RAJAS OF THE PUNJAB, by Sir Lepel H. Griffin, first published in 1870 and reprinted in 1970 by the Languages Department, Punjab, Paṭiālā, contains accounts of the principal Sikh princely states in the Punjab and of their political relations with the paramount power. The author admits that the title of the work is open to objection because of the omission from it of some of the important chiefs of the Punjab such as those of Kashmīr and Bahāwalpur. The work is based mainly on the official records and papers of Delhi, Ambālā and Ludhiāṇā political agencies as well as on the despatches of Malcolm, Ochterlony, Matcalfe, Murray, Wade, Macnaghten and Prinsep, and official correspondence emanating from Fort William, Calcutta, with regard to the relations of the British government with the protected states. The book is divided into eight chapters, each dealing with an individual Sikh state. The book opens with the history of the Paṭiālā state, the largest in the Mālvā region. Its founder, Ālā Siṅgh (1691-1765) became as a result of his conquests "the most distinguished" among the Sikh chiefs of his day in that region. He allied himself with the dal Khālsā to take possession of the Sirhind subdivision. He made Paṭiālā his capital in 1752. In 1761 he was invested by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī with the title of Rājā. Griffin considers him a. "gallant and at the same time prudent" leader of men who "laid strongly the foundations of the most important of the cis-Sutlej states." His successor Amar Siṅgh (1748 1782) as the strong man of Paṭiālā, Griffin being of the view that had he lived longer or had he been succeeded by a ruler as capable as he was, "the cis-Sutlej states might have been welded into one kingdom and their independence might have been preserved, both against the Lahore monarchy on the one hand and the British Government on the other." A notable feature in the history of the family was the emergence of women of extraordinary courage and political wisdom at periods of crisis. One of them was Rāṇī Rājīnder Kāur, grand-daughter of Ālā Siṅgh, whom Griffin descibes as "one of the most remarkable women of her age, possessing all the virtues which men pretend as their own." In 1785 she marched on Paṭiālā from Phagwārā where she had been and reinstated Nānū Mall as Dīwān. She formed a coalition of the leading Sikh Sardārs against Dhārā Rāo, the Marāṭhā invader. In 1790 when the Marāṭhā force commanded by Rāne Khān Dādājī and 'Alī Bahādar Peshwā knocked at the gates of Paṭiālā, she made a journey to Mathurā to settle the matter with Māhādjī Scindīā, vice-regent of the Mughal empire. Sāhib Kaur, daughter of Rājā Amar Siṅgh, was another prominent name in the Paṭiālā annals. In 1791, she became the chief minister of Paṭiālā at the young age of eighteen. In1795,when the cis-Sutlej region was invaded by Nānā Rāo Marāṭhā, she, gathering round her the forces of Jīnd, Kalsīā, Thānesar and Bhadauṛ in addition to those of Paṭiālā, defeated him at Mardānpur on the banks of the River Ghaggar near Ambālā. Rāṇī Ās Kaur, the wife of Rājā Sāhib Siṅgh of Paṭiālā, was a woman of great ability and her wise administration of the Paṭiālā state during her husband's reign and during the minority of her son, won the admiration of the neighbouring states, and was warmly praised by the British Government.
Rājā Hamīr Siṅgh, the builder of Nābhā state, and his wife, Desū, have received tribute from the author. He calls Hamīr Siṅgh "a brave and energetic chief," and has all praise for Desū who fought bravely against Gajpat Siṅgh of Jīnd who had taken her husband prisoner by treachery and attacked Saṅgrūr. Griffin agrees with Sir David Ochterlony's assessment of Jasvant Siṅgh, son of Hamīr Siṅgh, whom he called "one of the principal Sirdars under our protection, and by far superior in manner, management, and understanding to any of them I have yet seen." He also refers to the continuous hostility between the states of Nābhā and Paṭiālā.
Gajpat Siṅgh, the founder of the Jīnd State, was on friendly terms with Paṭiālā, but an enemy of Nābhā. His daughter, Rāj Kaur, was the mother of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. The chiefs of Bhadauṛ, who trace their ancestry to Chaudharī Dunnā, also belonged to the Phūlkīāṅ stock. The most famous chief of Bhadaur was Gauhar Siṅgh. The village bards used to sing ballads in praise of his martial skill, his victories and his charity to the poor.
Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā, the founder of the Kapūrthalā state, was the leader of the Dal Khālsā and had fought many battles against the Mughals and the Durrānīs. His grandson, Fateh Siṅgh, gave full support to Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh in war as well as in diplomacy. He was the architect of the Tripartite treaty of 1805 between the British, Raṇjīt Siṅgh and Jasvant Rāo Holkar.
The ancestors of the rulers of Farīdkoṭ had their seat initially at Koṭ Kapūrā. Hamīr Siṅgh made Farīdkoṭ his headquarters. Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh's general, Muhkam Chand, seized Farīdkoṭ, but it was restored to the family after the Anglo-Sikh treaty of 1809.
Maṇḍī, one of the Kāṅgrā hill states, first became tributary to Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, but later on accepted British paramountcy.
The minor Phūlkīāṅ families of Baḍrukhāṅ, Diālpurā, Jiūndāṅ, Koṭ Dunnā, Lauḍhgharīā, Malaud and Rāmpuriā are touched upon in passing.
B. J. Hasrat