General Bhai Maharaj Singh - Anti British Imperialism Freedom Fighter


Jun 13, 2006
This is really interesting. Apart from the Singhs life, notice what seems to be two karay in the collection. This is important because it dates from the 1850s i.e. way before the Singh Sabha movement and is evidence of Sikhs wearing karay, which some dispute.

Amongst the treasures in the collection of London’s British Library, which include the Magna Carta and the Lindisfarne Gospels, lie a remarkable collection of modest personal effects that tell an extraordinary story from the dying days of Sikh sovereignty in Punjab.These seemingly unassuming objects - two steel bracelets, a miniature dagger, a needle and thread, a conch shell and a seal ring - were the belongings of Bhai Maharaj Singh (d.1856) a spiritual leader and fervent Sikh nationalist. Now carefully preserved, they were confiscated from him on his arrest in the year following the Anglo Sikh wars in 1849.


Bhai Maharaj Singh was an inspiration to thousands of ordinary Punjabis and a thorn in the side of early colonial aspirations in the state. His power and revolutionary activities against the British during the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49) prompted The Times of London to note “It is well known in certain circles that the influence of this man is unbounded amongst the Sikh chieftains and the whole population of the Punjab; and there is little doubt but that he has generally been the prime mover in all the conspiracies and revolts which have lately caused so much of the Punjab expense and led to so much bloodshed.”

Shortly after the Khalsa Army had surrendered to British arms in 1849, the Bhai was ultimately arrested and quickly exiled to Singapore where he died in 1856 after six years spent in solitary confinement. He remains an important figure for the Sikh community there as well as in Punjab.

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