MAHARAJA RANJIT SINGH (178o-1839) , native
See also:Indian ruler, was
See also:born on the 2nd of
See also:November 178o, the son of
See also:Mahan Singh, whom he succeeded in 1792 as
See also:head of the Sukarchakia branch of the
See also:Sikh confederacy . By
See also:birth he was only one of many Sikh barons and owed his rapid rise entirely to force of character and will . At the age of seventeen he seized the reins of
See also:government . He is said to have poisoned hismother, though it is more probable that he merely imprisoned her to keep her out of his way . At the age of twenty he obtained from Zaman Shah, the
See also:king of
See also:Afghanistan, a
See also:grant of
See also:Lahore, which he seized by force of arms in 1799 . Subsequently he attacked and annexed
See also:Amritsar in 1802, thus becoming
See also:master of the two Sikh capitals . When Jaswant Rao
See also:Holkar took
See also:refuge in the
See also:Punjab in 18o5, Ranjit Singh made a treaty with the
See also:British, excluding Holkar from his territory . Shortly afterwards acute difficulties arose between him and the British as to the Cis-
See also:Sutlej portion of the Punjab . It was Ranjit Singh's ambition to weld the whole of the Punjab into a single Sikh
See also:empire, while the British claimed the territory south of the Sutlej by right of
See also:conquest from the
See also:Mahrattas . The difference proceeded almost to the point of war; but at the last moment Ranjit Singh gave way, and for the future faith-fully observed his engagements with the British, whose rising power he was wise enough to
See also:gauge . In x8o8
See also:Metcalfe was sent to settle this question with Ranjit Singh, and a treaty was concluded at Amritsar on the 15th of
See also:April 1809 . At this
See also:period a
See also:band of Sikh fanatics called " akalis," attacked
See also:Sir Charles Metcalfe's escort, and the steadiness with which the disciplined sepoys repulsed them, so impressed the maharaja that he decided to
See also:change the strength of his army from
See also:cavalry to
See also:infantry .
He organized a powerful force, which was trained byFrench and
See also:officers such as Generals Ventura, Allard and Avitabile, and thus forged the formidable fighting instrument of the Khalsa army, which afterwards gave the British their hardest battles in India in the two Sikh
See also:wars . In 1810 he captured
See also:Multan after many assaults and a long
See also:siege, and in 182o had consolidated the whole of the Punjab between the Sutlej and the
See also:Indus under his dominion . In 1823 the city and province of
See also:Peshawar became tributary to him . In 1833 when Shah Shuja, flying from Afghanistan, sought refuge at his
See also:court, he took from him the Koh-i-nor
See also:diamond, which subsequently came into the possession of the British
See also:crown . Though he disapproved of
See also:Auckland's policy of substituting Shah Shuja for Dost Mahomed, he loyally supported the British in their advance on Afghanistan . Known as " The Lion of the Punjab," Ranjit Singh died of
See also:paralysis on the 27th of
See also:June 1839 . In his private
See also:life Ranjit Singh was selfish, avaricious, drunken and immoral, but he had a
See also:genius for command and was the only man the Sikhs ever produced strong enough to bind them together . His military genius showed itself not so much in actual generalship as in the organization of his plans, the selection of his generals and his ministers, the tenacity of his purpose and the soundness of his
See also:judgment . The British were the one power in India that was too strong for him, and as soon as he realized that fact he was unwaveringly loyal to his engagements with them . His power was military aristocracy resting on the
See also:personal qualities of its founder, and after his
See also:death the Sikh confederacy gradually crumbled and fell to pieces through sheer want of leadership; and the
See also:rule of the Sikhs in the Punjab passed away completely as soon as it incurred the hostility of the British . See Sir Lepel Griffin, Ranjit Singh (Rulers of India Series), 1892; General Sir
See also:Gordon, The Sikhs, 1904; and S . S .
Thorburn, The Punjab inPeace and War, 1904 .
RANGPUR, or RUNGPORE
RANK (O.Fr. rant or rent, mod. rang, generally conn...
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