Maharaja Ranjit Singh_00.1
UPSC Exam   »   How to Prepare for UPSC Prelims: Step by Step Guide for Beginners   »   Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Context:

  • Recently a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was vandalized in Lahore by a member of radical outfit Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a religious organization at the Lahore Fort in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
  • The statue was inaugurated in Lahore in 2019 on the occasion of the 180th death anniversary of the legendary Sikh ruler.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh_50.1

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About Maharaja Ranjit Singh

  • Birthplace: Maharaja Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1780, in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan. He later became chief ofShukerchakias Misls, a Sikh group, after the death of his father in 1792.
    • Misls: they were chieftains in Punjab provinces who divided the territory into Misls. They were basically Sikh organizations based on military brotherhood and democratic principles.
    • The Punjab area was divided into 12 misls which were ruled by different chieftains and their families.
  • Death: He died in 1839 due to illness and within a decade, Sikh rule perished due to infighting among rival chiefs and subsequent wars with the British East India Company.

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Major Contributions:

  • Ranjit Singh conquered Lahore in 1799 and established a unified Sikh empire. The Sikh Empire existed from 1799 till 1849.
  • Thwarted Afghan invaders in Lahore: which gave him the title of Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab).
  • Funded Hazoor Sahib gurudwara: at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.
  • Modernization of Sikh Army: His army was known as the Khalsa army. He employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops.
    • He appointed French General Jean Franquis Allard to modernize his army.
    • In 2016, the town of St Tropez unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
  • Sikh Empire: At its peak, his empire extended from Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Kashmir in the north to Mithankot in the south.

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Legacy of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh:

  • Golden Temple: he ensured restoration and expansion of the Harmandir Sahib, the most revered Gurudwara of the Sikhs, which is now known popularly as the “Golden Temple”.
  • A Just and Secular ruler: he employed people from all sects, religions, and castes and did not discriminate while appointing them to a powerful position in his Darbar.

 

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