Overview for The Real Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh was of the stuff that legendary characters are made of, and legend has claimed him for its own. He continues to live and grow in the people's imagination, and it has been history's unceasing task to make his historical personality live up to its legendary counterpart. There was that about him which makes men more memorable that their achievements. Men's achievements date; but if there is something about the men themselves, something besides their achievements, which is worth preserving, the memory of mankind sees to it that it is preserved; and it has other means of doing so besides history. History is after all concerned primarily with events and deals with men only as they appear in the events - as counters on the chequer-board of politics and not as creatures of flesh and blood. As creatures of flesh and blood, some of them prove larger than history. Ranjit Singh was such a one. As achievements go, Ranjit Singh's were remarkable by any standard. Heir to one of many pretty chiefdoms that had sprung up on the ruins of the Mughal Empire, he rose to be the ruler of a powerful state extending from Tibet to Sind and from the Kyhber Pass to the Sutlej. He was a rival as well as a friend and ally - both feared and respected - to the British power in India, which held sway over the rest of the sub-continent. He avenged the innumerable defeats, humiliations and depredations suffered by India over the centuries at the hands of Afghan invaders by reconquering part of the Indian territory wrested by them and, more than that, by being an arbiter in the fate of Afghanistan herself. These and other achievements of his have been recorded by historians in various ways: by some in an admiring, by others in a derogatory, and by still others - a small minority - in an impartial manner. No two accounts of them substantially agree about facts, places, persons, motives, etc. But, however they were recorded, they ceased to have more than an academic significance with the end of Sikh rule soon after Ranjit Singh's death. Since then the mist of time into which they have receded has been thickened by the mist of distance which veils a large part of their scene from the Sikhs. They have thus become mainly the concern of the professional historian. Not so the man behind them.
Fakir Syed Waheeduddin (Author)
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