History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Maharaja Ranjit Singh

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From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Mains level : Not Much

A bronze statue of the first ruler of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was vandalized in Pakistan.

Who was Maharaja Ranjit Singh?

  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh (13 November 1780 – 27 June 1839), popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or “Lion of Punjab”, was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.
  • He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye.
  • Prior to his rise, the Punjab region had numerous warring misls (confederacies), twelve of which were under Sikh rulers and one Muslim.
  • Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire.
  • He repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.

Empirical expansion

  • Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire spread over several states. His empire included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar.
  • The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — Zorawar Singh, a general from Jammu, had conquered Ladakh in Ranjit Singh’s name — in the northeast.
  • His empire extended till Khyber pass in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.
  • During his regime, Punjab was a land of six rivers, the sixth being the Indus.

His legacy

  • Ranjit Singh’s reign introduced reforms, modernization, investment into infrastructure, and general prosperity.
  • His Khalsa army and government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, and Europeans.
  • His legacy includes a period of Sikh cultural and artistic renaissance, including the rebuilding of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar, and Hazur Sahib Nanded, Maharashtra under his sponsorship.

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