Maharaja Ranjit Singh

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Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Birthplace: Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan
Death: Died in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Place of Burial: Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Immediate Family:

Son of Mahan Singh and Raj Kaur
Husband of Daya Kaur; Rattan Kaur; Mahtab Kaur; Rani Jindan; Datar Kaur and 6 others
Father of Kashmira Singh; Peshawara Singh; Multana Singh; Ishar Singh; Tara Singh and 3 others

Occupation: King
Managed by: Gurpreet Pannu
Last Updated:

About Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Ranjit Singh took the title of Maharaja on April 12, 1801 (to coincide with Baisakhi day). Lahore served as his capital from 1799. In 1802 he took the holy city of Amritsar.

The Samadhi of Emperor Ranjit Singh in Lahore, Pakistan

The Samadhi of Emperor Ranjit Singh in Lahore, Pakistan

He then spent the following years fighting the Afghans, driving them out of western Punjab. He also captured Pashtun territory including Peshawar. This was the first time that Pashtuns were ruled by non-Muslims. In a historical perspective, this event was very important. For more than a thousand years invaders had come down from the Khyber pass and ruled eastern lands. Ranjit Singh reversed this trend. When the Sikh empire finally fell to the English, they were able to retain this province. He captured the province of Multan which encompassed the southern parts of Punjab, Peshawar (1818), Jammu and Kashmir (1819) and the hill states north of Anandpur, the largest of which was Kangra.

Singh also hired European mercenaries to train his troops, creating the first modern Indian Army -- the Sikh Khalsa Army, a powerful military force whose presence delayed the eventual British colonization of Punjab. He created a powerful and heavily armed state; at this point, Punjab was the only state not controlled by the British. He brought law and order, yet was reluctant to use the death penalty. He stopped Indian non-secular style practices by treating Hindus and Muslims equally. He banned the discriminatory "jizya" tax on Hindus and Sikhs.

The majority of Ranjit Singh's subjects were Muslim and had an intense loyalty towards him and his Sikhs. This was once highlighted when the foreign minister of the Sikh Empire, a Muslim named Fakir Azizuddin, had a meeting with the British Governor-General. When Lord Auckland asked Fakir Azizuddin which of the Maharaja's eye was missing, he replied: "the Maharaja is like the sun and sun has only one eye. The splendour and luminosity of his single eye is so much that I have never dared to look at his other eye." The Governor General was so pleased with the reply that he gave his golden wrist-watch to the Maharaja's Minister at Simla.

His Empire was effectively secular as it did not discriminate against Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus or even atheists. It was relatively modern and had great respect for all religions and non-religious traditions of the Empire. The only main prominent religious symbols of the empire were the Maharaja and royal family being Sikh (but not Khalsa) and the Army being dominated by Sikh nobles and the Khalsa. The Maharaja never forced Sikhism on his subjects. This was in sharp contrast with the ethnic and religious cleansing of past Mughal rulers. Ranjit Singh had created a state based upon Sikh noble traditions, where everyone worked together, regardless of background, and where citizens were made to look at the things that they shared in common, e.g. being Punjabi, rather than any religious differences.

Ranjit Singh died in 1839.

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Maharaja Ranjit Singh also called "Sher-e-Punjab" ("The Lion of Punjab") was the principle Sikh ruler of the sovereign country of Punjab and the Sikh Empire....

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Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Timeline

November 13, 1780
Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan
Age 15
Batala, Punjab, India
Age 17
February 22, 1801
Age 20
Age 21
December 1807
Age 27
Age 26
Age 32
Age 34
Age 38