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Foreword To The Book 'The Lahore Darbar' By Radha Sharma
The grandeur and magnificence of the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was unrivalled in the contemporaneous period. The Maharaja was perhaps the only sovereign in history who chose not to sit on a throne. He wore no royal emblem and did not embellish himself with jewels and ornaments. He was the ruler of the masses. In his simplicity he outshined every one else present in his court with distinction. Though without any formal education he fully understood the nuances of etiquettes at the court. The composition of his nobility, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, reflected the perceptiveness of the superior intellect of the Maharaja.
Professor Radha Sharma has underscored various important aspects of the Lahore Darbar with brief biographical sketches of important ministers, generals, nazims and commandants of the Maharaja in this monograph. I congratulate her for accomplishing this task in relatively a short period.
I hope this reading will be useful for all those who have interest in the life and career of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Guru NanakCev University S. P. Singh
Preface To The Book 'The Lahore Darbar' By Radha Sharma
Maharaja Ranjit Singh stands unparalleled as a ruler and statesman in the history of the Punjab. He united diverse elements encompassing all segments of the Punjabi society to create a powerful state of the dimension of an empire. He in his sagacity and astuteness ensured the participation of all in government and administration. This is evident when we reflect upon the composition and organization of the Lahore Darbar. The Maharaja always identified himself with peasants and soldiers. He was simply dressed and never allowed himself to be adorned with any royal emblem or jewellery. In his simplicity he had an aura of natural majesty which threw fine looking, splendidly dressed and richly embellished courtiers into shade.
The evolution of Lahore Darbar in terms of its grandeur, magnificance and composition and organization of courtiers was relative to the acquisition and consolidation of its territories. The most fascinating feature of the Darbar was that majority of its nobles were Panjabis and a large number of them had risen from the ranks of ordinary karkun, soldier or retainer. It goes to the credit of the perceptiveness of the Maharaja that he could distinguish between men with military prowess and administrative ability and utilized their services to the best advantage of the kingdom of Lahore.
The present is an attempt to comprehend and analyse the process of the evolution and composition of the Lahore Darbar. This is divided into two parts. Part one deals with the time and manner of holding the Darbars, court etiquettes, dress code of the courtiers, the official language and the conduct of business, bestowal of the khillats, titles and medals upon the members of nobility; their composition and organization and the munificence and splendour of the court. In part two are given brief biographical sketches of the most notable ministers, governors, generals and commanders of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Being a secular ruler in the real sense of the word, the noblity of the Maharaja comprised of men from all faiths. There were the Sikhs, albeit in large number, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. He appointed them on the basis of the sole criteria of merit and loyalty. He even inducted Europeans into his service. The biographical sketches include the background, character and achievements of the nobles as individuals as well as civil and military administrators of the kingdom of Lahore. Those Sardars, Diwans, Generals and Ministers have been included who held senior positions and were placed high in social hierarchy and the decision making process in political, administrative and military spheres.
The appendix is a long list of civil and military officers who by designation or title were generals, commandants, Sardars and nazims.
It is gratifying to acknowledge the initiative, encouragement and support extended to me by Professor S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar in formulation and execution of this project. I am extremely thankful to him. I am thankful to Dr. H.S. Soch, former Vice-Chancellor for taking initiative in establishing Maharaja Ranjit Singh Chair at the University.
Miss Indu Bala has helped me in the preparation of the Appendix. I am thankful to her. I am also thankful to S. Jagjit Singh Walia, Director, Press and Publications for taking keen interest in the publication of this monograph.
This work would not have been possible without constant help and support of Harish and my daughters, Divya and Sumedha.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Chair Radha Sharma
G.N.D. University, Amritsar. Chairperson
Table Of Contents 'The Lahore Darbar' By Radha Sharma
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