AJIT SINGH PALIT (d. 1725), adopted son of Mata Sundari, the mother of Sahibzada Ajit Singh . Little is known about the family he came of except that Mata Sundari took him over from a goldsmith of Delhi and adopted him because of his striking resemblance with her son, Ajit Singh, who had met a martyr`s death at Chamkaur. She treated him with great affection and got him married to a girl from Burhanpur. Emperor Bahadur Shah, considering Ajit Singh to be Guru Gobind Singh`s heir, ordered, on 30 October 1708, the bestowal of a \’khill`atupon him as a mark of condolence for the Guru`s death.

When Bahadur Shah came to the Punjab in 1710 personally to handle the situation created by the exploits of Banda Singh, he ordered Raja Chhatrasal Bundela to bring Ajit Singh to his court. Ajit Singh appeared in the imperial court on 26 September 1710 and was given a robe of honour, but on 27 December 1710 the emperor placed him under the surveillance of one Kartalab Khan. On 1 June 1711, he was transferred to the camp of Sarbarah Khan. On 30 December 1711, Bahadur Shah assigned to him the jaglr of Guru Chakk (Amritsar). His purpose in honouring Ajit Singh as Guru Gobind Singh`s successor was to use him as a counterweight against Banda Singh Bahadur, who was then leading a general uprising of the Sikhs.

Suspecting his Hindu officers to be in sympathy with the Sikhs, Bahadur Shah had issued a proclamation, early in September 1710, to “all Hindus employed in imperial offices to shave off their beards.” On 10 December 1710 was issued a special order to all faujdars around Shahjahanabad “to kill the worshippers of Nanak wherever found.” Ajit Singh, however, revelled in royal patronage. Back in Delhi after Bahadur Shah`s death in 1712, he continued to live in style as a courtier and grew arrogant and haughty even towards Mata Sundari. Once as she reproached him for his pretensions and for his desire to wear Guru Gobind Singh`s weapons, he threatened to attack her.

Mata Sundari disowned him, and he started living in a separate house. On receiving a complaint one day that Ajit Singh and his followers had mocked an assembly of Muslims at prayer, the emperor ordered him to present himself at court with hair shaven or face severe punishment. Ajit Singh cut off his hair and abjectly begged the emperor`s pardon. This deprived him of whatever respect he commanded among the Sikhs of Delhi. Mata Sundari left Delhi and went to live at Mathura with Ajit Singh`s wife, Tara Bai, and his son, Hathi Singh.

Ajit Singh kept up the pretence of being a guru. Once, in his haughtiness, he caused a Muslim mendicant to be beaten to death by his followers. Under the orders of Emperor Muhammad Shah, he was sentenced to death by torture. Dragged behind an elephant in the streets of Delhi, he met with a painful end. This was on 18 January 1725. His dead body was cremated in Sabzi Mandi area, where a shrine was raised in his memory. His son, Hathi Singh, as he grew up, also belied the expectations of Mata Sundari, who came back to Delhi. Hathi Singh, a pretender to guruship like his father, went to live at Burhanpur after the sack of Mathura by Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1757. He died there, issueless, in 1783.

References :

1. Padam, Piara Singh and Giani Garja Singh, eds., Guru kian Sakhian. Patiala, 1986
2. Chhibbar, Kesar Singh, Bansavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka. Chandigarh, 1972
3. Sainapati, Kavi, Sri Gur SobAa. Patiala, 1980