Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia: The Resilient Leader of Sikh Misls

Introduction: Sultan ul Qaum,  Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a prominent figure in Sikh history, was a resilient leader and a key contributor to the rise of the Sikh Misls. As the founder of the Ahluwalia Misl, he played a pivotal role in defending Sikh interests, consolidating Sikh power, and establishing the foundation for the eventual Sikh Empire. This article delves into the life, achievements, and legacy of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

Early Life and Association with the Sikh Gurus:  Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was born on May 3, 1718, in the village of Ahlu, near Lahore, in present-day Pakistan. He hailed from the Ahluwalia lineage, which had a deep association with the Sikh Gurus. When he was 4 years old, his father, Sardar Badar Singh, passed away, and then he was brought up by his mother. And Mother Ji connected them with the Gurudwara and taught them the history of the Guru, Sikh principles, and Gurbani Kirtan. In those days, Khalsa’s mother, Sahib Kaur Ji, lived in Delhi! The Sangat often went to see her; similarly, the boy Jassa Singh Ahluwalia went to meet Mata Sahib Kaur Ji with his mother. When Jassa Singh Ahluwalia recited kirtan, Mata Sahib Kaur ji was so impressed that Mata Sahib Kaur ji kept Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and his mother in Delhi! Mata Sahib Kaur ji made special arrangements for Jassa Singh’s education; while staying there, Jassa Singh learned Urdu, Persian, Hindi, mathematics, etc. Gurbani Santhya was given to Jassa Singh ji by Bhai Mani Singh ji! Jassa Singh used to do kirtan with Mata Sahib Kaur ji every day! Jassa Singh Aluwalia’s maternal uncle Bhag Singh Haluwalia had no children in his house, and he came to Delhi and took Ahluwalia and his mother or asked permission from Mata Sahib Kaur ji. At first, they refused but repeatedly requested it. And Mata Sahib Kaur ji gave them weapons and permission to take Jassa Singh! Bhag Singh ji was very close to Nawab Kapur Singh ji. One day, when Kapur Singh ji came to his house to meet Bhag Singh, Jassa Singh’s qualities captivated him, and he also started insisting that Jassa Singh should be married to him as well. To be taken, Nawab Kapoor’s repeated request, Bhag Singh could not refuse, and he sent 12- to 13-yyear-old Jassa Singh to his camp! Jassa Singh, staying in the camp, started serving the langar and cleaning the vessel and fodder for the horses. Along with staying in the camp, I learned martial arts and armour.

Creation of Dal Khalsa and Misals: In 1733, Zakaria Khan Bahadur tried to negotiate peace by giving the Sikhs a jagir, the title of Nawab to their leader, and unfettered access to the Golden Temple. After deliberations in the Sarbat Khalsa, Kapur Singh was chosen as the leader of the Sikhs and assumed the title of Nawab. He grouped the various Sikh armies into two groups; Taruna Dal and Budha Dal, collectively known as Dal Khalsa. Sikh militia above 40 years of age will be part of Budha Dal and Sikh militia below 40 years of age will be part of Taruna Dal. The Taruna Dal is further divided into five jathas, each with 1,300 to 2,000 men and separate drums and banners. Taruna Dal will control the eastern region of Patna Hari while Budha Dal will control its western region. Taruna Dal will act as a united soldier. In 1735, however, the agreement between Zakaria Khan and Nawab Kapur Singh broke down and the Dal Khalsa retreated to the Shivalik Hills to regroup. Dal Khalsa was then ruled by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia who was an able and powerful administrator, he shifted the then Mughal power center (Red Fort) under the Khalsa flag and firmly laid the foundation of Khalsa to lead the next generation.

Attack of Nadir Shah: In 1739, Persian ruler Nadir Shah invaded most of northern India, including Punjab, defeated the Mughals at the Battle of Karnal in 1739, sacked the city of Delhi (Shahjahanabad) and looted treasures such as the Peacock Throne, the Kohinoor. Diamonds and Darya-e-Noor Diamonds. Meanwhile, all the Khalsa factions came together and passed a resolution that Nadir Shah had looted the city of Delhi and was now taking Indian women as slaves to his country. The Sikhs planned to free all the slaves. Jassingh Ahluwalia, who was 21 years old at the time, planned a raid to free all the slaves. He along with other groups of Sikhs attacked Nadir Shah’s army, freed all the slaves and sent them safely back to their families. 

Ahluwalia participated in many battles where he proved himself as a natural leader. Nawab Kapur Singh appointed him as his successor in 1748 meeting of Sarbat Khalsa. His followers conferred the title of Sultan-ul-Qaum (King of the Nation).

First confrontation of Sikh with abdali: The first confrontation of Sikhs with Abdali took place when, he defeating the Marathas in the field of Panipat, Abdali was abducting diamonds, gold, silver, and Hindustani women from there, and a group of Maratha leaders reached Sri Akal Takht Sahib to meet Sardar Jassa Singh Ahwalia. He appeals to save their honour; Sardar Saab agrees after consulting the Sardars of the Misals; and then, after the war, 22,000 females are freed and go to Maharashtra, leaving them at home! Along with this, the Sikhs took away a lot of Abdali’s treasure. After this war, Abdali was not taken care of at all and had to go to Lahore to survive.

Conquest of Jalandhar and Malarkotla: In June 1763, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia marched on Jalandhar, Jalandhar Governor Sadat Yar-Khan, fearing that he would not leave his capital, Jassa Singh plundered Jalandhar, and in December 1763, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia defeated and killed Bhikhan Khan. The Nawab of Malerkotla captured Morinda,

Conquest of Sirhind: In January 1764, the Dal Khalsa under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia attacked Sirhind, the governor of Sirhind, Zain Khan Sirhindi, was killed, the Sikhs captured Sirhind and divided the province among themselves, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia taking over Jagaon, Bharog, and Fatehgarh, 

In 1764 in the Ganga Doab and Rohilakhand: In February 1764, the Sikhs under the command of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Khushal Singh, Sardar Tara Singh Ghaiba, Baghel Singh and Gurbaksh Singh crossed the Jamuna. They captured Saharanpur, Shamli, Kandla, Miranpur, Deoband, Jawalapur, Chandausi, Muzaffarnagar and Najibabad. Najib ad-Dawla made peace by promising the Sikhs a tribute of 11 lakh rupees.

Aggression of Abdaali against Sikhs: After this war, Abdali started to get angry with the Sikhs. During his next step, he announced the elimination of the Sikhs, and he gave the Nawab of Punjab to his special person! After giving the Nawabi of the province, he went back to Ghazni. Abdali gathered a huge army in the name of Jihad to fight the Sikhs, and after a short time, he went back to attack India.

Vadda ghalughara (the big mess): There is an occasion of Diwali in Punjab in 1761, when the entire Sikh panth gathers on the holy land of Amritsar for Sarbat Khalsa. There are many ideas passed for the sake of the nation, one of which is that those who arrest the Sikhs because of the supremacy of the Sikh government are traitors to the nation; the biggest threat to the nation is from them. Without whom, even Abdali cannot do anything; he will be killed first! When this matter reached Akal Das, he pretended to apologise and abdicate in the message! On the other hand, he also sent a message to Abdali that the Subedars whom you had sent have established their hold in the area and the families of the Sikhs are with them in vaheer, due to which it will be difficult for the Sikhs to compete. It is a golden opportunity to kill them. After a while, the Sikhs also got the news of Abdali’s arrival! It was not a big deal for the Sikhs to confront Abdali. The whole life of the Sikhs was a struggle; they were always on the saddles of horses, but the difficulty was that at that time their families (elderly, children, and women) were with them! The Sikhs had received the news that it would take about 10 days to reach Abdali, so they thought we had to leave our families in the land of Bikaner, so the Singhs walked towards the land of Bikaner! At that time, the number of Sikhs was 40000–45,000! Day went on when night fell. The Singhs settled in three villages. The Sikhs were thinking that it would take another 4-5 days to reach Abdali. The blood of killing the Sikhs was so intense in Abdali’s head that he led his army continuously for 36 hours! Abdali also gathered the forces of the Subedar of Punjab and surrounded the Sikhs around 3 o’clock in the morning! At that time, suddenly, the Sikhs had prepared a policy of fighting. The Singhs had built a human fort in which there were soldiers on both sides and their families in the middle. The Singhs had the responsibility of confronting the enemies and running the vaheer(group), but secretly, Abdali’s army came and attacked the families! Due to this, the Sikhs suffered a lot! Fighting from dawn to dusk, the Sikhs marched up to 14 miles, during which more than 40,000 Singhs, women, and small children were killed! By nightfall, only 2000 Sikhs were left in Wheer! Those Sikhs spent the night in a small jungle! At that time, Jassa Singh Ahuwalia had 21 wounds on his body. Half of the Sikh nation was destroyed during the great conflict.

Demolished Darbar sahib, Abdali sent a letter to the sikhs: Abdali thought that I would destroy the entire Sikh community, but this did not happen, and then Abdali demolished the Darbar Sahib with cannons in the month of April! When Diwali came in the month of October, Abdali thought that this time no one would go to the Darbar Sahib of Diwali because he had eliminated all the Sikhs, in his opinion! But then Darbar Sahib was the most crowded; more than 6,000 people came to celebrate Diwali! When Abdali found out about this, he was about to explode with anger, and then he made up his mind to attack. Then his mind collapsed, and after doing so much, he saw that the Sikh community would stand up again, so he sent Sardar Ala Singh of the Patiala princely state to negotiate. In the Darbar Sahib, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and all the Sardars of the Misls had gathered; they tore the letter and returned the envelope to Ala Singh with the letter.

Last attack by Abdaali : Abdali then ordered an attack, but he was actually broken from the inside! Under the leadership of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, the Afghans were in bad condition; people died all day long, and Abdali suffered a lot, as it was the custom during wars at that time that the battle was not fought at night! So when the night came, all the armies returned to their respective places! Next morning, when the Sikh army arrived in the field, the Sikhs saw that Abdali’s army was not on the battle field! Because Abdali’s army had returned at night! This was the first punishment of Abdali’s life; after this war, Abdali never messed with the Sikhs. After this war, Darbar Sahib was rebuilt under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

Conflict with Jassa Singh Ramgarhia:  In 1775, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia once went to Achal near Batala, he was attacked by Jassa Singh Ramgarhia’s brothers Khushal Singh, Tara Singh and Mali Singh, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was captured, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia apologized for the bad behavior of his brothers and sent Ahluwalia away with honour. returned with presents, but differences between them increased, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia took an oath, He would expel the Ramgarhias from the country,

In 1778, Jai Singh Kanhaiya and Haqikat Singh Kanhaiya, supported by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, attacked the headquarters of Jassa Singh Ramgarhiya Sri Hargobindpur and after driving him to the desert of Ghansi and Hisar, he set up his headquarters at Tosham.

Bravery of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia: Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia’s bodyguard name was Gurmukh Singh! When he saw Jassa Singh Ahluwalia surrounded, he thought that something had happened to our general and the feet of the rest of the army would also be uprooted, so Gurmukh Singh ran to his horse and tried to get the horse out of the enclosure by hitting the scabbard of his sword. But Jassa Singh Ahluwalia raised his hand, signalled to stop, and started saying that with your help, I would not get out of this enclosure by running a horse!

Captured delhi: When the Sikhs entered Delhi in 1783, after reaching Delhi, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia first captured Mughalpur, and then Baba Baghel Singh Ji came with 30,000 troops and gathered outside the 4 walls of Delhi and the wall in which the Sikhs entered through a hole. A gate was made on that wall. In this way, Sikhs occupied the red fort of Delhi, along with Jassa Singh Ragarhia, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, and Baba Baghel Singh. Here they got a lot of money, and 4 guns and 12 thousand pillars of the Mughal artillery were also captured. A colourful stone slab with a crown, Takht-e-Taus, was also found, which they took possession of. And the emblem of the Khalsa Raj was swung on the throne of Delhi, where it always issued orders to end the Sikh rule. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was placed on the throne of Delhi by the Sikhs as Badshah Singh of Delhi, the Ramgarhia being a minority, but he challenged Ahluwalia and demanded his immediate resignation. When Jassa Singh Ahluwalia once abandoned his honour, both sides drew swords and prepared to attack each other. [46] [47] The Mughals agreed to build 7 Sikh Gurdwaras in Delhi for Sikh Gurus.

12misls: At that time, the Sikhs had about 65 groups, and after gradually disintegrating, they became more than 400. By reuniting them, Sardar Saab formed 12 groups, and he himself took over their commando in chief. These 12 groups became 12 misls. These 12 misls were: Ramgharia misl, Bhangi misl, Kanheya misl, Ahluwalia misl, Sukarchakkia misl, Nakai misl, Dalewala misl, Nishanwalia misl, Karorasinghia misl, Shahid or Nihang misl, Faizulpuria misl, and Phulkian misl.

Differences between Sikhs: These Sikh misls used to fight with each other a lot, but there was one characteristic: when there was a calamity in the Sikh community, the leaders of the misls used to shout a slogan that:

ਮਿਸਲ ਵੰਡ ਹੁਣ ਕਦੇ ਨਾ ਪਾਓ

ਰਲ ਮਿਲ ਕੇ ਖੜ੍ਹ ਤੁਰ ਪੰਥ ਬਚਾਓ

Misl vand hun kade na pao

Ral mil ke kharh tur panth bachao

It means that we should never divide now; save the Sikh panth together.

Inter-Misl battles : The Sikhs suffered a lot in the inter-Misal battle; this loss could have been more, but Jassa Singh Ahluwalia’s prudence kept him aside. Only Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was educated among the leaders of these misals! In order to reduce fighting among the Misls, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia began to keep recording the territories conquered by the Misls. Whenever there was a fight between the Misals on a border issue, Jassa Singh would get documents and, with Ahluwalia, peacefully resolve the issue.

Maintained peace and unity in panth: Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia’s main focus was to maintain peace in the panth! 11 out of 12 misals never bowed before Abdali, except one! This is Sardar Ala Singh of Patiala State! Since then, the rest of the misals have been insisting on removing him from the panth, and Sardar Saab stopped them and explained that it was the compulsion of Ala Sahib that Abdali’s headquarters were located in Sirhind, and then he could have easily attacked Patiala and won it! So Jassa Singh Ahluwalia ji limited them only to fining the panth and saved the panth from disintegration.

Support for Sikh Education: Jassa Singh Ahluwalia recognised the importance of education in empowering the Sikh community. He encouraged the establishment of Sikh educational institutions, including schools and centres of learning. By promoting Sikh education, he aimed to ensure the preservation of Sikh values, traditions, and teachings for future generations.

Passing and Legacy: The great warrior of the Sikh panth, Jassa Singh, died in 1783 in Amritsar. He was only 65 years old. His martyrdom further cemented his legendary status and left an indelible impact on Sikh collective memory in Katra Ahluwalia Amritsar. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia’s sacrifice and unwavering commitment to Sikh principles continue to inspire generations of Sikhs, reminding them of the sacrifices made for the preservation and prosperity of the Sikh faith.

Conclusion: Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a resilient leader and visionary, played a pivotal role in Sikh history. His military prowess, strategic leadership, and dedication to Sikh values left an indelible mark on the Sikh community. His contributions to Sikh institutions, governance, and alliances laid the foundation for the Sikh Empire and inspired generations of Sikhs to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and selfless service. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia’s legacy continues to serve as a beacon of inspiration, reminding Sikhs of their rich history, resilience, and the enduring spirit of the Khalsa.

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