75 Facts About Ranjit Singh


Ranjit Singh, popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or "Lion of Punjab", was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century.


Ranjit Singh survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye.


Ranjit Singh fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10.


Ranjit Singh's empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership through 1839.


Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire.


Ranjit Singh repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.


Ranjit Singh's reign introduced reforms, modernisation, investment into infrastructure and general prosperity.

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Ranjit Singh's legacy includes a period of Sikh cultural and artistic renaissance, including the rebuilding of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar as well as other major gurudwaras, including Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar and Hazur Sahib Nanded, Maharashtra under his sponsorship.


In 2020, Ranjit Singh was named as "Greatest Leader of All Time" in a poll conducted by 'BBC World Histories Magazine'.


Ranjit Singh contracted smallpox as an infant, which resulted in the loss of sight in his left eye and a pockmarked face.


Ranjit Singh was short in stature, never schooled, and did not learn to read or write anything beyond the Gurmukhi alphabet.


Ranjit Singh then inherited his father's Sukerchakia Misl estates and was raised by his mother Raj Kaur, who, along with Lakhpat Rai, managed the estates.


The first attempt on his life was made when he was 13, by Hashmat Khan, but Ranjit Singh prevailed and killed the assailant instead.


In 1789, Ranjit Singh married his first wife Mehtab Kaur, the muklawa happened in 1796.


Ranjit Singh was the only daughter of Gurbaksh Singh Kanhaiya and his wife Sada Kaur, and the granddaughter of Jai Singh Kanhaiya, the founder of the Kanhaiya Misl.


The separation became complete when Ranjit Singh married Datar Kaur of the Nakai Misl in 1797 and she turned into Ranjit's most beloved wife.


Ranjit Singh died in 1813, after suffering from a failing health.


Ranjit Singh always treated Raj Kaur with love and respect.


Ranjit Singh was exceptionally intelligent and assisted him in affairs of the State.


On 6 September 1838 she gave birth to Duleep Ranjit Singh, who became the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.


Ranjit Singh was married to Rani Har Devi of Atalgarh, Rani Aso Sircar and Rani Jag Deo According to the diaries, that Duleep Singh kept towards the end of his life, that these women presented the Maharaja with four daughters.


Ranjit Singh was married to Jind Bani or Jind Kulan, daughter of Muhammad Pathan from Mankera and Gul Bano, daughter of Malik Akhtar from Amritsar.


Ranjit Singh married many times, in various ceremonies, and had twenty wives.


Some scholars note that the information on Ranjit Singh's marriages is unclear, and there is evidence that he had many concubines.


In 1802, Ranjit Singh married Moran Sarkar, a Muslim nautch girl.

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When Ranjit Singh visited Amritsar, he was called outside the Akal Takht, where he was made to apologise for his mistakes.


The pilgrims responded with Sat Sri Akal and Ranjit Singh was released and forgiven.


An alternative holds that Ranjit went to visit Moran on his arrival in Amritsar before paying his respects at Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara, which upset orthodox Sikhs and hence was punished by Akali Phula Singh.


Duleep Ranjit Singh makes a list of his father's queens which does not mention Bibi Moran.


Multana Singh, Kashmira Singh and Pashaura Singh were sons of the two widows of Sahib Singh, Daya Kaur and Ratan Kaur, that Ranjit Singh took under his protection and married.


Ranjit Singh belonged to the first, and through marriage had a reliable alliance with Kanhayas and Nakkais.


Ranjit Singh's fame grew in 1797, at age 17, when the Afghan Muslim ruler Shah Zaman, of the Ahmad Shah Abdali dynasty, attempted to annex Panjab region into his control through his general Shahanchi Khan and 12,000 soldiers.


The battle was fought in the territory that fell in Ranjit Singh controlled misl, whose regional knowledge and warrior expertise helped resist the invading army.


In 1798, the Afghan ruler sent in another army, which Ranjit Singh did not resist.


Ranjit Singh let them enter Lahore, then encircled them with his army, blocked off all food and supplies, burnt all crops and food sources that could have supported the Afghan army.


Ranjit Singh called his rule as "Sarkar Khalsa", and his court as "Darbar Khalsa".


Ranjit Singh ordered new coins to be issued in the name of Guru Nanak named the "NanakShahi".


On 1 January 1806, Ranjit Singh signed a treaty with the British officials of the East India Company, in which he agreed that his Sikh forces would not attempt to expand south of the Sutlej river, and the Company agreed that it would not attempt to militarily cross the Sutlej river into the Sikh territory.


In 1807, Ranjit Singh's forces attacked the Muslim ruled Kasur and, after a month of fierce fighting in the Battle of Kasur defeated the Afghan chief Qutb-ud-Din, thus expanding his empire northwest towards Afghanistan.


Ranjit Singh took Multan in 1818, and the whole Bari Doab came under his rule with that conquest.


In 1823, Yusufzai Pashtuns fought the army of Ranjit Singh Sing north of the Kabul River.


In pursuance of this agreement, the British army of the Indus entered Afghanistan from the south, while Ranjit Singh's troops went through the Khyber Pass and took part in the victory parade in Kabul.


The geographical reach of the Sikh Empire under Ranjit Singh included all lands north of Sutlej river, and south of the high valleys of the northwestern Himalayas.


Ranjit Singh allowed men from different religions and races to serve in his army and his government in various positions of authority.


Ranjit Singh's army included a few Europeans, such as the Frenchman Jean-Francois Allard, though Singh maintained a policy of refraining from recruiting Britons into his service, aware of British designs on the Indian subcontinent.

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Ranjit Singh's policies were based on respect for all communities, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim.


Ranjit Singh joined the Hindus in their temples out of respect for their sentiments.


Ranjit Singh ordered his soldiers to neither loot nor molest civilians.


Ranjit Singh built several gurdwaras, Hindu temples and even mosques, and one in particular was Mai Moran Masjid, built on the behest of his beloved Muslim wife, Moran Sarkar.


The Sikhs led by Ranjit Singh never razed places of worship to the ground belonging to the enemy.


For example, Ranjit Singh's army desecrated Lahore's Badshahi Mosque and converted it into an ammunition store, and horse stables.


Lahore's Moti Masjid was converted into "Moti Mandir" by the Sikh army, and Sonehri Mosque were converted into a Sikh Gurdwara, but upon the request of Sufi Fakir, Ranjit Singh restored the latter back to a mosque.


Ranjit Singh's sovereignty was accepted by Afghan and Punjabi Muslims, who fought under his banner against the Afghan forces of Nadir Shah and later of Azim Khan.


Ranjit Singh employed and surrounded himself with astrologers and soothsayers in his court.


Ranjit Singh had abolished the gurmata and provided significant patronage to the Udasi and Nirmala sect, leading to their prominence and control of Sikh religious affairs.


The army under Ranjit Singh was not limited to the Sikh community.


Ranjit Singh's army included Polish, Russian, Spanish, Prussian and French officers.


However, the Khalsa army of Ranjit Singh reflected regional population, and as he grew his army, he dramatically increased the Rajputs and the Sikhs who became the predominant members of his army.


Ranjit Singh changed and improved the training and organisation of his army.


Ranjit Singh reorganised responsibility and set performance standards in logistical efficiency in troop deployment, manoeuvre, and marksmanship.


Ranjit Singh reformed the staffing to emphasise steady fire over cavalry and guerrilla warfare, improved the equipment and methods of war.


The military system of Ranjit Singh combined the best of both old and new ideas.


Ranjit Singh paid the members of the standing army from treasury, instead of the Mughal method of paying an army with local feudal levies.


Ranjit Singh ensured that Panjab manufactured and was self-sufficient in all weapons, equipment and munitions his army needed.


Ranjit Singh's government invested in infrastructure in the 1800s and thereafter, established raw materials mines, cannon foundries, gunpowder and arm factories.

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However, Ranjit Singh did not make major investments in other infrastructure such as irrigation canals to improve the productivity of land and roads.


The Muslim accounts of Ranjit Singh's rule were questioned by Sikh historians of the same era.


Sohan Seetal disagrees with this account and states that Ranjit Singh had encouraged his army to respond with a "tit for tat" against the enemy, violence for violence, blood for blood, plunder for plunder.


Ranjit Singh made his empire and the Sikhs a strong political force, for which he is deeply admired and revered in Sikhism.


Clive Dewey has argued that the decline of the empire after Ranjit Singh's death owes much to the jagir-based economic and taxation system which he inherited from the Mughals and retained.


Ranjit Singh is remembered for uniting Sikhs and founding the prosperous Sikh Empire.


Ranjit Singh is remembered for his conquests and building a well-trained, self-sufficient Khalsa army to protect the empire.


Ranjit Singh amassed considerable wealth, including gaining the possession of the Koh-i-Noor diamond from Shuja Shah Durrani of Afghanistan, which he left to Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha in 1839.


Much of the present decoration at the Harmandir Sahib, in the form of gilding and marblework, was introduced under the patronage of Ranjit Singh, who sponsored protective walls and water supply system to strengthen security and operations related to the temple.


In 1783, Ranjit Singh established a crafts colony of Thatheras near Amritsar and encouraged skilled metal crafters from Kashmir to settle in Jandiala Guru.