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The Kanhaiya Misl was founded by Sardar Jai Singh (1712-1793), a Sandhu Jatt of the village of Kahna, 21 km south-west of Lahore in the Majha region of Punjab. His father Bhai Khushhal Singh sold hay at Lahore. Jai Singh received the vows of the Khalsa at the hands of Nawab Kapur Singh and joined the derah or jatha of Sardar Amar Singh Kirigra.
It is commonly believed that the name of the Misl, Kanhaiya, was derived from the name of Jai Singh's village, Kahna, although another explanation connects it with the Sardar's own handsome appearance which earned him the epithet (Kahn) Kanhaiya, an endearing title also used for Lord Krishna a Hindu deity. The Kanhaiya Misl under Jai Singh became the dominant power in the Punjab. He seized a part of Riarki comprising the district of Gurdaspur and the upper portions of Amritsar. He first made his wife's village, Sohiari, in Amritsar district, his headquarters from where he shifted to Batala and thence to Mukerian. His territories lay on both sides of the Beas River and Ravi River.
Jai Singh extended his territory up to Parol, about 70 km south-east of Jammu, and the hill chiefs of Kangra, Nurpur, Datarpur became his tributaries. In 1778 with the help of Mahan Singh Sukkarchakkia and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, he banished Jassa Singh Ramgarhia to the desert region of Hansi and Hissar (Haryana Region).
In 1781, Jai Singh and his associate Haqiqat Singh led an expedition to Jammu and received a sum of 3,00,000 rupees as tribute from its new ruler, Brij Raj Dev. On Jai Singh's death in 1793, at the age of 81, control of the Kanhaiya clan passed into the hands of his daughter-in-law Sada Kaur, as his son Gurbakhsh Singh had died before him. Sada Kaur whose daughter Mehtab Kaur was married to Ranjit Singh was instrumental in the Sukkarchakkia chief's rise to political power in the Punjab. The Kanheya Misl United with The Sukerchakia Misl in 1796.
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