This section provide a UK geographical representation of places of particular interest to Anglo-Sikh History.

The British Library

Oriental and India Office Collections

96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
020 7412 7873
020 7412 7641

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest libraries.

The Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library were brought together in 1991. The new department has taken over, from the old Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, responsibility for the British Library's holdings in the languages of Asia and of north and north-east Africa covering the humanities and social and political sciences. The collections of the India Office Library and Records reflect the territorial interests and activities of the East India Company and the India Office, and include literature and documents on India, Pakistan, Burma, Bangladesh and neighbouring countries, Iran and the Gulf states, South Africa, St Helena, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and Japan.

The Oriental and India Office Collection contains the official records of the India Office (1784-1947), The East India Office (1600-1858), The Board of Control (1784-1858) and the Burma Office (1937-1948). Carefully preserved and fairly well catalogued the India Office Library contains the best English Language material on India. Sikh material includes photographs, military records and accounts, anthropological studies and numerous gazetteer entries.

The India Office Records are the documentary archives of the administration in London of the pre-1947 government of India. They comprise the archives of the East India Company (1600-1858), of the Board of Control or Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India (1784-1858), of the India Office (1858-1947), of the Burma Office (1937-1948), and of a number of related British agencies overseas. The India Office Records are administered by The British Library as part of the Public Records of the United Kingdom, and are open for public consultation under the provisions of the Public Record Acts and in accordance with regulations established by the Lord Chancellor.

In the department of Prints and Drawings are a large number of original paintings and studies of Sikhs in the period 1820-1930, both by Sikh and western artists.

Auckland Papers

Comprising private correspondence and letters of Lord Auckland, governor-general of India (1836-42), now available in the British Library and Museum, London, provide interesting sidelights on political affairs in the Punjab (1836-1841), Sindh and Afghanistan, and also furnish useful information on the military power of the Sikhs, and persons and politics at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Some of these letters were used by L J.Trotter in his Earl of Auckland (Oxford, 1893), and quite a few of them were published in the Journal and Correspondence of William Lord Auckland (London, 1861-62).

Of a total of eight volumes, six deal essentially with events leading to the first Anglo-Afghan war, the tripartite treaty among Ranjit Singh, Shah Shuja' and the British Government, and dispatches of Wade and other British officers who accompanied a British auxiliary force through the Punjab; under the nominal command of Shah Shuja's eldest son, Prince Taimur, to Afghanistan (MS. Volumes No. 37689-94).

The other two volumes contain Lord Auckland's private correspondence with Sir John Hobhouse, President of the Board of Control, revealing the rising tension between the Sikhs and the English, and tracing the course of events which ended in the disaster in Afghanistan. Detailed information is provided about the Russo-Persian threat to India and the measures taken to counteract it; Sikh designs on Sindh ; Sir Henry Fane's visit to Lahore; the Sikh-Afghan disputes and the British attitude; Ranjit Singh's war and peace aims; French influence at Lahore; Burnes' negotiations at Kabul and Ranjit Singh's reactions; danger of Sikh-Afghan conflict; various schemes for the subversion of Dost Muhammad's power and rehabilitation of Shah Shuja' with Sikh help; Auckland-Ranjit Singh meeting; Wade's transactions at Peshawar; Clerk's reports from Lahore; death of Ranjit Singh; Wade's recall from Ludhiana; death of Kharak Singh and Nau Nihal Singh; Sher Singh's overtures and conditions of British support; and Macnaghten's accusations against the Sikhs.



Variously titled as Twarikh-i-Sikkhan, Kitab-i-Tarikh-iSikkhan and Guzarish-i-Ahwal-i-Sikkhan, by Munshi Khushwaqt Rai, is a history in Persian of the Sikhs from their origin to AD 1811.

Khushwaqt Rai was an official news writer of the East India Company accredited to the Sikh city of Amritsar. It was written at the request of Col (afterwards General Sir) David Ochterlony, British political agent at Ludhiana on the Anglo-Sikh frontier. Opinion also exists that it was written at the suggestion of Charles Theophilus Metcalfe. Henry Prinsep and Capt Murray based their accounts of the Sikhs on this manuscript.

The British Library preserves a manuscript (No. Or. 187) under the title Kitab-i-Tarikh-i-Sikkhan ( in the Preface it is designated Guzarish-i-Ahwal-i-Sikkhan). The name of the author is not mentioned. Copies of the manuscript are also preserved at Punjab State Archives, Patiala, and at Khalsa College, Amritsar.

The manuscript (No. M/ 800) entitled Twarikh-i Ahwal-i-Sikkhan at the Punjab State Archives has 194 folios. The account begins with the birth of Guru Nanak in 1469, followed by lives of the succeeding Gurus, of the career and exploits of Banda Singh, the chiefs of the Ahluvalia, Phulkian and Kanhaiya mists, the hill chiefs of Kangra or the Katoch dynasty, and of the Sukkarchakkia misl. Events of the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. up to 1811 such as Holkar's arrival in the Punjab in 1805 and the conquests of Pathankot and Daska are described in some precise detail. The account closes with the arrival in 1811 of the Afghan embassy for a meeting with Ranjit Singh. Khushwaqt Rai's work furnishes considerable information on the early history of the Sikhs though it is not exempt from inaccuracies or personal prejudices. The account of Sikhs' rise to power is however factual and straightforward.

The manuscript remains unpublished. An Urdu translation, the only one known to exist, was discovered by Dr Ganda Singh in the armoury from under the debris after an accidental gunpowder explosion in Qila Mubarak at Patiala on 1 May 1950. The first 16 pages of the manuscript were missing. A Punjabi translation of the manuscript made by Milkhi Ram Kishan is preserved at the Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala. The manuscript awaits publication.


B40 Janam Sakhi

B40 JANAM SAKHI derives its name from the number attached to the manuscript in the catalogue of the India Office Library, London (MS. Panj B40). It consists of a unique collection of sakhis or anecdotes concerning the life of Guru Nanak, and, although it shares common sources with the Puritan and Adi Sakhiah traditions, it constructs a different sakhi sequence and incorporates a substantial block of stories which are to be found in none of the other major traditions. This cluster of anecdotes was evidently drawn from the oral tradition of the compiler's own area and includes all the principal janam sakhi forms such as narrative anecdote, narrative discourse, didactic discourse, and heterodox discourse. Another feature of particular interest and value is the inclusion of fifty-seven illustrations.

The manuscript is also distinguished by the unusually clear description which is provided of its origins. Two notes appended to the manuscript (folios 84b, 230b) relate that the Janam Sakhi, commissioned by a patron named Sangu Mall and written in the hand of Daya Ram Abrol and illustrated by Alam Chand, a mason, was completed on Bhadon sudi 3, 1790 Bk/ 31 August 1733. The manuscript is said to be a copy of some other now non-extant manuscript which might have originally been written subsequent to Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom (1675). This assumption is based on the fact that the manuscript makes no reference to Guru Gobind Singh or to his founding the Khalsa (1699) and historically the latest event to be mentioned is Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom.

The manuscript comprises 231 folios (with five folios numbering 15-18 and 23 missing) and has two apocryphal works entitled Madine di Gosti and Makke di Gosti conjointly entered under the title Makke Madine di Gosti after the table of contents which follow the text. Since the entry on Gosti is in a different ink and three more sheets have been added to complete the text of this Gosh, it clearly, is a later interpolation.

According to internal evidence, the manuscript may have been recorded in Gujranwala district or near about although there is no clear indication about its provenance. Nothing is known of the manuscript's history since its completion in AD 1733 till 1907, although there is evidence which possibly indicates that the manuscript or a copy of it, may have been used in preparing Bhai Santokh Singh's Sri Gur Nanak Prakash. In 1885, Professor Gurmukh Singh of Oriental College, Lahore, referred briefly and cryptically to a "Lahore Janam Sakhi" which had been recorded in 1790 Bk and in 1913 Karam Singh, historian, reported having once seen an illustrated Janam Sakhi bearing the same date "in the possession of a Muslim bookseller of Lahore." Both reports evidently refer to the B40Janam Sakhi which had meanwhile found its way to London. There it was purchased in 1907 for 10 pounds by the India Office Library from its owner, Hafiz 'Abd ur-Rahman.

At first sight the B40 manuscript appears to follow the Puritan tradition because its first eight sakhis have been drawn from a source which presented its material in the characteristically Puritan style; the source appears , in fact, to have been the same manuscript as the Hafizabad Janam Sakhi compiler used when recording his Puratan collection. From Sakhi 9 onwards, however, the B40 compiler chooses selectively from at least five different sources, four of them apparently in manuscript form and the fifth his local oral tradition. In addition to the manuscript which he shared with his Puratan analogue, he also shared a separate manuscript with the Adi Sakhian compiler. A Miharban source provided him with a small cluster near the end of his work and through the manuscript he has scattered six discourses of the heterodox variety.

The narrative structure imposed by its compiler is, for the most part, a rudimentary one. It retains its consistency for as long as he remains with his first source (the first eight sakhis), but little heed is paid thereafter to systematic order or chronology apart from the introduction of the death sakhi at the very end. The manuscript written in Gurmukhi script, has been edited by Piar Singh and published under the title Janam Sakhi Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (Amritsar, 1974). An English translation by W.H. McLeod has also been issued as The B40 Janam-Sakhi (Amritsar, 1979).



BENGAL SECRET AND POLITICAL CONSULTATIONS (1800-1834), a manuscript series of Indian records at the India Office Library, London.

This series contains, in full, correspondence and despatches on the early British relations with the Sikhs. Among the more important documents are despatches of the Resident at Delhi concerning the Sutlej region and Lord Lake's correspondence with the Malva Sikh chiefs (1804); correspondence relating to Holkar's intrusion into the Punjab, cis-Sutlej Sikhs, and general principles of British policy in the trans-Yamun aregion (1805); correspondence concerning Holkar and Ranjit Singh and the Anglo-Sikh treaty of 1806; correspondence relating to Ranjit Singh's Malva expeditions; Sutlej Sikh mission to Delhi; Ranjit Singh Minto correspondence; Metcalfe's despatches from Lahore; Treaty of Amritsar (1809); and despatches of Edmonstone, Ochterlony and Seton (1807-09). The correspondence on Sikh affairs after 1809 fades out in this series, but opens up again in 1831 and contains all relevant correspondence and despatches regarding the Anglo-Sikh relations till 1834 when this series was discontinued to be replaced by another named India Secret Proceedings.


BROUGHTON PAPERS are official and private papers of Sir John Cam Hobhouse (Lord Broughton) in numerous bound volumes in the British Library. Lord Broughton, British administrator, who served as President of the Board of Control of the East India Company from 1835-41, and again from 1846-52, was responsible for the Home Government's major policy decisions on the Punjab and the Sikhs.

The relevant volumes in the Broughton Papers dealing with the Punjab and the Sikhs, in general, are:

(1) MS. vol. XIV containing papers concerning the British attitude towards the Russo-Persian menace in 1836-38, which led to the signing of the Tripartite treaty between the British government, Shah Shuja and Ranjit Singh,in 1838.

(2) _MSS. vols. 36473-74 containing private correspondence of Lord Auckland with Sir John Hobhouse from 1835-41 throw fresh light on the British policy towards Afghanistan, Sindh and Lahore. The correspondence shows how Auckland was influenced by men like Macnaghten, Burnes and Wade to accept the scheme of resuscitating Saddozai power in Afghanistan with Ranjit Singh's help. Included in the correspondence is a report on the military strength of the Sikhs by Sir Henry Fane, the British commander-in-chief, who visited Lahore in March 1837 on the occasion of the marriage of the Maharaja's grandson, Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh.

The background to the Burnes Mission to Kabul in September 1837, its ultimate failure, and Ranjit Singh's suspicions that the British would appease the Afghans at the cost of the Sikhs are clear from the letters dated 5 August, 8 September and 9 October 1837. Schemes for the subversion of the authority of Dost Muhammad Khan, Auckland's decision in May 1838 to send a mission to the court of Ranjit Singh and the signing of the Tripartite treaty, furnish fresh data not found in the public records of the period.

(3) MS. vol. 36475 containing Lord Hardinge's private correspondence with Sir John Hobhouse relates to the period from May 1846 to February 1848. This correspondence is of particular relevance to understanding Hardinge's "political experiment" in the Punjab. It reveals that his avoidance of annexation after the first Anglo-Sikh war was really motivated to destroy the Sikhs as a political and military power. Also fresh light is thrown on Lal Singh's administration and the Kashmir revolt, which led to his expulsion from the Punjab. Hardinge's defence of his questionable deal with Gulab Singh regarding the sale of Kashmir, which aroused vehement Whig criticism in England is found in his letter of 7 June 1846. Events leading to the second treaty of Lahore (December 1846), which transformed the kingdom of Ranjit Singh into a British protectorate, are described with extraordinary candour.

(4) MSS. vols. 36476-77 include Lord Dalhousie's private correspondence with Sir John Hobhouse from 20 January 1848 to 3 March 1853. These volumes deal with the main events of Multan and Hazara revolts, the details of the second Anglo-Sikh war and the annexation of the Punjab. Sundry letters of the years 1849-53 refer also to events connected with the life of Maharaja Duleep Singh after his deposition. This correspondence proves beyond any doubt that Dalhousie allowed the Multan revolt to spread for five, months, refused any help to Herbert Edwardes to suppress the rebellion and, linking up the isolated Hazard uprising in the

northwest with it, indicted the Sikhs for a conspiracy to overthrow British power in the Punjab. He had already ordered Lord Hugh Gough, the British commander-in-chief, in April 1848, to assemble a large army for a full-scale invasion of the Punjab.

It is abundantly clear from these documents that the second Anglo-Sikh war was fought and precariously won without a formal declaration and the Punjab was annexed to the British empire without any positive directions from the government. The correspondence concerning the Sikhs and the Punjab in the Broughton Papers has been published vide B J. Hasrat (ed.), The Punjab Papers, Hoshiarpur, 1970.


Fatuhat Namah-I-Samadi

An unpublished Persian manuscript preserved in the British Library, London, under No. Or. 1870, is an account of the victories of Abd us-Samad Khan. Nawab Saif ud-Daulah Abd us-Samad Khan Bahadur Diler Jang was appointed governor of the Punjab by the Mughal Emperor Farrukh-Siyar on 22 February 1713, with the specific object of suppressing the Sikhs who had risen under Banda Singh commissioned by Guru Gobind Singh himself, shortly before his death, to chastise the tyrannical rulers of Punjab and Sirhind.

Abd us-Samad Khan immediately marched out and besieged Banda Singh in his stronghold of Lohgarh Fort, in the Sivalik foothills. The latter stood his ground for six months and then escaped into the hills in the beginning of October 1713. After destroying the Fort of Lohgarh, the Nawab turned his attention to the supression of the recalcitrant Kharal, Gondal, Bhati and Ranjha tribes of the bar area modern Faisalabad and Sheikhupura districts of Pakistan.

He had hardly started his campaign, when Banda Singh reappeared in the plains and captured Pathankot and Gurdaspur. As he was operating around Batala, north of Amritsar, Abd us-Samad Khan, with a 25,000 - strong force sent from Delhi and Sirhind to reinforce him, set out against him. Abd us-Samad's son, Zakariya Khan, then faujdar of Jammu, advanced from the north. Their combined troops moved swiftly. Banda Singh, unable to retire to the Fort of Gurdaspur, which he had lately strengthened and provisioned, took up position in a haveli, or walled house, with a large compound at Gurdas-Nangal, a village six kilometre west of Gurdaspur. The imperial army invested the house, blocking all possible routes of escape and cutting off all supplies of food and fodder. The siege continued for eight months, from April to early December 1715. Reduced to desperate straits, Banda Singh was captured on 7 December 1715.

The author of Fatuhat Namah-i-Santadi, Ghulam Muhiy ud-Din, who had taken part in the siege of Gurdas-Nangal, gives an eye-witness account of several such happenings covering the period 1713-22. The work, according to the chronogram given in the preface, is dated AH 1135/AD 1722-23. What makes the manuscript especially relevant to Sikh history is the space devoted in it to the last phase of Banda Singh's struggle against the Mughals. Excluding the 14-page preface, the first 117 pages of the 175-page document deal with the Sikhs.

The author is no admirer, not even sympathizer, of the Sikhs. He is clearly hostile as is evident from his pejorative phraseology and invective. Yet the overall picture of Sikhs' character and of their political and social ideas and practices that emerges from his narrative is far from discreditable.

Ghulam Mohiy ud-Din has not divided his narrative into chapters, but has given separate headings to the events narrated. The introduction, consisting of 29 pages, from 14 to 42, furnishes a background to the rise of the Sikhs under Banda Singh Bahadur, highlighting the circumstances leading to the estrangement between the Sikhs and the Mughals during the time of Guru Gobind Singh. Further, some of the information provided by the author regarding the early victories of the Sikhs under Banda Singh over the Mughal officials is at once new and pertinent.

"They expelled Wazir Khan's garrisons from thanas everywhere," writes the author, "and brought the entire countryside right up to the cities and towns of Sirhind under their control." Elated with the victory attained, they erected a khamba, or wooden tower, on the other side of the plain of Thanesar touching the north western boundary of the Delhi empire. "The implication of their claim [by setting up a khamba]," he explains, "was that if the Emperor of Hindustan with all his victorious armies and conquering hordes, chose to direct his attention to this part of the land, this tower should, like a cloud of dust, serve to remind him that he had to cry a halt to his march and that his jurisdiction ended there." The implication is clear that Banda Singh's was not merely a predatory campaign, as some historians have tried to depict it; he clearly aimed at establishing a sovereign Sikh State.

Another point the author makes is that while upper class urban Hindu population was by and large loyal and faithful to the Mughal government, the low-caste Hindus, whom he terms as khas-o-khashak-i-hanud-i jahanami wajud, i.e. the dregs of the society of Hindus condemned to hell, volunteered to become Sikhs. Hindus even from distant Iran, Turan, Kabul, Qandahar and Multan embraced the faith in large numbers.

These people after joining the ranks of the "Nanak-prastan" or worshippers of Nanak, became so powerful that the author considers them a terrible calamity and exclaims: "Taqat-i-insani ba afat-i-asmani kuja hampanja shawad? (How could human power contend with calamity from the heavens?)

In a poem inserted in the prose narrative, lie praises the Sikhs for their mastery over the arts of archery and swordsmanship. At another point, he applauds their skill in manufacturing guns from hollowed trunks of trees. Moral values the Sikhs uphold are scarcely slurred by the contumelious epithets used for them by the author. To quote an instance,

"They [Sikhs] are dirty, wretched, unclean and verily devils incarnate, a calamity on earth descending from the heavens, but they never take a woman except for a mother. "


A manuscript series of Indian records at the India Office Library, London, succeeding Bengal Secret and Political Consultations (1800-34). It includes the entire range of despatches and correspondence of the North-West Frontier Agency from the heyday of Sikh political power in the Punjab down to the annexation of the Punjab in 1849.

Among the more important documents are the correspondence relating to the Anglo-Sikh Scindia affairs; Sikh designs on Sindh and Shikarpur (1834-37); the Indus Navigation Scheme (1838); despatches concerning Macnaghten's mission to Lahore and the Tripartite Treaty (1838) ; correspondence, despatches, newsletters, intelligence reports, minutes and memoranda relating to the first Anglo-Afghan war and the Sikh co-operation in the British military operations on the Khaibar, especially the despatches of Wade from Peshawar, and of Clerk from Lahore (1839); despatches of Wade, Clerk, Mackeson and other British functionaries dealing with the political affairs at Lahore, Anglo-Sikh relations, the Sikh-Afghan boundaries, passage of the British troops and convoys through the heart of the Punjab and the Punjab Intelligence Reports (1840); despatches of the Agent, North-West Frontier, about the political affairs at Lahore and British policy towards the Sikhs, the passage of Captain Broadfoot with the royal Afghan families through the Punjab, Anglo-Sikh tension on the Sikh boundaries in the Yusufzali territory beyond the Peshawar Valley, political anarchy at Lahore and the Punjab Intelligence Reports (1841); correspondence about the events at Peshawar, particularly the British offer of jalalabad to the Sikhs and its evacuation afterwards, and Clerk's despatches and reports from Lahore (1842); correspondence relating to the termination of the Tripartite Treaty and proposals for a new Anglo-Sikh treaty and Intelligence Reports on Punjab affairs and statistical data on the Sikh army and its dispositions (1843) ; reports on the events in Lahore, especially the assassination of Sher Singh, accession of Maharaja Duleep Singh, and other events which led to the Anglo-Sikh war (1845-46).


Source: & Dr Harbans Singh

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