* Ranjit Singh summed up his own achievement in the following words: “My kingdom isa great kingdom; it was small, it is large now; it was scattered, broken, and divided; it is now consolidated. By counsel and providence, combined with velour, I have conquered and by generosity, discipline and policy, I have regulated and consolidated my government. I have rewarded the bold. On the battlefield, I exalted the valiant. With my troops I have shared all dangers, all fatigues. Both on the field and in the Cabinet I shut partiality from my soul, and closed my eyes to personal comfort. Fed fairs and holy men, and gained their prayers; the guilty as the innocent I spared. God has therefore been merciful to his servant and increased his power, so that his territory now extends to the borders of China and the limits of the Afghans, with all Multan and the rich possessions beyond the Sutlej”.

* Ranjit Singh’s successors were not possessed of the of leadership: their main preoccupation was to secure the throne for themselves by liquidating their rivals. The court split into different factions. The poisoned cup of wine, the concealed dagger, and the carbine took their toll of royal blood. The Panjabis became dispirited and disunited. Administration broke down. The English, who had anticipated: the chaos that would follow the death of Ranjit Singh began to move troops up to the frontier and to meddle in the internal affairs of the Darbar. By the autumn of 1845 they were ready to invade the Punjab. They defeated the Sikhs in a series of engagements.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 6, 1987