Maharaja Sahib Singh, who was born on August 18, 1773, was a young boy of a little more than Seven at the time of his accession to the throne in 1781. Through the influence of Rani Hukman, the grandmother of the young Raja, Diwan Nanu Mai was appointed Prime Minister.

Soon after his accession the young chief had to face rebellions at Bhawanigarh by its governor Mahan Singh, the brother of Mai Deso, step-mother of Raja Sahib Singh, at Kot Sumer, headed by Rajo, the widow of Bakhsho Singh of Saboka and at Bhikhi by Ala Singh, brother of Raja Amar Singh’s widow. Rani Khem Kaur. All these rebellions were suppressed by Nanu Mai by his timely and adequate action.

Rani Hukman’s death gave a set-back to the position of Diwan Nanu Mai. The Diwan’s enemies, Rani Khem Kaur, Soman Lai Dhali, Bibi Pardhan Kaur, grand-aunt of Raja Sahib Singh, and some others got him arrested as he was lying at Anandpur where he was wounded by Khurram Beg, and sent him a prisoner to Patiala. Rani Rajinder Kaur of Phagwara, a first cousin sister of Raja Amar Singh, came to Patiala and got Nanu Mai released and reinstated in his post as Prime Minister.

Nanu Mai, finding that he could not depend upon the support of the Patiala nobles, to restore order, opened negotiations with Dhara Rao, a Maratha leader, who had been moving about near Delhi. Some Sikh chiefs as Baghel Singh, Diwan Singh Ladwa, Bhanga Singh and Mehtab Singh of Thanesar had joined Dhara Rao. Baghel Singh arranged matters with the Marathas who consented to assist Nanu Mai for a consideration of two lakh rupees against those who had revolted against the Patiala state. Dhara Rao came to Karnal and was joined by Nanu Mai, Rani Rajinder Kaur and Raja Gajpat Singh of Jind. The opponents and rebels of the state got frightened. The Patiala allies attacked Banur. It was under Singhpurias who had earlier been paying half share of the revenue to Patiala as Raja Amar Singh had helped them to conquer it. Khushal Singh, the Singhpuria chief, stopped the payment of Patiala share. Nanu Mai, by forced contributions from the chiefs and the Zamindar of Banur and the adjoining areas, managed to pay the Marathas two lakh rupees as agreed. The Marathas returned to Karnal.

In 1787, Raja Sahib Singh was married to Rattan Kaur, daughter of Sardar Ganda Singh of Bhangi.

In 1788, another Maratha leader, Amba Rao, assisted by Ghulam Qadir Khan, son of Zabita Khan Rohilla, invaded the territory of Patiala but could not achieve much as the Rohilla chief had retired towards Delhi probably after a quarrel with the Maratha invader.

When Raja Sahib Singh was fourteen years of age, on the instigation of some of his men, he began to hate Nanu Mai bitterly.The Marathas again marched northwards, under the command of Rane Khan Dadaji and Ali Bahadur. Patiala was their target. Nanu Mai advised the ladies at the palace to leave Patiala for Munak or Bafhinda. Rani Rajinder Kaur did not agree. 108 She asked Diwan Nanu Mai to negotiate with the invaders and if necessary to buy them off from his own pocket. The Diwan had no money to pay. The Maratha army appeared before Patiala and encamped at Sular, less than three kms from the town. Nanu Mai was not able to pay sufficient amount to the Marathas. They besieged the fort of Saifabad known as Bahadurgarh. The Marathas demanded na^arana which Rani Rajinder Kaur was not willing to pay. She sent her forces against them to Saifabad. After occasional skirmishes between the Marathas and the Patiala forces for a month and a half the Marathas retired to Delhi.

When Nanu Mai was accompanying the Marathas out of the Patiala state. Sahib Singh confiscated his property. When ‘Nanu Mai was returning from Karnal, he heard about the Raja’s action against him and took refuge with Karam Singh of Shahabad.

Rajinder Kaur, who had accompanied the Marathas to Mathura to settle things with Scindia himself, came back to find Raja Sahib Singh turned against her due to the instigation of the Raja’s supporters that her growing power was a danger to his safety and dignity. Despite her serious attempts to see Sahib Singh he persistently avoided her. She took it as an insult and took to bed and died in Patiala after a short illness, in 1791. “Rani Rajinder Kaur was one of the most remarkable women of her age. She possessed all the virtues which men pretend are their own — courage, perseverance, and sagacity — without any mixture of the weakness which men attribute to women.

Nanu Mai, losing all hope to re-establish his position, died at Malerkotia in 1792. Sahib Singh called his sister. Sahib Kaur, to Patiala. She was married to Jaimal Singh Kanaihya of Fatehgarh near Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district, and proclaimed her as his Prime Minister, 114 at the age of 18. She managed the affairs both in office and in the battle-field most successfully. As an administrator, general and diplomat she was in no way less than her aunt, Rani Rajinder Kaur.

When she was at Patiala, her husband, Jaimal Singh, was imprisoned by his cousin, Fateh Singh. At the head of a strong contingent, she hurried to Fatehgarh and after a vehement assault she got her husband released and restored to him the charge of Fatehgarh.

In 1794, a large Maratha force under Anta Rao and Lachhman Rao, crossed the Jamuna and marched towards Patiala. Sahib Kaur, at the head of 7000 men, marched to meet the Marathas near Muradpur, leaving her brother. Raja Sahib Singh, in his ^anana {harem) at Patiala. Even in the face of heavy odds she did not lose heart and inspired her soldiers to victory against the Marathas who were much larger in number and superior in equipment. The invaders retired towards Karnal. Sahib Kaur’s role was indeed noble and exemplary. In character, in statesmanship and in bravery she occupied a very prominent place.

In due course of time, Sahib Singh started showing coldness towards Sahib Kaur. She was charged of having kept the elephant given by the Raja of Nahan in return for the services rendered by her in restoring order in the state. It was also alleged that she had built, in 1795, a fort near Sunam, in her jagir, without her brother’s permission Sahib Kaur left Patiala in disgust and went to Bharian, where her new fort stood. The Raja wanted her to go to her husband at Fatehgarh but she was not prepared to submit. Sahib Singh led his forces against her but some courtiers made him return telling him as to how bad it would look to attack his sister. During the period of her illness Sahib Kaur is said to have come to Patiala of her own in 1799, and died there a few days later, at the young age of 26.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited Patiala in July 1806, to mediate between Sahib Singh and Jaswant Singh of Nabha, in a dispute over a village, named Doladi. Ranjit Singh visited Patiala again next year, that is, in 1807, on the invitation of Sahib Singh to resolve the dispute between the Raja of Patiala and his Rani Aus Kaur. On both the occasions. Sahib Singh gave a befitting reception to Ranjit Singh.

With the Treaty of Amritsar (25 April, 1809), concluded between Ranjit Singh and the East India Company, the cis-Saduj territories, including Sahib Singh’s state of Patiala, passed under the protection of the East India Company. Patiala came under the advice of a British Resident.

Sahib Singh’s state included the parganas of Bathinda, Hudiaya, Barnala, Sherpur, Sunam, Mansurpur, Dhodhian, Munak, Dirbah, Samana, Sanaur, Patiala, Ghanaur, Rajgarh, Murdanpur, Lalru, Rohru, Banur, Chhat, Sirhind, Payal, Amargarh, Lasoi and Ghurram.

Raja Sahib Singh suddenly fell ill and died on the 26 th of March 1813. 12 ” In the words of Albel Singh who was one of the favourite courtiers of Sahib Singh, “whether the Raja is an avtar or what he is; but though, at times, he is a fool and at others a madman, he yet sometimes possesses uncommon quickness, and whatever he determines on himself he pursues with uncommon obstinacy; and he often acts himself when he is supposed to be governed by others, and when, in fact, we dare not oppose him, lest he should suppose us inimical and rob us of our heads. The admitted loss or gain of lakhs or the ruin or prosperity of his country, are of no consideration in competition with his will or humour.” His contemporary writers held him subject to ‘habitual derangement of intellect.”

References :-

  • Ayid Muhammad Hasan Khan, op. tit, p. 120; Gian Singh, op. tit, p. 571.
  • Tazkirah -i-Phulkian, p. 42; Gian Singh, op. tit, p. 571.
  • Ibid., pp. 42-44, Bute Shah, op. tit, pp. 269-71; Lepel Griffin, op. tit, pp. 52-53; Sayid Muhammad Hasan Khan, op. tit, pp. 120-23.
  • Ibid., pp. 45.46; Bute Shah, op. tit, IV, p. 272; Lepel Griffin, op. tit, p. 55; Say id Muhammad Hasan Khan, op. tit, pp. 125-26; Gian Singh, op. tit, pp. 572-73; Muhammad Latif, op. tit, p. 328.
  • Lepel Griffin, op. tit, p. 59; Gian Singh, op. tit, p. 575; Sayid Muhammad Hasan Khan, op. tit, p. 137.
  • Ibid., pp. 57-59; Sayid Muhammad Hasan Khan, op. tit; pp. 145-146; Gian Singh, op. tit., p. 577- 78.
  • Ibid., p. 62; Bute Shah, op. tit, IV, pp. 284-85; Sayid Muhammad Hasan Khan, op. tit., p. 149
  • History of the Sikhs book.
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