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Nihang and Ranjit Singh

Nihang and Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Nihangs have a long criminal record. Once a Nihang cut off an arm of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s doorkeeper because he was prevented from unauthorized entry. Maharaja Ranjit Singh dealt strictly with the Nihang criminal. He ordered that Nihang’s nose, ears, and hands be cut off.

On another occasion, a criminal Nihang Singh took a sword and rushed at Maharaja Ranjit Singh himself. Ranjit Singh ordered the criminal Nihang Singh to be mercilessly beaten. He was then handed over to soldiers to be imprisoned. Although they called themselves Dharmic warriors, many Nihangs largely subsisted on theft, loot, and plunder. Ranjit Singh posted a strong body of armed men to protect villages from these looters.

“Nihangs are loafers and desperadoes. God did not give them any intelligence or wisdom” - Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Ranjit Singh followed a two-pronged strategy in his attempt to reign in the Nihangs. He appointed some of them in his court and many of them in his army. He tried to incorporate them into his power structure. On the other hand, he strictly punished Nihangs prone to lawlessness.