Maharaja Ranjit Singh, popularly referred to as “Sher-e-Punjab” or the “the lion of Punjab”, rose from an obscure Sikh chieftain of the local “Misl” ( MISL refers to a unit or brigade of Sikh warriors of the time. At that time there were 12 Mils in the region) and become the “Maharaja” of Punjab – ruling over a vast territory extending across Kashmir and Ladakh in the north, the Indus delta in the south, Baluchistan and Jamrud in the west and north-west and the river Sutlej in the east.
Born on 13TH November 1780, his father Sardar Mahan Singh was the chief of the Sukerchakia misl. Little is accurately known about his childhood- in fact according to historians there is only one “real” image of what he even looked like much later- (and that is from a painting by Emily Eden) the rest of the paintings are all based on hear-say and folk lore where various people have cast his image in their own way.
However, it is widely acknowledged that an attack of small pox deprived him of his left eye in childhood. As a boy he was sent to Bhagu Singh’s dharamshala at Gujranwala to learn Gurumukhi but he was more interested in warfare. He was quite matchless in that art.
When his father died in 1790, the young Ranjit Singh was only 10 years OLD. When most boys that age would be busy playing, Ranjit Singh found himself in the center of the political scenario and became the heir to his father’s legacy.