SAHRAI, HARNAM DAS (1920 – )
Sahrai, Hamam Das has written many historical novels. His Lohgarh narrates the story of Banda Bahadur who was living as an ascetic under the name of Madho Dass till he became a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh and returned to Punjab with a group of Guru Gobind Singh\’s disciples who had followed the Guru on his southward journey. Among Banda Bahadur\’s companions is Satnami Sadhu Rajguru who has accepted the Sikh faith. Two other characters are Reddy, son of a rich landlord turned sadhu and Hiravati who falls in love with Reddy and marries him.
These two also come to the Punjab to serve as Banda Bahadur\’s messengers to the various Sikh centres.Strengthened with such reinforcements, Banda Bahadur reduces the country from Ambala to Sarhind, defeating the Nawab of Sarhind and becomes master of the province. Bahadur Shah returns from the Deccan to retrieve the country occupied by Banda, who gets besieged at Lohgarh; leaving Rajguru there, he then escapes to a safar region in the Sivaliks. Rajguru sets the besieged fort on fire in which he is himself consumed.
Another novel is Sabhravan, in which the Sikhs were finally defeated in the first Anglo-Sikh War. Anup Kaur is the story of a Sikh girl who goes to Hari Singh Nalva on an important mission to the fort of Jamraud where the Sikhs are besieged by the Afghans.The Sikhs repel the Afghans though Hari Singh Nalva and Anup Kaur are both killed in action. Maria agle takes its name from the phrase with which Pakhtun mothers used to frighten their children.
It means “Haria (Hari Singh) will come.” Pathik (Wayfarer) written in the first person is the writer\’s description of a railway journey from Jalandhar to Calcutta, in the course of which he meets a woman by the name of Shamli, who is in reality a prostitute, Shamshad Begum. There are some other characters also who have failed in love. Gali Muhalle de Lok (People of the neighbourhood), Dachi (Dromedary) and Tevivan Chand (Thirty-third Moon) are some of Sahrai\’s other novels in which a strong dose of romanticism is mixed with a description of contemporary reality.
1. Amarjit Singh, Punjabi sahit da itihasâ€”Qissa kal, Amritsar, 1981.
2. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, 6 Vols., Delhi, 1995.
3. Kohli, S.S., Punjabi Sahit da Itihas, Ludhiana, 1955.
4. Mohan Singh, A History of Punjabi Literature, Amritsar,1956
5. Ramdev, Jaginder Singh (ed.), Punjabi Likhari Kosh, Jullundur, 1964.
6. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.