(Last Updated on : 06/02/2019)
The word Punjab was first time used in the book Tarikh-e-Sher by Sher Shah Suri
(1580), who mentioned the construction of a fort "Sher Khan of Punjab
". However, the history of Punjab dates back to the Sanskrit
equivalent of 'Punjab' in the great epic, the Mahabharata
(pancha-nada 'country of five rivers'). The name Punjab is mentioned again in Ain-e-Akbari, written by Abul Fazal
, who also mentions that the territory of Punjab was divided into two provinces, Lahore and Multan.
Etymology of Punjab
Punjab in Persian literally means Panj (five) Ab (River), i.e. the Land of Five Rivers, thus referring to the five rivers, which go through it. It was because of this that it was made the granary of British
India. Today, two rivers flow in Indian Punjab, two rivers lie in Pakistani Punjab, and one river is the general border between them.
Punjab in Indus Valley Civilization
Archaeological discoveries at Mehrgarh in today's Baluchistan show evidences of inhabited villages
in the region as early as 7000 BCE. By about 3000 BCE the small communities started to grow up and around the Indus River
basin they expanded giving rise to the Indus valley civilization, one of the earliest in human history. At its height, it boasted large cities like Harrapa (near Sahiwal in West Punjab) and Mohenjo Daro (near Sindh). The civilization declined rapidly after the 19th century BCE, for reasons unexplained.
Reference of Punjab in Indian Epics
, one of the older texts in Indian history, is generally thought to have been poised in the Greater Punjab. It embodies a literary record of the socio-cultural development of ancient Punjab, known as Sapta Sindhu. The Bhagavatagita of Mahabharata comprehensively expounds a philosophy
of heroism in the erstwhile Punjab. Punjabis, represented by ethnic groups such as the Gandharas
, the Kambojas, the Trigartas, the Madras, the Malavas, the Pauravas, the Bahlikas and the Yaudheyas were declared to have sided with the Kauravas and displayed exemplary courage in the Kurukshetra
War. The great epic provides abundant evidences of the fact that contingents of Gandharas, Kambojas, Sauviras
, Madras and Trigartas occupied major positions in the Kaurava
rows throughout the epic war.
Different Conquerors of Punjab
conquered the portions of Punjab that had been captured under Alexander. The founder of the Mauryan Empire
included the rich provinces of Punjab into his empire and fought Alexander's successor in the east, Seleucus, when the latter invaded. Punjab prospered under Mauryan rule for the next century. It became a Bactrian Greek (Indo-Greek) territory in 180 BCE following the collapse of Mauryan authority. Alexander established two cities in Punjab to settle his people from multi-national armies, that existed even after his departure
After Muhammad's death in 1206, his general Qutb-ud-din Aybak
took control of Muhummad's Indian empire, including areas of Afghanistan, Punjab and northern India. Qutb-ud-din moved his capital of the empire from Ghazni to Lahore, and the empire he founded was called the Sultanate of Delhi
. His successors were the Mamluk or Slave dynasty
who ruled from his death in 1210 to 1290. The Mongols, who had occupied Muhammad Ghori's former possessions in Central Asia, continued to encroach on the Sultanate's northwest frontier in the 13th century. Lahore was sacked in 1241, and the Mongols and Sultans challenged for control of Punjab for much of the 13th century.
The Mughal Empire
persisted for several centuries until it was brutally damaged in the 18th century by the Marathas and the 1739 sack of Delhi
by the Persian Nadir Shah. Afghan rulers took control of the empire's northwestern provinces, including Punjab and Sind. The 18th century also saw the rise of the Sikhs
Sikh Empire in Punjab
Punjab presented a picture of chaos and uncertainty when Ranjit Singh
took the control of Sukerchakias occurrence. Both Punjab and Sind were controlled by the Afghan rule since 1757 when Ahmed Shah Abdali
was granted suzerainty over these provinces. Taimur Khan, a local Governor, was able to drive away the Sikhs from Amritsar and raze the fort of Ram Rauni. His control was short-lived. The Sikhs joined to defeat Taimur Shah and his Chief Minister Jalal Khan. The Afghans were forced to retreat and the Sikhs occupied Lahore in 1758. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia proclaimed the Sikh's sovereignty and assumed leadership, striking coins to honor his victory.
Shah Zaman marched on the territory of Ranjit Singh. Singh was alert and raised an army of 5000 horsemen but were inadequately armed with only spears and muskets. The Afghans were equipped with heavy artillery. Ranjit Singh foresaw a strong, united fight against the invaders as he came to Amritsar
. A congregation of Sarbat Khlasa was called and many Sikh sardars answered the call. There was general agreement that Shah Zaman's army should be allowed to enter Punjab and that Sikhs should retire to the hills. Forces were reorganized under the command of Ranjit Singh and they marched towards Lahore. They gave the Afghans a crushing defeat in several villages and surrounded the city of Lahore.
Afghans Recapture of Punjab
Again in 1798 Shah Zaman attacked Punjab to avenge the defeat of 1797. The Sikh people took refuge in the hills. A Sarbat Khalsa was again called and Sada Kaur persuaded the Sikhs to fight once again to the last man. This time even Muslims were not spared by Shah Zaman's forces and he won Gujarat easily. Sada Kaur roused the Sikhs sense of national honour. If they were to again leave Amritsar, she would command the forces against the Afghans. Then Ranjit Singh collected his men and faced Shah's forces about 8km from Amritsar. They were well-matched and the Afghans were, at last, forced to retire. Humiliated, they fled towards Lahore. By this time the people of the country had become aware of the rising strength of Ranjit Singh.
Ranjit Singhs Kingdom in Punjab
Muslims joined Hindu
and Sikh people of Lahore in making an appeal to Singh to free them from the tyrannical rule. A petition was addressed to Ranjit singh, requesting him to free them from the Bhangi sardars. Ranjit Singh ultimately acquired a kingdom in Punjab, which stretched from the Sutlej River
in the east to Peshawar in the west, and from the junction of the Sutlej and the Indus in the south to Ladakh
in the north. Ranjit died in 1839, and a succession struggle ensued. Two of his successor maharajas were assassinated by 1843.
British Raj in Punjab
By 1845 the British had moved 32,000 troops to the Sutlej boundary, to secure their northernmost possessions against the succession struggles in Punjab. In late 1845, British and Sikh troops engaged near Ferozepur
, then started the First Anglo-Sikh War
. The war ended the next year, and the territory between the Sutlej and the Beas
was surrendered to Great Britain, along with Kashmir, which was sold to Gulab Singh of Jammu
, who ruled Kashmir as a British vassal.
Within a few months, the unrest had spread throughout Punjab, and British troops once again invaded. The British prevailed in the Second Anglo-Sikh War
, and the Treaty of Lahore was signed in 1849. Punjab became a province of British India, although a number of small states, most particularly Patiala
, preserved local rulers who followed the British sovereignty.
Jallianwala Bagh Incident
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
of 1919 occurred in Amritsar. In 1930, the Indian National Congress
declared independence from Lahore. The 1940 Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League
s to work for Pakistan made Punjab the center stage of a different Indian history
. In 1946, massive communal tensions and violence erupted between the majority Muslims of Punjab, and the Hindu and Sikh minorities. Both Congress and League leaders agreed towards the separation of Punjab.
Reformation of Punjab as Sikh Majority State
Sikhs eventually demanded a Punjabi speaking East Punjab with autonomous control. Led by Master Tara Singh, Sikhs wanted to obtain a political voice in their state. In 1965, a fierce war broke out between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir. In 1966, owing to the incredible bravery shown by innumerable of Sikh officers and soldiers in the Indian Army
, and the growing Sikh unrest, the Government separated Punjab into a Sikh-majority state of the same name, and Hindu-majority Haryana
and Himachal Pradesh