MISLS, Misl is a term which originated in the eighteenth-century history of the Sikhs to describe a unit or brigade of Sikh warriors and the territory acquired by it in the course of its campaign of conquest following the weakening of the Mughal authority in the country. Scholars trying to trace the etymology of the term have usually based their interpretation on the Arabic/Persian word misl. According to Steingass, Persian-English Dictionary, the word means "similitude, alike or equal", and "a file" or collection of papers bearing on a particular topic. David Ochterlony defined misl as "a tribe or race;" Wilson as "a voluntary association of the Sikhs;" Būṭe Shāh as "territory conquered by a brave Sardār with the help of his comrades," Sayyid Imām ud-Din Husainī as a "ḍerah or encampment." Ratan Siṅgh Bhaṅgū uses the term at several places in the sense of a thānā or military/police post; M'Gregor uses it in the sense of "a friendly nation;" Lawrence in that of "a brotherhood;" Syad Muhammad Latīf in that of "a confederacy of clans under their respective chiefs leagued together;" and so on.

         Misl in the meaning of a file or record (maintained according to some, at Akāl Takht, under the commander of the entire Sikh army, the Dal Khālsā) pertaining to a Sardār's fighting force and territorial acquisitions has been mentioned by Sita Rām Kohli. J.D. Cunningham had taken note of this connotation of the word, too. He also traces the etymology of the word to maslahat which, according to Steingass' dictionary, means "a front-garrison, a border fortification; armed (men), warlike (people), guards, guardians."

         The term misl was first used by Saināpati, a Punjabi poet contemporary with Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. In his Srī Guru Sobha, Saināpati uses the word misl primarily in the sense of a group or troop or sub-unit of armed warriors or soldiers. The use of the term misl occurs in the account of the battle of Bhaṅgāṇī between Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and the hill rājās in AD 1688. Saināpati writes that the horsemen of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh assembled under their banners at the beat of war-drum. In the battlefield morchās were set up at various places which were allotted to misls (groups). Saināpati again uses the word misl in reference to the last days of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at Nāndeḍ. He says that the people came there in misls (groups).

         The misl system is sometimes said to have originated with Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, who had conferred the sovereignty of the land on the Khālsā. The Sikhs literally claimed it as a boon granted them by the Gurū and in this manner it is claimed to have received divine sanction. But in order to understand the genesis and evolution of the misl system in a historical perspective, we must go back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. From Nāndeḍ in the Deccan, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had deputed, Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur to the Punjab with a group of five prominent Sikhs and a bodyguard of 25 Sikh soldiers. As he arrived in the Punjab, men of grit and daring began to rally round his banner. Within two months, 4,000-5,000 horsemen and 7,000-8,000 foot had volunteered to join him. In the course of one year 30,000-40,000 troops were under him. In May 1710 the entire province of Sirhind; between the Sutlej and the Yamunā and, between the Śivālik hills and Pānīpat, worth 52,00,000 rupees annually fell into the hands of the Sikhs. But the Sikh power did not last long. The leader, Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, was captured in December 1715 and executed six months later in June 1716. With the execution of Bandā Siṅgh, the Sikhs were deprived of a unified command. Hunted out of their homes, the Sikhs scattered in small jathās or groups to find refuge in distant hills, forests and deserts, but they were far from vanquished. Armed with whatever weapons they could lay their hands upon and living off the land, these highly mobile guerrilla bands or jathās remained active during the worst of times. It was not unusual for the jathās to join together when the situation so demanded. Ratan Siṅgh Bhaṅgū, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh, records an early instance of the warrior bands of the Bārī Doāb (land between the Rivers Beās and Rāvī) being organized into four tummans or squadrons of 200 each, with a specified area of operation and provision for mutual assistance in time of need. Moreover, it was customary for most jathās to congregate at Amritsar to celebrate Baisākhī and Dīvālī. Dīwān Darbārā Siṅgh (d. 1734), an elderly Sikh, acted on such occasions as the common chief. In 1733, Khān Bahādur Zakarīyā Khān, the Mughal governor of Lahore, having failed to suppress the Sikhs by force, planned to come to terms with them and offered them a jāgīr or fief worth one lakh rupees a year and the title of "Nawab" to their leader. Additionally, unhindered access to and residence at Amritsar was promised them. The Sikhs accepted the offer and chose Kapūr Siṅgh from among themselves to be invested with the title of Nawāb. Sikh soldiers grouped themselves around their leaders most of whom were stationed at Amritsar.

         In consideration of administrative convenience, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh divided the entire body of troops into two camps, called Buḍḍhā Dal (the elder group) and Taruṇā Dal ( the younger group), respectively. Taruṇā Dal was further divided into five jathās, each with its own flag and drum. The compact with the government ended in 1735 and, under pressure of renewed persecution, the Khālsā was again forced to split into smaller groups. Almost every village in the Mājhā or midlands embracing the districts of Lahore and Amritsar produced a sardār who attracted soldiers to join him and form a ḍerah or jathā or misl of his own.

         Nādir Shāh's invasion in 1739 gave a severe blow to the crumbling Mughal empire, and this gave the Sikhs a chance to consolidate themselves. At their meeting on the occasion of Dīvālī following the death, on 1 July 1745, of Zakarīyā Khān, they gathered at Amritsar, passed a gurmatā or resolution and reorganized themselves into 25 groups, each consisting of 100 horse. The old division into the Buḍḍhā Dal and Taruṇā Dal was maintained, but the new ḍerahs generally belonged to the latter. The ḍerahs spread quickly. By March 1748 there were 65 groups operating in different parts of the Punjab. They carried out their operations generally independent of one another, though they still acknowledged the pre-eminent position of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh. By this time, a new claimant to power had appeared on the scene. Ahmad Shāh Durrānī had launched his first invasion of India and occupied Lahore on 12 January 1748. Roving bands of the Sikhs issued forth from their hideouts, harassed the Afghān forces, and on the return of the Shāh to Afghanistan, swarmed round Amritsar and engaged in skirmishes with the Lahore forces.

         On the day of Baisākhī, 29 March 1748, the Sikhs gathered at Amritsar to celebrate the festival. A Sarbatt Khālsā (a general assembly of the Sikhs) was convened which decided to offer organized resistance to Mughal oppression, and the entire fighting force of the Khālsā was unified into a single body called the Dal Khālsā, under the supreme command of Sardār Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā. The 65 bands were grouped into 11 misls or divisions each under its own sardār or chief having a separate name and banner as follows : (1) Āhlūvālīā misl under Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā, (2) Siṅghpuriā (also called Faizulāpurīā) misl under Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh, (3) Karoṛsiṅghīā misl under Karoṛā Siṅgh, (4) Nishānāṅvālī misl under Dasauṅdhā Siṅgh, (5) Shahīd misl under Dīp Siṅgh, (6) ḍallevālīā misl under Gulāb Siṅgh, (7) Sukkarchakkīā misl under Chaṛhat Siṅgh, (8) Bhaṅgī misl under Harī Siṅgh, (9) Kanhaiyā misl under Jai Siṅgh, (10) Nakaī misl under Hīrā Siṅgh, and (11) Rāmgaṛhīā misl under Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā. The first six misls were under Buḍḍhā Dal and the latter five under Taruṇā Dal. Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā was chosen to be in joint command of the entire Dal Khālsā, while Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh continued to be acknowledged as the supreme commander. Phūlkīāṅ under Bābā Ālā Siṅgh of Paṭiālā was the twelfth misl, but it was not part of the Dal Khālsā command.

         The Dal Khālsā was a kind of loose confederacy, without any regular constitution. Every chief maintained his independent character. All amritdhārī Sikhs were eligible for membership of the Dal Khālsā which was mainly a cavalry force. Anyone who was an active horseman and proficient in the use of arms could join any one of the eleven misls or independencies having the option to change membership whenever desired. The misls were subject to the control of the Sarbatt Khālsā, the bi-annual assembly of the Panth at Amritsar. The frequent use made of the Sarbatt Khālsā converted it into a central forum of the panth. It had to elect leader of the Dal Khālsā, and to lay down its political goal and plans of its military strategy. It had also to set out plans for strengthening the Khālsā faith and body politic, besides adjudicating disputes about property and succession. The Akāl Takht was the symbol of the unity of the Dal Khālsā which was in a way the Sikh state in making. The Dal Khālsā with its total estimated strength of 70,000 essentially consisted of cavalry; artillery and infantry elements were almost non-existent.

         The Dal Khālsā established its authority over most of the Punjab region in a short time. As early as 1749, the Mughal governor of the Punjab solicited its help in the suppression of a rebellion in Multān. In early 1758, the Dal Khālsā, in collaboration with the Marāṭhās, occupied Sirhind and Lahore. Within three months of the Vaḍḍā Ghallūghārā, the Great Massacre of 5 February 1762, the Dal Khālsā rose to defeat Ahmad Shāh's governor at Sirhind in April-May 1762 and the Shāh himself at Amritsar in October the same year. Sirhind and its adjoining territories were occupied permanently in January 1764. The Khālsā thenceforward not only had the Punjab in their possession, but also carried their victories right up to Delhi and beyond the Yamunā into the heart of the Gangetic plain.

         With the conquest of Sirhind in January 1764 had begun the final phase of the emergence of the Dal Khālsā into a confederacy of sovereign political principalities or misls in the Punjab. The misls now occupied well-defined territories over which their sardārs ruled independently while maintaining their former links as units of the Dal Khālsā. The misls of the Buḍḍhā Dal spread themselves out broadly as follows : Āhlūvālīā in the neighbourhood of Kapūrthalā in the Jalandhar Doāb, with some villages in the Mājhā such as Sarhālī, Jaṇḍiālā, Buṇḍālā, Vairovāl and Fatehābād; Siṅghpurīā in parts of Jalandhar Doāb and Chhat-Banūṛ Bharatgaṛh areas south of the Sutlej; Karoṛsiṅghīā in a long strip south of the Sutlej extending from Samrālā in the west to Jagādharī in the east; Nishānāṅvālī in area Sāhnevāl, Dorāhā, Māchhīvāṛā - Amloh with pockets around Zīrā and Ambālā Shahīd in area Shahzādpur-Kesarī in present-day Ambālā district, and territory around Raṇīā and Talvaṇḍī Sābo; and ḍallevālīā in parganahs of Dharamkot and Tihāṛā to the south of the River Sutlej and Lohīāṅ and Shāhkoṭ to the north of it. Of these Āhlūvālīā survived as the princely house of Kapūrthalā and a branch of Karoṛsiṅghīā as Kalsīā. Others divided into several small chieftainships were either taken over by Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and the British East India Company or absorbed into the Phūlkīān states of Paṭiālā, Nābhā and Jīnd.

         From among the Taruṇā Dal misls only one sardār of the Bhaṅgī family, Rāi Siṅgh, had participated in the partition of Sirhind territory. He occupied 204 villages around Būṛīā and Jagādharī. The remaining sardārs of the Taruṇā Dal had their eyes fixed on the northern Doābs of the Punjab. The Bhaṅgīs controlled a major part of the city of Lahore and extended their hegemony over Multān and subsequently occupied Jhaṅg, Khushāb and Chinioṭ in the west and Siālkoṭ and Gujrāt in the east. Kanhaiyā misl ruled over the area comprising a major part of the present Gurdāspur district and Mukerīāṅ tahsīl of Hoshiārpur district, while the Nakaīs held sway over the country south of Lahore, between the Rāvī and Sutlej. The territory of the Rāmgaṛhīās lay on both sides of the River Beās and included villages around Miānī and Uṛmuṛ Taṇḍā in Jalandhar Doāb. They also held sway over the hill states of Chambā, Nūrpur, Jasvān and Harīpur. In 1776, they were defeated by the combined forces of Kanhaiyās and Rājā Saṅsār Chand Kaṭoch of Kāṅgṛā and their territory annexed by the victors. The Sukkarchakkīās under Chaṛhat Siṅgh established themselves around Gujrāṅwālā which they made their headquarters and extended their territory up to Rohtās beyond the River Jehlum. Chaṛhat Siṅgh's grandson, Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, became the ruler of the entire Punjab from the Sutlej to the Khaibar, subduing the intervening misls.

         The misl as a means of organizing Sikh life during that transitional period was crucial. The misl was important from about 1760 to the establishment of the Sikh kingdom under Raṇjīt Siṅgh in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Basically the internal affairs of each misl were administered by the misl itself.

         Cunningham's definition of the misl organization as "a theocratic confederate feudalism" is only partially correct. Devotion to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's ideals of faith and community was a paramount requirement, but no priestly interference or domination was allowed. Rather, the whole community was itself standing in covenant with God through the Gurūs and the scriptures. The Akālīs were in charge of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, but they did not infringe the sovereignty of the misls. By displaying a rare spirit or magnanimity towards the erstwhile persecutors of their faith, by supporting the cause of the poor, the helpless and the innocent and by preserving social and economic equality in their ranks the Sikh misls made Sikh religion popular with the young and daring men in the villages.

         The misl chief exercised full authority within his domain. His rule was benign, based on the good will of all classes of people. Each village, a sort of a small republic, administered its affairs through a pañchāyat which was generally a council of five elders representing the collective will of the people. The village headman exercised general superintendence over all the affairs of the village on behalf of the pañchāyat, as well as on behalf of the government. The village paṭvārī was responsible for maintaining record of the lands and registered every document connected with it. The village watchman was the most vigilant character. He kept an eye on suspicious characters and provided aid to the police. He was the repository of village information and gossip.

         Above the village's pañchāyat there was the court of the, misl chief. He administered justice according to local customs and traditions derived mainly from the holy scriptures of the Sikhs, Hindus or the Muslims. Evidence, common sense and secret personal investigation in disguise weighed heavily in the investigation of crime. Trackers were freely employed in cases of theft and murder. The army took the main responsibility for checking crime.

         Both parties had to pay for justice, the convict with chaṭṭī or jurmānā or fine, and the guiltless had to shell out shukrānā (thanksgiving). Fines were imposed not according to the gravity of the crime, but in accordance with the financial position of the culprit. The pañchayāts tried to maintain equity and justice in the village. Their decisions, were not backed by any physical force. Social pressure was the strongest sanction; defiance by any member of the community could lead to his being excommunicated.

         The misl soldier owned his own horse and musket; his loyalty lay with one or the other powerful chief who could lead him to conquest and glory. As a rule, the Sikh soldier was a horseman. He hated to serve as infantryman, and to be away from the field on any excuse. He was equipped with both offensive and defensive weapons; priming horns, ammunition pouches, two blankets, a grain bag and halters. On the march the blankets were put beneath the saddle. Both artillery and infantry were practically unknown to the misls. Their armies were unencumbered by heavy ordnance, and possessed amazing speed and manoeuvrability. With their scanty accoutrement, they could cover from 100 to 200 kilometres daily for days on end and could encamp or decamp in a few minutes. The misl soldier was adept in predatory warfare which could earn him a share in the booty, for he received no salary. As the misls settled down to their permanent possessions, some minor leaders also acquired territory as part of their share of conquests. Holders of such possessions were called misldārs.

         Generally, Sikhs offered themselves for recruitment and they were enlisted irrespective of their caste or creed. Enlistment was voluntary. Prospective recruits could opt for a misl of their choice and had the freedom to transfer their allegiance to any other. The soldier received no organized training in drill, discipline or military tactics; this deficiency was made up by his religious fervour and single-minded devotion to the cause of the confederacy. The misl troops were organized into smaller groups based generally on kinship or territorial affinity. Their methods of war were unconventional. They seldom fought pitched battles, but adopted hit-and-run tactics. George Thomas, who fought them frequently, observes : "The Seiks are armed with a spear, matchlock and scymetar... mounting their horses, ride forth towards the enemy with whom they engage in a continued skirmish advancing and retreating until man and horse become equally fatigued."

         The overall military strength of the Sikh misls is variously estimated. According to one estimate, the Dal Khālsā could muster about 70,000 horse as under : the Bhaṅgīs 10,000 horse, the Āhlūvālīā 3,000, the Rāmgaṛhīās 3,000, the Kanhaiyās 3,000, the ḍallevālīās 7,500, the Nishānāṅvālīās 12,000, the Shahīds 2,000, the Nakaīs 2,000, the Sukkarchakkīās 2,500, the Karoṛsiṅghiā 12000, the Siṅghpurīā 8,000, and the Phūlkīās 5,000. George Forster who visited the Punjab in 1783, reckoned the military strength of the misls at over 2,00,000 horse. James Browne in 1783 estimated the strength of the cis-Sutlej Sikh misls at 18,225 horse and 6,075 foot — total 24,300 and total strength of the Sikh armies at 2,48,000 which estimate may be exaggerated.

         The main source of the income of the misls in the initial stages was plunder, augmented later by rākhī imposts. Rākhī, lit. protection, was, like the chauth of the Marāṭhās, a levy of a portion, usually one fifth of the revenue assessment of a territory, as a fee for the guarantee of peace and protection. Rākhī continued to be collected from territories in the Gangetic Doāb and the country between Delhi and Pānīpat right up to 1803 when the British East India Company established its power in the region. But as the sardārs settled down as sovereign rulers in their domains, land revenue became the major source. As a rule, the Sikh sardārs followed the batāī system. One-fifth of the gross produce was deducted before the division for expenses of cultivation. Out of the remaining four-fifths, the sardār's share varied from one-half to one-quarter. The general proportion was 55% cultivator's share, 7.5% proprietor's share and 37.5% government share. The revenue was commonly realized in Kind, except for cattle fodder, vegetables, and fruit which were chargeable in cash or kind per bighā. Producers of a few crops such as cotton, sugarcane, poppy and indigo were required to pay revenue in cash. The Khālsā or crown lands remained under the direct control of the misl chiefs. According to James Browne, a contemporary East India Company employee, the misl chiefs collected a very moderate rent, and that mostly in kind. Their soldiery never molested the husbandman; the chief never levied the whole of his share; and in the country, perhaps, never was a cultivator treated with more indulgence. The chief also did not interfere with old and hereditary land-tenures. The rules of haq shufā did not permit land to be sold to an outsider. New fields, or residential sites could be broken out of waste land as such land was available in plenty.

         Duties on traders and merchants also brought some revenue. The Sikh chiefs gave full protection to traders passing through their territories. George Forster, who travelled to northern India in 1783, observed that extensive and valuable commerce was maintained in their territories which was extended to distant quarters of India, particularly to the provinces of Bengāl and Bihār, where many Sikh merchants of opulence at that time resided. Exports to the country west of the Attock consisted of sugar, rice, indigo and white cloth, the imports being swords, horses, fruit, lead and spices. Imports from Kashmīr consisted of shawls, saffron and fruit against the export of wheat, rice, salt and spices. With the inhabitants of the hills were exchanged cloth, matchlocks and horses for iron and other commodities. From the Deccan, the principal imports were sulphur, indigo, salt, lead, iron and spices, exports being horses, camels, sugar, rice, white cloth, matchlocks, swords, bows and arrows.

         Following are the misls which comprised the Sikh Punjab at the close of the eighteenth century, prior to the rise of Raṇjīt Siṅgh :

        ĀHLŪVĀLĪĀ MISL, one of the twelve misls or Sikh chiefships which had gained power in the Punjab during the latter half of the eighteenth century, derived its name from the village of Āhlū, in Lahore district, founded by a Kalāl or distiller of wine, named Sadāo. One of his descendants, Badar Siṅgh, married the sister of Bāgh Siṅgh Hallovālīā, who had received the rites of the Khālsā at the hands of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh and who had come to acquire considerable means and influence. To Badar Siṅgh was born a son named Jassā Siṅgh, who founded the misl of the Āhlūvālīās, a remnant of which lasted until recent years in the form of the princely state of Kapūrthalā. Jassā Siṅgh who became famous in history as Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā was a prominent leader of the Sikhs during the eventful years of the eighteenth century. A right-hand man of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh, he took a leading part in the Sikh struggle against the Mughal governors of the Punjab, Zakarīyā Khān, Yāhīyā Khān and Mīr Mannū. When on the Baisākhī day of 1748, a general assembly of the Sikhs convened at Amritsar resolved to consolidate the sixty-five roving Sikh jathās, i.e. bands, into one command called Dal Khālsā, Jassā Siṅgh was chosen to take charge of it. Jassā Siṅgh started seizing villages and towns in the Punjab, thrown into confusion with the passing away of Mīr Mannū in November 1753, and established the system of rākhī or protection. The Dal Khālsā under him routed in April 1754 an Afghān force from Lahore which had laid siege to Amritsar. In March 1758, Jassā Siṅgh led Sikhs in their march upon Sirhind and occupied it jointly with the Marāṭhās who were their allies in the campaign. A month later Sikhs under him entered Lahore. Although Ahmad Shāh Durrānī re-established his influence in the winter of 1759, defeated the Marāṭhās at Pānīpat in 1761 and inflicted a severe loss upon the Sikhs in February 1762, Jassā Siṅgh led the Sikhs to conquer Sirhind in 1764. In 1777, he defeated Rāi Ibrāhīm, the Bhaṭṭī chief, and took from him the present town of Kapūrthalā, converting it into the capital of the Āhlūvālīās. As for his possessions, he held Koṭ 'Īsā Khān, Jagrāoṅ, Īsṛū, and Fatehgaṛh, to the south of River Sutlej, and Bhaṛog in Ambālā district; in the Jalandhar Doāb, Kapūrthalā, Sultānpur Lodhī and the surrounding villages. The zamīndārs of Phagwāṛā, Uṛmuṛ Ṭaṇḍā and Yāhiyāpur paid him tribute. In the Bārī Doāb, he had Jaṇḍiālā, Saṭhiālā, Buṇḍālā, Jalālābād, Vairovāl, Sarhālī, Fatehābād, Jalālpur, Goindvāl, Tarn Tāran and Khaḍūr; in the Rachnā Doāb, Zafarvāl.

         Jassā Siṅgh died in 1783. He had no son and was succeeded by his second cousin, Bhāg Siṅgh, who died in 1801. Bhāg Siṅgh's son, Fateh Siṅgh (d. 1837), was an influential ally of Raṇjīt Siṅgh who exchanged turbans with him reiterating friendliness between the two families. In 1846, after the first Anglo-Sikh war, Kapūrthalā came under British protection. The descendants of Fateh Siṅgh ruled the Kapūrthalā state for more than a century until it merged with the Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in 1948 after the British withdrew from India.

        BHAṄGĪ MISL, one of the twelve misls or eighteenth-century Sikh principalities acquired its name from the addiction of its members to a drug called bhaṅg or hemp. The founder of the jathā, i.e. band of warriors, that later acquired the dimensions of a misl was Chhajjā Siṅgh of Pañjvaṛ village, near Amritsar who had converted to Sikhism. He was succeeded by Bhūmā Siṅgh, a Ḍhilloṅ Jaṭṭ of the village of Huṅg, near Badhnī in present-day Mogā district, who won a name for himself in skirmishes with Nādir Shāh's troops in 1739. On Bhūmā Siṅgh's death in 1746, his nephew and adopted son, Harī Siṅgh, assumed the leadership of the misl. At the formation of the Dal Khālsā in 1748, Harī Siṅgh was acknowledged head of the Bhaṅgī misl as well as leader of the Taruṇā Dal. He vastly increased the power and influence of the Bhaṅgī misl which began to be ranked as the strongest among its peers. He created an army of 20,000 dashing youths, captured Pañjvaṛ in the Tarn Tāran parganah and established his headquarters first at Sohal and then at Gilvālī, both in Amritsar district. Harī Siṅgh kept up guerrilla warfare against the invading hosts of Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. In 1763, he along with the Kanhaiyās and Rāmgaṛhīās, sacked the Afghān stronghold of Kasūr. In 1764, he ravaged Bahāwalpur and Multān. Crossing the River Indus, he realized tribe from the Balūchī chiefs in the districts of Muzaffargaṛh, ḍerā Ghāzī Khān and ḍerā Ismā'īl Khān. On his way back home, he reduced Jhaṅg, Chinioṭ and Siālkoṭ. Harī Siṅgh died in 1765, fighting against Bābā Ālā Siṅgh of Paṭiālā.

         Harī Siṅgh was succeeded by Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh, his eldest son, under whom the Bhaṅgī misl reached the zenith of its power. In 1764, Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh had invaded Multān and Bahāwalpur, but failed to drive out the Durrānī satrap Shujā Khān Saddozaī. Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh marched on Multān again in 1772 forcing the Nawāb to flee. Multān was declared Khālsā territory and the city was parcelled out between Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh and his commander Lahiṇā Siṅgh. Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh next subdued Jhaṅg, Kālā Bāgh and Mankerā. He built a brick fort at Amritsar which he named Qilā Bhaṅgīāṅ and laid out fine bazars in the city. He then proceeded to Rasūlnagar, where he recovered from the Muhammadan Chaṭṭhā rulers the famous gun Zamzamā which came to be known as Bhaṅgīāṅ dī Top. But Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh was soon involved in the internal feuds of the warring misls. He was killed in 1774 in a battle with the Kanhaiyās and the Sukkarchakkīās at Jammū whither he had marched to settle a standing succession issue. He was succeeded by his brother Gaṇḍā Siṅgh who, dying of illness at the time of a battle with the Kanhaiyās at Dīnānagar, was in turn succeeded by his minor son, Desā Siṅgh, under whose weak leadership began the decline of the dynasty. Several Bhaṅgī sardārs set themselves up as independent chiefs within their territories. Desā Siṅgh was killed in action against Mahāṅ Siṅgh Sukkarchakkīā in 1782. A leading Bhaṅgī sardār now was Gurbakhsh Siṅgh Roṛāṅvālā who had fought hand in hand with Harī Siṅgh Bhaṅgī in several of his battles. After his death, his adopted son, Lahiṇā Siṅgh, and Gujjar Siṅgh, son of his daughter, divided his estates. In 1765, they had joined hands with Sobhā Siṅgh Kanhaiyā and occupied Lahore. The city was partitioned among the three sardārs who, though temporarily driven out in 1767 by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, had continued in authority. In January 1797 Ahmad Shāh's grandson, Shāh Zamān, led out an expedition and seized the city. But soon after the departure of the Durrānī Shāh for Kābul, Lahiṇā Siṅgh and Sobhā Siṅgh (Gujjar Siṅgh had died in 1791), returned and re-established their rule. The same year, 1797, Lahiṇā Siṅgh died and was succeeded by his son Chet Siṅgh and about the same time, Sobhā Siṅgh died and was succeeded by his son Mohar Siṅgh. But the new rulers failed to establish their authority. People groaned under oppressive taxes and extortions and local Muhammadan Chaudharīs and mercantile Khatrīs made a common cause and invited Raṇjīt Siṅgh and Sadā Kaur to come and occupy the city. On 7 July 1799, Raṇjīt Siṅgh arrived with 5,000 troops at the Shālāmār Gardens. The Bhaṅgī sardārs left the town hastily and Raṇjīt Siṅgh became master of the capital of the Punjab, laying the foundation of Sikh monarchy.

         Reverting to the main branch of the Bhaṅgī misl, Desā Siṅgh, son of Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, was succeeded by his minor son Gulāb Siṅgh, who administered the misl through his cousin Karam Siṅgh. Gulāb Siṅgh enlarged the city of Amritsar where he resided, and, on attaining years of discretion, overran the whole Paṭhān colony of Kasūr, which he subdued, the Paṭhān chiefs of Kasūr, Nizām ud-Din and Qutb ud-Dīn Khān, brothers, entering the service of the conqueror. In 1794, however, the brothers, with the aid of their Afghān countrymen, recovered Kasūr. Gulāb Siṅgh died in 1800 and was succeeded by his son, Gurdit Siṅgh, a 10-year old boy who conducted the affairs of the misl through his mother and guardian, Māī Sukkhāṅ. Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh who after having taken possession of Lahore in 1799 was launched on a career of rapid conquest had his eyes on Amritsar where Bhaṅgīs still held their sway. On the excuse of taking from them the famous Zamzamā gun, he marched with a strong force in 1802, Gurdit Siṅgh, along with his mother, Māī Sukkhāṅ, fleeing without resistance. The last Bhaṅgī chief to fall was Sāhib Siṅgh of Gujrāt who was dismissed with a grant of a few villages. By 1810 all Bhaṅgī territories — Lahore, Amritsar, Siālkoṭ, Chinioṭ, Jhaṅg, Bherā, Rāwalpiṇḍī, Hasan Abdāl, Gujrāt — had merged with the kingdom of Raṇjīt Siṅgh. The descendants of Bhaṅgī sardārs are today concentrated mainly in the Amritsar district of the Punjab.

        ḌALLEVĀLĪĀ MISL. The misl derived its name from the village of ḍallevāl, near ḍerā Bābā Nānak on the left bank of River Rāvī, 50 km northeast of Amritsar to which its founder, Gulāb Siṅgh (Gulābā Khatrī before he converted a Khālsā), belonged. At the time of the formation of the Dal Khālsā in 1748, Gulāb Siṅgh who had already fought bravely against Nādir Shāh in 1739 and in the Chhoṭā Ghallūghārā in 1746, was declared head of the ḍallevālīā ḍerā, later called misl. The ḍallevālīā and Nishānāṅvālī jathās were stationed at Amritsar to protect the holy city. In 1757 when Ahmad Shāh Durrānī was returning homeward laden with the booty from Delhi, Mathurā and Āgrā, Gulāb Siṅgh made frequent night attacks on his baggage train. Commanding a band of 400 men, he plundered Pānīpat, Rohtak, Hāṅsī and Hissār. On the death in 1759 of Gulāb Siṅgh, his trusted associate, Tārā Siṅgh Ghaibā, succeeded him as head of the misl. Tārā Siṅgh proved to be an able leader of men and a fearless fighter. One of his first exploits was to attack a detachment of Ahmad Shāh Durrānī's army and rob it of its horses and arms while crossing the Beīṅ river near his native village, Kaṅg, in Kapūrthalā district. In 1760, he crossed the Sutlej and seized the towns of Dharamkoṭ and Fatehgaṛh. On his return to the Doāb, he took. Sarāi Dakkhāṇī from the Afghān chief Saif ud-Dīn of Jalandhar and marched eastwards seizing the country around Rāhoṅ. He made Rāhoṅ his headquarters now. He next captured Nakodar from Mañj Rājpūts and several other villages on the right side of the Sutlej, including Mahatpur and Koṭ Bādal Khān. In 1763, Tārā Siṅgh joined the Bhaṅgī, Rāmgaṛhīā and Kanhaiyā misls against the Paṭhān Nawāb of Kasūr and, in the sack of the town, collected four lakhs of rupees as his share of the booty. He joined other Sikh sardārs in laying siege to Sirhind (January 1764) and razing it to the ground after defeating its faujdār, Zain Khān.

         The ḍallevālīā misl under Tārā Siṅgh and his collaterals and associates held a major portion of the upperJalandhar Doāb, and the northern portions of Ambālā and Ludhiāṇā, with some portions of Fīrozpur. Tārā Siṅgh's cousin Dharam Siṅgh captured Lohīāṅ and a cluster of villages in the centre of which he founded the village of Dharamsiṅghvālā where he set up his permanent headquarters. Other members of the misl seized Tihāṛā, on the left bank of the Sutlej. Sauṅdhā Siṅgh from among them captured Khannā in Ludhiāṇā district; Harī Siṅgh took Ropaṛ, Siālbā, Avānkoṭ, Sīsvān and Kurālī. He also occupied the forts of Khizrābād and Nūrpur. Buddh Siṅgh of Gaṛh Shankar captured Takhtgaṛh. Desū Siṅgh of the misl occupied Mustafābād, Arnaulī, Siddhūvāl, Bāngaṛ, Āmlū and Kullar Khaṛīāl. In 1760, he established his headquarters at Kāithal. Dīvān Siṅgh of the same clan captured Sikandrā, Akālgaṛh and Barāṛā. Sāhib Siṅgh and Gurdit Siṅgh, two Sāṅsī brothers, seized Lāḍvā and Indrī. Bhaṅgā Siṅgh became master of Thānesar and Bhāg Siṅgh and Buddh Siṅgh took Pehovā. Tārā Siṅgh Ghaibā however remained the central figure of the misl. He became a close friend and associate of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and took part in his early Mālvā campaigns. After his death in 1807 at the age of 90, ḍallevālīā territories were annexed by Raṇjīt Siṅgh.

        KANHAIYĀ MISL was founded by Jai Siṅgh, a Sandhū Jaṭṭ of the village of Kāhnā, 21 km southwest of Lahore on the road to Fīrozpur. He had an humble origin, his father Khushhāl (Siṅgh) eking out his livelihood by selling hay at Lahore. Jai Siṅgh received the vows of the Khālsā at the hands of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh and joined the ḍerāh or jathā of Amar Siṅgh Kiṅgrā. It is commonly believed that the name of the misl, Kanhaiyā, was derived from the name of Jai Siṅgh's village, Kāhnā, although another explanation connects it with the Sardār's own handsome appearance which earned him the epithet (Kāhn) Kanhaiyā, an endearing title used for Lord Kṛṣṇa. The Kanhaiyā misl under Jai Siṅgh became the dominant power in the Punjab. He seized a part of Riāṛkī comprising the district of Gurdāspur and upper portions of Amritsar. He first made his wife's village, Sohīāṅ, in Amritsar district, his headquarters from where he shifted to Baṭālā and thence to Mukerīāṅ. His territories lay on both sides of the Rivers Beās and Rāvī. Jai Siṅgh extended his territory up to Paṛol, about 70 km southeast of Jammū, and the hill chiefs of Kāṅgṛā, Nūrpur, Dātārpur and Sībā became his tributaries. In 1778, he with the help of Mahāṅ Siṅgh Sukkarchakkīā and Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā, drove away Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā to the desert region of Hāṅsī and Hissār. In 1781 Jai Siṅgh and his associate Haqīqat Siṅgh led an expedition to Jammū and received a sum of 3,00,000 rupees as tribute from its new ruler, Brij Rāj Dev. On Jai Siṅgh's death in 1793 at the age of 81, control of the Kanhaiyā clan passed into the hands of his daughter-in-law Sadā Kaur, his son Gurbakhsh Siṅgh having predeceased him. Sadā Kaur whose daughter Mahitāb Kaur was married to Raṇjīt Siṅgh was mainly instrumental in the Sukkarchakkīā chief's rise to political power in the Punjab. In July 1799, she helped Raṇjīt Siṅgh occupy Lahore defeating the Bhāṇgī chiefs, Mohar Siṅgh, Sāhib Siṅgh and Chet Siṅgh. Supported by Sadā Kaur, Raṇjīt Siṅgh made further acquisitions and assumed the title of Mahārājā in April 1801. In the campaigns of Amritsar, Chinioṭ, Kasūr and Kāṅgṛā as well as against the turbulent Paṭhāns of Hazārā and Aṭṭock, Sadā Kaur led the armies side by side with Raṇjīt Siṅgh. The entente however did not last long and the two began to drift Apart. The marriage of Sadā Kaur's daughter to Raṇjīt Siṅgh did not prove a happy one. The differences came into the open when Sadā Kaur started secret negotiations with the British through Sir Charles Metcalfe and Sir David Ochterlony to secure herself the status of an independent chief. Raṇjīt Siṅgh started making inroads into the Kanhaiyā territory and confiscated their wealth lying at Aṭālgaṛh (Mukerīāṅ). Baṭālā was made over as a jāgīr to his son Sher Siṅgh, while the rest of Sadā Kaur's estates were placed under the governorship of Desā Siṅgh Majīṭhīā. Sadā Kaur died in confinement in 1832.

         The leader of another section of the Kanhaiyā misl was Haqīqat Siṅgh, son of Baghel Siṅgh, a Siddhū Jaṭṭ, hailing from the village of Julkā, near Kāhnā, the birthplace of Jai Siṅgh. A friend and associate of Jai Siṅgh in many of his campaigns of conquest, Haqiqat Siṅgh was also his rival. Emerging an independent chief, he occupied Kalānaur, as Kāhngaṛh, Adālatgaṛh, Paṭhānkoṭ and several other villages. In 1760, Haqīqat Siṅgh destroyed Chūrīāṅvālā and founded another village instead naming it Saṅgatpurā and constructed a fort at Fatehgaṛh. Haqīqat Siṅgh died in 1782 and his only son Jaimal Siṅgh, then a minor, succeeded to his estates. Haqīqat Siṅgh's granddaughter, Chand Kaur, was married to Prince Khaṛak Siṅgh, eldest son of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. Jaimal Siṅgh died in 1812, leaving no son. Raṇjīt Siṅgh seized his wealth stored up in the fort of Fatehgaṛh, allowing the revenue of the district as subsistence allowance to his widow. All the remaining Kanhaiyā territories were conferred on Prince Khaṛak Siṅgh.

        KĀROṚSIṄGHĪĀ MISL was named after Karoṛā Siṅgh, a Vīrk Jaṭṭ of Barkī in Lahore district. The founder of the jathā or band of warriors that subsequently acquired the size and power of a misl, was Shiām Siṅgh of Nārlī who had battled with the invading forces of Nādir Shāh in 1739. He was succeeded by Karam Siṅgh, an Uppal Khatrī of the village of Paijgaṛh in Gurdāspur district. Karam Siṅgh fell fighting against Ahmad Shāh Durrānī in January 1748 and was succeeded by Karoṛā Siṅgh. Karoṛā Siṅgh confined his activities to the tract lying south of the Kāṅgṛā hills in Hoshiārpur district, and had seized several important towns such as Hoshiārpur, Hariāṇā and Shām Chaurāsī before he died in 1761. Baghel Siṅgh who succeeded Karoṛā Siṅgh as leader of the Karoṛsiṅghīās is celebrated in Sikh history as the conqueror of Mughal Delhi. A Dhālīvāl Jaṭṭ, Baghel Siṅgh arose from the village of Jhabāl, in Amritsar district, to become a formidable force in the cis-Sutlej region. According to Syad Muhammad Latīf, he had under him 12,000 fighting men. Soon after the Sikh conquest of Sirhind in January 1764, he extended his arms towards Karnāl, occupying a number of villages including Chhalaudī which he later made his headquarters. In February 1764, Sikhs in a body of 40,000 under the command of Baghel Siṅgh and other leading warriors crossed the Yamunā and captured Sahāranpur. They overran the territory of Najīb ud-Daulah, the Ruhīlā chief, realizing from him a tribute of eleven lakh of rupees. In April 1775, Baghel Siṅgh with two other sardārs, Rāi Siṅgh Bhaṅgī and Tārā Siṅgh Ghaibā, crossed the Yamunā to overrun the country then ruled by Zābitā Khān, son and successor of Najīb ud-Daulah. Zābitā Khān in desperation offered Baghel Siṅgh large sums of money and proposed an alliance jointly to plunder the crown-lands. The combined forces of Sikhs and Ruhīlās looted villages around the present site of New Delhi. In March 1776, they defeated the imperial forces near Muzaffarnagar. The whole of the Yamunā-Gangetic Doāb was now at their mercy. When in April 1781, Mirzā Shafī, a close relative of the Mughal prime minister, captured the Sikh military post at Indrī, 10 km south of Lāḍvā, Baghel Siṅgh retaliated by attacking Khalīl Beg Khān of Shāhābād who surrendered with 300 horse, 800 foot and two pieces of cannon. When on 11 March 1783, Sikhs entered the Red Fort in Delhi and occupied the Dīwān-i-Ām, the Mughal emperor, Shāh Ālam II, made a settlement with them agreeing to allow Baghel Siṅgh to raise gurdwārās on Sikh historical sites and realize six ānnās in a rupee (37.5%) of all the octroi duties in the capital. Baghel Siṅgh stayed in Sabzī Maṇḍī, with 4,000 troops, and took charge of Chāndnī Chowk. He located seven sites sacred to the Sikhs and had shrines raised thereon within the space of eight months from April to November 1783.

         Another Kāroṛsiṅghīā scion, Rāi Siṅgh, son of Matāb Siṅgh who had killed the notorious Masse Khān Raṅghaṛ, seized a number of villages in Samrālā tahsīl of Ludhiāṇā district after the Sikh conquest of Sirhind in 1764. Gurbakhsh Siṅgh, a Sandhū Jaṭṭ of the village of Kalsīā in Kasūr tahsīl of Lahore district, who was a prominent companion of Baghel Siṅgh, shared the exploits and conquests of the Karoṛsiṅghīā sardār and occupied parganahs of Chhachhraulī, Siālbā, etc. Karam Siṅgh and Diāl Siṅgh, also from Kalsīā, took possession of the Bilāspur parganah, now in Jagādharī. tahsīl of Ambālā district, and the parganah of Dharamkoṭ in Fīrozpur district, respectively. Dulchā Siṅgh, another member of the misl, took possession of Radauṛ and Dāmlā in Karnāl district. In October 1774 "Duljā Siṅgh Bahādur, "along with five other Sikh chiefs, was requested by the Mughal emperor to enter imperial service at the head of 1,000 horse and 500 foot, but he declined the offer.

         The last of the prominent Kāroṛsiṅghīā leaders was Jodh Siṅgh (1751-1818) , son of Gurbakhsh Siṅgh of Kalsīā. Jodh Siṅgh made considerable additions to his otherwise small inheritance. In 1807, he joined Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh in the attack on Naraiṇgaṛh in Ambālā district and later fought for him in many a battle in the Punjab. The Mahārājā granted him the tracts of Gaṛhdivālā in Hoshiārpur district, and Chaṛīk in Fīrozpur district as rewards for his services. Jodh Siṅgh died in the battle of Multān in 1818, and his son, Sobhā Siṅgh, who succeeded him ruled over Kalsīā state for 40 years until his death in 1758. Sobhā Siṅgh's son, Lahiṇā Siṅgh, who died in 1869, was followed in the chiefship by his son, Bishan Siṅgh (d. 1883) and grandsons Jagjīt Siṅgh (d. 1886) and Raṇjīt Siṅgh (d. 1908). The chief figure in Kalsīā during the twentieth century was Rājā Ravi Sher Siṅgh (1902-1947) who succeeded his father, Raṇjīt Siṅgh, on the gaddī in 1908. The Kalsīā state acceded to the Indian Union on the lapse of British paramountcy in August 1947 and joined the Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in 1948.

        NAKAĪ MISL was founded by Hīrā Siṅgh a Sandhū Jaṭṭ of the village of Bahiṛvāl in Chūnīāṅ tahsīl of Lahore district. His village fell in the country called Nakkā which lay southwest of Lahore between the rivers Rāvi and Sutlej. It was through this region that the highway from Lahore to Multān, Balūchistān and Sindh passed imparting to it the name Nakkā (nakkā, in Punjabi, signifying a kind of gateway). Hīrā Siṅgh had taken to arms while still very young. As the Sikhs sacked Kasūr in 1763 and conquered Sirhind in 1764, Hīrā Siṅgh occupied Bahīṛvāl, Chūnīāṅ, Dīpālpur, Jambar, Jeṭhūpur, Kaṅganvāl and Khuḍīāṅ establishing his headquarters at Chūnīāṅ. In 1767, he led out an expedition to Pākpaṭṭan, but was killed in the action that took place. His son Dal Siṅgh being a minor, he was succeeded by his nephew Nāhar Siṅgh who had but a tenure of nine months falling in a battle at Koṭ Kamālīā in 1768. His younger brother Raṇ Siṅgh, who succeeded him, considerably increased the power and influence of the Nakaīs. The territory under his control was worth nine lakhs of rupees per annum and comprised Chūnīāṅ, part of Kasūr, Sharakpur, Gugerā and, at one time, Koṭ Kamālīā. Raṇ Siṅgh had a force of 2,000 horsemen, with camel swivels and a few guns. His headquarters were at Bahiṛvāl in Lahore district. Raṇ Siṅgh died in 1781 and was succeeded by his eldest son Bhagvān Siṅgh, whose sister, Rāj Kaur, was married to Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. Bhagvān Siṅgh was succeeded by his younger brother, Giān Siṅgh, who died in 1807 leaving a son, Kāhn Singh. Raṇjīt Siṅgh granted Kāhn Siṅgh a jāgīr of 15,000 rupees per annum and seized all the possessions of the family.

        NISHĀNĀṄVĀLĪ MISL, owed its origin to Dasaundhā Siṅgh whose jathā were the standard-bearers of the Dal Khālsā. Hence the name of the jathā or misl— Nishānāṅvālī, nishān in Punjabi meaning a flag or standard. The misl was originally based in Amritsar where it guarded the Holy Harimandar and also served as a reserve force of the Dal. Dasaundhā Siṅgh, son of Chaudharī Sāhib Rāi, was a Gill Jaṭṭ belonging to the village of Mansūr in Fīrozpur district, who, after the conquest of Sirhind by Sikhs in January 1764, took possession of Siṅghāṅvālā, again in Fīrozpur district, Sāhneval, Sarāi Lashkarī Khān, Amloh, Dorāhā, Zīrā, and Ambālā, establishing his headquarters at the last-named station. On his death in 1767, Dasaundhā Siṅgh was succeeded to the headship of the misl by his younger brother Saṅgat Siṅgh who made over charge of Ambālā to his cousins, Lāl Siṅgh and Gurbakhsh Siṅgh, and himself retired to Siṅghaṅvālā. On Saṅgat Siṅgh's death in 1774, Lāl Siṅgh's three sons — Mohar Siṅgh, Kapūr Siṅgh, and Anūp Siṅgh — drove out Gurbakhsh Siṅgh from Ambālā dividing the Nishānāṅvālī territories among themselves. Mohar Siṅgh soon became an influential figure among the cis-Sutlej chiefs. On 9 May 1785, he and Dulchā Siṅgh made treaties of friendship with Mahādjī Scindia, the all-powerful Marāṭhā deputy of the Mughal empire, and both of them received robes of honour and cash awards from him. Among other leaders of the misl Naudh Siṅgh, who was severely wounded in the battle of Sirhind (January 1764), took possession of Kheṛī close to Sirhind, Sudhā Siṅgh Bājvā seized Māchhīvāṛā east of Ludhiāṇā, while Rāi Siṅgh secured 16 villages southwest of Khannā. Jai Siṅgh, another member of the misl, captured 27 villages in Kharaṛ. Karam Siṅgh acquired the parganahs of Shāhābād and Ismā'īlābād in the present Kurukshetra district. Sāvan Siṅgh, a cousin of Dasaundhā Siṅgh and Saṅgat Siṅgh, appropriated to himself several villages around Sauṅṭī, near Amloh.

         The military strength of the Nishānāṅvālī misl had risen to 12,000 horse under Saṅgat Siṅgh. Its territories included Ambālā, Shāhābād, Sauṅṭī, Kheṛi, Moriṇḍā, Amloh, Khānnā, Dorāhā, Sāhnevāl, Māchhīvāṛā and Zīrā. Ambālā was last ruled by Dayā Kaur, widow of Gurbakhsh Siṅgh who had died in 1786. Upon Dayā Kaur's death in 1823, her estates and property lapsed to the British government.

        PHŪLKĪĀṄ MISL. An eighteenth-century Sikh ruling clan, which arose in the region south of the River Sutlej and was counted the twelfth misl though it did not form part of the Dal Khālsā like the eleven others. It traced its origin to Phūl (d. 1652), a Siddhū Jaṭṭ of the village of Mehrāj, now in Baṭhiṇḍā district of the Punjab, who had met gurū Har Rāi, Nānak VII, during his travels in the Mālvā area and received his blessing. From amongst his seven sons Tilok Siṅgh (Tilokā), the eldest, was the ancestor of the princely states of Nābhā and Jīnd, and Rām Siṅgh (Rāmā), next to him, forefather of the rulers of Paṭiālā. Rām Siṅgh and Tilok Siṅgh were devoted disciples of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, who had called upon them by a hukamnāmā for a detachment of cavalry and had blessed their house as his own — terā Ghar merā asai. They had helped Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur with men and money in his early exploits. Bābā Ālā Siṅgh, the third son of Rām Siṅgh, was a brave soldier and an astute politician who laid the foundation of the Phūlkīāṅ fortunes by carving out the principality of Paṭiālā. During his early career, he was engaged in warfare with the Bhaṭṭīs and the Afghāns. By 1732, he had conquered a vast territory around Barnālā which served as his headquarters. In the forties and fifties during the Durrānī-Mughal clashes in the Punjab, Ālā Siṅgh extended his hold over a number of villages in the sarkār of Sirhind and occupied important towns such as Sunām, Samāṇā, Sanaur and Ṭohāṇā. In 1753, he started building a fort about 100 km east of Barnālā around which grew the present city of Paṭiālā (paṭṭī = ward; ālā, of Ālā Siṅgh) and which became his capital in 1763. Bābā Ālā Siṅgh died in August 1765 and was succeeded by his grandson, Amar Siṅgh, who received the title of Rājā-i-Rājgān from the Durrānī king, Ahmad Shāh. He formed a number of alliances and fought a wide variety of opponents and acquired further territory including Baṭhiṇḍā, Mānsā, Koṭ Kapūrā, Saifābād and Piñjaur. Under him Paṭiālā became the most powerful state between the Yamunā and the Sutlej. Mahārājā Amar Siṅgh was succeeded in 1782 by his seven-year-old son, Sāhib Siṅgh, who like other cis-Sutlej Sikh chiefs accepted British protection in 1809.

         Rājā Sāhib Siṅgh died in 1813. After him Paṭiālā state was ruled successively by Mahārājā Karam Siṅgh (1813-45), Mahārājā Narinder Siṅgh (1845-62), Mahārājā Mohinder Siṅgh (1862-76), Mahārājā Rājinder Siṅgh (1876-1900) and Mahārājā Bhūpinder Siṅgh (1900-38). Mahārājā Sir Yādavinder Siṅgh, the last ruler, signed the instrument of accession to independent India in 1947, and the state was merged into what became Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union in 1948.

         Hamīr Siṅgh, a descendant of Bābā Phūl through his eldest son Tilok Siṅgh, laid foundation of what lasted into present times as Nābhā state. He founded the town of Nābhā in 1755. In 1764 he joined Bābā Ālā Siṅgh and the Dal Khālsā in the conquest of Sirhind and received the parganah of Amloh as his share of the spoils. He then declared his independence and exercised the right of coining money. On his death in December 1783, Hamīr Siṅgh was succeeded by his eight-year-old son Jasvant Siṅgh, who conducted protracted campaigns first against Jīnd and then against Paṭiālā to regain disputed territory for his state. With the help of General Perron of the Marāṭhā service, he succeeded in checking the advance of the Irish adventurer, George Thomas. Jasvant Siṅgh joined hands with the other cis-Sutlej princes in the 1809 treaty with the British under which they came under the protection of the East India Company.

         After the death of Rājā Jasvant Siṅgh in 1840, Nābhā state was successively ruled by Rājā Devinder Siṅgh (1840-46) , Rājā Bharpūr Siṅgh (1847-63), Rājā Bhagvān Siṅgh (1864-71), Mahārājā Hīrā Siṅgh (1871-1911), and Mahārājā Ripudaman Siṅgh (1911-23). Ripudaman Siṅgh who was deposed in 1923 was succeeded by his son Pratāp Siṅgh who after Independence signed the instrument of succession to the Union of India in 1947.

         Gajpat Siṅgh (1738-89), the middle son of Sukhchain Siṅgh (d. 1751), was the founder of the third of the Phūlkīāṅ states — Jīnd. Sukhchain Siṅgh was the younger brother of Gurdit Siṅgh from whom originated the ruling family of Nābhā. In 1764, Gajpat Siṅgh joined the Dal Khālsā under Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā and took part in the conquest of Sirhind. He seized the districts of Jīnd and Safīdoṅ and overran Pānīpat and Karnāl. In 1766, he made Jīnd his capital. Unlike other Sikh chiefs, he continued to acknowledge the Mughal authority in Delhi. Gajpat Siṅgh was in constant war with the Nābhā chief having seized his territories Amloh, Bhādsoṅ and Saṅgrūr in 1774. His daughter, Rāj Kaur, married to Mahāṅ Siṅgh of the Sukkarchakkīā misl, became the mother of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. Gajpat Siṅgh died in 1789 and was succeeded by his elder son Bhāg Siṅgh (1768-1818), the younger, Kaṅvar Bhūp Siṅgh, taking the estate of Baḍrukkhāṅ. Bhāg Siṅgh was responsible for checking the advance of George Thomas towards the Sikh territories and later on of General Perron of the Marāṭhā service. Rājā Bhāg Siṅgh died in 1819 and was succeeded by his son, Fateh Siṅgh. His successor coming to the gaddī in 1822 died childless in 1834. Then followed a protracted debate among the British government and the Phūlkīāṅ chiefs and jāgīrdārs over whether the state should escheat to the British or a successor with the best claim be located. After rejecting the claims of Nābhā and Paṭiālā, the British decided in 1837 in favour of Sarūp Siṅgh (1812-64) of Bazīdpur and declared that he would inherit Jīnd and Safīdoṅ, which had been acquired by Rājā Gajpat Siṅgh whose descendant he claimed to be. The remainder of Jīnd territories which had been received as grants from Raṇjīt Siṅgh were to be divided between the British and Ranjīt Siṅgh, the former taking all estates granted before the treaty of 1809 and the latter resuming the grants made afterwards. It was through this decision that the British obtained Ludhiāṇā. The next rulers in succession were Rājā Raghbīr Siṅgh (1864-87), and Rājā Raṇbīr Siṅgh (1887-1948). Rājā Raṇbīr Siṅgh died on 1 April 1948, and was succeeded by his son Rājbīr Siṅgh, during whose time Jīnd state joined the Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).

        RĀMGAṚHĪĀ MISL took its name from Rām Rauṇī, an enclosure of unbaked bricks raised in Amritsar during the time of Jassā Siṅgh for the protection of Sikhs in the troubled days of the eighteenth century. The fortress was later reinforced by Sikhs and made into a fort called Rāmgaṛh. Jassā Siṅgh became famous in Sikh history as Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā. He gained reputation as a soldier of daring and skill. He along with his brothers Jai Siṅgh, Khushāl Siṅgh and Mālī Siṅgh took up service under Ādīnā Beg, faujdār of the Jalandhar Doāb, which he quit when the Sikhs taunted him with betrayal of the Panth. To begin with, Jassā Siṅgh joined hands with Jai Siṅgh of the Kanhaiyā misl and within a short time they seized large slices of territory in four out of the five Doābs. Among their acquisitions was the fertile tract called Riāṛkī to the north of Amritsar embracing the district of Gurdāspur. Within a decade Jassā Siṅgh became one of the leading figures of the Dal Khālsā. In 1770, he led plundering expeditions into the hills. The local rājās sought safety in submission and Jassā Siṅgh collected a tribute of 2,00,000 rupees from the Kāṅgṛā hill states. Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā, along with other Sikh sardārs, fought many pitched battles against Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, the Afghān invader. As the Afghān threat receded, Sikh sardārs began fighting among themselves. The Rāmgaṛhīā Kanhaiyā cleavage over their adjoining territories in the district of Gurdāspur and, Hoshiārpur widened. In the battle of Dīnānagar in 1775, Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā joined the Bhāṅgī sardārs against the forces of the Kanhaiyās and the Sukkarchakkīās. Soon a rift appeared between Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā and Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā as the latter wrested the town of Zahūrā, which fell within Rāmgaṛhīā territory, and conferred it upon Baghel Siṅgh Karoṛsiṅghīā. Jai Siṅgh Kanhaiyā sought the help of Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā and the Rāmgaṛhīā Sardār had to flee the Punjab.

         Driven out of the Punjab, Jassā Siṅgh became a soldier of fortune. He took possession of Hissār and raised a large body of irregular horse, his depredations extending to the gates of Delhi and its suburbs, and into the Gangetic Doāb. Once he penetrated into Delhi itself, and carried off four guns from the Mughal arsenal. The Nawāb of Meerut agreed to pay him 10,000 rupees an year on his agreeing to leave his district unmolested. Soon a body of 30,000 horse and foot under him and Karam Siṅgh Shahīd crossed into Sahāranpur district, ravaging it at will. On the death of Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā in 1783, Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā returned to the Punjab and recovered his lost possessions. He allied himself with the Sukkarchakkīās, and their combined forces broke the power of the Kanhaiyās.

        At the height of its power, Rāmgaṛhīā misl's territories in the Bārī Doāb included Baṭālā, Kalānaur, Dīnānagar, Srī Hargobindpur, Shāhpur Kaṇḍi, Gurdāspur, Qādīāṅ, Ghumān , Mattevāl, and in the Jalandhar Doāb, Uṛmuṛ Ṭāṇḍā, Sarīh, Miāṇī, Gaṛhdivālā and Zahūrā. In the hills Kāṇgṛā, Nūrpur, Maṇḍī and Chambā paid tribute to Jassā Siṅgh.

         Jassā Siṅgh died in April 1803 at the ripe age of 80, leaving two sons, Jodh Siṅgh and Vīr Siṅgh, the former of whom succeeded him. Jodh Siṅgh was a deeply religious person. He built the Rāmgarhīā Buṅgā on the premises of the Harimandar at Amritsar and supplied blocks of perforated marble that served as parapets on both sides of the causeway leading to the sanctuary. Jodh Siṅgh's possessions were encroached upon by his more active cousin, Dīvān Siṅgh, son of Tārā Siṅgh. In 1808, Raṇjīt Siṅgh took possession of the territories of the Rāmgaṛhīā misl. The same year he captured the fortress of Rāmgaṛh, destroying all the Rāmgaṛhīā citadels. Adequate pensions were provided for Dīvān Siṅgh and Jodh Siṅgh, the leaders of the once powerful Rāmgaṛhīā misl which had like many others collapsed under pressure of the new rising power in the Punjab.

        SHAHĪD MISL owed its origin to Bābā Dīp Siṅgh Shahīd (1682-1757) belonging to the village of Pahūviṇḍ in Amritsar district. Dīp Siṅgh had received the vows of the Khālsā at the hands of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. He rejoined in 1706 Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, then at Talvaṇḍī Sābo, 28 km southeast of Baṭhiṇḍā and, after the latter's departure for the South, stayed on there to look after the sacred shrine, Damdamā Sāhib. He had four copies of the Gurū Granth Sāhib made from the recension prepared earlier by Bhāī Manī Siṅgh under the supervision of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh during their stay at Damdamā Sāhib. In 1733, when the Mughal governor of Lahore made peace with the Sikhs offering them nawābship and a jāgīr, Dīp Siṅgh, now reverently called Bābā, i.e. the elder, joined Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh, who had been invested with the title of Nawāb, and received command of one of the five jathās that constituted the newly formed Taruṇā Dal. These jathās were redesignated misls in 1748 and the jathā headed by Dīp Siṅgh came to be known as Shahīd misl after he met with the death of a martyr (shāhīd, in Punjabi). The misls, the number increasing to twelve, soon established their hegemony over different regions in the Punjab.

         The Shahīd misl was mostly made up of Nihaṅgs, a class of warriors which owed its origin to Bābā Fateh Siṅgh, son of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. They wore blue, with heavy bangles of steel upon their wrists and quoits around their heads. The Shahīds had their sphere of influence south of the River Sutlej. The Shahīds under Dīp Siṅgh had their headquarters at Talvaṇḍī Sābo. They also held control of the Harimandar at Amritsar. In 1757 Jahān Khān, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī's commander-in-chief and deputy to his son, Taimūr Shāh, the governor of the Punjab, invested the town, razed the Sikh fortress of Rām Rauṇī and desecrated the shrine filling up the sacred pool. The Shahīds led by Gurbakhsh Siṅgh had defended the holy premises valiantly , but failed to stem the onslaught. As the news reached Dīp Siṅgh at Talvaṇḍī Sābo, he set out with his jathā towards the Holy City. Many Sikhs joined him on the way so that when he arrived at Tarn Tāran he had at his command a force of 5,000 men. Jahān Khān's troops lay in wait for them near Gohlvāṛ village 8 km ahead. They barred their way and a fierce action took place. Dīp Siṅgh was mortally wounded near Rāmsar, yet such was the firmness of his resolve to reach the holy precincts that he carried on the battle until he fell dead in the close vicinity of the Harimandar. This was on 11 November 1757.

         After Dīp Siṅgh's death, the leadership of the misl passed on to Karam Siṅgh, a Sandhū Jaṭṭ belonging to the village of Marāhkā in Sheikhūpurā district, now in Pakistan. In January 1764, at the conquest of the Sirhind province by the Sikhs, he seized a number of villages in the parganahs of Kesarī and Shāhzādpur in Ambālā district yielding about a lakh of rupees annually. Karam Siṅgh made Shāhzādpur his headquarters though he lived for most of the time at Talvaṇḍī Sābo (Damdamā Sāhib). In 1773, he overran a large tract of land belonging to Zābitā Khān Ruhīlā in the upper Gangetic Doāb. He captured a number of villages in Sahāranpur district. After Karam Siṅgh's death in 1784, his elder son, Gulāb Siṅgh, succeeded to the headship of the misl. On Gulāb Siṅgh's death in 1844, his son Shiv Kirpāl Siṅgh succeeded to the family estate, the misl having become extinct in 1809 after the cis-Sutlej Sikh states had accepted British protection.

        SIṄGHPURĪĀ (or FAIZULLĀPURĪĀ) MISL was founded by Kapūr Siṅgh, a Vīrk Jaṭṭ of the village of Kāleke, now in Sheikhupurā district of Pakistan Punjab. The misl got its name from Faizullāpur, a village in Amritsar district which Kapur Siṅgh had wrested from its Muslim chief, Faizullā Khān, and, conquering the country around, given it the name of Siṅghpurā. Kapūr Siṅgh was eleven years old at the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's passing away. His physical courage and warlike spirit were valuable qualities in those days of high adventure. He soon gained a position of eminence among Sikhs then engaged in a desperate struggle against the Mughal rulers. When in 1733 Zakarīyā Khān, the Mughal governor of Lahore, decided to make peace with the Sikhs, he offered them a jāgīr and title of Nawāb for their leader. The Khālsā chose with one voice Kapūr Siṅgh to receive the title. Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh now proceeded to restructuring the Sikh fighting force. The whole body of the Khālsā was formed into two sections, the Buḍḍhā Dal, army of the veterans, and the Taruṇā Dal, army of the young. The entente with the Mughals did not last long and, before the harvest of 1735, Zakarīyā Khān sent a force and occupied the jāgīr. Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh and his band were driven away towards the Mālvā by Lakhpat Rāi, the Hindu minister at the Mughal court at Lahore. During his sojourn in the Mālvā, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh conquered the territory of Sunām and made it over to Ālā Siṅgh of Paṭiālā. He also attacked Sirhind and defeated the Mughal governor. Returning to Amritsar, he successfully routed, in 1736, the force led by Lakhpat Rāi, killing two important faujdārs, Jamāl Khān and Tātār Khān, in the battle. With 2,000 followers Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh entered, in disguise, the city of Lahore with a view to capturing the governor, Zakarīyā Khān. Driven back, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh proceeded towards Delhi, the imperial capital. He overran Farīdābād, Balabhgaṛh and Guṛgāon and laid contributions on Jhajjar, Dojāṇā and Paṭaudī. In 1748 at the time of the organization of the Dal Khālsā, a confederation of various misls, Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh handed over leadership of the Sikhs to Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā and himself continued to guide the destinies of the newly formed Siṅghpurīā house or misl. On his death in 1753, charge of the misl came into the hands of his nephew Khushhāl Siṅgh who made further territorial acquisitions. Capturing Jalandhar in 1759, he made it his capital, and seized the parganahs of Haibatpur and Paṭṭī from the Paṭhān chief of Kasūr. At the time of the conquest of Sirhind by Sikhs in January 1764, he got Bharatgaṛh, Machhalī, Ghanaulī, Manaulī and several other villages as his share of the booty. Khushhāl Siṅgh and Rājā Amar Siṅgh of Paṭiālā took from the Nawāb of Rāikoṭ 23 villages around Chhat and Banūṛ which remained under their joint control for several years. The Siṅghpurīā territory yielded annually two lakhs in the Bārī Doāb, one lakh in the Jalandhar Doāb and one and a half lakh in the Sirhind province.

         Khushhāl Siṅgh died in 1795 and was succeeded by his son Buddh Siṅgh. But like other sardārs, Buddh Siṅgh also succumbed to the rising power of Raṇjīt Siṅgh who occupied his Bārī Doāb and Jalandhar Doāb territories. He was forced to shift to his estates below the River Sutlej, with Manaulī as his new headquarters. Buddh Siṅgh died in 1816 leaving behind seven sons. The cis-Sutlej remnants of the Siṅghpurīā misl were eventually annexed by the British.

        SUKKARCHAKKĪĀ MISL, named after the village of Sukkarchakkīā in Gujrāṅwālā district, now in Pakistan, to which its founders belonged, became ultimately the most important of the twelve eighteenth-century Sikh ruling clans. Desū, a Jaṭṭ cultivator of that village, is said to have been administered the rites of initiation by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. He received the name of Buḍḍhā Siṅgh. Buḍḍhā Siṅgh laid the foundation of the Sukkarchakkīā fortunes. His feats of endurance and daring in those days of adventure and plunder made him a legendary figure. Along with him his Piebald mare, Desāṅ, became famous too. Together they traversed the plains of the Punjab and swam its broad rivers in flood many times and, being inseparable, came to be known jointly as Desāṅ Buḍḍhā Siṅgh. When Buḍḍhā Siṅgh died in 1718, there were scars of forty wounds by spear, sword and matchlock counted upon his body. He left his sons a few villages they could call their own and many others in the neighbourhood which paid them a fixed sum as protection tax. Buḍḍhā Siṅgh's son, Naudh Siṅgh, fortified Sukkarchakkīā and raised a jathā or body of men acquiring the name of Sukkarchakkīās. The Sukkarchakkīās joined forces with other misls and engaged in skirmishes with Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. As the Afghāns retreated, they took possession of parts of the land between the Rāvī and the Jehlum. Naudh Siṅgh was killed in a battle in 1752. Chaṛhat Siṅgh, who was eldest of Naudh Siṅgh's four sons, moved his headquarters from Sukkarchakkīā to Gujrāṅwālā and erected battlements round the town. The Afghān governor of Lahore came to apprehend Chaṛhat Siṅgh but was repulsed by the Sardār and forced to retreat, leaving behind his guns and stocks of grain. Chaṛhat Siṅgh extended his domains by capturing the towns of Wazīrābād, Eminābād and Rohtās, but as Ahmad Shāh Durrānī again came down from Afghanistan, he fled to the jungles. The Durrānī pillaged his estates and had the fortifications of Gujrāṅwālā demolished. Chaṛhat Siṅgh more than settled his account with the Afghāns by chasing them on their return march and plundering their baggage trains. He rebuilt the battlements round Gujrāṅwālā and reoccupied the neighbouring country. His last foray was into Jammū in 1770 where most of the wealthy families of the Punjab had sought shelter against Afghān depredations. The Bhaṅgīs disputed his right to plunder Jammū and in one of the skirmishes Chaṛhat Siṅgh fell mortally wounded by the bursting of his own matchlock.

         Chaṛhat Siṅgh's young son, Mahāṅ Siṅgh, inherited his father's spirit and ambition. He married a daughter of Gajpat Siṅgh, the chief of Jīnd, thereby strengthening his own position among the misl sardārs. Within the walled town of Gujrāṅwālā he built a fortress which he named Gaṛhī Mahāṅ Siṅgh. He increased the number of his horsemen to 6,000 and launched upon a career of conquest and expansion of territory. He captured Rasūlnagar from a Muslim tribe, the Chaṭṭhās, and took Piṇḍī Bhaṭṭīān, Sāhīvāl, 'Īsākhel and Jhaṅg. In 1782, he proceeded to Jammū whose Dogrā ruler fled leaving the rich city to the mercy of his men. With the loot of Jammū, Mahāṅ Siṅgh raised the Sukkarchakkīās from a position of comparative obscurity to that of being one of the leaders of the misl order.

         Mahāṅ Siṅgh died in 1790. At his death, his 10 year-old son, Raṇjīt Siṅgh, became the head of the Sukkarchakkīā house. Young Raṇjīt Siṅgh had inherited from his forefathers a sizeable estate in north-western Punjab, a band of intrepid horse and matchlockmen, and an ambition that knew no bounds. In due course, he liquidated the misls north of the Sutlej and became the powerful sovereign of the Punjab.


  1. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh . Amritsar, 1914
  2. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970
  3. Sītal, Sohan Siṅgh, Sikh Mislāṅ . Ludhiana, 1952
  4. Browne, James, History of the Origin and Progress of the Sicks . London, 1788
  5. Forster, George, A Journey from Bengal to England , 2 vols. London, 1798
  6. Malcolm, John, Sketch of the Sikhs: A Singular Nation who Inhabit the Province of the Punjab . London, 1812
  7. Cunningham, Joseph Davey, A History of the Sikhs from the Origin of the Nation to the Battles of the Sutlej . London, 1849
  8. Bhagat Singh, Sikh Polity in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries . Delhi, 1978
  9. Nayyar, Gurbachan Singh, Sikh Polity and Political Institutions . Delhi, 1975
  10. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs , vol. IV. Delhi, 1982
  11. Sinha, N.K., Rise of the Sikh Power : Calcutta, 1960
  12. Kushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs , vol. I. Princeton, 1963
  13. Gandhi, Surjit Singh, Struggle of the Sikhs for Sovereignty . Delhi, 1980
  14. Banga, Indu, Agrarian System of the Sikhs . Delhi, 1978
  15. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs . Delhi, 1983
  16. Ganda Siṅgh, Ahmad Shah Durrani . Bombay, 1959
  17. and Teja Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs . Bombay, 1950
  18. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition . Delhi, 1990

Harī Rām Gupta