Punjab, also spelt Panjab, is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west. It is also bounded to the north by the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state capital is located in Chandigarh, which is a Union Territory and also the capital of the neighbouring state of Haryana.
After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Punjab was divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the current state of Punjab. Punjab is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population.
The term Punjab comprises two words: "punj meaning five and ab meaning water, thus the land of five rivers." The Greeks referred to Punjab as Pentapotamia, an inland delta of five converging rivers. In Avesta, the sacred text of Zoroastrians, the Punjab region is associated with the ancient hapta həndu or Sapta Sindhu, the Land of Seven Rivers. Historically, the Punjab region has been the gateway to the Indian Subcontinent for people from Greece, Central Asia, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab; it is the largest single producer of wheat in India. Other major industries include the manufacturing of scientific instruments, agricultural goods, electrical goods, financial services, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, tourism, fertilisers, bicycles, garments, and the processing of pine oil and sugar. Punjab also has the largest number of steel rolling mill plants in India, which are located in Steel Town Mandi Gobindgarh, District Fatehgarh Sahib.
Punjab during Mahabharata times was known as Panchanada. Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of the Punjab region with cities such as Harrapa (modern-day Punjab, Pakistan). The Vedic Civilization along the length of the Sarasvati River to cover most of Northern India including Punjab. This civilization shaped subsequent cultures in the Indian Subcontinent. The Punjab region was conquered by many ancient empires including the Gandhara, Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas, Kushans, Guptas, Palas, Gurjara-Pratiharas and Hindu Shahis. The furthest eastern extent of Alexander the Great's exploration was along the Indus River. Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such as Jalandhar and Ludhiana) grew in wealth.
Due to its location, the Punjab region came under constant attack and influence from the west and east. Punjab faced invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Turks, and Afghans. This resulted in the Punjab witnessing centuries of bitter bloodshed. Its culture combines Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Afghan, Sikh and British influences.
The city of Taxila in Pakistan, founded by son of Taksh the son Bharat, who was the brother of Ram, was reputed to house the oldest university in the world, Takshashila University, one of the teachers was the great Vedic thinker and politician Chanakya. Taxila was a great centre of learning and intellectual discussion during the Maurya Empire. It is a UN World Heritage site.
Of particular importance were the periods of contact between Punjab and various Persian Empires when parts of it either became integrated with the empire itself or were an autonomous region which paid tributes to the Persian King. In later centuries, when Persian was the language of the Mughal government, Persian architecture, poetry, art and music were an integral part of the region's culture. The official language of Punjab remained Persian until the arrival of the British in the mid-19th century, where it was finally abolished and the administrative language was changed over to Urdu.
Sikhs in Punjab
The roots of Sikhism began at the time of the Conquest of Northern India by Babur. His grandson, Akbar, supported religious freedom and after visiting the langar of Guru Amar Das had a favourable impression of Sikhism. As a result of his visit he donated land to the langar and had a positive relationship with the Sikh Gurus until his death in 1605. His successor, Jahangir, saw the Sikhs as a political threat. He arrested Guru Arjun Dev because of Sikh support for Khusrau Mirza and ordered him to be put to death by torture. Guru Arjan Dev's Martyrdom led to the sixth Guru, Guru Har Gobind, declaring Sikh sovereignty in the creation of the Akal Takht and the establishment of a fort to defend Amritsar.
Jahangir attempted to assert authority over the Sikhs by imprisoning Guru Har Gobind at Gwalior. He felt compelled to release him when he began to suffer premonitions of an early and gruesome death. The Guru refused to be released unless the dozens of Hindu princes imprisoned with him were also granted freedom, to which Jahangir agreed. Sikhism did not have any further issues with the Mughal Empire until the death of Jahangir in 1627. His successor, Shah Jahan "took offense" at Guru Har Gobind's sovereignty and after a series of assaults on Amritsar forced the Sikhs to retreat to the Sivalik Hills. Guru Har Gobind's successor, Guru Har Rai maintained the guruship in the Sivalik Hills by defeating local attempts to seize Sikh land and taking a neutral role in the power struggle between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh for control of the Timurid dynasty. The ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, moved the Sikh community to Anandpur and traveled extensively to visit and preach in Sikh communities in defiance of Mughal rule. He aided Kashmiri Pandits in avoiding conversion to Islam and was arrested and confronted by Aurangzeb. When offered a choice between conversion or death, he chose to die rather than compromise his principles and was executed. Guru Gobind Singh assumed the guruship in 1675 and to avoid battles with Sivalik Hill Rajas moved the guruship to Paunta. He built a large fort to protect the city and garrisoned an army to protect it. The growing power of the Sikh community alarmed Sivalik Hill Rajas, who attempted to attack the city, but the Guru's forces routed them at the Battle of Bhangani. He moved on to Anandpur and established the Khalsa, a collective army of baptised Sikhs, on April 13, 1699. The establishment of the Khalsa united the Sikh community against various Mughal-backed claimants to the guruship.
In 1701, a combined army composed of the Sivalik Hill Rajas and the Mughal army under Wazir Khan attacked Anandpur and, following a retreat by the Khalsa, were defeated by the Khalsa at the Battle of Muktsar. Banda Singh Bahadur was an ascetic who converted to Sikhism after meeting Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded. A short time before his death, Guru Gobind Singh ordered him to uproot Mugal rule in Punjab and gave him a letter that commanded all Sikhs to join him. After two years of gaining supporters, Banda Singh Bahadur initiated an agrarian uprising by breaking up the large estates of Zamindar families and distributing the land to the poor Sikh, Hindu,and Muslim peasants who farmed the land. Banda Singh Bahadur started his rebellion with the defeat of Mughal armies at Samana and Sadhaura and the rebellion culminated in the defeat of Sirhind. During the rebellion, Banda Singh Bahadur made a point of destroying the cities in which Mughals had been cruel to Sikhs, including executing Wazir Khan in revenge for the deaths of Guru Gobind Singh's sons, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh after the Sikh victory at Sirhind. He ruled the territory between the Sutlej river and the Yamuna river established a capital in the Himalayas at Lohgarh and struck coinage in the names of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh.
The Cis-Sutlej states were a group of states in modern Punjab and Haryana states lying between the Sutlej River on the north, the Himalayas on the east, the Yamuna River and Delhi District on the south, and Sirsa District on the west. These states were ruled by the Scindhia dynasty of the Maratha Empire, various Sikh sardars and other Rajas of the Cis-Sutlej states paid tributes to the Marathas, until the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-1805, after which the Marathas lost this territory to the British. The Cis-Sutlej states included Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla, and Faridkot.
The Sikh Empire
The Sikh Empire (1801–1849) was formed on the foundations of the Punjabi Army by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west, to Kashmir in the north, to Sindh in the south, and Tibet in the east. The main geographical footprint of the empire was the Punjab region. The religious demography of the Sikh Empire was Muslim (70%), Sikh (17%), Hindu (13%).
The Sikh Empire began with the disbandment of the Punjab Army by the time of coronation of Ranjit Singh in 1801, creating a unified political state. All the Misl leaders who were affiliated with the Army were nobility with usually long and prestigious family histories in Punjab's history.
After Maharaja Ranjit Singh's death in 1839, the empire was severely weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. This opportunity was used by the British Empire to launch the Anglo-Sikh Wars. A series of betrayals of the Sikhs by some prominent leaders in the army led to its downfall. Maharaja Gulab Singh and Raja Dhian Singh were the top Generals of the army.
The Sikh Empire was finally dissolved, after a series of wars with the British at the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab, which were granted statehood. Eventually, a Lieutenant Governorship was formed in Lahore as a direct representative of the British Crown.
Punjab Province (British India)
The Cis-Sutlej states (south of Sutlej), including Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla, and Faridkot, were under the suzerainty of the Scindhia dynasty of the Maratha Empire, following the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-1805, when Marathas lost this territory to the British. During the war, some of the states in the region gave their allegiance to British General Gerard Lake. At the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Maratha War, an 1809 agreement with Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sikh Empire west of the Sutlej, brought these states under formal British protection.
Ranjit Singh's death in the summer of 1839 brought political chaos, and the subsequent battles of succession and the bloody infighting between the factions at court weakened the state. By 1845 the British had moved 32,000 troops to the Sutlej frontier to secure their northernmost possessions against the succession struggles in the Punjab. In late 1845, British and Sikh troops engaged near Ferozepur, beginning the First Anglo-Sikh War. The war ended the following year, and the territory between the Sutlej and the Beas was ceded to British Company rule in India, along with Kashmir, which was sold to Gulab Singh of Jammu, who ruled Kashmir as a British vassal.
As a condition of the peace treaty, some British troops, along with a resident political agent and other officials, were left in the Punjab to oversee the regency of Maharaja Dhalip Singh, a minor. The Sikh army was reduced greatly in size. In 1848, out-of-work Sikh troops in Multan revolted, and a British official was killed. Within a few months, the unrest had spread throughout the Punjab, and British troops once again invaded. The British prevailed in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and under the Treaty of Lahore in 1849, the Punjab was annexed by the British East India Company, and Dhalip Singh was pensioned off. The Punjab became a province of British India, although a number of small states, most notably Patiala, Kapurthala, Faridkot, Nabha, and Jind, retained local rulers in subsidiary alliances with the British, with the rulers retaining their own internal sovereignty but recognizing British suzerainty.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 occurred in Amritsar. In 1930, the Indian National Congress proclaimed independence from Lahore. In March 1940, the all-India Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution, demanding the creation of a separate state from Muslim majority areas in India. The ambiguity of the Lahore Resolution sparked violent protests, in which Punjab became a central stage.
In 1946, massive communal tensions and violence erupted between the Punjab's Muslim majority and the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The Muslim League attacked the government of Unionist Punjabi Muslims, Sikh Akalis and the Congress and led to its downfall. Unwilling to be cowed down, Sikhs and Hindus counter-attacked, and the resulting bloodshed left the province in great disorder. Both Congress and League leaders agreed to partition Punjab upon religious lines, a precursor to the wider partition of the country.
Independence and its aftermath
In 1947 the Punjab Province of British India was partitioned along religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab. Huge numbers of people were displaced, and there was much intercommunal violence. Following independence, several small Punjabi princely states, including Patiala, acceded to the Union of India and were united into the PEPSU. In 1956 this was integrated with the state of East Punjab to create a new, enlarged Indian state called simply "Punjab".
Immediately following independence in 1947, and due to the ensuing communal violence and fear, most Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus who found themselves in Pakistan migrated to India as part of the exchange of populations. Punjabi Muslims were uprooted similarly from their homes in East Punjab, which now forms part of India. More than 7 million moved to Pakistan, and over 6 million settled in Punjab.
In 1950, two new states were recognised by the Indian constitution: the Indian part of the former British province of Punjab became the state of East Punjab, while the princely states of the region were combined into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). Himachal Pradesh was later created as a union territory from several princely states in the hills.
Formation of current Punjab
The capital city of the undivided Province of Punjab, Lahore, was allocated to the Pakistani West Punjab during the partition of British India in 1947, so a new capital for Indian Punjab was built at Chandigarh. Shimla was named temporary capital of the Punjab until Chandigarh was completed in 1960.
After years of protest by Akali Dal and other Sikh organisations finally Punjab was divided along linguistic basis in 1966. On 1 November 1966, the Hindi-speaking southern half of Punjab became a separate state, Haryana, and the Pahari speaking hilly areas in north east were given to Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was on the border between the two states and became a separate union territory but serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. During the 1970s, the Green Revolution brought increased economic prosperity for the Punjab, mainly due to the late Pratap Singh Kairon. However, a growing polarisation between the Indian National Congress central government and the main Sikh political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, developed during the 1970s. Hostility and bitterness arose from what was widely seen by the Akali Dal as increasing alienation, centralization and discriminatory attitudes towards Punjab by the Government of India. This prompted the Shiromani Akali Dal to pass the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which asked for granting maximum autonomy to the region of Punjab and other states and limited role and powers of the Central Government.