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Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia

Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was a born leader of unprecedented qualities. His birth took place near city of Amritsar. He was 5 years old when Banda Singh Bahadur attained martyrdom at Delhi. He was among the crop of those Sikhs who had fought against all odds for survival of their newly founded religion. In those times all Sikhs, cook, ate, fought together and Sikhism was thought of a family. Sardar Kapur Singh was elder and an able leader, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Sardar Budh Singh Sandhu (grand father of Ranjit Singh), and others were able leaders fighting Mughals and Afghnis keeping Khalsa flame alive with their resistance. In around 1720's Mughals decided to offer truce to these Sikh leaders and sent some gifts to them in mountains where they were hiding. Mughals offered three towns for Sikhs and title of Nawab for their leader. Five Sikh leaders which includes Budh Singh, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and others decided to make Kapur Singh Supreme Jathedar of Dal Khalsa and Kapur Singh accepted it only when he was reminded of Guru's order to listen to the anonymous order of Five Gursikhs . Later this group of Sikh leaders created Misals and two factions of Sikhs called Budha Dal and Taruna Dal. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia were youngsters leading their regiments under Taruna Dal and reporting to Jathedar Kapur Singh ji at Diwali and Vasaikhi.

Under Dal Khalsa, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia established his Misl of Ramgarhia in and around riarki area of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Batala. He also fortified and constructed fort of Ram Rauni at Amritsar. His misal contained more then 5000 cavalry always on move and helping Dal Khalsa whenever Afghanis or Mughals attacked. Sikhs at this time were in control of villages while Mughal administration was only effective in cities. Twenty years Earlier Banda Bahadur had wrecked a havoc on administration by abolishing all taxes and Zamindara system. Now Sikhs only levied "Dasvand", that is 10% of their income for Rakhi tax or "protection tax" for armies.

Mir Mannu became the new governor of Lahore and Multan on the 9th April 1748 A.D. He appointed Kaura Mal as his new Diwan. After setting right the administration of his province, he deployed army patrol to finish the Sikhs of his province. The Sikhs left his territory and moved to other states. Sardar Jassa singh Ramgarhia and his squad joined the army of the Commander of Jalandhar, named Adina Beg. Adina Beg was a cunning treacherous soft and sweet speaking mean person. Adina Beg on one hand would woo Sikhs to join him against Mughals on the other hand he had secret links with Afghanis, while he drew his salary from Mughals. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, being a simple minded person trusted Adina Beg and joined his army.

The Sikhs gathered at Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali in 1748 A.D. When Mir Mannu came to know of the gathering of Sikhs, he sent his general with an army to blockade Amritsar and sent words to the Commander of Jalandhar, Adina beg to to take his army to help his general in finishing the Sikhs. Adina Beg not telling his Sikh army personnel attacked fort of Ram Rauni. Five hundred Singhs took shelter in fort of Ram Rauni and the rest moved to forests. The combined forces of Lahore and Jalandhar surrounded the fort. Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was in army who was in siege of fort, with his squad. Plight of his fellow Sikhs sorrounded in the fort of Ram Rauni was too much for him and his squad. One day he deserted the royal army and joined the Singhs inside the fort with his squad. The Singhs inside the fort did not surrender even after two months of siege. Adina Beg felt the departure of the Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in this manner very much but could not do anything. Hearing the news of the second invasion of Abdali, Mir Mannu made peace with Sikhs and sanctioned an estate in Patti area for the livelihood. Thus Jassa Singh Ramgarhia won the battle of Ram Rauni.

Abdali attacked India and Jassa Singh's squad along with other Sikh squad was deployed in and around hills of Jammu, Pathonkot, to harass and snatch Abdali's baggage train. His 5000 cavalry soldiers harassed Abdali's Afghanis through Guerilla tactics of warfare that Abdali lost more soldiers to Sikhs in this type of warfare than his battle with Marthas. Around same time Jassa Singh Ahluwalia freed 2200 young Hindu women from Afghanis who were being taken to the harems and bazaars of Kabul, Baghdad and Basra. It was blessings of Waheguru (the almighty God) that Sikhs who were weak and few had defeated Abdali.

Next year Abdali returned to Punjab only to punish Sikhs. Mughals at this time were under his protectorate and small Mughal chieftains like, Nawab of Sarhind, and Sher Khan, Nawab of Malerkotla as well as other small time nawabs all over Punjab helped Abdali to sorround Sikhs at a place near Malerkotla called Kup. Taruna Dal and Buddha Dal sorrounded Women and children and fought head on for the first time with Abdali and his allies. Sikhs were outnumbered five to one (including women and chlidren on Sikh side). In this battle Sikhs lost about 30-45000 Sikhs in single day of battle and to this day it is called "The greater holocaust"., or "Wadda Ghalughara"
After this incident, Sikhs came out strong and in less than five years Sikhs had defeated all Mughals and Afghani protectorate in between area of River Jamuna and River Indus. Jassa Singh's Ramgarhia Misl had played major part in this struggle. Later Ranjit Singh incorporated Ramgahia Misal into Sarkar Khalsa and thus a one unified Khalsa kingdom was created.

Excerpts taken from these books.
Encyclopedia of Sikhism by Harbans Singh ji.
Published by Punjabi university, Patiala


Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was a born leader of unprecedented qualities. His birth took place near city of Amritsar. He was 5 years old when Banda Singh Bahadur attained martyrdom at Delhi. He was among the crop of those Sikhs who had fought against all odds for survival of their newly founded religion. In those times all Sikhs, cook, ate, fought together and Sikhism was thought of a family. Sardar Kapur Singh was elder and an able leader, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Sardar Budh Singh Sandhu (grand father of Ranjit Singh), and others were able leaders fighting Mughals and Afghnis keeping Khalsa flame alive with their resistance. In around 1720's Mughals decided to offer truce to these Sikh leaders and sent some gifts to them in mountains where they were hiding. Mughals offered three towns for Sikhs and title of Nawab for their leader. Five Sikh leaders which includes Budh Singh, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and others decided to make Kapur Singh Supreme Jathedar of Dal Khalsa and Kapur Singh accepted it only when he was reminded of Guru's order to listen to the anonymous order of Five Gursikhs . Later this group of Sikh leaders created Misals and two factions of Sikhs called Budha Dal and Taruna Dal. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia were youngsters leading their regiments under Taruna Dal and reporting to Jathedar Kapur Singh ji at Diwali and Vasaikhi.

Under Dal Khalsa, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia established his Misl of Ramgarhia in and around riarki area of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Batala. He also fortified and constructed fort of Ram Rauni at Amritsar. His misal contained more then 5000 cavalry always on move and helping Dal Khalsa whenever Afghanis or Mughals attacked. Sikhs at this time were in control of villages while Mughal administration was only effective in cities. Twenty years Earlier Banda Bahadur had wrecked a havoc on administration by abolishing all taxes and Zamindara system. Now Sikhs only levied "Dasvand", that is 10% of their income for Rakhi tax or "protection tax" for armies.

Mir Mannu became the new governor of Lahore and Multan on the 9th April 1748 A.D. He appointed Kaura Mal as his new Diwan. After setting right the administration of his province, he deployed army patrol to finish the Sikhs of his province. The Sikhs left his territory and moved to other states. Sardar Jassa singh Ramgarhia and his squad joined the army of the Commander of Jalandhar, named Adina Beg. Adina Beg was a cunning treacherous soft and sweet speaking mean person. Adina Beg on one hand would woo Sikhs to join him against Mughals on the other hand he had secret links with Afghanis, while he drew his salary from Mughals. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, being a simple minded person trusted Adina Beg and joined his army.

The Sikhs gathered at Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali in 1748 A.D. When Mir Mannu came to know of the gathering of Sikhs, he sent his general with an army to blockade Amritsar and sent words to the Commander of Jalandhar, Adina beg to to take his army to help his general in finishing the Sikhs. Adina Beg not telling his Sikh army personnel attacked fort of Ram Rauni. Five hundred Singhs took shelter in fort of Ram Rauni and the rest moved to forests. The combined forces of Lahore and Jalandhar surrounded the fort. Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was in army who was in siege of fort, with his squad. Plight of his fellow Sikhs sorrounded in the fort of Ram Rauni was too much for him and his squad. One day he deserted the royal army and joined the Singhs inside the fort with his squad. The Singhs inside the fort did not surrender even after two months of siege. Adina Beg felt the departure of the Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in this manner very much but could not do anything. Hearing the news of the second invasion of Abdali, Mir Mannu made peace with Sikhs and sanctioned an estate in Patti area for the livelihood. Thus Jassa Singh Ramgarhia won the battle of Ram Rauni.

Abdali attacked India and Jassa Singh's squad along with other Sikh squad was deployed in and around hills of Jammu, Pathonkot, to harass and snatch Abdali's baggage train. His 5000 cavalry soldiers harassed Abdali's Afghanis through Guerilla tactics of warfare that Abdali lost more soldiers to Sikhs in this type of warfare than his battle with Marthas. Around same time Jassa Singh Ahluwalia freed 2200 young Hindu women from Afghanis who were being taken to the harems and bazaars of Kabul, Baghdad and Basra. It was blessings of Waheguru (the almighty God) that Sikhs who were weak and few had defeated Abdali.

Next year Abdali returned to Punjab only to punish Sikhs. Mughals at this time were under his protectorate and small Mughal chieftains like, Nawab of Sarhind, and Sher Khan, Nawab of Malerkotla as well as other small time nawabs all over Punjab helped Abdali to sorround Sikhs at a place near Malerkotla called Kup. Taruna Dal and Buddha Dal sorrounded Women and children and fought head on for the first time with Abdali and his allies. Sikhs were outnumbered five to one (including women and chlidren on Sikh side). In this battle Sikhs lost about 30-45000 Sikhs in single day of battle and to this day it is called "The greater holocaust"., or "Wadda Ghalughara"
After this incident, Sikhs came out strong and in less than five years Sikhs had defeated all Mughals and Afghani protectorate in between area of River Jamuna and River Indus. Jassa Singh's Ramgarhia Misl had played major part in this struggle. Later Ranjit Singh incorporated Ramgahia Misal into Sarkar Khalsa and thus a one unified Khalsa kingdom was created. Salute to Great Sikh Warrior Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia

Excerpts taken from these books.
Bed Time stories by Santokh singh jagdev.

More on Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia

Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia

Sardar Jassa Singh, son of Giani Bhagwan Singh, was born in 1723. His ancestors were great Gursikhs devoted to Gurbani and sewa. They lived in the village of Ichogil, near Lahore. His grandfather took Amrit during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh, and joined him in many battles. Later, he joined the forces of Banda Singh Bahadur.

Sardar Jassa Singh was the oldest of five brothers. Like his grandfather, he lived his life as a brave soldier of the Khalsa Panth. His father trained him in reading Gurbani. He memorized Nitnem hymns and took Amrit when he was still young.

 

 

Award of an Estate:

 

In 1733, Zakaria Khan, the Governor of Punjab, having failed to subdue the Sikhs, decided to befriend them. He needed their help to protect himself from the Afghan invader, Nadir Shah. He offered the Sikhs an estate and a royal robe. The Sikhs accepted it. Sardar Jassa Singh and his father joined the Sikhs to fight against Nadir Shah. The father died in battle. Zakaria Khan gave five villages to his sons in reward for his bravery. Village Vallah was awarded to Sardar Jassa Singh, where he gained the administrative experience required to become a leader, Jathedar, of the Sikhs. During this period of peace with the government, the Sikh Jathedars had become quite strong and built their fort, Ram Rauni, in Amritsar.

 

 

Honored as Ramgarhia

 

Zakaria died in 1745 and Mir Manu became the Governor. He was worried about the increasing power of the Sikhs. To finish the Sikhs, he let loose unspeakable terror against them. A mention of the sacrifices of these Sikhs is made in the Ardas. Mir Manu also ordered Adina Beg, Faujdar (Administrator) of the Jallandar region, to kill the Sikhs. Adina Beg was a very smart politician and wanted the Sikhs to remain strong to keep Manu involved with them. In order to develop good relations with the Sikhs, he sent secret messages to them. But, as the Sikhs were in hiding in different places, they could not get together for a collective Panthic decision. Thus, the Individual Jathedars responded differently as it suited their plans. Jassa Singh agreed to cooperate with the Faujdar and was made a Commander. This position helped him develop good relations with Dewan Kaura Mal at Lahore and assign important posts to the Sikhs in the Jallandar division.

This favorable situation for Jassa Singh did not last long. The Governor of Lahore ordered an army attack on Ram Rauni to kill the Sikhs staying in that fort. For this purpose, Adina Beg was required to send his army as well. Jassa Singh, being the commander of the Jallandar forces, had to join the army to kill the Sikhs in the fort. This was very painful for him. After about four months of siege, Sikhs ran short of food and supplies in the fort. They were on the verge of leaving the fort to fight their way out with the certain loss of many Sikh lives. Jassa Singh could not bear the thought of the impending fall of the fort and murder of the Sikhs. He contacted the Sikhs inside the fort and joined them. It was a great morale booster for the Sikhs and a big jolt to the army surrounding the fort. Furthermore, Jassa Singh used the good offices of Dewan Kaura Mal and had the siege lifted. Every Sikh in the Dal Khalsa appreciated his courage and liked him for his timely help. The fort was strengthened and named Ramgarh; Jassa Singh, having been designated the Jathedar of the fort, became popular as Ramgarhia.

 

 

Fighting the tyrannical government

 

Manu intensified his violence and oppression against the Sikhs. There were only 900 Sikhs when he surrounded the Ramgarh fort again. The Sikhs fought their way out bravely through thousands of army soldiers. The army demolished the fort. The hunt for and torture of the Sikhs continued until Manu died in 1753.

Manu’s death left Punjab without any effective Governor. It was again an opportune period for the Sikhs to organize themselves and gain strength. Jassa Singh rebuilt the fort and took possession of some areas around Amritsar. The Sikhs took upon themselves the task of protecting the people in the villages from the invaders. The money they obtained from the people was called Rakhi (protection charges).

The new Governor, Taimur, son of Ahmed Shah Abdali, despised the Sikhs. In 1757, he again forced the Sikhs to vacate the fort and move to their hiding places. The fort was demolished, Harimandar was blown up, and Amrit Sarovar was filled with debris. The Governor decided to replace Adina Beg. Beg asked the Sikhs for help and they both got a chance to weaken their common enemy. Adina Beg won the battle and became the Governor of Punjab. Sikhs rebuilt their fort Ramgarh and repaired the Harimandar. Beg was well acquainted with the strength of the Sikhs and he feared they would oust him if he allowed them to grow stronger, so he lead a strong army to demolish the fort. After fighting valiantly, the Sikhs decided to leave the fort. Beg died in 1758.

 

 

Wada Ghalughara

 

The greatest blow to the Sikhs was the Wada Ghalughara or Great Massacre, in February of 1762. The Sikhs were moving towards dry areas to safety, when Ahmed, the Afghan invader, attacked them with vengeance and without warning. The Sikh deaths are estimated between 20,000 and 30,000. Jassa Singh himself suffered about two dozen wounds in this battle.

This heavy blow, instead of demoralizing and incapacitating the Sikhs, committed them to greater service of the Panth. They gathered at Amritsar and defeated Ahmed on 17 October of that year. In the dark, he left the battlefield and escaped to Afghanistan. The Sikhs were again in a position to take control of many areas of the state. Each Misl, a section of the Sikhs, occupied a different region. There were eleven such Misls of the Sikhs (excluding the one which ruled Patiala, the region to the east of the Satlej River). Collectively, the called themselves the Sarbat Khalsa.

When, in 1764, Ahmed again came to crush the Sikhs, they left for their safe hideouts and let him move forward. On his return from Delhi, when he crossed the Satlej, Sikhs attacked him swiftly and ferociously. They took away his looted wealth and escaped. Ahmed received the same treatment when he invaded again in 1767. Even though he defeated the Marhattas and looted Delhi many times, he could not subdue the Sikhs, who continued to stand in his way.

Because of the vengeful behavior of Ahmed and the honorable character of the Sikhs, the Muslims of Lahore bluntly told Ahmed that they would not cooperate with him unless he offered the Governorship of Punjab to the Sikhs. But the Sikhs declined the offer of governorship, because they were already the de facto rulers of Punjab and people regarded them as their saviors.

 

 

Ramgarhia Misl Estate

 

Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia occupied the area to the north of Amritsar between the Ravi and the Beas rivers. He also added the Jallandar region and Kangra hill areas to his estate. He had his capital in Sri Hargobindpur, a town founded by the sixth Guru. The large size of Jassa Singh’s territory aroused the jealousy of the other Sikh Misls. They did not want him to become too powerful and the ruler of a big region.

Although Jai Singh and Jassa Singh were close friends, strong differences arose between them because of mutual jealousy. Bhangi Misl sardars also developed differences with Jai Singh. As a result, a big battle was fought between Jai Singh, Charaht Singh, and Sardar Ahluwalia on one side and Bhangis, Ramgarhias and their associates on the other side. The Bhangi side lost the battle.

Later, the Ahluwalia sardar, one day while hunting, happened to enter Ramgarhia territory where Jassa Singh’s brother arrested him. Jassa Singh apologized for the misbehavior of his brother, and honorably returned Ahluwalia with gifts. However, their old differences increased further. Other sardars also took a grim view of this Ramgarhia act.

 

 

Mutual Misl wars

 

Due to mutual jealousies, fights continued among the Sikh Sardars. In 1776, the Bhangis changed sides and joined Jai Singh to defeat Jassa Singh. His capital at Hargobindpur was taken over and he was followed from village to village, and finally forced to vacate all his territory. He had to cross the river Satlej and go to Amar Singh, the ruler of Patiala.

Amar Singh welcomed the Ramgarhia sardar in order to make use of his bravery, fighting skill, and ruling experience. He gave him the areas of Hansi and Hissar which Jassa Singh handed over to his son. He himself joined Amar Singh to take control of the villages on the west and north of Delhi, now forming parts of Haryana and Western U.P. The Sikhs disciplined and brought to justice all the Nawabs who were harassing their non-Muslim population. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia entered Delhi in 1783. Shah Alam II, the emperor, did not dare face the Sikhs, rather he extended them a warm welcome. Ramgarhia left Delhi after receiving gifts from him.

Because of the differences arising out of the issue of dividing the Jammu state revenues, long time friends and neighbors Mahan Singh, Jathedar of Sukerchakia Misl and Jai Singh, Jathedar of the Kanahya Misl, became enemies. This resulted in a war which changed the course of Sikh history.

Mahan Singh requested Jassa Singh to help him. In the battle, Jai Singh lost his son Gurbakhsh Singh while fighting with Ramgarhias. His widowed daughter-in-law, Sada Kaur, though very young, was a great statesperson. She saw the end of the Khalsa power through such mutual battles. She could foresee that to rule Punjab, Sikh Misls must give up their mutual jealousies and unite to form one big power. She was able to convince Mahan Singh to adopt the path of friendship. For this she offered the hand of her daughter, then only a child, to his son, Ranjeet Singh (later the Maharaja of the Punjab), who was then just a boy. The balance of power shifted in favor of this united Misl. Some other sardars also joined them. This made Ranjeet Singh the leader of the most powerful union of the Misls.

When the Afghan invader, Shah Zaman, came in 1788, the Sikhs, however, were still divided. Ramgarhia and Bhangi Misls were not willing to help Ranjeet Singh to fight the invader, so the Afghans took over Lahore and looted it. As soon as the Afghans went back, Ranjeet Singh occupied Lahore in 1799 but the Ramgarhias and Bhangis did not accept him as the leader of all the Sikhs. They got the support of their friends and marched to Lahore to challenge Ranjeet Singh. The forces, who were 12 miles outside the city, were finalizing their plans to attack, when the Bhangi leader died. This discouraged Jassa Singh and he returned to his territory.

Jassa Singh was eighty years old when he died in 1803. His son, Jodh Singh, developed good relations with Ranjeet Singh and they never fought again.

The critical decision of Jassa Singh to join the Khalsa and save the Ram Rauni fort changed the course of not only his own life but that of Sikh history as well. He was honored as Ramgarhia. His name will always remain alive as the founder of the Great Ramgarhia Misl, who played a major role in the battles of the Khalsa Panth.

 

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