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Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Commemorative Volume - Book By Prithipal Singh Kapur & Dharam Singh

Foreword To 'Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Commemorative Volume' By Prithipal Singh Kapur & Dharam Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the bicentenary of whose coronation falls this year, is the name most deeply etched in the psyche of the people of Punjab, especially the Sikhs. They see in him an instrument of providence who realized what had been stressed by the weight of tradition for the past about hundred years-raj karega Khala Ranjit Singh who derived his power of sovereignty from the mystic entity called Khalsa Panth chose the Vaisakhi day of Bikrami 1858 (AD 1801) for his investiture ceremony.

The coronation of Ranjit Singh marks a watershed in the history of Punjab insofar as it put an end to all Afghan and Mughal invasions from beyond Khybar Pass who had mauled and marauded Punjab for centuries. Thereafter only civil servants and soldiers of fortune came to Punjab and that too take service with Ranjit Singh's Sarkar-i-Khalsand .This marked the onset of a new era of peace, progress, amity and prosperity for the Punjab.

The Punjabi University has decided to celebrate the coronation bicentenary of this great son of Punjab in a manner befitting the occasion. We begin the year-long celebrations on the Vaisakhi day of AD 2001. The Bicentenary Commemoration Volume being released on this occasion is our first step in this direction. I am glad that his challenging task of compilation and editing of the volume has been admirably accomplished by Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur and Dr. Dharam Singh, the constraints of time notwithstanding.

I hope the book which seeks to present glimpses of the scholarly work done during the 20th century will surely be of immense use to both the scholars and students of the history of the Punjab.


Editorial Note 'Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Commemorative Volume' By Prithipal Singh Kapur & Dharam Singh

Among those who stalked the land of Punjab as warriors and rulers, Ranjit Singh's name not only fascinates but shines like the pole star. The people of the Punjab have cherished his memory and his legend still lives amidst them. They have refused to believe since his death that the decline of the Sikh Kingdom was inherent in the system of governance that Ranjit Singh had created. On the other hand, they remain ever inclined to believe that the perfidy of the British and the infidelity of the Dogras coupled with avaracious conduct of his collatorals, Sandhanwallias, led to the ignominious liquidation of the Kingdom despite the chivalry of the&nbsp;<em>Khals</em>&nbsp;sepoys form whom the British were unable to get even a formal surrender. The surrender near Rawalpindi by the Attariwala Sardars and a handful of soldiers was merely a sham and the remark, 'Maharaja Ranjit Singh mar gaya'&nbsp;(Today Ranjit Singh has died) made by one of the grey-bearded veterans who happened to be there, conveys enough as to what Ranjit Singh meant to the Sikhs and the Punjabis, as a whole.

Ranjit Singh was much more to the Sikhs and the Punjab than what Shivaji was to the Marathas and Maharashtra. Shivaji was coronated as&nbsp;<em>Shivaji Chhattarpati Gau Brahmin Pritpalika .</em>He presented himself as embodiment of Hindu Rashtra. Ranjit Singh on the other hand chose to remain the humble Singh Sahib, came to be called Sarkar by his people and he even avoided wearing emblems of royalty. He possessed humility of a broad mind, like Lenin and Lincoln. His Sarkar-i-Khalsa was manifestation of the Guru's ideal of&nbsp;<em>Sarbat-da-Bhala</em>(welfare of all). For all of those inhabiting Punjab irrespective of their caste, creed or colour, Ranjit Singh remains a symbol of their glory as well as pride. In fact Ranjit Singh does not belong to a specific era, he belongs to total spectrum of Modern Indian history. That is why the Sikhs and the Punjabis have never missed a date that can recall his memory and bring him alive. His death anniversary is celebrated every year and groups of people visit his&nbsp;<em>samadh (</em>mausoleum) at Lahore. In 1980, the bi-Centenary of the birth of this great son of Punjab saw the universities holding seminars to keep abreast with the multi-layered widening scope of studies on the life and times of Ranjit Singh. This year we are celebrating what can more appropriately be called &nbsp;Ranjit Singh's investiture with the marks of royalty &nbsp;by a popular Sikh religious figure Baba Sahib Singh Bedi who performed the ceremony with all its religious manifestations and sobriety of the occasion sans the pomp and show, but backed by a popular upsurge. From then on, Ranjit Singh strove hard to give Punjab what it had never witnessed earlier. He unified Punjab and sealed the Khyber pass for ever. No marauder invader or adventurer was henceforth to dare maul the land and the people of the Punjab. This gave a sense of elegance to the masses that they had never known before. To the Sikhs especially, it gave a sense of achievement and realisation of the dream <em>Raj Karega Khalsa.&nbsp;</em>We can appreciate the genius of Ranjit Singh only if we care to closely examine the conditions amidst which he rose to sovereignty which he chose to exercise not in his own name but in the name of the great Gurus.
These dimensions of the study of Ranjit Singh have repeatedly impelled the scholars of history to continue to persue both extensive and intensive studies on Ranjit Singh and his times. "The might have beens of history" enveloping Ranjit Singh have remained their special concern. But Ranjit Singh's life of towering achievements has always inspired them to undertake multilayered researches. During the last century, from the pioneering researcher, Sita Ram Kohli to the popular writers like Khushwant Singh and Patwant Singh scores of scholars have presented credible accounts of Ranjit Singh's achievements, daubed with lamentations : "lacking his powerful personality and charisma, incapable of providing inspiring leadership, blind to the betrayals around them and unable to understand the dynamics of the Khalsa, Ranjit Singh's successors mindlessly destroyed a distinctive moment in Sikh history." It is now known, as the archival papers reveals that Ranjit Singh maintained an efficient intelligence network throughout India. He had posted his men at places in nearby Rajasthan to as far as Nellore in the south. He tried to remain in contact with as many 'native' princes as possible, who had chosen to accept the British paramountcy for petty gains and comfortable living at the expense of national pride as also the common man. His aim was to arouse their patriotic sense. The British administration ever remainded scared of such activities on the part of Sarkar-i-khalsa. Their intial aim was to bring forth the weakling successors after Ranjit Singh, encircled by selfish and deceiful courtiers and entice them to accept the paramountcy under a subsidiary-alliance arrangement. But the Sikh sentiment as reflected by the behaviour of the Khalsa army, Cis-Sutlej Sikh chiefs as also their contigents during the two Punjab wars and the Punjabi sense of pride prevented them from pursuing these plans. Punjab did come to them but a very heavy cost, indeed. Ranjit Singh's connections with the Indian Princes and Nepal subsequently helped Maharani Jindan to pursue her struggle against the British. It remains to be seen as yet whether the policies persued by Ranjiit Singh and the valour of the Khalsa army did create such an unrest among the Indian princes that fructified in the form of the uprising of 1857. Perhaps the last word shall never be said. 
The present 'Coronation Bi-centenary Commemorative Volume' has been compiled to give a glimpse of the studies on Ranjit Singh that have been done during the last six decades While laying hand on the material, care has been taken to select such writings as give a fair idea of the advances made in diverse areas of studies on Ranjit Singh or have interpretative bearings.
We are concious of our limitations in the endeavour due to lack of sufficient time at our disposal. But we have tried our best to reach out, as far as possible, to almost all the works that have appeared during this period. We are hopeful that the sudies included  in this volume will provide enough incentive to the budding scholars to delve deep in such areas as diplomacy, heterogenous character of Khalsa Durbar, the conduct of courtiers, and nobility and Khalsa  ethos to make an objective assessment of achievements of Ranjit Singh whose attainments decidely came through decency and civility and not through tyranny or barbarity.

Table Of Contents For 'Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Commemorative Volume' By Prithipal Singh Kapur & Dharam Singh


Acknowledgements (vii)
Contributors (ix)
Foreword                                                                                         -Jasbir  Singh Ahluwalia (xi)
Editorial Note (xiii)
A Meteor on the Sky                                                               -Prithipal Singh Kapur 3
Charhat Singh - Mahan Singh                                             -J.S. Grewal 8
Raj Kaur - Sada Kaur                                                            -Prithipal Singh Kapur 15
Singh Sahib - Maharaja                                                        -Dharam Singh 19
Making of the Sarkar-i-Khalsa                                            -Sita Ram Kohli 27
'To Assert Sikh Power'                                                           -Patwant Singh 53
Gold for the Harimandar                                                       -Kirpal Singh  
                                                                                                   -P.S. Arshi 57
Coinage : Sovereignty to the Guru                                      -Surinder Singh 69
'The Only Genuine Sikh Chief of Ranjit' - Prithipal Singh Kapur 95
The Siege Within                                        -K.C. Khanna 104
A Visionary Ruler                                        -K.K. Khullar 116
Polity of Maharaja Ranjit Singh                                              -Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia 133
Reviving the Urban Centres                                                   -Kirpal Singh 137
Ranjit Singh : The Environmentalist                                     -Surinder Singh 144
Peasantry under Ranjit Singh                                                -Radha Sharma 149
A Forward base in the Tribal Areas                                       -Prithipal Singh Kapur  
                                                                                                     -Surinder Singh 161
Managing the Perfidious Neighbour                                     -Joginder Singh 167
Modernisation Impulses                                                         -Jean Marie Lafont 189
The Lion Departs                                                                     -Avtar Singh Gill 209
An Assessment                                                                        -Iqbal Slah Uddin 231
Ranjit Singh in Indian History                                                -Amrik Singh 234
Understanding Ranjit Singh                                                  -J.S. Grewal 251
Chronology 271
Bibliography on Maharaja Ranjit Singh 273


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