Maharaja Ranjit Singh (13 November 1780 – 27 June 1839) popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or "Lion of Punjab", was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21.
- He worshipped as much in Hindu temples as he did in gurudwaras. When he was sick and about to die, he gave away cows for charity. What did he do with the diamond Kohi-noor? He did not want to give it to the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar which he built in marble and gold, but to Jagannath Puri as his farewell gift. When he had the Afghans at his mercy and wrested Kashmir from them, he wanted the gates of the temple of Somnath back from them. Why should he be making all these Hindu demands? Whatever the breakaway that had been achieved from Hinduism, this greatest of our monarchs bridged in 40 years.
- Khushwant Singh notes with a certain disappointment that even when the Sikhs carved out a state for themselves, they did not separate from Hinduism: 'The Sikhs triumphed and we had Ranjit Singh. You may feel that here at long last we had a Sikh monarch, and the Khalsa would come into their own. Nothing of the sort happened. (...) Instead of taking Sikhism in its pristine form, he accepted Hinduism in its brahminical form. He paid homage to Brahmins. He made cow-killing a capital offence'. ... Further, he donated three times more gold to the newly built makeshift Vishvanath temple in Varanasi than to the Hari Mandir in Amritsar. He also threatened the Amirs of Sindh with an invasion if they didn't stop persecuting the Hindus. ...