Ranbir Singh of Jammu and Kashmir
|Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir|
|Reign||20 February 1856 – 12 September 1885|
Ramgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, British India (present-day Jammu and Kashmir, India)
|Died||12 September 1885(aged 55)|
|Issue||Pratap Singh and 5 others|
Ranbir Singh was the third son of Gulab Singh, the founder of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Ranbir Singh ascended the throne in 1856 after Gulab Singh's abdication due to his poor health. He allied with the British during the Sepoy Mutiny. Unlike European women and children, Indian mutineers were not allowed to take refuge in his state. He also sent his troops to help the British to besiege Delhi. He was subsequently rewarded for his behaviour during the mutiny. He went on to annex Gilgit which had previously witnessed a rebellion against the state. The princely states of Hunza and Nagar started paying tributes to Jammu and Kashmir during his reign. He also established a modern judicial system. Civil and criminal laws were compiled into the Ranbir Penal Code during his reign. Ranbir Singh was a scholar of Sanskrit and Persian languages and had many books translated.
Singh was born at Ramgarh, Jammu and Kashmir in August 1830. He was the third son of Maharaja Gulab Singh. His mother Rakwal Maharani was the first wife of Gulab Singh. Ranbir Singh was adopted by Raja Suchet Singh, his childless uncle. Ranbir Singh inherited all his jagirs upon his death in 1844.
Ranbir Singh's father Maharaja Gulab Singh suffered from edema. With his health deteriorating, he decided to abdicate in early 1856. Subsequently, Ranbir Singh ascended the throne of Jammu and Kashmir on 20 February 1856. Gulab Singh was appointed governor of Kashmir.
In 1857, the Sepoy Mutiny, an uprising against the British rule broke mainly in present-day Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Under the leadership of Ranbir and Gulab Singh, the state allied with the British. They sent money to the British troops stationed at Punjab. The mutineers were not allowed to take asylum in the state, which bordered the then British India. British women and children took refuge in the Kashmir valley. After the death of Gulab Singh, Ranbir Singh sent a battalion of Jammu and Kashmiri soldiers to help the British to besiege Delhi. He was subsequently rewarded for his loyalty to the British. The Treaty of Amritsar was amended in 1860 and a new provision was inserted which allowed a Dogra ruler to adopt a child from a collateral branch of the family. Previously, according to the treaty, the state would have been annexed by the British if a ruler did not have a natural heir. He was also rewarded with the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India in 1862. His gun salute was increased from 19 to 21 guns.
Annexation of GilgitEdit
During the final years of Gulab Singh's reign, a rebellion in Gilgit caused heavy casualties to the Dogra troops. In 1860, Ranbir Singh sent his army under the leadership of Colonel Devi Singh Narania, Colonel Bijai Singh and General Hoshiara Singh to Gilgit. They successfully recaptured Gilgit. By the end of 1870, the states of Hunza and Nagar started paying tributes to Jammu and Kashmir. In return, they received an annual subsidy.
Ranbir Singh established a modern judicial system. Civil and criminal laws were written and consolidated into the Ranbir Penal Code which are followed in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir even today. The judicial system was handed over to the executive officers. Separate prisons were built for political prisoners. Ranbir Singh organized two durbars in a day in which he heard petitions.
Ranbir Singh founded separate departments for foreign affairs, home affairs, civil affairs and army. He founded a silk factory in the state. He also promoted its trade. The shawl industry flourished during his reign which provided employment and a minimum income to his subjects.
Opposition to a ResidentEdit
As per the Treaty of Amritsar, there was no provision for the appointment of a Resident in the state. With the appointment of an Officer-on-Special-Duty in 1851, the idea of appointing a Resident started dominating amongst the British government. In 1873, The Lord Northbrook, the then Governor-General of India wrote to Ranbir Singh about a proposal to appoint a British Resident in Kashmir. However, Singh rejected such a proposal. He submitted a memorandum and reminded the services of Gulab Singh to the British. He also reminded the British that unlike most of the monarchs of princely states, he refused to take any jagir as a gift in lieu of his services during the Sepoy Mutiny.
In 1882, Ranbir Singh wrote to the British government and requested them to nominate his younger son Amar Singh as his successor. He felt that Amar Singh was more wise than his siblings - Pratap Singh and Ram Singh. On 12 September 1885, Ranbir Singh died. Governor-general The Lord Ripon announced that Pratap Singh would succeed him. In return, Pratap Singh yielded to the British demand of appointing a Resident.
Ranbir Singh followed the footsteps of Zain-ul-Abidin and Avantivarman, who were former rulers of Kashmir. He employed pandits and maulvis to translate and transliterate religious texts. Sir Aurel Stein catalogued 5,000 such works. Besides religious books, books on medical sciences were also translated into Urdu, Dogri and Hindi.
Ranbir Singh was a scholar of Sanskrit and Persian languages. He was also fond of speaking Pashto. He conversed with his Afghan bodyguards in Pashto. He established a Sanskrit pathshaala in the complex of the Raghunath Temple. Grammar, philosophy, poetry, algebra, Euclidean geometry and Vedas were taught in it.
Although Ranbir Singh received semi-formal education, he was interested in spreading education amongst the masses. He donated ₹100,000 (US$1,400) to University of the Punjab at the time of its establishment in 1882. In return he was made the first fellow of the university. Ranbir Singh frequently met scholars of various subjects and discussed the subjects with them.
In June 1843, Ranbir Singh married Subh Devi Sahiba, the daughter of the raja of Siba State. In October 1848, he married a princess of Bilaspur state. In July 1871, he married for a third time to Charak Maharani Krishna Devi. After 1880, he married twice.
Singh had six children including four sons:
|Pratap Singh||Subh Devi Sahiba||18 July 1848||23 September 1925||one son, one daughter|
|Sir Ram Singh||Kahluriya Maharani||31 May 1861||22 June 1899||Bahawal Singh, Narayan Singh, one daughter|
|Sir Amar Singh||Subh Devi Sahiba||14 January 1864||26 March 1909||Hari Singh|
|Lakshman Singh||Krishna Devi||1870||September 1875||None|
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