CHAR BAGHIPANJAB by Ganesh Das Badhera, a history in Persian of the Punjab which, according to the author, then extended from the River Indus to the Sutlej. The work, completed in 1855, was published by Khalsa College, Amritsar, in 1965. The author served under the Lahore Darbar as a revenue official (qanungo) of Gujrat (now in Pakistan) where earlier his father Shiv Dayal, had also served under Sardar Gulab Singh of the Bhangi misl. Later he joined the service of Raja Gulab Singh at Jammu where he compiled his Raj Darshani, a history of the Dogra rajas.
Char Baghi Panjab was written after the annexation of the Punjab at the instance of the author`s British patrons, specifically Sir Richard Temple (1826-1902), then secretary to the Punjab Government. It was in fact the updated version of his earlier work, Chahar Gulshani Panjab, also called Risala Sahib Numa. Beginning in the traditional style with an account of the solar and lunar dynasties and referring briefly to the Greek invasion by Alexander the Great, Char Baghi Panjab deals with the Punjab under the Muslims from the time of the Ghazanavids down to the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1759-1806) and the invasions of Zaman Shah, a grandson of Ahmad Shah Durrani.
This is preceded by a sketchy account of early Sikhism based on traditional Sikh versions, with certain obvious discrepancies. For instance, the author states that Guru Gobind Singh conferred the title of Guru on Banda (Singh) which is not correct. His account of the exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur and of his eventual execution is, however, graphic. Ganesh Das is more reliable in treating of events closer to his own time. The period of turmoil in Sikh history, the rise of the misis particularly the Bhangis and the Sukkarchakkias, and the emergence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as the sovereign of the Punjab are described in considerable detail.
So are the geographical and topographical features of the Sindh Sagar Doab and the revenue divisions, towns and villages, places of worship and prominent persons belonging to the kingdom of Ranjit Singh. The work takes note of the court factions and intrigues which afflicted the Punjab after the death of the Maharaja. It ends with an account of the two Anglo Sikhs wars, leading to the occupation of the Punjab by the British. Ganesh Das`s occasional use of opprobrious terms for Sikhs is explainable by his eagerness to please his new masters.
1. Latif, Syad Muhammad, History of the Punjab. Delhi, 1964
2. Suri, Sohan Lal, `Umdat-ut-Twarikh. Lahore, 1985-89
3. Ghulam Muhayy ud-din (alias Bute Shah), TwankA-i-Panjab (MS. in the Dr Ganda Singh Collection of the Punjabi University Library, Patiala).