BIRTH & CHILDHOOD
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was born on Nov. 13, 1780 at Gujranwala to S. Mahan Singh Shukarchakia & Mai Raj Kaur. He was named Budh Singh by his mother but to commemorate victory of a campaign, his father Mahan Singh named him Ranjit Singh. According to some historians, he was born into a Jatt Sikh family while others claim that he was born into a Sansi Sikh family of Sukerchakia Misldars. As a child he suffered from smallpox which resulted in the loss of one eye.
Ranjit Singh learnt horse riding, shooting, and started drinking early years of his life. Drinking was not considered bad in those days and the more one drank, the more respect he commanded among the sardars. It was a matter of pride. Ranjit grew up without any formal education and remained totally illiterate. Fond of swimming and excursions, Ranjit had more traits to become a soldier later in life.
Ranjit singh had his first taste of battle, when he was hardly ten years old. Mahan Singh died in 1792. Ranjit singh was then 12 years old. He was too young to manage the affairs of the estate. His mother Raj Kaur became his natural guardian. He was also helped by Diwan Lakhpat rai. She had full confidence in his integrity but her brother Dal Singh did not like his interference in the administration of the territory. So, Dal singh joined hands with Sada Kaur, Ranjit singh’s mother-in-law who exercised a lot of control over him.
Thus two clear cut groups were formed, Diwan and Raj Kaur on one hand, Sada Kaur and Dal Singh on the other side. The intrigues and counter intrigues made Ranjit sick of all of them. He started spending most of this time outside the house on hunting expeditions. Ranjit singh also became suspicious of people around him and disliked some of them.
MARRIAGE & Issues
At the age of 16 Ranjit singh was married to Mehtab Kaur of Kanhaiya misal in 1795, thus this marriage brought two great misals together. She gave birth to Maharaja Sher Singh and Kanwar Tara Singh. She died in 1813.
Then in 1798, His second marriage took place with Datar Kaur, daughter of S. Ram Singh Nakai in 1798. Her actual name was Raj Kaur. Since the name of Ranjit Singh’s mother was also Raj Kaur, therefore her name was changed to Datar Kaur. She gave birth to Maharaja Khark Singh, the eldest son of the Maharaja. Maharaja Sahib used to address her as ‘Nakain’. She died in 1818. The second marriage annoyed Sada kaur and Mehtab kaur. Mehtab kaur returned to Batala and only returned to Gujrawala
His third marriage took place with Jind Kaur, daughter of S. Manna Singh Aulakh, a resident of village Chaarh (Sialkot). She gave birth to Maharaja Dalip Singh. After annexing Punjab, the Britishers imprisoned her in Sheikhupura and then in Chunar in (Uttar Pardesh). She escaped to Nepal in the disguise of a beggar woman. She stayed there honourably. Her son Dalip Singh had been taken away to England by the Britishers. In 1861, she reached England to meet him. She died there in 1891.
His fourth marriage took place in 1811 with the widow of Sardar Sahib Singh, a landlord of Gujarat. Her name was Rattan Kaur. She gave birth to Kanwar Multan Singh.
The fifth marriage of the Maharaja took place with Daya Kaur. She gave birth to Kanwar Kashmira Singh and Kanwar Peshaora Singh. She died in 1843.
Title of Maharaja
On the Baisakhi day of 1801, a big gathering took place inside Lahore Fort. Many Hindu, Sikh & Mulsim Rajas and Sardars from Punjab attended the Darbar. After making a supplication to the Almighty according to the Sikh traditions, Ranjit Singh sat on the royal throne. Baba Sahib Singh Bedi applied the RajTilak (consecration mark of kingship) to him. He was unanimously honoured with the title of Maharaja. Prayers were held in the mosque, temples and Gurudawaras of the city. It was a time of rejoicing for the residents of the city who observed‘deepmala’ for three consecutive days.
Orders were issued to release coins. The mint produced coins of gold and silver. The Maharaja named the coin as Nanakshahi. Instead of his name, he engraved the names of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. Whatever number of coins were minted on the first day were distributed in charity.
Politics of Equality
Although he felt happy being called Singh Sahib, yet he treated all the subjects alike. He had equal love and sympathy for members of all the communities. It was rightly the reign of Punjabis or a common reign of Punjabis.
In making selection for the coveted appointments, merit was the primary consideration. People from Sikh, Hindu, Muslims, European communities were given posts according to their abilities and merits. There was no communal considerations.
In the daily administration, his behaviour towards all communities was alike. Everyone enjoyed religious freedom. No one could interfere or pass derogatory remark on others religion.
Once a few Sikhs of a village asked the Muslims to stop making call to the faithfuls to come for. Those Muslims lodged a complaint with Maharaja Sahib. Maharaja Sahib called all the Sikhs and told them that if they did not like their call for prayers, they should then go to the house of all Muslims at the prayer time and ask them to reach the mosque. Sikhs withdrew their objection quietly. He had ordered his military Generals not to defile any religious book or place of the town that has been won or taken possession of. He also warned them against plundering and disrespecting women.
Gurdwaras built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh
At the Harmandir Sahib, much of the present decorative gilding and marble work date back from the early 19th century. The gold and intricate marble work were conducted under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of the Punjab. The Sher-e-Punjab (Lion of the Punjab) was a generous patron of the shrine and is remembered with much affection by the Sikhs.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh deeply loved and admired the teachings of the Tenth Guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh, thus he promoted the teachings of the Dasam Granth (the Tenth Granth) and built two of the most sacred temples in Sikhism. These are Takht Sri Patna Sahib, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh, and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, the place where Guru Gobind Singh took his final rest or mahasamadhi, in Nanded, Maharashtra in 1708.
Revered as “Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchal Nagar Sahib”, this historical shrine, which is one of the five Takhts (thrones) of the Sikhs is situated near Godavari river and was constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji. This is the site where Guru Gobind Singh ji breathed his last. It took 5 years to complete (1832-1837).
When Shere-E-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh learnt that there is no big memorial at Nanded where Sarbans Dani, the Tenth Master Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji had spent his last days, he deputed Chanda Singh to build a Grand Gurudwara. The Construction of Gurudwara Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib was undertaken at Nanded at this place from where Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji had left for heavenly abode in 1708 A.D.
During the construction, acute shortage of water was felt. Meit Jathedar Baba Gahoo Singh Ji built this Holy Well through Kaar Seva some in around 1838 A.D. to meet the requirement. Traditionally every day one Gagar (Pitcher) is filled from river Godavari and another drawn from this holy well for giving bath to the Singhasan Sahib of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji in Sachkhand Shri Hazur Sahib.