Sikh Empire

Sikh Empire
Sarkar-i-Khalsa
امپراطوری سیک
ਸਿੱਖ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ
1799–1849
Flag of Sikh kingdom
Flag
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Sikh Empire at its peak in c. 1839
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Sikh Empire at its peak in c. 1839
CapitalLahore
Common languages
Religion Sikhism
GovernmentFederal monarchy
Maharaja 
• 1801–1839
Ranjit Singh
• 1839
Kharak Singh
• 1839–1840
Nau Nihal Singh
• 1840–1841
Chand Kaur
• 1841–1843
Sher Singh
• 1843–1849
Duleep Singh
Wazir 
• 1799–1818
Jamadar Khushal Singh[2]
• 1818–1843
Dhian Singh Dogra
• 1843–1844
Hira Singh Dogra
• 1844–1845
Jawahar Singh Aulakh
• 31 January 1846 – 9 March 1846
Gulab Singh[3]
Historical eraEarly modern period
• Capture of Lahore by Ranjit Singh
7 July 1799
29 March 1849
Population
• 
3,500,000
CurrencyNanak Shahi Rupee
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sikh Confederacy
Durrani Empire
Maratha Empire
(British India)
(princely state)
Today part of
Part of a series on the
India
Satavahana gateway at Sanchi, 1st century CE

The Sikh Empire (also Sikh Khalsa Raj, Sarkar-i-Khalsa or Panjab (Punjab) Empire) was a major power in the Indian subcontinent, formed under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established a secular empire based in the Punjab.[4] The empire existed from 1799, when Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, to 1849 and was forged on the foundations of the Khalsa from a collection of autonomous Sikh misls.[5][6] At its peak in the 19th century, the Empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Mithankot in the south to Kashmir in the north. The religious demography of the Sikh Empire was Muslim (74%), Sikh (3%), Hindu (23%).[7] The population was 3.5 million.[8] It was the last major region of the Indian subcontinent to be annexed by the British.

The foundations of the Sikh Empire can be traced to as early as 1707, the year of Aurangzeb's death and the start of the downfall of the Mughal Empire. With the Mughals significantly weakened, the Sikh army, known as the Dal Khalsa, a rearrangement of the Khalsa inaugurated by Guru Gobind Singh, led expeditions against them and the Afghans in the west. This led to a growth of the army which split into different confederacies or semi-independent misls. Each of these component armies controlled different areas and cities. However, in the period from 1762 to 1799, Sikh commanders of the misls appeared to be coming into their own as independent warlords.

The formation of the empire began with the capture of Lahore, by Ranjit Singh, from its Afghan ruler, Zaman Shah Durrani, and the subsequent and progressive expulsion of Afghans from the Punjab, by defeating them in the Afghan-Sikh Wars, and the unification of the separate Sikh misls. Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as Maharaja of the Punjab on 12 April 1801 (to coincide with Vaisakhi), creating a unified political state. Sahib Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak, conducted the coronation.[9] Ranjit Singh rose to power in a very short period, from a leader of a single misl to finally becoming the Maharaja of Punjab. He began to modernise his army, using the latest training as well as weapons and artillery. After the death of Ranjit Singh, the empire was weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. Finally, by 1849 the state was dissolved after the defeat in the Anglo-Sikh wars.

The Sikh Empire was divided into four provinces: Lahore, in Punjab, which became the Sikh capital, Multan, also in Punjab, Peshawar and Kashmir from 1799 to 1849.

History

Background

The Sikh religion began around the time of the conquest of Northern India by Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire. His conquering grandson, Akbar the Great, supported religious freedom and after visiting the langar of Guru Amar Das got a favourable impression of Sikhism. As a result of his visit he donated land to the langar and the Mughals did not have any conflict with Sikh gurus until his death in 1605.[10] His successor Jahangir, however, saw the Sikhs as a political threat. He ordered Guru Arjun Dev, who had been arrested for supporting the rebellious Khusrau Mirza,[11] to change the passage about Islam in the Adi Granth. When the Guru refused, Jahangir ordered him to be put to death by torture.[12] Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom led to the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, declaring Sikh sovereignty in the creation of the Akal Takht and the establishment of a fort to defend Amritsar.[13] Jahangir attempted to assert authority over the Sikhs by jailing Guru Hargobind at Gwalior, but released him after a number of years when he no longer felt threatened. The Sikh community did not have any further issues with the Mughal empire until the death of Jahangir in 1627. The succeeding son of Jahangir, Shah Jahan, took offence at Guru Hargobind's "sovereignty" and after a series of assaults on Amritsar forced the Sikhs to retreat to the Sivalik Hills.[13]

The next guru, Guru Har Rai, maintained the guruship in these hills by defeating local attempts to seize Sikh land and playing a neutral role in the power struggle between two of the sons of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh, for control of the Mughal Empire. The ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, moved the Sikh community to Anandpur and travelled extensively to visit and preach in defiance of Aurangzeb, who attempted to install Ram Rai as new guru. Guru Tegh Bahadur aided Kashmiri Pandits in avoiding conversion to Islam and was arrested by Aurangzeb. When offered a choice between conversion to Islam and death, he chose to die rather than compromise his principles and was executed.[14]

Guru Gobind Singh assumed the guruship in 1675 and to avoid battles with Sivalik Hill rajas moved the guruship to Paunta. There he built a large fort to protect the city and garrisoned an army to protect it. The growing power of the Sikh community alarmed the Sivalik Hill rajas who attempted to attack the city but Guru Gobind Singh's forces routed them at the Battle of Bhangani. He moved on to Anandpur and established the Khalsa, a collective army of baptised Sikhs, on 30 March 1699.[15] The establishment of the Khalsa united the Sikh community against various Mughal-backed claimants to the guruship.[16] In 1701, a combined army of the Sivalik Hill rajas and the Mughals under Wazir Khan attacked Anandpur. The Khalsa retreated but regrouped to defeat the Mughals at the Battle of Muktsar. In 1707, Guru Gobind Singh accepted an invitation by Aurangzeb's successor Bahadur Shah I to meet him. The meeting took place at Agra on 23 July 1707.[15]

In August 1708 Guru Gobind Singh visited Nanded, the seat of Mughal Telangana Subah. There he met a Bairāgī recluse, Madho Das, and converted him to Sikhism, giving him a new name, Banda Singh.[15][17]

Banda Singh Bahadur (1670–1716; also known as Lachman Das, Lachman Dev and Madho Das[17]) met Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded and adopted the Sikh religion. A short time before his death, Guru Gobind Singh ordered him to reconquer Punjab region and gave him a letter that commanded all Sikhs to join him. After two years of gaining supporters, Banda Singh Bahadur initiated an agrarian uprising by breaking up the large estates of Zamindar families and distributing the land to the poor peasants who farmed the land.[18] Banda Singh Bahadur started his rebellion with the defeat of Mughal armies at Samana and Sadhaura and the rebellion culminated in the defeat of Sirhind. During the rebellion, Banda Singh Bahadur made a point of destroying the cities in which Mughals had been cruel to the supporters of Guru Gobind Singh. He executed Wazir Khan in revenge for the deaths of Guru Gobind Singh's sons and Pir Budhu Shah after the Sikh victory at Sirhind.[19] He ruled the territory between the Sutlej river and the Yamuna river, established a capital in the Himalayas at Lohgarh and struck coinage in the names of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh.[18] In 1716, his army was defeated by the Mughals after he attempted to defend his fort at Gurdas Nangal. He was captured along with 700 of his men and sent to Delhi, where they were all tortured and executed after refusing to convert to Islam.[20]

Other Languages
asturianu: Reinu sij
čeština: Sikhská říše
español: Reino sij
Esperanto: Sika Imperio
français: Empire sikh
한국어: 시크 제국
Bahasa Indonesia: Kemaharajaan Sikh
italiano: Impero Sikh
कॉशुर / کٲشُر: سِکھ سَلطَنَت
მარგალური: სიქეფიშ იმპერია
日本語: シク王国
norsk: Sikhriket
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਖਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ
پنجابی: سکھ سلطنت
português: Império Sique
українська: Держава Сикхів
Tiếng Việt: Đế quốc Sikh
中文: 锡克帝国