Friday, 30 October 2009

Exhibition on Nihangs: The Beloved Knights of the Guru

Exhibition on Nihangs:  The Beloved Knights of the Guru
By Vijaydeep Singh, Bhai Vir Singh Sahita Sadan,  Delhi.

An exhibition on the photograph of Nihung Singhs taken by Gurbir Singh Brar (on the October 25th) was inaugurated by Dr M S Gill, union minister, central government of India. During an informal chat of about an hour long, Dr Gill told the participants that during his childhood days, he himself had a close relationship Sursinghwala Tarnadal.

He suggested to S. Gurbir Singh to consider about another aspects of the life of Nihungs other than what is depicted via photographs in exhibition, while in exhibition most photos shows romantic valour of Nihung Singhs, Mr Gill told about the various hardships which Nihungs Singhs face in their life. He encouraged S. Gurbir Singh Ji to take photos of the same too.

Second Left to right. Dr J. S. Neki, Dr M S Gill, Dr Mohinder Singh

He further stresses the need to formulate a plan for the upliftment of Nihungs for their bright future. For that need for social scientist and anthropologist was discussed. During this time S. Gurbir Singh told that he along side the Dera Mastuna are already in process of preserving the culture of Nihungs in Malwa Area and to let rest of Sikhs contribute to the welfare of Nihungs.

Other dignitaries present included, Dr Mohinder Singh (Director, BVSSS), S. J. S. Neki (renowned scholar of Sikhism), S. Charanjeet Singh (Kalgidhar Trust, Baru Sahib) among other. It was covered by UKTV and PTC Punjabi.

It was decided there and then, about a future research in the field of Nihungs and more importantly their role in the future of Sikh community.

For more photos of the Nihungs captured by S Gurbir Singh visit

Feedback/suggestion on this issue could be send to Vijaydeep Singh email:

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Gurudwara Shahid Ganj and the Chali Mukte

Muktsar (Punjab), Oct.24, Avtar Gill (ANI)

Situated 30 miles from Faridkot, Muktsar in Punjab commemorates the martyrdom of 40 Sikh soldiers three centuries ago.

At Gurudwara Shahidganj Sahib Guru Gobind Singh conducted the last rites of the ‘Chaali mukte’ – or the forty redeemed in Muktsar. It’s an edifice that symbolizes the bravery and honor of the Sikhs.

Among the four historical gurudwaras in Muktsar town, Gurudwara Shahid Ganj marks the spot where the Guru conducted the last rites of the Chaali Mukte.

“When Guru Gobind Singh Ji came here, he himself performed the last rites of the 40 Sikhs who laid down their lives in the battle. Guru Gobind Singh gave ‘mukti’ or liberation from material existence to the 40 martyrs. Many saints fail to get ‘Mukti’ even after years of hardship and difficulties. The Guru sent out the message that any sacrifice for the Guru and for religion would help a person get liberation from material existence,” said Bhai Harpreet Singh, the head priest of Gurudwara Shahid Ganj Sahib.

Located at Muktsar, it’s an important pilgrim center which derives its name from ‘Challi Muktas’ or, the forty redeemed who sacrificed their lives here fighting against the Mughals on December 29, 1705.

When the 10th Sikh leader Guru Gobind Singh learnt about their supreme sacrifice, he kissed all the dead and the dying and called then the Chaali Muktas or the Forty Liberated Ones.

He renamed Khidrana pond, the site of the battle, as Muktsar or the pool of salvation.

A large number of devotees come here regularly to pay homage to the martyrs at Gurudwara Sahidganj. The local residents come twice a day to the holy spot and recite their Japji sahib.

The holy place is believed to have supernatural powers that enable the pure hearted devotees’ wishes come true.

“It is important to let our future generations know about our rich heritage. We must also make them aware of the sacrifices made by our Gurus,” said Sukhdev Singh, a devotee.

“All our wishes are fulfilled. We visit the gurudwara twice a day in the morning and the evening. It provides inner peace and tranquility and our wishes are fulfilled,” said Rajwant Kaur, a devotee.

There are three more holy shrines in Muktsar commemorating Guru Gobind Singh’s fight against Mughals.

Gurudwara Tambu Sahib marks spot where the muktas took position behind trees and shrubs, which they camouflaged to look like tents.

Gurudwara Tibbi Sahib is the mound or tibbi from where Guru Gobind Singh shot his arrows at the Mughals.

Darbar Sahib is the principal shrine at Muktsar, which was originally constructed in 1743, but the present building is from the 1980s.

In January, millions of devotees gather in Muktsar to pay homage to the martyrs.

Painting of Maharajah 'Bhupinder Singh' under the hammer

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala 

Punjab Newsline Network, Tuesday, 27 October 2009, London

Hamsptead Auctions are to sell  a rare  oil on canvas  of  the famous Indian Maharajah - Bhupinder Singh of Patiala on 29th October. The painting dates to the 1930s.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (12 October 1891 - 23 March 1938) was a Sikh Maharaja of the princely state of Patiala from 1900 to 1938. He is perhaps the most famous Maharaja of Patiala, best known for his extravagance, and for being a cricketer.

In 1925, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala asked Cartier to re-set some of his jewels. The commission, completed in 1928, originally contained 2,930 diamonds and weighed almost 1,000 carats. Maharajah Bhupinder Singh  was a  descendant of the Sikh phulkian misl.

Link to Hamsptead Auctions

Link to sale of oil canvas lot 329

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

New documents found on the Kalgi of the Lahore Toshkhana

Document of the auction catalogue revealing the Kalgi (Kalje)

The National Sikh Heritage Centre & Holocaust Museum, Derby (UK) and the Sikh Community and Youth Services, Nottingham (Derby) have been conducting research on the whereabouts of the missing Kalgi and the three shasters of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

The research team of 12 researchers has recently uncovered new evidence which clearly shows that the Kalgi of Sri Guru Gobing Singh Ji taken by Lord Dalhousie from the Lahore Toshakana was sold at an auction for £10 - 10 shillings (in old British money). We will shortly be publishing all of our research but wanted to share this important new information with the Panth.

Please find below a press release which has been distributed to the Sikh press.

PRESS RELEASEOctober 20th 2009

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Kalgi Sold at Auction

National Sikh Heritage Centre & Holocaust Museum Uncovers New Evidence on the Sale of Kalgi of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji at an Auction

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.

The combined research teams of the National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum, Derby, UK (NSHC&HM) and the Sikh Community and Youth Services, Nottingham, UK (SCYS) have uncovered new evidence showing the journey of the Kalgi of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji after Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of India took it from the Toshakhana of the Khalsa Raj in the Lahore Fort in 1849.

In the 1970’s, Sardar Nahar Singh, identified amongst the papers belonging to the East India Company, text mentioning the sacred shasters and the Kalgi of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji; however there existed no conclusive evidence to locate their exact whereabouts. Since this find, prominent scholars have continued with the search but to no avail.

Many assertions have been made by individuals claiming to track the sacred Kalgi taken from Lahore by the British; the most recent being in July 2009, by Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, Punjab cadre DIG, and Mr Kamaljit Singh Boparai who took a kalgi belonging to the late Dr Chanan Singh Sandhu (Chan) to Panjab and stated for it to be the actual Kalgi of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has in response to this claim, organised a special committee to authenticate the claim. This committee after several months has not yet delivered its conclusions.

Over the past four months National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum, and the Sikh Community and Youth Services, Nottingham have conducted extensive research across the world to separate fact from fiction. A report was disseminated to the SGPC presenting the findings from the research. A copy of a report written for the Chief Minister of Panjab in 1975 by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which was also uncovered by the research team has already been made available to the SGPC and other researchers.

Prior to the new research, it was established that on 20th June 1898, Mr W.H. Broun, son-in-law of Lord Dalhousie, loaned the Kalgi and a number of other items to the Victoria and Albert Museum, known then as the South Kensington Museum. The Kalgi, along with other items, were returned to Mr W.H. Brown on 12th October 1898. Unfortunately the trail runs cold from 1898 and inspite of many efforts, no individual has been able to shed any further light.

The NSHC&HM and SCYS research team have gained access to some private papers amongst which is a personal list penned by Lord Dalhousie himself which details over 70 items taken by Lord Dalhousie from the Lahore Toshakana and sent to his home in Scotland. The list clearly states that not only was the Kalgi taken but it clearly states and describes which sword of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was sent to the East India Company Museum. Further more there is now clarity about exactly which shasters of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji are missing. The research team have also seen evidence of the sword of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji being received by the Company's Museum in London in February 1853 along with the Golden Chair of Maharajah Ranjit Singh.

It can now be categorically stated that the Kalgi taken from the Lahore Toshakana by Lord Dalhousie was in fact sold at an auction in the UK in 1898. The research team can also reveal that the Kalgi was sold for 10 pounds and 10 shillings (in old British currency which in today's money would be about £600.00). Though it has not been possible to identify the buyer of the Kalgi, there is now for the first time a real possibility of following this trail.

Manraj Singh Khela, Director of Strategic Development and Research at the National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum said, “this is an amazing find by the research team. Many people have tried to locate the Kalgi and there have been many postulations made but without being substantiated with evidence. What we have uncovered is categorical evidence that shows who possessed the Kalgi, that it was sold in an auction, when and where this auction took place. We also have possible leads on who bought it. We will pursue all leads and using every resource at our disposal. This is certainly one of the most important finds in Sikh heritage. We will ensure that all our findings are available to the Panth over the next few months who will be able to come and look at all our research at the National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum in Derby. We encourage all other researchers and committees to do the same.”

Guru'ta Gaddi celebrations conclude at Huzur Sahib

Guru'ta Gaddi celebrations conclude at Takht Huzur Sahib

The Sampurnta Samagam, or Concluding Ceremony, for the Tercenetary Celebrations to mark the Guru'ta Gaddi Diwas began at Takht Sachkhand Sri Huzur Sahib, Nanded on October 19 with a Nagar Kirtan from Gurdwara Nageena Ghat in the morning.

As per the maryada of Nanded Sahib, the saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib handwritten by Baba Deep Singh was brought to Takht Sachkhand Sri Huzur Sahib where Jathedar Singh Sahib Kulwant Singh led Five Beloved (Panj Piaras) completed the ceremony of handing over of Gur'ta, a ceremony marked every year.

The Tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh, had handed over the Guruship to Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji in 1708 before his jyoti-jyot and the ceremony underlines this passing on of Guruship to the scriptures.

Among those present during the ceremony on Monday were Vice-Jathedar Baba Jot Inder Singh, Bhai Ram Singh, Giani Pratap Singh head granthi, Bhai Kashmir Singh Vice-Granthi,  Bhai Maan Singh Chaur-bardar, administrator of the board managing the Takht Dr P.S.Pasricha, former Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Takht Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh, Baba Narinder Singh langar wale, Damdami Taksal head Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, Baba Avtar Singh Sursinghwale, Baba Sewa Singh Khadoor Sahib wale, Sant Kashmir Singh Bhoori wale, Baba Balwinder Singh Kurali wale and Sant Bhupinder Singh Jarag wale.

A large number of non-Sikhs were also part of the Nagar Kirtan that witnessed display of Sikh martial arts by many Gatka parties.

October 20th 2009, WSN bureau, World Sikh News, Nanded


See video of historic Baba Deep Singh Guru Granth Saroop

Sikh Yatra: The view from Pakistan

Gurudwara Nankana Sahib

Sikh Yatra: The view from Pakistan
Amid the seemingly unremitting gloom that engulfs as daily it is sometimes hard to discern hope – but hope there is and today it is the tiny Sikh community that provides it. Sikhs are one of our smallest minorities but the ripping asunder that was Partition means that many of their holiest shrines are on 'our' side of the border – whereas the bulk of Sikhs live on the other – Indian – side. They are a minority within the Indian population as well, perhaps two or three per cent, which is no impediment to one of their number becoming president, both unthinkable and constitutionally impossible here in the Land of the Pure.

Over 200 Sikh yatrees (pilgrims) have just returned home and declared themselves well-satisfied by the welcome and the protocol they received here, their sense of feeling secure in a country currently in the throes of a significant disturbance in the security environment, and their pleasure at the way their shrines and monuments have been preserved. Hospitality exceeded their expectations and they were quick to dispel rumours that their holy places had been neglected by our government. Sikh shrines have stood on the land which is now Pakistan for centuries and will stand for centuries to come. They are as much a part of our heritage as they are of the Sikhs. The Sikhs have gone home happy and we will welcome them again next year. We should perhaps spend a few thoughtful moments pondering why it is that we can welcome two hundred Sikhs as guests; but have difficulty living with the three or four million Christians, Hindus Sikhs and Buddhists who live within our own borders.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009,

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Compilation of the complete 31 ragas of Guru Granth Sahib

Compilation of the complete 31 ragas of Guru Granth Sahib released

P.K. Jaiswar, Tribune News Service, Amritsar, October 16

Dr. Gurnam Singh, a Sikh musicologist, has compiled the complete 31 ragas of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in his melodious voice with the pure music of stringed instruments.

A renowned scholar, kirtankar and Dean, Faculty of Arts and Culture at the Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr. Singh’s compilation of the 31 ragas of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib was recently released by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President, Avatar Singh Makkar, to mark the occasion of the birth anniversary of the fourth Sikh master, Guru Ramdass. The recording included one shabad in every Raag of Sri Guru Granth Sahib sung along with stringed instruments, produced by Fine Touch Company.

The recording titled ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib Raag Darshan’, includes the bani of Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Amardas, Guru Ramdas, Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Shekh Farid, Bhagat Bhikhan, Bhagat Namdev and Bhagat Kabir, recited by Dr. Gurnam Singh and a booklet has also been prepared along with the recording, which mentions the entire information of the 31 ragas, both in English and Punjabi.

Dr. Singh also served as a visiting scholar in the field of Sikh music in various foreign universities. Dr. Singh has developed Gurmat Sangeet academically and as a result, this subject has been introduced in various universities through the establishment of Gurmat Sangeet Departments and chairs at the international level.

Dr. Singh contributed a lot in the revival of the tradition of stringed instruments and has also published 13 books and many other prestigious recordings in the field of Gurmat Sangeet.

Before this project, Dr. Singh also composed the music of raga-based shabad- Kirtan with renowned musician Jagjit Singh for classical and film singers, which was released last year.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

New Exhibition: Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. 

Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The word maharaja, literally ‘great king’, conjures up a vision of splendour and magnificence. The image of a turbaned, bejewelled ruler with absolute authority and immense wealth is pervasive and evocative, but it fails to do justice to his role in the cultural and political history of India. Maharaja: the splendour of India’s royal courts re-examines the world of the maharajas and their extraordinarily rich culture.

The exhibition spans the period from the beginning of the 18th century to the mid-20th century, bringing together over 250 magnificent objects, many being lent from India’s royal collections for the first time. It examines the changing role of the maharajas within a social and historical context and reveals how their patronage of the arts, both in India and Europe, resulted in splendid and beautiful objects symbolic of royal status, power and identity. 
Sikh Highlights:


There is a varied programme of events to complement the exhibition.
Book online or call +44 (0)20 7942 2211

Lunchtime Talk

  • A King in Every Saddle - The Nihang Singhs of Punjab
  • Wednesday 2 December
  • Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre
  • 13.15-14.00
Photographer Nick Fleming shares his own photographs and experience of living life in Punjab as a Nihang Singh, a nomadic Sikh warrior. These warrior ascetics were instrumental in carving out a Sikh kingdom in 18th century Punjab in the wake of Mughal and Afghan domination.
  • Free, drop-in
 For more details of the exhibtion click here

Exhibition opening times

  • Daily 10.00-17.30

    (last ticket sold 16.45, last entry 17.00)

  • Fridays 10.00-21.30

    (last ticket sold 20.45, last entry 21.00)

  • Exhibitions close 10 minutes prior to
    museum closing

    Late night opening

    The V&A is open late every Friday - take this
    opportunity to visit Maharaja: The Splendour
    of India’s Royal Courts, meet friends and have
    a drink in our café-bar.

How to reach the V&A

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7
+44 (0)20 7942 2000
  • Tubes: South Kensington, Knightsbridge
  • Buses: C1, 14 and 74 stop outside the Cromwell
    Road entrance


There is full access to the galleries. We have a wide range of services for disabled visitors.
Call +44 (0)20 7942 2766 or Textphone +44 (0)20 7942 2002 for details.

Banda Bahadur battleground to be turned into a golf course.

Historians say Baba Banda Bahadar hung Wazir Khan’s body for two days from this tree, which is located in a school compound of Chaparh Jhiri village (Sirhind)

The land of Chaparh Jhiri (Sirhind) — where the first known open confrontation between the Sikhs and the Mughals took place in 1710 — is being converted into a golf course and a lake. No memorial has been raised in honour of Banda Singh Bahadar, who established Sikh raj in Punjab following victory in the Battle of Sirhind, writes Naveen S. Garewal

Tribune India, Sunday, October 11, 2009

Three hundred years after Baba Banda Singh Bahadar shook the foundations of the 1000-year-old Mughal empire in India by defeating and killing Wazir Khan (Faujdar of Sirhind) in the Battle of Sirhind that established Sikh raj in Punjab, the Punjab Government has yet to do anything substantial to preserve history for posterity. On the contrary, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has planned to turn the site — where the battle took place in 1710 — into a golf course and a lake.

The historic area on the Kharar-Banur road, where the great Sikh martyr fought the Battle of Sirhind, has already been levelled by colonisers

The government has even failed to declare Chaparh Jhiri, either a historic or a heritage village. Some nearby villages with no significance have been conferred with this distinction of being labelled as historic or heritage villages.

Interestingly, this area of Chaparh Jhiri (Sirhind) — in which the first known open confrontation between the Sikhs and the Mughals took place — also known as the mother of all battles — is located on the outskirts of Chandigarh, barely 10 km from the seat of the current government on the Kharar-Banur road. Yet, despite promises, successive governments have failed to set up any memorial. After this battle, Banda Bahadar also established the principle of ownership of land to the tiller.

The historic and strategic mounds from where Banda Bahadar directed and fought the battle have already been levelled by builders and colonisers. Somehow, about 150-odd acres of battlefield remains uncultivated to date. This is not only due to poor soil quality, but also because local people believe that this is sacred land where over 5,000 Sikhs lost their lives for their faith.

According to historians, while the great martyr cremated his soldiers, he hung Wazir Khan’s body for two days from a tree. The tree still exists and is located in a school compound.

With colonisers and developers fast overtaking the area, historic sites are being lost. The Punjab Government has no plans to preserve this historical site, or to build a memorial. At least, the GMADA plan released by the government has no such indication. Even today when people dig the land for some activity, they come across turban rings and other weapons of the soldiers that fought along with Banda Bahadar, the Panj Piaras sent by Guru Gobind Singh and thousands of the Guru’s untrained followers who joined the fight. Many of these are now kept in a local gurdwara.

Chaparh Jhiri’s ex-sarpanch Jora Singh Bhullar says: "The historical and religious significance of the area has been passed on by word of mouth for generations in this area`85 that was once inhabited mainly by Muslims. We are not against the GMADA making a golf course or a lake. They should do it by all means as it would bring development to the area. But the government should build a battle memorial — a minar-e-fateh — and a museum showing a light and sound programme for the benefit of future generations."

Explaining the relevance of the battle, Baljit Kaur Gill, a Sikh intellectual, says: "After capturing Sonepat, Samana, Shahbad, Mustafabad, Kapuri and Banur, Banda Bahadar wanted to avenge the killing of Guru Gobind Singh’s two sons — Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh — and the atrocities perpetuated on Sikhs by Wazir Khan. The Mughal army had cannons and cavalry. The Sikhs only had swords, spears and small arms. The two armies clashed at Chaparh Jhiri on May 12, 1710, and the Sikh army won, turning a new chapter in Sikh history. Banda Bahadar then established Sikh raj with headqurters at Lohgarh."

Interestingly, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sanctioned a pitance of Rs 5,000 for Chaparh Jhiri village in 1978. At a recent function at Anandpur Sahib, he announced two memorials for the Sikh warrior — one at Chaparh Jhiri and the other at Gurdas Nangal (in Gurdaspur, from where he was captured and taken to Delhi) — to mark his first and last battles against the Mughals. "But the GMADA does not subscribe to the chief minister’s views, and has kept no such provision in its developmental plan", says Chaparh Jhiri nambardar Baljit Singh.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Rani Jindan’s necklace sells for £55k

Rani Jindan’s necklace sells for £55k.
Varinder Singh, Tribune News Service, Amritsar, October 8

The entire Sikh diaspora was shocked when it came to be known that an array of Sikh treasures, especially the necklace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s wife Maharani Jindan Kaur, a rare first-edition book, “The Court and Camp of Runjeet Singh”,(Sold for £2,040) and an 18th century engraving of a “Nihang Singh” went under the hammer at London-based Bonhams this evening.

The Court and Camp of Runjeet Singh

What, however, was a matter of solace for the Sikhs and Punjabis to a large extent was that the necklace was bought by two Kapurthala district-based Punjabi businessmen-cum-private collectors, Peter Virdi from Kapurthala township and his associate Dev Bath, originally from Baathan village in Kapurthala district.

They, it was learnt, bought the necklace, for a whopping £55,200 (around Rs 42 lakh), including buyer’s premium at the rate of 20 per cent. Virdi and Baath live in Central London.

Another item related to the Sikh history which, went under the hammer and was sold for £2600 was a braclet of six Sikh Maharajas, including Duleep Singh. The authorities at Bonhams, it was learnt, were expecting to fetch £25-30000 from the auction of the necklace.

“The auction evoked a warm response and a large number of Punjabis, particularly Sikhs, were present,” said London-based journalist Nirpal Shergill, adding that the Sikhs felt relieved that necklace was purchased by the two Punjabi collectors.

The necklace and other rare Sikh artifacts figured among over 380 items which, went under the hammer at Bonhams, amid a huge gathering of art lovers this evening, sources said. The beautiful emerald and seed-pearl necklace had remained a part of the Lahore Durbar Treasury and was one of the rare pieces of jewellery that adorned Maharani Jindan (1817-1863). The necklace, it was said, was made of as many as six polished emerald beads, each of which was mounted in pure gold and was surrounded by seed pearls. The jewel was lying covered in a case which carried an inscription: “From the court of Lahore formed by the HH Maharaja Runjeet Singh and lastly worn by her Highness the Late Maharanee Jeddan Kower.”

The rare necklace which carries an immense historical and emotional value, particularly, for the Sikhs and Punjabis the world over, was part of the vast collection of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his wife Maharani Jindan. It was “usurped” by the British troops which had wrested control of the Lahore Durbar between 1849 and 1850.

The British were also in possession of the Kohinoor diamond and Timur Ruby that were “gifted” to Queen Victoria by the then British authorities. Later, the necklace turned out to be the part of a rare jewel collection which, was sold by London-based Frazer and Hawes. Maharani Jindan was born in Chahar in Sialkot in undivided Punjab to Manna Singh Aulakh, a royal kennel keeper at the court of Lahore. She grew into a majestic beauty and attracted Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who made her his 17th queen.


Historical Sikh Prayer pothi sold for £3,360

Click here fore more details of this pothi

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Historical Sikh Prayer Book to be auctioned by Bonhams

Historical Sikh Prayer Book to be auctioned by Bonhams

Rahul Chatwal, Punjabinewsline, London

Bonhams of London are to auction a rare Sikh illustrated manuscript with four paintings of the Sikh Gurus.

Hand written in Lahore or Amritsar, dating from the mid-19th Century, the manuscript is lavishly illustrated with depictions of the Sikh Gurus, including Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Probably commissioned by a wealthy Sikh devotee, it is expected to sell for £3,000 – £5,000.

Compositions include The Japji Sahib and Sukmani Sahib. A manuscript of a similar nature can be seen in the collection of the British Library, London. The Sale will take place at Bonhams' next Indian and Islamic sale on October 8, 2009 at New Bond Street.

Description from Bonhams

A Sikh illustrated religious manuscript with four paintings of the Sikh Gurus
Lahore or Amritsar, mid-19th Century.

gurmukhi manuscript on paper, 556 leaves, seven lines to the page written in black ink, ruled margins in orange, black and red, four miniatures in the Kashmir style, oblong format, staining and creasing, green cloth binding, worn
137 x 183 mm.

The miniatures include depictions of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh (the first and tenth Gurus). The manuscript consists of selections from various Sikh texts, including the Japji Sahib, which is the opening of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, consisting of the Mool Mantra followed by thirty-eight hymns and (here) a closing Salok. Also included are the Sukhmani Sahib, composed by Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru, and the Kirtan Sohila, by Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan. Finally there are hymns by the fourth, ninth and tenth Gurus.

For a general discussion of the Guru Granth and the Sikh religion in general see N.-G. Kaur Singh, 'The Sikh Religion', in S. Stronge (ed.), The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms, London 1999, pp. 33-45.

Link to Bonham Site and item

Necklace Owned by Wife of Last Sikh Ruler for Sale

Necklace Owned by Wife of Last Sikh Ruler for Sale at Bonhams

Necklace Owned by Wife of Last Sikh Ruler for Sale at Bonhams

An important 19TH Century emerald and seed-pearl Necklace from the Lahore Treasury, reputedly worn by Maharani Jindan Kaur wife of Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab (1780–1839), is for sale in Bonhams next Indian and Islamic sale on 8th October 2009 in New Bond Street.

LION OF THE PUNJABThe necklace has six polished emerald beads, one later converted to a pendant, each bead gold-mounted and fringed with seed-pearl drop tassels, fastened with a gold clasp. It comes with a fitted cloth covered case, the inside of the lid inscribed: “From the Collection of the Court of Lahore formed by HH The Maharajah Runjeet Singh & lastly worn by Her Highness The Late Maharanee Jeddan Kower” It is estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000.

This rare necklace comes from the Collection of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and Maharani Jindan Kaur (1817-63), which was sold by Frazer and Hawes from Garrards, Regent Street, London.

Between 1849 and 1850, when the British took control of the court in Lahore, they entered the Treasury, where they found the court jewels wrapped in cloth. The Treasury was fabled to be the greatest and largest treasure ever found. The most famous and well-known jewels were taken away as gifts for Queen Victoria, including the Koh-i Noor and the Timur Ruby.

The Maharani Jindan Kaur was born in 1817 in Chahar, Sialkhot, Punjab. Of humble origins, she was the daughter of Manna Singh Aulak, the Royal Kennel Keeper at the Court of Lahore. She grew into a young lady of exquisite beauty and came to the attention of Maharajah Ranjit Singh at a young age. Manna Singh was reported to have pestered the Maharajah, promising that his daughter would make him youthful again. In 1835, she became Ranjit Singh’s seventeenth wife and in 1838 bore him a son, Duleep. Duleep was his last child and just ten months later Ranjit Singh died following a stroke. Jindan was the Maharajah’s only surviving widow, rejecting the practice of ‘Sati’ or throwing herself on the funeral pyre with his other wives, choosing to bring up her young son instead.

Ranjit Singh’s empire stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas, with its southern boundary bordering British India. His court was fabled for its patronage of the arts and sciences, and for its riches. The Russian painter Alexis Solykoff wrote on visiting the court: “What a sight! I could barely believe my eyes. Everything glittered with precious stones and the brightest colours arranged in harmonious combinations”. Upon the Maharajah’s death, his body was carried through the streets to his funeral pyre in a golden ship, “with sails of gilt cloth to waft him into paradise’. Immediately after his death, Ranjit Singh’s golden empire began to crumble. His eldest son, Kharak Singh took the throne, but was murdered two years later; the reign of Sher Singh was similarly short-lived and he was assassinated in 1843, upon which Duleep was proclaimed Maharajah at the age of five, with his maternal uncle as Prime Minister and his mother, Jindan, as Regent. His uncle’s position as Prime Minister was brief, after the Khalsa Army declared him a traitor and killed him. As Jindan came to power, she was swiftly confronted by the British army that had moved to her southern border in the hope of conquering one of the last independent states of northern India.

As Regent, Jindan became a thorn in the side of the East India Company. She waged two unsuccessful wars against the British, the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1846-49, which brought about the annexation of the Punjab. In 1846 she was deposed as Regent and in February 1847 the British took possession of the capital, Lahore, installing Sir Henry Lawrence as British Resident to oversee their affairs.

The British continued to see her as a major threat to their control of the Punjab, since she was instrumental in organising Sikh resistance, rallying her armies to battle and plotting rebellion against the British. Thus in August 1847, to halt her influence on the young king, Duleep was sent away from the palace and Jindan was ordered by Sir Henry Lawrence to the Summan Tower of Lahore Fort and was then was incarcerated in the fort at Sheikhurpura. After being moved around several prisons, in 1849 she escaped from British captivity at Chunar Fort, leaving a note for the British: “You put me in a cage and locked me up. For all your locks and your sentries, I got out by magic….I had told you plainly not to push me too hard – but don’t think I ran away, understand well that I escape by myself unaided…When I quit the fort of Chunar I threw down two papers on my gaddi and one I threw on a European charpoy, now don’t imagine I got out like a thief!”. Disguised as a beggar woman, she fled to the Himalayas, where she found troubled sanctuary in Kathmandu, Nepal. All her jewels and gold that had been left in the government treasure in Benares were confiscated, with the added threat that if she went to Nepal she would lose her pension as well.

In Kathmandu, she lived under the protection of the Nepalese King and government, and spent her time studying scriptures and doing charitable work through a temple she had built near her house. Life was not easy for her and she was kept as a virtual prisoner with a meagre allowance. Under pressure from the British officials at Kathmandu, who portrayed her as dangerous with her alleged efforts to create disaffection against the British, the Nepalese imposed humiliating restrictions upon her. In the meanwhile, the British press began a campaign to blacken her name, calling her the ‘Messalina of the Punjab’, a term first coined by Governor-General Lord Hardinge. Like Messalina, the wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius, Jindan was portrayed as a licentious seductress, who was powerful and influential, and too rebellious to control.

The young Maharajah, Duleep, was moved to Fategarh, where he lived under the guardianship of Dr John Login and his wife, and eventually arrived in Britain in 1854, at the age of sixteen, where he was adopted as a godson by Queen Victoria. Under the influence of the Logins, he converted to Christianity and was brought up as a young English gentleman. In 1860, Duleep sent his native attendant to Kathmandu to find out about his mother and a report came back through the British resident at Nepal that: “The Rani had much changed, was blind and lost much of her energy, which formerly characterised her, taking little interest in what was going on”. The Governor General agreed to a meeting based on this report of the Rani’s condition, thinking that the last queen of the Punjab no longer posed a threat.

In 1860, tired of her exile and isolation, and the indignity she was made to suffer, she travelled to meet her son in Calcutta. For the first time in thirteen and a half years, they were reunited at Spence’s Hotel in January 1861. Duleep found her almost blind and suffering from poor health. He offered her a house in Calcutta, but she expressed her wish to stay with her son, following years of enforced separation. And so it was agreed that the Rani would travel to England. Her private property and jewels, previously taken by the British authorities, would be restored to her on the basis that she left India and in addition she would be granted a pension of £3,000 per annum. Her jewels were returned to her at Calcutta at the start of the journey.

On the 1st August 1863, Jindan died in her Kensington home in the country of her sworn enemy, just two and a half years after being reunited with her son and leaving him inconsolable. In 1864, permission was granted to take the body to India, which had been her dying wish, and she was cremated at Bombay (Duleep was not allowed to go to the Punjab), her ashes scattered on the Godavai and a small memorial or samadh erected on the left bank. In 1924, her ashes were later moved to Lahore by her grand-daughter Princess Bamba Sutherland, and deposited at the samadh of Ranjit Singh. Finally the ‘Messalina of the Punjab’ returned home to rest.

10 acres acquired for Sikh heritage complex

10 acres acquired for Sikh heritage complex
Hindustan Times,Gurdaspur, 4th October 2009

The government has acquired 10 acres of land adjoining Gurdwara Ghallughara, which was built in the memory of more than 11,000 Sikhs massacred by the Mughal troops in the Kahnuwan Chhamb in 1746, for the proposed `Sikh heritage complex'.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had laid the foundation stone for the complex before the Kahnuwan Assembly segment byelection. Stating this while addressing a gathering at Kahnuwan on Saturday, local MLA Sewa Singh Sekhwan said the government had already spent Rs 15 crore on solving the wetland problem in the Kahnuwan area.

He added that he had recently got Rs 8 crore for new development projects for Kahnuwan Assembly. Sekhwan also listened to the problems of people at a Sangat Darshan programme.


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