Friday, May 31, 2013

The Khalsa Panth (Sikh League) and its coinage

A brief Introduction of the Khalsa Panth and its coinage      
by Saran Singh and Dalwinder Singh                      

The years 1716 – 1733 were a period of persecution of the Sikhs by the Mughal rulers. The Sikhs were captured and tortured and many fled into the jungles. Many battles were fought during this period by the Khalsa Panth under the leadership of Kapur Singh (1697 – 1753). Finally in 1733, Zakaria Khan the Governor of Punjab, decided to reconcile with the Sikhs. He offered them a jagir (fief) with an annual revenue of one lakh rupees and the title of Nawab. The Sikhs appointed Kapur Singh as Nawab, settled at Amritsar, their holy city, and began to consolidate their power in Punjab.

In 1734, Nawab Kapur Singh divided the Sikhs  into two sections – the Budda Dal (army of the elderly) and the Taruna Dal (army of the young). The Budda Dal was in charge of all holy places, preaching the Guru’s messages and spreading the Sikh religion. The Taruna Dal was tasked with the training of the Sikhs in martial arts and to fight the enemy when necessary.

      Nawab Kapur Singh
      (1697 – 1753)  

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
        (1718 – 1783)

(Photos:Central Sikh Museum, Golden Temple complex, Amritsar)

By 1747, the Sikhs had 65 jathas (bands) in the Punjab. On 29th March 1748 (Baisakhi day), the sarbat Khalsa (the General Assembly of the Sikhs) under Kapur Singh gathered in Amritsar, their holy city. The Sikh forces were united into a single fighting force under the control of the Dal Khalsa , the highest religious body of the Sikhs at the Akal Takht   (the throne of the Timeless  One God, Waheguru) at Amritsar. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (1718 – 1783) was given the supreme command of the Dal Khalsa. The Sikhs were now divided into eleven (11) misls or divisions under the control of a Sikh Chief with his own banner. The eleven sikh misls were :
1.      Ahluwalia Misl, under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
2.      Faizullapuria  or Singhpuria Misl, under Nawab Kapur Singh
3.      Nishanwalia Misl, under Desaunda Singh
4.      Dallewalia  Misl, under Gulab Singh
5.      Karora Singhia or Punjgarhia Misl, under Karora Singh
6.      Bhangi Misl, under Hari Singh
7.      Ramgarhia Misl, under Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
8.      Kanhayia Misl, under Jai Singh
9.      Nakkai Misl, under Hira Singh
10.  Sukarchakia Misl, under Charhat Singh
11.  Shahid Misl, under Deep Singh 

The Phulkian Misl, under Ala Singh, was not part of the Dal Khalsa. It was mainly active in the Sikh States Of Nabha, Patiala, Jind and Kaithal. It was however aligned to the Dal Khalsa, and used to provide assistance in times of need.

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia established the system of “Rakhi” (protection) in the Punjab around 1756. In return for one-fifth of one’s income to the Sikhs, protection was granted to the people against exploitation by Government officials and robbers. This system ultimately led to the establishment of a national monarchy.
In December 1763, the Dal Khalsa attacked and defeated Zain Khan, the Durrani Governor of Sirhind. Sirhind ( where Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s two youngest sons had been cruelly bricked up alive by the Subedar in  1705).

In April 1765, the leaders of the various misls led by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, passed a Gurmata (decree) to establish the Sikh State of Punjab by declaring their sovereignty and independence. In 1765, under the authority of the Sikh League “Khalsa”, the Bhangi Misl struck 1 Rupee silver coins at the Lahore Mint which came to be known as the “Nanak Shahi Rupiya” (coins of Guru Nanak). These coins were struck between the Vikrama Samvat Years 1822 – 1855 (1765 – 1798). These coins were about 21 mm in diameter and had a weight of approximately 11 gram’s.

Obverse : In Persian “Degh O tegh O fateh nusrat be-dirang, yaft az Nanak Guru
                 Gobind  Singh”
                 (The prosperity, strength by the sword and resultant victory are obtained from
                   Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh)

Reverse : In Persian “Zarb dar as – Sultanat Lahore, sanat ____ julus maimanat
                 (Struck in auspicious and prosperous capital of Lahore , samvat year ____)

1/2 Rupee VS 1847 (1790)
Lahore Mint
D: 19mm,W: 5.35g
1 Rupee VS 1822 (1765)
Lahore Mint
D: 21mm,W: 11.25g
First Coin by the Khalsa

1 Rupee VS 1841 (1784)
Lahore Mint
D: 23mm, W: 11.20g

The “Khalsa” struck 1 rupee silver coins at the Amritsar mint between the Vikram Samvat Years 1832 – 1855 (1775 – 1798). The symbol of the leaf on Sikh coins was included for the first time in VS 1845 (1788).  Nanakshahi rupees were also struck at the Lahore Mint.

Obverse : Similar to the obverse of the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Rupee Year 2 and 3

Reverse : “Zarb Sri Amritsar Jeo. Jalus Maimanat Takht Akal Bakht, Samvat ____
                 (Struck at illustrious Amritsar in the reign of the auspicious and prosperous
                  Akal Takht (seat of the temporal authority of the Khalsa – Sikh Brotherhood),
                  Samvat Year ___)

1 Rupee VS 1833 (1766)
Amritsar Mint
D: 21mm, W: 11.15g
 1 Rupee VS 1845 (1788)
     Amritsar Mint, D: 22mm,W: 11.15g.
     Leaf symbol added for the first time

 The Bhangi Misl, a component of the “Khalsa”, struck 1 rupee silver coins at the Multan Mint, which was under their jurisdiction, between VS1829 – VS 1836 (1772 – 1779).

 1 Rupee VS 1830 (1773)
   Multan Mint, D: 21mm, W: 11.30g.

The “Khalsa” also struck 1 rupee silver coins bearing the name Anandgarh between VS1840 – VS 1846 (1783 – 1789) and VS 1848 – VS 1849 (1791 – 1792). These coins were most probably struck at  Amritsar. 

 1 Rupee VS 1841 (1784) Anandgarh
D: 23mm, W: 11.10g.

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia acted as a permanent leader of the Sikhs and brought them out of political chaos into self Government. He died of old age in 1783.


* The coins of the Sikhs issued since VS 1822 (1765) all bear the Vikram Samvat year date.
   This is 57 years ahead of the English calendar (AD).
++ As the dies for striking the Sikh coins were larger then the planchets, only part of the Persian
     inscriptions appear on the coins.


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