History of Punjab:  Legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Death of Ranjit Singh The Maharaja was endowed with a vigorous and powerful frame, capable of enduring the toil and hardship to which his aspirations and his genious as a conqueror and leader of men necessarily exposed him. The Maharaja was afflicted with paralysis in 1834, and so severe was the attack that he never afterwards perfectly regained the power of speech. He partially recovered under European treatment, but fell seriously ill again. During one of his rallying intervals, the Maharaja conveyed a meeting and formally invested Kharak Singh, his eldest son, with ruling powers. When the last moments of the Maharaja arrived, thousands of rupees were distributed to the poor. The great Maharaja died on June 27th, 1839.

Character of Ranjit Singh
Character of Ranjit Singh


Character of Ranjit Singh As pointed out, Ranjit Singh had received no education; nevertheless he entertained great respect for learning and learned men. He conversed in Punjabi with his own people, but spoke in Hindostani with his European visitors. He possessed a long flowing white beard, and generally sat cross-legged on his chair. He possessed a lively imagination, was remarkably active and vigorous, and an excellent hourseman and sportsman, well skilled in military feats. Ranjit Singh remouled the political condition of the Sikhs, and consolidated numerous dismembered petty states into a kingdom.


Throne of Ranjit Singh

Throne of Ranjit Singh

Reign of Ranjit Singh Popularly known as the Lion of Panjab, Ranjit Singh was not only the greatest man of his time in Panjab but was also among the few leading figures of the history of that period. His reign was marked by benevolent rule, all round development, secular values and patriotic fervour. Ranjit Singh was much ahead of his times in almost every sphere-army organisation, civil administration, foreign policy and, above all, the treatment of his subjects belonging to diverse faiths and cultures. Rising from the position of head of one of the twelve confederacies in Panjab, he became the first Indian ruler who stemmed the tide of continuous invasions from the North-west and succeeded in carrying his flag into the homeland of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali - the Afghan invaders and plunderers of the affluent Hindustan.


Respect for Other Religions Though a devout Sikh himself, the Maharaja had the same reverence for the religious beliefs of other faiths. Soon after becoming the ruler of Lahore, the first act of the Maharaja was to offer prayer at the Badshahi Masjid adjacent to the Lahore Fort. The Maharaja gave liberal grants to the shrines of Jawala Mukhi in Kangra, Jagannath Puri, Benaras, Haridwar, Dargah of Mian Mir in Lahore and the birthplace of Baba Farid in Pak Pattan.


Secular Punjabi Nationalism Ranjit Singh vas able to rise above the communal prejudices of his times and treated all his subjects on equal footing. Competent persons from all faiths - Sikh, Hindu, Muslim - occupied high positions in the court of the Maharaja. That the Maharaja was able to create a sense of Panjabi nationalism is evident from the fact that when, after his death, the British compelled the Lahore Durbar to take up arms, all communities-Hindu, Muslim and Sikh-fought shoulder to shoulder and ungrudgingly mingled their blood in a vain attempt to save the first Panjabi sovereign state established by Ranjit Singh. The Maharaja was able to do what no other Indian ruler had done before by making Panjabis realise that being a Panjabi was more important than being Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. He was the founding father of Panjabiyat-his army and administration fully represented all the three communities.

Lion of Punjab
Lion of Punjab