TITLES AND ORDERS OF MERIT, instituted at his court by Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, broadly followed the Mughal pattern, though there did not exist among the Sikh nobility a specific classification or hierarchy which marked the mansabdārī system of the Mughals. Titles and awards were granted to princes of the royal blood, principal sardārs and high officials of the State, and they carried with them privileges as well as jāgīrs. Thus did the Mahārājā also patronize his favourites and men of proven loyalty to him and his family. The highest title seems to have been Rājā-i-Rājgān held only by one person in the history of Sikh rule. That was Dhiān Siṅgh Ḍogrā, also titled Rājā Kalāṅ, who had the privilege of holding his own miniature darbār. Next was the title of Rājā, which was held among others by Dhiān Siṅgh's brothers, Gulāb Siṅgh, and his son, Hīrā Siṅgh, the Mahārājā's favourite. Gulāb Siṅgh was awarded the title of Rājā of Jammū in 1822, with jāgīrs amounting to over 7,00,000 rupees annually. He was the most highly favoured vassal and tributary of the Mahārājā, the condition of his allegiance being the maintenance of a special body of horse and foot for his sovereign. Suchet Siṅgh was the Rājā of Rāmnagar, with a jāgīr worth 3,00,000 rupees and command of the Chāryārī Sowārs. Hīrā Siṅgh received the title of Rājā with a jāgīr of the value of well over 5,00,000 rupees annualy, with the exceptional privilege of a seat in the Darbār.

        Some of the military titles were Hizbar-i-Jaṅg (lion in battle), Zafar Jaṅg (victorious in war), Dilawar Jaṅg (gallant in war), Safdar Jaṅg (valiant in war), Samsām ud-Daulah (sharp-edged sword of the State), Shujā' ud-Daulah (valour of the State), I'timād ud-Daulah (support of the State), Mubāriz ul-Mūlk (hero of the country) and Jarnail-i-Awwal (general of the first rank). If the military titles referred to qualities of bravery and courage, those of the civil departments lauded honesty, sagacity and industry. For instance : Dayānat Panāh (abode of honesty), Firāsat Dastgāh (manufactory of wisdom) and Mashakhkhat Panāh (refuge of the distinguished). Ecclesiastical titles lauded the qualities of piety and nobility of life and conduct. One such title was Brahm Mūrat (picture of divinity). The title of Sardār, common to military and civil officers, was mainly reserved for Sikhs. 'Izaz-i-Sardārī was the highest honour most distinguished Sikh generals such as Harī Siṅgh Nalvā, Gurmukh Siṅgh Lammā, and Dal Siṅgh Nahernā received. Complimentary expressions like Bāwaqār (of high prestige), 'Azim ush-Shān (of high glory), Ujjal Dīdār (of immaculate appearance) and Nirmal Buddh (of clear intelligence) were prefixed to this title in official correspondence. Among the notables who were the recipients of military and civil titles were Rājā Dīnā Nāth, Dīwān Sāvan Mall, Sardār Atar Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā, Captain C.M. Wade, Dīwān Jodhā Rām, General Avitabile, Sardār Lahiṇā Siṅgh Majīṭhīā, Kaṅvar Sher Siṅgh and Sardār Tej Siṅgh.

        One prestigious award instituted by Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh in 1837 on the occasion of the marriage of his grandson, Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh, was Kaukab-i-Iqbāl-i-Pañjāb, Star of the Prosperity of the Punjab. The order and the medal, which was the insignia of the order, created at the suggestion of Sir Henry Fane, the British commander-in-chief, who had come to attend the wedding as a guest, resembled in shape the French Legion de Honour instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. The first recipient of this title was Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh himself. The order had three grades, each having its own medal. The medals bore the effigy of Raṇjīt Siṅgh on one side and had silk ribands of gold and scarlet colour. They were in the shape of a star and were meant to be worn round the neck. The first grade medal was ornamented with one big diamond. It was meant for the members of the royal family and those chiefs who showed exceptional devotion to the person of the Mahārājā and his family. The second-grade medal, with a diamond and an emerald set in it, was bestowed on loyal courtiers and sardārs. The third contained a single emerald and was open to civil and military officers who had rendered some special service to the State.


  1. Sūrī, Sohan Lāl, 'Umdat ut-Twārīkh. Lahore, 1885-89
  2. Kohli, Sita Ram, Catalogue of the Khalsa Darbar Records. Lahore, 1919-27
  3. Fane, H.E., Five Years in India. London, 1842
  4. Ganda Singh, ed., Maharaja Ranjit Singh (First Death Centenary Memorial Volume). Amritsar, 1939

B. J. Hasrat