Sita Ram Kohli will be remembered forever for his sterling dedication to the development of the history of Punjab. Khalsa Darbar Records and the history of the life and the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh are the outstanding works of Sita Ram Kohli. Sita Ram Kohli published his works not only in English but in Punjabi and Urdu as well. His Magnum Opus Maharaja Ranjit Singh written in Urdu has now been got translated into English by Major Gurmukh Singh (Retd.) and edited by Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur so as to make it available to larger readership.
I congratulate both Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur and Major Gurmukh Singh(Retd.) for making this important contribution to the advancement of research on the history of Punjab, particularly the period of the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Guru Nanak Dev University
Among the warriors and rulers who left their impress on the history of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh's name till this day remains etched in the psyche of the people of the Punjab. To them, he is an embodiment of chivalry, pride and glory for which the Punjabis and more particularly the Sikhs made a name for themselves. That is the reason the Punjabis have never missed a date that can recall his memory and bring him alive amidst them. After his conquest of Lahore in 1799, Ranjit Singh was hailed as sovereign of the Punjab by the people of the Punjab; as a whole: Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs; who had all joined to invite him to Lahore and celebrate the event in 1801. In 2001, the then Govt. of Punjab decided to remember this event to re-assure the people that the ideal of benevolent governance set forth by Maharaja Ranjit Singh remained relevant even in the present-day democratic system. The academics and more particularly some eminent historians thought of making the best use of these celebrations by trying their best to reach-out to the contemporary records and thus make the best of the material available to the budding scholars.
Most of the contemporary material has come down to us in Persian and the present generation unfortunately has no acquaintance with this language. The first monograph on Ranjit Singh based on the contemporary sources was brought out in Urdu in 1933 by Sita Ram Kohli, a celebrated historian who had the distinction of having scanned and arranged the Khalsa Darbar Records. Although this monograph was translated into Punjabi in the fiftees of the last century, still it remained out of the reach for most of the English knowing scholars. I mentioned this fact to Dr. V. N. Datta (Professor Emeritus, Kurukshetra University) who after examining the book himself, advised me to get it translated into English for wider circulation. Initially, I tried to solicit help from Professor Shirin Moosvi of Aligarh Muslim University who responded favourably; but some how, nothing came out of this move. However, I was able to persuade Major (Retd.) Gurmukh Singh, to undertake this task whom I thought to be eminently qualified for the job. He had earlier worked as a Research Assistant in the Deptt. of Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Punjabi University, Patiala and was proficient in both Urdu and English languages. While vetting/editing the translation, I have tried to keep it close to the original. For translation a few technical terms and deciphering archaic Persian words used in the text; Prof. Avtar Singh Dhody, M.O.L., a scholar of Persian (formerly of Gujranwala Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Ludhiana) willingly lent a helping hand, for which I thank him profusely.
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