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Great Sikh Women

Bibi Rajindar Kaur

Bibi Rajindar Kaur

BIBI RAJINDAR KAUR, (1739-1791) or Rajindan, Patiala princess known for her valorous qualities, was the granddaughter of Baba Ala Singh. The only child of her father, Bhumla Singh, who had died when she was barely tour, she was brought up by her grandfather, and, in 1751, married to Chaudhari Tilok Chand, of Phagwara. Har husband died at a young age and the charge of the family estate, consistsing of over two hundred villages, fell to her. When Baba Ala Singh was arrested in 1765 by Ahmad Shah Durrani for having fallen into arrears with the tribute and was being taken to lahore, Rajindar Kaur went to her grandfather and offered to pay the money to secure his release. But the latter declined the offer saying that it was not proper to accept money from a daughter of the family. In 1778, Raja Amar Singh of Patiala, who was Rajindar Kaur’s first cousin, was defeated by Hari Singh of Sialba. Rajindar Kaur came to his rescue smith three thousand soldiers marching through the territories of the chiefs who had fought on the side of Harl Singh. During the reign of the minor Raja Sahib Singh, Rajindar Kaur was again in Patiala to defend the town against Maratha onslaughts. At the head of a strong force she marched as far as Mathura where peace parleys were opened with the Marathas.

Bibi Rajindar Kaur died in 1791 at Patiala after a short illness. She was cremated in the royal cemetery known as Shahi Samadhan.

from the Punjabi book "Adarshak Singhnia"

Griffin. Sir Lepel writer of the The Rajas of the Punjab, writes “Rani Rajinder Kaur was one of the most remarkable of her age. She possessed all the virtues which men pretend their own, courage perseverance, and sagacity, without any mixture of the weaknesses which men attribute to women.”

She is called Rani (Queen) as she was the granddaughter of Baba Ala Singh, the famous ruler of the Patiala State. She was the only child of her father Bhuma Singh, who died in 1742 when she was only four years old. She was broughtup by her grandmother Rani Fatto. In 1751, she was married at the tender age of 13 to Tilok Chand, chief of Phagwara, a city near Julllundur. Her husband died in the prime of his life and she became in charge of the family estate consisting of about two hundred villages. She managed it efficiently.

In 1765, Baba Ala Singh was arrested by Ahmad Shah Durran as Baba had failed to pay his tribute regularly and Durrani wanted to collect the whole amount in one installment. The Baba was taken to Lahore. Rajinder Kaur went to her grandfather and offered to pay the amount to secure his release. But, the Baba refused to accept the offer saying it was not proper to take money from the daughters of the family. Later on, his wife managed to get him free.

In 1778, Amar Singh, the ruler of the Patiala state was defeated by Hari Singh, chief of Sailba. Rajinder Kaur could not tolerate the humiliation of Amar Singh, her first cousin, who had invited help from his relatives. She had also a grudge against Hari Singh who had eloped with a lady of her family. According to Hari Ram Gupta, a well known historian, she was a great commander. With a force of 3000 men, she marched from Phagwara to Patiala. She ravaged the country of Hari Singh and her supporters falling on her way. Hari Singh was defeated and had to pay a large tribute to Amar Singh. Amar Singh was succeeded by his six years old son Sahib Singh in 1781. During his minority, his grandmother Rani Hukman appointed Nanum as his Prime Minister, but the situation of the state was delicate. It was a complete mess and there were intrigues and conspiracies all around. The state could have been disintegrated into small states, but was saved by able and faithful Nanum Mal. He was also severely wounded in an engagement. The ladies of the imperial household put him into prison in 1783 and got themselves busy in plundering the treasury. Sikh chiefs seized as many villages of the state as they could.

Rajinder Kaur could not tolerate the ruin of her parental state. She collected a force, hurried from Phagwara to Patiala, set free Nanum Mal and restored him to his old position in 1785. She and Nanum Mal, with the help of Dhar Rao, Maratha chief recovered the lost territory of the state and reestablished Sahib Singh’s rule. The Maratha chief was given a huge amount with thanks for his help.

In 1790, another Maratha general Rana Khan advanced towards Patiala and demanded eight hundred thousand rupees as tribute. Bibi Rajinder Kaur could not tolerate this, but knew that the state could not defeat the huge Maratha army. At the head of a military guard, she along with Nanum Mal visited the Maratha camp. She induced Rana Khan to retire and promised to pay the amount after personally settling the amount with his chief Mahadiji Sindhia who was camping at Mathura. She marched as far as Mathura where she was treated most respectfully. She settled the amount with the Sindhia and came back.

In the absence of Rajinder Kaur and Nanum Mal, other ministers and chiefs poisoned Sahib Singh’s mind against them. Foolish Sahib Singh played in their hands. Nanum Mal’s dismissal was followed by the fall of Rajinder Kaur due to the conspiracies of intrigues of the palace. She returned from Mathura after four months and wished to see Sahib Singh, who declined a meeting. All her privileges were withdrawn. All her previous esteem and respect were gone. This ingratitude for her most selfless service to the state broke her heart. Thus, disgraced, she became ill at Patiala and after a brief sickness died in 1791. She suffered greatly from the stupidity of Sahib Singh and left his world in despair.


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