From the pages of historical past | Political Economy

From the pages of historical past | Political Economy

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As the saying goes, “behind each profitable man there stands a girl.” Behind Ranjit Singh’s (1780–1839) profitable rise from a chieftain to the maharaja of Punjab stood his mother-in-law, Sada Kaur (1762–1832) — the matriarch of the Kanhaya misl — one of many twelve sovereign clans of the Sikh Confederacy. Owing to her army assist and tactical recommendation (diplomatic abilities, army methods and warfare ways), she is deemed the chief architect of the Punjab empire. Her far-sightedness and bravado, pivotal weapons for the creation and enlargement of the Punjab kingdom, are acknowledged by chroniclers of Sikh historical past. They maintain that it was Kaur’s sound counsel and materials assets that helped Ranjit Singh, a younger chieftain, defeat his rival chiefs, assume the title of maharaja and unite the Punjab.

Sada Kaur was the spouse of Gurbaksh Singh Kanhaiya, the chief of the Kanhaiya misl, who was the archrival of Maha Singh, the chief of the Sukerchakia misl and the daddy of Ranjit Singh. The previous, the one male inheritor of the Kanhaiya misl, was killed by the latter in one of many battles they fought towards one another. Subsequently, Sada Kaur turned the chief of the Kanhaiya misl. To finish this lengthy animosity and unite the 2 highly effective misls, she determined to marry her daughter, Mehtab Kaur, to Ranjit Singh, the son of Maha Singh — the killer of her husband. After Maha Singh’s demise, Ranjit Singh turned the pinnacle of the Sukerchakia misl when he was solely ten years outdated.

At the moment, the Punjab was divided into twelve Sikh misls and two Pathan fiefdoms. The western entrance of the Punjab was threatened by Shah Zaman, who, after gaining the Afghan throne, had vowed to regain the misplaced empire of his grandfather, Ahmad Shah Abdali. Throughout his two earlier invasions he had captured some cities within the western a part of the Punjab from the Sikh chieftains. Nonetheless, he had misplaced these after he had returned to Kabul, the capital of his empire. He was now aiming at marching via the Punjab onto Delhi.

To counter this risk and guard the Punjab’s western border, the Sikh chiefs had a gathering the place a majority was of the opinion that as a substitute of dealing with Shah Zaman’s forces, they need to flee to the mountains until his retreat. Sada Kaur disagreed. She proposed that Shah Zaman’s military be engaged in guerilla warfare. Ranjit Singh seconded his mother-in-law. Their braveness impressed others to observe swimsuit. They marshalled a united military and appointed Ranjit Singh its chief. The Sikh military, beneath his management, compelled Shah Zaman’s Afghan forces to retreat to Kabul, the place his brother had tried to dethrone him.

After securing his throne, Shah Zaman invaded the Punjab a 12 months later. A number of Sikh chieftains once more advocated a flight to the mountains. Nonetheless, Sada Kaur and her son-in-law once more disagreed with them and insisted on combating quite than working away. They have been profitable in persuading different chiefs and gathering a united military beneath Ranjit Singh’s command. The Sikh military denied victory to Shah Zaman, who, as soon as once more, was compelled to retreat to Kabul, the place his brother once more had tried to dethrone him. On account of these victories and profitable defence of the Punjab’s western border, Ranjit Singh earned a status among the many Sikh chiefs.

Her far-sightedness and bravado, pivotal weapons for the creation and enlargement of the Punjab Kingdom, are acknowledged by chroniclers of Sikh historical past. Kaur’s sound counsel and materials assets helped Ranjit Singh, a younger chieftain, defeat his rival chiefs, assume the title of maharaja, and unite the Punjab.         

After coping with Shah Zaman and guarding the western border of Punjab, Ranjit Singh dreamt of a pan-Punjab empire. His mother-in-law helped him materialise his dream. She mixed the forces of her misl and the misl of her son-in-law beneath his command. Then, she accompanied him for his triumphant march to Lahore, which turned the capital of his empire.

Sada Kaur additionally sided with Ranjit Singh when: 1) he snatched Amritsar from the Bhangi misl; 2) he declared himself the maharaja of the Punjab; and three) he signed the Treaty of Amritsar with the British in 1809. It was Kaur who suggested Singh to signal the treaty, making peace with the colonial energy. Although the treaty denied Singh an opportunity to develop his empire throughout the Sutlej River, it warranted the longevity of his kingdom. Had he not paid heed to the suggestion of his mother-in-law (making peace with the colonial energy by avoiding partaking in an open battle with it), the destiny of the Khalsa Empire may need been much like that of the Marathas.

Undoubtedly, Ranjit Singh was proficient and will have established the Punjab empire with out the assist of his mother-in-law. Nonetheless, Sada Kaur’s army assist and tactical recommendation accelerated the method. That’s the reason she is remembered for her excellent diplomatic abilities, army methods, warfare ways and bravado throughout the campaigns for Amritsar, Chiniot, Kasur, Kangra, Hazara and Attock.

Apparently, Ranjit Singh’s marriage with Mehtab Kaur, the daughter of Sada Kaur, didn’t go nicely. In 1798, two years after his first marriage, he married Raj Kaur, a sister of the chief of the Nakkai misl. It was Raj Kaur and never Mehtab Kaur who bore Ranjit his first son and, thus, successor to the throne, Kharrak Singh. Regardless of his poisonous conjugal relationship together with her daughter, Sada Kaur remained very near him and sided with him via thick and skinny.

Just a few years later, Mehtab Kaur bore Ranjit Singh twin sons: Sher Singh (who briefly turned the maharaja after the demise of Kharrak Singh and his son Nau Nihal Singh) and Tara Singh. Nonetheless, Ranjit Singh refused to acknowledge the twins as a result of somebody had poisoned him towards Mehtab Kaur by reporting that she had given start to a child lady and that she had acquired the newborn boys from some kammis (village artisans): one from a carpenter and the opposite from a weaver. So, he began bestowing all his wealth on his eldest son, leaving nothing for the grandchildren of Sada Kaur. Furthermore, he had already declared Kharrak Singh his inheritor. Sada Kaur recorded her grievance. This soured their candy relationship. After she endured with the reason for advocating for her grandchildren, Ranjit Singh took away her fief and gave it to Sher Singh, her grandson.

Sensing the start of her fall, Sada Kaur turned to the British to garner their assist towards Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Nonetheless, she was captured and put in a jail, the place she remained till her demise in 1832. Ranjit Singh died seven years later, in 1839. The empire they’d constructed collectively disintegrated quickly afterwards.


The author has a PhD in historical past from Shanghai College and is a lecturer at GCU, Faisalabad. He may be contacted at mazharabbasgondal87@gmail.com.
He tweets at @MazharGondal87

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