Ranjit Singh: Personal Life
- Ranjit Singh was born in 1780 in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan.
- He honoured men of reputed sanctity and enabled them to practise an enlarged charity. He attributed every success to the favour of God. He styled himself and his people collectively the Khalsa.
- The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his darbar.
- The Sikhs take pride in him for he turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold.
Ranjit Singh: His Rule and Legacy
- At that time, Punjab was ruled by powerful chieftains who had divided the territory into Misls. Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire after he conquered Lahore in 1799.
- He built up a big and powerful empire which extended not only from the Sutlej to Indus but also to trans- Indus regions like Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Gazi Khan.
- Territorial Extent: Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire spread over several states. His empire included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar. The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — Zorawar Singh, a general from Jammu, had conquered Ladakh in Ranjit Singh’s name — in the northeast, Khyber pass in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.
- He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) because he stemmed the tide of Afghan invaders in Lahore, which remained his capital until his death.
- His general Hari Singh Nalwa built the Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the route the foreign rulers took to invade India.
- At the time of his death, he was the only sovereign leader left in India, all others having come under the control of the East India Company in some way or the other.
Ranjit Singh And His Administration
The pivot of the whole structure of government was the Maharaja. However, the civil and military business of the government was arranged into twelve departments.
- Military administration:
- Ranjit Sing combined the strong points of the traditional Khalsa army with western advances in warfare to raise Asia’s most powerful indigenous army of that time.
- He also employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops.
- Ranjit Singh’s army was a match for the one raised by the East India Company. During the Battle of Chillianwala, the second of the Anglo-Sikh wars that followed Ranjit Singh’s death, the British suffered the maximum casualties of officers in their entire history in India.
- Financial administration:
- Originally Ranjit Sing had fixed money assessment for every village, but gradually the system had been subverted.
- According to the sikh system, the government share was half of the gross produce.
- However there was no uniform rate of land revenue for the whole kingdom. Different methods of assessment prevailed in each State.
- Civil administration:
- There were no special officers for the dispensation of civil and criminal justice.
- There was no written law.
- The Maharaja made extensive tours and heard appeals and levied fines in almost all cases.