ZAFARNAMAH-I-RANJIT SINGH (A Chronicle of the Victories of Ranjit Singh), by Diwan Amar Nath, is a contemporary account in Persian of the events of Maharaja Ranjit Singh\’s reign from AD 1800 to AD 1837. Amar Nath, born in 1822, was the son of Diwan Dina Nath, the Maharaja\’s finance minister, and grandson of Bakht Mall, a noted scholar of Persian and Arabic and author of the Khalsa Namah. Amar Nath held the position of Bakhshi or paymaster of the irregular cavalry forces of the Sikh government of Lahore and was personally acquainted with most of the influential men at the Sikh court.
The Zafarnamah-i-Ranjit Singh, as edited by Professor Sita Ram Kohli, was published by the University of the Panjab, Lahore, in 1928. The work, three manuscripts of which were accessible to the editor, was given no specific title by the author, though the text was towards the end referred to as a Zafarnamah. On the author\’s own family copy the copyist gives it the name of “Twankh-i-Khalsa.” This title is inappropriate in as much as the work is limited to Ranjit Singh\’s reign alone. The manuscript which was then in the possession of Rai Sahib Pandit Wazir Chand of Jhang bore a pencil scrawl, “Zafarnamah Akbari.” Akbari was the nom de plume of Diwan Amar Nath.
This name also bears no reference to the contents of the book. The current side was supplied by the editor. The text is divisible into four parts. Part I, i.e. the first forty chapters, forms historically the most important section. It embraces events of Ranjit Singh\’s reign up to the close of the Bikrami Sammat 1893/AD 1836-37. In most cases these are eyewitness accounts. For events of the period perior to his being asked to write the book by the Maharaja, the author ascertained the facts from official sources or from persons directly involved. Part II contains descriptions of the principal gardens around Lahore. This section was, as the author tells us, included in the book at the express wish of the Maharaja himself.
Part III is mainly a love poem and alludes to episodes in the lives of Mirza Akram Beg and Ilahi Bakhsh, the latter of whom rose to the rank of general in the Sikh artillery. Part IV is a long dedicatory poem in honour of the Maharaja. A Punjabi translation of the book was published by Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1983. A typical entry from the work is quoted below: Of the conquest of Kangra in Sammat 1866 Bikrami corresponding to 1225 Hijri (AD 1809)]The King (Ranjit Singh) marshalled his army ; taking an army of boundless force and numberless men, he advanced and encamped at Pathankot.
Having received tribute from the chiefs of Jasrota and Nurpur, he went to Amritsar and having performed offerings put his forehead at the doorstep of that house of prayer. Having received the wealth of holy glimpse and having made large offerings, he supplicated for (divine) assistance in overcoming those evil mischief makers, the Gorkhas. They all fell upon the heads of (the Gorkhas). The Gorkhas having known the resolve of that Jamshaid like King trembled like a cane shoot. They dropped the shield of bravery and became desirous of fleeing with only their heads and two ears (i.e. empty handed).
1. Amar Nath, Zafarnama-i-Ranjit Singh (Punjabi edition) Patiala, 1983