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Sikhs

The Sikhs are inhabitants mainly of the present day state of Punjab in India. They were previously Hindus who were attracted to the spiritual philosophy of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Sikhism eventually became a religion, mainly during the time of Guru Gobind Singh, who baptised his followers to the faith and created a separate code of conduct and customs for them. It became a militant religion under Guru Gobind Singh specifically to protect the Hindu populace from the atrocities perpetrated by certain more bigoted Moghuls.

Incidentally, the religion and its gurus also has a large number of followers amongst Hindus (many of whom are Jats), and one often finds a member in the same family being baptised a Sikh. Sikhism is a monotheist religion unlike contemporary Hinduism, though the gurus (spiritual guides) are deified along with their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1469 - 1538

Guru Nanak

The first Sikh guru leader.

1469

During his lifetime, Nanak becomes the first Sikh guru (spiritual leader), propounding the concept of Sikhism. He is born in a Hindu Khatri family, the son of Kalu Mehta and Mata Tripta.

1538 - 1552

Guru Angad

1538

Guru Angad is a disciple of Guru Nanak and his successor. Earlier known by the name of Baba Lehna, he introduces the Gurumukhi script which is used by Sikhs from this point onwards. He dies at the age of forty-age.

1552 - 1574

Guru Amar Das

Became a guru aged of 73 and died aged 95.

1552

Guru Amar Das becomes the third guru at the age of 73. He is a social reformer who believes In equality for women and the abolition of customs such as sati and purdah. He introduces the system of langar, the grand Sikh feast in which all guests and followers are treated to a sumptuous lunch or dinner before meeting the guru.

Golden Temple at Amritsar
Construction of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab, began in 1574 on land donated by the Moghul emperor, Aurangzeb

1574 - 1581

Guru Ram Das

Son-in-law. Organised Sikh structure & wrote Laava.

1581 - 1606

Guru Arjun Dev

Son. Killed by the Moghul emperor. First compiler of Adi Granth.

1606

The Sikhs are punished for Guru Arjun Dev helping Khusrav, the rebellious son of Moghul Emperor Jehangir. Arjun Dev is killed, and his son succeeds him and raises an army, opposing the Moghuls openly. Only a few skirmishes result from this until after the death of the next guru, Har Gobind. During his lifetime, the conversion to Sikhism of many clans of Hindu Jats begins.

1606 - 1645

Guru Har Gobind

Son. The first to take up arms in the defence of the community.

1645 - 1661

Guru Har Raj

Grandson. Aided Moghul emperor's son, Dara Shaikoh.

1661

FeatureThe Sikhs had maintained good relations with the heir to the Moghul, Dara Shukoh (Shaikoh), sheltering him and providing him with support in his battle to defeat his brother and eventual murderer, Aurangzeb. The victorious Aurangzeb dislikes them for that reason.

When Guru Har Raj dies, Aurangzeb attempts to install his own man, Ram Raj. The Sikhs ignore this and proclaim their own successor, Tegh Bahadur.

1661 - 1664

Ram Raj / Ram Rai

Son but estranged. Apparently never ruled.

1661 - 1664

Guru Harkrishan

Youngest son and successor of Har Rai. Died early of smallpox.

1664 - 1675

Guru Tegh Bahadur

Uncle. Imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

1675

Tegh Bahadur is imprisoned by Aurangzeb in the hope of persuading him to embrace Islam. He refuses and is tortured to death over the course of five days.

1675 - 1708

Guru Gobind Singh

Son. Led the Sikhs to form a warrior community.

1675

Gobind Singh leads the Sikhs into forming a warrior culture which challenges the Moghuls, fighting them continuously. To achieve this, he baptises the Sikhs into a community called Khalsa Panth. He devises a code of rules for the Sikhs including keeping long hair and a beard, wearing a turban, carrying arms, and so on.

1707 - 1712

Peace is achieved with the Moghuls under their new, more benevolent ruler, Bahadur Shah I.

1708

Gobind Singh is attacked by Moghul assassins and dies from his wounds at Nanded (Maharashtra). His sons are also murdered.

1716

The leading Sikh general, Banda Bahadur, is killed by the Moghuls under Farrukhsiyar. He had been responsible for killing Gobind Singh's assassins, including the instigator, Wazir Khan, nawab of Sirhind, after winning battles at Samana, Sadaura and Sirhind. The killing spurs on the Sikhs to form their own kingdom. They divide the army and their territories into 'misls', clan confederacies, which only unite when they have to fend off Afghan attacks.

1761

The Peshwa sends an army to challenge the Afghans under Ahmad Shah Abdali, and the Maratha army is decisively defeated on 13 January 1761 at the Third Battle of Panipat. However, the Sikhs soon gain power over areas of Punjab at Afghanistan's expense.

Sikh Empire
AD 1799 - 1849

Ranjit Singh was the one eyed son of a Sikh chieftain of Jat heritage. He unified all of the misls and captured Lahore, which allowed him to establish the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab in India. The Sikh kingdom (or empire) encompassed the Punjab, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sindh, and parts of Tibet and Afghanistan. A disciplined and modern army was built up with help from some European mercenaries (French, along with Italians from the French-created republics).

1799 - 1839

Ranjit Singh

Born 1780. First Sikh king. Poisoned.

1807 - 1809

Ranjit Singh annexes both Kot Kapura and Faridkot to his kingdom (much of which is given as a jagir to Diwan Mokam Chand). With the help of the British in India, Gulab Singh regains Faridkot in 1809. In that same year, Sahib Singh of Patiala enters into a treaty with the British against Ranjit Singh.

1832 - 1834

The Sikhs are led by their General Hari Singh Nalwa, capturing Peshawar from the Afghans. Later the Afghans defeat the Sikhs under the leadership of Akbar Khan, son of Dost Mohammed, near Jamrud, and kill Hari Singh. However, they fail to retake Peshawar due to their own lack of unity and bad judgment on the part of Dost Mohammad Khan regarding the people of Peshawar.

Ranjit Singh meets Sir William Bentinck 1831
Maharaja Ranjit Singh meets Sir William Bentinck at Roper, October 1831

1839

Ranjit Singh dies. His son Kharak Singh is toppled from power in a matter of months and fatally poisoned.

1839

Kharak Singh

Son. Lost power within months.

1840 - 1841

Nau Nihal Singh

Brother. Died.

1841

Sher Singh becomes king with the help of the Hindu Dogra community.

1841 - 1843

Sher Singh

Brother. Murdered.

1842

The newly restored emir of Afghanistan, Dost Mohammad Khan, allies himself to the Sikhs as part of his policy of continuing hostilities against the British in India.

1843

Unrest and rebellion have been stirring in the Sikh ranks, and the king is murdered by his cousin, Ajit Singh Sindhanwala, who in turn is killed by the Dogras. Jind Kaur, the youngest widow of Ranjit Singh, becomes regent for her infant son, Duleep Singh. Her brother, Jawahir Singh, becomes her wazir. He is murdered and replaced by Lal Singh. Tej Singh becomes the army commander. Both are converted Dogras.

1843 - 1849

Duleep Singh

Infant son of Ranjit Singh.

1843 - 1849

Jind Kaur

Mother and regent.

1844 - 1845

The British East India Company annexes Sindh in 1844, and the Sikhs attack British divisions at Ferozepur. The First Anglo-Sikh War is triggered in 1845. The Sikhs fight well, but eventually succumb to the disciplined British army following betrayals by some of their Dogra generals.

1846

The Lahore Treaty involves a war indemnity of 15,000,000 rupees (1.5 crore) which is paid to the British. As a sum so vast is not easy to raise, the Sikhs are forced to cede to the East India Company (as an equivalent of one crore of rupees) Kashmir (later sold to the Dogras), Hazarah, and all the forts, territories, rights and interests in the hill countries situated between the rivers Beas and Indus. The subsequent Treaty of Bhyroval provides for the regent queen, Jind Kaur, to be awarded a pension of 150,000 rupees (1.5 lakh) and be replaced by a British resident in Lahore supported by a Council of Regency, with agents in other cities and regions. Jind Kaur tries to regain power but is eventually sent into exile.

1848 - 1849

The Second Anglo-Sikh War commences when the Sikhs resent excessive British interference in their affairs. There is help from Dost Mohammed Khan, the Afghan king. Yet again due to internal dissensions, the Sikhs are defeated at Gujarat on 21 February 1849. Their Afghan allies are forced to retreat.

The Sikh kingdom is finally dissolved by the British, being broken up into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab, all of which are granted statehood. A lieutenant-governorship is formed in Lahore as a direct representative of the British Crown. The royal family itself settles in England (in 1854). In 1857, the Sikhs fight alongside the British in suppressing the Sepoy Mutiny, providing some of the best native soldiers under British command well into the twentieth century.

Hereditary Sikh Maharajas
AD 1849 - Present Day

The Sikhs kingdom was annexed and broken up by the British in 1849. Sikh troops went on to fight alongside the British army to great effect while the deposed king, Duleep Singh, moved to England in 1854. He returned in 1860, under tightly controlled conditions, to bring his mother back with him, and again in 1863 to deposit the ashes from her funeral pyre.

1849 - 1893

Duleep Singh

Former king.

1893 - 1918

Prince Victor Albert Jay Duleep Singh

Son. Died childless on 7 Jun 1918.

1918 - 1926

Prince Frederick Victor Duleep Singh

Brother. Died childless on 15 Aug 1926.

Prince Albert Edward Duleep Singh

Brother. Died childless on 22 Apr 1893.

Princess Bamba Duleep Singh

Sister. Died childless on 10 Mar 1957.

Princess Catherine Duleep Singh]

Sister. Died childless in 1947.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh

Sister. Died childless on 22 Aug 1948.

Princess Pauline Alexandra Duleep Singh

Half-sister. Died childless.

Princess Ada Irene Beryl Duleep Singh

Sister. Died childless in October 1926.

1926

The last direct male descendent of the Sikh maharajas dies without issue. The duty of holding the titular position as 'head family' devolves upon the Sandhanwalia sardars, distant cousins to the maharajas.

1926 - ?

Sardar Gurdit Singh Sandhanwalia

Sardar Sarup Singh

Son. Died before 1947.

? - 1978

Sardar Pritam Singh Sandhanwalia

Son. Born 1897.

1978 - Present

Sardar Beant Singh Sandhanwalia

Son. Born 1926.

Sardar Sukhdev Singh Sandhanwalia

Son and titular heir.