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Khatri Military

Brief military history of Khatris

In Tawarikh-i-Mubarak Shah, we find Khatri soldiers led by Sadharan and Sidhu Pal (two long-term commanders) leading a coup and assassinating the sultan Mubarak Shah in 1434.

Under Mughals

Raja Todarmal was an acclaimed warrior, leading the Mughal forces to several resounding victories, the most notable of which was the conquest of Bengal from Afghans. He was a char Hazari (mansabdar of 4000), second-highest rank. Raja Todarmal’s son Dhara was also a skilled warrior who laid his life down in an expedition to Tattha. The other Khatri commanders in the Mughal service at the time included: Rai Parmanamd, Pitamber Das, Rai Kesho Das, Rai Mathura Das.

Rai-I-Rayan Patra Das (later: Raja Bikramjit Khatri) rose up to become one of the foremost military commanders of the Mughal empire during the reign of Jehangir, he became a mansabdar of 5000, the highest rank. He was made commander of 50,000 gunners and 3,000 gun carriages. His son, Sundar was, another brave warrior, laid his life down in a Deccan expedition. In Shahjahan’s reign, Raja Manik Chand Khatri was appointed as the Governor of United Katehar to protect it from warring chiefs. He was succeeded to the position by his son Raja Makrand Rai.

In the Mughal rule, we find mention of a large number of Khatri military generals and provincial governors, from Kabul to Deccan. It is not possible to mention all. Even during the reign of Siraj-ud-daulah, one of the main commanders for Subah-E-Bangal was Rai Durlabh (Mahindra Khatri)

Under Rajputs

The house of Jaipur received services of acclaimed Khatri soldiers and warriors like Raja Aya Mal, Raja Harsahai, Raja Gursahai, Raja Nand Ram, and Raja Narain Das Khatri. A book written by Rajputs themselves, call Raja Narain Das “bravest of the brave”

Under Sikhs

Guru Hargobind (a Sodhi Khatri himself) was trained by a Khatri warrior Bhai Ganga Sehgal. In Guru Gobind Singh’s first war, most of his main companions were Khatris. This includes Guru’s cousin Sango Shah and his four brothers, some Sodhi’s, Mahant Kirpal Das (Khatri)

When Khalsa was formed, the first person to step forward was Bhai Daya Singh, a Sobti Khatri. Subsequent leaders of Khalsa were also Khatris, Baba Binod Singh (Trehan), and Baba Darbara Singh.

Two of Ranjit Singh’s most notable Commanders-In-chief were Khatris - Diwan Mokham Chand and Hari Singh Nalwa. Other prominent commanders included Diwan Ram Dayal, Diwan Moti Ram, Diwan Sawan Mal Chopra (who wrested Multan from Afghans), Mulraj Chopra, etc. Raja Sukh Jivan Mal, a Khatri soldier in the army of Durrani Afghans, became the King of Kashmir in 1754. He successfully defended his new kingdom against several Afghan attacks before eventually becoming a victim of internal sabotage.

In 1718, Kirtichand Rai, the Khatri Raja of Burdwan, subjugated the Raja of Bishnupur in a full-throttle military expedition and increased his own domains greatly. In post-independence India, there have been numerous Khatris who have been chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy. From the very first War in 1947 to Kargil there has been no conflict or war in India that did not witness the gallantry of the Punjabi Kshatriyas (Khatris).