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RANI SADA KAUR (?-1832)


Sada Kaur was regent with two others of a large part of Punjab. She was the daughter of Dasaundha Singh Gill and was married to Gurbaksh Singh, son of Jai Singh, leader of the Kanhaiya clan. Punjab was then fragmented into small territories called misls, ruled by feudal lords. Among the more prominent were the Kanhaiyas of Batala under her father-in-law and the Sukerchakias under Maha Singh at Gujranwala. In a conflict Maha Singh killed Sada Kaur’s husband in 1785. She then contrived to get her daughter, Mehtab Kaur, betrothed to the five-year-old Ranjit Singh, Maha Singh’s son. Ranjit Singh became the ruler in 1792 on the death of his father, but a regency ruled for him. The wedding was celebrated in 1796, and Sada Kaur arrived in Gujranwala with her daughter. She become one of the members of the three-member regency for the prince. The other two members were Ranjit Singh’s mother Mai Raj Kaur (popularly known as Mai Malvain), and Diwan Lakhpat Rai, his minister. Mai Malvain died mysteriously, and Lakhpat Rai was killed in an expedition against the Chatthas. Sada Kaur was left as the sole regent and she had by now also become head of the Kanhaiyas. She helped Ranjit Singh in his campaigns, overcoming Lahore and campaigning against Amritsar, Chiniot, Kasur and Kangra. She gave him strategic help against the invading Afghans under Shah Zaman on two occasions. Ranjit Singh’s victories established him as Maharaja of Punjab.

However, Ranjit Singh’s marriage to Mahtab Kaur was not happy; her first child died and he took a second wife whose sons became his heirs. Later Mahtab had two sons, Sher Singh and Tara Singh, but they were not in line to succeed the throne. This soured relations between him and Sada Kaur.

On Sher Singh’s majority, Ranjit Singh insisted that Sada Kaur hand over the administration of her estates to him. She refused and threatened to cede the town of Vadhni to the British. Ranjit Singh persuaded her to visit Lahore, where she was put under house arrest. Once she managed to escape in a covered litter, but was captured and brought back. The wealth of the Kanhaiyas was confiscated, though Batala was given as a jagir to Sher Singh. Sada Kaur died in confinement in 1832.
 
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