AJĪT SIṄGH PĀLIT (d. 1725), adopted son of Mātā Sundarī, the mother of Sāhibzādā Ajīt Siṅgh. Little is known about the family he came of except that Mātā Sundarī took him over from a goldsmith of Delhi and adopted him because of his striking resemblance with her son, Ajīt Siṅgh, who had met a martyr's death at Chamkaur. She treated him with great affection and got him married to a girl from Burhānpur. Emperor Bahādur Shāh, considering Ajīt Siṅgh to be Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's heir, ordered, on 30 October 1708, the bestowal of a khill'at upon him as a mark of condolence for the Gurū's death. When Bahādur Shāh came to the Punjab in 1710 personally to handle the situation created by the exploits of Bandā Siṅgh he ordered Rājā Chhatrasāl Bundelā to bring Ajīt Siṅgh to his court. Ajīt Siṅgh appeared in the imperial court on 26 September 1710 and was given a robe of honour, but on 27 December 1710 the emperor placed him under the surveillance of one Kār-talab Khān. On 1 June 1711, he was transferred to the camp of Sarbarāh Khān. On 30 December 1711, Bahādur Shāh assigned to him the jāgīr of Gurū Chakk (Amritsar). His purpose in honouring Ajīt Siṅgh as Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's successor was to use him as a counterweight against Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, who was then leading a general uprising of the Sikhs. Suspecting his Hindu officers to be in sympathy with the Sikhs, Bahādur Shāh had issued a proclamation, early in September 1710, to "all Hindus employed in imperial offices to shave off their beards. " On 10 December 1710 was issued a special order to all faujdārs around Shāhjahānābād "to kill the worshippers of Nānak wherever found. " Ajīt Siṅgh, however, revelled in royal patronage. Back in Delhi after Bahādur Shāh's death in 1712, he continued to live in style as a courtier and grew arrogant and haughty even towards Mātā Sundarī. Once as she reproached him for his pretensions and for his desire to wear Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's weapons, he threatened to attack her. Mātā Sundarī disowned him, and he started living in a separate house. On receiving a complaint one day that Ajīt Siṅgh and his followers had mocked an assembly of Muslims at prayer, the emperor ordered him to present himself at court with hair shaven or face severe punishment. Ajīt Siṅgh cut off his hair and abjectly begged the emperor's pardon. This deprived him of whatever respect he commanded among the Sikhs of Delhi. Mātā Sundarī left Delhi and went to live at Mathurā with Ajīt Siṅgh's wife, Tārā Bāī, and his son, Haṭhī Siṅgh. Ajīt Siṅgh kept up the pretence of being a gurū. Once, in his haughtiness, he caused a Muslim mendicant to be beaten to death by his followers. Under the orders of Emperor Muhammad Shāh, he was sentenced to death by torture. Dragged behind an elephant in the streets of Delhi, he met with a painful end. This was on 18 January 1725. His dead body was cremated in Sabzi Maṇḍī area, where a shrine was raised in his memory. His son, Haṭhī Siṅgh, as he grew up, also belied the expectations of Mātā Sundarī, who came back to Delhi. Haṭhī Siṅgh, a pretender to gurūship like his father, went to live at Burhānpur after the sack of Mathurā by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī in 1757. He died there, issueless, in 1783.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok