KAUṚĀ MALL, DĪWĀN, MAHĀRĀJĀ BAHĀDUR (d.1752), a Sahajdhārī Sikh and trusted officer under the Mughals in the eighteenth-century Punjab, was the son of Vallū Rām, an Aroṛā of the Chuggh clan, originally from a village near Shorkoṭ in Jhaṅg district, now in Pakistan. Little is known about the early life of Kauṛā Mall. Muftī 'Alī ud-Dīn, 'Ibrat Nāmah, refers to him as "Kauṛā Mall Aroṛā Qanūngo Multānī." It appears that he, like his father and grandfather, was at first a revenue official, qanūngo, in the Multān province. Later, he came to Lahore and rose to be a senior military general and courtier. The earliest reference to Kauṛā Mall is by a contemporary, Shāh Nawāz Khān (1699-1757), in his Ma'āsir ul-Umrā, according to which Kauṛā Mall, under orders of Zakarīyā Khān, then governor of both Lahore and Multān, led an expedition in 1738 against Panāh Bhaṭṭī, a powerful marauder chief who had the entire western Punjab, from the banks of Rāvī upto Hasan Abdāl in the northwest, at his mercy. Panāh Bhaṭṭī was defeated, captured and executed. Zakarīyā Khān appointed Kauṛā Mall dīwān of Multān. Early in 1746, during the governorship of Yāhiyā Khān, when Lakhpat Rāi, the dīwān of Lahore, in order to avenge the death of his brother Jaspat Rāi, killed in an encounter with the Sikhs, swore to exterminate the entire sect of Sikhs, and as a first step in this direction, ordered the arrest and execution of the Sikhs of Lahore, mostly domestic servants and small shopkeepers, Kauṛā Mall, along with the Hindu gentry of the town, pleaded with him to spare their lives, but in vain. The captured Sikhs were put to the sword on 10 March 1746. Lakhpat Rāi followed this with full scale military operations against Sikhs who had sought shelter in hills and forests, ending with what is known as Chhoṭā Ghaullūghārā, or lesser or minor holocaust, on 1 May 1746 in which about 7,000 Sikhs were killed and 3,000 captured. The latter, too, were executed in Lahore. Kauṛā Mall left Lahore in disgust and went to Multān, where Shāh Nawāz Khān, younger brother of Yāhiyā Khān, was the governor. A civil war broke out between the two brothers in November 1746, in which Yāhiyā Khān was worsted. Shāh Nawāz Khān who, on 21 March 1747 became governor of Lahore as well, appointed Kauṛā Mall dīwān of Lahore. But Shāh Nawāz Khān was forced to flee to Delhi when on I1 January 1748 Lahore was occupied by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, who appointed Jumlā Khān, an Afghān noble of Kasūr, as his governor, and Lakhpat Rāi as his dīwān. The Durrānī was, however, defeated in the battle of Mānūpur near Sirhind on 11 March 1748, and forced to retire to his own country. Mu'īn ul Mulk, nicknamed Mīr Mannū by the Sikhs, who now became governor of the Punjab on behalf of the Mughal government at Delhi, not only reinstated Kauṛā Mall as dīwān but also appointed him deputy governor of the sūbah or province of Multān. Lakhpat Rāi was arrested and fined, 30,00,000 rupees of which he could pay only a part. Kauṛā Mall secured his person by paying the rest of the fine and handed him over to the Sikhs who consigned him to a dungeon where he died a miserable death after six months of indignities and torture.

         Kauṛā Mall went to Multān and took charge of the province, but Mīr Mannū soon summoned him to Lahore and sent him on an expedition against the Ḍogrā chiefs of Jammū region. For his Multān expedition (September-October 1749) against Shāh Nawāz Khān who had again taken independent charge of the province, Kauṛā Mall, enlisted the help of about 10,000 Sikhs under Sardār Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā. Shāh Nawāz Khān was killed in battle and Kauṛā Mall reoccupied Multān. Mīr Mannū conferred the title of Mahārājā Bahādur on him and appointed him governor of Multān, Ṭhaṭṭā and Ḍerājāt. Kauṛā Mall, in fulfilment of the promise given to the Sikhs, constructed Gurdwārā Bāl Līlā and a sarovar at Nankāṇā Sāhib and got desilted the Amritsar pool which had been filled up by Lakhpat Rāi during the governorship of Yāhiyā Khān. He also built a fortress named Gaṛh Mahārājā at his ancestoral village, near Shorkoṭ. The Sikhs now began to call him Miṭṭhā Mall, miṭṭhā in Punjabi meaning 'sweet' over against kauṛā meaning 'bitter'.

         During his governorship of Multān, Kauṛā Mall established friendly relations with Dāūdpotrā chiefs of the neighbouring state of Bahāwalpur, quelled rebellions in Sāhīvāl and Ḍerā Ghāzī Khān and realized huge arrears of revenue due from the districts of Mirāk, Shorkoṭ, Koṭ Kamālīā, and Chinioṭ. In October 1751, in view of the impending third invasion of India by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, Mīr Mannū again summoned Kauṛā Mall to Lahore. Kauṛā Mall tried to buy peace but when the invader, by-passing Mīr Mannū's advance positions across the Rāvī, laid siege to Lahore, he prepared to fight, soliciting help from the Sikhs again. The final battle took place at Mahmūd Būṭī, some distance from Lahore, on 6 March 1752. Kauṛā Mall fought valiantly, but was shot at and killed by one Bāzīd Khān of Kasūr at the instance of his treacherous and jealous ally, Ādīnā Beg, faujdār of Jalandhar Doāb.


  1. Balbīr Siṅgh, Srī Charanhari Visthār. Amritsar, 1942
  2. Gaṇḍā Siṅgh Kauṛā Mal Bahādur. Amritsar, 1942
  3. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh. Amritsar, 1914
  4. Harbans Singh, Bhai Vir Singh. Delhi, 1972

Bhagat Siṅgh