Today in Sikh History :16th May
Sikhs assembled at Amritsar and passed a Gurmatta to regain more territorits, occupy Lahore and strike coins in the name of their gurus as a symbol of the sovereignty of the Khalsa.
Lahna Singh, Gujjar Singh, and Sobha Singh occupied Lahore and divided the city into three administrative zones under each Sardar. Silver rupee was struck from Lahore mint.
Misl Bhangian was organised.
Misl Bhangian, one of the twelve Sikh Misls, was organized by Sardar Chhaju Singh of Panjwar Dist. Amritsar. Sardar Hari Singh and Bhuma Singh, etc., the leaders of this Misl captured Lahore in 1765. This Misl also ruled over Ambala, Ferozpur and Amritsar (See description below for details on Sikh Misls).
==> HOW DID THE MISLS COME INTO BEING? For ten years after Banda Bahadhur’s shahadat, Sikhs were quite. In 1726, Bhai Tara Singh of village “Vaa” accepted shahadat after fighting the ruling forces. This incident re-awakened the Sikhs and unrest erupted all over Punjab. The Subaedhar of Lahore and Delhi ruler, Mohammad Shah, agreed to an annual payment 1 lakh rupee compensation and viceroyalty (Nawabi) in return for peace in the region. On the Vaisakhi day of 1733, the Panth bestowed this resposbibility upon Sardar Kapur Singh. Henceforth, he came to be popularly known as “Nawab Kapoor Singh”.
After Banda Bahadhur’s Shaheedi, Diwan Darbara Singh was recognized as the Jathaedhar for the whole Sikh Panth. Upon his death in 1734, Nawab Kapoor Singh became Panth’s Jathaedhar. By now the Sikh population has grown significantly. To ease the management of Panthic affairs, Khalsa forces were divided into two groups; namely, “Budha Dal” and “Taruna Dal”. Budha Dal, under the leadership of Nawab Kapoor Singh, resided at Akal Bugha. The Taruna Dal was further split into five groups as follows:
- Jatha Shaheedi, under the leadership of Baba Deep Singh Ji. Additionally, Natha Singh and Gurbakash Singh were popular leaders of this Jatha.
- Jatha Amritsaria, under the leadership of Sardar Karam Singh and Sardar Dharam Singh.
- Baba Kahan Singh’s Jatha, under the leadership of Kahan Singh Taehan. Other leaders include Sardar Miri Singh Taehan, Sardar Hari Singh Dhillo, and Sardar Bagh Singh Hallowalia.
- Jatha Dhalaewaliya, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Dasodha Singh Gill.
- Jatha of RangRaetae Sikhs, under the leadership of Bir Singh, Jiun Singh, Madan Singh, and Amar Singh.
During Taruna Dal’s absence, when their jathas were touring various region of Punjab, the rulers repossessed Panth’s jagir. As a result, the unrest erupted once again. When Nadir attacked Delhi in 1739 and shook the very roots of mughal empire, there was virtaully no government in Punjab, in any real sense. Sensing an opportunity, the Sikhs seized control of entire Punjab and built a fort, DalaeWal, on the banks of river Ravi. This fort was later destroyed by Khan Bahadhur.
The war between the Sikhs and the ruling forces persisted over time. More the government suppressed the Sikhs, more the Sikhs faought back and realised increasing gains. On Oct. 14, 1745, Dal Khalsa was broken into 30 small groups. These groups fought independent wars. However, they collectively defended the Panth’s interest whenever it was threatened.
In Jan. 1748, Ahmad Shah Abdali started his attacks. This made the attainment of Panth’s objective of establishing its rule, rather difficult. However, by now the number of small jathas had swelled to more than double, 66.
On March 29, 1748, Vaisakhi day, all these jathas gathered in Amritsar. On this occasion, Nawab Kapoor Singh, put forth a proposal for establishing a strong common leadership for the Panth. This proposal was accepted by everyone and the common leadership was called “Dal Khalsa”. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was anonymously elected as the leader of Dal Khalsa. Under his leadership, 11 misls were established; namely,
- Misl Ahluwalia, under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.
- Misl Faejullapuria or Singpuria, under the leadership of Nawab Kapoor Singh.
- Misl Sukarchakiya, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Nodh Singh, the great grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
- Misl NashanaWali, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Dasodha Singh.
- Misl Bhangia, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Hari Singh Bhangi.
- Misl Kania, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Jay Singh Kania.
- Misl Nakia, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Hira Singh Nakai.
- Misl Dalaewali, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Gulab Singh.
- Misl Shaheeda, under the leadership of Baba Deep Singh “Shaheed”.
- Misl Karodha Singia, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Karodha Singh.
- Misl Sanghniya, under the leadership of Jathaedhar Nand Singh. It later came to known as Ramgharia Misl.
NOTE:- the 12th misl Phulkia, under the leadership of Sardar Alla Singh Patiala, is a separate misl from the above 11 misls. Unfortunately, this misl often worked against the Panthic interests. Among the damage they did to the Panth was the reinforcement of the Brahminincal tradition of Nirmalae Sikhs and in total disrespect to women many Patialites kept countless Ranis, performed anti Sikhi parades, etc.
The above misl were announced on the Vaisakhi day and every Sikh soldier given an opportunity to select his own leader. Everyone could join any misl they desired to. It was agreed that each misl would be autonomous in terms of its internal affairs but shall abide by the command of Dal Khalsa’s Jathaedhar for all common and Panthic affairs.
This arrangement worked well for the Sikhs. Numerous surrounding areas came under their protection, some willingly on their own while others were forcibly brought under their control. However, this arrangement did not last for too long, as Abdali attacked for the fourth time in Nov. of 1756. During this attack, the whole organization of the Sikhs fell apart and they had to start its re-establishment from scratch. During the fifth attack, Abdali encouraged the Marathas. However, as he left for Kabul, Sikhs captured Lahore and issued their own coins under the name of Jassa Singh. When Abdali heard this news, he attacked for the sixth time, this time specifically to destroy the Sikhs. Feb. 5, 1762 saw a grave war in which 10-12 thousand Sikh soldiers and 18-20 thousand Sikh children and women were killed. This day is marked as the “Major Holocaust” in Sikh history. Despite such enormous destruction, Sikhs became extremely fearless and only eight months after the major holocaust, they successfully defeated Abdali in the war of Pipli Sahib, Amritsar, on Oct. 17, 1762.
After Abdali’s retuirn to Kabul, Sikhs gathered once again in Amritsar in Dec. of 1762. During this meeting, Dal Khalsa’s common leadership was reestablished from scratch. Panth was divided into two major groups; namely, “Budha Dal” and “Taruna Dal”. Budha Dal, under the leadership of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had six misls; namely, Ahluwalia, Singhpuria, Dalaewaliya, KarodhaSinghs, NashanaWali, and Shaheedi. This group was assigned the responsibility of eliminating the enemy. Taruna Dal came under the leadership of Jathaedhar Hari Singh and had five misls; namely, Bhangia, Ramgarihia, Kania, Nakia, and Sukarchakia. This group was given the responsibility for security and maintenance of Amritsar and all religious places.
Taruna Dal captured Kasur region while Budha Dal captured Duyaba and Jaladhar. Together they captured Batala. The killing of Sirhind Subhaedhar during the bloody war of Jan. 14th, 1764 and successfully capture of Sirhind, marked the beginning of Misl Raj. Slowly, the Punjab region from Jamuna to Attak came under the collective control of the misls. On May 15, 1765, Sikhs gained complete control of Lahore.
Subsequently, Abdali attacked for the ninth time and Sikhs had to leave Lahore. However, they reassumed control as soon as he returned to Kabul. The final two attacks of Abdali were extremely weak. During his last attack he did not dare proceed any further and simply returned from Jaehlam. By now the Sikhs had successfully established their rule over the entire Punjab.
-Ref. “Sikh Misla Tae Sardar Gharanae”, (in Punjabi) by Sohan Singh Sital.
Maharani Jindan was imprisoned in the fort at Benaras.
==> Maharani JIND KAUR: was daughter of Sardar Manna Singh Auhlakh, a resident of village Chandh, district Sialkot, Tehsil Jafarwall. She was wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and mother of Maharaja Dalip Singh. Once the British government gained control of the Khalsa Raj’s affairs, she was initially kept under house arrest at Saekhupura and subsequently jailed at Chunar fort (U.P. district Mizapur). However, she escaped in a beggar’s attire and reached Nepal, where she lived with dignity. In 1861, Maharani Jind Kaur reached England to visit her son Maharaja Dalip Singh, where she died on Aug. 1, 1863 at the age of 46. Her body was brought back and cremated in Nasik Nagar, on the outskirts of Bombay.
On March 27, 1924, Maharaja Dalip Singh’s daughter, Bamba Dalip Singh, brought the ashes of Maharani Jind Kaur from Nasik Nagar and buried it next to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s samadh. Sardar Harbans Singh Rais of Atari performed the last rights (antim Ardas) on this occasion.
-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 523)
Here are a few glimpses of her life from “Maharani Jind Kaur” by Dr. B.S. Nijjar that also sheds light on the sad, unfortuante affairs of Sikh state after the death of Sher-i-Punjab, and offers a rare glimpse of the treachery of some Dogras and Brahmins.
At one time the Dogras has become so influential that the Raja Hira Singh wanted to be the king by pushing aside Maharaja Dalip Singh. The Sikh army did not like him. They liked Maharaja Dalip Singh.
There was a general discontent among the Sikh army and they were not happy with the way Rani was behaving. She had became louder in her demands. She asked for more jagirs for her brothers and more yearly allownaces for herself. She spoke of the designs against every survivor of the royal family and of intending flight to the southern side of Satluj where the English would at least secure for her son, his father’s protected territory. This, of course, was a great miscalculation on her part.
Rani an Accomplished Administrator
However, Rani issued a proclamation praising the fidelity of the Khalsa troops. She had shown considerable energy and spirit in conducting the State business, with the courage and determination seldom shown by any woman in Sikh history. Lord Hardinge had un-willingly praised her for her regular life and devotion to the State affairs. She commanded the obedience of regimental committee as well as Sardars, who were also represented in the Supreme Council of Khalsa. However, she committed the impardonable sin of compromising with the Army. Several conferences with the military officers took place and at one of those, the Sardars said that the army would not let the Government go on.
Weakness of Rani
Harding wrote to Ellenborough about administration of Rani Jind Kaur, on October 23, 1845 A.D., “Rani now reviews the troops unveiled, and dressed as a dancing woman, which displeases the old but gratifies the yourng; but her irregularities are so monstrously indecent that the troops have held her horse and advised her to be more chaste or they would no longer style her the Mother of all the Sikhs.”
The officers adamantly told the Rani that that army could govern very well for itself. The demand of the increase in pay was, however, not conceded nor was it definitely refused. But the troops were declaring loudly that Rani and her brother were unfit to reign and must be imprisoned or put to death and Peshaura Singh [son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but not of Jind Kaur] be seated on the throne. The general joy expressed at the death of Hira Singh [son of raja Gulab Singh dogra] and Pandit Jalla, was thus giving place to appreciation of the order and justice prevailing under their rule. The Khalsa army now became openly independent of the Civil authority and almost acted as Kingmakers.
Jawahar Singh Comes to Power
After the overthrow of of Raja Hira Singh and his favourite Pandit Jalla, the ministerial office was not immediately filled and for some time all power of the Sikh Kingdom remained in the hands of the “Army Panchayat.” In May, 1845, A.D., however, Jawahar Singh brother of Rani came to power as he was appointed to the exhalted office of Prime Minister for five months from May 1845 to September 1845 A.D. The Prime Minister immediately did his best to win over the army. He raised the salary of the soldiers by half a ruppes and thus consolidate his position. [An verage soldier made about Rs/. 11 a month at that time.]
The Dogra Rajas could not tolerate the high position of Jawahar Singh and thus spared no effort to exploit the Khalsa soldiers against him. Raja Gulab Singh instigated Pishaura Singh, another son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to revolt as he was to be fully supported by the former. At the instigation of the Dogra Rajas, Prince Pishaura Singh revolted and occupied Attok, but was defeated by Jawahar Singh’s forces and murdered. It was a blunder on the part of Jawahar Singh as the Sikh army did not appreciate this hasty step of their Prime Minister and turned against him. Raja Lal Singh, the Commander-in-chief of the Khalsa Army, all the more, exploited this situation. A meeting of the Army Panchayat was called and the matter was put before them.
Ultimately Jawahar SIngh was summoned to appear before the Army Panchayat. Jawahar Singh was not unaware of the fury of the Army Panchayat. He rather fully anticipated his fate. Therefore, he took his nephew Maharaja Dalip Singh with him in the hope that the presence of the Maharaja might influence the Khalsa troops in his favour in securing a pardon.
But the fierce and infuriated soldiery sorrounded the elephant on all sides, and the boy Dalip Singh was rougly snathced from the arms of his uncle. Jawahar Singh bowed before the troops, and with folded hands, implored them to hear him for a moment. They, however, would not allow him to utter a word even. He was stabbed with a bayonet on the left, and as he bent over on the right, a man sent a bullet through his brain. Jawahar Singh fell from the ‘howdah’ a corpse, and his body was dragged from the elephant and mangled with swords of those who sorrounded it.
Bawa Rattan Singh and Bhai Chaittu, the councillors of Jawahar Singh, were killed without any ceremony, on the same spot. The cash, in gold and silver coins, which Jawahar Singh and the Rani had brought with them and their fort, was now plundered by the soldiers, and the Rani and her slave girls were compelled to retire to the tents which had some days previously been pitched for their reception. The whole thing was, thus, well premeditatd and planned. The boy Dalip Singh was separated from his mother for a while and kept with the soldiery, fearing that the Rani in her rage and excitement might destroy herself and her child. When these fears had subsided, the prince was again made over to his mother. The soldiers. however, kept a strict watch over Rani’s tents the whole night, to prevent any accident. She passed the night in fearful screams and shrieks, lamenting over the death of her beloved brother and cursing the Khalsa. As morning broke, she was permitted to to see the mangled body of her brother. Her lamentations and painful cries renewed with a violence which moved the bystanders to pity and melted even the iron hearts of those who had been instrumental in causing her brother’s murder.
Weeping bitterly, Jind Kaur threw herself and her child on the body of her brother. When partly by entreaties and partly by force, she was separatd from the corpse, she rolled upon the ground, tearing her hair and her clothes. This hearth rending spectacle touched the sympathies of the most valorous spectators. The scene was terminated at noon, when the Maharaja with great difficulty, was persuaded to return to the city. The corpse of the murdered prime minister was also carried to the city, where his funeral obseques were performed outside the Masti Gate, in the presence of several Sardars of the court.
From: “Maharani Jind Kaur” by Dr. B.S.
Sadhu Singh Babbar of Sandhara sent to the gallows.
British “Cabinet Mission” released their report.