KAPŪR SIṄGH, NAWĀB (1697-1753), eighteenth century Sikh hero and founder of the Dal Khālsā. He was born in 1697 in a peasant family of Virks of the village of Kāloke, now in Sheikhūpurā district of Pakistan. His father's name was Dalīp Siṅgh. When Kapūr Siṅgh was of the age to bear arms, he seized the village of Faizullāpur, near Amritsar, renamed it Siṅghpurā and started living there. For this reason he is also known to history as Kapūr Siṅgh Faizullāpurīā and the principality he founded as Faizullāpurīā's or Siṅghpurīā's misl or chieftaincy.

         Kapūr Siṅgh was eleven years old at the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's death and nineteen when Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur and his companions were tortured to death in Delhi. He had thus passed his early life in an atmosphere charged with the fervour of faith and sacrifice. Side by side with religious discipline, Kapūr Siṅgh practised manly exercises like horse-riding and swordsmanship. In 1721, he received the vows of Khālsā initiation at the hands of Bhāī Manī Siṅgh, a pious and learned Sikh of that time, at a large gathering of Sikhs held at Amritsar on the occasion of the Dīvālī festival. Kapūr Siṅgh's physical prowess and spirit of boldness proved valuable assets in those days of high adventure, and he soon gained a position of eminence among his people who were then engaged in a desperate struggle for survival. When Zakarīyā Khān, who became the governor of Lahore in 1726, adopted rigorous measures against the Sikhs, Kapūr Siṅgh organized a band of warriors, who, with a view to paralyzing the administration and obtaining food for their companions forced to seek shelter in remote hills and forests, attacked government treasuries and caravans moving from one place to another. Such was the effect of these depredations that the Delhi government, in 1733, at the instance of Zakarīyā Khān, decided to lift the quarantine forced upon the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. Subeg Siṅgh, a Sikh resident of Jambar, near Lahore, who was for a time kotvāl or police inspector of the city under Mughal authority, was entrusted with the task of negotiating peace with the Khālsā. He reached Amritsar and offered the Sikhs, assembled there on the occasion of the Baisākhī festival, on behalf of the government the title of Nawāb and a jāgīr consisting of parganahs of Dīpālpur, Kaṅganval and Jhabāl. After the Sikhs accepted the offer, Kapūr Siṅgh humbly swinging a hand-fan over the assembly, was unanimously chosen to be honoured with the title of Nawāb. Kapūr Siṅgh reluctantly accepted the honour and, as a mark of respect, he placed the robe of honour sent by the Mughals at the feet of five revered Sikhs before putting it on. The dress, according to Sikh chroniclers, included a shawl, a turban, a jewelled plume, a pair of gold bangles, a necklace, a row of pearls, a brocade garment and a sword.

         During the respite thus secured, Kapūr Siṅgh gave attention to reorganizing the Sikh force which he divided into two sections --- the Buḍḍhā Dal, army of the elderly, and the Taruṇā Dal, army of the young. The former, under the charge of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh, was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the Gurū's word and administering the vows of the Khālsā to Sikhs, while the latter was the more active division whose function was to fight in times of emergency. As Taruṇā Dal grew in strength, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh further split it into five parts, each with a separate centre and its own banner and drum.

         The detente with the Mughals did not last long and before the harvest season of 1735, Zakarīyā Khān sent a force and occupied the jāgīr. The Buḍḍhā Dal being driven away towards the Mālvā, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh continued his missionary and military activities in the cis-Sutlej parts. He conquered the territory of Sunām and made it over to Ālā Siṅgh, the Phūlkīāṅ chief, who had received rites of initiation from him.

         Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh led the Buḍḍhā Dal right up to the vicinity of Delhi, vanquishing, on the way, the chieftains of Jhajjar, Dādrī, Dojāṇā and Paṭaudī. Overrunning Farīdābād, Ballabgaṛh and Guṛgāoṅ in the parganah of Delhi, the Dal returned to the village of Ṭhīkrīvālā in the Mālvā. When in 1739, Nādir Shāh was returning to Persia after a hearty plunder of Delhi and the Punjab, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh swooped down upon his rearguard, near Akhnūr on the river Chenāb, and rescued a number of innocent girls who were being abducted, and restored them to their parents.

         On the occasion of Baisākhī (29 March) of 1748, when Sikhs were able to assemble at Amritsar after a long interval, a new force known as the Dal Khālsā was constituted at the instance of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh. Different groups of the Sikhs, whose number had already touched sixty-five, were leagued together into eleven main associations, each with a separate banner, a stable, a kitchen and a leader but acting under one supreme commander binding each group with the other group and also with the whole Panth. Kapūr Siṅgh surrendered charge to Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā who was, at his suggestion, chosen the supreme commander of the Dal Khālsā.

         Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh died on 7 October 1753 and was cremated in the premises of Gurdwārā Bābā Aṭal at Amritsar.


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  2. Hotī, Prem Siṅgh, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh. Ludhiana, 1952
  3. Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, Sardār Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā. Patiala, 1969
  4. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs. Bombay, 1950
  5. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, vol. I. Princeton, 1963
  6. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

Harī Rām Gupta