Runjeet Singh, a rajah or sovereign of the Sikhs, in the Punjaub, born at Gujerawala, N. of Lahore, about 1780, died there, June 27, 1839. He was the son of Maha Singh, sirdar or governor of one of the Sikh states, who when he died (1794) left the government of his province to Runjeet, under the regency of his mother, whom the young sirdar is said to have poisoned when he arrived at the age of 17, in order that he might reign alone. He rapidly and skilfully availed himself of the wealth and influential position to which he had succeeded, and became the recognized leader of the Sikh confederacy W. of the Sutlej. A service to the Afghan monarch obtained for him the title of king of Lahore, by which he was generally known to Europeans. In 1807, having taken from the Afghans several important towns situated on the W. bank of the Indus, and established his position as sovereign of the Sikhs in the Punjaub, he endeavored to extend his power over the Sikh territories lying between the Sutlej and the Jumna, and for this purpose advanced into that region. The chiefs of Sirhind demanded protection from the British government, which was granted; but not until an English army advanced to the banks of the Sutlej, in 1809, did Runjeet Singh relinquish his claim of authority.
On April 25 of that year he concluded a treaty with the English at Amritsir, making the Sutlej substantially the boundary between his possessions and those of the East India company. He now reorganized his army by the aid of European officers, and ten years later had not only reduced every sirdar in the Punjaub to subjection, but was master of the Afghan city of Peshawer, and had assumed the title of maha-rajah (king of kings). By the employment of two skilful French officers, Allard and Ventura, in 1822, he brought his troops to a still higher degree of efficiency, forming a disciplined army of 80,000 men, with 300 guns. He now crossed the Indus and took the province of Peshawer lying along its W. bank. His conquests in Afghanistan occupied him for several years. In 1838 he entered into negotiations with the British for a closer alliance, but died before they were concluded. He was remarkable for his success in harmonizing the interests of the various Sikh states, no less than for his military achievements; and for fidelity to treaty engagements his name is conspicuous among native princes of India.