Nawab Kapur Singh
Nawab Kapur Singh is considered one of the pivotal figures in Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 history, under whose courageous leadership the Sikh community traversed one of the darkest periods of its history. He was the organizer of the Sikh Confederacy
Sikh Confederacy
The Sikh Empire was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The empire, based around the Punjab region, existed from 1799 to 1849. It was forged, on the foundations of the Khalsa, under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh from a collection of autonomous Punjabi Misls...

 and the Dal Khalsa
Dal Khalsa
Dal Khalsa is a socio-religio-political organization of the Sikh nation, based in the city of Amritsar . The primary aim of Dal Khalsa is to achieve the independence of the Punjabi-speaking Sikh majority region of North West India through peaceful and democratic means in order to establish a...

. Nawab Kapur Singh is regarded by Sikhs as a leader and general par excellence. The period, starting from the massacre in Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 of Banda Singh and seven hundred other Sikhs, was followed by severe action against the Sikhs, including massacres of young men, women and children. However, every fresh adversity only stimulated their will to survive.

Early life

Nawab Kapur Singh was born into a Virk
Virk Wirk Birk Vrik Varika is a gotra of the Jat clan found in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. Typically, Virks are tall, thin and fair-skinned. In western Punjab, Virks are supposed to belong to the Mahe dynasty and Manhas or Minhas are considered to be brethren of the Virks. Birk...

 family of Jats in 1697. His native village was Kaloke, now in Sheikhupura
Sheikhupura or Shekhupur , formerly Kot Dayal Das or Singhpuria or Virkgarh , is an industrial city in the province of Punjab slightly northwest to Lahore in Pakistan. It is known for its historical places, and is commonly known locally as Qila Shaikhupura, because of the fort in the city,...

 district, in Punjab (Pakistan)
Punjab (Pakistan)
Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, with approximately 45% of the country's total population. Forming most of the Punjab region, the province is bordered by Kashmir to the north-east, the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, the Pakistani province of Sindh to the...

. Kapur Singh was eleven years old at the time of Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh is the tenth and last Sikh guru in a sacred lineage of ten Sikh gurus. Born in Patna, Bihar in India, he was also a warrior, poet and philosopher. He succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur as the leader of Sikhs at a young age of nine...

's death and nineteen at the time of the massacre of Banda Bahadur
Banda Bahadur
Banda Singh Bahadur was a Sikh warrior and martyr. He became part of struggle against the Mughal Empire in the early 18th century, after meeting Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh gave him the new name of Banda Singh Bahadur...

 and his followers in Delhi. Later, when he seized the village of Faizullapur, near Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

, he renamed it Singhpura and made it his headquarters. He is thus, also known as Kapur Singh Faizullapuria, and the small principality he founded, as Faizullapuria or Singhpuria.

Initiation into the Khalsa fold

Kapur Singh underwent amrit-initiation at a large gathering held at Amritsar on Baisakhi Day, 1721 from Panj Piarey led by Bhai Mani Singh. His father, Dalip Singh, and brother, Dan Singh, were also among those who were initiated into the Khalsa
+YouWebImagesVideosMapsNewsMailMoreTranslateFrom: ArabicTo: EnglishEnglishHindiEnglishAllow phonetic typingHindiEnglishArabicAssumptionGoogle Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite TranslatorGlobal Market Finder...

 fold on that day.

Campaign against Zakarya Khan

Kapur Singh soon gained a position of eminence among the Sikhs, who were then engaged in a desperate struggle against the Imperial Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 government. Zakarya Khan, who had become the Mughal governor of Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 in 1726, launched a policy of persecution against the Sikhs.

In those days, pursued by the bounty-hunters, as the governor of Lahore had put a price on a Sikh's head, the Sikhs roamed the jungles of Central Punjab in small groups. Kapur Singh headed one such band. To assert their high spirits despite being hounded by government forces and bounty-hunters, and with a view to paralysing the administration and obtaining food for their companions these groups would launch attacks on government treasuries and caravans moving from one place to another. Such was their success in this endeavour that the governor was soon obliged to make terms with them.

The title of Nawab

In 1733, the Mughal government decided, at the instance of Zakarya Khan, to revoke all repressive measures issued against the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. The title of Nawab
A Nawab or Nawaab is an honorific title given to Muslim rulers of princely states in South Asia. It is the Muslim equivalent of the term "maharaja" that was granted to Hindu rulers....

 was conferred upon their leader, with a jagir
In historic India, a jagir was a small territory granted by the ruler to an army chieftain in fairly short terms usually of three years but not extending beyond his lifetime, in recognition of his military service...

 consisting of the three pargana
A pargana is a former administrative unit of the Indian subcontinent, used primarily, but not exclusively, by the Muslim kingdoms.Parganas were introduced by the Delhi Sultanate, and the word is of Persian origin. As a revenue unit, a pargana consists of several mouzas, which are the smallest...

s of Dipalpur, Kanganval and Jhabal.

After a Sarbat Khalsa
Sarbat Khalsa
Sarbat Khalsa from sarva, a Sanskrit word meaning all or everything, was a biannual deliberative assembly of the entire Khalsa held at Amritsar in Panjab during the 18th century...

, the Sikhs accepted the offer. Kapur Singh was unanimously elected as the leader and chosen for the title. He was reluctant, but could not deny the unanimous will of the community. As a mark of respect, he placed the robe of honour('Siropa') sent by the Mughals at the feet of the Panj Piare
Panj Piare
The Panj Piare , name given to the five Sikhs, Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh, who were so designated by Guru Gobind Singh at the historic divan at Anandpur Sahib on 30 March 1699 and who formed the nucleus of the Khalsa as the first...

 - amongst whom were Baba Deep Singh
Baba Deep Singh
Baba Deep Singh is revered among Sikhs as one of the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism and as a highly religious person. He is remembered for his sacrifice and devotion to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus....

, Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Buddh Singh (great-great-grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

 - before putting it on. The dress included a shawl, a turban, a jewelled plume, a pair of gold bangles, a necklace, a row of pearls, a brocade garme

The formation of the Dal Khalsa

Word was sent round to Sikhs passing their days in distant jungles and deserts that peace had been made with the government and that they could return to their homes. Nawab Kapur Singh undertook the task of consolidating the disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Jathas. They were merged into a single central fighting force (The Dal) divided into two sections - The Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and the Taruna Dal, the army of the young, Sardar Hari Singh Dhillon
Hari Singh Dhillon
Maharaja Hari Singh Dhillon was one of the most powerful, admired and famous of all the royal Sikh warriors of the 18th century.He was Maharaja of Amritsar, Lahore and large areas of central and western Panjab. He was the nephew of Bhuma Singh Dhillon, a famous Sikh soldier. They were a family of...

 was elected its leader. The former was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the word of the Gurus and inducting converts into the Khalsa Panth by holding baptismal ceremonies. The Taruna Dal was the more active division and its function was to fight in times of emergencies.

Nawab Kapur Singh's personality was the common link between these two wings. He was universally respected for his high character. His word was obeyed willingly and to receive baptism at his hands was counted an act of rare merit.

The rise of the Misls

Under its leader, Hari Singh, the Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000. To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it into five parts, each with a separate centre. The first batch was led by Baba Deep Singh Shaheed, the second by Karam Singh and Dharam Singh, the third by Kahan singh and Binod Singh of Goindwal, the fourth by Dasaundha Singh of Kot Budha and the fifth by Vir Singh Ranghreta and Jivan Singh Ranghreta. Each batch had its own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state. The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective papers at the Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 by Sultan ul Quam Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Sultan ul Quam Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy. He was also Misldar of the Ahluwalia Misl. This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801...

. From these documents or misls, the principalities carved out by them came to known as Misls. Seven more groups were formed subsequently and, towards the close of century, there were altogether twelve Sikh Misls ruling the Punjab.

The Singhpuria Misl

The founder of the rule-by-Misl system was Nawab Kapur Singh. Nawab Kapur Singh was a great warrior. He fought many battles. The last battle that he fought was the battle of Sirhind. After the fall of Sirhind in 1763, a considerable portion of present-day Rupnagar District
Rupnagar district
Rupnagar district is one of the twenty districts in the state of Punjab in North-West Republic of India. The town of Rupnagar is said to have been founded by a Raja called Rokeshar, who ruled during the 11th century and named it after his son Rup Sen. It is also the site of an ancient town of...

 came under the Singhpuria Misl. These areas included Manauli, Ghanuli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machli, Bhareli, Bunga and Bela.

By 1769, the Singpuria Misl had the following territories in its possession:-
Some parts of the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur in Doaba
Doaba is the region of Indian Punjab surrounded by the rivers Beas and Sutlej. The name "Doaba" literally translates to "land of two rivers" . It is one of the most fertile regions of the world, and was the centre of the Green Revolution in India.Scheduled castes form more than 35% of the...

, Kharparkheri and Singhpura in Bari-Doab and Abhar, Adampur, Chhat, Banoor, Manauli Ghanauli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machhli Bhareli, Banga, Bela, Attal Garh and some other places in the province of Sirhind.

Lakhpat Rai

The entente with the Mughals did not last long and, before the harvest of 1735, Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force and occupied the Jagir. The Sikhs were driven out of Amritsar into the Bari Doab and then across the Satluj into Malwa
Malwa (Punjab)
Malwa is a region of Punjab and parts of Haryana between the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. This Malwa should not be confused with the Malwa Plateau region of Madhya Pradesh, Central India...

 by Diwan Lakhpat Rai, Zakarya Khan's minister. They were welcomed by Sardar Ala Singh of the Phulkian Misl of Malwa. During his sojourn in Malwa, Nawab Kapur Singh conquered the territory of Sunam and made it over to Ala Singh. He also attacked Sirhind and defeated the Mughal governor.

Nawab Kapur Singh led the Sikhs back to Majha
Majha is a region of the Punjab comprising the modern districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran in the Indian State of Punjab and the districts of Narowal, Lahore and Kasur in the Pakistani Province of Punjab. The term previously applied to Panjabis living north of the Sutlej...

 to celebrate Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

 at Amritsar . He was pursued by Lakhpat Rai's army near Amritsar and forced to turn away. The Taruna Dal promptly came to his help. The combined force fell upon Lakhpat Rai before he could reach Lahore and inflicted a severe defeat. His nephew, Duni Chand, and two important Faujdars, Jamal Khan and Tatar Khan, were killed in the battle.

Nadir Shah

In the summer of 1739, Nadir Shah, the Persian
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 invader, was returning home after plundering Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 and Punjab. The Dal lay in wait, not far from the route he had taken. When he reached Akhnur, on the Chenab (in the present-day Jammu
Jammu , also known as Duggar, is one of the three administrative divisions within Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state in India.Jammu city is the largest city in Jammu and the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir...

 region), they swooped down upon the rear guard, relieving the invaders of much of their booty. On the third night they made an even fiercer attack and rescued from their hands, thousands of girls who were escorted back to their families. For a long part of his return journey, the Sikhs pursued Nadir Shah in this manner.

Zakarya Khan's campaign continues

Zakarya Khan continued to carry out his policy of repression with redoubled zeal. A pitiless campaign for a manhunt was started. Sikhs heads sold for money and the Mughals offered a prize for each head brought to them. According to the historian, Ratan Singh Bhangu, "He who informed where a Sikh was received ten rupee
The rupee is the common name for the monetary unit of account in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, and formerly in Burma, and Afghanistan. Historically, the first currency called "rupee" was introduced in the 16th century...

s, he who killed one received fifty."

To cut off the Sikhs from the main source of their inspiration, the Harimandir at Amritsar was taken possession of and guarded by Mughal troops to prevent them visiting it. Sikhs were then living in exile in the Shiwalik hills, the Lakhi Jungle and in the sandy desert of Rajputana
Rājputāna was the pre-1949 name of the present-day Indian state of Rājasthān, the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. George Thomas was the first in 1800 A.D., to term this region as Rajputana...

. To assert their right to ablution in the holy tank in Amritsar, they would occasionally send riders, who, in disguise or openly cutting their way through armed guards, would reach the temple, take a dip in the tank and ride back with lightning speed. Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force under Samad Khab to seek out the Sikhs. The force was defeated and their leader, Samad Khan who had been the target of the Sikhs' wrath since he had on June 24, 1734 executed Bhai Mani Singh was killed.

Nawab Kapur Singh now made a plan to capture Zakarya Khan. With a force of 2000 men all of whom were in disguise, he entered Lahore and went on to the Shahi Mosque where, according to intelligence received, the Mughal governor was expected to attend the afternoon prayer. But Zakarya Khan did not visit the mosque. Kapur Singh was disappointed at the failure of the mission. Throwing off the disguise and shouting their war cry of Sat Sri Akal, the Sikhs marched out of Lahore and vanished into thejungle.

The Chota Ghalughara

Meanwhile, Khan and his minister, Lakhpat Rai, again launched an all-out campaign and set forth with a large army. The Sikhs were brought to bay in a dense bush near Kahnuwan, in the Gurdaspur District
Gurdaspur District
Gurdaspur district is a district in the state of Punjab, situated in the northwest part of the Republic of India. Gurdaspur is the district headquarters. It internationally borders Narowal District of the Pakistani Punjab, Kathua District of Jammu and Kashmir, the Punjab districts of Amritsar and...

. They put up determined fight, but were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy and scattered with heavy losses. They were chased into hills. More than 7000 died. "To complete revenge" says Syed Mohammad Latif, another historian of the Punjab, "Lakhpat Rai brought 1000 Sikhs in irons to Lahore, having compelled them to ride on donkeys, bare-backed, paraded them in the bazars. They were, then taken to the horse-market outside Delhi Gate, and there beheaded one after another without mercy." So indiscriminate and extensive was the killing that the campaign is known in Sikh history is known as the Chhota Ghalughara or the lesser holocaust. The Wadda Ghalughara or the greater holocaust was to come later.

Ahmed Shah Abdali

In 1748, a section of the Dal Khalsa under Charhat Singh Sukerchakia, grandfather of Ranjit Singh gave chase to the fleeing troops of Ahmad Shah Abdali.


Nawab Kapur Singh requested the community to relieve him of his office, due to his old age, and at his suggestion, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was chosen as the supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa. Kapur Singh died in 1753 at Amritsar and was succeeded by his nephew (Dhan Singh's son), Khushal Singh.

Khushal Singh who succeeded him as the leader of the misl. Sardar Khushal Singh played a significant role in expanding the territories of the Singhpuria Misl on both the banks of the Satluj river. The most important of the possessions of Khushal Singh were Patti, Bhartgarh, Nurpur, Bahrampur and Jalandhar. Khushal Singh also occupied Ludhiana. He had to divide the district of Banur with Patiala. He died in 1795 leaving his misl stronger than ever it was and with territorial possessions far larger than those he had inherited.

Khushal Singh was succeeded by his son Budh Singh. When Abdali returned home after his ninth invasion of India, the Sikhs had occupied more territories in the Punjab. Sheikh Nizam-ud-din was the ruler of Jalandhar at that time. Sardar Budh Singh defeated Nizam-id-din on the battle-field and occupied Jalandhar. He also took possooession of Bulandgarh, Behrampur, Nurpur and Haibatpur-Patti. This victory brought him yearly revenue of three lakhs of rupees.

However, Budh Singh could not equal Khushal Singh's talents. The Singhpuria Misl began to decline and ultimately all its possessions on the west of Satluj were annexed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Punjab)
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

. On his possessions on the east of the Satluj, however, the British extended their protection to him .

Budh Singh died in 1816, leaving seven sons behind him. His eldest son, Amar Singh, retained possession of Bhartgarh and divided the rest of the territories among his six brother as under:-
  • Bhopal Singh was given the estate of Ghanauli.
  • Gopal Singh: Manauli.
  • Lal Singh: Bunga.
  • Gurdyal Singh: Attalgarh.
  • Hardyal Singh: Bela
  • Dyal Singh: Kandhola.

The descendants of these Sardars still live on their respective estates.

See also

  • Baba Deep Singh
    Baba Deep Singh
    Baba Deep Singh is revered among Sikhs as one of the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism and as a highly religious person. He is remembered for his sacrifice and devotion to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus....

  • Sultan ul Quam Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
    Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
    Sultan ul Quam Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy. He was also Misldar of the Ahluwalia Misl. This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801...

  • Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
    Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
    Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy. He was the Commander of the Ramgarhia Sikh Cavalry misl . This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801...

  • Misl
    Misl generally refers to the twelve sovereign states in the Sikh Confederacy. The states formed a commonwealth that was described by Antoine Polier as an "aristocratic republic"...

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