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Strategies Adopted By Nawab Kapur Singh

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Strategies Adopted By Nawab Kapur Singh

dalvindersingh grewal

Jan 3, 2010
Strategies adopted by Nawab Kapur Singh in Maintaining Identity of Sikhs against the Ruthless Rulers in Most Turbulent Times
Dr. Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Sardar Kapur Singh (1697-1753/1764) is considered one of the most revered, pivotal and legendary figures in Sikh history post-1716. Under his leadership decisions and bravery, the Sikh community went through some of the darkest periods of its history, from 1716-1764. The founding father of the Sikh Confederacy and Sikh Empire, he was also the founder of the Khalsa Dal and originator of the misls system. Misl system is a system of small groups to fight independently and to establish small confederacies on their own under the overall patronage of the Khalsa Da or da Khalsa. These small confederacies later helped the formation of Sikh Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After Banda Singh Bahadur Sardar Kapur Singh dominated the Punjab scene, laid the foundations of the Sikh Empire and helped the eventual over-through of the vicious Mughal Empire.

The period of repression of Sikhs started with the martyrdom in 1716 in Delhi of Baba Banda Sigh Bahadur, his son and seven hundred devoted Sikhs. In addition, thousands of Sikhs were captured on the route to Delhi and beheaded along the march to Delhi. A reign of terror was unleashed on the Sikhs thereafter by the rulers, where young men, women, and children were put to sword ruthlessly at Lahore and other places in Northern India. Sikhs were, however, not deterred by this tyranny as this only stimulated the Sikhs' will to survive and they chose to stand and fight against this tyranny of the oppressor. This fight against the oppressors was planned and steered by Sardar Kapur Singh.

After the martyrdom of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, the Sikhs were left without a commonly acknowledged leader and the Mughals were hell-bent to eliminate Sikhs. There was a strong need of a person who could bind them together, save their identity and pull them through the turmoil and turbulence of the period. It was Kapur Singh then who by Providence was chosen the leader of the Sikhs through a collective decision (gurmata). He was even honored by the Mughal Government with the title of Nawab and endowed with a Jagir of 1 Lakh in order to maintain peace with the Mughals. During this period, the stellar role played by Nawab Kapur Singh as a leader in creating pillars of strength for the Sikhs and their identity in the face of the ruthless enemy is memorable and needs a suitable record. The able leadership of Sardar Kapoor Singh strengthened the Khalsa and provided them with the confidence and the strength to destroy the foreign tyrants and establish self-rule. This paper studies the situation, the characteristic of the ruthless rulers; the plights of the Sikhs under them, the requirements for maintaining their identity and the strategies adopted by Sardar Kapur Singh for maintaining their identity under the then prevailing conditions.

The persons of the period of consequence

Various Mughal Rulers of India in Delhi during his time were Bahadur Shah I (1707 – 1712 AD), Jahandar Shah (1712 –1713), Farrukhsiyar (1713 – 1719), Rafi-ud-Darajat (1719), Shah Jahan II (1719), Muhammad Shah (1719 – 1748) and Ahmad Shah Bahadur (1748 – 1754). Punjab was under the Nawabs of Lahore, Multan, and Sarhind. His own area and major activities were in the area of Nawab Lahore and Multan. The various Nawabs of Lahore and Multan were from the family of Abdus Sammad Khan who was the brother-in-law of Amin-ul-Mullik, a minister in the Mughal Kingdom of Delhi. Abdus Sammed Khan, (-1726 AD) was Nawab of Lahore till 1726 when he was replaced by his son Zakriya Khan (1726 AD to 1752 AD) and was sent as Nawab of Multan since he was considered incapable to stop the activities of the Sikhs. After Zakriya Khan’s death in 1752 his son Yahaya Khan was made the governor of Lahore. Meer Manoo (1747-1752 AD) and Yahya Khan (1752- ). Zakriya Khan was considered strong and capable of handling Sikhs; moreover, he was the son-in Law of Amin-ul-Mullik. Zakriya Khan’s cabinet was headed by Lakhpat Rai who was made the Chief Minister. Since India was frequently invaded from Khurasan (area of Afghanistan and Iran) Lahore fell under the kings of Khurasan (Nadir Shah followed by Ahmed Shah Abdali (Durrani) for a limited duration. The Nawab of Lahore held on to Nawabship by changing his loyalties. Adeena Beg was the Faujdar of Jullunder and Salbat Khan was the Chowki Incharge, Amritsar. Abdus Sammad Khan, Kaura Mal (1751) was appointed the Nawab of Multan. Zakriya Khan, Mir Manoo, Lakhpat Rai, Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali caused most of the atrocities on Sikhs and oppressed them the most. The Sikhs struggled hard to maintain their identity. Adina Beg worked both ways; he attacked the Sikhs occasionally and helped them at times since he understood that he can control the Sikhs by being with them. On the other hand he took occasional fights to show to the Mughals his allegiance as he knew that if he did not do so the Mughals would not want him and throw him out. The local Chaudhris, Jagirdars, Nambardars, Hindalias and other sects against the Sikhs helped the effort of the Mughals to eliminate the Sikhs. The Phoolkian states in Malwa region helped the Sikhs when they were hounded out from Majha and Doab. Baba Alla Singh was the prominent among them who was in good terms with Ahmed Shah Abdali.

After Baba Banda Singh’s martyrdom maintaining of Sikhs were divided in to two groups. The problems between the two groups were sorted out by Bhai Mani Singh. The responsibility of maintaining the identity of Sikh then fell on Sardar Darbara Singh who having played his short time role handed over the responsibility to Nawab Kapoor Singh. (Punjab Kosh entry Nawab Kapoor Singh) After his stellar role Nawab Kapoor Singh handed over the responsibility to Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, the youth trained by Nawab Kapoor Singh himself. Bhai Mani Singh maintained the sanctum sanctorum at Amritsar and provided the religious guidance while Mata Sundri ji kept a hawk eye on the development of Sikhs from Delhi. When the two Dals (Buddha Dal and Taruna Dal) were created followed by 5 Misls, the individual in-charges did their best to sincerely adhere to the edicts issued by Nawab Kapoor Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in their respective times.

Places of Importance

Sri Amritsar, Lahore, Jullundur, Lakhi Jungle, Chhamb of Kahnuwan, areas of Kup-Rahida to Kutba Bahmania and the banks of Ravi and Sutlej and the adjoining hills were the places of consequence for the period where most of the campaigns against the Sikhs took place.

Sri Amritsar was the central place of meeting of the Sikhs. They held Baisakhi and Diwali fairs at Sri Harmandir Sahib under the patronage of Bhai Mani singh and had bath in Ramdas Sarovar. They also held their congregations where they discussed the situation in a free and frank manner and passed Gurmata for carrying out further actions. Some Mullahs of the Mughal Kingdom spread rumours that: once the Sikhs have bath in Ramdas Sarovar, they become immortal and invincible hence they must be stopped to have a dip in the sarovar in case they are to be defeated. The Nawabs of Lahore and later Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah took special care to ensure that the sarovar was made unapproachable to Sikhs. It was either filled or special security was employed to stop Sikhs from allowing them to reach the sarovar.

The Plight of the Sikhs and the Events of Nawab Kapur Singh’s Time:
The period, starting from the massacre of Banda Singh and seven hundred other Sikhs in Delhi was followed by uncountable atrocities against the Sikhs, including the mass massacres of young men, women and children. After the death of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, the Sikhs were without an accepted and acknowledged common leader and were divided into two groups. This matter of groups was settled with the intervention of Bhai Mani Singh. Zakria Khan the Governor of Punjab Province was bent upon eliminating Sikhs; his chief Minister Lakhpat Rai saw to it that where ever any Sikh was found was put to the sword. The Chaudhris, nambardars and the rich joined to provide information of the Sikhs to the administration. The entry into Harmandir Sahib and having a dip in the sarovar was strictly banned. The fear caused by the administration stopped others to come to the fold of Sikhism. This stopped the propagation of Sikhism too.

George Forster who visited Punjab those days recorded the account of plight of Sikhs after Baba Banda Singh’s martyrdom: “The defeat and death of Bunda effected a total destruction of the power of the Sicques (Sikhs) and ostensibly, an extirpation of their sect. An edict was issued by FurruckSir (Ferrukhseer-1712-1719) directing that every Sique falling into the hands of the officers, should on refusal of embracing the Mahometan (Mohmmedan) faith, be put to the sword. A valuable reward was also given by the emperor for the head of every Sicque and such was the keen spirit that animated the persecution, such was the success of the exertions that the name of the Sicques no longer existed in the Moghul dominion. Those who still adhered to the tenets of Nanock (Guru Nanak) either fled into the mountains at the head of the Punjab, or cut off their heir and exteriorly renounced the profession of their religion. (George Forester. Punjab past and Present April 1991, p.76)

The two Governors in Lahore Abdus Samad (22 February 1713 to 1726) and his son Zakria Khan were the hardened Muslim fundamentalists who practically did everything possible to eliminate or decimate the Sikhs.

The situation of the period is well described by Bhai Mani Singh in his letter from Amritsar on 22 Vaisakh 1768 (1721 AD) to Mata Sundri (Widow of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji acknowledged as the mother of the Sikhs):

Quote “…. The power of the Khalsa in Punjab has been lost. The Sikhs have gone to hills and jungles and settled there. The Mughals rule the roost. Child or young women are not safe. They kill everyone mercilessly. Those who opposed Gurus have also joined them. Hindalias have joined them and they provide information (about Sikhs). Every Sikh has left their villages. Th os supposed to be alert too had run away. I am protected by the God so far but what happens tomorrow is not known. (Shaheed Bilas, 1961, p.96)

Quote: “ …. Des vich Khalse da bal chhoot gaya hai. Singh parbatan babana vich jai base hain. Malechhon ki des me dohi hai. balak Yuva istri slamat nahi. Muchh muchh kar marde han, Guru darohi bi unhan de sang mil gaye hain. Handalie mil kar mukbri karde hain. Sabi chak chhod gaye hain. Mustadi bhaag gaye hain. Sade par abi to akal ki ichha rachha hai kal ki khabar nahi. …..” unquote (Shaheed Bilas, 1961, p.96)

It is said that the Mughals used all the 18 methods of Yasa on Sikhs during this period. Skull removal; skin peeling and bone breaking on conjoint wheels; burying some into earth up to west and then leaving dogs on them to tear them apart; crushing the bodies under the feet of elephants; cutting down each pore of the body; boiling in cauldrons of burning oil or water; killing with prolonged hunger; nailing into heads and taking out the blood and flesh; killing with arrows or with knives; thrashing with heavy iron or wooden hammers; dragging through on concrete etc.

Rattan Singh Bhangu’s Pracheen Panth Parkash (1841 AD), another source close to the period states: ‘Many are killed on wheel and many are hanged. Some are blown off with guns and others are cut by knives and swords. Heads of some are broken with heavy hammers. Some are drowned while others are dragged to death. Many are killed by rifle butts. No one counts; thousands are killed. Some are gathered in line and their heads are cut with swords. Hands and legs of some are cut and eyes of some are taken out. The skin of some is peeled. Whosoever man is seen with heir; child, young or old; no one is left alive’.

‘Kaee charakh kaee phansee mare. Kaee topan laee chhuri katare.

Kaian ke sir mungli kate, Kaee dobe kaee ghaseet su site.

Dekhe katte bandukhan dae mar. Kaun gane jo mare hazaar.

Paat paat kaee pakad bahae, saath teghan ke sees udvae.
Kise haath kise tang katvae. Akh kaddh kisai khal kaddvae.
Kesan vale jo nar hoee. Bal birdh labh chhade n koi’.

(Pracheen Path Parkash, 1841. P.202-203)
Whosoever hides the Sikhs, he shall the lose his life there itself. Those who do not report about Sikhs will also lose their life. Whosoever gives grains to Sikhs, the Muslims will do away with him. ( Pracheen Panth Parkash)
Jo singhan ko kou lukavai. So vahi apni jaan gwavai.
Aae Singh batave naahi. Vae bhi apni jind gavahee.
Jo singhan ko devai naaj. Musalman kare tis kaaj. (Pracheen Path Parkash, 1841. P.202-203)


Besides cruel excesses against the Sikhs, the Mughals and the Afghans made sudden ambushes on Sikhs twice at places where Sikhs had collected in large numbers including armed forces and killed thousands of Sikhs, including women and children. During these attacks they too suffered huge casualties at the hands of the Sikhs. The first such holocaust is named as the ‘small holocaust’ (chhota ghalughara) in which about ten thousand Sikhs including women and children were killed. The other holocaust is named 'big holocaust' (Wadda Ghalughara) in which thirty thousand Sikhs including women and children were killed.

Small Holocaust

Small Holocaust (Chhota Ghalughara) occurred in near 'Kahnuwan' in Distt.Gurdaspur in June 1746. The Sikhs collected for safety in a dense jungle near Kahnuwan, They were surrounded by a large army of the Mughals under Lakhpat Rai . Sikhs put up determined fight, but were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy and scattered with heavy losses. They were chased into hills; around 10.000 died. . The Sikhs also managed to kill thousands of the Mughal Armed forces. "To complete revenge" says Syed Mohammad Latif, another historian of the Punjab, "Lakhpat Rai brought 1000 Sikhs in irons to Lahore, having compelled them to ride on donkeys, bare-backed, paraded them in the bazars. They were, then taken to the horse-market outside Delhi Gate, and beheaded one after another without mercy." So indiscriminate and extensive was the killing that the campaign is known in Sikh history as the "Chhota Ghalughara" or the smaller holocaust. The Sikhs took revenge, soonest killing most of the guilty who participated, supported and were informers of that holocaust. This incident could not shake the confidence of the Sikhs and rather they became more determined and organized in order to wipe out the Mughals.

Large Holocaust

The large holocaust "Wadda Ghalughara" or the greater holocaust followed later. This holocaust took place in 1762 with the combined forces of Mughals and Afghan invaders and Abdali himself took part in it besides the government of Lahore and Sirhind. Abdali came to India in early 1762 and abruptly reached Lahore. He was feeling frustrated because of the Sikhs, who on his every visit attacked his caravan marching away with the looted wealth. His army was demoralized while in Punjab. He had come with hundreds of thousands of his army determined to deal with the Sikhs. He joined the Mughal army along with the Mughal Governors of Lahore and Sirhind. Thus both the Mughals and Afghan forces decided to liquidate the Sikhs once and for all. They chased the Sikhs from one place to another in Punjab. On February 5, 1762 near the village Kutba they encircled the Sikhs who had gathered there in large numbers including women and children. A fierce fight took place between the Sikhs and the combined forces of Mughals and Afghans. This resulted in around thirty thousand casualties including women and children. The Mughals also lost a large number.

Harmandar Sahib blasted

Abdali thereafter went to Amritsar with the armed forces with the intention of blasting Harmandar Sahib and filling the sarovar, as they thought that the Sikhs got their spiritual strength from there. Under Abdali’s supervision Harmandar Sahib was blasted and the sarovar was filled up. Cows which were considered sacred by Hindus, were killed and thrown into the sarovar. Hindu temples were also demolished so as to demoralize both Sikhs and Hindus. Still Hindus like Lakhpat Rai remained in service to the Mughals displaying a lack of conscience and self-esteem.

Retaliation by Sikhs against Abdali on his way back

Abdali with his large caravan of armed forces returned to Kabul from Lahore, having full satisfaction that the Sikhs had been eliminated. But they were astonished, when the Sikhs attacked their caravan near River Chenab near Akhnoor causing severe casualties to the Afghan armed forces and snatching wealth and weapons from them. Then Abdali realized that it was impossible to tackle the Sikhs and he always carried a fear of the Sikhs in his mind.

Brief Life History of Nawab Kapur Singh (1697-1753/1764 AD):

Kapur Singh was born in 1697 AD in Virk Jatt family (Bhagat Singh.1993. p.134) of Faizullapur (Note 1). However, Prem Singh writes that Kapur Singh was the resident of village Kaleke in the Sheikhupura pargana. He asserts that his information is based on the evidence of Baba Assa Singh who belonged to Kapur Singh’s family. After he captured the village of Faizullapur, he was known as Faizallapuria. He founded a little principality known as Faizullapura state which was later named as Singhpura and made this as his residence. This state was then known as Singhpuria state. (Note 2) (Prem Singh. Kapur Singh, p.12). This approach has been taken by Prof Harbans Singh (Harbans Singh, 1993, p.81) also. His father was Chuadhry Dalip Singh. He had a brother named Dan Singh, He was taught the Sikh History at his home and was told of the events of Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur, Mata Gujri and the four Sahibzadas. Guru Gobind Singh also was martyred in 1708 AD. The later event happened when he was about 11 years old and these events were fresh in his memory. Also fresh in his mind were the memories of martyrs of Gurdas Nangal and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur as he was then 18 years old. His formative years were thus in an atmosphere of high religious idealism (Harbans Singh, 1993, p.81).

Struggling through such an environment needed both physical and mental strength. His father put him through rigorous physical exercises including horse riding. His father had very fine horses in his stables, which taught him true service to the animals and also helped gain expertise in riding. Along with this expertise, he practiced on arms. One day he received a sharp thrust on his shoulder while at play. It had nearly proved fatal, but he made an unexpected recovery and survived (Harbans Singh, 1993, p.82).

He became a chastised Sikh along with his father and brother as they all took baptism at a large gathering of Sikhs held at Amritsar in celebration of Diwali in 1721 at the hands of Panj Piaras (The five beloved Ones) with Bhai Mani Singh in the lead. Guru Gobind Singh’s Widow Mata Sundri. assigned the responsibility of Sri Harmandir Sahib to Bhai Mani Singh a pious and learned Sikh where he was then the Head priest of Darbar Sahib. Unable to control the Sikhs and facing the onslaught of the invaders from Khurasan, Governor Lahore Zakria Khan submitted a report to Emperor Shah Mohammad requesting for recognition of Sikhs as a power within Mughal Kingdom.

Kapoor Singh is also said to have been with the companions of Banda Singh in his early life. Because of his intrepidity and bravery some of the Sikhs took him as their sardar. (Gian Singh, Panth Parkash 5th edn, p.907).

He was a tall and stoutly built man and always seemed full of life, dynamism and dash. He possessed sharp intellect, penetrating shrewdness and power of quick grasp. He had learnt the use of weapons as sword, spear, arrow and gun and had become an expert in horse riding from his early days. In his free time he indulged in sham fight, in which once by accident he got a stroke of companion’s sword on his shoulder. He was so seriously wounded that it seemed that he would not survive the wound. But ultimately he recovered from the injury after a long time and resumed his activities (Prem Singh, pp. 19-20). He became a chastised Sikh as he took baptism at a large gathering of Sikhs held at Amritsar in celebration of Diwali in 1721 at the hands of Panj Piaras (The five beloved Ones) with Bhai Mani Singh in the lead. Bhai Mani Singh a pious and learned Sikh, then the Head priest of Darbar Sahib, the responsibility he was assigned by Guru Gobind Singh’s Widow Mata Sundri. Kapur Singh’s father and brother too were baptised on this historic day.

Zakriya Khan succeeded his father, Sammad Khan, to the governorship of the Punjab in 1726 and continued in this office till 1745. From 1726-1732, the young governor spared no pains in inflicting the heaviest penalties on the Sikhs. When Tara Singh of van village was killed in 1726, along with his 26 companions by a contingent of 2200 horsemen sent by Zakriya Khan, the Sikhs all over the central Punjab got stirred up and accepted the challenge of the new governor. They vowed to wreck the vengeance on the government. Kapur Singh, who was very much exercised over the tragedy, came to Amritsar, accompanied by many young men, and joined the jatha of Diwan Darbara Singh. In the following years he distinguished himself as a brave, sagacious and prudent man. He led the Sikhs on many occasions into dangerous situations and his success established him as an able organiser and a successful and competent leader. The Sikhs under Kapur Singh waylaid and looted the revenue money taken from the pargana headquarters to the provincial treasury at Lahore. The state machinery sometimes found itself helpless against the activities of the Sikhs and at times there were serious confrontations between the state contingents and the Sikhs resulting in heavy human losses. (Bhagat Singh, pp.135-136)

Having tired of Sikh depredations governor Lahore Zakria Khan submitted a report to emperor Shah Mohammad requesting for recognition of Sikhs as a power within Mughal Kingdom in 1732. In 1733, the Mughal government at Delhi decided, at the insistence of Zakarya Khan, to revoke all repressive measures issued against the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. The title of Nawab was to be conferred upon their leader, with a jagir consisting of the three parganas of Dipalpur, Kanganwal and Jhabal. In a Sarbat Khalsa, initially reluctant Sikhs accepted the offer on the insistence of Subegh Singh. Kapur Singh’s mentor Darbara Singh proposed Kapoor Singh for the honour who was unanimously elected as the leader and chosen for the title. He was reluctant, but could not deny the unanimous will of the community. As a mark of respect, he placed the robe of honour ('Siropa') sent by the Mughals at the feet of the Panj Piare - amongst whom were Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Buddh Singh (great-great-grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh - before putting it on. The dress included a shawl, a turban, a jewelled plume, a pair of gold bangles, a necklace, a row of pearls, a brocade garment. (Pracheen Panth Parkash)

"The Khalsa Panth then blessed Kapoor Singh (with Nawabi). With Khalsa's grace, he aquired wisdom (to lead the Panth).All the Singhs were given utmost respect by him. He would first consult the Singhs (Panth) before making any decisions. He then increased the selfless seva (of the stables) even further, and has been blessed with utmost humility (after being a Nawab). As he continued the seva in service of the Panth, the further he was blessed with the fruits of Gurmat" (Pracheen Panth Parkash)

Kapoor Singh par panth kirpa karee. Bhalee budh ai tis main paree.

Bahut singhan ko aadar dharai. Bina puchhai gall na karai.

Tehl agai te lari svi. Bahut garibi us man aaee.

Jim jim panthah(i) tehl kamavai. Tim tim singh ji gurmat pavai. (Pracheen Panth Parkash)

Nawab Kapoor Singh knew that period of this agreement is short lived since Zakriya Khan could not be taken at face value. He planned to consolidate the position of Sikhs and to reorganise and reequip and train the Khalsa to meet any impeding challenge. He always entertained high aims and made plans to achieve them. (Bhagat Singh, p.134). The strategies adopted by him to maintain the identity of Sikhs included the following:

Recuperation, Rebuilding and Consolidation

Nawab Kapur Singh was a visionary leader. Taking over the responsibilities, he analysed the situation critically and realised that believing the Mughals would be a mistake. They will maintain peace till they are in trouble but once they get the required strength they would again resort to the repressive measures. He thus planned that he must first recuperate, reequip, train, develop, organise, create safe haven and consolidate the gains. He understood that it will futile to have direct fights since Mughals were in superiority hence preferred guerrilla warfare. For this he trained the Sikhs accordingly. The operations of offensive defence were the most suitable under such circumstances; hence his trained his Dal for that as well. He knew that Mughals were the invaders and the Sikhs and their sympathisers were the real sovereigns. The fret of invasion and sense of sovereignty were inculcated in the general public including his men. Since Sikhism was the binding force against the Islamic fundamentalists, he preached the same among public, He strengthened the pillars of faith. He knew that any fighter’s base is in the public. If the public is not with the fighter no one could stay for long. He planned to expand mass base and general acceptability among the public. With his strength of character he won the hearts of the people and the public started looking towards in hours of need and trouble. He helped the poor and looted and punished the oppressor to feed the poor. He ensured equality and secularism and did not harm anyone on the base of religion but punished on the base of wrong deeds. He did not spare the wrongdoer and punished harshly to teach others a lesson and build confidence in general public.

Superb Leadership and a Great Warrior

Nawab Kapoor Singh proved to be a leader of the masses par excellence at the time when the Sikhs had become leaderless. They had lost many of their warriors, besides which there was an eruption of disputes amongst them. One group, the followers of Banda Singh Bahadur, started calling themselves 'Bandais', while another group called themselves 'Tat Khalsa'. The hidden hand of the Mughals was believed to be behind the dispute, with the 'Bandais' being used by them to create disunity amongst the Sikhs so that they ended up fighting amongst themselves. Fortunately, the dispute was amicably settled amongst the Sikhs with the intervention of Bhai Mani Singh. Bhai Mani Singh who was in-charge of the Harmandar Sahib’s administration had been in close contact with the Tenth Guru and was thus, respected by all. He ably handled the dispute and Tat Khalsa was made the real representative of the Sikhs. Vanquishing the rebel group of Bandais', the Sikhs became united to challenge the Mughal policy of Sikh persecution and genocide. However, there was no commonly accepted leader except Darbara Singh who could be respected by both the groups. He helped gained the Sikhs their strength and faced the Mughals bravely but he too had become quite old. Continuous attacks of the Sikhs worried the Mughal kingdom. Zakaria Khan now wanted to compromise with the Sikhs because he realized that their wrath against his harsh policy of persecution and genocide had not been successful. On the contrary it had made the Sikhs more determined to wipe out the Mughals by taking offensive action against them despite their state of repression for more than a decade.

It was difficult for him to locate an intermediary approach in order to attack the Sikhs as the state was not successful in infiltrating the Sikh ranks. Ultimately he found Subheg Singh, who had contacts with both sides. He sent through Subheg Singh an offer of peace with the Sikhs and promised to treat them with dignity and honour. He apologized for past offences and excesses against Sikhs and gave his word that he would not interfere in their religious affairs in future. As a mark of respect Rs 1 Lakh jagir and honour of Nawab were offered to the Sikhs in March 1733. The Sikhs assembled at Akal Takhat to consider this matter. The offer was first given to Darbara Singh to be the Nawab but he refused it because of his age. He recommended Kapoor Singh’s name, who had now come up as a charismatic leader in recent fights with Mughals. After detailed deliberations, the peace offer was thought fit to be accepted as the Sikhs did not prefer violence and only resorted to the sword if all peaceful means had failed. It was decided unanimously that the status of Nawab be conferred on Kapur Singh, a dedicated Sikh and respected by all.

Kapoor Singh’s apprehension turned true. The entente with the Mughals did not last long. On a flimsy ground of an attack by Taruna Dal in Rajasthan the agreement was recused and the title of Nawab from Kapoor Singh was withdrawn by Zakriya Khan before the harvest of 1735. Zakarya Khan sent a strong force and occupied the Jagir. The Sikhs were driven out of Amritsar into the Bari Doab and then across the Satluj into Malwa by Diwan Lakhpat Rai, Zakarya Khan's minister. They were welcomed by Sardar Ala Singh of the Phulkian Misl of Malwa. During his sojourn in Malwa, Nawab Kapur Singh conquered the territory of Sunam and made it over to Ala Singh. He also attacked Sirhind and defeated the Mughal governor.

Nawab Kapur Singh led the Sikhs back to Majha to celebrate Diwali at Amritsar. He was pursued by Lakhpat Rai's army near Amritsar and forced to turn away. The Taruna Dal promptly came to his help. The combined force fell upon Lakhpat Rai before he could reach Lahore and inflicted a severe defeat. His nephew, Duni Chand, and two important Faujdars, Jamal Khan and Tatar Khan, were killed in the battle.

Zakriya and his minister Lakhpat Rai, again leashed an all-out campaign against the Sikhs setting forth with a large army. The Sikhs were brought to bay in a dense bush near Kahnuwan, in the Gurdaspur District. They put up determined fight, but were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy and scattered with heavy losses. They were chased into hills. More than 7000 died. "To complete revenge" says Syed Mohammad Latif, another historian of the Punjab, "Lakhpat Rai brought 1000 Sikhs in irons to Lahore, having compelled them to ride on donkeys, bare-backed, paraded them in the bazars. They were, then taken to the horse-market outside Delhi Gate, and there beheaded one after another without mercy." So indiscriminate and extensive was the killing that the campaign is known in Sikh history is known as the Chhota Ghalughara or the lesser holocaust. The Wadda Ghalughara or the greater holocaust was to come later as explained earlier

In the summer of 1739, Nadir Shah, the Persian invader, was returning home after plundering Delhi and Punjab. The Dal lay in wait, not far from the route he had taken. When he reached Akhnur, on the Chenab (in the present-day Jammu region), they swooped down upon the rear guard, relieving the invaders of much of their booty. On the third night they made an even fiercer attack and rescued from their hands, thousands of girls who were escorted back to their families. For a long part of his return journey, the Sikhs pursued Nadir Shah in this manner.

Zakarya Khan continued to carry out his policy of repression with redoubled zeal. A pitiless campaign for a manhunt was started. Sikhs heads sold for money and the Mughals offered a prize for each head brought to them. According to the historian, Ratan Singh, "He who informed where a Sikh was received ten rupees, he who killed one received fifty."

To cut off the Sikhs from the main source of their inspiration, the Harmandir at Amritsar was taken possession of and guarded by Mughal troops to prevent them visiting it. Sikhs were then living in exile in the Shiwalik hills, the Lakhi Jungle and in the sandy desert of Rajputana. To assert their right to ablution in the holy tank in Amritsar, they would occasionally send riders, who, in disguise or openly cutting their way through armed guards, would reach the temple, take a dip in the tank and ride back with lightning speed. Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force under Samad Khab to seek out the Sikhs. The force was defeated and their leader, Samad Khan who had been the target of the Sikhs' wrath since he had on June 24, 1734 executed Bhai Mani Singh was killed.

Nawab Kapur Singh now made a plan to capture Zakarya Khan. With a force of 2000 men all of whom were in disguise, he entered Lahore and went on to the Shahi Mosque where, according to intelligence received, the Mughal governor was expected to attend the afternoon prayer. But Zakarya Khan did not visit the mosque. Kapoor Singh was disappointed at the failure of the mission. Throwing off the disguise and shouting their war cry of Sat Sri Akal, the Sikhs marched out of Lahore and vanished into the jungle.

It was Nawab Kapoor Singh who not only subdued the Governors of Punjab but also harassed and looted the invaders Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali from whom even the emperor of India feared and bowed before him allowing him not only the large booty but also the Indian girls as slaves. He not only recovered the wealth from these invaders but also the captured girls whom he sent to their homes with honour. He put fear in the most dreaded. This is the greatest dare and valour not shown by anyone else in the history of this period.

He was great expert at using sword. He killed over 500 of the Mughal Army with his sword. His had numerous cut on his body. (Seetal,1983)

Many Sikh scholars of the Past and present have stated that had it not been for the leadership of Nawab Kapur Singh, that the entire numerous Sikh community of the time would not have survived and would have been completely decimated. Today, significant number of Sikhs commemorates and celebrates his birthday as a sign of respect and as a way to repay a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice. He led the Sikh Nation from 1733-1753, as the new Sikh Jathedar.

Spirit of Selfless Service and Dedication

Kapoor Singh accepted to be the Nawab on the condition that he would continue to look after the horses and serve in the Langar (community kitchen) and that it be sanctified by five Sikhs (Panj Pyaras): Such was the spirit of selfless service and dedication demonstrated by Sikh leaders. A sum of five thousand rupees sent in cash and a Jagir of one hundred thousand rupees (one lakh) was given to the Langar. The Jagir was of the villages of Jhabal area.

Creating and Developing an Organisational Structure

Word was sent around to Sikhs passing their days in distant jungles and deserts that peace had been made with the government and that they could return to their homes. Nawab Kapur Singh undertook the task of consolidating the disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Jathas. They were merged into a single central fighting force (The Dal) divided into two sections - The Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and the Taruna Dal, the army of the young, Sardar Hari Singh Dhillon was elected its leader. The former was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the word of the Gurus and inducting converts into the Khalsa Panth by holding baptismal ceremonies. The Taruna Dal was the more active division and its function was to fight in times of emergencies. Nawab Kapur Singh's personality was the common link between these two wings. He was universally respected for his high character. His word was obeyed willingly and to receive baptism at his hands was counted an act of rare merit. The Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000. To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it into five parts, each with a separate centre. The first batch was led by Baba Deep Singh Shaheed, the second by Karam Singh and Dharam Singh, the third by Kahan singh and Binod Singh of Goindwal, the fourth by Dasaundha Singh of Kot Budha and the fifth by Vir Singh Ranghreta and Jivan Singh Ranghreta. Each batch had its own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state. The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective papers at the Akal Takht by Sultan ul Quam Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. From these documents or misls, the principalities carved out by them came to known as Misls. Seven more groups were formed subsequently and, towards the close of century, there were altogether twelve Sikh Misls ruling the Punjab.

Singhpuria Misl founded by Nawab Kapoor Singh one of these misls. Being a great warrior Nawab Kapur Singh fought many battles to develop this misl. The Battle of Sirhind (1764) was a turning point of Singhpuria Misl. After the fall of Sirhind a considerable portion of present-day Rupnagar District came under the Singhpuria Misl. These areas included Manauli, Ghanuli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machli, Bhareli, Bunga and Bela. By 1769, the Singpuria Misl had the following territories in its possession:- Some parts of the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur in Doaba, Kharparkheri and Singhpura in Bari-Doab and Abhar, Adampur, Chhat, Banoor, Manauli Ghanauli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machhli Bhareli, Banga, Bela, Attal Garh and some other places in the province of Sirhind.

Kapur Singh sent the word round to the Sikhs passing their days in distant jungles and deserts that peace had been made with the government and that they could return to their homes. Nawab Kapur Singh undertook the task of consolidating the disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Jathas (groups). organized themselves in two groups in 1734 – one contained elder Sikhs, called Buddha Dal and the other younger ones, called Taruna Dal. Since there was no confrontation with the Mughals for some time Nawab Kapoor Singh planned to consolidate Sikhs’ position and develop the organisation further. Nawab Kapur Singh became the leaders of Buddha Dal. Under its leader, Hari Singh, the Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000. To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it further into five parts, each with a separate centre. Taruna Dal was divided in five sections called Misls.

i) Jatha Shahindan: headed by Jathedar Jit Singh Shahid.

ii) Jatha Amritsarian: headed by Jathedar Karam Singh and Dharam Singh.

iii) Jatha Kahan Singh: headed by Jathedar Kahan Singh, Miri Singh and Bhag


iv) Jatha Dallewalia: headed by Jathedar Dasaundha Singh.

v) Jatha Rangreta: headed by Jathedar Bir Singh and Jeev Singh

To provide identity to each batch they were allowed their own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state. The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective papers at the Akal Takhat by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. From these documents or misls, the principalities carved out by them came to known as Misls. Misls started ruling the Punjab replacing the Mughal rulers in many parts of this region.

In 1735, Zakaria Khan confiscated the Jagir given to the Sikhs and again came in to conflict with them perhaps thinking that they had now become disorganized. He sent the Mughal patrolling Army headed by Mukhlas Khan and Lakhpat Rai to go from one village to the other to curb the Sikhs by committing atrocities in order to demoralize them, before they could organize themselves and thus crush them.

However the Sikhs had already re-organized themselves and they defeated the armed squads of the Mughals, at all the places wherever armed conflicts took place between them. This deceitful planning of the Mughals failed hopelessly.

Zakaria Khan took advice from Mullas and Qazis (Muslim preacher) as to the reasons for the defeats of the Mughals at the hands of the Sikhs. One of them advised him to fill the sarovar of the Harimandar Sahib as it was believed that the Gurus of the Sikhs had left 'Abey Hayat' in it which provided Divine strength to Sikhs and healed their wounds immediately when they bathed in it. Zakaria Khan deputed security forces headed by Muhammad Bakhash and Lakhpat Rai to go to Amritsar to fill-up the tank. However the Sikhs attacked them killing several of them, while the remaining forces ran away to Lahore.

On Diwali day of 1745 the Sikhs collected at Akal Takhat in order to further intensify their struggle. They organized themselves as a consolidated force, called the Dal Khalsa under the leadership of Nawab Kapur Singh. Several Jathas were created headed by Jathedars: Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Naudh Singh Shukarchakia, Jeon Singh Majhabi and several others who had proved themselves as leader in this Sikh struggle and were devoted to the cause of wiping out the Mughals and establishing a Sikh empire. Under Kapoor Singh the Sikhs managed to fight till they established the self-rule under the 12 misls by 1748,

Maintaining Religious Sanctity and Identity

The Buddha Dal under Nawab Kapur Singh took upon the responsibility looking after the holy places, preaching the word of the Gurus and inducting converts into the Khalsa Panth by holding baptismal ceremonies.

Preparation of Eventualities to meet attacks

Kapur Singh was a visionary leader. He saw that the Mughals may not stand on their promise for long, hence entrusted The Taruna Dal to be always ready for retaliation in case of need. It became the more active division and its function was to fight in times of emergencies.

Maintaining a Common Link between the Saint and the Warrior roles

Nawab Kapur Singh's personality was the common link between the Buddha dal and the Truna Dal the two newly formed wings of Dal Khalsa. He was universally respected for his high character. His word was obeyed willingly and to receive baptism at his hands was counted an act of rare merit.

Guerrilla Warfare

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military (Simandan, 2017). Guerrilla warfare is a type of asymmetric warfare: competition between opponents of unequal strength Tomes, Spring 2004). Irregular warfare that aims not simply to defeat an enemy, but to win popular support and political influence, to the enemy's cost.(Simandan, 4 October 2015) Guerrilla strategy aims to magnify the impact of a small, mobile force on a larger, more-cumbersome one.(Martin, 2000). If successful, guerrillas weaken their enemy by attrition, eventually forcing them to withdraw. Tactically, guerrillas usually avoid confrontation with large units and formations of enemy troops, but seek and attack small groups of enemy personnel and resources to gradually deplete the opposing force while minimizing their own losses. The guerrilla prizes mobility, secrecy, and surprise, organizing in small units and taking advantage of terrain that is difficult for larger units to use. For example, Mao Zedong summarized basic guerrilla tactics at the beginning of the Chinese "Second Revolutionary Civil War" as: "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue." (Mao Tse-tung, 1965, p. 124)

The broad strategy underlying successful guerrilla warfare is that of protracted harassment accomplished by extremely subtle, flexible tactics designed to wear down the enemy. The time gained is necessary either to develop sufficient military strength to defeat the enemy forces in orthodox battle (as did Mao in China) or to subject the enemy to internal and external military and political pressures sufficient to cause him to seek peace favourable to the guerrillas (as the Algerian guerrillas did to France, the Angolan and Mozambican guerrillas to Portugal, and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong to the United States). This strategy embodies political, social, economic, and psychological factors to which the military element is often subordinated—without, however, lessening the ultimate importance of the military role.

Since the Sikhs were a continuous threat to the Mughals and never submitted to tyranny of Mughals, the Mughal administration decided to finish the Sikhs once and for all and for this purpose adopted a state policy of persecution and genocide of Sikhs. It was considered to be the right time for this purpose since large numbers of Sikh warriors had been executed at public places in Delhi to demoralize and terrorise the Sikhs and make them leaderless. Prices were put on Sikh heads and it was publicly declared that anybody providing shelter and any sort of help to Sikhs would also suffer similar fate. Sikhs had to go underground in forests and made the saddles of their horses their homes, and thus entering into a new phase of their struggle using guerrilla war force, they vowed never to yield to the tyranny. Since they were in a state of taking on the enemy direct, they had to adopt guerrilla warfare against the Mughals and made their homes on the saddle of their horses in forests and adjoining hilly areas.

Fighting with Two Enemies

Sikhs had to deal with Afghan invaders in addition to the Mughals. The Afghan invaders used to invade India from Afghanistan, where they had a mighty Army. They would go to Delhi, capital of India with their armed forces and after looting Delhi and other state treasury they would go back to Afghanistan. On most of the occasion, they would take women folk as captives in thousands and take them along. No resistance was put by the government and the people of India. On these invasions once the Marathas, the so called militant force of the Hindus known for their bravery in India, came into conflict with the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Abdali, who defeated them at the battle-field of Panipat. Thereafter they took no courage to resist the Afghan invaders. To the Afghan's bad luck, they had to pass through Punjab, the Sikh homeland. Sikhs would loot and snatch their looted wealth, in guerrilla warfare throughout the Punjab territory and liberate the captive women folk from their caravans and restore them with full honour to their homes at the risk of their own lives. These

invaders had to bear humiliation from Sikh warriors as dumb spectators, although each time they would come with more armed strength. The Sikh warriors hiding in the forests, would abruptly come into sight and attack the caravan of Afghan invaders consisting of tens of thousands of armed forces. Despite their strength in numbers, they were unable to chase the Sikh warriors or they did not know the paths in these forests and could not leave the caravan unattended without their full strength. Thus they had to leave their adventurism and the idea to invade and conquer India due to the continuous Sikhs therein. It is due to Sikhs only that these invaders could not enter India when the Sikhs established their sovereign empire in North India up to the boundary of Afghanistan. These Afghans remained in fear of the Sikh threat.

Sikhs attack Nadar Shah

In 1739, Nadar Shah, after conquering Iran and Kabul, came to India with his armed forces and reached Delhi. He looted wealth from Delhi and the State treasury. The Mughal Rulers could not resist him. Nadar Shah came back with the looted wealth along with his caravan of tens of thousands of forces. On the way back, the Sikhs started guerrilla attacks on his caravan from Panipat up to Lahore and snatched back most of his looted wealth. Nadar Shah enquired of Zakaria Khan, the Lahore Governor, as to the identity of the Sikhs. Zakaria Khan told him that these Sikhs roamed about in the forests raising slogans that they would rule over the country one day and faced death lovingly. Also the Mughals could not contain them despite their best efforts. Nadar Shah then remarked that the t these Sikhs would be the rulers one day.

Attacks of Sikhs on Ahmad Shah Abdali

In June 1747, Nadar Shah was murdered by the forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali who became the ruler of Afghanistan. Abdali invaded India in that very year. He went back with the looted wealth in March 1748. Sikhs attacked his caravan when it was crossing Satluj river and snatched most of the looted wealth. Abdali invaded India in 1756 again and looted wealth from Delhi, the state treasury without any resistant. He took thousands of women folk as captives to take along with them to Afghanistan. His caravan was escorted by eighty thousand armed forces, spread over miles and miles. The Sikh warriors started the guerilla attacks on his caravan from Karnal itself snatching the looted wealth and liberating the women folk. The Sikhs chased Abdali's caravan up to River Jhannaa, a distance of several hundred miles with such like attacks. The liberated women were taken back with full honour to their homes.

Abdali invaded India twelve times, though in the last few invasions, he had to go back midway. Every time he looted Delhi and brought wealth and women folk to take along, he had to face the guerilla attacks on his caravan from Sikhs, who would each time snatch the looted wealth from him and liberate the women folk. Abdali was also a man of tough stuff and he continued his invasions between 1747-1768 when he was finally stopped by the Sikhs from entering the Punjab province and then he had to finally give up his idea of looting or conquering India.

Abdali even defiled Harimandar Sahib through the Governor of Lahore, Jahan Khan, in 1757 and again in 1762 himself. With the combined forces of Afghans and Mughals, he committed the Sikh holocaust in which thousands of Sikhs were killed but he was unable to dim the high spirit of the Sikhs. At several places where the Sikhs came in direct armed conflict with the forces of Abdali, invariably the Sikhs won.

In 1763 the Sikhs had taken several armed forces of Abdali captive and they were made to take out the filth they had previously put in the sarovar at Amritsar. The combined forces of Mughals and Afghans could not contain the Sikh struggle and they were wiped out at the hands of the Sikhs. Credit goes to the Sikhs for uprooting both of these tyrant forces who had no regard for basic human rights and values. Several Hindus like Dewan Lakhpat Rai were holding high posts in Mughal government.

Despite the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam, they were instrumental in the Mughals’ design to cause atrocities on Sikhs. In fact the Mughals had surrendered to the Afghan invaders and in 1757 at the time of the fourth invasion when Abdali looted Delhi and the Mughal treasury. The Mughals gave in writing to him that Sirhind, Lahore, Sind and Kashmir would henceforth be under his domain. He left behind his son Taimur as the Governor of these provinces and his General Jahan Khan to be his assistant. It was the Sikhs who challenged them and defeated their forces. The Sikhs entered Lahore in 1758 and caused casualties to Afghan forces. Taimur ran away to Kabul and the Sikhs chased him and his forces uptil the River Chenab. Jahan Khan also left Lahore to run to Afghanistan. The Afghan forces which were caught by the Sikhs were brought to Amritsar and were made to clean the sarovar at Harimandar Sahib which had been defiled by Abdali. No Governor of Abdali could contain Sikh power.

Initially there were four contestant powers with known armed forces in India and Punjab as well—Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and Marahattas—within whom armed conflicts were taking place. Mughals virtually surrendered to Afghans by 1757 while the Marahattas were decisively defeated at the battle of Panipat in 1762 at the hands of the Afghans and did not put forth any substantial resistance thereafter to the Mughals or the Afghans. Thus only the Sikhs and the Afghans remained in the field.

The Sikhs ousted the Afghans from Punjab in a prolonged struggle with various ups and downs and great casualties but did not give up their high spirits at the worst of times. India was saved from the occupation of the Afghans by the Sikhs as they stopped them from entering Punjab which was the only way to enter India. If the Sikhs had surrendered or compromised with the Afghans, then the history and map of India would have been a different one.

Abdali had left Punjab, so the Sikhs could not take revenge on him; instead, the Sikhs punished all those who had been instrumental in the carnage by Abdali in the campaign against the Sikhs. The Sikhs went to Sirhind and attacked the Governor of Sirhind near Patiala, who had joined Abdali in that campaign. In that battle Sikhs defeated the Mughal forces who ran away leaving behind their weapons.

Abdali Defeated by Sikhs

On the occasion of Diwali in 1762, the Sikhs gathered at Amritsar Akal Takhat and Harmandar Sahib and started Kar Sewa to remove the filth from the sarovar. Abdali came back from Kabul with a huge caravan of Armed forces and reached Amritsar with the zeal to finish the Sikhs. The Sikhs fought the battle with Afghans outside Amritsar at Pipli and defeated the Afghan forces. Abdali ran back to Lahore surprised at the heroism of the Sikhs. He returned to Kabul with his army from Lahore. He had hardly crossed river Ravi outside Lahore, when the Sikh warriors attacked his caravan and snatched the wealth which he was taking to Kabul.

Akal Takhat and Harimandar Sahib reconstructed

On the next Diwali of 1763, Sikhs in large numbers collected at Akal Takhat Amritsar as now they feared no danger from Mughals and Afghans. They decided to reconstruct the Akal Takhat and Harimandar Sahib, their holiest of shrines as now there was no force to come in conflict with them as they had silenced both the Mughals and Afghans. On November 17, 1763 the foundation stone of Akal Takhat was laid and the reconstruction of Harimandar Sahib was also started. These constructions were duly completed by Sikhs.

Abdali again in 1764 sent his Army General Jahan Khan with armed forces to watch the situation in Punjab but the Sikhs attacked them at Sialkot. Most of the Afghans were killed in that battle and the remaining ran back, leaving behind their weapons.

To take revenge for this defeat, the killing of his armed forces by the Sikhs, Abdali came to Lahore with a bigger force at the end of 1764. He sent messages to Mughals and other Muslim chiefs to support him whole heartedly. He stayed for two days at Lahore and then along with armed forces went into the interior of Punjab. The Sikh warriors attacked his Lahore camp and took away his entire belongings and weapons. On hearing of this he came back to Lahore. He could not cause any harm to Sikhs this time. Now he tried to approach the Sikhs for peace and offered them the Governorsip of Lahore. The Sikhs outrightly rejected his offer, asserting that they would rule over the entire area with their force and the blessings of their Guru and that they could never compromise with him as he had tried to blot their central religious place, filled the sarovar, besides causing killings of thousands of Sikhs. They

challenged him that they would teach him such a lesson that he would never dare to enter their homeland again. Abdali then returned to his country. The Sikh warriors attacked his caravan as usual near river Jhelum causing severe casualties and snatching his looted wealth.

Abdali kept silence for about four years but again in 1768 he tried his luck by entering Punjab with a larger army. When he crossed the Jehlum River, he got information that Sikh warriors were waiting for him on the other side of the river Chenab. He went back to his country from there. Such was the terror created by Sikh warriors and their excellent heroism that the ruler of Afghanistan who was determined to conquer India and liquidate the Sikhs could not find courage to advance further to face the Sikhs.

Abdali, who had faced such humiliation in front of his army by being ordered to return to their country, again came with a bigger force in that very year to show that he was not demoralized. The Sikh warriors came to know of it and they collected at Rohtang Pass near Afghanistan to receive him. After coming to know of it he returned to his country without proceeding further as he was fearful of facing the Sikhs. It was his last attempt and he never dared to enter Punjab thereafter. In fact he lost his moral strength to order his armed forces again to invade India. There was now no informer to confront the Sikhs. The Mughals had already been demoralized. Thus the Sikhs successfully wiped out both the tyrants–Mughals and Afghans.

In 1726, on Baisakhi day when Sikhs visited Harimandar Sahib at Amritsar, the Governor Abdus Samad Khan sent his armed forces under the command of Mughal General Aslam Khan to attack the Sikhs there. The Mughals also included their supporters from Dera and Har Sahai of Patti, with their armed forces in that battle against Sikhs. Har Sahai was killed at the spot while Aslam Khan and Dera ran away with their forces having been defeated by the Sikhs and suffering heavy casualties despite it being a surprise attack.

Speed in Action and Reaction

The Mughals were much worried about the capability of the Sikhs to reorganise themselves in so short a period to defeat them in conflicts one after the other, Sikhs were always victorious and established their own rule. Particularly so since only six Sikhs, Banda Singh Bahadur and his five companions, managed to organise so powerful a Sikh army as to defeat their mighty army – an army to which almost all local Indian armies submitted.

High Spirits and Sense of Sacrifice

However, every fresh adversity only stimulated their will to survive. Moreover they were fearful of the high spirit, dedication and sense of supreme sacrifice which the Sikhs had demonstrated as most of the Sikhs warriors were nor converted to Islam and rather laughingly faced the tortures and killings to become martyrs. Hence, the Mughals realized the threat the Sikhs posed to them and their rule in the near future.

Maintenance of Sovereignty

The people in general started gathering under Kapoor Singh since they realised that it were the Sikhs who are protecting them and not the government which is fleecing them. They were made to realise that the person ruling them are of the invader class who used certain rich for their own benefit. The masses were being fleeced to fill the coffers of the rich. The invaders like Nair and Abdali were robing Punjab and Delhi to make Khurasan rich and not to do any. welfare for the local people. They thus are usurping on their sovereignty. In this period of stife only Sikhs were the hope who could regain their true sovereignty hence all were needed to join the Sikh in mass campaign against the invader in this war between invaders and the sovereign. Public good is with the Sikhs and not with the invaders.

The Sikhs were so determined to establish their rule by wiping out the Afghan invaders and Mughals that they never accepted any offer for Governorship or Kingdom, as it was their conviction that they would get their empire with the blessings of their Guru, and not from any other person or power whatever it might be.


The rejection by the Sikhs of the many tempting offers if they converted to Islam displayed their devotion to their religion and was thus personally considered by the Mughals as their moral defeat. Several ups and downs came during their struggle as sometimes the Mughal forces would inflict heavy losses on the Sikhs and at times it was the other way around.

The masses living in the villages were sympathetic to their cause and had high esteem for Sikhs warriors.

Offensive Defence

Zakaria Khan, son of Abdus Samad Khan became the Governor of Lahore in 1726 and remained so from 1726-1745 as the representative of Mughal rule and lead the cruel policy of the Mughals against Sikhs. He took a prominent part in their persecution. Sikh warriors were provoked when innocent Sikhs like Bhai Tara Singh of Vaan village, a saintly person, were meaninglessly tortured and martyred. Sikh warriors went on the offensive and started weakening the financial resources of the Mughals by looting the Government treasury. In 1726, a sum of four hundred thousand Rupees was being taken from Multan to Delhi under tight security and, after attacking and killing the Mughal security forces, the Sikhs made off with the loot. They again looted another Mughal treasury when it was being taken to Lahore from Kasur. They also snatched the horses of the Mughals which were being taken to Delhi by Murtaza Khan. Quite often, even Sikh women warriors also attacked and killed several Mughal soldiers, who were found roaming about in search of Sikhs. Zakaria Khan was shaken by this offensive action of the Sikhs, because he thought that they had been eliminated.

Blow hot Blow cold:

In 1745, after the death of Zakaria Khan, his son Yahya Khan succeeded him as Governor of Lahore. He followed in the foot steps of his father and remained in conflict with the Sikhs. During a short period of two years, he was in no position to contain the Sikh struggle. In 1747 Mir Mannu, became the Lahore Governor. He compromised with the Sikhs and gave several villages of Amritsar area as Jagir to the Sikhs and took no offensive step against them. Mir Mannu knew about the bravery and courage of the Sikhs. His plan was to use the Sikh warriors against the Afghan invader, Ahmad Shah Abdali, who was planning to invade India from Afghanistan where he ruled and had a strong army. The Sikhs were obviously against his invasions. In 1751, at the time of the third invasion of Abdali, Mir Mannu's Mughal army fought against Abdali with the support of Sikh warriors. He betrayed the Sikhs and compromised with Abdali, getting the Governorship of Lahore and Multan confirmed. The conflict then started between Mir Mannu and the Sikhs. He used both the forces of Mughals and Afghans against the Sikhs but he was not able to contain the Sikh struggle. He committed uncalled for atrocities against Sikhs. The Sikhs started raising the slogan that "The more Mannu cuts them the more they grow." Mannu was killed in a tortuous manner when his horse dragged him in the fields till he was killed. The Sikhs caught hold of all the guilty persons who helped Mir Mannu against them. The Sikhs killed the Faujdar of Patti, who committed excesses against Sikhs. Sikhs also dealt with the relation of Lakhpat Rai at his village Kalanaur who used to participate in the battles against Sikhs. Now the Sikhs had no fears from the Mughals, rather the Mughals became fearful of the Sikhs.

Unity of Purpose

Sikhs were connected by such a wire that they used to feel the pain of their brethren instantly. (Cunningham) Therefore Zakriya issued orders for the indiscriminate killing of Sikhs in his province so that not a single Sikh should survive. He was not aware that demoralisation was not a part of Sikh psyche and that Sikhs had been taught to always remain in high spirits amidst all adversity. They had in front of them the actual examples of their ancestors and of the Divine Sikh Gurus and of how they challenged the Mughals and defeated their mighty armed forces with excellent heroism.

Unflinching Faith

The Sikhs had unflinching faith in their Guru, who had declared that he would give the Sikhs their own empire and sovereignty (Patshahi) and that they must always remain in high spirits amidst all adversity and remember their God's Name while maintaining a high ethical and moral code. The ordinary people had high regards for Sikh warriors as they thought that those.

Maintaining the Sikh identity:

Kapoor Singh was accepted as the supreme religious leader of the Sikhs. He baptised thousands of Sikhs. He prepared nectar (amrit) in huge cauldron and baptised thousands of Sikhs in one row. Whatever was left he spread it on the bushes saying, “I am spreading the Sikhism of guru Gobind Singh”. (Seetal, p.82-830 To get baptised at his hands was considered as an honour by the Sikhs. Baba Alla Singh, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia,

Sympathy of the General Public

The masses living in the villages were sympathetic to their cause and had high esteem for Sikhs warriors. Sikhs were sacrificing for their sake as well as facing the onslaught of the Mughals. Sikhs were careful not to punish any innocents, even if they were in contact with the Mughals. Such sympathizers of Mughals had also an inner sympathy for the Sikhs due to a sense of justice.

Punishing the Guilty

Momman Khan was the assistant to the Governor and was very tyrannical and enemy of Sikhs. Kapur Singh once called Sikhs and said, “Can some Sikh alone can bring the head of Momman Khan?” Aghad Singh nephew of Bhai Mani Singh went to Lahore and became a servant to Momman Khab. Over a period he severed the head of Momman Singh and kept before Kapoor Singh. Kapoor Singh honoured hi with siropa and embraced him. This happened in 1754. (Seetal, p.80)

After the death of Adina Begh of Jullunder his son Hassan Begh took over and appointed Bishambar Dass as his minister. They caused untold atrocities on Sikhs. Karora Singh severed Bishambar Das’s head and placed before Kapoor Sigh. The enemy scattered and the entire area was distributed among the Sikhs. (Seetal, p.81) Bhai Mani Singh’s Nephew Tharaj Singh severd the head of Sudedar of Sirhind Zain Singh and placed befoere Nwab kapoor Singh… Singhpuria Misl annexed the areas of Abohar, Admpur, Chhat, Banud, Manauli, Ghanauli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Macchli, Bharoli, Banga, banga, Bela Atalgarh etc. (Seetal, p.82)

He would punish the guilty for atrocities against Sikhs by surprise attacks and run away to their hide outs before coming to the notice of the Mughal administration, and thus making it impossible to apprehend them. There was enthusiasm among the Sikhs to join the Sikh warriors to fight for their sovereignty after taking Sikh initiation and observing Sikh code of conduct.Action was also taken against state informers whenever they were able to do so and did not leave any one guilty of crime against them unfinished.

Lakhpat Rai Punished

Sikhs had also punished Lakhpat Rai Diwan, who was the main culprit of Chhota Ghalughara in which ten thousand Sikh were killed including children and women. Sikhs caught hold of Lakhpat Rai and tied him with a rope. His face was blackened and he was paraded in the streets. Then he was shut in a latrine. People used to do their latrine and urine upon him. He was tortured in this manner for six months. Then his death was caused in 1748. Mughal Governor dared not to save his Diwan (minister) from such a punishment by Sikhs. Jaspat Rai, brother of Lakhpat Rai who was also with the Mughals against the Sikhs, had already been killed by the Sikhs when he accompanied the Mughals to fight with the Sikhs. Ultimately in the conflicts with the Mughals the Sikhs were victorious. The Sikhs faced the tyranny of the Mughal Governor of Lahore and the Mughal armies so courageously and with such determination that they wiped them out from the Sikh homeland of Punjab. In the process the Sikhs themselves suffered a lot, which caused two holocausts and numerous battles. Not caring for such losses, the Sikhs took avenge for each of their casualties. The utmost brutalities of the Mughal Governors like Zakaria Khan and Mir Mannu could not demoralize the Sikhs, even when there were prices on their heads and arbitrary executions. The Sikhs even compromised not with the Mughals when efforts were made from the other side. It was always in their minds with conviction that their Guru would grant them success, freedom and sovereignty. So they were true to the Sikh way of life and its code of conduct which infused high spirits in them and motivated them to give supreme sacrifices with

When Bhai Mani Singh and other Sikhs were martyred at Lahore by Zakria Khan the Sikhs were so provoked by this cruel and barbaric act of the Mughal rulers that they killed most of the guilty persons including the informers responsible for this crime. Qazi Abdul Razak who was instrumental in their crime was assassinated by the Sikhs and his village was burnt to ashes and in its place the new village of Akal Garh was setup instead of the old Aligarh. The other Qazi, who announced the punishment, was also killed at his village Mujang Lahore by the Sikhs. The Mughal officer Samad Khan responsible for this merciless killing of Bhai Mani Singh, was caught from his house and dragged by tying him with the horses of the Sikh warriors till he was dead.

The Sikhs did not leave unpunished any guilty person for the crimes committed against them. The Qazi who gave the advice to fill up the sarovar at Harimandar Sahib was caught hold and killed and his house was burnt.

Massa Ranghar, chief of Mandiala who dared to defile Harimandar Sahib in 1940 was punished without much delay. Bhai Mehtab Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh came from Bikaner, in Rajsthan, to award the punishment to him to avenge the insult to their holy shrines. Both of them reached Harimandar Sahib and posed on the pretext of giving revenue to him. They came near him and immediately killed him. They took away his severed head and produced it to their jathedar. All the Sikhs kicked the head of Massa Rangar with their shoes and then burnt it. Such was the wrath of the Sikhs that within a few days of the misconduct of Massa Rangar of defiling their religious shrine he was mercilessly done away with. In 1745 Zakaria Khan died with his desire to eliminate the Sikhs remaining unfulfilled.

Even Subheg Singh, who had mediated between Zakaria Khan and the Sikhs in 1733 at the request of the Mughal Governor, and his son Shahbaj Singh were not spared and were mercilessly killed when they refused to convert to Islam. Zakaria Khan had ordered that those who help the Sikh warriors in one way or the other will be punished like them i.e. will be killed. Even the Sikhs who had no connection with the Sikh warriors were not spared from the indiscriminate killings as the Mughal policy was to totally eliminate all Sikhs. It seems they had the fear that they would sooner or later oust them from power. One Hakikat Rai was married to the daughter of Kishan Singh of Batala and that was sufficient ground for the Mughals to kill him. The Sikh warriors took immediate revenge by killing the Qazi and Faujdar Amin Khan who were responsible for this killing.

In June 1745, Bhai Taru Singh of village Puhla, a devoted Sikh, who used to provide assistance to Sikh warriors who were taking shelter in their hide outs in forests was arrested and martyred after being tortured. It was torture of the worst type; done by separating his skull from his head as he did not allow the executioners to cut his nails. He underwent this horrible brutality with an undisturbed mind, as he continued reciting the gurbani; Name of God, as if nothing was happening to him. It is recorded in history that Zakaria Khan himself witnessed this martyrdom, threatening Taru Singh that his Keshas would be destroyed by the shoe beating on his head. To which Taru Singh replied that Zakaria would get a shoe beating on his own head. When the skull of Taru Singh was being removed, Zakaria Khan suddenly fell ill. He was given a shoe beating on his head with the shoes of Bhai Taru Singh so as to revive him. He died before the death of Bhai Taru Singh. This type of brutalities was commonly suffered by the Sikhs, but none of them despite that agreed to convert his religion but continued to remain in high spirits in all such situations

Death of Nawab Kapoor Singh:

Nawab Kapur Singh requested the community to relieve him of his office, due to his old age, and at his suggestion, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was chosen as the supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa. Kapur Singh died in 1753/1764 at Amritsar.

(Note: Different dates are available of the death of Nawab Kapoor Singh. The year of death is 1753 AD according to Latif (p.223) and Griffin (Punjab Rajaj, p.505). Gupta (Part 1, p.158) gives the evidence from various sources to prove that he declared Jassa Singh Alhuwalia as the King of Lahore in November 1761 AD . He also states that during the Great Holocaust (Wada Ghalughara) Abdali had demolished Harimandir Sahib. To reconstruct it its foundation was laid by Nawab kapoor Singh on 17 Novemeber 1763 AD. These legends were also passed through word of mouth among Sikhs. Giani Gian Singh gives the date of his death as samwat 1817 krami (1761 AD) but stating the battle of Sarhind he mentions that Tharaj Singh cut the head of Zain Khan and placed before Nawab Kapoor Singh. This event took place on 14 January 1764. Kazi Noor Mohammad arrived with Amad Sjah Abdali in December 1764 AD. He does not mention the name of Nawab kapoor Singh in his Jangnama. So it is most likely that Nawab kapoor Singh died in the year 1764 before December. His mausoleum is near Baba Atal in Darbar Sahib complex.)

The great Sikh Warrior was cremated near Baba Atal Rai Gurdwara, near the banks of the Kaulsar Sarovar, at Amritsar. The Samadh existed in 1923, as a Photo was taken of it, by a Gurmukh. But after that the old building of the Samadh disappeared, and now the Samadh of Sultan Al Quam Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Stands their and nothing is written about Nawab Kapur Singh.

He was succeeded by his nephew (Dhan Singh's son), Khushal Singh (see geneology) Khushal Singh succeeded him as the leader of the misl. Sardar Khushal Singh played a significant role in expanding the territories of the Singhpuria Misl on both the banks of the Satluj river. The most important of the possessions of Khushal Singh were Patti, Bhartgarh, Nurpur, Bahrampur and Jalandhar. Khushal Singh also occupied Ludhiana. He had to divide the district of Banur with Patiala. He died in 1795 leaving his misl stronger than ever it was and with territorial possessions far larger than those he had inherited.

Sardar Khusal Singh played a significant role in expanding the territories of the Singhpuria Misl on both the banks of the Satluj River. The most important of the possession of Khushal Singh were Patti, Bhartgarh, Nurpur, Bahrampur and Jalandhar, Khushal Singh also occupied Ludhiana through. He had to divide the district of Banur with Patiala. He died in 1795 leaving the misl structure stronger than ever it was and with territorial possessions and freedom for it people far larger than those he had inherited.

Khusal Singh was succeeded by his son Budh Singh. When Abdali returned home after hininth invasion of India, the Sikhs had occupied more territories in the Punjab. Sheikh Nizam-ud-din was the ruler of Jalandhur at that time. Sardar Budh Singh defeated Nizam-id-din on the battle-field and occupied Jalandhar. He also took possession of Bulandgarh, Behrampur, Nurpur and Haibatpur-Patti. This victory brought him yearly revenue of three lakhs of rupees.

However, Budh Singh could not equal Khushal Singh's talents. The Singhpuria Misl began to decline and ultimately all its possessions on the west of Satluj were annexed by Maharaj Ranjit Singh. On his possessions on the east of the Satluj, however, the British extended their protection to him.

Budh Singh died in 1816, leaving seven sons behind. His eldest son, Amar Singh, retained possession of Bhartgarh and divided the rest of the territories among his six brother as under:-

§ Bhopal Singh was given the estate of Ghanauli.

§ Gopal Singh: Manauli.

§ Lal Singh: Bunga.

§ Gurdyal Singh: Attalgarh.

§ Hardyal Singh: Bela

§ Dyal Singh: Kandhola.

The descendants of these Sardars still live on their respective estates.

Nawab Kapur Singh’s last battle was the battle of Sirhind. After the fall of Sirhind in 1763, a considerable portion of present-day Rupnagar District came under the Singhpuria Misl. These areas included Manauli, Ghanuli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machli, Bhareli, Bunga and Bela. By 1769, the Singpuria Misl had the following territories in its possession:- Some parts of the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur in Doaba, Kharparkheri and Singhpura in Bari-Doab and Abhar, Adampur, Chhat, Banoor, Manauli Ghanauli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machhli Bhareli, Banga, Bela, Attal Garh and some other places in the province of Sirhind.


Nawab kapur Singh was undoubtedly the most distinguished of the Sikh leaders who paved the way for the greatness of the Sikh nation as an independent power, (History of the Punjab, Mohammad Latif, p.323.) Sardar Kapur Singh waa a tall, well built and highly impressive man. He was a fine shot and adapt at the latest contemporary art of fighting. He was sweet tongued and possessed a winning and affable disposition. (Khushwaqat Rai, p.69) People felt enamoured listening him speaking. In the battlefield he was like a brave lion. (Khushwaqat Rai, p.69; Ahmad Shah Butalia, p.45) He enjoyed a great reputation on being the holiest man among the Khalsa (Transformation of Sikhism, p.279, 2nd edition.) He was a brave man. His value and judgement was proverbial. (Gordon: The Sikhs, pp.70-71) He was a fearless, brave and strategist. (History of the Sikhs by W,L, Mcgregor, Vol 1, p.121)

Nawab Kapur Singh is considered one of the major figures in Sikh history, under whose leadership the Sikh community traversed one of the darkest periods of its history. He was the organizer of the Sikh Confederacy and the Dal Khalsa. Nawab Kapur Singh is regarded by Sikhs as a leader and general par excellence. (Wikipedia)


1. Khushwaqat Rai, Twarikh-i-Sikhan, M.S. Dr Ganda Singh, Private Collection, Patiala, p.69; Ahmed Shah Butalia, appendix to Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat-ul-Twareekh, Lahore, 1885, p.17: Bute Shah, Tarikh-i- Punjab, IV (M.S. Dr Ganda DSingh, Private Collection, Patila, p.1.;mAli-ud-din Mufti, Ibartnama, I, (1854, Lahore, 1961, p.207; Kanaihya Lal, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877, p.106; Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Parkash, 1841, Amritsar, 1939, 202-03) .

2. Note 2: Since Chaudhry Dalip Singh was unable to pay the government revenue, all his domestic articles were sold away by the Government officials to make good the amount due from him. He left the place in utter penury. (Bute Shah, op cit., IV, p.1.)


1. Ahmed Shah Butalia, appendix to Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat-ul-Twareekh, Lahore, 1885, p.17.

2. Ahmed Shah Butalia, appendix to Sohan Lal Suri’s Umdat-ul-Twareekh, Lahore, 1885, p.17.

3. Ali-ud-din Mufti, Ibartnama, I, (1854), Lahore, 1961, p.207; 1:

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13. Gian Singh, Twarikh Guru Khalsa, II, Patiala ® 1970

14. Gupta Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, Vol I, 1739-68, Calcutta, 1939.

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Logical Sikh

Sep 22, 2018
Dear Dr. Saab,
Firstly, Thankyou for sharing the information abt the great history of Sikhs.
Secondly, I've heard some missionaries claiming that Mata Sahib Kaur ( Wife of Guru Gobind Singh, as per given in books ) is a fictional character, and guru sahib had only 2 wives. What is your opinion on this ?
Last edited:

dalvindersingh grewal

Jan 3, 2010
Dear Dr. Saab,
Firstly, Thankyou for sharing the information abt the great history of Sikhs.
Secondly, I've heard some missionaries claiming that Mata Sahib Kaur ( Wife of Guru Gobind Singh, as per given in books ) is a fictional character, and guru sahib had only 2 wives. What is your opinion on this ?
The material including letters recorded confirm Mata Sahib Kaur's existence and marriage connection with Sri Guru Gobind Singh

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