The Sikh Empire (also Sikh Khalsa Raj, Sarkar-i Khalsa or Panjab (Punjab) Empire) was a major power originating in the Indian subcontinent, formed under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established a secular empire based in the Punjab. The empire existed from 1799, when Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, to 1849 and was forged on the foundations of the Khalsa from a collection of autonomous Sikh misls. At its peak in the 19th century, the Empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Mithankot in the south to Kashmir in the north. The religious demography of the Sikh Empire was Muslim (80%), Sikh (10%), Hindu (10%). The population of the empire was 3.5 million in 1831. It was the last major region of the Indian subcontinent to be annexed by the British.
The foundations of the Sikh Empire can be traced to as early as 1707, the year of Aurangzeb's death and the start of the downfall of the Mughal Empire. With the Mughals significantly weakened, the Sikh army, known as the Dal Khalsa, a rearrangement of the Khalsa inaugurated by Guru Gobind Singh, led expeditions against them and the Afghans in the west. This led to a growth of the army which split into different confederacies or semi-independent misls. Each of these component armies controlled different areas and cities. However, in the period from 1762 to 1799, Sikh commanders of the misls appeared to be coming into their own as independent warlords.
The formation of the empire began with the capture of Lahore, by Ranjit Singh, from its Afghan ruler, Zaman Shah Durrani, and the subsequent and progressive expulsion of Afghans from the Punjab, by defeating them in the Afghan-Sikh Wars, and the unification of the separate Sikh misls. Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as Maharaja of the Punjab on 12 April 1801 (to coincide with Vaisakhi), creating a unified political state. Sahib Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak, conducted the coronation. Ranjit Singh rose to power in a very short period, from a leader of a single misl to finally becoming the Maharaja of Punjab. He began to modernise his army, using the latest training as well as weapons and artillery. After the death of Ranjit Singh, the empire was weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. Finally, by 1849 the state was dissolved after the defeat in the Anglo-Sikh wars.
ਸਿੱਖ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ
Anthem: Deg Tegh Fateh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Sikh Empire at its peak in c. 1839
|Nau Nihal Singh|
• 1843 - 1849
|Jind Kaur |
|Jamadar Khushal Singh|
|Dhian Singh Dogra|
|Hira Singh Dogra|
|Jawahar Singh Aulakh|
• 31 January 1846 – 9 March 1846
|Historical era||Early modern period|
• Capture of Lahore by Ranjit Singh
|7 July 1799|
• End of Second Anglo-Sikh War
|29 March 1849|
|Currency||Nanak Shahi Rupee|
|Today part of|
The Sikh religion began around the time of the conquest of Northern India by Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire. His conquering grandson, Akbar the Great, supported religious freedom and after visiting the langar of Guru Amar Das got a favourable impression of Sikhism. As a result of his visit he donated land to the langar and the Mughals did not have any conflict with Sikh gurus until his death in 1605. His successor Jahangir, however, saw the Sikhs as a political threat. He ordered Guru Arjun Dev, who had been arrested for supporting the rebellious Khusrau Mirza, to change the passage about Islam in the Adi Granth. When the Guru refused, Jahangir ordered him to be put to death by torture. Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom led to the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, declaring Sikh sovereignty in the creation of the Akal Takht and the establishment of a fort to defend Amritsar. Jahangir attempted to assert authority over the Sikhs by jailing Guru Hargobind at Gwalior, but released him after a number of years when he no longer felt threatened. The Sikh community did not have any further issues with the Mughal empire until the death of Jahangir in 1627. The succeeding son of Jahangir, Shah Jahan, took offence at Guru Hargobind's "sovereignty" and after a series of assaults on Amritsar forced the Sikhs to retreat to the Sivalik Hills.
The next guru, Guru Har Rai, maintained the guruship in these hills by defeating local attempts to seize Sikh land and playing a neutral role in the power struggle between two of the sons of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh, for control of the Mughal Empire. The ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, moved the Sikh community to Anandpur and travelled extensively to visit and preach in defiance of Aurangzeb, who attempted to install Ram Rai as new guru. Guru Tegh Bahadur aided Kashmiri Pandits in avoiding conversion to Islam and was arrested by Aurangzeb. When offered a choice between conversion to Islam and death, he chose to die rather than compromise his principles and was executed.
Guru Gobind Singh assumed the guruship in 1675 and to avoid battles with Sivalik Hill rajas moved the guruship to Paunta. There he built a large fort to protect the city and garrisoned an army to protect it. The growing power of the Sikh community alarmed the Sivalik Hill rajas who attempted to attack the city but Guru Gobind Singh's forces routed them at the Battle of Bhangani. He moved on to Anandpur and established the Khalsa, a collective army of baptised Sikhs, on 30 March 1699. The establishment of the Khalsa united the Sikh community against various Mughal-backed claimants to the guruship. In 1701, a combined army of the Sivalik Hill rajas and the Mughals under Wazir Khan attacked Anandpur. The Khalsa retreated but regrouped to defeat the Mughals at the Battle of Muktsar. In 1707, Guru Gobind Singh accepted an invitation by Aurangzeb's successor Bahadur Shah I to meet him. The meeting took place at Agra on 23 July 1707.
In August 1708 Guru Gobind Singh visited Nanded, the seat of Mughal Telangana Subah. There he met a Bairāgī recluse, Madho Das, and converted him to Sikhism, giving him a new name, Banda Singh.
Banda Singh Bahadur (1670–1716; also known as Lachman Das, Lachman Dev and Madho Das) met Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded and adopted the Sikh religion. A short time before his death, Guru Gobind Singh ordered him to reconquer Punjab region and gave him a letter that commanded all Sikhs to join him. After two years of gaining supporters, Banda Singh Bahadur initiated an agrarian uprising by breaking up the large estates of Zamindar families and distributing the land to the poor peasants who farmed the land. Banda Singh Bahadur started his rebellion with the defeat of Mughal armies at Samana and Sadhaura and the rebellion culminated in the defeat of Sirhind. During the rebellion, Banda Singh Bahadur made a point of destroying the cities in which Mughals had been cruel to the supporters of Guru Gobind Singh. He executed Wazir Khan in revenge for the deaths of Guru Gobind Singh's sons and Pir Budhu Shah after the Sikh victory at Sirhind. He ruled the territory between the Sutlej river and the Yamuna river, established a capital in the Himalayas at Lohgarh and struck coinage in the names of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. In 1716, his army was defeated by the Mughals after he attempted to defend his fort at Gurdas Nangal. He was captured along with 700 of his men and sent to Delhi, where they were all tortured and executed after refusing to convert to Islam.
The formal start of the Sikh Empire began with the merger of these "Misls" by the time of coronation of Ranjit Singh in 1801, creating a unified political state. All the Misl leaders, who were affiliated with the army, were the nobility with usually long and prestigious family backgrounds in Sikh history. The main geographical footprint of the empire was from the Punjab region to Khyber Pass in the west, to Kashmir in the north, Sindh in the south, and Tibet in the east. The religious demography of the Sikh Empire was Muslim (74%), Sikh (3%), Hindu (23%). The population was 3.5 million, according to Amarinder Singh`s The Last Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Lahore Durbar. In 1799 Ranjit Singh moved the capital to Lahore from Gujranwala, where it had been established in 1763 by his grandfather, Charat Singh.
After Ranjit Singh's death in 1839, the empire was severely weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. This opportunity was used by the British East India Company to launch the Anglo-Sikh Wars.
The Battle of Ferozeshah in 1845 marked many turning points, the British encountered the Punjab Army, opening with a gun-duel in which the Sikhs "had the better of the British artillery". As the British made advances, Europeans in their army were especially targeted, as the Sikhs believed if the army "became demoralised, the backbone of the enemy's position would be broken". The fighting continued throughout the night. The British position "grew graver as the night wore on", and "suffered terrible casualties with every single member of the Governor General's staff either killed or wounded". Nevertheless, the British army took and held Ferozeshah. British General Sir James Hope Grant recorded: "Truly the night was one of gloom and forbidding and perhaps never in the annals of warfare has a British Army on such a large scale been nearer to a defeat which would have involved annihilation."
The reasons for the withdrawal of the Sikhs from Ferozeshah are contentious. Some believe that it was treachery of the non-Sikh high command of their own army which led to them marching away from a British force in a precarious and battered state. Others believe that a tactical withdrawal was the best policy.
The Sikh empire was finally dissolved at the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849 into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab. Eventually, a Lieutenant Governorship was formed in Lahore as a direct representative of the British Crown.
Jamrud District (Khyber Agency, Pakistan) was the westernmost limit of the Sikh Empire. The westward expansion was stopped in the Battle of Jamrud, in which the Afghans managed to kill the prominent Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa in an offensive, though the Sikhs successfully held their position at their Jamrud fort. Ranjit Singh sent his General Sirdar Bahadur Gulab Singh Powind thereafter as reinforcement and he crushed the Pashtun rebellion harshly. In 1838, Ranjit Singh with his troops marched into Kabul to take part in the victory parade along with the British after restoring Shah Shoja to the Afghan throne at Kabul.
The Sikh Empire was idiosyncratic in that it allowed men from religions other than their own to rise to commanding positions of authority.
A ban on cow slaughter, which can be related to Hindu sentiments, was universally imposed in the Sarkar Khalsaji. Ranjit Singh also donated huge amounts of gold for the construction of Hindu temples not only in his state, but also in the areas which were under the control of the Marathas, with whom Sikhs had a cordial relation.
The Sikhs attempted not to offend the prejudices of Muslims, noted Baron von Hügel, the Austrian botanist and explorer, yet the Sikhs were described as harsh. In this regard, Masson's explanation is perhaps the most pertinent: "Though compared to the Afghans, the Sikhs were mild and exerted a protecting influence, yet no advantages could compensate to their Mohammedan subjects, the idea of subjection to infidels, and the prohibition to slay kine, and to repeat the azan, or 'summons to prayer'."
| Sikh Empire
East India Company
|1||Maharaja Ranjit Singh||13 November 1780||27 June 1839||12 April 1801||27 June 1839||38 years, 76 days||The first Sikh Ruler||Died in office|
|2||Maharaja Kharak Singh||22 February 1801||5 November 1840||27 June 1839||8 October 1839||103 days||Son of Ranjit Singh|
|3||Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh||11 February 1820||6 November 1840||8 October 1839||6 November 1840||1 year, 29 days||Son of Kharak Singh||Assassinated|
|4||Maharani Chand Kaur||1802||11 June 1842||6 November 1840||18 January 1841||73 days||Wife of Kharak Singh and the only female ruler of Sikh Empire||Sacked|
|5||Maharaja Sher Singh||4 December 1807||15 September 1843||18 January 1841||15 September 1843||2 years, 240 days||Son of Ranjit Singh||Assassinated|
|6||Maharaja Duleep Singh||6 September 1838||22 October 1893||15 September 1843||29 March 1849||5 years, 195 days||Son of Ranjit Singh||Sacked|
|-||Maharani Jind Kaur
|1817||1 August 1863||15 September 1843||29 March 1849||5 years, 195 days||Wife of Ranjit Singh.||Sacked|
We see such acquaintance clearly within the Sikh court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, for example, the principal language of which was Persian.
This article details events occurring in the year 1839 in India. Major events include the reduction of the Khanate of Kalat to a subsidiary ally of the British, and the capture of Aden in Yemen by the East India Company, creating an important stopover for voyages between Europe and India.Afghan–Sikh Wars
The Afghan–Sikh wars were a series of wars between the Afghan Pashtuns Durrani Empire, and the Sikh Empire. The conflict had its origins stemming from the days of the Dal Khalsa.Anglo-Sikh wars
The Anglo-Sikh wars were a series of 1840s conflicts between the British East India Trading Company and the Sikh Empire.
There were two Anglo–Sikh wars:
The First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46)
The Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–49)Balbhadra Kunwar
Balbhadra Kunwar (30 January 1789 – 13 March 1823) is a National Hero of Nepal. He is famous for his service in the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–1816).Battle of Attock
The Battle of Attock (also known as the Battle of Chuch or the Battle of Haidru) took place on 13 July 1813 between the Sikh Empire and the Durrani Empire. The battle was the first significant Sikh victory over the Durranis.Battle of Jamrud
The Battle of Jamrud was fought between the Emirate of Afghanistan and the Sikh Empire on 30 April 1837. The Sikhs were building up towards crossing the Khyber pass in order to invade Jalalabad. This led Afghan forces to confront the Sikh forces at Jamrud. The death of Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa limited the Khyber pass as the western extent of the Sikh Empire. By the time Sikh reinforcements had arrived,The garrison army was able to hold the Afghans. After the battle, Amir Dost Muhammad took up the title of "Commander of the Faithful."Battle of Multan
The Battle of Multan was a battle between a Vizier of the Durrani Empire and the Sikh Empire that started in March 1818 and ended on 2 June 1818.Battle of Shopian
The Battle of Shopian took place on 3 July 1819 between an expeditionary force from the Sikh Empire and Jabbar Khan, the governor of the Durrani Empire province of Kashmir. It was the decisive battle in the 1819 Kashmir expeditionDuleep Singh
His Highness Maharaja Sir Duleep Singh, G.C.S.I. (6 September 1838 – 22 October 1893), also known as Sir Dalip Singh and later in life nicknamed the Black Prince of Perthshire, was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He was Maharaja Ranjit Singh's youngest son, the only child of Maharani Jind Kaur. After the assassinations of four of his predecessors, he came to power in September 1843, at the age of five. He was later kidnapped by the British Crown, later exiled to Britain at age 15 where he was befriended and much admired by Queen Victoria, who is reported to have written of the Punjabi Maharaja: "Those eyes and those teeth are too beautiful". The Queen was godmother to several of his children.His mother had effectively ruled when he was very young and he managed to meet her again on 16 January 1861 in Calcutta and return with her to the United Kingdom. During the last two years of her life, his mother told the Maharaja about his Sikh heritage and the Empire which once had been his to rule. In June 1861, he was first appointed as a Knight in the Order of the Star of India.Kharak Singh
Maharaja Kharak Singh (22 February 1801 – 5 November 1840), was a Sikh ruler of the Punjab and the Sikh Empire. He succeeded his father Ranjit Singh in June 1839.Majha
The Majha (Punjabi: ਮਾਝਾ (Gurmukhi), ماجھا (Shahmukhi); Mājhā) region is recognized as the region that is located at the center of the historical Punjab region, that is northward from the right banks of river Beas, and extends up to river Jhelum at its northmost. People of the Majha region are given the demonym "Mājhi". The Majhi dialect of Punjabi language is the main language of this region, which is also the standard dialect of the Punjabi language. The most populous city in the area is Lahore on the Pakistani side of the border.
During the partition of India in 1947, the Majha region of Punjab got split into India and Pakistan when the Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab were formed. The Majha region of Indian State of Punjab covers the area between Beas and Ravi rivers, including the area on the north of Sutlej, after the confluence of Beas and Sutlej at Harike in Tarn Taran district, extending up to the Ravi river, which is all part of the Majha region in India. This region contains thirteen districts of the Pakistani province of Punjab and four districts of Indian state of Punjab - Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, and Pathankot.
The people of the Majha region have been historically known to be fierce and stubborn fighters and in lieu of this, the Majha region is called the "Sword Arm of the Country", due to it contributing disproportionately to the Officer as well as Orderly ranks of the Army. The Sikh Empire was founded in the Majha region which is also referred to as "the cradle of the brave Sikhs."Misl
Misl generally refers to the sovereign states of the Sikh Confederacy, that rose during the 18th century in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent after the collapse of the Mughal Empire.
The misls formed a commonwealth that was described by Antoine Polier as an "aristocratic republic". Although the misls were unequal in strength, and each misl attempted to expand its territory and access to resources at the expense of others, they acted in unison in relation to other states. The misls held biannual meetings of their legislature, the Sarbat Khalsa in Amritsar.Punjab, India
Punjab ( (listen)) is a state in northern India. Forming part of the larger Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, the state is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast, Rajasthan to the southwest, and the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west. The state covers an area of 50,362 square kilometres, 1.53% of India's total geographical area. It is the 20th-largest Indian state by area. With 27,704,236 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Punjab is the 16th-largest state by population, comprising 22 districts. Punjabi is the most widely spoken and official language of the state. The main ethnic group are the Punjabis, with Sikhs (58%) forming the demographic majority. The state capital is Chandigarh, a Union Territory and also the capital of the neighbouring state of Haryana. The five rivers from which the region took its name were Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum; Sutlej, Ravi and Beas are part of the Indian Punjab.
The Punjab region was home to the Indus Valley Civilization until 1900 BCE. The Punjab was invaded by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE and was captured by Chandragupta Maurya under Chanakya. The Punjab was home to the Gupta Empire, the empire of the Alchon Huns, the empire of Harsha, and the Mongol Empire. Circa 1000, the Punjab was invaded by Muslims and was part of the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire. Sikhism originated in Punjab and resulted in the formation of the Sikh Confederacy after the fall of the Mughal Empire. The confederacy was united into the Sikh Empire by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The entire Punjab region was annexed by the British East India Company from the Sikh Empire in 1849. In 1947, the Punjab Province of British India was divided along religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab. The western part was assimilated into new country of Pakistan while the east stayed in India. The Indian Punjab as well as PEPSU was divided into three parts on the basis of language in 1966. Haryanvi-speaking areas (a dialect of Hindi) were carved out as Haryana, while the hilly regions and Pahari-speaking areas formed Himachal Pradesh, alongside the current state of Punjab. Punjab's government has three branches – executive, judiciary and legislative. Punjab follows the parliamentary system of government with the Chief Minister as the head of the state.
Punjab is primarily agriculture-based due to the presence of abundant water sources and fertile soils. Other major industries include the manufacturing of scientific instruments, agricultural goods, electrical goods, financial services, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, tourism, fertilisers, bicycles, garments, and the processing of pine oil and sugar. Minerals and energy resources also contribute to Punjab's economy to a much lesser extent. Punjab has the largest number of steel rolling mill plants in India, which are in "Steel Town"—Mandi Gobindgarh in the Fatehgarh Sahib district.Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 –1839) was the leader of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21. His empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership through 1839.Prior to his rise, the Punjab region had numerous warring misls (confederacies), twelve of which were under Sikh rulers and one Muslim. Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire. He repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.Ranjit Singh's reign introduced reforms, modernisation, investment into infrastructure and general prosperity. His Khalsa army and government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Europeans. His legacy includes a period of Sikh cultural and artistic renaissance, including the rebuilding of the Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar as well as other major gurudwaras, including Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar and Hazur Sahib Nanded, Maharashtra under his sponsorship. He was popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab, or "Lion of Punjab".
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was succeeded by his son Maharaja Kharak Singh.Samadhi of Ranjit Singh
The Samadhi of Ranjit Singh (Punjabi: رنجیت سنگھ دی سمادھی; Urdu: رنجیت سنگھ کی سمادھی) is a 19th-century building in Lahore, Pakistan that houses the funerary urns of the Jat Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh (1780 - 1839). It is located adjacent the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, as well the Gurdwara Dera Sahib which marks the spot where the 5th guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, died.Second Anglo-Sikh War
The Second Anglo-Sikh War was a military conflict between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company that took place in 1848 and 1849. It resulted in the fall of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab and what subsequently became the North-West Frontier Province, by the East India Company.
On April 19, 1848 Patrick Vans Agnew of the civil service and Lieutenant William Anderson of the Bombay European regiment, having been sent to take charge of Multan from Diwan Mulraj, were murdered there, and within a short time the Sikh troops and sardars joined in open rebellion. Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie agreed with Sir Hugh Gough, the commander-in-chief, that the British East India Company's military forces were neither adequately equipped with transport and supplies, nor otherwise prepared to take the field immediately. He also foresaw the spread of the rebellion, and the necessity that must arise, not merely for the capture of Multan, but also for the entire subjugation of the Punjab. He therefore resolutely delayed to strike, organized a strong army for operations in November, and himself proceeded to the Punjab. Despite the brilliant successes gained by Herbert Edwardes in the Second Anglo-Sikh War with Mulraj, and Gough's indecisive victories at Ramnagar in November, at Sadulapur in December, and at the Battle of Chillianwala on January 13, 1849, the stubborn resistance at Multan showed that the task required the utmost resources of the government. At length, on January 22, the Multan fortress was taken by General Whish, who was thus set at liberty to join Gough at Gujarat. Here a complete victory was won on the February 21 at the Battle of Gujarat, the Sikh army surrendered at Rawalpindi, and their Afghan allies were chased out of India.
After the victory at Gujarat, Lord Dalhousie annexed the Punjab for the East India Company in 1849. For his services the Earl of Dalhousie received the thanks of the British parliament and a step in the peerage, as marquess.
The Sikh Wars gave the two sides a mutual respect for each other's fighting prowess.Sikh period in Lahore
The Sikh Rule in Lahore initiated from the invasion and rule of the Sikh Misls and extended till the Sikh Empire of Ranjit Singh (also known as Punjab, the Sikh Raj, and Sarkar Khālsā Rāj) which ended in 1849. The Sikhs began gaining power following the decline of the Mughal Empire in Punjab and consisted of a collection of autonomous Punjabi Misls, which were governed by Misldars, mainly in the Punjab region.Takht Sri Patna Sahib
Takht Sri Patna Sahib also known as Harmandir Sahib, is a Gurdwara in the neighbourhood of Patna Sahib, India. It was to commemorate the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs on December 1666. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who also built many other Gurdwaras in the Indian subcontinent. The current shrine of Patna Sahib or Takht Sri Harmandirji Saheb was built in the 1950s.Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, was born in Patna, Bihar, in 1666. He also spent his early years here before moving to Anandpur. Besides being the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, Patna was also honored by visits from Guru Nanak as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur.Treaty of Amritsar (1846)
The Treaty of Amritsar, executed by the British East India Company and Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu after the First Anglo-Sikh War, established the independent princely state of Jammu and Kashmir under the suzerainty of the British Indian Empire.