On 27th June was the 180th death anniversary of one of my heroes Maharaja Ranjit Singh. I am happy to know that the Pakistan government has unveiled a statue in his honor on this occasion in Lahore, which was his capital.
In this connection, I had written a blog, which I had posted on my blog “Satyam Bruyat”, and is produced below:
Ranjit Singh is one of my heroes, like Ashoka, Akbar, Rana Pratap, etc. Known as the Lion of Punjab, Ranjit Singh is an outstanding figure in Indian history, renowned as a brave fighter, conqueror and empire builder.
Beginning his career only as chief of one of the twelve Sikh misls ( confederacies ) in the Punjab, Ranjit Singh united them, and by the prowess of his arms established a huge empire in North India, extending from the Khyber pass in the North West, the river Sutlej in the East, deserts of Sind in the south, and China and Tibet in the North. By his secular and benevolent policies Ranjit Singh, though a devout Sikh himself, endeared himself to his subjects, the majority of whom were Muslims.
Ranjit Singh was much ahead of his times in almost every field, military organization, civil administration, and above all, his totally secular treatment of all his subjects belonging to diverse faiths.
Soon after conquering Lahore, Ranjit Singh offered prayers at the famous Badshahi mosque. He gave liberal grants to the mosque for its upkeep, and also to holy shrines like the Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Benares ( whose gold covering, which can be seen even today, was a gift of the Maharaja ), Lord Jagannath temple in Puri, various temples in Haridwar, dargahs of Baba Farid in Pak Pattan and of Mian Mir in Lahore, and, of course, the Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Ranjit Singh appointed competent people to the highest posts irrespective of their religion, e.g. Fakir Azizuddin was appointed as his Foreign Minister, his brother Fakir Nur-ud-din as the Home Minister, and another brother, Fakir Imam-ud-din as in charge of the treasury. There were a large number of Hindu and Muslim officers, apart from Sikhs, in Ranjit Singh’s army and civil administration, which was totally secular in character. There were no forced conversions in his reign, no communal riots, and no second-class citizenship. Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh fought shoulder to shoulder in his army and shed their blood for him gladly. His commander Hari Singh Nalwa captured Kabul, and another commander Zorawar Singh conquered Kashmir and Lhasa, and marched into the depths of Tibet. He also had French generals, Allard, Ventura, and Avitable in his army, which they modernized.
Ranjit Singh has become a legend in Indian history, particularly of Punjab.