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I've been looking around for information how the legal and justice system worked in the times when Sikhs had real political power. Did they have some sort of 10 commandments things going on? written decree's by the different land rulers of 101 laws that must be followed in each village/town/city? panchiyat system? panj pyare system even for non-sikhs? How did they punish wrong doers? What was wrong and crimes back in those days compared to today's? In my view the western and modern day legal system is based on the anglo saxon system with christian/judaic abrahmic ideological morality as its compass. However us dharmic eastern faiths have our own views of morality and of what is wrong and right. The world has been conquered and brainwashed by the abrahmic take on morality and thus evolved its crime and justice system. We should find out what our ideological Sikh legal system was like.
What do you guys think? It is very thought provoking isn't it? Res Publica. The rise and fall of the Sikh misls and the present day decay of Democracy. Often a commonwealth and/or a republic is built on the basis of the common good. The parameters which define this are however debatable and often victim to constant change. History is replete with examples of how the common good soon mutates into manifestations of corruption and avarice through the imperfectness of man. One such example is found in the rise and fall of the Sikh misls. A series of twelve confederacies (misls) which divided Punjab between themselves for the survival of the Sikh nation, but over time became hell bent on territorial conquest and achieving personal ambition. The concept, when presented to a mass gathering of Sikhs on March 29th 1748, was accepted with much gusto and cheering. At the time no one realised that the misls, which were to act as the lifeblood of the Punjab, would soon start to de-oxygenate it through their in-fighting. The misls, at first, were led by the glorious and Spartan Nawab Kapur Singh, a general whose only ambition was to create a united and singular nation for his community. His personality was the glue which bound the 11 confederacies together. At the time, this was no easy achievement. On one hand were the royal misls. Lead by successful and often wealthy leaders such as Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, and Charat Singh Sukarchakia; they were brave, resourceful and more often than not had their coffers full of finance. On the other hand was the reclusive Shahida, consisting entirely of the Akalis (traditional Sikh warriors) who relied on raids and looting to boost their financial position. Such a contrast could easily have caused divisions between the misls if it hadnt been for the strong-minded personality, of a single and militant leader. As time progressed each confederacy carved an extensive part of Punjab for itself. Obviously this lead it into conflict with the ruling regimes of the time. On one hand were the Mughals who occasionally approached them for help, on the other were the Marathas who were slowly consolidating their power on the sub-continent; whilst Afghanistan sent its raiders deep into Indian Territory for conquest and booty. By 1761, however, the confederacies were beginning to dominate Punjab and ultimately by 1780 had gained total control over Punjab. Long gone were the days of the Mughal and Afghani empires, now a new empire ruled Punjab and one which would become extensively synonymous with it; the Sikh empire. In the fashion of a true commonwealth it was moulded in a democratic form, with each and every one of the 11 chiefs holding a commune once a year at Amritsar (the religious capital of Sikh Dom) and bringing his/her problems to the attention of his/her companions. Yet reminiscent of todays democracies, strains of unease and tension were beginning to appear in these communes. Whereas at first there was a feeling of companionship and brotherhood, now there was an atmosphere of tension and unease. The maxim that power corrupts was beginning to take hold, and it was only a matter of time before past allies decided to drink each others blood. After the demise of Nawab Kapur Singhs charismatic successor, Jassa Singh Alhuwalia, in 1783 the confederacies declared open war on each other and the common good soon became clouded in the mists of profit and territorial conquest. The very leaders, who the common man relied on were now ignoring his wishes and setting his residence up for a fall. This inter-fighting saw the demise of many legendary warriors and politicians who would have contributed immensely in the growth of the Sikh sovereignty. The news of this in-fighting soon reached the ears of Zaman Shah, the Afghani emperor who decided to launch an offensive against Punjab. He succeeded in capturing the Sikh economical capital, Lahore, which weakened the confederacies even further. But rather than uniting together and facing this new threat, the confederates soon started extending their empire into North India towards Kashmir and Delhi. What was needed to preserve the common wealth of Punjab, and the common good was a shrewd and cunning leader. One who could unite the confederacies, by force if necessary, and give the state a new face. Only a few of the confederates possessed such a character, amongst them being Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Mahan Singh Sukarchakia and the father son-duo (Jai Singh and Gurbax Singh) of the Kaniheya confederacy. However all were too busy in slaughtering each other and adding more area to their ever expanding territories. Furthermore Punjab so far had only ever been subject to imperial governing, whether at the hands of the Mughals, Afghanis and Sikhs was a different matter. So far a democratic imperial ship had failed the state. It had started off well but sunk half-way to its destination. What was needed was a change of government, the times required a single figure of power unlike Kapur Singh or Jassa Singh; a figure who retained the reins of power exclusively in his own two hands. So far corruption and avarice ran rife due to their being more than one powerful leader who paid tribute to the natural law of power, more than one powerful individual will always be a catalyst for conflict. This of course is reminiscent of many democracies, whichever leader rose to prominence in Punjab needed not only to subdue the confederacies but also demolish the old system. The catalyst for a new leader surprisingly was provided by the confederacies themselves. By this point in time all 11 had united against each other and were allying themselves with tributaries and kingdoms outside Punjab. It was to prevent an encroachment of external tributaries that the Kaniheyas and Sukarchakias bonded together in a pact. They also gave their solemn oath that if one was to attack any tributary of another confederacy, than he would share the profits with his partner. However it was not long before Mahan Singh, the ruler of the Sukarchakia confederacy, decided to break the pact. He along with his battalions attacked Kashmir and subdued its rulers, along with looting the state. This did not sit well with the Kaniheyas who decided to retaliate by crushing the Sukarchakias for once and for all. To this end Jai Singh sent his heir and son Gurbax Singh to attack Mahan Singh, who on the other hand allied himself with Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Chief Sansar Chand. The battle which followed has gone down in history as the battle of Batala. Friend and foe alike slaughtered each other in a feast of blood and metal, steel clashed on steel and warriors thundered massive war cries as they charged at each other. Ultimately the fate of the battle was decided after the untimely demise of Gurbax Singh. The Kaniheyas were defeated, and the Sukarchakias, along with the Ramgarhias, carried the day. For many Sikhs at the time this was only another battle in a never-ending chain of battles. Yet this was the long-awaited catalyst needed for a refurbishment of Sikh sovereignty. When Jai Singh received news of his sons death, he instantly handed the reins of the Kaniheyas to his daughter-in-law, Sada Kaur. Not only did she gain a position of prominence in a much feared confederacy, but also became commander-in-chief of the said confederacys military power. It was expected that she, being possessed of a valorous spirit, would clash with Mahan Singh who was responsible for her husbands early demise; but she surprised even her most vocal critics when she sued for peace. Sada Kaur had seen Mahan Singhs young son, the prince Ranjit Singh. The boy, despite being in his teens, was extensively shrewd and heavily cunning. He also possessed great perseverance and strength of character, which was lacking in other potential confederate heirs. He had been a victim of chicken-pox on his birth, but had survived its initial effects. However as a result he was blind in one eye and was not much of a sight to view, yet despite these handicaps he had trained himself to become one of the best horsemen in Asia and was an expert in firing from a moving stead. Furthermore he was also possessed of a strong desire to see a reconstruction of the Punjab political scene; however he needed a strong mentor to keep him on track. Mahan Singh was constantly embroiled in his own conflicts, and the young Ranjit was often left to his own devices. He had already proved himself to be an apt general, and this combined with many other factors convinced Sada Kaur to betroth her daughter to him. Hence by the time Mahan Singh died, in 1792, Sada Kaur and Ranjit Singh had already discussed their plans to change the face of Punjab permanently. On one hand were the united Kaniheya and Sukarchakia confederacies, whilst on the other hand were the individual confederacies. Despite their differences, with each other, the confederacies at any given time could unite against the Kaniheya-Sukarchakia alliance and uproot it. To prevent this Sada Kaur and Ranjit Singh launched quick successive attacks on each and every confederacy. It was soon becoming evident to the confederates that Ranjit Singh would bring about their downfall if he was not stopped. But just as Lenin and his God, communism, became an unstoppable force in Imperial Russia; so too did Ranjit Singh in a divided Punjab. He was hell-bent on re-designing the commonwealth of Punjab and was not willing to let any obstacles interfere with his vision. To this end by the time he was in his twenties, he had succeeded in subduing 9 confederacies and only two remained. It is not known why he never pursued his course with Shahida. Maybe he was fearful of its legendary battle prowess, or respectful of its generals and commanders-in-chief. Whatever the reason, even up till his death he did not enter into any debate or conflict with Shahida. The Bhangi confederacy on the other hand was a different matter. They had been responsible for his fathers early demise and also controlled Lahore, which had been won back from Zaman Shah. Also in their possession was the Zamzama the most feared cannon in that part of Asia at the time. To this end and entranced by the prospect of gaining the economic capital of the state, Ranjit Singh planned an all-out attack. One which if he won guaranteed him absolute power over Punjab. Unbeknownst to him, however, was the fact that most of Lahores population wanted him to capture the city. It had become a heavily fought over region due to the confederacy in-fighting and Ranjit Singh presented it with the prospect of peace, in a long time. Other factors too convinced the residents of Lahore that Ranjit Singh was the right ruler for them. He wanted to rule solely, this would prevent an outbreak of internal conflict in the future as was the case with the confederacies. Not only did he want to become a sole figure of power, he was also possessed of extreme cunning. Rather than execute his vanquished opponents, he would grant them employment in his court and was also planning on extending Punjab. To this end he was eyeing China, Nepal, Tibet, Afghanistan and what remained of the Indian sub-continent. Thus not only was he expanding his empire, he was also giving it a strong political legacy. Disillusioned with a democratic-confederate state he had decided to take the burden of ruling solely on his own head. Such a man, the residents of Lahore reasoned, was worthy of power. Finally the day arrived which would decide the fate of the confederacies, 7th July 1799. Would democracy be victorious, or a dictatorial monarchy? The question hung heavy in the tense atmosphere. The Bhangis had extensive military equipment, and were expert tacticians. Ranjit Singh on the other hand had Sada Kaur and an army composed of high-spirited and valorous soldiers. By nightfall the fate of Lahore, and the confederacies as a result, was decided. Lahore had fallen. Ranjit Singh had succeeded in his designs to wipe out the confederacies and their democracy. The year 1799 finally announced a change in Punjabs fortunes and the birth of an empire which would stand on par with the undefeatable British Empire. This fall of the Sikh confederacies however is not solely intended to be a lesson in gaining allies and military victories. It is reminiscent of many political frameworks today. Democracy, which is accepted as being an epitome of equality, is increasingly distancing itself from its real purpose. Thus there is an increasing disillusion with the system, even within its fundamentalist supporters. How equal is an individual in a democracy? Is the main question. Democracy has mutated into nothing more than a battleground for the elite few. Whereas at first the Sikh confederacies listened to their citizens, and pursued courses in a collective manner, as time progressed they became heavily embroiled in their own personal matters and forgot the common-good. Once more the common man was left with no course to resort to, as the very leaders who he selected and supported turned against his welfare. Even today a majority of nations pursue a theoretically democratic policy, but in reality are battlegrounds of the elite; who have been granted the right to rule over the common man by the common man himself. Thus what the global village needs now, nay requires now, is a new form of governorship. Similar to Ranjit Singh wiping out the vestiges of the confederacy, a contemporary Ranjit Singh needs to vanquish the remnants of democracy and replace it with a much better system. One can argue, via a devils advocates perspective, that everything man creates is doomed to failure. But one can also argue that what man creates is subject to evolution, and democracy has long overstayed its own evolution.