Maharaja Hari Singh Dhillon

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Sardar Hari Singh Dhillon (d. 1764).JPG

Maharaja Hari Singh Dhillon (died 1764), was one of the most powerful, admired and famous of all the royal Sikh warriors of the 18th century. He was Maharaja of Amritsar, Lahore and large areas of central and western Panjab. He was the nephew of Bhuma Singh Dhillon, a famous Sikh warrior and a respected Sikh soldier. They were a family of Jats of the Dhillon clan. His military exploits were legendary and his defense of Amritsar, with his army, from Afghan attacks is still remembered with much affection by the Sikh community today. His army became the most popular to join due to his tireless defense of Amritsar.

Such was the respect and admiration of the Sikh community for Hari Singh, that at the formation of the Dal Khalsa in 1748, he was democratically elected leader of the Taruna Dal at Amritsar which is considered to be one of the greatest honors given, in the 18th century, to any Sikh.

In 1763, along with the Kanhaiya Misl and Ramgarhia Misl, he sacked the Pathan stronghold of Kasur, a City which was fortified very strongly with double walls. In 1764, he ravaged Bahawalpur and Multan. Crossing the River Indus, he realized tribute from Balochi chiefs in the districts of Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan.

He fought against the barbaric invading Afghans with the help of his friends Sardar Charhat Singh Sukerchakia (the grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) and Baron Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, during Ahmed Shah Abdali's sixth invasion of Punjab. He was an intelligent leader, a progressive soldier and a wise statesman. The author of Tarikh-e-Punjab writes that "Hari Singh was clever, powerful and a man of shining abilities."

His two sons were Jhanda Singh Dhillon and Ganda Singh Dhillon. He based his HQ around Amritsar. In 1764 when Baba Ala Singh (1691-1765), the first Sikh Chieftain of Patiala, submitted to the authority of Ahmad Shah Durrani in March 1764, accepting certain concessions from him, the Taruna Dal under Hari Singh marched upon Patiala to chastise him, but on his way was killed in this campaign, allegedly owing to the conspiracy of those who were against him.

After the death of Hari Singh Dhillon, In 1764 The Dhillon sirdars went on to become the most powerful family in Panjab. They ruled over most of the major cities of Punjab, Under Jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh, including Amritsar, Lahore, Multan, Chiniot, Jhang, Bhera, Rawalpindi, Hasan Abdal, Sialkot and Gujrat and large areas of central and western Panjab. They were the first Sikh family to conquer Multan, although they were unable to hold onto it, and lost it in 1779. The Dhillon family's power brought them, some 30 years later after Hari Singh Dhillon, into conflict with their neighboring Sikh Chieftains. They were eventually defeated by an alliance of rival Sikh misls, led by the young 19 years old Ranjit Singh Sukerchakia the Sikh Chief of Gujranwala.

References

The Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of Sikh Misls. Edition:2001