Maharaja Ranjit Singh was born on 13th November
1780 at Gujranwala in Punjab. His father Sardar Mahan Singh was
a Chieftain and a Warrior. At a young age, Maharaja Ranjit Singh
became a Champion Swimmer, an Expert Horse-Rider and an Able Swordsman.
He was greatly inspired by the fact that Guru Gobind Singh ji's
two elder sons had fought the Mughals very bravely at the tender
age of 14 and 17.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh led his first war at the
age of 11 years and defeated the army of the ruler of Gujrat. Later
he fought two severe battles with the Afghans, with a smaller army and
took over the city of Lahore. After decades of misrule by foreign invaders,
the people of Lahore heaved a sigh of relief when the Maharaja assured
the citizens of safety and good administration. Under Ranjit Singh's leadership,
the various Sikh Chiefs were united and on Baisakhi day of 1801, they conferred
the title of 'MAHARAJA OF THE PUNJAB" on him.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh systematically extended
the frontiers of Punjab and brought the regions around Amritsar, Lahore,
Multan, Kashmir and Peshawar under his rule. He never became proud or arrogant
despite all the victories won by him. He was a liberal ruler and did not
bother about the colour, creed, caste or nationalities of his employees.
He engaged a number of English, Italian, German, French and American Officers.
They trained the Maharaja's Army and improved its organization & efficiency.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army was full of men from
different faiths and nationalities, but there was no jealousy or bickering
between them. His court was cosmopolitan - consisting of Hindus, Sikhs,
and Muslims, all of whom loved him dearly. He never sat on a throne nor
did he wear a crown. He sat on a silver chair and dressed in a simple and
sober manner. He ruled in a Democratic manner and never isolated himself
from the masses. He was a very kind and generous ruler. He ruled in a truly
Secular and just manner. He allowed equal rights for all communities in
Punjab. He also encouraged development of educational institutions and
industries by the different communities.
The British signed a peace-treaty with Maharaja
Ranjit Singh in 1809 and did not dare to touch his kingdom till after he
died in 1839. He was called as the LION OF PUNJAB (SHERE-PUNJAB) and is
still remembered as a great king, very humble person and an excellent
warrior. He was also responsible for covering the Golden Temple
in Amritsar with pure gold.
He owned the rare KOHINOOR diamond which was later
stolen by the British and is today used for studding the crown of the Queen