Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Sultan-ul-Qaum Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (3 May 1718 – 23 October 1783)[3] was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy, being the Supreme Leader of the Dal Khalsa. He was also Misldar of the Ahluwalia Misl. This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801. He founded the Kapurthala State in 1772.

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Honorable Jathedar
5th Jathedar of Akal Takht
In office
Preceded byKapur Singh
Succeeded byPhula Singh
4th Jathedar of Buddha Dal
In office
Preceded byKapur Singh
Succeeded byNaina Singh
Personal details
Jassa Singh

3 May 1718
Ahlu, Lahore Subah, Mughal Empire
(present-day Lahore district, Punjab, Pakistan)
Died23 October 1783 (aged 65)
Bandala, Sikh Confederacy
(present-day Amritsar district, Punjab, India)
Resting placeCremated at the Dera Baba Attal, Amritsar
Spouse(s)Mai Sahibji
Sadarani Raj Kaur Sahiba
RelationsBagh Singh (grand-nephew)
Known for
  1. Siege of Amritsar (1748)[1]
  2. Killing Salabat Khan[2]
  3. Sikh Occupation of Lahore (1761)
  4. Battle of Harnaulgarh (1762)
  5. Battle of Sirhind (1764)
  6. Establishing Independent Sikh state Kapurthala (1772°)
  7. Battle of Delhi (1783)

Early lifeEdit

Born Jassa Singh Aujla at a village called Ahlu in the Lahore of Punjab.

The formation of the Dal Khalsa and the MislsEdit

In 1733, Zakariya Khan Bahadur attempted to negotiate peace with the Sikhs by offering them a jagir, the title Nawab to their leader, and unimpeded access to the Harmandir Sahib. After discussion at a Sarbat Khalsa, Kapur Singh was elected leader of the Sikhs and took the title of Nawab. He combined the various Sikh militias into two groups; the Taruna Dal and the Budda Dal, which would collectively be known as the Dal Khalsa. Sikh militias over 40 years of age would be part of the Budda Dal and Sikh militias under 40 years were part of the Taruna Dal.[4] The Taruna Dal was further divided in five jathas, each with 1300 to 2000 men and a separate drum and banner.[5] The area of operations of each Dal, or army, was Hari ke Pattan, where the Sutlej river and Beas River meet; the Taruna Dal would control the area east of Hari ke Pattan while the Budha Dal would control the area west of it.[6] The purpose of the Budda Dal, the veteran group, was to protect Gurdwaras and train the Taruna Dal, while the Taruna Dal would act as combat troops. However, in 1735, the agreement between Zakariya Khan and Nawab Kapur Singh broke down and the Dal Khalsa retreated to the Sivalik Hills to regroup. Later the command of Dal Khalsa was taken by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia who was an able and powerful administrator, even displaced & brought Mughal’s centre of power at the time (Red Fort) under Khalsa flag. He made the foundation of Khalsa firm for future generations to lead.

Nadir Shah's invasionEdit

In 1739, Nadir Shah, the Turkic ruler of Persia, invaded much of Northern India, including Punjab, defeating the Mughals at the Battle of Karnal in 1739, he plundered the city of Delhi (Shahjahanabad) robbing it of treasures like the Peacock throne, the Kohinoor diamond and the Darya-i-Noor diamond. Meanwhile, all the Khalsa bands got together and passed a resolution that Nadir shah had plundered the city of Delhi and now he is taking Indian women as slaves to his country. Sikhs made a plan to free all the slaves. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was 21 years old at that time, he planned raids to free all slaves. He along with other Sikh bands attacked Nadir shah forces, freed all slaves and sent those slaves back to their families safely.[7][8]

Ahluwalia participated in many battles as well where he proved himself to be a natural leader. In a 1748 meeting of the Sarbat Khalsa, Nawab Kapur Singh appointed him as his successor. His followers awarded him the title Sultan-ul-Qaum (King of the Nation).[3]

The raids of Ahmed Shah AbdaliEdit

Ahmad Shah Durrani, Nader Shah's seniormost general, succeeded to the throne of Afghanistan when Shah was murdered in June 1747. He established his own dynasty, the Sadozai, which was the name of the Pashtun khel to which he belonged.

Starting from December 1747 till 1769, Abdali made a total of nine incursions into the north India. His repeated invasions weakened the Mughal administration of North India. At the Third Battle of Panipat, he along with Nawab of Oudh and Rohillas, defeated the Marathas, who after a treaty signed in 1752 became the protector of the Mughal throne at Delhi and were controlling much of North India, and Kashmir.[9] However they were never able to subdue the Sikhs in the Punjab.

Help of Sikhs to Jats of BharatpurEdit

Suraj Mal (1707-63) was the founder of Jat State of Bharatpur. He was killed on 25 December 1763 near Delhi by Najib ul Daulah, the Ruhilaa chief who had been appointed Mir Bakshi and Regent at Delhi by Ahmed Shah Durrani. Suraj Mal’s son Jawahar Singh sought help from Sikhs who responded with a Sikh force of 40,000 under the command of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. The Sikhs crossed the Yamuna on 20 February 1764 and attacked the surrounding areas. Najib ul Daulah rushed back to Delhi thereby relieving the pressure on Bharatpur. Najib ul Daulah suffered another defeat at hands of Sikhs under Ahluwalia after a battle that lasted 20 days in the trans-Yamuna area at Barari Ghat, 20 km north of Delhi. He retired to Red Fort on 9 January 1765 and within a month Sikhs defeated Najib ul Daulah again in Nakhas (horse market) and in Sabzi Mandi.[10]

Jawahar Singh also engaged 25,000 Sikh forces under command of Sardar Jassa Singh against the Rajput Raja of Jaipur in the Battle of Maonda and Mandholi and the Battle of Kama and was defeated in both; later the Rajput ruler made peace with the Sikh General.[11][12]

Rescue of Maratha women by SikhsEdit

After the 1761 Third Battle of Panipat which had ended disastrously for the Marathas, the Afghan army of Abdali had captured thousands of Maratha women, who were being taken back to Afghanistan to be sold as sex slaves. When Jassa Singh learned of it, he promptly left with a volunteer force, caught up with the Afghan army at Goindval on the Sutlej river, rescued the Maratha ladies, and took them back to their families. Thereafter, he was known as 'Bandi chhor', or the Liberator.[13][14]

The Sixth Abdali Incursion, 1762Edit

In early 1762, news had reached to Ahmad Shah Abdali in Afghanistan of the defeat of his general, Nur-ud-Din Bamezai, at the hands of the Sikhs who were fast spreading themselves out over Punjab and had declared their leader, Misldar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, King of Lahore.[15] To rid his Indian dominion of them once and for all, he set out from Kandahar. The Battle of Kup was fought on 5 February 1762 between the Afghan forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali (40,000 soldiers) and civilian Sikhs.[16] The Afghans launched a surprise attack on a civilian Sikh camp, consisting mainly of women, children and elders. The Sikh Camp only had around 5000-7000 Sikh warriors. These warriors formed a human shield around the Sikh civilians, and fought the Afghans bravely, killing thousands of Afghan soldiers. However, Abdali was able to break the ring and carried a full-scale massacre. Ahmad Shah's forces killed several thousand Sikh civilians.

In a fresh Afghan invasion of the upper Punjab, Ahmad Shah Durrani with his 100,000 Soldiers reached Malerkotla, west of Sirhind, then attacked a 20,000 Sikh army escorting 40,000 women and children, along with the elderly. In one of their worst defeats—known as Vadda Ghalughara—the Sikhs lost perhaps 5–10,000+ soldiers and had 20,000 civilians massacred. The Afghan forces of Ahmad Shah Durrani came out victorious with the night ambush on the large convoy.[17][18]

Despite the Ghalughara disaster, by the month of May, the Sikhs were up in arms again. Under Jassa Singh, they defeated the Afghan faujdar of Sirhind in the Battle of Harnaulgarh.[19] By autumn, the Sikhs had regained enough confidence to foregather in large numbers at Amritsar to celebrate Diwali. Abdali made a mild effort to win over them and sent an envoy with proposals for a treaty of peace. The Sikhs were in no mood for peace and insulted the emissary. Abdali did not waste any time and turned up at the outskirts of Amritsar.

The Battle of Amritsar (1762) was fought in the grey light of a sun in total eclipse. It ended when the sunless day was blacked out by a moonless night with the adversaries retiring from the field: The Sikhs to the fastness of the jungles of the Lakhi (the forests of a hundred thousand trees located in Central Punjab) and Abdali behind the walled safety of Lahore.[20]

Battle of DelhiEdit

The Sikhs under Baghel Singh had been raiding Delhi since 1764 but without success. On 11 March 1783 the combined Sikh army of Baghel Singh, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia conquered the Red fort of Delhi hosting Nishan Sahib.[21][22][23][24][25]


"He (Jassa Singh Ahluwalia) had the great privilege of conquering Lahore and issuing his own coin ... [and] sitting on the throne of the Mughal Emperors in the Red Fort at Delhi [after conquering it]. He fought a number of times face to face with Ahmad Shah Durrani, the greatest Asian general of his days. The invader tried to win him over in vain. The Maharajas of Patiala and Jind stood before him in all reverence and humility. The Rajas of Nalagarh, Bilaspur, Kangra Hills and Jammu touched his knees. The Nawabs of Malerkotla and Kunjpura paid him homage. And yet he remained a humble and docile disciple of Guru Gobind Singh. In the person of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, the Guru actually made a sparrow kill hawks. Jassa Singh was a great warrior, mighty general and eminent organiser. He bore thirty-two scars of sword cuts and bullet marks on the front part of his body and none on his back. He was a giant in body. ... Qazi Nur Muhammad who saw him fighting against Ahmad Shah Durrani called him a mountain." - Hari Ram Gupta[26]

"He was a great warrior, mighty general and eminent organiser. He bore thirty-two scars of sword cuts and bullet marks on the front of his body and none on his back. He was a giant in body. His breakfast consisted of one kilogram of flour, one half kilogram of butter, one quarter kilogram of crystalline sugar slabs ( misri ), and one bucketful of butter-milk (lassi). One he-goat sufficed him for two meals…. These were the days of physical prowess, and only men possessed of indomitable will power could compete with ferocious Afghans on better footing. He was wheatish in colour, tall, fat, with a broad forehead, wide chest, loud and sonorous voice which could be clearly heard by an assemblage of 50,000 men….. The horses under him must have been the size of an elephant. This is why he could be clearly seen by Qazi Nur Muhammad in a body of fifty or sixty thousand men. His long arms came down to his knees. This enabled him to strike his sword right and left with equal valour.[27]

Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College (NJSA Government College) in Kapurthala, established in 1856 by Raja Randhir Singh of Kaputhala is named after him.[28] A commemorative postage stamp on Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was issued by Government of India on 4 April 1985.

In popular cultureEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Singha, Dr H. S. (2005). Sikh Studies. Hemkunt Press. ISBN 9788170102588.
  2. ^ Singha, Dr H. S. (2005). Sikh Studies. Hemkunt Press. ISBN 9788170102588.
  3. ^ a b Singhia 2009, p. 111
  4. ^ Singha, H. S. (2005). Sikh Studies, Book 6. Hemkunt Press. p. 37. ISBN 8170102588.
  5. ^ Narang, K. S.; Gupta, H. R. (1969). History of Punjab: 1500 - 1558. p. 216. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
  6. ^ Singha, H. S (2000). The encyclopedia of Sikhism (over 1000 entries). Hemkunt Press. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-81-7010-301-1. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  7. ^ Rajmohan Gandhi (1999), Revenge and Reconciliation, p. 118, ISBN 9780140290455
  8. ^ Saggu, DS (2018). Battle Tactics And War Manoeuvres of the Sikhs. Notion Press. ISBN 9781642490060.
  9. ^ Gordon, Stewart (February 2007). The Marathas 1600–1818, Volume 2. Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7.
  10. ^ "Sikh Relations with Jats of Bharatpur". The sikh encyclopedia. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  11. ^ Herrli, Hans (2004) [1993]. The Coins of the Sikhs (2nd ed.). Munshiram Manoharlal publishers Pvt ltd , New Delhi. p. 233. In December 1765 Jawahir singh marched against Jaipur with 25000 sikhs who were bought off by Raja Mado Singh ,but in March 1768 Jawahir Singh , supported by 20000 Sikh mercenaries , again attacked and routed Mado Singh”
  12. ^ Hooja, Rima (2006). A History of Rajasthan. New Delhi: Rupa Publication. pp. 726, 736.
  13. ^ Ganda Singh (1990). Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Publication Bureau, Punjabi University. p. 106.
  14. ^ Mohindra S Chowdhry (2018). Defence of Europe by Sikh Soldiers in the World Wars. Troubador Publishing Limited. p. 40.
  15. ^ Mehta, J. L. (2005). Advanced study in the history of modern India 1707–1813. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 303. ISBN 978-1-932705-54-6. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  16. ^ Bhatia, Sardar Singh. "Vadda Ghallurghara". Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  17. ^ Jacques, Tony (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges. Greenwood Press. p. 553. ISBN 978-0-313-33536-5. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  18. ^ Awan, Muhammad Tariq (1994). History of India and Pakistan, Volume 2 (2 ed.). Ferozsons, 1994. pp. 502–505. ISBN 9789690100351.
  19. ^ Raj Pal Singh (2004). The Sikhs : Their Journey Of Five Hundred Years. Pentagon Press. p. 115. ISBN 9788186505465.
  20. ^ Alikuzai, Hamid Wahed (October 2013). A Concise History of Afghanistan in 25 Volumes, Volume 14. ISBN 9781490714417. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  21. ^ Singha 2000, p. 26-27.
  22. ^ Sethi, Jasbir Singh. Views and Reviews. ISBN 9788190825986.
  23. ^ Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs: Sikh Domination of the Mughal Empire, 1764–1803, second ed., Munshiram Manoharlal (2000) ISBN 978-8-12150-213-9
  24. ^ Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs: The Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of the Misls, rev. ed., Munshiram Manoharlal (2001) ISBN 978-8-12150-165-1
  25. ^ Randhir, G.S (1990). Sikh Shrines in India. ISBN 9788123022604.
  26. ^ Gupta, Hari Ram (October 2001). History of the Sikhs. Vol. IV: Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of the Misls. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1982. p. 43. ISBN 978-8121501651.
  27. ^ Gupta, Hari Ram (October 2001). History of the Sikhs. Vol. IV: Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of the Misls. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1982. p. 43. ISBN 978-8121501651.
  28. ^ "College of excellence, 150 years ago". The Tribune. 1 October 2006.
  • Singh, Harbans "The Heritage of the Sikhs."
  • Singh, Khushwant "History of the Sikhs."


Preceded by:
Nawab Kapur Singh
Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Followed by:
Akali Naina Singh