|History of South Asia
History of India
|Stone Age||before 3300 BCE|
|- Mehrgarh Culture||7000–3300 BCE|
|Indus Valley Civilization||3300–1700 BCE|
|- Late Harappan Culture||1700–1300 BCE|
|Islamic Rulers||1206–1707 CE|
|- Delhi Sultanate||1206–1526 CE|
|- Deccan Sultanates||1490–1596 CE|
|Vijayanagara Empire||1336–1646 CE|
|Mughal Empire||1526–1707 CE|
|Maratha Empire||1674–1818 CE|
|Durrani Empire||1747–1823 CE|
|Sikh Empire||1799–1849 CE|
|Company rule in India||1757–1858 CE|
|British India||1858–1947 CE|
|Partition of India||1947 CE|
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Maldives • Nepal • Pakistan • Sri Lanka
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The first known use of the word Punjab is in the book Tarikh-e-Sher Shah Suri (1580), which mentions the construction of a fort by "Sher Khan of Punjab". The first mentioning of the Sanskrit equivalent of 'Punjab', however, occurs in the great epic, the Mahabharata (pancha-nada 'country of five rivers'). The name is mentioned again in Ain-e-Akbari (part 1), written by Abul Fazal, who also mentions that the territory of Punjab was divided into two provinces, Lahore and Multan. Similarly in the second volume of Ain-e-Akbari, the title of a chapter includes the word Punjab in it. The Mughal King Jahangir also mentions the word Punjab in Tuzk-i-Janhageeri. Punjab in Persian literally means "five" (panj) "waters" (āb), i.e., the Land of Five Rivers, referring to the five rivers which go through it. It was because of this that it was made the granary of British India. Today, three of the rivers run exclusively in Pakistani Panjab with the tributaries of the other two eventually draining there as well. Indian panjab has the headwaters of the remaining two rivers which eventually drain over into Pakistan.
Archaeological discoveries at Mehrgarh in present-day Baluchistan show humans inhabited villages in the region as early as 7000 BCE. By about 3000 BCE the small communities in and around the Indus River basin had evolved and expanded giving rise to the Indus valley civilization, one of the earliest in human history. At its height, it boasted large cities like Harrapa (near Sahiwal in West Punjab) and Mohenjo Daro (near Sindh).The civilization declined rapidly after the 19th century BCE, for reasons that are still largely unknown.
Factors in the Indus valley civilization's decline possibly included a change in weather patterns and unsustainable urbanization. This coincided with the drying up of the lower Sarasvati River. The Out of India theory suggests that this drying up caused the movement of the Indo-Aryans towards the Gangetic basin.[3 ] The next one thousand years of the history of the Punjab (c.1500-500 BCE) is dominated by the Aryans and the population and culture that emerged from their cultural development in the Asian subcontinent.
The Rig-Veda, one of the older texts in South Asia, is generally thought to have been composed in the Greater Punjab. It embodies a literary record of the socio-cultural development of ancient Punjab (known as Sapta Sindhu) and affords us a glimpse of the life of its people. Vedic society was tribal in character. A number of families constituted a grama, a number of gramas a vis (clan) and a number of clans a Jana (tribe). The Janas, led by Rajans, were in constant inter-tribal warfare. From this warfare arose larger groupings of peoples ruled by great chieftains and kings. As a result, a new political philosophy of conquest and empire grew, which traced the origin of the state to the exigencies of war.
An important event of the Rigvedic era was the "Battle of Ten Kings" which was fought on the banks of the river Parusni (identified with the present-day river Ravi) between king Sudas of the Trtsu lineage of the Bharata clan on the one hand and a confederation of ten tribes on the other. The ten tribes pitted against Sudas comprised five major the Purus, the Druhyus, the Anus, the Turvasas and the Yadus---and five minor ones, origin from the north-western and western frontiers of present-day Punjab---the Pakthas, the Alinas, the Bhalanas, the Visanins and the Sivas. King Sudas was supported by the Vedic Rishi Vasishtha, while his former Purohita the Rishi Viswamitra sided with the confederation of ten tribes.
Out of such conflicts, struggles, conquests and movements of the Vedic of the Middle and Later Vedic age emerged the heroic society of Punjab, a society that laid special stress on the value of action as depicted by their ideals and standards in the Hindu Epics, notably the Mahabharata.
The [philosophy of heroism of the Epic Age is excellently expounded in the Bhagavatagita section of the Mahabharata. That great work is a synthesis of many doctrines and creeds, but its oldest core is arguably the enunciation of a martial and heroic cult. The Bhagavatagita comprehensively expounds a philosophy of heroism probably current in the then Punjab. It seeks to provide a philosophical foundation to the profession of arms and invests the Kshatriya or warrior with respectable position and noble status. It canonizes his professional integrity and injects an intensity of purpose into it. This philosophy was professed by the warrior communities of ancient Punjab and countless generation of Punjabi soldiers have derived their strength and inspiration from it. The Punjabis, represented by ethnic groups such as the Gandharas, the Kambojas, the Trigartas, the Madras, the Malavas, the Pauravas, the Bahlikas and the Yaudheyas are stated to have sided with the Kauravas and displayed exemplary courage, power and prowess in the 18-day battle. The glorious exploits of these warlike communities can be seen in the accounts of the charges of the Kauravas against the Pandavas. The great epic makes copious attestation of the fact that the contingents of Gandharas, Kambojas, Sauviras, Madras and Trigartas occupied key positions in the Kaurava arrays throughout the epic war.
For the roles of Punjabis at Kurukshetra, see Kurukshetra war and the Kambojas
Another important epic event which involved the Punjabis was the conflict between the Indo-Aryan Rishi Vishwamitra of the Kurukshetra area and Sage Vasishtha from the north-western parts of greater Punjab (i.e., the region extending from Swat/Kabul in the west to Delhi in the east). The story emerges in the Rigveda and more clearly later Vedic texts and is portrayed in the Bala-Kanda section of the Valmiki Ramayana. The epic conflict is said to have been sparked over the re-possession of Kamadhenu, also known as Savala, a divine cow by Vishwamitra from a Brahmana sage of the Vasishtha lineage. Rsi Vasishtha skillfully solicited the military support of the frontier Punjabi warriors consisting of eastern Iranians—the Shakas, Kambojas, Pahlavas, etc., aided by Kirata, Harita and the Mlechcha soldiers from the Himalayas. This composite army of fierce warriors from frontier Punjab utterly ruined one Akshauni army of the illustrious Vishwamitra, along with all of his 100 his sons except one. The Kamdhenu war seems to allegorically symbolise a struggle for supremacy between the Kshatriya forces and the priestly class of the epic era. On the other hand, indologists like Dr H. C. Raychadhury, Dr B. C. Law, Dr Satya Shrava and others see in these verses the glimpses of the struggles of the Aryans with the mixed invading hordes of the barbaric Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Pahlavas etc. from the north-west. The time frame for these struggles is said to be second century BCE downwards. Dr Raychadhury fixes the date of the present version of the Valmiki Ramayana around/after second century CE.
The Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya mentions Gandhara and Kamboja among the sixteen great countries (Solas Mahajanapadas) which had evolved in/and around Jambudvipa prior to Buddha's times. Pali literature further endorses that only Kamboja and Gandhara of the sixteen ancient political powers belonged to the Uttarapatha or northern division of Jambudvipa but no precise boundaries for each have been explicitly specified. Gandhara and Kamboja are believed to have comprised the upper Indus regions and included Kashmir, eastern Afghanistan and most of the western Punjab which now forms part of Pakistan. At times, the limits of Buddhist Gandhara had extended as far as Multan while those of Buddhist Kamboja comprised Rajauri/Poonch, Abhisara and Hazara as well as eastern Afghanistan including valleys of Swat and Kunar and Kapisa etc. Michael Witzel terms this region as forming parts of the Greater Punjab. Buddhist texts also mention that this northern region especially the Kamboja was renowned for its quality horses & horsemen and has been regularly mentioned as the home of horses. However, Chulla-Niddesa, another ancient text of the Buddhist canon substitutes Yona for Gandhara and thus lists the Kamboja and the Yona as the only Mahajanapadas from Uttarapatha This shows that Kamboja had included Gandhara at the time the Chulla-Niddesa list was written by Buddhists.
Panini was a famous ancient Sanskrit grammarian born in Shalātura, identified with modern Lahur near Attock in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. One may infer from his work, the Ashtadhyayi, that the people of Greater Punjab lived prominently by the profession of arms. That text terms numerous clans as being "Ayudhajivin Samghas" or "Republics (oligarchies) that live by force of arms". Those living in the plains were called Vahika Samghas, while those in the mountainous regions (including the north-east of present-day Afghanistan) were termed as Parvatiya Samghas (mountaineer republics). According to an older opinion the Vahika Sanghas included prominently the Vrikas (possibly modern Virk Jatts), Damanis, confederation of six states known as Trigarta-shashthas, Yaudheyas (modern Joiya or Johiya Rajputs and some Kamboj), Parsus, Kekayas, Usinaras, Sibis (possibly modern Sibia Jatts?), Kshudrakas, Malavas, Bhartas, and the Madraka clans, while the other class, styled as Parvatiya Ayudhajivins, comprised among others partially the Trigartas, Darvas, the Gandharan clan of Hastayanas, Niharas, Hamsamaragas, and the Kambojan clans of Ashvayanas & Ashvakayanas, Dharteyas (of the Dyrta town of the Ashvakayans), Apritas, Madhuwantas (all known as Rohitgiris), as well as the Daradas of the Chitral, Gilgit, etc. In addition, Panini also refers to the Kshatriya monarchies of the Kuru, Gandhara and Kamboja. These Kshatriyas or warrior communities followed different forms of republican or oligarchic constitutions, as is attested to by Panini's Ashtadhyayi.
The Arthashastra of Kautiliya, whose oldest layer may go back to the 4th century BCE also talks of several martial republics and specifically refers to the [Kshatriya Srenis (warrior-bands) of the Kambojas, Surastras and some other frontier tribes as belonging to varta-Shastr-opajivin class (i.e., living by the profession of arms and varta), while the Madraka, Malla, the Kuru, etc., clans are called Raja-shabd-opajivins class (i.e., using the title of Raja). Dr Arthur Coke Burnell observes: "In the West, there were the Kambojas and the Katas (Kathas) with a high reputation for courage and skill in war, the Saubhuties, the Yaudheyas, and the two federated peoples, the Sibis, the Malavas and the Kshudrakas, the most numerous and warlike of the Indian nations of the days". Thus, it is seen that the heroicraditions cultivated in Vedic and Epic Age continued to the times of Panini and Kautaliya. In fact, the entire region of Greater Punjab is known to have reeked with the martial people. History strongly witnesses that these Ayudhajivin clans had offered stiff resistance to the Achaemenid rulers in the 6th century, and later to the Macedonian invaders in the 4th century BC.
According to History of Punjab: "There is no doubt that the Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Madras, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas, Saindhavas and Kurus had jointly contributed to the heroic tradition and composite culture of ancient Punjab".
The western parts of ancient Gandhara and Kamboja (kingdoms of Greater Punjab) lay at the eastern edge of the Persian Empire. Both these ancient kingdoms, first Gandhara then Sindh, fell prey to Persia during the reign of Cyrus the Great (558-530 BCE), and in the first years of the reign of Darius I (521 BC - 486 BCE). The upper Indus region, comprising Gandhara and Kamboja, formed the 7th satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire, while the lower and middle Indus, comprising Sindhu(Sindh) and Sauvira, constituted the 20th satrapy. They are reported to have contributed 170 and 360 talents of gold dust in annual tribute. It was said that the Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Panjab were the richest satraps of the Persian empires generating vast revenues and even providing foot soldiers for the empire.
The ancient Greeks also had some knowledge of the area. Darius I appointed the Greek Scylax of Caryanda to explore the Indian Ocean from the mouth of the Indus to Suez. Scylax provides an account of this voyage in his book Periplous. Hecataeus of Miletus (500 BCE) and Herodotus (483-431 BCE) also wrote about the Indus Satrapy of the Persians. In ancient Greek texts and maps, we find mention of the "mightiest river of all the world", called the Indos (Indus) of modern day Pakistan.
"The Kambhojas on the Indos (Indus), the Taksas of Taksila, the Madras and Kathas (Kathaioi) on Akesines (Chenab), the Malla (Malloi) on the Hydraotis (Iravati or Ravi), the Tugras on the Hesidros (Sutlej) had formed important populations of the Punjab in the pre-Alexandrian age and stubbornly opposed Alexander on the Indus and, in spite of his victories on Hydaspes (Jhelum) and Sakala (Sangala, Sialkot), had finally led him and his soldiers to abandon his planned conquest of India and retire to Babylonia".
After overunning the Achaemenid Empire in 331 BCE, Alexander marched into present-day Afghanistan with an army of 50,000. His scribes do not record the names of the rulers of the Gandhara or Kamboja; rather, they locate a dozen small political units in those territories. This rules out the possibility of Gandhara and/or Kamboja] having been great kingdoms in the late 4th century BCE. In 326 BCE, most of the dozen-odd political units of the former Gandhara/Kamboja fell to Alexander's forces.
Greek historians refer to three warlike peoples, viz. the Astakenoi, the Aspasioi and the Assakenoi, located in the northwest west of river Indus, whom Alexander had encountered during his campaign from Kapisi through Gandhara]. The Aspasioi were cognate with the Assakenoi and were merely a western branch of them. Both Aspasioi and Assakenoi were a brave peoples. Alexander had personally directed his operations against these hardy mountaineers who offered him stubborn resistance in all of their mountainous strongholds. The Greek names Aspasioi and Asssakenoi derive from Sanskrit Ashva (or Persian Aspa). They appear as Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas in Panini's Ashtadhyayi and Ashvakas in the Puranas. Since the Kambojas were famous for their excellent breed of horses as also for their expert cavalry skills, hence, in popular parlance, they were also known as Ashvakas. The Ashvayanas/Ashvakayanas and allied Saka clans had fought the Macedonians to a man. At the worst of the war, even the Ashvakayana Kamboj women had taken up arms and fought the invaders side by side with their husbands, thus preferring "a glorious death to a life of dishonor.".
In a letter to his mother, Alexander described his encounters with these trans-Indus tribes of Punjab]: "I am involved in the land of a leonine and brave people, where every foot of the ground is like a well of steel, confronting my soldier. You have brought only one son into the world, but everyone in this land can be called an Alexander".
Alexander then marched east to the Hydaspes, where Porus, ruler of the kingdom between the Hydaspes (Jhelum)near Bhera and the Akesines (Chenab) refused to submit to him. The two armies fought the Battle of the Hydaspes River outside the town of Nikaia (near the modern city of Jhelum) and Poros became Alexander's satrap. Alexander's army crossed the Hydraotis and marched east to the Hyphases (Beas). However, Alexander's troops refused to go beyond the Hyphases (Beas) River near modern day Jalandhar. He crossed the river and ordered to erect giant altars to mark the eastern most extent of his empire thus claiming the territory east of Beas as part of his conquests. He also set up a city named Alexandria nearby and left many Macedonian veterans there, he himself turned back and marched his army to the Jhelum and the Indus to the Arabian Sea, and sailing to Babylon.
Alexander left some forces along the Indus river region. In the Indus territory, he nominated his officer Peithon as a satrap, a position he would hold for the next ten years until 316 BC, and in the Punjab he left Eudemus in charge of the army, at the side of the satraps Porus and Taxiles. Eudemus became ruler of the Punjab after their death. Both rulers returned to the West in 316 BC with their armies, and Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire in India.
The portions of the Punjab that had been captured under Alexander were soon conquered by Chandragupta Maurya. The founder of the Mauryan Empire incorporated the rich provinces of the Punjab into his empire and fought Alexander's successor in the east, Seleucus, when the latter invaded. In a peace treaty, Seleucus ceded all territories west of the Indus, including Southern Afghanistan while Chandragupta granted Seleucus 500 elephants. The Sanskrit play Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, sometimes identified with Porus. This Himalayan alliance is thought to given Chandragupta a composite and powerful army made up of the Yavanas (Greeks), Kambojas, Shakas (Scythians), Kiratas, Parasikas (Persians) and Bahlikas (Bactrians). The Punjab prospered under Mauryan rule for the next century. It became a Bactrian Greek (Indo-Greek) territory in 180 BCE following the collapse of Mauryan authority.
Alexander established two cities in the Punjab, where he settled people from his multi-national armies, which included a majority of Greeks. These Indo-Greek cities and their associated realms thrived long after Alexander's departure. After Alexander's death, the eastern portion of his empire (from present-day Syria to Punjab) was inherited by Seleucus I Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid dynasty. However, this empire was disrupted by the ascendancy of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. The Bactrian king Demetrius I added the Punjab to his Kingdom in the early 2nd century BCE. Some of these early Indo-Greeks were Buddhists. The best known of the Indo-Greek kings was Menander I, known in India as Milinda, who established an independent kingdom centered at Taxila around 160 BCE. He later moved his capital to Sagala (modern Sialkot).
There is a distinct prophetic statement in the Mahabharata that "the Mleccha (Barbaric) kings of the Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Bahlikas, Abhiras etc will rule the earth (i.e., India) unrighteously in Kaliyuga". The Gargi Samhita also prophesies: "After having conquered Saketa, the country of the Panchala and Mathura, the Yavanas, wicked and valliant, will reach Kusumadhvaja (Pataliputra)". The Anushasanaparava of the Mahabharata affirms that the country of Mathura, the heartland of India, was under the joint military control of the Yavanas and the Kambojas. Apparently, the Yavana invasion of Majjhimadesa (Middle India) which included Mathura and Pataliputra was probably carried out jointly by the Yavanas and the Kambojas (and probably also the Sakas) from Greater Punjab. The evidence from the Mathura Lion Capital inscriptions of the 'Great Satrap' (Mahakshatrapa) Rajuvula sustains this view. This Middle India invasion was followed by almost two centuries of Yavana rule.
The Hephthalites were defeated by a Sassanid and Gokturk alliance in 557 AD, and the Hephthalite remnants formed smaller Kushano-Hephthalite or Turki Shahi kingdoms that were dominated by Persia. Taank and Kapisa both dominated Gandhara and the Punjab until the 9th century.
Following the birth of Islam in Arabia in the early 6th century, the Muslim Arabs rose to power and replaced the Zoroastrian Persian Empire as the major power west of India in the mid 7th century. In 711-713 AD, Arab armies from the Umayyad caliphate of Damascus conquered Sind and advanced into southern Punjab, occupying present-day Multan, which was later to become a center of the Ismaili sect of Islam.
The Hindu Shahi dynasty replaced the Turki Shahi dynasty in the mid 9th century, and ruled much of the Punjab, as well as western Afghanistan, until the early 11th century. The Shahi Kingdom was originally based at Kabul, and later spread across the Punjab. Kabul was overrun by Turkic Muslims in the 10th century, and the Shahi capital was shifted to Ohind, near present-day Attock.
In 977 AD, the Turkic ruler Sabuktigin acceded to the throne of the small kingdom of Ghazni in central Afghanistan. In the 980s, Subuktigin defeated the Shahis, extending his rule from the Khyber Pass, to the Indus. After his death in 997, his son Mahmud assumed power in Ghazni. He expanded his father's kingdom far to the west and east through military conquest. He invaded the Punjab and northern India seventeen times during his reign, conquering the Shahi kingdom and extending his rule across the Punjab as far as the upper Yamuna. Mahmud demolished Hindu temples wherever his campaigns took him, and he also attacked the Ismailis, whom he viewed as heretics.
Mahmud's successors, known as the Ghaznavids, ruled for 157 years. Their kingdom gradually shrank in size, and was racked by bitter succession struggles. The Ghaznavids lost the western part of their kingdom (in present-day Iran) to the expanding Seljuk Turks. The Rajput kingdoms of western India reconquered the eastern Punjab, and by the 1160s, the line of demarcation between the Ghaznavid state and the Hindu kingdoms approximated to the present-day boundary between India and Pakistan. The Ghorids of central Afghanistan occupied Ghazni around 1150, and the Ghaznavid capital was shifted to Lahore. Muhammad Ghori conquered the Ghaznavid kingdom, occupying Lahore in 1186-1187, and later extending his kingdom past Delhi into the Ganges-Yamuna Doab.
After Muhammad's death in 1206, his general Qutb-ud-din Aybak took control of Muhummad's Indian empire, including Afghanistan, the Punjab, and northern India. Qutb-ud-din moved his capital of the empire from Ghazni to Lahore, and, after becoming Sultan, to Delhi; the empire he founded was called the Sultanate of Delhi. His successors were known as the Mamluk or Slave dynasty, and ruled from his death in 1210 to 1290. The Mongols, who had conquered Muhammad Ghori's former possessions in Central Asia, continued to encroach on the Sultanate's northwest frontier in the thirteenth century. The Mongols conquered Afghanistan, and from there raided the Punjab and northwestern India. Lahore was sacked in 1241, and the Mongols and Sultans contested for control of the Punjab for much of the thirteenth century. The Khilji dynasty replaced the Mamluks in 1290. The rule of Khiljis was briefly disrupted by successful raids by the Mongols, who marched to Delhi twice during Alauddin Khilji's rule. The Tughluqids succeeded the Khiljis in 1320. Timur, who ruled a Central Asian empire from Samarkand, sacked Delhi in 1398-1399, and reduced the Sultanate to a small kingdom surrounding Delhi. Two Afghan dynasties took control of the Sultanate after the Tughluqids; The Sayyids from 1414 to 1479, and the Lodhis from 1479 to until 1526. The Lodhis recovered control of some of the Sultanate's lost territories, including the Punjab. Babur, a descendant of the Mongol Khans who ruled a kingdom in Afghanistan, defeated the last Sultan of Delhi at the First battle of Panipat in 1526 and founded the Mughal Empire.
The Mughal empire persisted for several centuries until it was severely weakened in the eighteenth century by the attacks of the Marathas and the 1739 sack of Delhi by the Persian Nadir Shah. As Mughal power weakened, Afghan rulers took control of the empire's northwestern provinces, including the Punjab and Sind. The eighteenth century also saw the rise of the Sikhs in the Punjab.
The founder of Sikh rule in Punjab was Banda Bahadur, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru. Guru Gobind Singh Ji dispatched Banda to Punjab with five Sikh disciples and a Farman (proclamation) calling upon all Sikhs to join Banda in his fight against the Mughal rulers. Banda was successful in ousting Mughals from Punjab. He liberated poor peasants, whose progeny today forms majority of Sikh population, from their Mughal masters. He redistributed the conquered land among its tenant peasants and changed the structure of Punjab society. He minted Sikh coins, and established Sikh capital of Punjab in Lohgarh (now in Sirmur district of Himachal Pradesh). Unfortunately, Banda and his loyal Sikhs were deceived by the same people they had liberated. He and his brave followers were captured in Sirhand Fort and taken to Delhi, where they were brutally murdered.
Banda laid the foundation of Sikh rule in Punjab. Later, some of his baptized Sikhs became leaders of Sikh Missals such as the Bhangi Sardars, who were baptized by Banda to Sikhism. Later, Ranjit Singh, grandson of one of Banda’s baptized Sikh became ruler of Punjab.
The Punjab presented a picture of chaos and confusion when Ranjit Singh took the control of Sukerchakias misal. This was achieved through delegation as the Sikhs were unable to take the Moghuls out. The edifice of Ahmed Shah Abdali's empire in India had crumbled. Afghanistan was dismembered. Peshawar and Kashmir though under the suzerainty of Afghanistan had attained de facto independence. The Barakzais were now masters of these lands. Attock was ruled by Wazrikhels and Jhang lay at the feet of Sials. The Pashtuns ruled Kasur. Multan had thrown off the yoke and Nawab Muzaffar Khan was now ruler.
Both Punjab and Sind had been under Afghan rule since 1757 when Ahmed Shah Abdali was granted suzerainty over these provinces. However, the Sikhs were now a rising power in Punjab. Taimur Khan, a local Governor, was able to expel the Sikhs from Amritsar and raze the fort of Ram Rauni. His control was short-lived, however, and the Sikh misal joined to defeat Taimur Shah and his Chief minister Jalal Khan. The Afghans were forced to retreat and Lahore was occupied by the Sikhs in 1758. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia proclaimed the Sikh's sovereignty and assumed leadership, striking coins to commemorate his victory.
While Ahmed Shah Abdali was engaged in a campaign against the Marathas at Panipat in 1761, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia plundered Sirhind and Dialpur, seized towns in the Ferozepur district, and took possession of Jagraon and Kot Isa Khan on the opposite bank of the Sutlej. He captured Hoshiarpur and Naraingarh in Ambala and levied tribute from the chief of Kapurthala. He then marched towards Jhang. The Sial chief offered stout resistance. However, when Ahmad Shah left in February 1761, Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia again attacked Sirhind and extended his territory as far as Tarn Taran. When he crossed the Bias and captured Sultanpur in 1762, Ahmad Shah again appeared and a fierce battle took place. The ensuing holocaust was called Ghalughara. Following the rout of Sikh forces, Nawab Jassa Singh fled to the Kangra hills. After the departure of Ahmad Shah Abdali, Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia again attacked Sirhind, razing it and killiing the Afghan Governor Zen Khan. This was a great victory for the Sikhs who now ruled all of the territory around the Sirhind.
Ahmad Shah died in June 1773. After his death the power of the Afghans declined in the Punjab. Taimur Shah ascended the throne at Kabul. By then the Misls were well established in the Punjab. They controlled territory as far as Saharnpur in the east, Attock in the west, Kangra Jammu in the north and Multan in the south. Efforts were made by Afghan rulers to dislodge the Sikhs from their citadels. Taimur Shah attacked Multan and temporarily defeated the Sardars of the Bhangi Misl. The Bhangi Misl controlled this principality and the powerful Bhangi misl army ("the most powerful of all the misl at this time"), Lehna Singh, and Sobha Singh fled Lahore in 1767 when Abdali attacked, but reoccupied it, when Abdali left after plundering the town. They remained in power in Lahore until 1793 - the year when Shah Zaman acceded to the throne of Kabul.
The first attempt at conquest by Shah Zaman was in 1793. He came to Hasan Abdal from which he sent an army of 7000 cavalry under Ahmad Shah Shahnachi but the Sikhs routed them. It was a great setback to Shah Zaman, but in 1795 he reorganized forces and again attacked Hasan Abdal, This time he snatched Rohtas from the Sukerchikias, whose leader was Ranjit Singh. Singh suffered at Shah Zaman's hands but did not lose courage. However, Shah Zaman had to return to Kabul as an invasion of his country from the west was apprehended. When he returned, Ranjit Singh dislodged the Afghans from Rohtas.
Shah Zaman did not sit idle. In 1796 he crossed the Indus for the third time and planned to capture Delhi. His ambition knew no bounds. By now he had raised an Afghan army of 3000 men. He was confident a large number of Indians would join him. Nawab of Kasur had already assured him help. Sahib Singh of Patiala betrayed his countrymen and declared his intentions of helping Shah Zaman. Shah Zaman was also assured of help by the Rohillas, Wazir of Oudh, and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. The news of Shah Zaman's invasion spread quickly and people began fleeing to the hills for safety. Heads of Misals, though bound to give protection to the people as they were collecting Rakhi tax from them, were the first to leave the people in lurch. By December Shah Zaman occupied territory up to Jhelum. When he reached Gujarat, Sahib Singh Bhangi panicked and left the place.
Next Shah Zaman marched on the territory of Ranjit Singh. Singh was alert and raised an army of 5000 horsemen. However, they were inadequately armed with only spears and muskets. The Afghans were equipped with heavy artillery. Ranjit Singh foresaw a strong, united fight against the invaders as he came to Amritsar. A congregation of Sarbat Khlasa was called and many Sikh sardars answered the call. There was general agreement that Shah Zaman's army should be allowed to enter the Punjab and that the Sikhs should retire to the hills.
Forces were reorganized under the command of Ranjit Singh and they marched towards [Lahore. They gave the Afghans a crushing defeat in several villages and surrounded the city of Lahore. Sorties were made into the city at night in which they would kill a few Afghan soldiers and then leave under cover of darkness. Following this tactic they were able to dislodge Afghans from several places.
In 1797 Shah Zaman suddenly left for Afghansistan as his brother Mahmud had revolted. Shahanchi khan remained at Lahore with a sizeable army. The Sikhs followed Shah Zaman to Jhelum and snatched many goods from him. In returning, the Sikhs were attacked by the army of Shahnachi khan near Ram Nagar. The Sikhs routed his army. It was the first major achievement of [Ranjit Singh. He became the hero of the land of Five Rivers and his reputation spread far and wide.
Again in 1798 Shah Zaman attacked Punjab to avenge the defeat of 1797. The Sikh people took refuge in the hills. A Sarbat Khalsa was again called and Sada Kaur persuaded the Sikhs to fight once again to the last man. This time even Muslims were not spared by Shah Zaman's forces and he won Gujarat easily. Sada Kaur roused the Sikhs sense of national honour. If they were to again leave Amritsar, she would command the forces against the Afghans. She said that an Afghani soldier was no match for a Sikh soldier. In battle they would acquit themselves, and, by the grace of Sat Guru, would be successful.
The Afghans plundered the towns and villages as they had vowed and declared that they would defeat the Sikhs. However, it was the Muslims who suffered most as the Hindus and Sikhs had already left for the hills. The Muslims had thought that they would not be touched but their hopes were dashed and their provisions forcibly taken from them by the Afghans.
Shah Zaman requested that Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra refuse to give food or shelter to the Sikhs. This was agreed. Shah Zaman attacked Lahore and the Sikhs, surrounded as they were on all sides, had to fight a grim battle. The Afghans occupied Lahore in November 1798 and planned to attack Amritsar. Ranjit Singh collected his men and faced Shah's forces about eight kilometres from Amritsar. They were well-matched and the Afghans were, at last, forced to retire. Humiliated, they fled towards Lahore. Ranjit Singh pursued them and surrounded Lahore. Afghan supply lines were cut, crops were burnt and other provisions plundered so that they did not fall into Afghan's hands. It was a humiliating defeat for the Afghans. Nizam-ud.din of Kasur attacked the Sikhs near Shahdara on the banks of the Ravi, but his forces were no match for the Sikhs. Here too, it was the Muslims who suffered the most. The retreating Afghans and Nizam-ud-din forces plundered the town, antagonizing the local people.
The Afghans struggled hard to dislodge the Sikhs but in vain. The Sikh cordon was so strong that it was impossible for the Afghans to break it and proceed towards Delhi. Ranjit Singh terrorized the Afghans. The moment Zaman Shah left, Ranjit Singh pursued his forces and caught them unawares near Gujranwala. They were chased further up to [[Jhelumd his intentions of helping Shah Zaman. Shah Zaman was also assured of help by the Rohillas, Wazir of Oudh, and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. The news of Shah Zaman's invasion spread quickly and people began fleeing to the hills for safety. Heads of Misals, though bound to give protection to the people as they were collecting Rakhi tax from them, were the first to leave the people in lurch. By December Shah Zaman occupied territory up to Jhelum. When he reached Gujarat, Sahib Singh Bhangi panicked and left the place.
Next Shah Zaman marched on the territory of Ranjit Singh. Singh was alert and raised an army of 5000 horsemen. However, they were inadequately armed with only spears and muskets. The Afghans] were equipped with heavy artillery. Ranjit Singh foresaw a strong, united fight against the invaders as he came to mritsar. A congregation of Sarbat Khlasa was called and many Sikh sardars answered the call. There was geanjit Singh, built in the Hazuri Bagh.]]
By this time the people of the country had become aware of the rising strength of Ranjit Singh. He was the most popular leader of the Punjab and was planning to enter Lahore. Victims of oppression, the people of Lahore were favorably disposed towards Singh who they saw as a potential liberator. Muslims joined Hindu and Sikh residents of Lahore in making an appeal to Singh to free them from the tyrannical rule.
A petition was written and was signed by Mian Ashak Muhammad, Mian Mukkam Din, Mohammad Tahir, Mohammad Bakar, Hakim Rai, and Bhai Gurbaksh Singh. It was addressed to Ranjit singh, requesting him to free them from the Bhangi sardars. They begged Singh to liberate Lahore as soon as possible. He mobilised an Army of 25,000 and marched towards Lahore on July 6, 1799.
It was a last day of Muharram when a big procession was to be held in the town in the memory of the two grandsons of the alleged mohammedan "prophet" mohammad, who had been martyred on the battlefield. It was expected that the Bhangi sardars would also participate in the procession and mourn with their Shia brethren. By the time procession was over Ranjit Singh had reached the outskirts of city.
In the early morning of July 7, 1799, Ranjit Singh's men took up their positions. Guns glistened and bugles were sounded. Rani Sada Kaur stood outside Delhi Gate and Ranjit Singh proceeded towards Anarkali Bazaar. Ranjit Singh rode along the walls of the city setting mines. The wall was breached. This created panic and confusion. Mukkam Din, who was one of the signatories to the petition made a proclamation, accompanied by drumbeats, stating that he had taken over the town and was now in charge. He ordered the city gates to be opened. Ranjit Singh entered the city with his troops through the Lahori Gate. Sada Kaur and a detachment of cavalry entered through Delhi gate. Before the Bhangi sardars realized it, a part of the citadel had been occupied without resistance. Sahib Singh and Mohar Singh left the city and sought protection. Chet Singh was left to either to fight to defend the town or flee. He shut himself in Hazuri Bagh with 500 men. Ranjit Singh's cavalry surrounded Hazuri Bagh. Chet Singh surrendered and was given permission to leave the city along with his family.
Ranjit Singh was now well-entrenched. Immediately after taking possession of the city, he paid a visit to Badshahi Mosque. This gesture increased his prestige in the eyes of people. He won the hearts of his subjects, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh alike. It was July 7, 1799 when the victorious Ranjit Singh entered Lahore.
Ranjit Singh ultimately acquired a kingdom in the Punjab which stretched from the Sutlej River in the east to Peshawar in the west, and from the junction of the Sutlej and the Indus in the south to Ladakh in the north. Ranjit died in 1839, and a succession struggle ensued. Two of his successor maharajas were assassinated by 1843.
The British Empire annexed Punjab in c.1849 AD; after two Anglo Sikh Wars
By 1845 the British had moved 32,000 troops to the Sutlej frontier, to secure their northernmost possessions against the succession struggles in the Punjab. In late 1845, British and Sikh troops engaged near Ferozepur, beginning the First Anglo-Sikh War. The war ended the following year, and the territory between the Sutlej and the Beas was ceded to Great Britain, along with Kashmir, which was sold to Gulab Singh of Jammu, who ruled Kashmir as a British vassal.
As a condition of the peace treaty, some British troops, along with a resident political agent and other officials, were left in the Punjab to oversee the regency of Maharaja Dhalip Singh, a minor. The Sikh army was reduced greatly in size. In 1848, out-of-work Sikh troops in Multan revolted, and a British official was killed. Within a few months, the unrest had spread throughout the Punjab, and British troops once again invaded. The British prevailed in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and under the Treaty of Lahore in 1849, the Punjab was annexed by the British East India Company, and Dhalip Singh was pensioned off. The Punjab became a province of British India, although a number of small states, most notably Patiala, retained local rulers who recognized British sovereignty.
In every way, the Punjab was one of Great Britain's most important assets in colonial India. Its political and geographic predominance gave Britain a base from which to project its power over more than 500 princely states that made up India. Lahore was a center of learning and culture under British rule, and Rawalpindi became an important Army installation.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 occurred in Amritsar. In 1930, the Indian National Congress proclaimed independence from Lahore. The 1940 Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League to work for Pakistan, made Punjab the centerstage of a different, bloodier and dirtier struggle.
In 1946, massive communal tensions and violence erupted between the majority Muslims of Punjab, and the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The Muslim League attacked the government of Unionist Punjabi Muslims, Sikh Akalis and the Congress, and led to its downfall. Unwilling to be cowed down, Sikhs and Hindus counter-attacked and the resulting bloodshed left the province in great disorder. Both Congress and League leaders agreed to partition Punjab upon religious lines, a precursor to the wider partition of the country.
The British Punjab province, which includes present-day Punjab province of Pakistan, and the Indian states of Punjab, was partitioned in 1947 prior to the independence of Pakistan and subsequently, India. In India, the Panjab province was further partitioned into and forming Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.
Eastern parts of Gurdaspur district in the northern point of the province adjoining Kashmir were given to India, with a small Muslim majority of 60% partitioned along the Ravi river leaving only Shakargarh sub-division on the Pakistani side, thus making the eastern half majority Muslims part of India. Gurdaspur and Firozpur, both Muslim regions, were handed over to India. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had a land link with these parts, which according to some, might have influenced the taking over of Kashmir by India. During the partition, over one million people were killed indiscriminately and with medieval brutality. Women were raped and murdered, children massacred and the elderly brutalized.
Sikhs demanded a Punjabi speaking East Punjab with autonomous control. Led by Master Tara Singh, Sikhs wanted to obtain a political voice in their state. In 1965, a fierce war broke out between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir. To deflect Pakistani pressure on Kashmir, India opened a new front in Punjab directly threatening Lahore, however their advance was stopped and they took heavy losses. Owing to the extreme proximity of Pakistan's most important city to the border, the Pakistani army concentrated its forces and strengths to the maximum in this thin stretch of land.
In 1966, owing to the tremendous bravery shown by thousands of Sikh officers and soldiers in the Indian Army, and the growing Sikh unrest, the Government divided the Punjab into a Sikh-majority state of the same name, and Hindu-majority Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Today Sikhs form about 60% of the population in Punjab.
In the 1960s, the Green Revolution swept India. Punjab's agricultural production trebled, and so did the prosperity of its people. For such a small state to be called the bread-basket for a country of more than a billion people, is like a goldfish being classified a leviathan. Industrialization swept the state and the state remains the ones of the economic leaders of the entire country. Punjabi culture also predominates the national art, media, music and film industries.
In the early 1980s, a small group of Sikh fundamentalists started a movement to demand the completion of the Anandpur Sahib resolution. Discord developed after the rejection of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. A small section of Sikhs demanded an independent state of Khalistan. A number of militants took to targeting officials and people opposed to their point of view which included a number of Sikhs. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a sikh extremist, along with his supporters sought shelter inside the Akal Takht in the Golden Temple premises. Fearing an arrest, Bhindranwale with help from Shabeg Singh heavily fortified the temple to resist Indian forces. The Indian army finally assaulted the Golden Temple to take out armed militants in June, 1984. However, the operation, Operation Bluestar was poorly planned and coordinated, leading to heavy military and civilian casualties.
As a result, the situation in Punjab deteriorated into anarchy with a rise in radicalised militancy. By the early 1990s, after many years of violence across Punjab, the militants' struggle for Khalistan had lost much of the sympathy given after the assault on the sacred Golden Temple, it had previously had from some Punjabi Sikhs and what little armed resistance remained was eliminated and forced underground. In the following years there was concern over alleged human rights abuses conducted by the central and state government against radical Sikhs, and many human rights organisations were not allowed in the Punjab at the time.
The Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s former leader stated that the Congress Party governments have been involved in creating terrorism in the Punjab. Recently, BJP national president Lal Krishna Advani, stated that it was his party which pressured Sikh Extremists to take a stand against the government. The policy to help the Congress Party by creating militants and moderates backfired resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent people . Two notable attacks in Punjab were in 1991 and 1987, both attacks involving militants .
Punjab's economy was acutely affected in the 1980s and early 1990s. However in recent times, there have been serious attempts by the Central Government to diminish resentment and strong feelings of Punjabis over the issue. Punjab's economy is now on the path to recovery.
The Wagah border post, is the chief crossing point between India and Pakistan. The Samjhauta (Understanding) Express runs between Atari, in Indian Punjab, to Lahore in Pakistan, as does the Delhi-Lahore bus. The Government of Pakistan allows small numbers of Sikhs to visit religious sites in Pakistani Punjab. The Indian Government allowed 3,000 Pakistani Sikhs to cross over recently, at the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Khalsa in 1999.