Nawab Kapur Singh

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Nawab Kapur Singh (1697-1753)

Nawab Kapur Singh Virk (1697-1753) is considered one of the most revered, pivotal and legendary figures in Sikh history post 1716. Under his leadership decisions and courage, the Numerous Sikh community went through some of the darkest periods of its history, from 1716-1733, and 1735-1764.

The founding father of the Sikh Confederacy and Sikh Empire, he was also the founder of the Dal Khalsa. Alongside Banda Bahadur who dominated the seen before him, he laid the foundations of the Sikh Empire and the eventual over-through of the vicious Mughal Empire. Today, he is regarded by Sikhs to be of equal importance to Banda Singh Bahadur.

The period, starting from the massacre (in 1716) in Delhi of Banda, his son, seven hundred of his devoted army members and thousands of Sikhs taken captive or beheaded along the march to Delhi, was followed by severe action against the Sikhs by the rulers, including massacres of young men, women and children. However, every fresh adversity only stimulated the Sikhs' will to survive; after Banda, this fight against the oppressors was planned and led by Nawab Kapur Singh.

Many Sikh scholars of the Past and present have stated that had it not been for the leadership of Nawab Kapur Singh, that the entire numerous Sikh community of the time would not have survived and would have been completely decimated. Today, significant number of Sikhs commemorate and celebrate his birthday as a sign of respect and as a way to repay a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice. He led the Sikh Nation from 1733-1753, as the new Sikh Jathedar.


Nawab Kapur Singh was born into a Virk Jatt family in 1697, in the house of Chaudhary Dalip Singh Virk. His native village was Kaloke, now in Sheikhupura district, in Punjab (Pakistan). He had two younger brothers named Hamir Singh and Dan Singh, His father was the Chieftain of village Kaloke, from his childhood, his mother taught him about Gurbani. Kapur Singh was eleven years old at the time of Guru Gobind Singh's death and nineteen at the time of the massacre of Banda Bahadur and his followers in Delhi.

Later, when he seized the village of Faizullapur, not that far from Amritsar, he renamed it Singhpura and started living there. He is thus, also known as Kapur Singh Faizullapuria, and the small principality he founded, as Faizullapuria or Singhpuria.

Kapur Singh received baptism at a large gathering held at Amritsar on Baisakhi Day, 1721 from Bhai Mani Singh. His father, Dalip Singh, and brother, Dan Singh, were also among those who were baptized into the Khalsa fold on the same day.

Campaign against Zakarya Khan

Kapur Singh soon gained a position of eminence among the Sikhs, who were then engaged in a desperate struggle against the Imperial Mughal government. Zakarya Khan, who had become the Mughal governor of Lahore in 1726, launched a policy of aggressive persecution against the Sikh masses of Punjab.

Kapur Singh headed a band of Sikh warriors who, with a view to paralysing the administration and obtaining food for their companions. They were forced to seek shelter in the lakhi ('The forest of a hundred thousand trees') jungles of Central Punjab. From here, they launched a series of sudden surprise attacks on government treasuries and caravans moving from one place to another. Due to the success of these campaigns, such was the effect of their depredations that the governor was soon obliged to make terms with them.

The title of Nawab

In 1733, the Mughal government decided, at the instance of Zakarya Khan, to lift the quarantine forced upon the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. The title of Nawab was conferred upon their leader, with a jagir consisting of the three parganas of Dipalpur, Kanganval and Jhabal.

After some mutual discussion, the Sikhs accepted the offer. Kapur Singh was unanimously elected as the leader and chosen for the title. He was reluctant, but could not deny the unanimous will of the community.

As a mark of respect, he placed the robe of honour ('Siropa') sent by the Mughals at the feet of five revered Sikhs - Baba Deep Singh (Shaheedan Misl), Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia(Ramgarhia Misl), Bhai Hari Singh Dhillon (Bhangi Misl), Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Buddh Singh (great-great-grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whose son, Naudh Singh founded the Sukerchakia Misl)- before putting it on.

The dress included a shawl, a turban, a jewelled plume, a pair of gold bangles, a necklace, a row of pearls, a brocade garment and a sword.

The formation of the Dal Khalsa

Word was sent round to Sikhs passing their days in distant jungles and deserts that peace had been made with the government and that they could return to their homes. Nawab Kapur Singh undertook the task of consolidating the disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Jathas (groups).

They were merged into a single central fighting force (The Dal) divided into two sections - The Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and the Taruna Dal, the army of the young. Baron Hari Singh Dhillon was elected its leader of the younger warriors.

The former was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the word of the Gurus and inducting converts into the Khalsa Panth by holding baptismal ceremonies. The Taruna Dal was the more active division and its function was to fight in times of emergencies.

Nawab Kapur Singh's personality was the common link between these two wings. He was universally respected for his high character. His word was obeyed willingly and to receive baptism at his hands was counted an act of rare merit.

The rise of the Misls

Under its leader, Hari Singh, the Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000. To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it into five parts, each with a separate centre. The first batch was led by Baba Deep Singh Shaheed, the second by Karam Singh and Dharam Singh, the third by Kahan singh and Binod Singh of Goindwal, the fourth by Dasaundha Singh of Kot Budha and the fifth by Vir Singh Ranghreta and Jivan Singh Ranghreta.

Each batch had its own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state. The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective papers at the Akal Takht by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. From these documents or misls, the principalities carved out by them came to known as Misls. Seven more groups were formed subsequently and, towards the close of century, there were altogether twelve Sikh Misls ruling the Punjab replacing the Mughal rulers in many parts of this region.

The Singhpuria Misl

The founder of the Misl was Nawab Kapur Singh who was a great warrior. He fought many battles. The last battle that he fought was the battle of Sirhind. After the fall of Sirhind in 1763, a considerable portion of present-day Rupnagar District came under the Singhpuria Misl. These areas included Manauli, Ghanuli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machli, Bhareli, Bunga and Bela.

By 1769, the Singpuria Misl had the following territories in its possession:- Some parts of the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur in Doaba, Kharparkheri and Singhpura in Bari-Doab and Abhar, Adampur, Chhat, Banoor, Manauli Ghanauli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machhli Bhareli, Banga, Bela, Attal Garh and some other places in the province of Sirhind.

Lakhpat Rai

The entente with the Mughals did not last long and, before the harvest of 1735, Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force and occupied the Jagir. The Sikhs were driven out of Amritsar into the Bari Doab and then across the Satluj into Malwa by Diwan Lakhpat Rai, Zakarya Khan's minister. They were welcomed by Sardar Ala Singh of the Phulkian Misl of Malwa. During his sojourn in Malwa, Nawab Kapur Singh conquered the territory of Sunam and made it over to Ala Singh. He also attacked Sirhind and defeated the Mughal governor.

Nawab Kapur Singh led the Sikhs back to Majha to celebrate Diwali at Amritsar. He was pursued by Lakhpat Rai's army near Amritsar and forced to turn away. The Taruna Dal promptly came to his help. The combined force fell upon Lakhpat Rai before he could reach Lahore and inflicted a severe defeat. His nephew, Duni Chand, and two important Faujdars, Jamal Khan and Tatar Khan, were killed in the battle.

Government official informers

During the time when the Sikhs, were in struggle to reestablish the Sikh rule, in the Punjab, from between 1716-1753, It was also the time, when Local Chieftains, of villages, one would also call them Government spies, who were known as by the Sikhs as Government Official informers, used to inform the Mughal Governor of Lahore, Zakhriya Khan, about the whereabouts of the Sikhs, their were many Local Chief, spies, such as Harbhagat Niranjania of Jandiala, Guru Dharam Das Topi of Jodhnagar, Chaudhary Sahib Rai Sandhu of Naushera Dalla, Chaudhary Rama Randhawa of Talwandi, and Chaudhary Karma Chhina of Chhina, and the village heads of Naushehra Pannuan, and Majithia, these chieftains were the biggest enemy of the Sikhs, in those days, They got killed thousands of Sikhs, in the Punjab, mainly the Majha region of Punjab.

But the Sikhs still managed to fight on and by 1748, established, a Sikh rule known as the 12 Misls. The Chieftains of Naushera Dalla, Jandiala Guru, Talwandi, Chhina, Majithia, Naushehra Pannuan, lost their power, they blackened their own faces and put their names, in the list with along Aurangzeb. The Sikhs after a great struggle, managed to take control of the Punjab.

Nadir Shah

In the summer of 1739, Nadir Shah, the Persian invader, was returning home after plundering Delhi and Punjab. The Dal lay in wait, not far from the route he had taken. When he reached Akhnur, on the Chenab (in the present-day Jammu region), they swooped down upon the rear guard, relieving the invaders of much of their booty. On the third night they made an even fiercer attack and rescued from their hands, thousands of girls who were escorted back to their families. For a long part of the journey, the Sikhs pursued Nadir Shah in this manner.

Zakarya Khan's campaign continues

Zakarya Khan continued to carry out his policy of repression with redoubled zeal. A pitiless campaign for a manhunt was started. Sikhs heads sold for money and the Mughals offered a prize for each head brought to them. According to the historian, Ratan Singh Bhangu, "He who informed where a Sikh was received ten rupees, he who killed one received fifty."

To cut off the Sikhs from the main source of their inspiration, the Harmandir at Amritsar was taken possession of and guarded by Mughal troops to prevent them visiting it. Sikhs were then again living in exile in the Shiwalik hills, the Lakhi Jungle and in the sandy desert of Rajputana.

To assert their right to ablution in the holy tank in Amritsar, they would occasionally send riders, who, in disguise or openly cutting their way through armed guards, would reach the temple, take a dip in the tank and ride back with lightning speed.

Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force under Samad Khab to seek out the Sikhs. The force was defeated and their leader, Samad Khan who had been the target of the Sikhs' wrath since he had on June 24, 1734 executed Bhai Mani Singh was killed.

Nawab Kapur Singh now made a plan to capture Zakarya Khan. With a force of 2000 men all of whom were in disguise, he entered Lahore and went on to the Shahi Mosque where, according to intelligence received, the Mughal governor was expected to attend the afternoon prayer. But Zakarya Khan did not visit the mosque. Kapur Singh was disappointed at the failure of the mission. Throwing off the disguise and shouting their war cry of Sat Sri Akal, the Sikhs marched out of Lahore and vanished into the jungle.

The Chota Ghalughara

Meanwhile, Khan and his minister, Lakhpat Rai, again launched an all-out campaign and set forth with a large army. The Sikhs were brought to bay in a dense bush near Kahnuwan, in the Gurdaspur district. They put up determined fight, but were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy and scattered with heavy losses.

They were chased into hills; more than 7000 died. "To complete revenge" says Syed Mohammad Latif, another historian of the Punjab, "Lakhpat Rai brought 1000 Sikhs in irons to Lahore, having compelled them to ride on donkeys, bare-backed, paraded them in the bazars.

They were, then taken to the horse-market outside Delhi Gate, and there beheaded one after another without mercy." So indiscriminate and extensive was the killing that the campaign is known in Sikh history is known as the "Chhota Ghalughara" or the lesser holocaust. The "Wadda Ghalughara" or the greater holocaust was to come later.

Ahmed Shah Abdali

In 1748, a section of the Dal Khalsa under Charhat Singh Sukerchakia, grandfather of Ranjit Singh gave chase to the fleeing troops of Ahmad Shah Abdali.


Nawab Kapur Singh requested the community to relieve him of his office, due to his old age, and at his suggestion, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was chosen as the supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa. Kapur Singh died in 1753 at Amritsar and was succeeded by his younger brother, Hameer Singh.

Hameer Singh was succeeded by his son, Khushal Singh succeeded as leader of the misl. Sardar Khusal Singh played a significant role in expanding the territories of the Singhpuria Misl on both the banks of the Satluj river. The most important of the possession of Khushal Singh were Patti, Bhartgarh, Nurpur, Bahrampur and Jalandhar, Khushal Singh also occupied Ludhiana, through. He had to divide the district of Banur with Patiala. He died in 1795 leaving the misl structure stronger than ever it was and with territorial possessions and freedom for it people far larger than those he had inherited.

Khusal Singh was succeeded by his son Budh Singh. When Abdali returned home after his ninth invasion of India, the Sikhs had occupied more territories in the Punjab. Sheikh Nizam-ud-din was the ruler of Jalandhar at that time. Sardar Budh Singh defeated Nizam-id-din on the battle-field and occupied Jalandhar. He also took possession of Bulandgarh, Behrampur, Nurpur and Haibatpur-Patti. This victory brought him yearly revenue of three lakhs of rupees.

However, Budh Singh could not equal Khushal Singh's talents. The Singhpuria Misl began to decline and ultimately all its possessions on the west of Satluj were annexed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. On his possessions on the east of the Satluj, however, the British extended their protection to him.

Budh Singh died in 1816, leaving seven sons behind. His eldest son, Amar Singh, retained possession of Bhartgarh and divided the rest of the territories among his six brother as under:-

  • Bhopal Singh was given the estate of Ghanauli.
  • Gopal Singh: Manauli.
  • Lal Singh: Bunga.
  • Gurdyal Singh: Attalgarh.
  • Hardyal Singh: Bela
  • Dyal Singh: Kandhola.

The descendants of these Sardars still live on their respective estates.


The village of Kapurgarh in Nabha is named after Nawab Kapur Singh.

Samadh of Nawab kapur Singh

The great Sikh Warrior was cremated near Baba Atal Rai Gurdwara, near the banks of the Kaulsar Sarovar, at Amritsar. The Samadh existed in 1923, as a Photo was taken of it, by a Gurmukh. But after that the old building of the Samadh disappeared, and now the Samadh of Sultan Al Quam Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Stands their, and nothing is written about Nawab kapur Singh.

See also


  • 1. Bhangu, Ratan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1914
  • 2. Hoti, Prem Singh, Nawab Kapur Singh. Lndhiana, 1952
  • 3. Ganda Singh, Snrdar Jassa Singh AhluvaRa. Paliala, 1969
  • 4. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short Histmy of the Sikhs. Bombay, 1950
  • 5. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, vol. I. Princeton, 1963
  • 6. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983 H.R.G.

Preceded by:
Baba Darbara Singh
Nawab Kapur Singh Followed by:
Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Jathedars of oldest Sikh Regiment: Budha Dal

Panj Pyare | Baba Binod Singh | Baba Darbara Singh | Nawab Kapur Singh | Jassa Singh Ahluwalia | Baba Naina Singh | Akali Phula Singh | Baba Hanuman Singh | Jathedar Prahlad Singh | Jathedar Gian Singh | Jathedar Baba Teja Singh | Baba Sahib Ji Kaladhari | Jathedar Baba Chet Singh | Jathedar Santa Singh | Jathedar Balbir Singh (Disputed)