Story of Brave Dogra Raja Heera Singh

Story about brave Dogra kings, their contribution & respect ,they had earned in Lahore court due to their political acumen and bravery. Along with three famous brothers at Lahore court, one of the well respected and favorite of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was Raja Heera Singh, son of Raja Dhyan Singh and nephew of Maharaja Gulaab Singh and Raja Suchet Singh.

He was born in 1816 and became the wazir of the Sikh kingdom in 1843 when it was declining. Internal politics was at its crescendo after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which resulted in the death of his sons and close aides like Raja Dhyan Singh in quick succession.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh used to treat Raja Heera Singh as his son and, in 1828, proclaimed him as Farzand-I-Khas (a favourite sin) and granted Jagirs to him.

He was the only one who was allowed to sit beside the Maharaja when most of the courtiers used to stand in front of the Maharaja ( you can see the attached interesting court painting)as per memoirs of Alexander Gardner, a colonel in artillery in the service of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, he remembers, Raja Hira Singh, a copy of his father Raja Dhyan Singh, both in terms of good looks and to some extent on intellect. However, he has mentioned Raja Heera Singh as a poor copy of his father. Still, looking at the experience of astute politicians like Raja Dhyan Singh, it’s tough for Raja Heera Singh to step in his shoes at such a young age. He was good in English, Persian and Sanskrit. Raja Heera Singh became Wazir and mentor to Maharaja Duleep Singh in 1843, and from here started the conflict between him and his uncle Raja Suchet Singh; despite being quite close to both his uncles, he was very much influenced and oriented towards his tutor and mentored Pandit Julla, who as per few books was instrumental in creating a wedge between Raja Heera Singh and Raja Suchet Singh.

As they say, power corrupts,Julia pandit was a great astrologer and teacher, but as he was given charge of forces, he left no opportunity to fine them and seized their estates and even salaries to the troops were delayed for quite long. In addition, he was also anti-English and lot many times sent his soldiers to plunder the property near Sutlej and Ferozpur; this was against the policy laid down by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Raja Heera Singh became the puppet in the hands of pandit Julla; when Raja Suchet Singh came to Lahore to fight with Raja Heera Singh, he was tempted to go and reconcile with his uncle, but pandit Julla opened his horoscope book and said that in this inauspicious time, either of them will survive. Chances were high that his uncle would murder him.

After some time, Raja Suchet Singh died while fighting the forces of his nephew, and in a few months, Sikh troops revolted. They had only one demand from Raja Heera Singh that he should handover pandit Julla to them as they were not against Raja Heera Singh, possibly due to two reasons, one that he was the son of Respected Raja Dhyan Singh. Secondly, their Maharaja loved him like his own son.

But Raja Heera Singh failed to comply, and thus army got against him too. When he anticipated tides against him, he took shelter along with pundit Julla in Hira Mandi haveli in Lahore and then to Shahbad.

Sikh army requested him again to hand over Pandit jalla, but when he relented, they killed him, pandit Julla and Sohan Singh, son of Maharaja Gulab Singh.

Raja Heera Singh was intelligent and could have risen to his father’s level. Still, unfortunate events and too much attachment/influence for his tutor and mentor finally took the brave Dogra’s life on 21st December 1844, and he died at the tender age of 28.

He will always be remembered as an intelligent and brave Dogra who was not only a favourite of Maharaja Ranjit Singh but a favourite of his father and uncles alike.

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