MAHARAJA DULEEP SINGH
THE KING IN EXILE
Sarkar-e-Khalsa of Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been hailed by historians of India and abroad. His secular outlook is a byword among his friends and foes. After his demise in 1839, there were series of tragedies and treacheries for the throne of the vast Sikh empire. Various authors have been writing about these gory incidents. This author who is a master of chronology, has very meticulously given the details of the successors of the Maharaja till he reaches his theme, Maharaja Duleep Singh, the youngest son of Ranjit Singh.
This booklet of 70 pages has six well-researched chapters starting with Generlogical table of Maharaja Duleep Singh. The details are minute and breath-taking when you finally reach Maharaja’s own children from both marriages. Prince Victor Albert, Prince Frederick, Prince Albert Edward, Princess Bamba Sofia, Princess Catherine, Princess Sofia Alexandra, Princess Alexandra and Princess Ada Irene, the last two being from second marriage.
We have all read history of Punjab in our earlier years, but it has been made easy by describing the Sarkar-e-Khalsa comprising four provinces - Lahore, Multan (Darul Aman), Kashmir (Jannat Nazir) and Peshawar. A beautiful map gives a vivid picture of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingdom.
After monarch’s death in 1839 AD, two strong factions – Dogra brothers and Sandhanwalia Sardars-emerged. “Where wealth accumulates men decay,” writes S K Sharma. Maharaja Kharak Singh, the eldest son was poisoned (November 5, 1840), Nau Nihal Singh (Kharak Singh’s son) killed (November 6, 1840), Sher Singh (Maharaja’s second son) killed September 15, 1843. Maharani Chand Kaur (widow of Kharak Singh) killed (June 1842). Finally, Maharaja Duleep Singh, youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was crowned on September 15, 1843.
Maharaja Duleep Singh (1838 – 1893) (55 years)
Author gives details of his father Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his mother Maharani Jind Kaur (Jindan), his first wife Bamba Muller (their marriage at Alexandria in Egypt at British consulate), their three sons, three daughters, his second wife Ada Douglas Wetherill, an English lady whom he married on May 21, 1889, in the Mayor’s office in Paris and she bore him two daughters. Thus the Maharaja was proud father of eight children (three sons and five daughters). Young Maharaja mounts the throne as a five-year child. Two Anglo-Sikh wars follow. Shah Mohammad describes the result of 1st War, ‘We won the battle but lost the fight’. Maharani Jind Kaur is imprisoned and shifted from jail to jail. After the 2nd Sikh war, Lord Dalhousie, Governor General, proclaims annexation of Punjab, when Maharaja Duleep Singh is hardly 10½ years. At this stage, he surrenders the most dazzling and peerless gem, Koh-i-Noor, to the Queen of England under Lahore Treaty of 1849. Maharaja is exiled to Fatehgarh (UP) when his mother escapes the Chunar fort to Nepal. Maharaja refuses to marry Princess Guramma of Coorg when Queen Victoria suggests this match. Maharani Jindan dies in London on August 1, 1863. Her body is brought to India by her son on February 16, 1864, and cremated at Nasik (Maharashtra). Maharaja’s efforts to return to India and reside in Punjab do not succeed but his intense desire to rejoin Sikhism is fulfilled on May 25, 1886, at Aden. He visits Russia in 1887 and reaches Moscow. It is sad to learn that he gets paralysed in Paris in 1890 and remains in that state for three years. This last sovereign of Sikh kingdom of Punjab dies on 22nd October, 1893, in his hotel room in Paris.
Gurmukh Singh Sandhu (birth 1920 AD) has a sharp eye for chronology, ready wit for collection of facts and versatility to coalesce and collate them into a wonderful bouquet, this booklet. The information condensed in the venture is commendable gift to historians in general, Punjabis and Sikhs in particular, who will sit up going through treacheries of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s successors, and indomitable courage of his youngest son Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Maj Gen (Dr) Jaswant Singh AVSM (retd)
1801, Sector 33-D
Copyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2010, All rights reserved.
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