Nawab Kapur Singh's personality was the common link between these two wings.
He was universally esteemed for his high character. His word was obeyed
willingly and to receive baptism at his hands was counted an act of rare
merit. But he was so humble by temperament that he always thought of his
position among his people to be gift from them rather than the result of any
qualities he possessed.
The Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000.
To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it into five part, each
with a separate center. The first batch was led by Baba Dip Singh Shaheed,
the second by Karam Singh and Dharam Singh, the third by Kahn singh and
Binod Singh of Goindwal, the fourth by Dasaundha Singh of Kot Budha and the
Fifth by Vir Singh Ranghreta and Jivan Singh Ranghreta. Each batch had its
own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state.
The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective
papers at Akal Takht by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, one of the fewest literate
Sardars. From these documents or misls, the principalities carved out by
them came to known as Misls. Seven more groups were formed subsequently and,
towards the close of century, there were altogether twelve Sikh Misls ruling
between the land of the Five Waters.
The entente with the Mughals did not last long and, before the harvest of
1735, Zakariya Khan, the governor of Lahore, sent a strong force and
occupied the Jagir. The Sikhs were driven away towards the Malwa by Lakhpat
Rai, the Hindu minister at the Mughal Court at Lahore. They were welcomed by
Sardar Ala Singh of Phulkian Misl of Malwa. During his sojourn in the Malwa,
Nawab Kapur Singh conquered the territory of Sunam and made it over to ALA
Singh. He also attacked Sirhind and defeated the Mughal governor.
Nawab Kapur Singh led Sikhs back to Majha to celebrate Diwali at Amritsar.
He was pursued by Diwan Lakhpat Rai's army near Amritsar and forced to turn
away. The Taruna Dal promptly came to his help. The combined force fell upon
Lakhpat Rai before he could reach Lahore and inflicted him a severe defeat.
His nephew Duni Chand, and two important Faujdars, Jamal Khan and Tatar
Khan, were killed in the battle. In the summer of 1739, Nadir Shah, the
Persian invader, was returning home after a hearty plunder of Delhi and
The Khalsa Dal lay not far from the route he had taken. When he
reached Akhnur, on the River Chenab, they swooped down upon the rear guard,
relieving the invaders of much of their booty. On the third night they made
an even fiercer attack and rescued from their hands thousands of Hindu girls
who were restored to their families. For many a long mile, the Sikhs pursued
Nadir Shah in this manner.
Zakariya Khan continued to carry out his policy of repression with redoubled
zeal. A Pitiless campaign for a manhunt was started. Sikhs heads sold for
money and Mughals offered a prize for each head brought to them. According
to Ratan Singh Bhangu, "He who informed where a Sikh was received 10 rupees,
he who killed one received 50."
To cut off the Sikhs from the main source of their inspiration, the
Harimandir at Amritsar was taken possession of and guarded by Mughal troops
to prevent them visiting it. Sikhs were then living in exile in the Sivalik
hills, in Lakkhi Jungle and in the sandy desert of Rajputana. To assert
their right to ablution in the holy tank in Amritsar they would occasionally
send riders, who, in disguise or openly cutting their way through armed
guards, would reach the temple, take a dip in the tank and ride back with
lightning speed. Many a heroic tale of such daring adventure is recounted.
The governor of Lahore Zakariya Khan, sent a strong force under Samad Khab
to seek out the Sikhs.
Mughal force was severely punished and their leader
killed. Samad Khan had been the target of Sikhs' wrath since he had, on June
24, 1734 executed with torture, hacking bone by bone, Bhai Mani Singh, the
learned and pious high priest of the Golden Temple.
Nawab Kapur Singh now made a plan to capture Zakariya Khan. With a force of
2000 strong, dressed in green, their hair hanging loosely behind in Muslim
style and a green Muslim banner leading them, he entered the city and went
on to the Shahi Mosque where, according to intelligence received, the Mughal
governor was expected to attend the afternoon prayer. But Zakariya Khan did
not visit the mosque. Kapur Singh was disappointed at the failure of the
mission. Throwing off the disguise and shouting their usual war cries of SAT
SRI AKAL , the Sikhs marched out of Lahore and vanished into their jungle
This difficult period is full of countless other deeds of heroism and
sacrifice. A passion for martyrdom seemed to have gripped the Sikhs. As the
Prachin Panth Prakash says "Sikhs had a fondness for death. To court death
they had now found the opportunity. Their lives they held not dear. They did
not feel the pain if their bodies were slashed. They took to arms vowed to
death. "To Martyrdom are we wedded. We turn not our backs upon it, " sang
Meanwhile, to destroy the defiant race, the Mughal governor of Lahore and
his minister, Lakhpat Rai, launched an all-out campaign and set forth with a
large army. The latter's consuming passion for death of his brother Jaspat
Rai, who died in a battle with Sikhs. The Sikhs were brought to bay in a
dense bush near Kahnuwan, in Gurdaspur district. They put up determined
fight, but were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy and
scattered with heavy losses. They were chased into hills. More than 7000
Sikhs attained martyrdom that day.
"To complete revenge" says Syed Mohammad
Latif, the Muslim historian of the Punjab, "Lakhpat Rai brought 1000 Sikhs
in irons to Lahore, having compelled them to ride on donkeys, bare-backed,
paraded them in the bazaars. They were, then taken to the horse-market
outside Delhi Gate, and there beheaded one after another without mercy." So
indiscriminate and, considering the total Sikh population in those days, so
extensive was the killing that the campaign in Sikh history is known as
Chhota Ghalughara or the lesser holocaust. Wadda Ghalughara or the greater
holocaust was to come later.
In 1748, a section of Dal Khalsa under Charat Singh, grandfather of Ranjit
singh gave chase to the fleeing troops of Ahmad Shah Durrani (Abdali).
Another, at the instance of Nawab Kapur Singh marched on to Amritsar and
freed it from Mughals. Then Nawab Kapur Singh begged Khalsa to relieve him
out of his office, due to his old age, and at his suggestion Jassa Singh
Ahluwalia was chosen the supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Nawab Kapur Singh Singhpuria had led the
Sikhs through most trying times. Few men had even to contend with heavier
odds; few ever engaged in such unequal fight. Yet, striving valiantly, he
step by step built up the sovereignty of the Khalsa and, by the time he
retired, he had conferred on the Dal the lineaments of an independent State.
In the midst of this lifelong preoccupation with war and fighting, he
maintained irreproachable moral standards and was universally admired for
his devout and heroic spirit.