His Early Life

There was a Jat Zamindari, named Sadhana, of Kang sub-caste. He lived in Kang village which was situated on the bank of a rivulet called Kang Chella or baen.”He had two sons, Chaudhari Amrika Singh and Chaudhari Bhumia Singh. After Sadhana’s death both of his sons engaged themselves in the profession of agriculture like their father and cultivation of land was the main source of their livelihood. In due course of time, Tara Singh was born to Amrika and Dharam Singh and Kapur Singh were born to Bhumia. At the time of his death in 1807, Tara Singh was said to be 100 years old. So, we can approximately fix his birth in 1707-08. When Tara Singh was still in his childhood, hardly four years of age, his mother died and his father married another woman who treated Tara Singh shabbily and often gave him flogging.

When Tara Singh grew up into a young man he purchased a few goats and sheep and also made available his services as a shepherd to other Zamindaris and started living by the megare income that he had from his calling. There was a rivuler flowing by the side of his village. Before rainy season he improvised a bridge with ropes and pieces of wood covered with earth to pass his cattle over it to the other side for grazing. With this device he would cross over to the other side ofthe stream with his herd and disappear in the jungle. This carned him the title of Ghaiba.” He passed his carly days in difficulty and poverty.

One day, it so happened that Salima (or Sulaiman) Gujjar, a notorious robber, forcibly took away all the sheep of Tara Singh whose only property was these cattle. He got extremely upset and told the robber that he had nothing else to lay back upon except his goats and sheep and he would not be able to live without them. Salima took pity on him and offered to return one goat. On Tara Singh’s repeated requests the robber left five goats for him and took away the rest.When Tara Singh came to his house he found that he did not have food even for a single day and had no utensils except a brass plate. At this very time, the pyada (foot-soldier) of the Tehsildar came to Tara Singh’s house to realise revenue from him. Since Tara Singh had nothing except a plate with him the pyada took away the plate. This condition of utter helplessness drove Tara Singh out of his home and he reached the village of Dallewal, adjacent to the town of Sultanpur. He took pahul from Gurdyal , Khatri of Malanh sub-caste, who lived at Dallewal  and, then, joined Gulab Singh.

Tara Singh joined Dal Khalsa

Many people, including Man Singh, Sucha Singh and Dan Singh, who were the real brothers and sons of Tara Singh’s sister, joined him. They hailed from Majha. Their parents had already died. The three brothers came to Kang village and lived on petty income they earned from manual labour. Charat Singh Kandhranwala, who was a Kang Jat, also joined Tara Singh. They all unitedly came out to seek fortunes for themselves.During the rule of Adeena Beg, when Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India, one day, the four comrades — Tara Singh Ghaiba, his cousin Dharam Singh, Tara Singh Kakar and Sujan Singh Badesha Of Dhandowal , sat by the bank of a stream called Baen which flowed adjacent to the village of Kang. It so happened that four swars of the Durrani army, loaded with huge booty, lost their way and came over to the place where the above mentioned four persons were sitting. The swars were in search of a place from where they could safely cross the stream. They requested Tara Singh Ghaiba to help them cross the Baen. He knew the ford. But he took them to the place where the water was very deep and told them that that place was safe and convenient for crossing the rivulet. They asked the Sikhs to cross the Baen first which they did by swimming. When the Afghans entered the water they found it difficult to cross because of its depth. They requested the Sikhs to take their goods and horses to the other side of the stream. Tara Singh and his companions considered it the best opportunity to dispossess the Afghans of their booty. After crossing the Baen, with the horses and the goods of the Afghans, these Sikhs decamped, leaving the enemies physically unhurt. Reaching their village they divided the booty among themselves.

He Launched upon Territorial Conquests

With this booty they became rich and purchased more horses. Tara Singh gathered around him another ten or fifteen men and they declared themselves independent of the chief of that place. During the Baisakhi days Tara Singh, accompanied by his comrades, went to Amritsar and offered his services to Ahluwalia and Singhpuria leaders and launched upon territorial conquests. In a short time, he gathered two hundred swars in his contingent. The prominent comrades of Tara Singh included Sujan Singh Badesha Of Dhandowal, Tara Singh Kakra, Dharam Singh and Kanwar Singh Kang who headed twenty swars each. All of them were under the overall command of Tara Singh Ghaiba.

Tara Singh, then, captured Dakhni from the Afghans of Jalandhar and farmed it out to Sharaf-ud-Din, its former chief. Some time later, he was removed from that place and Tara Singh brought it under his direct control. Then, he occupied Rahon and made it his headquarters. A little later, Phillaur and its surrounding areas were also conquered. The Rajputs of Nakodar were also defeated and the place was annexed. In the battle of Nakodar, Sujan Singh Badichah was killed. As blood-money, Tara Singh took over Kot Saida and sixty other places which he gave to Sujan Singh’s son Mehar Singh and his (Sujan Singh’s) two brothers — Man Singh and Dan Singh. Tara Singh was in possession of most of the area around Nakodar and his cousin Dharam Singh received Sohian and eighty other villages. Charat Singh occupied Kandharan and twelve other villages. Thus, all the relatives and his prominent companions became possessors of territories and armed contingents. But all of them were under Tara Singh. In due course of time, he occupied Kot Badal Khan and Mehtapur. Tara Singh married three wives. His first marriage was solemnised with Raj Kaur, in the village of Mokha, which was situated in the jungle area. Tara Singh made arrangements for her stay at Dakhni in Jalandhar doab. A son, named Dasondha Singh, was born to her. When Dasondha Singh grew of age be became refractory and raised the banner of revolt at Dakhni-All the wealth that Tara Singh had collected through his conquests had been treasured at Dakhni. Dasondha Singh took possession of the entire wealth stored there.

Tara Singh collected all his followers, including the ^amindars of the area and the Rai of Ahmad Kot and besieged Dakhni but the place could not be conquered. Ultimately, through the mediation of other Sardars reconciliation was brought about between the father and the son. Thus, Dasondha Singh remained in occupation of Dakhni and its taaluqa. Nakodar, Mehtapur, Malanh, Kot Badal Khan and an adjoining taaluqa were given to his second wife, named Rattan Kaur whom Tara Singh had married from Dooda Matta. She was the daughter of Gurdas Singh. Rattan Kaur produced a son, named Jhanda Singh, and a daughter.

Ghungrana, along with an adjoining taaluqa, was conferred on his third wife, Rajinder (Kaur), who was the daughter of a Jat, named Dargahi, resident of Narangwal. Dargahi belonged to Raipurian’s tribe. Tara Singh’s son Gujjar Singh, was born to Rajinder (Kaur). One fourth of the Ghungrana district was conferred on the Raipurias. Rahon, Nawanshahar, Dharamkot and the other areas remained under Tara Singh. One fourth of the taaluqa of Rahon was given to the Rajputs who were its old owners.

On his way to Anandpur to attend hola festival in March 1763, Tara Singh plundered, near Morinda, a government convoy going to Sirhind.

In the plunder of Kasur, in May 1763, he obtained cash and jewellery worth four lakh rupees. At the fall of Sirhind in January 1764, Tara Singh acquired the possession of Ramuwala and Mari in Moga tehsil and he built forts at both of these places.

In the Ganga Doab and at Delhi

Tara Singh actively participated in most of the Sikh incursions in the Ganga Doab, Rohilkhand and Delhi in the company of Rai Singh Bhangi of Buria and Baghel Singh Karorsinghia. On April 22, 1775, they crossed the Jamuna at the Begi Ghat. They realised money from Kunjpura, Lakhnauti, Gangoh, Ambehta, Deoband and Ghausgarh. On their way towards Delhi they plundered Barah Sadat, Shamli, Kairana, Kandhla and Mirath. They set fire to Paharganj and Jaisinghpura on 15 July 1775, In March 1783, he was at Delhi along with other Sikh Sardars. He brought two guns from the Red Fort and kept them at Rahon. He helped Baghel Singh in constructing seven Gurdwaras at Delhi.

Tara Singh’s Relations with Patiala

Tara Singh Ghaiba maintained cordial relations with the Patiala house. He helped Maharaja Amar Singh Of Patiala in suppressing the revolt of Prince Himmat Singh in 1765. In 1777, Kanwar Himmat Singh’s daughter Chand Kaur was married to Tara Singh’s son, Dasondha Singh. The marriage party comprising 12,000 men stayed at Patiala for ten days. It cost the state five lakh rupees. In 1778, Tara Singh helped Raja Amar Singh in repelling the attack of Hari Singh Sialba and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. In 1779, when Nawab Majad-ud-Doulah Abdul Ahad, minister of Delhi, planned to conquer Malwa territory Raja Amar Singh invited Tara Singh Ghaiba, along with some other Sikh chiefs, to help him against Abdul Ahad. Tara Singh came to Patiala at the head of 15,000 troops. The Nawab was frightened to hear of the combined force of the Sikh Sardars and beat a retreat to Delhi. In April 1 789, Mahadaji Sindhia sent an expedition under Rane Khah who attacked Patiala. Tara Singh strongly opposed him and made him retreat to Delhi. Tara Singh also helped the rulers of Patiala against the Bhattis of Bhatinda. He also supported Phulkian chiefs against George Thomas in 1799.

Ranjit Singh Occupied Rahon

When Tara Singh was growing very old Ranjit Singh was on his way to carving out a kingdom. The Maharaja had planned to annex the Sikh Misals and the Muslim principalities of the Punjab. Tara Singh’s Misal could be no exception to it. When Ranjit Singh crossed over to the cis- Satluj areas in 1807, with territorial designs in his mind, Tara Singh accompanied him there, along with his contingent, and participated in the batde of Naraingarh, when he was about hundred years old. 30 Naraingarh was conquered and handed over to the Ahluwalias. Tara Singh died at Naraingarh. 31 His men secredy and hurriedly brought the dead body to Rahon and cremated it there. Ranjit Singh, at the head of his army, came to Rahon to mourn the death of Tara Singh. He waited upon Tara Singh’s widow, Rattan Kaur, and said, “Tara Singh was my father and you are my mother. He was also my teacher as I learnt the art of using arms from him. I have come for condolence.” Rattan Kaur made an offering of an elephant, five horses and six lakh rupees to him. 32 The Maharaja wanted to go inside the fortress at Rahon and occupy it but Tara Singh’s widow did not allow him to do so. Fighting started from both sides and Ranjit Singh’s forces met with terrible resistance. In the words of Cunningham, “The widow of the aged leader equalled the sister of the Maharaja of Patiala in spirit, and she is described to have girded up her garments, and to have fought, sword in hand, on the battered walls of the fort of Rahon.” Ultimately, some servants of Tara Singh treacherously opened the gate of the fort from inside and Ranjit Singh’s forces entered it. 34 The dependants of Tara Singh were deprived of most of their possessions. Thirty five lakhs of rupees in cash and large quantities of gold and jewellery and other valuable goods fell into the hands of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Tara Singh’s family was reduced to a state of sheer penury. Khushwaqat Rai writes that the family of Tara Singh was ruined {khandan-i-o ra barbad kard). i5 Dakhni was left with Dasondha Singh and Nakodar and Mehatpur with his brother Jhanda Singh.  Gujjar Singh possessed the pargana of Ghungrana.

Tara Singh’s Character

Tara Singh was a God-fearing man and always kept the welfare of his subjects uppermost in his mind. The peasants, during his time, passed their days in peace and plenty. He ruled his possessions for a long time and reached 100 years of age. He took very simple diet. Hs always wore kachha or half trousers. He was an outstanding man among other Sardars. He never wore doshala (a precious shawl) rather he used only a dhusa (. a rough blanket). He put on his feet simple leather shoes. He was a man of unostentatious habits and was humorous in his disposition There is a very interesting story about Tara Singh’s relations with a woman who left him due to his sheer poverty. She married another man. When Tara Singh created a principality for himself, the village, in which that woman was living with her new husband, cams under him. Once, it so happened that Tara Singh, when on a hunting expedition, passed by that village. The woman, along with some other women, was drawing water from a well outside the main gate of the village. Tara Singh recognised her from some distance. He galloped his horse to the well and asked her if she had recognised him. On her reply in the affirmative he asked about her new husband and children, if any. She told him that her husband was a goldsmith and she was mother of two sons. Tara Singh asked her to call her sons there which she did. Tara Singh gifted two horses to the young boys and took them along. That village was given away in jagir to the woman.

When Tara Singh’s derah (camp) reached Rahon the Rujputs of that place enquired about the young recruits. His men narrated the whole story. Ranjeh Khan and Pannu Khan, who were very informal with Tara Singh, enquired of him as to what relationship with the boys had placed them under his favours. This favour, they told him, was an act of shamefulness and it would make him a butt of public mockery. Thus, on the suggestion of the Rajput Sardars of Rahon, Tara Singh asked the young boys to go home and live on- the revenue of their village. They were promised more concessions also. The horses they were riding on were conferred on them. This shows how sensitive Tara Singh was to public criticism. He would immediately undo an act that, would bring disgrace to him and his position. If a bare-headed peasant, with tattered clothes, appeared in his presence, he called and seated him by his side on the cot and asked him as to what problems he was facing. If out of Sardar’s awe and fear that peasant tried to hide his difficulties Tara Singh would insistently ask him if he had been harassed by his mutsaddis. Tara Singh would not get satisfied until he was sure that the peasant was happy and had no problem from his officials.

Tara Singh was a zealous Sikh and believed in converting people to Sikhism by love and goodwill. He was always liberal and generous to the people who needed his help. He had opened langars (free mess) in all the villages under him, for the poor and the needy. 40 He was respected by all the Sardars including Ranjit Singh who called him Babaji.

Many people were drawing subsistence allowance during his time. Most of the pirs and faqirs, who had jagirs bestowed upon them by the state since long, continued to avail themselves of the grants under Tara Singh also. He had identified himself with the peasantry. A Rajput Farmer, Bhikhan Khan, who realized one fourth of the revenue of his village under Tara Singh, died issueless. Tara Singh visited the widow to condole Bhikhan Khan’s death. He offered her five ashrafis as a mark of mourning and told her that she would continue to receive one fourth of revenue of the village as was received by her husband. The widow offered a filly to him but he refused to accept it telling her that he was a big Jat and it would be shameful for him to receive a gift from a widow and also said that the people would say that the Sardar who came to condole her husband’s death took away the filly — the only property left with the poor woman.  This shows his attitude towards his subjects and his regard for the public opinion.

There is another incident on record that emphasises the same quality of his character. After the solemnisation of the marriage of his daughter his mutsaddis {munshis) suggested to him that all the Jagirdari of Rahon and Bharatgarh, who were mostly the Muslim Rajputs and Gujjars and some of them the Hindus, should be called to him and asked to make an offering to him according to their status, as a neonda (marriage cess). The ^amindars assembled at Rahon and presented themselves to the Sardar and made a submission that he was the ruler of a state and petty contribution from them was nothing for him and the demand had made them astonished and perturbed. He laughed and told his munshis that he had earlier expressed to them his apprehension regarding the feasibility of their proposal. He knew that the people would not like it. He immediately excused them of the payment of the proposed marriage-cess. He, then, invited all the eight hundred Zamindari assembled there to his diwan-khana (an audience-hall). He distributed pots, containing sweets, to all of them and kept a plate of sweets for himself. He told them that unless all of them ate the sweets he would not partake any from his plate. His request was complied with. Many more such instances can be quoted from his life.

His territory was thickly populated. The ^amindars were supposed to give one fourth or one fifth of their produce as state share. But generally they gave one tenth of the produce. Besides the ^amindars all the Mahajans and craftsmen also lived in peace and prospZaminda

Tara Singh’s Successors

When Dasondha Singh died his widow retained the possession of some places of Dakhni. Later, Sahib Singh Bedi occupied Dakhni. 44 Dasondha Singh’s wife, who succeeded to his property and territories after his death, was a woman of a low family. Before coming to Dasondha Singh’s harem she was the wife of a gardener, named Husain. Her name was Saheli. She was an extremely beautiful woman. Sahib Singh Bedi did not like the Sikh territories coming into the hands of such a woman. He planned to dispossess her of her territory. He asked her to admit a few of his men into the fort of Dakhni and in that event, it would be declared to have come under his protection. This would save her from the onslaught of Ranjit Singh. She accepted the proposal and, shortly later, more of Sahib Singh’s men entered the fort and drove out her men from there and occupied it. She was also deprived of her wealth. Ranjit Singh took over Nakodar and Mehatpur from Jhanda Singh who was left with four villages for his subsistence. Two villages were conferred on him by Ranjit Singh. One of these villages was Sharakpur near Nakodar, half of which was in the hands of the Akalis. The second village named Sarhala, near Batala, was conferred by Rani Sada Kaur on Jhanda Singh and the third was Lehalke near Batala and fourth one, Lai Chappar, situated on the bank of river Jamuna, was given to Dulcha Singh because Inder Kaur, wife of Dulcha Singh, was the daughter of the brother of Rattan Kaur, wife of Tara Singh and mother of Jhanda Singh. 1 Later, when Jhanda Singh’s position became financially unsound he became a trader and a businessman. He built a pucci haveli at Amritsar and pursued the profession of trade very vigorously.

Tara Singh’s third son, Gujjar Singh, was in possession of the taaluqa of Ghungrana. Ranjit Singh occupied the fort of Ghungrana, driving Gujjar Singh out. He lost all his territory. He went to Sahib Singh, ruler of Patiala, and lived on his generosity. Sahib Singh conferred four villages on him. Due to some domestic dispute he was left with only two villages and the other two were given over to his wife. Tara Singh’s two wives. Raj Kaur and Rajinder Kaur, died earlier and his third wife, Rattan Kaur, lived for a long time. Rattan Kaur sometimes lived with her son, Jhanda Singh, and sometimes at Ludhiana where she received a monthly allowance of thirty rupees sanctioned by Ochterlony. Later, she died at Ludhiana.

The subordinates and Misaldars of Tara Singh maintained their positions. The Badichahs of Kot Siad, Kakras of Phillaur, Dharam Singh Kang of Lohian, Kanwar Singh and his sons, Vir Singh and Hari Singh of Kankana, kept their former positions in their respective areas. Since they came under the overlordship of Ranjit Singh they were obliged to offer Parganas to him which had reduced their financial position considerably. According to Bute Shah, Tara Singh maintained an army of two thousand horsemen and his territory yielded to him an annual income of twenty five lakh rupees. “Dallewalia Misal had a sizeable territory on both sides of river Satluj. Tara Singh bad placed under his control one hundred and fifty three villages of Rai Ibrahim on the east and west of Satluj. His possessions on the west of Satluj included Kang in Doaba Bist Jalandhar, Lohian, Rasapur, Kotshah, Qila Mohar Singh, Qila Dayal Singh, Pasla, Kot Bawal Khan, Nakodar, Qila Mehatpur, Qila Dakhani, district Phillaur, Nawanshahar, Rahon, Moran and Kang Sani Goharwala. His territories on the east of Satluj, adjoining Sirhind, included Morinda, Khamanon, Machhiwara, Bharatgarh, Fatehgarh, Singhan Sothiwala and Singhan Bariwala.

Besides these places mentioned by Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Hari Ram Gupta has included many more places under the Dallewalia Misal in the cis-Satluj region as: Akalgarh, Arnauli, Awankot, Bahrampur, Bangar, Barara, Berian, Chanderi, Dharamkot, Dharamsinghwala, Ghungrana, Indri, Kaifhal, Kakrala, Khairabad, Khizarabad, Korali, Maccholi, Mustafabad, Nurpur, Pundri, Ramuwala, Ropar, Shahkot, Sialba, Sidhuwal, Tihara and Wadni, and in the Jalandhar Doab region as: Garhdiwala, Garhshankar, Haibatpur, Taiwan and Takhtgarh.

Tara Singh was the only renowned ruler of Dallewalia Misal.

Tara Singh Kakra and his Descendants

According to Bute Shah, Tara Singh Kakra also belonged to the Dallewalia Misal. Originally he hailed from the Kang village and was a Jat Jagirdar of Kang sub-caste like Tara Singh Ghaiba. The Kakra is said to have murdered a panch, named Labha who had insisted on the payment of land revenue He had redish (kaki) beard which earned him the title of Kakar or Kakra (a man with a redish beard). His father, Mai Singh, lived on cultivation and Tara Singh Kakra was one of his parents’ four sons.

At the time of the Sikh Jat invasion of Kasur Tara Singh Kakra was also with the Sikh army. He got a lot of booty with which he created a contingent of horsemen. When Tara Singh Ghaiba occupied the taalvqas of Rahon and Nakodar Tara Singh Kakra placed the taaluqa of Phillaur under his control. He also took possession of some villages in the bet (area situated on the bank of river Satluj), including the village of Nurpur.

Labha, the panch of village Kang, who had been murdered by Tara Singh Kakra, was a relative of Tara Singh Ghaiba. It led to the ouster of the Kakra from all his possessions. Tara Singh Kakra had earlier received a serious wound in his thigh in the battle of Sirhind. When he recovered from the wound he went to Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali and there he met Jassa Singh Ahluwalia who got him back his taaluqa from Tara Singh Ghaiba.  Jai Singh and Ram Singh of Khamanon, who originally belonged to the village of Kang, also joined Tara Singh Kakra. After the plunder of Sirhind Tara Singh occupied the taaluqas of Kotla and Kakrala. Jai Singh took possession of the taaluqa of Khamanon and the adjoining villages. Tara Singh gave one village each in the Kang district to his brothers Himat and Baka. They lived like Zamindari.

Tara Singh Kakra died in A.D. 1784 (BK 1841) and left behind a son, named Sudha Singh. Since Sudha Singh was of young age Tara Singh’s brother Kapur Singh succeeded him, who gave half of the taaluqa to his nephew Sudha Singh. After the death of Sudha Singh his son Megh Singh succeeded to his father’s estate. Later, Megh Singh and Kapur Singh were dispossessed of their territory by Ranj it Singh and were given some villages for their subsistence. Sarai Phillaur remained in the bands of Megh Singh for some time. Ranjit Singh sent Diwan Mohkam Chand to Phillaur and concluding an agreement with Megh Singh not to interfere in his possessions any more, got Lahore Durbar’s thana established at Sarai Phillaur.  Megh Singh served the Lahore Durbar army as a colonel. He got a big house constructed at Ludhiana also where he, sometimes, came to stay with the permission of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Kapur Singh died in A.D. 1816 (BK 1873). Kapur Singh’s son, Gujjar Singh, also served the Maharaja. Once, when Gujjar Singh was at Attock, along with his contingent, he came back without the permission of Kanwar Sher Singh. The Maharaja ordered the confiscation of his “Jagir”.

Megh Singh died at his house in Ludhiana on April 20, 1839.

References :-

  • History of the sikhs vol 4 by Hari ram Gupta
  • Kanaihya Lai, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Lahore, 1877, p. 103; Gian Singh, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, II, Patiala reprint, 1970, p. 250; cf, Muhammad Latif, History of the Punjab, Calcutta 1891, p. 321.
  • Kanaihya Lai, op. tit., p. 103.
  • Gian Singh, op. tit., p. 250; cf, Gian Singh, op. tit, p. 250; Muhammad Latif, op. tit, reprint Lahore. 1916, p. 121.
  • Gian Singh, op. tit, p. 250.
  • Bute Shah, Tarikh-i-Punjab, Daftar lV, MS., Dr Ganda Singh’s personal collection. Patiala, p. 69; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibratnama, Vol. I, (1854), Lahore, 1961, pp. 317-18.
  • Bute Shah, op. tit., p. 69.
  • Khushwaqat Rai, Tawarikh-i-Sikhan, MS., Ganda Singh’s personal Collection, Patiala, p. 71; Bute Shah, op. tit, p. 69; Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. tit, I, p. 318; Gian Singh, op. tit, p. 252; Kanaihya Lai, op. tit, p. 104.
  • Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. tit, I, p. 318. According to Khushwaqat Rai, Tara Singh began to be called Ghaiba from the day he attacked the town of Jawalapur near Hardwar. People of that place believed that he had mysteriously appeared from an invisible and unknown place (ghaib), Tawarikh-i-Sikhan, MS., GS, p. 72.
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