Maharani Jind Kaur(1817 – 1 August 1863) the regent of the Sikh Empire from 1843 until 1846. She was the youngest wife of the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, Ranjit Singh, and the mother of the last Maharaja, Duleep Singh. She was beautiful with her oval face, aquiline nose and large intense, almond-shaped eyes were said to move with the grace of a dancer. Though she was renowned for her beauty, energy, and strength of purpose and was popularly known as Rani Jindan, but her fame is derived chiefly from the fear she engendered in the British in India so much so that they described her as “the Messalina of the Punjab”, a seductress too rebellious to be controlled. Her innate sensuality unnerved many who met her and she attracted admirers and detractors in equal measures. She was not just a queen, a wife, a force to be reckoned with who etched her name in the pages of history by fighting the invaders even in the face of adversity. She was the last Sikh sovereign of Punjab.
In contrast, war and the pressures of the state taken their toll on her husband, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. His long hair and chest-length snowy beard, his tanned and pocket marked face deeply weathered with wrinkles and paralytic frozen left side was no match with Maharani Jindan, When Jindan got pregnant two years later, court gossips could barely contain themselves. Just as they had destroyed Maharaja Sher Singh reputation in the cradle, whispers set about the new baby from the moment he was born. How could Maharaja fathered a child at his age and with his infirmities? Jindan must have slept with one of her servants. The gossips singled out one of her water carrier who was frequently caught gazing the low-borne queen.
Maharaja in an unusual move took the step of officially and publically declaring Duleep his legitimate child and heir, silencing rumors about Jinda and the child. Grudgingly the court made room for Jindan and her baby, never thinking for a moment that one day be their king, and she might sit on the throne of Punjab as well
She was the daughter of Manna Singh of Gujranwala, who held a humble position at the Lahore court as an overseer of the royal kennels. She had an elder brother Jawahar Singh who was too ambitious and an elder sister, who married Sardar Jawala Singh Padhania, the Chief of Padhana in the Lahore District.
On the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh after his funeral Maharani Jindan, recognizing the approaching succession storm had taken her child to Jammu where she lived a life of obscurity under the care of Raja Dhian Singh, out of sight, far away from murderous minds.
Many historians are of the opinion that Dhian Singh was the main culprit behind Maharaja death. He was giving him slow poisoning with help of kitchen maids from the day Maharaja became bed-ridden to make him die as soon as possible, as he had done away with Maharaja Kharak Singh. During the later years of the regime of Ranjit Singh Dogras especially Dhian Singh became so powerful that even his sons have to take permission from him to meet their father and stand in a queue for hours together. In the last days of Maharaja Dhian Singh never wanted that anybody should be with Maharaja even his family except him. Four days before he has told Maharani Jinda also to go from his room in spite of her objection. The end came. Maharani Jinda used to love Maharaja so much and was bent upon to make herself sati but other queens and her family members did not let her, because of Duleep being the infant.
People of Punjab became orphans. For them, the sun had eclipsed just in the mid of bright daylight. Every Punjabi, even a small child was mourning and crying for their Maharaja except Dogras, the power-hungry parasites.
After his death, Punjab had quickly descended into anarchy. A violent power struggle, a suspected poisoning, several assassinations, a civil war, and two British invasions later. Next four years that followed, Punjab lost three Maharajas, Khark Singh, Naunihal Singh and Sher Singh, one Maharani Chand Kaur,Wazeer Dhian Singh, and numerous aristocrats.
After the assassination of Maharaja Sher Singh by Ajit Singh and his brother Lehna Singh Sandhawalia in a shooting plot, the last man standing to become Maharaja was no man at all but a tiny doe-eyed child, Duleep Singh. Lahore Darbar desperate for the unity of the entire Khalsa sarkar united behind Ranjit Singh youngest son, a five- year- old infant.
Raja Hira Singh son of Dhian Singh with the support of the army and chiefs, wiped out the Sandhanvalia faction who were responsible for killing his father, forfeited their jagirs and dismantle their houses. Shortly after, Hira Singh captured the Fort of Lahore, the army proclaimed minor Duleep Singh the sovereign of the State, Maharani as the regent and Hira Singh as the wazir in the place of his father
The political history of Jind Kaur begins from that date. Both Hira Singh and his adviser, Pandit Jalla, did not show her the courtesy and consideration she was entitled to. Her establishment was put under the control of Misr Lal Singh. Jind Kaur became fiercely defensive of the rights of her son and pleaded with the regimental committees to protect his position asking ‘who is the real sovereign, Duleep Singh or Hira Singh? If the former, then the Khālsā should ensure that he was not a king with an empty title”.
The council assured the Rani that Duleep Singh was the real king of Punjab. The army panchayats treated Jind Kaur with deference and addressed her as Mai Sahib or mother of the entire Khalsa commonwealth.
The eclipse of the Jalla regime was a political victory for Maharani Jind Kaur, She had goaded the army to overthrow Hira Singh and install her brother Jawahar Singh as the Wazir of Lahore Darbar. Raja Hira Singh and his deputy Pandit Jalla were killed by the Army on 21 December 1844. Maharani Jind Kaur, who had an active hand in overthrowing Hira Singh, now cast off her veil and assumed full powers as a regent in the name of her minor son, Duleep Singh. To run the administration, she constituted a Council of Regency on 22 December 1844. She now assumed control of the government with the approval of the army generals who declared that one day they would place her on the throne of Delhi.
She reviewed the troops and addressed them, held court and transacted State business. She reconstituted the supreme Khalsa Council by giving representation to the principal Sardars and restored a working balance between the army panchayats and the civil administration
The young Maharani was faced with many problems. Kanwar Pichaura Singh, the half-brother of Duleep Singh, was seeking himself to replace Duleep Singh as Maharaja. The feudal chiefs wanted a reduction in the taxation imposed on them by Hira Singh and the restoration of their jagirs, land, and grants from which they received income. The army wanted an increase in pay. The cost of the civil and military administration had increased and Gulab Singh Dogra, Raja of Jammu and uncle of Hira Singh, had taken most of the Lahore Treasury. The power struggle between the various Sikh factions was continuing and some were secretly negotiating with the British.
Jind Kaur applied herself to the solution of these problems and secured to this end with the assistance of a newly appointed council of elder statesmen and military generals.
Jawahar Singh had formally installed wazir. Maharani Jind Kaur’s choice of Jawahar Singh as wazir became the subject of criticism. He was a power hungry man and set to destroy any challenge to his authority. His intrigues were tolerated for a while but he went too far.
Pashaura Singh arrived in Lahore in January 1845. He was received with honor but was persuaded to return to his estates by the army with a promise of an increase in his jagir. However, in July he took the fort at Attock and declared himself to be the ruler of Punjab. A force commanded by Chattar Singh besieged the fort and forced him to surrender on the promise of safe conduct. However, on the pretext of escorting him back to his home-town separated him from his army and strangled him to death.
In the eyes of high born nobles, a kennel keeper’son had crossed an unforgivable line by killing a prince of royal blood. On 21 September Jawahar Singh was summoned to a meeting of the Sikh Khalsa, the spiritual leadership of Punjab, Jawahar Singh realized, he is in danger. He chose to ride on Maharaja own elephant, with Duleep Singh, sitting firmly in front of him as a human shield in his lap.
Khalsa along with the imperial guards surrounded the elephant, pulled his terrified, crying nephew, turned to Jawahar, tipping him from the elephant, throwing him in the dust and hacked him to death. Duleep Singh held out of danger by his own men. He saw every brutal blow which haunted him and the screams of her mother mingled with his own. The killers’ bow before the sobbing child assured him that he had never been the target of their anger and pledged loyalty to him to the end of their days.
Jind Kaur gave vent to her anguish with loud lamentation and retired in her grief and fear for the time being but emerged soon from her quarters to resume her duties as a regent. With a dignity that masked her inner turmoil and grief, she took her place in the throne room surrounded by the men who killed his brother and strongest ally. Early in November 1845, she, with the approval of the Khalsa Council, nominated Misr Lal Singh to the office of Vazir.
To counteract the rising disaffection, Jind Kaur hastily betrothed Duleep Singh, in the powerful Atari family who was a Governor of Hazara Province and Commander in the army of Sikh Empire during the reign of Maharaja Duleep Singh.
A force of 35,000 marched to Jammu for the punishment of Gulab Singh. The council had accused him of being a traitor to the Panth and charged him with treachery and intrigue against his sovereign and looting the treasury of Lahore. In April 1845. The army returned to Lahore with the Dogra Chief as a hostage. He was allowed to go back after paying 80 lacs as fine for theft and with a promise of good behavior in the future. Hira Singh was replaced as Wazir.
Hundreds of miles away from the unfolding drama, the British East India Co., watching events at the Punjab Court with intense interest. By 1840 the British were the undisputed masters of much of India. In 1843 the very year Daleep Singh had anointed Maharaja, the East India Co., troops began to build up south of the Sutluj. Detecting tensions, British agents made tentative approaches to Jindan offering support to her regency with no intention to support but making their way to woo the most powerful men in the royal court offering to help them topple the regent. Rani Jindan and Maharaja Duleep Singh were surrounded by embittered and ambitious men and some of the most senior men proved easy to turn for power.
Relations of Khalsa Darbar with the British had already been strained by the refusal of the Sikhs to allow the passage of British troops through their territory during the First Anglo-Afghan War.
Three months after slaying Jawahar, with resentment betweenJindan and Khalsa still simmering the British made their move, turning their small encampments by the Sutluj into a big army. .The Sikhs interpreted this act as aggression. On 11th December Sikh cavalry crossed south over the Sutlej river to push back the British encroachments. Two days later, The East India Co., claiming that their territory had been violated, British Governor General, Henry Harding declare war.
Jinda could forseek the situation and never be in favor of this war because of the lack of unity between the Sikh Sardars and insincerity of some of the nobles and army generals. But the biggest gadar Commander Tej Singh (Dogra) with many short-sighted Sikhs and with majority insisted upon fighting back. Sham Singh Atariwala was also with the same opinion as of Maharani Jinda and left the job of the Khalsa Fauz in protest and went back to his village.
Jinda could do nothing but has to wage two disastrous wars against the British that led to the annexation of Punjab. First Anglo -Sikh (1845-1846) and Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849) She may have made huge strategic errors due to her military inexperience and young age but Jindan was a capable and fierce ruler that nobody could deny.
Sikhs crossed the Sutluj River in December 1845. While the battle of the First Anglo-Sikh -war was started nobody, neither Duleep Singh nor Jindan knew that two of the most powerful men in their court had already betrayed them. Prime Minister Misr Lal Singh disclosed the position of Duleep’s gun batteries, the strength of the army and their plans. Tej Singh, the commander of Duleep’s army did far worse. The battle of Ferozpur on 21st Dec 1845 was one of the hardest battle ever fought by the British army and their losses were heavy. Low on ammunition and food, Governor General Harding found himself caught up on the front line. Fighting fiercely all day, his men got no respite even when the sun went down as Sikhs continued to pound his position with terrific golabaari. Harding describes it’ as a night of horror’ Expecting Sikhs to overrun his position any time, Harding ordered burning of his official documents. He then presented his most precious possession, a sword belonged to Nepolian Bonapart to his aide-de-camp ” Better it should go to younger man, who might be able to fight his way out as he prepared for himself for defeat and death. This was the moment the Sikhs ought to have struck their decisive blow and claimed victory, but as they should have advanced, Tej Singh ordered a retreat. Tej Singh disastrous fallback gave ample time for British reinforcement to arrive and they set about cutting brave soldier to pieces.
Less than two months after the heavy defeat at Ferozpur on 10th Feb 1846 the Sikh army found itself pushed hard by freshly deployed, heavily armed British soldiers. To reorganize and rearm Punjabi soldiers withdrew across the Sutlej river at every point except Sobaron, some forty miles east from Lahore. A single battalion of exhausted Sikhs was left to hold the bridgehead. In spite of the heavy fire, they refused to surrender or retreat. When they ran out of bullets they attacked with their swords weaving through heavy artillery fire. For a while their bravery was turning the tide of the battle, General Tej Singh betrayed them again. He ordered the bridge to be burned across the Sutlej cutting off any hope of reinforcement for his pinned down soldiers. His men were trapped between the British and the water. Though they knew their situation is hopeless, not one Sikh soldier surrender that day. They fought until British guns silenced the Sutlej. Sikh casualties are said to have outnumbered around 9000.
The British annexed Sikh lands east of the Sutlej and between Sutluj and the Beas River, Kashmir and Jammu were also detached, and the Sikh army was limited to 20,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalries. A British resident was stationed in Lahore with British troops.
Though the British came out victorious still they could not dare to enter Lahore. so they played another strategy. They assured a reeling Lahore that not only they would leave Maharaja on the throne but also safeguard his interest.
While signing the Treaty of Bhyroval with the child, the British vowed to protect him until he attained the age of sixteen, as long as he in turn submitted to the presence of a resident who would have full authority to direct in all departments of the state. When he attained age, as mentioned in the treaty government himself would leave Punjab as friends.
Maharani Jind Kaur was treated with unnecessary acrimony and suspicion of no fault of her as she was totally against the war. Anyhow, She had retired gracefully to a life of religious devotion in the palace, yet mindful of the rights of her minor son as the sovereign of Punjab. Henry Lawrence, the British Resident at Lahore and Viscount Harding both accused her of fomenting intrigue and influencing the Darbar politics.
In December 1846, Maharani Jind Kaur surrendered political power to the council of ministers appointed by the British Resident after the treaty of Bharoval. The Sikh Darbar ceased to exist as a sovereign political body. The regent was dismissed with an annuity of Rs 1,50,000 and later reduced to Rs.48000 An officer of Company’s artillery became, in effect, the successor to Ranjit Singh.
Under the treaty of Lahore which Duleep was forced to sign on 9th March 1846. The terms of the Treaty were punitive. Sikh territory was reduced to a fraction of its former size, losing Jammu, Kashmir and Hazara the territory to the south of the river Sutlej and the forts and territory in the Jullundur Doab between the rivers Sutlej and Beas In addition, controls were placed on the size of the Lahore army and thirty-six field guns were confiscated. The control of the rivers Sutlej, Beas and part of the Indus pass to the British, with the condition that this was not to interfere with the passage of passenger boats owned by the Lahore Government. Also, provision was made for the separate sale of all the hilly regions between River Beas and Indus, including Kashmir, by the East India Company at a later date to Gulab Singh, the Raja of Jammu.
Maharani Jinda was replaced in December 1846 by a Council of Regency, under the control of a British Resident with an annuity of 150,000 rupees. However, her power and influence continued.
The time has come to give rewards to the leaders who had cheated out and helped British, including Commander Tej Singh. When in August 1847 Duleep Singh refused to invest Tej Singh as Raja of Sialkot in a Public Ceremony, Tej Singh was insulted and British were infuriated. They have thought that it was because of the instigation of Maharani. She was also suspected of having a hand in what is known as the Prema Plot – a conspiracy designed to murder the British Resident and Tej Singh at a fete at the Shalimar Garden.
Although neither of the charges against Jindan Kaur could be substantiated on inquiry, the British Resident, Henry Lawrence with the thought of separating Jinda and her son, imprisoned the Maharani in the Samman Tower of the Lahore Fort Jindan was torn screaming from the palace and was dragged away by her hairs from the court of Lahore, thrown into the fortress of Sheikhupura and reduced her annuity to Rs. 48000. The bitterest blow to the Maharani was the separation from her 9-year-old son.
She was begging the Sikh men around to wake up and fight not just for her but for the very survival of Punjab itself. Not one man lifted a finger.
Next year Henry Harding war-wearied General was replaced by Lord Dalhousie. His appointment would seal the fate of Maharaja and his entire kingdom as well. Dalhousie appointed Sir Fredrick Curie as his new resident at the Sikh Darbar. When Lord Dalhousie instructed Sir Frederick Currie, the British Resident at Lahore, to expel Maharani Jinda from Punjab. Lord Currie acted promptly
Lord Curie also raises taxes to refill the depleted British coffers by which Punjab was hit hard. Multan which was Punjab largest and oldest city becomes a hotbed of resentment. Diwan Mul Raj who was very loyal to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Britisher tried to replace him with Diwan Khan Singh, little known. but much more sympathetic and loyal to the Britishers.
Mul Raj was ordered to hand over the city on 18th April 1848. Khan Singh with British Political agent and Lieutenant Anderson from East India Co;, presented at the gates, appeared as a peaceful surrender, what followed, pre-planned or merely a reaction to the humiliation felt by the crowd they set upon Anderson and Vans Agnew and eventually hacked both of them to death. This triggered an endgame which would ultimately lead to the total annexation of Punjab.
Accused of creating the violence, The British declared war – 2nd Anglo-Sikh War. Mulraj was painted as bloodthirsty despot intent to over through Duleep Singh and his British allies. Portraying Mulraj as an enemy of the Maharaja they thought that they will keep the rest of Punjab out of the conflict but Soldiers from the old imperial army joined the Mulraj rebels and fighting spread throughout the kingdom, becoming brutal, messy, crippling to the region where civilians often found themselves caught in the crossfire.
The British political agent sent his Pakhtun irregular forces and some Sikh regiments, together they defeated Mulraj army in the battle of Kineyri. The British resident Currie also sent some forces from the Bengal army and later the forces of East India Co. to crush once for all the center of defiance. Eventually, Multan fell. Dalhousie wanted the British conquest to be undisputed. Under his direction, East India Co., poured men, artillery, and logistics into the region and defeated Sikh forces in the bloody battle of Chilianwala on 13th January 1849 and finally 21 February at Gujarat. After the loss of thousands of lives, most of the rebels what was left after the Ragtag resistance surrendered on 12 March 1849 including Mul Chand and rounded up, sent to Lahore dungeons to await trial and possible execution.
Fredrick Curie described Jinda as “the rallying point of rebellion” implicated her in a fictitious plot and exiled her from Sheikhupura, Punjab, to Banaras U.P. She remained there as a prisoner under strict surveillance
The way they treated Maharani by the two Residents caused deep resentment among Sikhs. The Muslim ruler of neighboring Afghanistan, Dost Mohammad Khan, protested that such treatment is objectionable to all creeds.
Jindan in her confinement she begged British again and again to return her only child. why do u take possession of my kingdom by underhand means, why do you not do openly? You have been very cruel to me. You have snatched the son from me. For 10 months I have kept him in my womb. In the name of God u worship and in the name of the King whose salt u eat, restore my son to me. I can not bear the pain of this separation. Instead, you should put me to death”
She appealed to Henry Lawerence also,” My son is very young and incapable of doing anything. I have left the kingdom, I raise no objection I will accept what you say There is no one with my son, He has no sister no brother. He has no uncle senior or junior . his father, he has lost. To whose care he has been entrusted?
Henry Lawrence was decidedly uneasy but Henry Harding Governor General of India and survivor of the recent Ferozpur battle had no such misgivings ” we must expect these letters in various shapes” He counseled Lawrence. With Jinda out of the way, the British were now free to do anything.
She had nowhere to go but her faith had commanded her to go to the Himalayas, the very place where the first guru of the Sikhs Guru Nanak himself had gone to find solace in meditation. She had heard those stories at the court. A Nepalese king of the Malla dynasty had not been sound of mind and he had come to India seeking the healing powers of Guru Nanak. Cured of his affliction the grateful king had invited the guru to come and establish a ‘muth’ in Nepal and the Guru Nanak Dev Ji had accepted and accompanied the king and his royal entourage to the kingdom.
After a formidable journey across the raging Ganges, her tributaries and the dense jungles of the Nepalese foothills abounding in dangerous predators and infested by malaria, Queen Jindan Kaur arrived penniless in Kathmandu Valley. Though unexpected and unwelcome Jung Bahadur Rana, Prime Minister of Nepal, had given her due respect being the queen consort of glorious Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He had given her a new palace to stay in Thapathali. He has also permitted her to build a small Gurudwara in her compound at the Thapathali Durbar complex. Her initial years were spent in prayers and charity. The Nepalese had affectionately given her a local nickname,’ Chanda Kunwar’, in recognition of her contribution.
However her longing for her beloved Punjab and her son Maharajah Duleep Singh, never let her take rest. She wanted to raise another army and fight the British but in the confines of Thapathail Durbar, she was helpless. She pleaded with Maharajah Jung Bahadur to join her in the task of liberating her homeland but to her surprise, Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana had decided to assist the British during the Sepoy Mutiny instead of siding with the Indian freedom movement. Maharani Jindan Kaur was shattered and felt betrayed.
In November 1856 Jung Bahadur Rana sent the Governor-General of India a letter which he had intercepted from Duleep Singh to Jind Kaur, suggesting that she may come to England. The letter was dismissed as a forgery. However, shortly afterward Duleep Singh commissioned Pundit Nehemiah Goreh to visit Kathmandu on his behalf and find out how his mother was managing. This attempt was also doomed to failure and the Pundit was forbidden to contact the Maharani in Nepal.
Duleep Singh then decided to go himself, using the pretext of a tiger shoot in Bengal. In 1860 he wrote to the British Resident in Kathmandu, enclosing his letter in one from Sir John Login so that it would not be intercepted or dismissed as a forgery. The Resident reported that the Rani had much changed, was blind and had lost much of the energy which formerly characterized her.’ The British decided that she was no longer a threat and on 16 January 1861 she was permitted to join her son at Spencer Hotel
At the time several Sikh regiments were returning home via Calcutta at the end of the Chinese war. The presence of Sikh royalty in the city gave rise to demonstrations of joy and loyalty. The hotel was surrounded by thousands of armed Sikhs with the slogans “Bole so Nihal Sat Sri Akal ” The Governor-General, Lord Canning fearing revolt, requested Duleep Singh, as a favor, to leave for England with his mother by the next boat.
she was allowed to set sail for England with him in 1861 A.D. the land she hated. Though She was living comfortably in London with her privy purse restored but she was in poor health and nearly blind. She did not have long to live. She longed to return to India but the British would not allow it. In her heart of heart, she knew that she would not see her beloved Punjab ever again
While in India Duleep Singh had negotiated the return of the Maharani’s jewellery, which had been kept in the treasury at Banaras These arrived at Lancaster Gate just before the Maharani returned Lady Login’s visit, and her delight was so great that “she forthwith decorated herself, and her attendants, with an assortment of the most wonderful necklaces and earrings, strings of lovely pearls and emeralds”, to wear during the visit. The portrait of the Maharani by George Richmond shows her wearing some of the jewels, including the emerald and pearl necklace, which was sold by auction on 8 October 2009 at Bonhams for £55,200
In the last two years of her life she reminded the Maharaja of his Sikh heritage and told him of the empire that had once been his, sowing the seeds that twenty years later led him to research for weeks in the British Library and to petition Queen Victoria, hoping naïvely to remedy the injustice he had suffered.
Maharani Jind Kaur has been accused by some historians of wishing the Khalsa army to destroy itself in wars with the English. But it was not right. A much more balanced and realistic view will be obtained by a closer examination of the policies, correspondence of Ellenborough and Hardinge with the Duke of Wellington and political factors which led to a clash of arms between the Sikhs and the English.
. With all opposition now dead or in chains. on 29th March 1849, 2nd Treaty of Lahore, a new legal document was forced upon Duleep Singh to sign. The child terrified by the recent fighting in his kingdom, separated from her mother and surrounded by the foreigners and Punjab nobles either too weak or corrupt to stand up for him, was told he must sign over his kingdom, his fortune, and his future.
The koh-i-noor was high on the list of demands
- His Highness the Maharaja Duleep Singh shall resign for himself, his heirs and successors all right, title and claim to the sovereign power. whatever
2 All the property of the State of whatever description and wheresoever found shall be confiscated to the Honorable East India Co ., in part payment of the debt due by the State of Lahore to the British Govt. and of the expenses of the war.
- The gem called the Koh-i-noor which was taken from Shah Sooja-ool-mulk by Maharaja Ranjit Singh shall be surrendered by the Maharaja of Lahore to the Queen of Victoria
- His Highness Duleep Singh shall receive from the Honourable East India Co., for the support of himself, his relatives, servants of the State, a pension of not less than four and not exceeding five lacs of the Company’s rupees per annum provided he shall remain obedient to the British Govt. and shall reside at such place as the Governor General of India may select.
- His Highness shall be treated with respect and honor. He shall retain the title of Maharaja Duleep Singh Bahadur
With signing the treaty Punjab was now unquestionably a British territory and Koh-i-noor was the British property. The Punjab and diamond fate was settled with the treaty, now the fate of Duleep was entirely in Dalhousie’s hands. Dalhousie has already decided to send him from Punjab, far from everything he had ever known. The Fatehgarh Hill Fort in the Frukhabad district in UP almost 600 miles away for Duleep banishment and de-facto parents, a Scottish doctor John Spencer Login and his wife Lena. for looking after unless he becomes a man.
Duleep new life starts from 6th April 1849, the day he was formally introduced to his new guardian in Lahore. Login was feeling more nervous than the child at their first meeting. and greatly relieved when it went better than he had dared to hope.” The little fellow seemed very well pleased with me and we got on swimmingly. He seems very fine -tempered boy, intelligent and handsome.
In a letter to his wife, Lena login described the ten years old Duleep as ” very lovable” and eager to please. With large dark eyes fringed by long, curling lashes, he has inherited his mother’s fine features. Duleep love to paint, read books, but it was her passion for Persian poetry and hunting with hawks that made him unmistakably regal. Unlike most other children, from time to time Duleep would retreat into himself, preferring to be alone and quiet. Login contributed such time to Maharaja’s contemplative nature than sadness.
After losing his kingdom it was 11th birthday. Login decided to throw a large and colorful party. To make the day as perfect as he could, Login asked the British Govt. if he might choose a lakh of rupees worth of Duleep own jewels to select and present him on his birthday. Dalhousie did not have any sympathy with Maharaja and described him as” A child notoriously surreptitious, a brat, begotten of a water carrier ( Gossips about Maharani Jinda) and no more the son of old Ranjit Singh.
Even the loss of Koh-i-noor Dalhousie argued would have little effect on the boy, who would in time grow to be grateful for what the British had done for him. He will have a good and regular stipend all his life and will die in his bed like a gentleman which under other circumstances, he certainly would not have done”
In spite of all these opinions, Dalhousie had to accede to the request of Login to show he is being generous to him. Maharaja was duly presented with an assortment of gems. Though he was a king without a kingdom, Login ‘s aim was to distract the boy from his greater losses, his gambit did not entirely work. Duleep innocently remarked that on his last birthday, he had worn Koh-i-noor on his arm. Login pretended not to hear him.
Meanwhile, over the months, Jinda’s reputation had been destroyed in dispatches. She was painted as a sexual predictor and described as a Messalina of Punjab, It was suggested that she would use her beauty to bewitch men to follow her in the uprising. That was why she had to be locked away.
Having established Jindan as a whore. Dalhousie then set about attacking her parenting, knowing that this would poison Queen Victoria l at Buckingham Palace. He told the queen that Jindan was a cruel woman, who has physically abused his son. British intervention had saved the boy from such a women Duleep has no desire to return to his mother who put discredit on him, he says ” by beating him every day”
Queen Victoria accepted Dalhousie explanation, however, she also made it known that she wanted regular updates on the Maharaja welfare and progress urging her representative to treat him with kindness. Duleep was almost the same age as Victoria eldest son Bertie and she was deeply touched by his plight.
While Login planned his birthday party, his mother marked her sixteenth month behind bars in Sheikhupura Maharani had become a symbol of national dignity. She continued to urge the freedom fighters back in Punjab to continue the struggle dauntlessly. Through her trusted band of servants, she continued to send letters and messages to Dewan Mul Raj, Sardar Chattar Singh, Raja Sher Singh, the chiefs of the rebellion.
As soon as the British came to know of the secret designs of the Rani, they decided to transfer her from Punjab. Moreover, Jindan was being held was not far enough from the newly appointed Resident Fredrick Curie of Lahore. He ordered Jindan to be transported hundreds of miles east to the remote Chunar Fort in the Mirzapur District of UP
For her lonely windswept prison overlooking the vast Gangetic Plains, Jindan pined for any scrap of information. The only rage seemed to sustain her. That same passion threatened to drown her completely when she heard the annexation of Punjab and the seizure of Koh-i-noor. Days after Duleep has signed the treaty, Rani escaped from Chunar Fort in the disguise, changing clothes for the rags worn by sea mistress, a lowly servant who had come to Chunar Fort.
” You put me in a cage and locked me up. For all your locks and sentries I got out by magic… 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..don’t imagine I got out like a thief”
Sticking to the wilderness paths, she took a circuitous route of almost 800 miles through jungles to reach the kingdom of Nepal. She left a note for the guard to find. Maharani Jind Kaur arrived penniless at Kathmandu on 29 April 1849. Though the sudden appearance of the widow of Ranjit Singh was both unexpected and unwelcome. Yet Jung Bahadur, the Prime Minister, granted her asylum, mainly as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Maharaja Ranjit Singh. A new residence was assigned to her at Thapathali, on the banks of the Vagmati river and permitted her to make a gurudwara inside. The Nepalese Government settled upon her an allowance for her maintenance.
British Government confiscated her jewellery worth
Rs 900, 000 and stopped her pension and enforced Nepali ruler to offer her shelter under the stringent set of conditions. He was to forbid her from setting foot in India again. She could not attempt to contact her son nor she should attempt to stage an uprising in Punjab or challenge British rule in any way. Physically and mentally battered Jindan had no option but to accept. The Nepal Residency papers relate the details of Jind Kaur’s unhappy sojourn in Nepal till 1860. The British Residency in Kathmandu kept a vigilant eye on her throughout. It is believed that for the revival of the Sikh dynasty in Punjab, she wrote letters to influential people both inside and outside Punjab to rise once again against the British. In the rising of 1857, she found a fresh opportunity to stimulate a rising in Punjab. But her efforts were against rendered futile by the vigilance of the British.
Under constant pressure from the British, the Nepal Darbar also turned hostile towards the Maharani and levied the most humiliating restrictions on her. But the forlorn widow of Ranjit Singh remained undaunted. She quietly protested against the indignities and restrictions imposed upon her by Jung Bahadur. Jung Bahadur expelled from the valley one of her attendants, and the Maharani dismissed the entire staff foisted upon her by the Nepalese Government. She was then ordered to appear in person in the Darbar to acknowledge Nepalese hospitality, which she refused to do so. The breach between her and Jung Bahadur widened. The Nepal Residency Records tell us that an open rift took place, and “several scenes occurred in which each seemed to have given way to temper, to have addressed the other in very insulting language.”
While Jindan wasted away in Nepal, tearful subjects lined the streets of her old capital Lahore watching their Maharaja caravan left Punjab forever. He seemed to be taking the legacy of Ranjit Singh with him which was too much to bear for old Sardars.
Mr. Login tried his best to make the journey feel like an adventure to Duleep. His new home would be hundreds of miles away in Fatehgarh and Login filled the boy’s ear with promises of good hunting, new experiences, and the prospect of a happy childhood with a normal family., Family offered Login, his own with his wife Lena and children, playmates and fun for Maharaja. After years of uncertainty and fear Login offered him security, space to breathe and freedom to act like a child.
Login felt that the more miles he could put between his ward and his old life the better it would be for him. Perhaps he might be able to remove the boy from India altogether. Much to Login delight, the Maharaja was beginning to show the fascination with England, regularly asking questions about its people, culture, and the queen.
If his country can make room for Duleep’s diamond, could it make room for Duleep, Login wondered. In 1852 while the koh-i-noor was being transferred to Victoria, Duleep was also going under a similar process in India He had by now been in the care of Logins since three years as he becomes thirteen. He had come to regard them as parents. Login’s opinion matters to Duleep above all else. He tried to please his guardian by studying diligently, maintaining a cheery demeanor and joining in parlor games and developed a genuine fondness for the couple as a complete parent.
Lena Login, who kept a meticulous diary of her time with the deposed Sikh sovereign, often thought about all that has been snatched from him,” One could not have but great sympathy for the boy, brought up from babyhood to exact the most obsequious servility”
If Duleep missed his old life, he rarely said so. there were intense flashes of anger and bitterness but they did not last for long. Under the tutelage of Login Duleep learned to speak like Britisher. He read his Bible, swapped Persian verses for English ones and devoured tales of life light
In time he even took a blade to his long hair, which had remained uncut since birth in the tradition of Sikh religion. Just over a year, Duleep Singh asked his guardian whether he might rid himself of his old faith entirely as Duleep wanted to become Christian.
Dalhousie greeted this news with mixed emotions. If Punjab perceived that it is young Maharaja who had been forced to convert, this might spark the uprising. On 8th March 1853 Maharaja converted to Christianity at a quiet ceremony at his home in Fatehgarh. Punjab greeted this news with grief than anger.
Far away in England, Victoria rejoiced at the salvation of Maharaja ‘s soul. From the time of exile, she has been keenly awaited updates on Duleep’s progress. The more she learned about him the more fascinated she became. Maharaja was also curious about her across the water. When he turned 15, he asked his guardians, if he might ever be able to visit England.
Despite of the discouragements from her ministers, Victoria enthusiastically granted permission. Duleep packed his belonging and made the long voyage with his guardians. The moment he set foot in her court, Duleep became Victoria’s favorite. Her praise for him was frequent and full. “He is extremely handsome, speak English perfectly and has a pretty, graceful and dignified manner. He was beautifully dressed covered with diamonds. I always feel so much for these poor deposed Indian Prince”
In the bustling life of the English Court, the Maharaja enjoyed the status of a senior aristocrat. Behind the closed doors of Palace, he soon became a member of Victoria’s family. Though Dalhousie and others were not in favor of showering too many favors, she ignored them, showering the Maharaja with lavish presents of jewelry, cameos, even a thoroughbred horse. The two spent hours sketching each other at Osborne House and Buckingham Palace.
Victoria was deeply touched by the kindness Duleep showed her children, particularly her youngest son, Prince Leopold. Leopold was a hemophiliac and frequently suffered from fits and poor health. Though his own brothers gave little concession to his fatality, Duleep would invariably scoop up put him on his shoulders, ensuring he never felt left out of their games. Prince Albert also grew fond of Maharaja and designed a coat of arms for him to use in England.
On 10th July 1854 Duleep Singh standing on a specially constructed stage set up in Buckingham Palace, trying very hard not to move. Queen Victoria asked the celebrated court painter France Xavier Winter halter to capture Duleep likeness for her on canvas, which she intended to display it at Osborne House. In silk Pyjamas, a heavy gold embroidered shirt and fine jewellery, Duleep looked every inch a king. As Queen Victoria recorded in her journal,” Winterhalter was in ecstasies at the beauty and nobility of young Maharaja”.
However, there was one item missing from all Duleep’s finery which was strapped to his bicep as a child -that was koh-i-noor. The loss of Koh-i-Noor has always hurt him deeply. It was also preying on Victoria’s mind. Victoria asked Lady Login,,” Does the Maharaja ever mention about Koh-i-Noor. Does he seem to regret it and would like to see again?” She asked Lady Login to find it out before the next sitting,
Despite her fears, Lady Login asked Duleep in Richmond Park a few days later. How he would feel if he saw the Koh-i-Noor again. He said,”‘ I would give a good deal to hold it again in my own hand. I was forced to surrender it by treaty, now that I am a man I should like to have it in my power to place it myself in Her Majesty hand.”
Next day while Duleep posed for the German artist in, Victoria came with Albert, together they walked over to where Duleep stood on the dais. Looking at him she called,” Maharaja I have something to show you.” Duleep Singh stepped down and moved toward her. She took the jewel from its box and dropped it in his hand asking him if he can recognize it. Maharaja walked towards the window and held the diamond in the sunlight. There was a passion of repressed emotion in his face. As he moves deliberately where Queen Victoria was standing Bowing before Queen Victoria’s hand, Maharaja has gifted to Queen with something which no longer belonged to him. The handover ceremony in the drawing room of Buckingham Palace was more a performance than an actual granting of permission, the Maharaja had by his action set Victoria free to wear it.
Six years later at the end of 1861 Prince Albert contracted typhoid and died at the age of forty- five. Victoria grief did not diminish as the month went by . It blocked everything and everyone out of her life even preventing her from mandatory royal duties. Duleep Singh too seemed to be waking from a trance. From the moment he arrived in England, he had believed that Victoria was his friend, more than a friend- a surrogate mother. He had lived for seven years as an English Aristocrat, invited to all the parties that mattered, and had been befriended by the most powerful men in the realm. When he became twenty-one his thoughts turned to his real mother.
Rani Jindan had been fading away in her de-facto Nepali prison and years have taken a terrible toll. She aged dramatically, lost weight and almost all the sight in both eyes. Office and Palace officials had made every effort to insulate Maharaja from the depressing news of his mother decline, yet in 1860 rumors managed to filter through to hi
In November 1856 Jung Bahadur Rana sent the Governor-General of India a letter which he had intercepted from Duleep Singh to Jind Kaur, suggesting that she may come to England. The letter was dismissed as a forgery. However, shortly afterward Duleep Singh commissioned Pundit Nehemiah Goreh to visit Kathmandu on his behalf and find out how his mother was managing. This attempt was also doomed to failure and the Pundit was forbidden to contact the Maharani.
Duleep Singh then decided to go himself, using the pretext of a tiger shoot in Bengal. In 1860 he wrote to the British Resident in Kathmandu. The Resident reported that the Rani had much changed, was blind and had lost much of the energy which formerly characterized her
When they intercepted the letter British found themselves in a difficult situation. Could they block the son from speaking to his mother? The Maharaja was one of the Queen’s favorites. He had committed no crime. Should he suffer because his mother had been a problem so many years ago?
After much diplomatic toeing and froing, the British decided that little could be done to stop Duleep re-establishing ties with Jindan. Though they could not prevent but might be able to control it. Duleep Singh was given permission to travel to India to meet his mother for the first time since she was forcibly parted from him. With great care, the authorities selected a place as far away from Punjab as possible. The Spenser Hotel in Calcutta is one of the finest hotels in the world in the 1860s. Duleep flanked by the representative, waited for his mother to come.
. On 16th January 1861, she was brought to join her son at Spence’s Hotel, in Calcutta. It was a passionate meeting of mother and son after 13 years of separation. When she touched his head abruptly she parted from him away. and let out the howl of grief and anger. Though she had known they had taken away his kingdom, and his koh-i-Noor never could she have dreamed he would let them take his religion too. When Jindan finally calmed herself she declared to Duleep’s British escort that she would never again be parted from her son. They have to let her travel back with him to England, the land she had hated for so long.
A hesitant Duleep wrote an almost apologetic letter to the palace and his guardian, Logins explaining his mother wishes, saying he might as well go with the idea. He was taken aback when the British told the rebel queen that she would be able to sail to England with him. Having Jindan on British soil serve their purpose. In one move they could remove her from India and any chance of her stirring, she will be under close watch. If the British needed a reminder of how potent Jinda was in the eyes of fellow Punjabis, they got it just hours after her reunion with her son
A troopship filled with several Sikh regiments were returning home via Calcutta at the end of the Chinese war. The presence of Sikh royalty in the city gave rise to demonstrations of joy and loyalty with loud voices and slogans,” Bole so Nihal, Sat Sri Akal “. The hotel was surrounded by thousands of armed Sikhs.
After that The Governor-General, Lord Canning requested Duleep Singh, as a favor, to leave for England with his mother by the next boat. Duleep Singh could see the pain and longing for him, so he decided to take her to England. During the passage to England, Duleep Singh wrote to Sir John Login, who had been his guardian throughout his adolescence in British hands, asking him to find a house for her mother.
Within hours of their union, Jindan began filling her son’s ears with stories about his stolen koh-i-Noor. Under the Maharani ‘s influence, Duleep slowly changed, turning from a favorite pet of the royal court into a man who dared to defy its wishes.
For a while, Duleep Singh moved with his mother to Mulgrave Castle in Yorkshire. Attempts were made to arrange a separate establishment for her on the estate, but she was determined not to be separated from her son.
Lady Normanby counted herself as an ally and confidante of the Maharaja. She happily leased her ancestral home, Mulgrave Castle, to Duleep whenever he wished to hunt. The rugged 16000- acre estate in Yorkshire was perfect for him to indulge his passion for shooting. When Duleep Singh chose to bring his mother with him to Mulgrave, Lady Normanby poured scorn on Jinda behind her back and gossiped about her and her peculiar habits.
Duleep, who must have been aware of the whispering, refused to be swayed by it. Instead, he chose to purchase a house for his mother in an exclusive part of the London opposite Hyde Park at 1, Lancaster Gate. Duleep himself lived just around the corner in a smart home at no. 3. Passers-by often press their noses to the mysterious Rani’s house drawn by the exotic smell of spiced dishes bubbling in the kitchen vats.
Soon after her arrival, Lady Login visited with her three youngest children. She had heard tales of the Maharani’s beauty and influence and strength of will and was curious to meet the woman who had wielded such power. Her compassion was aroused when she met a tired half-blind woman, her health broken and her beauty vanished. “Yet the moment she grew interested and excited in a subject, unexpected gleams and glimpses through the haze of indifference and the torpor of advancing age revealed the shrewd and plotting brain of her, who had once been known as the ‘Messalina of the Punjab “.
While in India Duleep Singh had negotiated the return of the Maharani’s jewelry, which had been kept in the treasury at Banaras. These arrived at Lancaster Gate just before the Maharani returned Lady Login’s visit, and her delight was so great that “she forthwith decorated herself, and her attendants, with an assortment of the most wonderful necklaces and earrings, strings of lovely pearls and emeralds”, to wear during the visit. The portrait of the Maharani by George Richmond shows her wearing some of the jewels, including the emerald and pearl necklace, which was sold by auction on 8 October 2009 at Bonhams for £55,200.
In the last two years of her life she reminded the Maharaja of his Sikh heritage and told him of the empire that had once been his, sowing the seeds that twenty years later led him to research for weeks in the British Library and to petition Queen Victoria, hoping naively to remedy the injustice he had suffered.“ it was Jind Kaur’s brief reunion with her son in the country she despised that rekindled Duleep’s desire to take back his kingdom” In a way she had the last laugh,” says Harbinder Singh, director of the Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail. “When you look at the life of Duleep Singh the moment where he began to turn his back on Britain and rebel was immediately after meeting his mother. The British assumed that this frail-looking woman, who was nearly blind and had lost her looks, was no longer a force to be reckoned with. But she reminded her son of who he was and where his kingdom really lay.”
Not long after their return to London, the Maharaja began to question the terms of settlement , he had been forced to signal these year ago, which cause consternation at the highest level Sir John Login so-called Maa-Baap of Duleep also received one such letter from him,” I very much wish to have conversation with you about my private property in Punjab and Koh-i-Noor too. Realizing the delicacy of the situation Login immediately referred the letter to Buckingham Palace,
By now, Victoria was too deep in mourning her dead husband, so it was left to her advisers. the keeper of privy purses, Sir Charles Phipps to tackle the situation. He wrote back to Login” I am very sorry to hear about what to say about the Maharaja, Nothing could be more destructive to him as that he should succumb to his mother’s or any other native influence. He is too good to be lost.
Phipps urged Login to break Jindan’s spell over her son by becoming more involved in the Maharaja’s life. Meanwhile, Phipps drew up a plan to marry him to divert his attention from her mother. and her influence. The India office went as far as to identify a country estate far away from London that might be perfect for Maharaja and his new life.
Behind the scenes, they also talk about Jindan sending back to Asia perhaps locking her again. But before The British could put any such plan, on 1 August 1863, shortly after 6:15 in the evening, a frail and partially-blind queen who had spent much of her life raging against the British Empire, died in her bed on the top floor of her Abingdon House in Kensington town London, It was a peculiar and remarkably quiet end for a woman once the scourge of the British Raj in India. She died peacefully
Kensington Cremation was illegal in Great Britain before 1885 and Duleep Singh was refused permission to take his mother’s body to Punjab. In the spring of 1864, the Maharaja obtained permission to take the body to Bombay in India, where it was cremated, and he erected a small Samadhi in memory of his mother on the Panchvati side of the Godavari River. The memorial was maintained by the Kapurthala State Authorities until 1924, but typical of British attitudes at the time, they built a sewer canal over the memorial. In 1924, her grand-daughter, Princess Bamba Sutherland had her ashes dugout and, moved her remains and the memorial to the Samadh of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore.
If the British thought that their problems had ended with the death of Duleep’s mother, they were mistaken. Jindan had successfully sown the seeds of doubt in her son’s mind. Outwardly it seemed as if Duleep was still following the wishes of the palace but it was not so. Everything seemed a little subverted.
Historians have betrayed the unfortunate Maharani by not having paid full attention to the struggle that she waged; almost single-handed, to thwart the British designs. It is another matter that she was not destined to meet with success. She is an Inspiration for women. She was one of the most remarkable characters of 19th-century history who stood up against British, discarded sati pratha, and led the courts, had meetings with chief ministers and the armies.
vShe played a very crucial and conspicuous role in the wake of the falling fortunes of the Sarkar-i-Khalsa. Even in that dismal situation, she tried to make the best use of not only her wit, wisdom and unusual courage but also of her feminine charm and beauty to save the sinking ship of the State. In 1843, Lord Ellenborough cautioned the Duke of Wellington in London “that it would not be so easy to deal with Maharani Jindan as he could with the Amirs of Sindh because she was a woman of determined courage.”2
The same was confirmed by the jittering Lord Dalhousie when the Maharani escaped to Nepal from the well-guarded and formidable fort of Chunar. The Governor-General wrote to the Secretary of State in London, “that having watched the defiant Maharani’s conduct during the last few years, he was of the firm opinion that she was the only person of manly understanding in Punjab.” If any proof of that was wanting, it lay in the manner she could tame the boisterous and rebellious soldiery of the times of her husband, who in the name of the defense of the Khalsa Sarkar were fast digging its grave”.
This young lady hardly twenty-seven years of age stormed into their ranks, throwing aside her purdah, did some plain-speaking with them when all her chiefs had succumbed out of sheer fear and to the Tigers who, a moment earlier were virtually on the rampage outside the palace gate, became spell-bound after listening to her for some time, to declare in unison that henceforth they would regard her as “the mother of the Khalsa or Raj Mata.”
So great was the impact of that act of hers that even when the British hierarchy in India as is usual with any imperial power began to hit her below the belt and began to defame her as a profligate woman, it did not produce the desired effect. Even Henry Lawrence, a moderate amongst them, began to mention about her relations with Raja Lal Singh in his official reports, while Lord Harding, the Governor-General, felt helpless that no amount of character assassination was producing any adverse effect on the minds of the common Punjabis or even the Sikh chiefs.
Lady Login’s statement on meeting the downcast Maharani on her arrival in London in 1859. She writes, “with health broken and eye-sight dimmed, her once famed beauty vanished in an air of lassitude, it was hard to believe in her former charms of person and of conversation.” However, the fact of the matter was that in spite of formidable misfortunes, the lioness in Maharani Jind Kaur refused to be tamed. Before her death, she told her son Duleep Singh that her dead body would not be cremated in the land of the deceitful and avaricious imperialists but taken to Punjab for cremation”. Though this desire of hers was not fulfilled because it was not allowed by the British. Surely her spirit could not be barred from searching her land of birth.
The Maharani was actually a very gifted person in respect of her being good at putting her thoughts. Some of her personal letters which have survived and are found in the National Archives of India bear testimony to this fact. These letters exhibit the clarity of her mind and her sense of timing and the way she writes what she thinks. She was proficient in Gurmukhi too. Another very distinct feature of her personality was her ringing voice which had an air of royalty in it. She was certainly the most indomitable and determined person which we come across in the post-Ranjit Singh. Maharani’s son, Duleep, says Jindan was “one of the most remarkable characters of 19th-century history, let alone Indian or Sikh history”. This is despite the fact that much of what is known about her is “through the words of the British, who regarded her as a threat to their power in India and therefore did their best to make her reputation as bad as possible”.
The Maharani was described as “a serious obstacle” to British rule in India. They launched a smear campaign to discredit her, painting her as the “Messalina of the Punjab”, a seductress too rebellious to be controlled. She refused to co-operate and the British saw that her influence on Duleep could lead to an uprising among the Punjabi people. They decided to separate mother and son.
“The British did not paint Jindan in a kind light and tried to demonize her by accusing her of treachery. But now new evidence has emerged to the contrary. If you read British history between the lines, you find that they tried to keep her away from Duleep Singh because they were afraid of the influence she might wield on him.”
Dwelling on the fight put up by Jindan against the British, Banga says she was in touch with Bhai Maharaj Singh, who tried to rebel against the British after the annexation of the Sikh empire. “With many historians counting the Anglo-Sikh battles as the first war of independence, Jindan has now become a heroic figure.”
But a number of historians now believe it was Jind Kaur’s brief reunion with her son in the country she despised that rekindled Duleep’s desire to take back his kingdom.
“When you look at the life of Duleep Singh the moment where he began to turn his back on Britain and rebel was immediately after meeting his mother. The British assumed that this frail-looking woman, who was nearly blind and had lost her looks, was no longer a force to be reckoned with. But she reminded her son of who he was and where his kingdom really lay.”
Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa Wahegur ji ki Fateh