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Sikh History Timeline

Today in Sikh History – 4th September


4th September


1574 Gur Gadhi, Fourth Patshah, Guru Ram Das Ji.

==> GURU RAM DAS (1534-1581). the Fourth Master, ascended the holy gaddi (throne) of Guru Nanak in 1574 and continued to adorn the exalted office till 1581. Though he was the son-in-law of Guru Amar Das, being married to his daughter Bibi Bhani, yet he revered the Third Master as a Guru with an unwavering fervor. Inebriated with the nectar of the divine Nam, he spurned delights, and @pent all his time in an ecstatic communion with the Lord through moments of deep meditation.

Originally called Jetha Ji, Guru Ram Das was born in a Sodhi family at Lahore in 1534. His parents died when he was just a child. He was, therefore, brought up by his maternal grandparents. He had an opportunity to visit Goindwal, the seat of the Third Master, at a time when the bavali was being dug through voluntary labor. He immersed himself in this labor of love with such a rare verve and dedication that he won the Guru’s appreciation and recognition. The Third Master was so highly pleased with the disciple that he gave his daughter Bibi Bhani to him in marriage. Nevertheless, he served Guru Amar Das with as much love and devotion as ever before. It was in 1574 that he was invested with Guruship and named Guru Ram Das.

Guru Ram Das’s contribution to Bani is considerable. His compositions throb on born of love for fellowman and yearning for God. They inculcate in the people the adoration of God and the Guru. Rightly does the Master image an ideal man as one who had drunk deep at the fount of Nam and whose eyes are aglow with the love of the Lord. He sought a consummation of the human personality through God-realization.

The Vars (ballads) of the Fourth Master, enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib, outnumber those of other contributors. After Guru Nanak and Guru Amar Das, it was he who expanded the range of the Ragas in the Adi Granth adding as many as eleven to the existing system. Notable among the Fourth Master’s contribution to Sikhism is the establishment of a new Chak called Guru Ka Chak on the land gifted by Emperor Akbar to Bibi Bhani, the Guru’s wife. Later, it grew into the city of Amritsar. Here the Guru started the digging of two sarovars (pools) which when completed during Guru Arjan’s time, came to be known as Santokhsar and Amritsar So great was the Guru’s magnetism that during his pontificate Amritsar emerged as a famous place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs.

With a view to transmitting the gospel of Sikhism as also to meeting the expenditure incurred on the ever expanding altruistic plans and programs, the Guru founded the institution of masands. The offerings of the Sikhs were collected by the masands who rendered these to the Guru.

Guru Ram Das also deputed learned missionaries to establish contact with the Sikhs outside the Punjab. Guru Amar Das had already set up 22 Manjis (dioceses). Accordingly, the Fourth Master bade Bhai Hindal and Bhai Gurdas begin their missionary work and preach Sikhism at Jandiala and Agra, respectively. The Guru also shifted his head-quarters from Goindwal to Amritsar. Besides, he got prepared handwritten Gutkas (booklets of holy hymns). The Adi Granth contains 679 hymns by Guru Ram Das.

Guru Ram Das had three sons – Prithi Chand, Mahan Dev and Arjan Dev. He considered the youngest son, Arjan Dev, the ablest and saintliest and, therefore, installed him as Guru in 1581.

-Ref. "Guru Granth Ratnavali," (pp. 58) by Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh.

1838 Maharaja Dalip Singh, the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was born at Raj Mahals to Mother Jinda.

==> Maharaja DALIP SINGH, the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who was born in Lahore, on Feb. 1837, to mother Maharani Jind Kaur. His date of birth is disputed by some and alternately suggested as Sept. 4, 1838. Many foreign journalists have wrongly named him as Dhalip Singh and Duleep Singh. However, it should be noted that his correct name is Maharaja Dalip Singh. He assumed the Punjab throne as a child, after Maharaja Sher Singh, on Sept. 18, 1843. During his reign several wars were fought with the British. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by corrupt advisors as illustrated by the following quote.

"Among the Sikh barons who stood around the throne of the young Maharaja Dalip Singh, there was not one, who honestly labored for his country, or who have made the smallest sacrifice to save her."
- The Punjab Chiefs by L.H. Griffin

The agreement of March 9, 1846, after the first Sikh war with the British, included the following conditions:

  1. There shall be peace and friendship among Maharaja Dalip Singh and the British government.
  2. Lahore darbar would have to relinquish control of the region between Satluj and Bias.
  3. War compensation of one and a half crore rupees to be paid by Lahore darbar. Since this amount was beyond the capabilities of Lahore Darbar at that time, Kashmir region was offered for 75 lakhs. However, Maharaja Gulab Singh stepped forward and paid this amount to buy back this region from the British.
  4. Maharaja Dalip Singh’s forces were restricted to 50 platoons and 12,000 horse-back soldiers.
  5. No foreigner from Britain, Europe, or America could be employed in Lahore Darbar without explicit permission of the British government.
  6. British government shall refrain from interference in the internal affairs of the Lahore Darbar.

However, towards the end of this year, another set of arrangements were made, under which a council was established to run the Punjab affairs. This council was headed by a British Resident. Further, British forces were brought in to maintain peace in the country. Lahore darbar was charged 22 lakh annually for the maintenance and upkeep of such forces.

However, this arrangement did not last for too long. As in April of 1848, a war erupted among the Sikhs and British. At the end of this war, Sikh kingdom was annexed and Maharaja Dalip Singh was sent out of Punjab to FatehGadh (Uttar Pradesh, dist. Karrukhsbad) under the care of Sir John Spencer Login.

Maharaja Dalip Singh was still a child at the time of the annexation of Punjab and there was no one to dispense any religious education to him. His companions (AudiyaPrasad, Purohit GulabRai, Fakir Jahurudeen) had absolutely no interest or sympathy with GurSikh Dharam. As a result, BhajanLal, a local resident brahmin who had converted to christianity, was given the responsibilities of Dalip Singh’s education. Under his influence, Maharaja Dalip Singh adopted christianity on March 8, 1853. A few days prior to adopting christianity, Dalip Singh had presented his hair as a gift to Lady Login.

On April 19, 1858, Dalip Singh left for England and started residing at Elveden resident in Norfolk. Dalip Singh married a German lady, Bamba Muller (educated form Cairo missionary school) on June 7, 1864. This marriage resulted in three sons (Victor Dalip Singh, Frederick D.S., and Edward D.S.) and three daughters. Two of his sons were brought up as english gentlemen. The elder, Prince Victor, held a commission in the 1st Royal Dragoons and married a daughter of the Earl of Coventry. He died in 1918 at the age of 58. The younger brother, Prince Frederick was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he took history Tripos and later took his M.A. He held a commission in the Suffolk Yeomanry and then transferred to the Norfolk Yeomanry. He resigned his commission in 1909 but rejoined the corps in 1914 and was two years on active service in France. He was awarded the Territorial Decoration. Prince Frederick was deeply interested in archaeology and became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and contributed articles to various periodicals on this subject. He died in August 1926, at the age of 58. One of Maharaja’s daughters married Dr. Sutherland, lived in Lahore, and was popularly known after her parents as Princess Bamba Sutherland.

Maharani Bamba died in 1890. Later, Maharaja Dalip Singh married an english lady, A.D. Etherill, who lived after Maharaja’s death. Maharaja’s later years were extremely difficult. He was barred from returning to Punjab, and his pension severed. He died pretty much as an orphan, in Oct. 22, 1893 in Grand Hotel of Paris.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh

The Anglo-Sikh wars resulted in ultimate liquidation of the Sikh power, and on 30th March, 1849, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s short lived kingdom was annexed by the British. Maharaja Dalip Singh was taken away to Fatehgarh in the U.P., and put under the tutelage of Sir John Login of the Bengal Army., with the result that after two years the young Maharaja expressed desire to renounce his faith and embrace Christianity. He was baptised, granted a pension, sent to England and given an estate in Suffolk. The married Bamba Muller, daughter of a European merchant and an Abyssinian mother.

Maharani Bamba spoke and understood only Arabic, and in the beginning the Maharaja had amusing difficulties when attempting to converse with his fiancee. She bore him Prince Victor Dalip Singh, (b. 1866, d. 1918), Prince Fredrick Dalip Singh (b. 1886, d. 1926), Princess Bamba Jindan (b. 1869, d. 1957), Princess Katherine, Prince Albert Edward Dalip Singh (b. 1879, d. 1893), and Princess Sophia Alexandria (b. 1874, d. 1948). The children of Maharaja Dalip Singh died issueless. Dalip Singh came to India twice and was reconverted to his paternal faith. In 1886 he made an attempt to leave England for good and settle down in Punjab, but his attempt failed and he was not allowed to proceed beyond Aden. He did not return to England and died in Paris in 1893.

Princess Bamba Dalip Singh, who later married an English gentleman Dr. Sutherland, continued to keep in her custody the collection of paintings and objects of arts, belonging to her father. She died in Lahore on March 10, 1957, without having any issue, and thus her death ended the line of the Sikh ruling dynasty. She bequeathed the collections to Pir Karim Bakhsh Supra of Lahore who sold it recently to the Government of Pakistan.

The collection consists of 18 oil paintings, 14 water colours, 22 ivory paintings, 17 photographs, 10 metallic objects and 7 miscellaneous articles.

-Ref. "The Princess Bamba Collection" an official publication of Department of Archeology, Pakistan "Sikh Portraits by European Artists," by F.S. Aijazuddin, a comprehensive source of textual and visual information on the Princess Bamba Collection (Karachi: Oxford Univ. Press)

Maharaja Dalip Singh’s life is a tragedy in the true sense of the word. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but died very poor in a hotel in Paris.

Most people do not know that he wanted to reclaim his kingdom by launching a war against the British. Although he had become Christian at one time, yet he re-entered Khalsa Panth by taking Khade di Pahul (amrit).

Maharaja wrote the following letter to Sardar Sant Singh who was his relative from his mother’s side. Here is the text of the letter:

Carlton Club, Pall Mall, S. W.

March 9th, 1886

My Dear Sirdar Ji,

Wah ! Gooroo ji dee Futteh.

I am pleased to receive your letter, but I advise you not to come near me without the permission of Government as you might get into trouble with the authorities.

I intend to leave England with my family on the 31st of this month, but it is possible a little longer delay may occur.

I need not tell you how pleased I shall be (if the Government permits) for you to be present at my receiving Powhl [Amrit] which I trust my cousin Thakur Singh Sindhaanwalla will administer to me.

I am now longing to return to India although Government are afraid to let me reside in the North Western Provinces and desire me to live at Ootakamand, but I put my faith entirely in Sutgooroo who now that I turn to Him for forgivenss I know will forsake me.

Your sincere friend and welwisher

Duleep Singh

Note: Maharaja Dalip Singh stayed sometime in Aden. During his stay at Aden, the Maharaja Dalip Singh was baptised and re-entered the Sikh faith. He was baptised on May 26, 1886. There is a photograph of Maharaja with full beard (which is tied back) and beutiful uniform and turban. In this picture he looks very handsome and a true Maharaja. This picture must have taken when he was around 35-40. This picture is not the one that most of us have seen where the handsome Maharaja is standing with a sword in his right hand.

-Ref. "History of Freedom Movement in the Punjab – Maharaja Duleep Singh Correspondence, Vol III," published by Punjabi University Patiala.

1926 First meeting of the elected members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) was held in Town Hall, Amritsar.



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