KHĀLSĀ NĀMAH, by Bakht Mall, a Persian manuscript prepared during 1810-14, is a history of the Sikhs from the time of Gurū Nānak (1469-1539) to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Copies of the manuscript, unpublished so far, are preserved in British Library; Royal Asiatic Society, London; Pañjāb University, Lahore; Khālsā College, Amritsar; and in Dr Gaṇḍā Siṅgh's personal collection at Punjabi University, Paṭiālā. The author came of a Kashmīrī Brāhmaṇ family some of whose members had served at the Mughal court during the reign of Emperor Shāh Jahāṅ (1628-58). One of Bakht Mall's ancestors, Lachchhī Rām or Lachhmaṇ Dās, came to Lahore during the reign of Emperor Muhammad Shāh (1719-48), shifting soon after to Delhi. Bakht Mall received his education in Persian and Arabic at Delhi and worked for a time as munshī or clerk to Dīwān Gaṅgā Rām, a representative of the Sikh government. He also served briefly Bhāī Lāl Siṅgh, ruler of Kaithal. Upon the occupation of Delhi by the British in 1803, Bakht Mall took up service under them. In 1805, when Lord Lake came to the Punjab in pursuit of the Marāṭhā chief, Jasvant Rāo Holkar, Bakht Mall, who was then on the staff of Sir John Malcolm (1769-1833), accompanied his master to Amritsar. It was during his short stay in the Punjab that he collected information later to write his history of the Sikhs which, as he himself records, he prepared at the instance of John Malcolm. He states that he had attempted two books on the history of the Sikhs, a detailed one and an abridged one. The former, when only half-finished, was stolen, and the latter was taken away by John Malcolm. What he rewrote has come down to us as Khālsā Nāmah. John Malcolm relied upon this work a great deal in the writing of his own Sketch of the Sikhs.

         The author's foreword in Khālsā Nāmah is followed by an account of the Sikh Gurūs; war of succession among the sons of Auraṅgzīb; activities of Wazīr Khān of Sirhind; the passing away of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh; destruction of Sirhind by Sikhs; capture of Bandā Siṅgh; rise of Ahmad Shāh Durrānī and his invasions of India; Mu'in ul-Mulk (Mīr Mannū); persecution of the Sikhs; the rise of Sikhs to power in the Punjab; Marāṭhā excursions into Sikh territories; rise and fall of George Thomas; rise of the British power in India; Holkar's flight to the Punjab and his truce with Lord Lake; and the affairs of the cis-Sutlej Sikh chiefs. The lives of the Gurūs are narrated in the traditional style, but the author is on a surer historical ground as he approaches his own time. His account of events in the cis-Sutlej region around the turn of the eighteenth century is especially significant.

         Besides Khālsā Nāmah, Bakht Mall wrote some other books as well, among them Gulistān-i-Khayāl, Bāgh-o-bahār, Louis Nāmah and Hāl-Mukhtisar lbtidāi-i-Firqah-i-Sikhāṅ. The last named manuscript, a brief account of the lives of the Gurūs, is available in the personal collection of Dr Gaṇḍā Siṅgh.


    Kirpal Singh, A Catalogue of Sanskrit and Persian Works. Amritsar, 1962

Bhagat Siṅgh