Disappointment of Abdali and Rise of Sikh Misals

The aim of Ahmad Shah Abdali’s last three invasions on India was to suppress the Sikhs. Sikhs gave a befitting reply to his military adventures and met him everywhere in North India. Abdali failed to suppress them and thus Sikhs emerged as the most formidable and marshal community in the North India. There are many reasons of Abdali’s failures and the success of the Sikhs. Abdali underestimated the military power of Sikhs and did not prepared much to fight against them as for as the military preparations were concerned. He was an able and brave military general but lacked ability of long term planning. He was one of the most tyrant and cruel invader India had ever seen and his atrocities and slaughter of people made Sikhs more strong instead of weakening them. His governors of Sirhind, Lahore etc proved out to be very weak as compared to the rising powers of the Sikhs and whenever Abdali returned to his native land they were easily subdued by the Sikhs. He had to face many revolts in his kingdom and that is why he could not keep himself concentrated on his Indian provinces. After each and every invasion he had to return to his kingdom hurriedly because of law and order problems created by rebellions and thus he failed to use his full military power to suppress the Sikhs. Sikhs were religiously motivated to fight against the oppressors and remain armed is one of the main part of their religious rituals. Thus they were the only community that was always at arms and ready to fight without fear of defeat or death. It is not easy for every strong ruler to fight against that community that is very brave and always armed. This was another reason of his failure against the Sikhs. In 1748, Sikhs formed a Dal (Group) named Dal Khalsa. Thus various Sikhs generals united under a single flag. After it they divided themselves into two Dals. First was called Budha Dal ( Group of elders) and the second was called Taruna Dal (Group of Young Sikhs) Both these Dals fought successfully against the invaders and the Mughals and taught them lessons of Justice. Before the formation of Dal Khalsa Sikhs were scattered in many parts of Northern India and were lead by many brave Sikh generals. They used to fight guerrilla warfare against the invaders. Whenever Abdali invaded India with his huge military, Sikhs used to flee from the plains and hid in the forests and high mountains. It was almost impossible to follow them and reach their hideouts for the Afghan invaders as it was very dangerous for them. At appropriate times Sikhs would emerge from the forests and mountains and chock the ways of their reinforcement. They used to loot their caravans and kill the fleeing invaders. Sikhs were helped by the ordinary people of Punjab. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Chharat Singh Sukarchakya, Hari Singh Bhangi etc were some of the brave Sikh leaders who played an important role to defeat the Afghans and make the Sikhs successful.

Sikhs Misals originated very slowly with the change of circumstances. After the death of Banda Singh Bahadur, the Mughals governors of North India used their full military powers to wipe out and eliminate the Sikhs and Sikhism from India. The Mughals generals had declared prizes for the heads of the Sikhs and thus Sikhs were killed at mass level wherever any one of them was caught by the Mughals.  Sikhs fled from the plains of North India and took refuse in the high mountains and dense forests. They had divided themselves into groups and operated in different parts of North India. Whenever they found appropriate time they used to loot the Mughal treasures and march against the tyrant and oppressor rulers. Formation of Dal Khalsa increased their military power manifolds. The Budha Dal’s chief duty was to spread and Sikhism and teachings of the Sikh gurus and to protect the religious places. Taruna Dal’s duty was to take actions against the Mughal atrocities on the Sikhs. Taruna Dal was divided into five Jathas (groups) and each and every jatha had its own flag and Nagada (drum). After some time, the number of these groups had increased from to 5 to 25. Within a very years there were 65 Jathas operating in different parts of Punjab. Nawab Kapur Singh played an important role for the organization of the Sikh military and it was named Dal Khalsa. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was appointed as the military leader of the Sikh Military. All the 65 Jathas of the Sikh military were divided into 11-12 Jathas (main groups). Every Jatha had a separate name, leader and flag. These Jathas fought against the Afghans successfully for many years and finally founded their small states in various parts of Punjab. People started to call them Misals. In the last three decades of the eighteenth century these Misals ruled over the vast territory of Punjab.


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