Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was the only warrior of India whose army waylaid the armies of Ahmed Shah Abdali, the greatest general of Asia, during all his nine invasions of India.
After the Third Battle of Panipat in which Abdali defeated the Marathas when Abdali was returning to Afghanistan with large booty and 2,200 young Hindu women for his harems in Afghanistan, no Maratha, Rajput, or Jat had the audacity to challenge Abdali and liberate the women. But how could this true follower of Guru Gobind Singh not be ready to lay down his life to save the honor of the hapless crying Indian women? With a handful of select warriors, he struck Abdali’s army like lightning and liberated all the women before the enemy could put up any semblance of a fight.
Way back in 1739 too, when the mighty Persian king, Nadir Shah, invaded India and was taking away large booty and thousands of young Hindu women along with him, it was a 21-year old Jassa Singh Ahluwalia who along with his band of soldiers launched a savage attack on Nadir Shah and recovered most of the booty and the captive women.
It’s great that both Abdali and Nadir Shah talked of Sikh courage with awe. They were awestruck when a handful of raw Sikh soldiers with only crude weapons took on thousands of adversary Afghan soldiers equipped with the latest weapons of those times.
Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia is known as Sultan-ul-Qaum (King of the Sikh Nation) a solitary distinction then – is a step, towards reliving the unforgettable historicity of the life of that legendry Sikh General who from an insignificant orphaned child rose to the height where he was enabled to claim the title of Padshah and mint coins in his name; displaying his undisputed regal authority on his triumphant entry into Lahore, Mughal strong-hold, in 1761 leading a legion of the Sikh army and subduing Khwaja Obed Khan.
And the inscription on the coin read: —
This event has been described in the “History of the Sikhs” (1469-1765) by Prof. Teja Singh and Dr. Ganda Singh as under :
The Sikhs followed up the victory with promptness and appealed before the walls of Lahore. The leading citizens opened the gates to the triumphant Sardars who, led by Jassa Singh, entered the capital and proclaimed him king with the title of Sultan-ul-Qaum. He coined money in the name of the Guru with the following inscription:
The Kettle and the sword (symbol of charity and power), victory, and ready patronage have been obtained from Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh.
In fact, this inscription was the replication of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s seal on his Hukam Namah. he issued, dated 1-12th December 1710, addressed to the Sikhs of Jaunpur as under :
One God – Victory to the Presence
“This is the order of Sri Sacha Sahib (the Real Great Master) to the entire Khalsa of Jaunpur. The Guru will protect you. Call upon the Guru’s name. Your lives will be truthful. You are the Khalsa of the great Immortal Lord. On seeing this letter, repair to the presence, wearing five arms. Observe the rules of conduct laid down for the Khalsa. Do not use bhang, tobacco, poppy, wine, or any other intoxicants. Do not eat meat, fish, or onion. Commit no theft or adultery. We have brought about the Golden Age (Satya Yuga). Love one another. This is my wish. He who lives according to the rules of the Khalsa shall be saved by the Guru.
Samvat 1 was Khalsa Samvat commenced by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur after the Khalsa Army’s victory over Sirhind in 1710 A.D. Bhangoo Ratan Singh, in his Pracheen Panth Prakash (pages 203-204), sings of the childhood and life of Jassa Singh and how the exact application of Gurbani, as under, worked in his life.
If Thou, seateth me on the throne, yet I am Thy unwaged servitor. Thou canst even reach a grasscutter to the empyrean glory.
Begging, stilling hunger here and there, he joined the Sarbat Khalsa and became a king.
Ahluwalia Clan & Early Life
Ahluwalia was a Qaum or clan inhabiting the central tracts of Lahore and Kasur in Punjab (now in Pakistan). There lived a Guru’a beloved – a Sikh devoted to the Guru. His name was Dayal Singh. He died leaving his spouse and a son, well endearing each other. She was the daughter and daughter-in-law of Sikh parents who equipped her with needed education. She was well versed in the knowledge of Gurbani and along with her son, would perform Kirtan, mornings and evenings, in Sikh congregations, on her Do-Taara-a two-stringed musical instrument.
The Sikh Sangat listened to her Kirtan in rapt devotion. In fact, it all opened a door of blissful opportunity for her betterment. It so happened one day, Sardar Kapur Singh called the young boy and baptized him with his pious hands. He equally expressed his wish, sensing the young boy to be a promising man, that the boy is given under his care. The mother readily agreed and the boy stayed over with the Khalsa troops.
Sardar Kapur Singh entrusted the lad, now an Amritdhari Sikh, with the duty Of feeding the army steeds. Being of tender age and a bit nervous, he came one day to Nawab Kapur Singh, sobbing and complaining that due to the misbehavior of the elderly co-workers he was unable to do justice to his job. Nawab Kapur Singh in his compassionate mood patted the lad on his head and uttered:
Ham Tau Keeno Panth Nabaabay
Terayo Karoug Patshahi Taabay
Khalsa panth hath made me a Nawab. They shall make thee ride a Royalty.
Uesi Waqat Lay Bheyo Nihaal
Shaha Kahaaeyo Jassa Kalaal
Thenceforward, he became felicitous Jassa Kalal became to be called a King.
This rare event of the life of an orphaned boy. is portrayed in “A Short History of the Sikhs“, pages 122-123, as under:
“It was considered very meritorious to receive Baptism Pahul — at his (Nawab Kapur Singh) hands. Any word falling casually from his lips was taken up with reverence due to a superior being. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia once brought a complaint to him that the Sikhs in his camp ridiculed his manner of speech. Having spent his earlier days in Delhi, he had acquired the habit of mixing Urdu words with his Punjabi The Sikhs ragged him for this and called “Ham ko tum ko”. Kapur Singh tried to console with the words. Why would you mind what the Khalsa say? They got me Nawabship and might make you a Padshah.
This incident shows how the Sikhs’ imagination was running on sovereignty and whatever they might do and say, the thought of making themselves rulers was not far from their minds.
Here young Jassa Singh’s service on horse-tending has not been described but there is an oblique indication of his stay at Delhi before he joined the Khalsa troops. Elsewhere it has been narrated that Jassa Singh and his mother were in Delhi. They had been enjoying the patronage of Mata Sundriji for over five years and it was only with Mataji’s recommendation that they came to the care of Nawab Kapur Singh.
Opinions of Popular Historians about Sardar Jassa Singh
Narang and Hari Ram Gupta in their “History of the Punjab” (1469-1877) relate that Jassa Singh was born in 1718, His father was Badar Singh ( Badar-Arabic — full moon) was born Bhangoo gives his name, as earlier stated as Dayal Singh. He came under the fatherly care of Nawab Kapur Singh. He was the founder of Ahluwalia Misl.
Accordingly when Sarbat Khalsa met on Baisakhi March 29th, 1748 at Amritsar, he, in that great assembly placed Jassa Singh in supreme command of the Sikh Forces i.e. Dal Khalsa.
Dr. H.R. Gupta and Prof. Narang in their History of Punjab (1469-1857)”, page, 249, say:
“Up to 1784, Zakriya Khan, the Governor of Lahore, followed the policy of Relentless persecution against the Sikhs. But in that year, he tried to win over the Sikhs in a peaceful manner. It was about this time that Jassa Singh was taken into the service of the Lahore Government. For his bravery and courage, he was awarded rich Jagir of five villages. Later on, when Adeena Beg wanted to enlist Sikh troops, Jassa Singh joined Adeena Bog’s service, most probably to have a thorough knowledge of the designs of the Muslims against the Sikhs”.
The Ramgarhia General, thus, was not expelled from Punjab but was away from the main body of the Khalsa forces for reasons of military strategy.
The learned authors further add, “During the siege of Ram RauniFort, Amritsar, in four months (October 1748-January 1749) the beseiged (Sikhs) requested Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia for help. Jassa Singh, deserting Adeena Beg Khan, entered the Fort one night. That act of his strengthened the beseiged. Jassa Singh then sent a message to Dewan Kaura Mal, a believer in the religion of Guru Nanak. Kaura Mal persuaded Mir Manu to raise the siege”.
“Thus, Jassa Singh saved the Sikhs at one of the most critical junctures and, consequently, Sikhs handed him the fort of Ram Rauni in reward of his services. It was rebuilt and renamed Raragarh by him, and the Misl took the name from that Fort.”
According to Sir Lepal Griffins, Kapur Singh was, as long he lived, the first of Sikh Sardars, though Jassa Singh has obtained more than lion’s share of the fame. When Kapur Singh was dying, he made over to Jassa Singh the steel mace of the last Guru – Guru Gobind Singh, thus appointing him as it were to his influence which Jassa Singh by his ability and courage considerably increased. This mace is said to be kept in Tosha Khana, safe custody, of Kapurthala.
Defeat, Recovery, and Death
Jassa Singh suffered a heavy defeat at Kup – Wadda Ghallughara (Grand Holocaust) in 1762, during Ahmad Shah Abdali’s invasion of Punjab. He recovered rapidly. In the following year he, along with other Sardars, attacked Sirhind, defeated and killed its governor, Zain Khan. The number of Sikhs, men, women, and children killed, leave apart maimed, is still the point of indecision with our Sikh or non-Sikh historians. Some say 10,000 and some go to the figure of 30,000.
Jassa Singh died in 1783 in Amritsar where a monument in his memory still stands in the Dehra Baba Atal beside the samadhi of Nawab Kapur Singh. He was a tolerant ruler, yet did not permit the Muslims to kill cows. Twice he made expeditions to punish cow-killers; once at Kasur and once at Lahore.
Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had no son and his cousin, Bhag Singh, succeeded him. On the latter’s death, his son, Fateh Singh occupied the throne and made friendship with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and in token thereof they exchanged turbans. On Fateh Singh’s death in 1837, his son, Nihal Singh, succeeded him. The descendants of Nihal Singh ruled Kapurthala for over a century till it was integrated with other Sikh states to form PEPSU in 1948.
King of Khalsa - Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia is known as Sultan-ul-Qaum (king of the Sikh Nation) a solitary distinction then - is a step, towards reliving the unforgettable historicity of the life of that legendry Sikh General who from an insignificant orphaned child rose to the height where he was enabled to claim the title of Padshah and mint coins in his name.