The Sikh Empire which was present in Punjab was founded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was a courageous person just like his father later made him a very great leader.
He was brave and courageous in whatever he did in his entire life. It is because of this he received the title of “Sher-e-Punjab”. It is known as “The Lion of Punjab” in English.
Life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
It was in the year of 1780 Ranjit Singh was born in Gujranwala on November 13th. At the present time Gujranwala is located in the modern day Pakistan. This modern day Pakistan was earlier known as Sukerchakia Misl. He belonged to a Sikh family.
His parents were Maha Singh and Raj Kaur. Sukerchakia Misl’s Commander was Maha Singh. Ranjit Singh lost his father when he just twelve years old. After that he was brought up only by his mother. When Ranjit Singh was small, he got small pox and he lost one of his eyes because of this disease. He got married at the age of sixteen to Mehtab Kaur in the year 1796. Her parents were Sardar Gurbakash Singh Sandhu and Sada Kaur.
Her father belonged to the Kanhaiya Misl. After the marriage even his mother-in-law also looked after him and showed interest in his life. When Ranjit Singh turned eighteen years old he took the job of his father and became the Commander of Sukerchakia Misl.
After this he planned on to expand his territory. Ranjit Singh married many times to Sikh, Hindu and Muslim women. His wives were Mehtab Kaur, Rani Rattan Kaur, Rani Raj Banso Devi, Rani Raj Kaur, Rani Chand Kaur and many others.
He even had many children. Some of his sons were Kharak Singh, Sher Singh, Duleep Singh, Ishar Singh and Pashuara Singh. But everyone was not considered his biological sons except Duleep Singh and Kharak Singh.
Works of Ranjit Singh and his period of Reign
The greatest work which Ranjit Singh had done founding the Sikh Empire in Punjab in the year 1799. This empire had a big power in the Indian subcontinent at that time. This empire included regions from Khyber pass which was in the west to western Tibet in the east. In the north and south the empire extended from Kashmir to Mithankot.
From the age of eighteen itself Ranjit Singh’s reign started when he became the Commander of Sukerchakia Misl. From that time he planned to increase his territory. He conquered over many misls, Lahore and Punjab as well. He also aimed to unite all the Sikhs which gave him the title of Maharaja.
From such young age he conquered so many areas. In 1802 he took over Amritsar by defeating Bhangi Misl ruler Mai Sukhan. After this he captured Kasur in the year 1807 from Qutb ud-Din. In the year 1809 he helped Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. He defeated the Gurkha forces. After this win Kangra was added to his empire.
In 1813 he joined the Barakzays to move towards Kashmir. But they betrayed him. But still he moved ahead to help Shah Shoja. Then he took over the Attock fort which was located on the river Indus. After this he forced Shoja to leave the Kohinoor diamond he had.
For many years Ranjit Singh kept fighting against the Afghans so that he could throw them out of Punjab. He was successful in capturing Pashtun territory, Peshawar, Multan (1818). This brought an end on the rule of Muslim in the area of Multan. In the year 1819 even Kashmir was annexed by Ranjit Singh. He worked towards removing hatred and discriminations among the various religions.
Even his army included people from different religions. This showed that he respect all the religions. In the year 1820 he took help from European officers so that his army could be trained from modernized methods. After this training the army’s performance improved when they conquered the North-West Frontier.
During the 1930s the British wanted to bring more territories of India under them. In order to do this they made Ranjit Singh as their target. But he was not ready to listen any of the plans which the British made. In the year 1834 even the northern territories came under his power.
In the Battle of Jamrud in the year 1837 the afghan and Sikhs confronted each other. This happened the Sikhs were moving ahead of the Khyber Pass and going towards Jamrud where the Afghans confronted them.
They tried to defeat the Sikhs by taking Peshawar from them but they failed in their attempt. Ranjit conquered so many territories that even the British became afraid of him. So, they did even try to take his territories from him.
Achievements of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
When Ranjit Singh came to power he achieved great success. But this success got confronted from the power of the British as the latter started to increase their authority in Jammu as well. When he got the area of Sukara-chakyias, he got other districts as well.
These districts were Rachna and Chaj Doab. Meanwhile when Afghanistan was busy in the conflict in internal civil for around three decades, he took benefit from this time. He adopted Blood and Iron policy and made his own kingdom in central Punjab.
After this he was asked by the Afghan ruler to take over and rule Lahore on behalf of Suzerain. Ranjit Singh was successful in taking over by defeating Bhangi Misl. After he took over Lahore and started to rule who got the title of Raja.
This made other Commanders come together and form their own union to fight against Ranjit Singh. But this union separated as their leader died because of too much drinking.
Ranjit was able to win Amritsar as well in the year 1805 from Bhangis. As he was ruling both Amritsar and Lahore, he got the political power in Punjab as well. After this his main aim was to unite all the Sikhs. In order to achieve this aim, he planned three expeditions.
At first he moved towards Patiala and was able to take over Ludhiana, Rajkot, Ghungrana, Dhaka and Jagron. The next year he went towards the river Sutlej and solved the problems between the Raja and Rani of Patiala.
After that he conquered Kalasia, Naraingarh, Zira, Kot Kapura, Wadori and many other territories. In the year 1804, Ranjit Singh got the right to the Cis-Sutlej territories according to the treaty of Amritsar. Only the East India Company had the greatest right on these territories.
Ranjit Singh got respect from many areas. As he respected all the religions, his subjects also included people from all the religions. He got respect from the people who did not even belong to his religion. They were very loyal to him. There were no differences among any subject because of their religion.
The subjects got respect for their ability and the work they used to do. They were known because of their work and not because of their religion. They respected each other’s cultures, religion and festivals. All the subjects worked together despite of their different traditions and religions.
He loved all his subjects no matter to which religion they belonged. This could be seen as his subjects were never forced to follow Sikhism. This did not exist when the other Afghan or Muslims rulers were ruling earlier.
Shah Mohammed, a famous Sufi poet from Punjab wrote a poem on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. These lines were: ‘’ Ranjit Singh was a born warrior-king who gave his feel to the country.
He conquered Kashmir, Multan, Peshawar and made Chamba, Kangra and Jammu bow before him. He extended his territories upto Ladakh and China and struck his coin there. O Shah Mohammed! For fifty years he ruled with satisfaction, glory and power’’.
Death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in the year 1839 on June 27. His death took place at Lahore which was in Punjab that time. This region was under the Sikh empire that time. After his death he was cremated and the cremations have been kept in the remembrance of his Samadhi at Lahore, Punjab.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was known to be a just ruler. He gave respect to all religions and that is why there was no hatred and discrimination among the different religions in his Empire.
He played an important role in making changes of Harmandir Sahib. He was known for his courage and bravery. This earned him the title “Sher-e-Punjab”.