by- Rajiv Shah

A retired IAS bureaucrat, with whom I used to consult, especially on issues related with nuances in the Gujarat economy during my Gandhinagar days, recently sent me a WhatApp message stating that it should be shared with as many persons one could, especially to the younger generation, as a humble tribute to this “great emperor” Ranjit Singh (1780-1839). 

I normally do not like to make public WhatsApp messages, as these are said to be end-to-end encrypted, however, since the message said this at the end, and I found it interesting, I decided to put as a personal blog. But before doing this, I asked this ex-IAS bureaucrat whether this was his writeup, he told me, no, it has been forwarded to him by a much senior official, 10 years senior to him.

The effort of the message is to show how Punjab has always been “different” from than rest of India… So, I am reproducing it verbatim, leaving it to readers to make a judgement. The original message must have been written on June 27, the death anniversary of Ranjit Singh as a tribute to the king, but has been shared, ironically, now, when there is so much news coming in from Punjab, where politics has taken an unprecedented turn, with Akalis breaking away from the BJP.A senior report who covers Punjab tells me, today the situation is such that, following the three farmers’ Acts, which led to huge protests across the state (as elsewhere), BJP leaders are “unable to come out in public in.”   Be that as it may, please read on the message itself… 
*** When Indira Gandhi ruled 18 states, Punjab wasn’t in those 18.
Now when Modi is ruling 19 states, Punjab isn’t in those.
When British ruled all over India Punjab was the last one to come under that rule and immediately started struggle for freedom.
In the freedom struggle against British, the contribution of Punjabis is more than 80%.

When Mughal ruled India and converted Hindus to Islam, one and only one Punjab stood against them and Guru Teg Bahadur Ji ( 9th Guru & father of Guru Gobind Singh ji ) laid down his life at Chandni Chowk in Delhi for their support & Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed all his four sons of the age of 7,9,14 & 17 years against the conversion to Islam. His Elder two sons (Sahibzade) sacrificed their lives in war against Mughals at Chamkaur Sahib(Pb) & younger two sons (Sahibzade) were bricked alive at Sirhand (Pb) by the Mughal ruler of that State.

Even when Sikander conquered all, only King Porus of Punjab dared to stop him.

I salute to the river land — Punjab.

Today is Death Anniversary of one of the greatest emperors in Indian history, Sher-E-Punjab,Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Blinded in one eye, injured in one arm, yet built up the great Sikh empire.

United the disparate Sikhs into a kingdom and built an empire that covered Punjab, Kashmir, Ladakh, the entire North West.
Served by able men like Hari Singh Nalwa, Dewan Mokam Chand, Veer Singh Dhillon, Zorawar Singh.

Also built a modern army, even recruited European officers to bring in the latest techniques of warfare. That’s why British Rulers couldn’t annex Punjab until he was alive. Because of him, Punjab was the last State which came under British rule in 1849.
But alas no one teaches about his legacy in India.
Because of him, Punjab was the most literate state at that time. Even though he recruited European officers he ensured they followed a strict code of conduct, no beef, no smoking and no alcohol.

As a matter of fact, Ranjit Singh banned cow slaughter in his empire.

A devout Sikh, who never differentiated on religion. Both his court and army had equal number of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims – a true secular king.

His finance minister was a Hindu Brahmin, his Prime Minister was a Dogra, his foreign minister a Muslim.

He also renovated the Golden Temple, gave it the gold plates, and gave equal amount of gold to then Hindus and Muslims too, for renovation of their shrines and temples.

Built Gurudwaras at Patna and Nanded, in honor of Guru Gobind Singh, both of which are considered among the Panch Takth.
A great warrior, an equally able and wise ruler, a truly great human being too.

Ranjit Singh is the only king in the history of world to have conquered Afghans, which even modern militaries of USA and Russia couldn’t achieve, and eventually blocked entry of Mughals.
My request to all, please do share this information with as many as you can, especially to the younger generation, as a humble tribute to this great emperor on his Death Anniversary 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼