SUKKHĀ SIṄGH (d. 1752), eighteenth-century Sikh warrior and martyr, was born at Māṛī Kamboke, in Amritsar district, in a family of carpenters of the Kalsī clan. As a small boy, he had heard with great fascination stories of Sikhs' daring and sacrifice in those days of fierce persecution and, although his parents in order to restrain his enthusiasm got him married when he was barely 12, he visited Amritsar to receive khaṇḍe dī pāhul, the vows of the Khālsā, and began to entertain fugitive Sikhs in his home. His parents, apprehensive of the government's wrath, one day cut off his hair as he lay asleep. Sukkhā Siṅgh on waking up felt so disturbed at this sacrilege that he decided to put an end to his life, and jumped into a well. He resisted the people's effort to pull him out, until a Sikh who was passing by advised him that it was sheer cowardice and a sin for a Sikh to take his own life. Sukkhā Siṅgh allowed himself to be helped out, regrew his kesa and joined the jathā or band of Sardār Shiām Siṅgh. He acquired uncommon skill in the use of weapons of war and won his comrades' admiration for his boldness and powers of endurance. Once taking up the challenge thrown by Qāzī 'Abd ur-Rahmān, the kotwāl of Amritsar, to the Sikhs to come, if they dared, for a dip in their holy pool, Sukkhā Siṅgh went to Amritsar broad daylight, made his ablutions and, loudly declaring who he was, rode away to the safety of the woods. An immediate pursuit led by the infuriated Qāzī resulted in an encounter with the Sikhs in which the Qāzī himself was killed.

        Sukkhā Siṅgh accompanied Matāb Siṅgh to Amritsar in August 1740 to chastize the notorious Masse Khān Raṅghaṛ, the successor of the Qāzī Abd ur-Rahman as kotwāl This further enhanced Sukkhā Siṅgh's popularity among the Khālsā and he soon became the leader of a separate jathā of his own. Early in 1746, he and Sardār Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā pushed northwards and entered the Eminābād territory in Gujrāṅwālā district where they were attacked by the local jāgīrdār, Jaspat Rāi, brother of Lakhpat Rāi, the dīwān of Yāhīyā Khān, the governor of Lahore. Jaspat Rāi was killed in the encounter. This led to the vengeful Lakhpat Rāi's relentless campaign against the Sikhs ending on 1 May 1746 in what is known in Sikh history as a Ghallūghārā or holocaust. During this fateful battle, Sukkhā Siṅgh's leg was fractured by a direct hit from an enemy swivel. He immediately tied his leg to his saddle with his own turban and continued to fight and lead his men across the Rivers Rāvī, Beās and Sutlej. It was three days later, after he had taken the survivors of the Ghallūghārā to the safety of the sandy desert of Mālvā, that he got his injury properly dressed. Taking advantage of the civil war between the sons of Zakarīyā Khān, which commenced in November 1746, the Sikhs recrossed the Sutlej and converged on Amritsar. Sukkhā Siṅgh, then camping at Jaito, joined them too. He raided Sarāi Nūrdīn, Saṅghārkoṭ, Majīṭhā, and Chhīnā. At the last-named village he killed in a duel Karmā Chhīnā, a notorious informer who had been responsible for the arrest and execution of many of the Sikhs. He also joined the Dal Khālsā in their raid on the camp of Ahmad Shāh Durrānī at Serāi Nūrdīn during the latter's first invasion of India early in 1748. In 1749, when disturbed by the rebellion of Shāh Nawāz Khān of Multān, Mu'in ul-Mūlk, the governor of Lahore, sought the assistance of the Sikhs, Sukkhā Siṅgh and Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā turned out to join the campaign in which Shāh Nawāz Khān was killed. Having thus overcome the Multān rebellion, Mu'in ul-Mūlk resumed his policy of persecution with redoubled vigour, forcing the Sikhs once again to seek safety in their jungle haunts. Early in 1752, as Sukkhā Siṅgh and his jathā lay in the forest along the River Rāvī north of Lahore, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī came out leading his third invasion into India and camped at Shāhdarā preparatory to an attack on the Punjab capital. Sukkhā Siṅgh, out on a foraging expedition north of the river, encountered a strong body of enemy troops. A fierce action took place in which Sukkhā Siṅgh and his men died fighting to a man. This was sometime during the first half of January 1752.


  1. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh. Amritsar, 1914
  2. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā [Reprint]. Patiala,1970
  3. Lakshman Singh, Bhāgat, Sikh Martyrs. Madras, 1928
  4. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs. Bombay,1950

Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā