Rajputs and Sikhs

Learning Goals:

The Watan Jagirs of the Rajputs: Many Rajput kings, particularly belonging to Amber and Jodhpur had served extremely well under the Mughals. In exchange, they were allowed to enjoy considerable autonomy in their watan jagirs. These rulers, in the 18th century, attempted to extend their control over adjacent areas. The ruler of Jodhpur, Ajit Singh, was involved in the factional politics at the Mughal court.

These Rajput families were influential. They claimed the subadari of the rich provinces of Gujarat and Malwa. Raja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur held the governorship of Gujarat whereas Sawai Raja Jai Singh of Amber was governor of Malwa. In 1713, these offices were renewed by Emperor Jahandar Shah. As an effort to extend their territory, they also seized portions of imperial territories neighbouring their watans:

Sawai Raj Singh founded his new capital at Jaipur. He was given the subadari of Agra in 1722. There was severe pressure on these principalities by Maratha campaigns in Rajasthan from the 1740s. This checked their further expansion.

Seizing independence

The following sections deal with the states that had already seized their independence from the Mughals and were under the control of the Sikhs, Marathas and Jats

The Sikhs

The organization of Sikhs into a political entity in the 17th century helped in regional state building in Punjab. Guru Gobind Singh fought many battles against the Rajputs and the Mughals, both before and after the institution of Khalsa in 1699. After his death in 1708, the Khalsa:

Bands of Sikhs

In the eighteenth century, the Sikhs organized themselves into a number of bands called jathas, and later on misls. These bands were under competent leaders. Their combined forces were called the grand army (dal khalsa). Collective decisions were taken by them after meeting at Amritsar at the time of Baisakhi and Diwali. These collective decisions were called ‘resolutions of the Guru (gurumatas)’. A system called rakhi was introduced which offered protection to the cultivators on the payment of a tax of 20% of the produce.

Guru Gobind Singh

He had inspired the Khalsa with the belief that their destiny was to rule (raj karega khalsa). They were a well-knit organization and hence they could put up a tough and successful resistance to:

The Khalsa declared their sovereign rule by striking their own coin again in the year 1765. This coin also bore the same inscription that the coin during the time of Banda Bahadur bore.

Spread of the territory

In the late 18th century, the territories under the Sikhs extended from the Indus to the Jamuna but they were divided under different rulers. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was one ruler who reunited these groups and established his capital at Lahore in 1799.

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