Story about Maharaja Ranjit Singh is actually going to give you a deep sense of understanding of his dedication for an independent India and the cunningness of the British . Why the British were too scared of the presence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh ? All these topics will be covered in this article .
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the great ruler of Punjab who is widely known as sher-e-Punjab and who raised his head with dignity and honour in extending the Sikh empire from Gilgit and Tibet to the desert of Sindh and from the Khyber Pass to the Sutlaj with his powerful administration during his entire ruling of Punjab .
Ranjit Singh (1780 – 1839 AD) is famous for not just resisting Afghan from invading northwest (Punjab ) of India but also did a great job in stopping East India Company Or the Britishers to rule over Punjab.
He was titled Sher-e-Punjab which means Lion of Punjab. He was a legendary ruler of Punjab. Some historians used to call him Napoleon of Asia.
His attractive and stalwart personality left everyone to praise him. His greatness and his grace was such that no one dared to look straight into his eyes. Words like “fear” never existed in his vocabulary.
He belonged to the caste of Shukarchakia misl . Misl means a kind of confederacy – a large family or Clan.
A great historian Marshman said great words for Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
” He was the most extraordinary man of the age between Constantinople and peking. “
Ranjeet Singh was a remarkable man that Indian land had ever produced during the end of 18th century.
His brilliancy to act in the most critical condition and his power of statement ship had no matched during his time of reigning.
Every individual in Punjab and also all people of India know him for his unity, courage ,diplomacy ,democracy and Steadfastness.
Another great historian Osborne in his book ” the court and camp of Ranjit Singh ” wrote fantastically on him
” Ranjeet Singh never fail to surprise anyone as an extraordinary man “
Ranjit Singh was born on 23rd November 1780 in Shukarchakia misl at Gujranwala, Punjab.
His father Sardar Maha Singh was a great Warrior who named his son Ranjit after conquering the battlefield against Afghan .
Ranjit Singh during his childhood lost his left eye due to smallpox but this didn’t impact the courage and personality he got from his father and mother.
Ranjit Singh then married to mahtab Kaur who was the Grand daughter of Jai Singh. This marriage added a great strength to the power of Maha Singh.
At a very young age of 7 he lost his father. After the death of his father, his mother Jind Kaur and his mother-in-law did his upbringing with heroic qualities which were needed for running a Kingdom smartly and powerfully.
Though he was illiterate, his action was much more powerful than other great kings. He accessed the throne when he was 8 years old.
He started to take up the responsibility of handling the administration and overcoming the political terminal and enmity with invaders as he grew older.
During his time, North India was in the hands of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Abdali who was continuously on-slaughtering the Hindus. After 1795 his grandson, Shah Zaman started to ravage India mercilessly.
Ranjit Singh then was the only power who resisted Shah Zaman in 1795 , 1797 and 1798 AD.
Ranjit Singh had expertise in Guerilla attack which was so ruthless that Shah Zaman didn’t have the guts to face such brutal attack again from Maharaja Ranjit Singh. So he decided to not stand against Ranjeet Singh and fled away from there.
Achievements in Military campaign
The territories and fortress which were won by Maharaja Ranjit Singh were Lahore ,Multan, fort at attock, Peshawar ,Kangra Fort, Kashmir.
Lahore City from the perspective of Administration was an important town which Ranjit Singh wanted to capture from Shah zaman. And another major reason was to secure the life of people who were tolerating the atrocities of Shah Zaman. Through his strong army and getting the help from the people of Lahore, on 7th July 1799, he took the possession of Lahore .
” In 1801, Ranjit Singh assumed the title of “Maharaja” by Baba Khem Singh Bedi during the coronation ceremony at Lahore which took place after the freedom of Lahore from the tyranny chief Shah Zaman. “
Conquest of Amritsar
Amritsar was conquested by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1802 by defeating Bhangi Misl chieftains with the support of the forces of his mother-in-law Sada Kaur and Sardar Fateh Singh of Ahluwalia Misl.
After getting the victory ,he took the blessings in Darbar Saheb where he donated the large cash and renovated the temple and mountaining the temple with gold leaf.
Ranjit Singh had a sharp eye on his quality of horses , ammunition and soldiers in his Army. He was very conscious for providing best training to his Army with modern artilleries.
His armies were properly drilled and well equipped with large and small guns. He knew it very well that in the 18th and 19th century, the concept of Warfare had changed significantly. So he added all modern artillery and modern tactics to combat his enemy.
Punjab was then the only independent state from British which was under Ranjit Singh . To rule his Kingdom greatly, he divided Punjabi into four areas and did some great modification to his administration which were :
- Ranjeet Singh had fixed monthly salary is for soldiers.
- He had provided uniform for his soldiers and also employed foreign experts for the training of his soldiers.
- All four major areas were divided into districts which was called Parganas
- He created ilaka for better administration which was larger than pargana but smaller than province.
- Pargana further divided into Zila, Zila into talukas and talukas finally into villages.
- Raja Dhyan was made Prime Minister and the collection of revenue was in charge of Mukaddam , the Kanungo, the Panch and the Chaudhary.
- In case of drought or famine the cultivators were granted revenue exemption.
A foreign Traveller, Burnes in his book praised Ranjit Singh as :
” No other Indian ever impressed me as much as this man. It’s a matter of perpetual wonder that though uneducated, he runs his administration with such skill without guidance that no one can beat him “
Bitter relationship with Britishers
Ranjit Singh was entirely aware of the reality that India was closely in the hands of British control. Except Punjab ,nearly all parts of India were in the dominion of the East India Company.
He wanted to free the country from British slavery. For this, he made alliances with native kings and even contacted foreign powers to stop the British expansion.
The letter which was written by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the respected ruler of Rajasthan, Man Singh, revealed that he wanted help from him and the ruler of all the states to unite against the British and throw them out from India .
There are also some secret letters kept to National Archives of India which disclose that Maharaja through the letters addressing Daulat Rao Scindia, Jaswant Rao Holkar , the Peshwa, the Raja of Tikari, the Nawab of Banda and Raja of Bharatpur to unite and throw out the British .
But unfortunately, these letters were seized by British agent when the secret agent of Maharaja was carrying the letters to give it to the respective kings of India.
Maharaja sent his envoys to all direction of India from where he could get the help. He even contacted Russia , France and Iran.
According to historians :
Britisher was winning territories after territories because of two major things. One was there welll equipped modern army with enlarge guns and bullets and secondly on which they relied more than army was the intrigue and duplicity.
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British was making continuous plan to annex Punjab but every time Ranjit Singh got victory in resisting the great Army of British.
Even Britisher claimed to be friendly with Ranjit Singh for lifetime but Ranjit Singh was aware of the intention behind their friendly behaviour so he never accepted it.
For Britishers, Maharaja Ranjit Singh had become an obstacle to rule over India. If the efforts of Ranjit Singh to unite native kings had got the success ,the Britishers no longer would have the opportunity to win Punjab and even they had to lose their winning territories.
Following the Chronicles specially the secret files, it has been revealed that Ranjit Singh’s death was a serious murder planned by Britishers.
A banquet which was arranged by Miss Eden, sister of Lord Auckland, on 4th December 1838 had a secret plan to wipe out Ranjit Singh from the path of ruling India. Following the banquet the Maharaja fell seriously ill and after this he never recovered from the illness.
Britishers used to call him ” Wily fox” which indicates their hate for Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After the death of Ranjit Singh on 27th June 1839 , his son Khadak Singh accessed the throne of Sikh Empire but soon he died in mysterious way.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh died on 27th June 1839 in the Samman Burj fort of Lahore , Pakistan . Before death, his whole body got paralyzed and lost his voice too after a long illness.
A massive gathering took place during his funeral procession . Everyone wants to have last darshan of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was lovable to each people irrespective of their religion . His Samadhi is in Lahore , Pakistan .
Not even a single house kitchen was used to lit fire for cooking when Maharaja died. All were mourning on the death of the great king and the entire city of Lahore gathered for the last darshan of their beloved king .
His wives performed Sati (suttee). A great German traveller, captain Orlich ,in his book ” Travels in India including Sindh and the Punjab” described the scene of Sati as follow :
” All Queens strip themselves of all their finery and inspected their faces in the mirror to reassure themselves that the thought of death hadn’t frightened them. Then, they walked towards the fire and surrendered themselves to the pyre of their husband”
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Kohinoor
Kohinoor, which means light of mountain, weighing 105.6 carats, is the world famous diamond which we could now see in the jewel house at the tower of London.
Kohinoor was worn by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in his bracelet on special occasion. It has been said that Kohinoor has its history with karna of the Mahabharata.
A book written by Babar ” Tuzke-e-Baburj “ in which he talks about the Kohinoor which he got from Himanyu and Humayun got it from an old lady during the invasion of Agra in 1526 AD.
In 1739 AD,Nadir Shah defeated Mohammed Shah and took away the Kohinoor with him to Iran. It was Nadir Shah who named this precious diamond ” Kohinoor”.
After then, it came into the possession of Ahmed Shah Durrani and then passed on to Shah Shuja who fled from Afghanistan to India with his wife.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh got the Kohinoor from Shah suja’s wife for helping her to free his husband Shah Shuja from the prison of Kashmir. And this is how Ranjit Singh became the owner of the precious diamond Kohinoor.
Finally after the death of Ranjit Singh it was taken by British after having the control over Punjab region. On 6th April 1850 ,the Kohinoor was handed over to the Victoria Queen of London by the governor general Lord Dalhousie.
Declination of Sikh Empire
After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh Empire started to decline within 7 years. All his sons except, Dalip Singh or duleep Singh and Tara Singh were murdered in mysterious ways.
Duleep Singh who was the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was exiled and kept at Fatehpur, utter Pradesh by the British in 1850 . Later in 1861 ,he was sent to England.
Duleep Singh had great Patriotism for his country which made him to take legal proceeding against British which made them agitated .
He was forcefully baptized by Britishers and converted into Christianity but later on he again accepted Sikhism on getting the inspiration from his mother-in -law. He died in Paris in 1893.
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Why was Ranjit Singh famous?
Ranjit Singh was majorly famous for protecting Punjab ( Northwest ) of India from the invasion of Afghan and from the rule of East Indian company till he died in 1839 .
Who gave Koh-i-Noor to Ranjit Singh?
The earliest record of Kohinoor tells us that Humayun first got the Kohinoor from an old lady during the invasion of Agra in 1526 AD. In 1739 AD, Nadir Shah defeated Mohammed Shah and took away the Kohinoor with him to Iran. Later, it came into the possession of Ahmed Shah Durrani and then Shah Shuja who fled from Afghanistan to India with his wife. Maharaja Ranjit Singh got the Kohinoor from Shah Suja’s wife for helping her to free his husband Shah Shuja from the prison of Kashmir.