KHUSHĀL SIṄGH, JAMĀDĀR (1790-1844), son of Hargobind, a Brāhmaṇ shopkeeper of Ikrī in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, was born in 1790. At a very young age, he arrived in Lahore in search of employment, and joined the Sikh army as a trooper in Dhauṅkal Siṅgh's regiment in 1807. In 1812, he embraced Sikhism and was, after initiation, called Khushāl Siṅgh his original name being Khushāl Rām. A handsome youth of soldierly bearing, he soon attracted the attention of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and was appointed his personal attendant (khidmatgār). From this humble start, he rose to the position of chamberlain (ḍeoṛhīdār) or "the royal doorwayman" --- an office he held for almost 15 years with a temporary break in 1818. The office commanded great influence and authority. As chamberlain, Khushāl Siṅgh was master of royal ceremonies and superintendent of both the royal palace and the Darbār. None could have access to the sovereign or enter the palace without his prior permission.

         Jamādār Khushāl Siṅgh excelled as a soldier as well. He served in various military expeditions -- Kashmīr (1814), Multān (1816), reduction of south western Punjab (1820), Mankerā, Leiāh and the Ḍerājāt (1820), Peshāwar (1823) and Kāṅgṛā (1828). In 1832, he was sent to Kashmīr to assist its nāzim, Kaṅvar Sher Siṅgh, with "a committee of the three" --- the other two being Shaikh Imām ud-Dīn and Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh. He enjoyed the esteem of Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh, but his influence declined after the accession of Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh, who was annoyed with him for his overt support to Mahārājā Khaṛak Siṅgh's widow, Mahārāṇī Chand Kaur. The Ḍogrā faction was opposed to him and, although he generally kept aloof from courtly intrigue, he suffered many an indignity during the ascendency of Hīrā Siṅgh and his adviser Paṇḍit Jallā. He was deprived of part of his jāgīrs; yet on his death on 18 June 1844, he left his son, Kishan Siṅgh, a vast estate and considerable riches secreted in British territory.


  1. Sūrī, Sohan Lāl, “Umdāt-ut-Twārīkh, Lahore, 1885-89
  2. Latif, Syad Muhammad, History of the Panjab. Delhi, 1964
  3. Hasrat, B.J., Life and Times of Ranjit Singh, Hoshiarpur, 1977

J. S. Khurānā