Maharaja Ranjit Singh popularly known as the lion of the Punjab is perhaps the most outstanding figure in Punjab history. Because of his extraordinary qualities as a fighter, conqueror and an empire builder Ranjit Singh is often compared with Napoleon Bonaparte, Bismarck and Akbar.
Rising from the position of the chief of one of the twelve Sikh confederacies in the 18th century Punjab, Ranjit Singh was the first Punjabi ruler who established a vast empire in north India, which extended from the Khyber pass in the North West, Sutlej in the East, deserts of Sind in the South and China and Tibet in the North. Because of his benevolent policies the Maharaja endeared himself to his subjects, a majority of whom were other than his co-religionists. Through his genius Ranjit Singh built a powerful military system and modernized his army on European lines with the help of French and Italian generals.
With the advice of a set of highly capable ministers, the Maharaja provided a system of administration wherein all his subjects with diverse religious beliefs and practices could live in peace and harmony. Though Ranjit Singh died in 1839 and his kingdom was annexed to the British Empire ten years later, the legend of Ranjit Singh continues to live and rule over the hearts and minds of the people of Punjab.
This book tries to capture the life and times of the Maharaja based on some of the hitherto inaccessible and unpublished material collected from various repositories in India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The text has been provided by Dr. Mohinder Singh, an eminent Sikh historian and Director of the National Institute of Punjab studies, and his research Associate Rishi Singh, while pictures have been taken by Sondeep Shankar, one of India's leading photographers.
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