BALVAND, RAI, a rababi or rebeck player in the time of Guru Arjan and co-composer with Satta, said to be his brother, of a Var included in the Guru Granth Sahib in the Ramkali musical measure. He was by birth a mirasi, Muslim minstrel and genealogist, and sang the sacred hymns to the accompaniment of rebeck like Bhai Mardana used to do during the time of Guru Nanak. Not much authentic biographical information is available about him except that he and his brother, Satta, were contemporaries with Guru Arjan (1563-1606) for whom they recited sabdakirtan. According to another tradition, they started their career under Guru Arigad sometime after he succeeded Guru Nanak on the latter`s demise in 1539 and continued to serve the Gurus until the time of Guru Arjan.

Story is recorded that Balvand had become so proud of his art that he once refused Baba Buddha`s request for the recital of a sabda.He was reprimanded by the Guru and was told that he (the Guru) was within every Sikh and refusing a Sikh to recite a hymn meant refusal to the Guru himself. On another occasion, Balvand is said to have requested Guru Arjan to let him and Satta have all the offerings of the Baisakhi day of that year so as to enable them to meet the expenses of a marriage in the family. The Guru agreed. But the offerings on that day fell far short of their expectations.

They asked the Guru for more which he refused. Under the mistaken notion of their indispensability, both Satta and Balvand left the Guru, imagining that once they stopped reciting the hymns his following would dwindle. Guru Arjan sent for them, but they refused to return. When the Guru himself called on them, they spoke rudely of the House of Guru Nanak.Now discarded by the Guru, they found themselves alienated from the Sikhs.

They suffered both mental anguish and fell sick with leprosy. A Sikh, named Laddha, petitioned the Guru on their behalf and secured them forgiveness. Back in the presence of the Guru, they were cured of the disease. They then composed a Var, popularly known as Tikke di Var, in praise of the Gurus. They perceived all the Gurus as sharing the same spirit, the same one light. Both Balvand and Satta are said to have passed away at Lahore in the time of Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) and were buried on the bank of the River Ravi. Babak (d. 1692). Guru Hargobind`s Muslim rababf performed their last rites.

References :

1. Bhalla, Sarup Das, Mahima Prakash. Patiala, 1970
2. Santokh Singh, Bhai, Sn Cur Pratap Suraj Granth. Amritsar, 1926-37
3. Vir Singh, Bhai, Sn Ast Gur Chamatkar. Amritsar, 1952