KAPUR SINGH, NAWAB (1697-1753), eighteenth century Sikh hero and founder of the Dal Khalsa. He was born in 1697 in a peasant family of Virks of the village of Kaloke, now in Shcikhupura district of Pakistan. His father`s name was DalTp Singh. When Kapur Singh was of the age to bear arms, he seized the village of Faizullapur, near Amritsar, renamed it Singhpura and started living there. For this reason he is also known to history as Kapur Singh Faixullapuria and the principality he founded as Faizullapuria`s or Singhpuria`s misi or chieftaincy. Kapur Singh was eleven years old at the time of Guru Gobind Singh`s death and nineteen when Banda Singh Bahadur and his companions were tortured to death in Delhi.

He had thus passed his early life in an atmosphere charged with the fervour of faith and sacrifice. Side by side with religious discipline, Kapur Singh practised manly exercises like horseriding and swordsmanship. In 1721, he received the vows of Khalsa initiation at the hands of Bhai Man! Singh, a pious and learned Sikh of that time, at a large gathering of Sikhs held at Amritsar on the occasion of the Divali festival. Kapur Singh`s physical prowess and spirit of boldness proved valuable assets in those days of high adventure, and he soon gained a position of eminence among his people who were then engaged in a desperate struggle for survival.

When Zakariya Khan, who became the governor of Lahore in 1726, adopted rigorous measures against the Sikhs, Kapur Singh organized a band of warriors, who, with a view to paralyzing the administration and obtaining food for their companions forced to seek shelter in remote hills and forests, attacked government treasuries and caravans moving from one place to another. Such was the effect of these depredations that the Delhi government, in 1733, at the instance of Zakariya Khan, decided to lift the quarantine forced upon the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. Subeg Singh, a Sikh resident of Jambar, near Lahore, who was for a lime kotvdl or police inspector of the city under Mughal authority, was entrusted with the task of negotiating peace with the Khalsa.

Hereached Amritsar and offered the Sikhs, assembled there on the occasion of the Baisakhi festival, on behalf of the government the title of Nawab and a jdgir consisting of parganahs of Dipalpur, Kariganval and Jhabal. After the Sikhs accepted the offer, Kapur Singh, humbly swinging a handfan over the assembly, was unanimously chosen to be honoured with the title of Nawab. Kapur Singh reluctantly accepted the honour and, as a mark of respect, he placed the robe of honour sent by the Mughals at the feet of five revered Sikhs before putting it on. The dress, according to Sikh chroniclers, included a shawl, a turban, a Jewelled plume, a pair of gold bangles, a necklace, a row of pearls, a brocade garment and a sword.

During the respite thus secured, Kapur Singh gave attention to reorganizing the Sikh force which he divided into two sections the Buddha Dal, army of the elderly, and the Taruna Dal, army of the young. The former, under the charge of Nawab Kapur Singh, was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the Guru`s word and administering the vows of the Khalsa to Sikhs, while the latter was the more active division whose function was to fight in times of emergency. As Taruna Dal grew in strength, Nawab Kapur Singh further split it into five parts, each with a separate centre and its own banner and drum.

The detente with the Mughals did not last long and before the harvest season of 1735, Zakariya Khan sent a force and occupied the jdgir. The Buddha Dal being driven away towards the Malva, Nawab Kapur Singh continued his missionary and military activities in the cisSutlej parts. He conquered the territory of Sunam and made it over to Ala Singh, the PhulkTari chief, who had received rites of initiation from him. Nawab Kapur Singh led the Buddha Dal right up to the vicinity of Delhi, vanquishing, on the way, the chieftains ofJhajjar, Dadri, Dojana and PataudT.

Overrunning Faridabad, Ballabgarh and Gurgaori in the parganah of Delhi, the Dal returned to the village of Thikrivala in the Malva. When in 1739, Nadir Shah was returning to Persia after a hearty plunder of Delhi and the Punjab, Nawab Kapur Singh swooped down upon his rearguard, near Akhnur on the river Chcnab, and rescued a number of innocent girls who were being abducted, and restored them to their parents. On tlic occasion of Baisakhi (29 March) of 1748, when Sikhs were able to assemble at Amritsar after a long interval, a new force known as the Dal Khalsa was constituted at the instance of Nawab Kapur Singh.

Different groups of the Sikhs, whose number had already touched sixty five, were leagued together into eleven main associations, each with a separate banner, a stable, a kitchen and a leader but acting under one supreme commander binding each group with the other group and also with the whole Panth. Kapur Singh surrendered charge to Jassa Singh Ahluvalia who was, at his suggestion, chosen the supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa. Nawab Kapur Singh died on 7 October 1753 and was cremated in the premises of Gurdwara Baba Atal at Amritsar.

References :

1. Bhangu, Ratan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1914
2. Hoti, Prem Singh, Nawab Kapur Singh. Lndhiana, 1952
3. Ganda Singh, Snrdar Jassa Singh AhluvaRa. Paliala, 1969
4. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short Histmy of the Sikhs. Bombay, 1950
5. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, vol. I. Princeton, 1963
6. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983 H.R.G.