cit., p; 423-24.
  39. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 21.
  40. Muhammad Latif, History of the Panjab, New Delhi, reprint 1964. p. 343.
  41. Bute Shah. op. cit., V, p. 10.
  42. Ibid., IV, p. 59; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., p. 307; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 24.
  43. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 22; Bute Shah, op. cit., V, pp. 11-12.
  44. Ibid., Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 308; Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 20; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 308.
  45. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 75; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 60.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 20; Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 76.
  48. Ahmad Shah Batalia. Appendix, op. cit., p. 20; M’Gregor, op. cit., I. pp. 135-36; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, pp. 308-09; Lepel Griffin ,op. cit. pp. 173-74; Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 238.
  49. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 76; Amar Nath, Zafarnama-i-Ranjit Singh (1836), Lahore, 1928, p. 11; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 46.
  50. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 139; Amar Nath, op. cit., p. 12.
  51. Ibid., p. 140; Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 46; Ganesh Das Badehra, Char Bagh-i-Punjab (1855), Amritsar, 1965, p. 142.
  52. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 76; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV. p. 56.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 76.
  55. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 77; Bute Shah. op. cit., IV, p. 61.
  56. Ibid., p. 142; Ganesh Das, op. cit., p. 146; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., I, p. 404.
  57. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 17.
  58. Ibid., pp. 78-91; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 20.
  59. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 57.
  60. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 62-63.
  61. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 79; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62.
  62. Ibid., Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 240.
  63. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 79; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 240.
  64. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 79; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62; Ibid., p. 240.
  65. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62.
  66. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 63.
  67. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., 174; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21; M’Gregor op. cit., I, p. 136; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 240; cf., Bute Shah, IV, p. 63; cf., Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., p. 404.
  68. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21, M’Gregor, op. cit., I, pp. 136-37; Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 309.
  69. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. 175; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 240; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21; M’Gregor, op. cit., I, p. 137.
  70. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 310.
  71. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21.
  72. Lepel Griffin, op. cit.; p. 175; Gian Singh, op, cit., pp. 240-41.
  73. Ibid.
  74. Ibid.
  75. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., pp. 175-76.