Revealed: The Men in the Iconic Picture From The Sikh Empire Times


Painting of nobles: (from left to right) Prince Sher Singh, Maharajah Ranjit Singh, Hari Singh Nalwa, Akali Phoola Singh, Faqir Aziz ud-Din (Collection of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Govt. of Punjab, artist: Bhai Sant Singh). Fakir Aziz ud-Din was physician, linguist, diplomat, and foreign minister at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was a Muslim, one of many non-Sikhs, in Ranjit Singh’s secular government of the Sikh Empire.

Maharaja Sher Singh

Sher Singh Maharaja, Sikh sovereign of the Punjab from January 1841 until his death in September 1843, was the son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, born on 4 December 1807 to Mahitab Kaur, the Maharaja’s first wife. Sher Singh grew up into a handsome, broad-chested young man. His soldierly mien made him popular with the army. He loved hunting and hawking, and devoted attention to cultivating European interests and hobbies in the company of foreigners serving at the Sikh court. In 1829, Maharaja Ranjit Singh conferred upon him civil and military honours and the privilege of sitting on a chair in the Darbar. Sher Singh took part in many of the campaigns undertaken by the Maharaja for the expansion of his kingdom. In May 1831, he defeated at Balakot, in Hazara district the turbulent Sayyid Ahmad Barelavi who had started a jihad against the Sikh rule. From 1831 to 1834 he acted as governor of the province of Kashmir. He was one of the army commanders who led in 1834 forces in Peshawar and who finally seized the city from the Afghans.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharajah Ranjit Singh Sandhawalia (November 13, 1780 – June 27, 1839), also known as “Sher-e-Punjab” (“The Lion of Punjab”), became the first Sikh Emperor after uniting the 11 Sikh Kingdoms of Punjab on the foundations of the Khalsa and under the banner of Sarkar-i-Khalsa, from 1799-1839.

Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa

How the vast Afghani Empire on Punjabi soil disappeared in Kasur, Multan, Kashmir and Peshawar is a subject closely associated with the campaigns of Sardar Hari Singh Nalua, the Marshal of the Khalsa and terror for the Afghans. Being the ‘Murat of the Khalsa’ as he was appropriately called by Sir Henry Griffin, the famous British dignitary and a prominent writer of significant treatise on the Sikhs, his name figures among those patriots who participated bravely rather passionately in almost all battles fought constantly against the Afghans during the Sikh rule under Maharaja Ranjit Singh for a period of three decades from A.D. 1807 to A.D. 1837.

Akali Phoola Singh

There were many warriors who kept high the symbol of unflinching will of Khalsa. There were yet many who were went to Khalsa for personal glory, to win estates, etc. But, we are yet to find an example whose only and only purpose was to serve Khalsa and to keep the Nishan Sahib flying high. He was Nihang Akali Phula Singh. Nihang, the word is derived from persian which means ‘crocodile’. Nihangs, were created by Dasam Pita Guru Gobind Singh ji , to serve the Khalsa Community. Nihangs do not marry, and their only purpose is to live and die for Khalsa. Many historians call Nihangs as “Suicide squads”, this is utterly wrong, suicide is a sin in Sikhism. Sikhs_on_march Nihangs only purpose is to fight for the Khalsa’s defense. Akali Phula Singh was born January 14th 1761 in a Village named Shinh, in Amritsar. He joined an order of Nihangs at Golden Temple at an early age where he got all the martial training. Later, when he was 18 years old he shifted to the fort of Gobindgarh became a leader of one of the band of fighters who formed a squad of Sikh army. When Maharaja Ranjit Singh consolidated Amritsar into his empire by defeating number of families who were ruling this city, Akali Phula Singh, joined Maharaja Ranjit Singhin this noble cause. Due to this very reason he was made the Jathedar of Akal Takth in 1807.

Faqir Aziz UdDin

Fakir Azizuddin was a Muslim chief minister in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s government dealing with primarily with the “foreign ministry” although he had over time dealt with other departments like revenue collection, etc. Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) who was a Sikh ruled Punjab from about 1799 until his death in 1839. During his rule he appointed many non-Sikhs to his government – His was a secular government unlike his predecessors, the Mughal emperors. Fakir Azizuddin was a prominent and senior member of this team and he served in government with his two other brothers. It is recorded that he was a Punjabi Muslim and was one of the Maharaja’s most favourite ministers; they often took afternoon walks together through Lahore.

The majority of Ranjit Singh’s subjects were Muslim and had an intense loyalty towards him and his Sikh’s. This was once highlighted when Fakir Azizuddin, had a meeting with the British Governor-General. When George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland asked Fakir Azizuddin which of the Maharaja’s eye was missing, he replied: “the Maharaja is like the sun and sun has only one eye. The splendour and luminosity of his single eye is so much that I have never dared to look at his other eye.”

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