FATEHNAMAH, by Bhai Dyal Singh, is a versified account of the victory (fateh, in Persian) of the Sikhs in the battle fought on Sunday, 22 Baisakh 1854 Bk/30 April 1797, against Shah Zaman`s forces led by one of his generals Ahmad Khan, also called Shahanchi Khan, in which the latter got killed and his forces fled the field. Nothing is known about the poet who, judging from his diction, belonged to the western parts of the Punjab. The poet showers special praise on the Sikh warrior.
Sahib Singh Bhangi, chief of Gujrat, which indicates that he may have been a relation of his or a protege. Although there is no internal evidence to date the work, it seems from the details of the battle to be a near contemporary work. The poem comprises 15 pauris or stanzas followed by two savaiyyas, with two dohiras at the end. The opening stanza is by way of invocation to the Almighty “who at His will controls everything and by whose aid victory is achieved.”
The poem briefly touches upon Shah Zaman`s capture of Lahore and the adjoining areas of the Punjab and the Sikhs` dispersal towards the hills. However, the Sikhs reassembled as the Afghan king returned to Kabul to quell a revolt there. Shahanchi Khan, whom Zaman Shah had left behind to deal with the Sikhs, marched towards Gujrat and camped on the bank of the River Chenab. A fierce battle took place in which Sikhs were at a disadvantage at one stage but, inspired by Sahib Singh and “helped by the divine powers of Guru Gobind Singh” (11), they reentered the field with redoubled zeal and won the battle. The poet attributes the Afghans` defeat to their obliviousness of God (15).