RAṆJĪT NAGĀRĀ, lit. the drum of victory in battlefield, was the name given the kettledrum installed by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at Anandpur in 1684. Nagārā, Punjabi for the Persian naqqārah meaning a kettledrum, was a symbol of royalty. As well as fulfilling his spiritual office, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had, like his grandfather, Gurū Hargobind, adopted the emblems of worldly dignity. He wore an aigrette and arms, sat under canopy and went out riding in state. Adding another sign of authority, in 1684, his diwan, Nand Chand, had a kettledrum installed at his bidding. The massive drum with a metallic hemispheric body was called by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh Raṇjīt Nagārā. According to Kuir Siṅgh, Gurbilās Pātshāhī 10, the masands became afraid lest the beating of the drum should arouse the envy of the local chieftain, and begged the Gurū's mother, Mātā Gujarī, to plead with him not to offend the rājā. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, as says Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth, spoke to his mother, "Why should anyone resort to antagonism? I am not going to seize anyone's territory." Raṇjīt Nagārā was usually beaten when Gurū Gobind Siṅgh went out for the chase. The thunderous roll of Raṇjīt Nagārā made Rājā Bhīm Chand, Rājā of Kahlūr, who was already jealous of the growing influence of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, panicky. He and later his son, Ajmer Chand, supported by other hill monarchs, attacked Anandpur and continued hostilities until Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, under pressure of a prolonged siege, was forced to evacuate the fort in December 1705. History provides no clue, but in all probability Raṇjīt Nagārā was left behind in Anandpur. However, kettledrum as such had become part of Sikh tradition, and it continues to be so till today. Almost every gurdwārā now maintains a large kettledrum called dhauṅsā or nagārā, which is beaten during ardās, the supplicatory prayer, to punctuate certain lines and as a call for meals in the Gurū kā Laṅgar.


  1. Santokh Siṅgh, Bhāī, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth. Amritsar, 1927-35
  2. Kuir Siṅgh, Gurbilās Pātshāhī 10, ed. Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok. Patiala, 1968

Parkāsh Siṅgh