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Sikh History Timeline

Today in Sikh History :12th April


12th April


1759a Sikhs gathered in hugfe numbers for Baisakhi in Amritsar. Hukamnana was issed in the name of the Sikhs from Sri Akal Takhat for the collection of Daswand and to engage in religious deeds.

-Ref. Amritsar Ji Dae Darshan Eshnan Utay 500 Sala Di Ethasak Directory, Satnam Singh Khalsa Advocate, pp 82

1759b Maratha Sabaji and the Sikhs together attacked Jahan Khan.

-Ref. Amritsar Ji Dae Darshan Eshnan Utay 500 Sala Di Ethasak Directory, Satnam Singh Khalsa Advocate, pp 82

1801 Coronation of Ranjit Singh as Sarkar-i-Wala.

Ranjit Singh’s was proclaimed ruler by Baba Sahib Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak. At the coronation ceremony Sardar Ranjit Singh assumed the title Sarkar-i-Wala. Although the ceremony was conducted in accordance with the ancient ceremony of Hindu monarchy, "abhisekha," he never sat on a throne in respect to the concept of Sikh sovereignty, for sovereignty belonged only to Guru Khalsa Panth and not any individual. He asked all non-Sikhs to address him as Maharaja and all Sikhs as Singh Sahib. He struck "NanakShahi" Silver Rupee coins, symbolising sovereignty the same year. The legend "Deg Tegh Fateh" of 1765 on Lahore mint Rupees was changed to the legend that existed on Amritsar coins of 1775 and coins of Banda Bahadhur of 1710. Ranjit Singh adopted the same couplet and exactly in the same form as it appeared on 1784 Amritsar coins, without any modifications.

-Ref. Parasaraprasna, by Sirdar Kapur Singh, pp. 237 onwards "Chronogical Data on Sikh History (1469-1850 A.D.) with Special Refernce to Sikh Coinage," by Surinder Singh, Panjab Research Bulletin (Arts), Vol. XXII, No. 2, Oct. 1991

==> Maharaja RANJIT SINGH, was born on Nov. 2, 1780, to Jathaedar Sardar Maha Singh of Sukarchakia misl and mother Raj Kaur (daughter of Raja Gajpate Singh Jindpate). At a very early age, he lost his left eye to smallpox which also left numerous marks on his face. Upon his fathers death, Ranjit Singh assumed throne at the tender age of 10. During his tender, his advisor Sardar Dal Singh and Diwan LakhpatRai managed the state affairs under the guidance of his mother Raj Kaur. Bhai Pheru Singh of Gujrawallae and his government Dharamsala was selected for Guru Granth education. However, Ranjit Singh showed increasing interest in weaponry and horse-riding and quickly acquired these skills.

Ranjit Singh captured Lahore in 1799 and called a darbar, in sunmat 1858, to assumed the title of "Maharaja". He preferred to addressed as Maharaja Ranjit Singh "SinghSahib". He quickly expanded his rule from Satluj to Peshawar and from the boundaries of Tibet to Sindh. He established four subha; namely, Lahore, Peshawar, Kashmir, and Sultan. He continually expressed desire to reassert the strength of Sikh Panth and bring it under a united fold.

According to British history, Maharaja’s title is "Sher-e-Punjab", the Lion of Punjab. His court was always filled with able generals. He built an extremely loyal and powerful force. He was a humble person. When the Granthis of Delhi Gurudwara visited his court in Lahore, he used his beard to wipe their feet. Further when he was declared Tankhaia by Akali Phulla Singh, he prompted presented his bare back for the declared punishment.

More than his own popularity, Maharaja Ranjit Singh worked for the propagation of Vaaheguru’s name. He constructed the fort GobindGadh in Amritsar, named after Guru Gobind Singh Patshah. He established a beautiful garden named after Satguru Ram Dass Ji Patshah.

Ranjit Singh never forgot to humor the democratic feeling, or rather, the theocratic feeling of the Sikhs. He professed to rule "by the grace of God". He issued coins in the name of Guru Nanak with the encryptions

"Akal Purakh Ji Sahayae
Daego Taego Fateh Nusrat Baedrang
Yahaftaj Nanak Guru Gobind".

On April 25, 1809, a friendship treaty was signed with the British. This treaty set Satluj as the boundary between the British and Sikh empires. Maharaja Ranjit Singh maintained his friendship with the British throughout his reign.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was gifted with the ability of immediate assessment of strengths and weakness of a person on first sight. He personally knew all people working for him and received their daily reports. He did not waste even a minute of his and continually kept himself busy. He was well versed with the feelings of his subjects.

Maharaja Ranjit was also popular for his charity. From the information gathered by Col. Lawrence from his counsellors, Maharaja Ranjit Singh spent 12,00,000 rupees annually on charity apart from his generous distribution of gifts and jagirs.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh died on June 27, 1839 as a result of illness. At the time of his death, Maharaja’s forces were made of 92,000 foot soldiers, 31,800 horseback soldiers and 784 big guns. In addition to brave generals like Sardar Sham Singh Attari, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, Sardar GossKhan, Phulla Singh Akali, and Diwan MohakamChand, there were several American, British, European, French, Italian, and Russian officers. The total annual revenue of the kingdom was 32475000 rupees.

Maharaja Ranjit’s other sons, Tara Singh, Sultan Singh, Kashmir Singh and Peshaura Singh were never popular.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 1019-1020)

For conventional biographies refer to :-

Lepel H. Griffin, Ranjit Singh (1892);
N.K. Sinha, Ranjit Singh (1933); and
Khushwant Singh, Ranjit Singh, Maharajah of the Punjab (1962).

For an eyewitness account of the personality and court of Ranjit Singh, see :-

Emily Eden, Up the Country: Letters Written to Her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India, 2 vol. (1866, reissued 1978);
W.G. Osborne, The Court and Camp of Runjeet Sing (1840, reprinted 1973).

For further details interested readers are refered to :-

Anil C. Banerjee (1985), "Khalsa Raj," AbhinaV Publications, Delhi, 277p
Bhagat Singh (1990), "Maharaja Ranjit Singh And His Times," ISBN 81-85477-01-9, Sehgal Publishers, Delhi, 491p.
Bikram Jit Hasrat (1977), "Life and Times Of Maharaja Ranjit Singh: A Saga Of Benevolent Ruler," V.V. Research Inst. India, 466p
Dolly Sahiar (1981), "Maharaja Ranjit Singh as Patron Of The Arts," Marg Publications, Delhi, 138 pages
Fakir S. Wahee-du-din (1984), "Ranjit Singh Asali Roop," Punjabi University Patiala, 159 pages (Punjabi)
Fakir S. Wahee-du-din (1981), "Real Ranjit Singh." Punjabi University Patiala, 212 pages
Fauja Singh (1984), "Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Politics Society and Economy," Punjabi University Patiala, 384 pages
G. Khurana (1985), "British Historiography on the Sikh Power in Punjab," Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 174 pages
Hari Ram Gupta (1991), "History of the Sikhs Vol. 5: The Sikh Lion of Lahore," 81-215-0515-X, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 630 pages
Hari Ram Gupta (1975), "Panjab on Eve of First Sikh War," Panjab University, Chandigrh, 555 pages
Jagmohan Mahajan (1990), "Annexation of Punjab," ISBN 81-85215-06-5, Spantech Publisher, Delhi, 133 pages
Kartar S. Duggal (1989), "Ranjit Singh a Secular Sovereign," ISBN 81-7017-244-6, Abhinav Publications, Delhi, 143 pages
Khushwant Singh (1971), "Fall of the Kingdom of the Punjab," Orient Longman Press, Delhi, 165 pages
Prem S. Hoti, "Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh," Lahore Book Shop, Ludhiana, 208 pages
S.R. Bakshi (1991), "History of the Punjab: Maharaja Ranjit Singh," ISBN 81-7041-540-6, Anmol Publications, Delhi, 315p
Sohan S. Seetal (1982), "Sikh Empire and Maharaja Ranjit Singh," Lahore Book Shop, Ludhiana, 187p
Sohan S. Seetal (1986), "Sikh Raj Te Sher-e-Punjab," Seetal Pustak Bhandaar, 203p

  1876 Maharaja Mohinder Singh of Patiala passed away.

==> Maharaja MOHINDER SINGH (1852-1876) was born on Sept. 16th, 1852. He succeded to the throne after the death of Maharaja Narinder Singh and reigned from 1862 to 1876. He was deeply interested in public works. Out of all the Maharajas of Patiala, right from Ala Singh to Yadavindra Singh, Maharaja Mohinder Singh was the tallest with 6’7" height.

==> PATIALA FAMILY traces its descent to Maharaja Gaj, founder of the town Gazni (now in Afghanistan) in the first quarter of the 16th century. His descendents, Maharawal Jaisal, founded the State of Jaisalmer and his grand son, Rao Hans Raj, is considered the ancestor of Patiala family. However, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa written by Giani Gian Singh, traces the Patiala family descent to Chaudhri Phul, a Sidhu Jat in "Malwa country" and the Chaudhri belonged to the 23rd generation of the family of Bhatti Rajputs. When Bhim Mal came to Punjab in 1237 he helped Shahabuddin Gauri, in his attack on Delhi and in lieu of that, he was given the area comprising of Hissar, Sirsa, etc. In 1251, he built a fort in Hissar town. After his death, his son Jawand Rao succeeded and had 21 sons. According to Giani Gian Singh, Chaudhri Phul, son of Chaudhri Rup Chand, belonged to the family tree belonging to the descendents of Jawand Rao. When Guru Har Rai Patshah visited Malwa in 1702 B.K., Chaudhri Kala, brother of Chaudhri Rup Chand, brought his two nephews, Phul and Sandali to the Guru. On instructions of their uncle, who was acting as their guardian, both Phul and Sandali started beating their bellies and when Guru Sahib asked the reason, Chaudhri Kala explained that his nephews wanted to sariate their hunger. At that time, Guru Sahib blessed and ordained that the Phul family would reign for a considerable period of time and that it would feed lakhs of people. Chaudhri Phul died in 1745 B.K. and was succeeded by his two sons, Talok Chand and Ram Chand, who were introduced to amrit by Guru Gobind Singh in 1761 and were subsequently named Talok Singh and Ram Singh. Because of their great services to Guru Sahib, the two brothers were blessed and the Guru ordained "My house is your house and I am much pleased with you". Maharaj Ram Singh, who effectively controlled the areas surrounding Patiala, was murdered in 1771 B.K. (1741) at the hands of Chain Singh, Uggar Sain and Biru. He was succeeded by six sons, Baba Ala Singh proved to be the most dominating and promising. He was introduced to amrit by Nawab Kapur Singh.

The Patiala family attained prominence during Baba Ala Singh reign, who founded the State of Patiala by defeating the neighboring chieftains. Emperor Shah Jahan conferred the title "Raja" on Baba Ala Singh.

Unfortunately, the Patiala family often acted against interest of the Sikhs. They were often concerned with propagating their own family business interests first and foremost. Among the damage they did to the Panth was the reinforcement of the Brahminincal tradition of Nirmalae Sikhs and in total disrespect to GurSikh women many Patialites kept countless Ranis, performed anti Sikhi parades, etc. When Gadarites were orgainzing in US and Baba Khadak Singh was pursuing Keys Morcha and Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh was organinsing Rakab Ganj protest, Patialites were busy bootlicking British reprentatives. They offered many naive young rural Sikhs for deployment in Greece, North Africa and Europe, who eventually sacrificed their lives for a war they had absolutely nothing to do with. The Sikhs continously failed to recognize Patialites and remained loyal to them, even during partition talks (when Patiala family’s daughter was to be wed with Dr. Ambedkar’s nephew and 100 million of Dalits who were going to embrace Sikhism were thrown out by a series of calculated malicious events).

For these reasons and many more, PATIALA FAMILY were never considered a part of the Khalsa Misls and remained as fringe elements to GurSikh society.

-Ref. The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78), by Gur Rattan Pal Singh.

1888 Khalsa Diwan established at Lahore, to propogate Sikh Tenets.

Professor Gurmukh Singh and Giani Dit Singh established Khalsa Diwan at Lahore to propogate Sikh Tenets.

==> SINGH SABHA, a reform group of Amritdhari GurSikhs who objectively sought the eradication of the wrong practices in reestablishing the true traditions of GurSikhism. Their initial efforts for religious propagation and education resulted in the establishment of "Sri Guru Singh Sabha", Amritsar, in 1872. Sardar Thakur Singh Sandawalaia was the first chief, while the temporary offices and gathering facilities were organized at Guru Ka Bagh. The objectives of Singh Sabha, Amritsar, were to inculcate the principles of SIkh religion as preached by the Sikh Gurus among the Sikhs with a view to restoring Sikhism to its pristine purity, preach the principles of Sikh religion by word of mouth, by publication of historical and religious books, and through magazines and newspapers, encourage propagation of Punjabi, reclaim apostates and attract the sympathies of those highly placed in public adminsitration to the educational progress of the Sikhs. The Singh Sabha was to shun politics.

Next in 1879, another Singh Sabha was established at the Prakash place of Guru Ram Das Patshah, in Lahore. Diwan Buta Singh and Bhai Gurmukh Singh were the chiefs of this organization. The successful efforts of these Singh Sabhas resulted in several Singh Sabhas springing around the country. Singh Sabha had a clear perception of Sikhism as enunciated by the Sikh Gurus, and was determined to restore it to its original shape, without any compromise with Hindusim. A number of Singh Sabhas were established and affiliated to the Singh Sabha, Lahore. Amrit Prachar (administration of baptism) to all, including Muslims and lower classes, was an effective movement which, however, brought about conflict with certain Pujaris of the Sikh shrines. Gradually, the Singh Sabhas constructed their own gurudwaras with granthis, ragis, and updeshaks, and they became centres of new rivivalism.

The warming up of the Singh Sabha activity was discernible by a decision to establish Khalsa Diwan at Amritsar. This came into being in 1883 to oversee the functioning of over three dozen Singh Sabhas. There were, however, differences over the provisions of the conmstitution of the Khalsa Diwan. THese resulted in a break, with Lahore Singh Sabha spearheading a Khalsa Diwan at Lahore with a membership of all except three of the Singh Sabha affiliated to it. Suffices to say that the Singh Sabha Lahore, became the focal point of the Sikh reform movement.

The Singh Sabha movement played its historic role by exposing the evils which had crept into the social and religious life of the Sikhs. It reclaimed Sikhism from "a state of utter ossification and inertia and articulated the inner urge of Sikhism for reform and gave it a decisive direction." It not only checked the relapse of the Sikhs into Hinduism but also retaliated by carrying prosewlytsing activities into the Hindu camp. A large number of Hindus were baptised and the Sikh population which was 17,06,165 in 1881 rose to 21,02,896 in 1901 and never dwindled again. Thus the Singh Sabha movement proved to be the elan vital in the regeneration of the Sikh society.

In 1888, Khalsa Diwan was established in Lahore. Subsequently, on Nov. 10, 1901, Shiromani GurSikhs gathered at Ramgarhia Bunga, Amritsar, and laid the foundation of Chief Khalsa Diwan. This organization actively corrected numerous traditions in GurSikhism and continues to do so til today.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 193)
The Sikhs in History, by Sangat Singh, 1995

1959 The Government of India recognised the Sikhs as a sovereign people in the Nehru-Tara Singh Pact contained in an official communique. Master Tara Singh had threatened to go on fast unto death from Apr. 16, 1959 to protest against Government interference in Gurdwara affairs. Clause (3) of this Nehru-Tara Singh Pact which was a compromise arrived at to avoid the fast, provided:

No amendment in the Gurdwara Act will be made except with the consent of the general house of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee expressed through a resolution passed by two third majority of the members of the SGPC.

This clause ammounts to a surrender of legislative sovereignty in favor of SGPC which is representative body exclusively of the Sikh people.

-Source. History of Sikh Struggles, Vol. 1, By Gurmit Singh, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 1989. pp. 50-51



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