Nawab Kapur Singh (1697–1753) is considered one of the pivotal figures in Sikh history, under whose leadership the Sikh community traversed one of the darkest periods of its history. He was the organizer of the Sikh Confederacy and the Dal Khalsa. Nawab Kapur Singh is regarded by Sikhs as a leader and general par excellence. The period, starting from the massacre in Delhi of Banda Singh and seven hundred other Sikhs, was followed by severe action against the Sikhs, including massacres of young men, women and children. However, every fresh adversity only stimulated their will to survive.
Nawab Kapur Singh was born into a Jat Sikh Virk family in 1697. His native village was Kaloke, now in Sheikhupuradistrict, in Punjab (Pakistan). Kapur Singh was eleven years old at the time of Guru Gobind Singh’s passing on and nineteen at the time of the massacre of Banda Bahadur and his followers in Delhi. Later, when he seized the village ofFaizullapur, near Amritsar, he renamed it Singhpura and made it his headquarters. He is thus, also known as Kapur Singh Faizullapuria, and the small principality he founded, as Faizullapuria or Singhpuria.
Kapur Singh underwent amrit-initiation at a large gathering held at Amritsar on Baisakhi Day, 1721 from Panj Piarey led by Bhai Mani Singh. His father, Dalip Singh, and brother, Dan Singh, were also among those who were initiated into theKhalsa fold on that day. It was believed that some of the virk jatt Sikhs become part of the Ahluwalia Misl to whom he had given the command of Dal Khalsa, that Baron name (Sultan-ul-Quam) Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.
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 persecution against the Sikhs.
In those days, pursued by the bounty-hunters, as the governor of Lahore had put a price on a Sikh’s head, the Sikhs roamed the jungles of Central Punjab in small groups. Kapur Singh headed one such band. To assert their high spirits despite being hounded by government forces and bounty-hunters, and with a view to paralysing the administration and obtaining food for their companions these groups would launch attacks on government treasuries and caravans moving from one place to another. Such was their success in this endeavour that the governor was soon obliged to make terms with them.
In 1733, the Mughal government decided, at the insistence of Zakarya Khan, to revoke all repressive measures issued against 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 a Sarbat Khalsa, 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 the Panj Piare – amongst whom were Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Buddh Singh (great-great-grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh – 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 garme
- The heritage of the Sikhs by Harbans Singh
- History of the Sikhs, Volume 1 by Khushwant Sun