- Category: Sikh struggle against Mughal empire [1708 - 1799]
JANGNAMA, by Qazi Nur Muhammad, is an eyewitness account in Persian verse of Ahmad Shah Durrani`s seventh invasion of India, 1764-65, for which it is the only major source of information. A copy of the manuscript in the hand of one Khair Muhammad of Gunjaba was preserved at the District Gazetteer Office at Quetta in Baluchistan from where Karam Singh, state historian of Patiala, made a transcript which was utilized by Dr Ganda Singh in producing an edited version of the Persian text, with a preface and a brief summary in English. The work was published by the Sikh Historical Research Department, Khalsa College, Amritsar, in 1939.
Ahmad Shah had planned his seventh invasion as a jihad or crusade against the Sikhs, who had, since his previous invasion, not only captured Sirhind (January 1764) but had also threatened Lahore and ravaged twice during that year the territories in the GarigaYamuna Doab of Najib udDaulah, his ally and agent at Delhi. Ahmad Shah invited Mir Muhammad Nasir Khan, ruler of Kalat in Baluchistan (1750-95), to join him. Qazi Nur Muhammad, son of Qazi Abdullah Kilawar of Gurijaba, accompanied Nasir Khan, who at the head of 12,000 Baluchls, met the Shah at Eminabad, 50 km north of Lahore.
The combined force, 30,000 strong, did not meet any opposition up to Lahore, where it arrived towards the end of November 1764. The Shah was holding a council of war the next morning when a fast riding messenger came to report that the Baluchi vanguard was under surprise attack from a strong Sikh force. Mir Nasir Khan immediately went to the help of his troops. Qazi Nur Muhammad, relating the events of this first encounter with the Sikhs, describes the tactics adopted by the latter thus: "A troop advances and, firing a volley from some distance, retires to reload their muskets while another troop starts firing from another flank.
Thus, while they can relax somewhat by turns, they do not allow any respite to their enemy." The battle raged throughout the day and came to an end only at the fall of darkness. The Sikhs did not resume the attack the following morning. The Shah marched upon Amritsar whither the Sikhs had been reported to have withdrawn. But when he reached there on 30 November 1764, not a single Sikh was to be seen. Next day, a band of 30 Sikhs sallied from a forti fied house (bunga, in Punjabi) and attacked the Shah`s camp. "These dogs [as the author disparagingly calls the Sikhs] were only thirty in number. They were not in the least afraid. They had neither the fear of slaughter nor the dread of death.
They grappled with the ghdzis or crusaders and, in the engagement, spilt their blood and sacrificed their lives for their Guru" [This small Sikh contingent was led by Gurbakhsh Singh Shahid]. Ahmad Shah returned to Lahore where he held another council of war at which Mir Muhammad Nasir Khan expressed the opinion that they should advance to Sirhind where they should stay awaiting further news from Najib udDaulah, who had been besieged in Delhi by Raja Jawahar Singh of Bharatpur and his Sikh allies of the Buddha Dal under Jassa Singh Ahluvalia.
Ahmad Shah Durrani resumed his march but, conscious as he was of the might of the roving Sikh bands, he followed a circuitous route through Batala, Hoshiarpur and Ropar and, avoiding Sirhind altogether, proceeded via Pirijore, Naraingarh and Jagadhri reaching Kurijpura, near Karnal, by the middle of February 1765 after meeting with stiff resistance at many places en route. By then a rapprochement had been arrived at between Jawahar Singh and Najib udDaulah and the siege had been lifted. Ahmad Shah decided to return to Afghanistan. The Buddha Dal had also meanwhile returned to join the mislddrs comprising the Taruna Dal. At Sirhind, Ala Singh of the Phulktari misi met the Afghan king.
The Shah received him with cordial respect and bestowed on him a khill`at, a robe of honour, and lablo`alam, drum and standard, as emblems of authority. He also tried, through Ala Singh, to come to terms with the Dal Khalsa, but the latter turned down the overtures and decided instead to give a standing battle to the invader. The Sikhs barred his way at Phillaur and Talvan ferries, on the likely route of the Afghans` retreat. The Shah tried to bypass them and crossed the Sutlej at Ropar, but the Sikhs, moving rapidly, caught up with him. Qazi Nur Muhammad gives a detailed account of the three days of battle that followed.
Not mentioning any event of the next three days, he recounts the Sikh attack on the seventh day on the southern bank of the River Bcas. The Sikhs did not pursue the hastily retreating Afghans further, and the Shah reached the River Chenab by the middle of March, without touching Amritsar and Lahore on the way. While crossing the last two torrential currents of the Chenab, he suffered heavy losses in men, material and animals. Nur Muhammad writes: "When I recall that day, I tremble with the fear of the Doomsday." On reaching Rohtas across the Jehlum, Mir Nasir Khan parted company to go to Baluchistan, while Ahmad Shah continued his journey back to Afghanistan.
The Jangndmd is divided into sections under 55 subheadings including the first six sections devoted to praising God and Prophet Muhammad and to eulogizing Ahmad Shah Durrani and Mir Nasir Khan. The remaining sections, starting with the origin and ancestry of the Baluchi people and preparations of Nasir Khan for the crusade, narrate the events of the invasion based on the personal observation of the author. Sections 41 and 42 are specially pertinent to Sikh history. In these he praises the warlike qualities and high moral character of the Sikhs and gives account of the territorial possessions of various sarddrs.
Nur Muhammad refers to the Sikhs in imprecatory language, but cannot help proclaiming at the same time their many natural virtues. In section XLI of his work, for example, he says, "Do not call the "dogs" dogs [his rude term for the Sikhs], for in the field of battle they are courageous like lions.... It should be understood that singhis their title. It is not just to call them sags [dogs]. In Hindustani singh means a lion. In battle they are veritable lions and in peace they excel Hatim [in bounty]." After extolling their mastery in the use of weapons such as sword, spear, battleaxe, bow and arrow, and musket, he praises the moral standards of the Sikh warriors."
They never kill a coward... and never pursue one who flees the field; they never attack or plunder a woman, be she a lady or a slavegirl; adultery is unknown among them and so is theft." About the Sikh religion, the Qazi says: "The Sikhs arc disciples of the pious man who lived in Chakk (Chakk Guru, Amritsar). After him came his successor, Gobind Singh, from whom they derived the title Singh. The dogs arc not from the Hindus; the path of these evil ones is different."
Then he lists some of the Sikh leaders and their respective territories. Here he mixes up some of the names and places, but taken together he mentions almost the entire central Punjab, from Rohtas in the north to Dipalpur in the south and from Multan in the west to Sirhind in the East as having come under Sikh domination. "Besides," he adds, "they collect taxes even from the Dcrajat (districts of Dera Isma`il Khan and Dera Ghaxi Khan across the Indus), and are afraid of none.