AKHBĀR-I-DARBĀR-I-MAHĀRĀJĀ RAṆJĪT SIṄGH, also called Akhbār-i-Ḍeoṛhi Sardār Raṇjīt Siṅgh Bahādur, is a set of Persian manuscripts comprising 193 loose sheets of unequal size. and containing, as the title indicates, news of the court of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh (1780-1839). These sheets are believed to be newsletters sent from the Punjab for the Peshwā Daftar at Poonā (now Puṇe). The collection was first discovered in 1932-33 by Dr Muhammad Nāzim, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India, in the Alienation Branch of the Divisional Commissioner's office at Poonā. The material was translated into English and published by Punjab Government Records Office in 1935 as Monograph No. 17, Events at the Court of Raṇjīt Siṅgh 1810-1817. The Languages Department, Punjab, brought out a reprint in 1970. Some of the original manuscripts are preserved in the Punjab State Archives at Paṭiālā under catalogue Nos. M-412 (I, II), M-419 (I, II) and M-352 (I, II). The newsletters, covering the period from 1 November 1810 to 2 September 1817 with one letter, dated 10 June 1822, are written in Persian shikastā or running hand. Each letter has a heading giving the title (usually, Akhbār-i-Ḍeoṛhi Sardār Raṇjīt Siṅgh Bahādur) , the day of the week, the date in Hijrī era, and the place from which the letter was sent. The newswriter remains anonymous. He also remains impersonal in that he relates bare facts without comment or opinion. Most of the letters were written from the Fort of Lahore where the Mahārājā held his court, while there are some written from widely disparate places such as Fort of Gobindgaṛh (Amritsar), Gujrāt, Aṭṭock, Wazīrābād, Rājaurī, Siālkoṭ, Fatehgaṛh and Rāwalpiṇḍī. Ten letters relating to the period 1810-12 end with the sentence, "Zabānī Khush-hāl Siṅgh Khabardār nawishtah shud--- this has been written on the basis of verbal information supplied by Khushāl Siṅgh, the informant, " while three letters of the year 1817 end with the word, arzī followed by a seal which reads "'Azīm Ullah 1236 A. H. " The latter remains unidentified, but the former has been conjectured to be Khushāl Siṅgh Jamādār, the ḍeoṛhīḍār, or chamberlain, under Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh.
These letters, rich in variety and detail, provide intimate glimpses into the life of Raṇjīt Siṅgh, his daily routine, personal habits, character and pastimes. To refer to the newsletter, dated 9 June 1813, the Mahārājā rose early in the morning and came to the dīwān khānā, where the sardārs presented themselves and made obeisance. Here he received reports from different parts of the kingdom. Expeditiously disposing of State business, he would inspect troops mounted on a horse or an elephant. Thereafter, he returned to the zanānā, took meals and rested in the afternoon. In the late afternoon, he would come to the Saman Burj and transact business for four hours.
The letters contain valuable information about Raṇjīt Siṅgh's financial, military and judicial administration during the earlier period of his reign. For example, the extent to which the Mahārājā had succeeded in training and reorganizing his forces on Western model, even before the advent of European officers, is revealed through his consistent endeavours in this behalf and through the names of battalion and higher commanders mentioned. The instructions issued to his 'adālatīs or justices indicate his concern for impartiality in the administration of justice. The frequent mention of joṛīs, lit. pairs, who bring news from distant districts, even from foreign courts and offices, reveals the elaborate system of speedy and efficient intelligence-gathering which then exist.