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VAR HARI SINGH KI

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VAR HARI SINGH KI, by Sahai Singh. included in the anthology entitled Prachin Varan te Jangname, edited by Shamsher Singh Ashok and published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar, in 1947. He describes Hari Singh Nalva`s expedidon against the Afghans who had invaded Peshawar from across the Khaibar Pass and his final battle in defence of the Fort of Jamrud. This printed version is based, according to the testimony of the editor, on an incomplete manuscript in the personal collection of Shivdev Singh of Nabha. No other copy of the manuscript has so far been discovered.

The work does not conform to the traditional form of var, the narrative being in the style of a siharfi and the metre used is baint. The poem begins with an invocation to the goddess Bhavani : the poet`s faith in the goddess is also supported by the fact that he makes his hero, Hari Singh Narva, offer prayers to her to uphold his honour in the battlefield. This is followed by verses contrasting the daring of Hari Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s celebrated general, with the cowardice of his chamberlain, Khushal Singh. The latter is shown as dreading to lead the military expedition to Peshawar whereas the former is presented as seeking it voluntarily.

The narrative begins with Hari Singh`s departure from Batala and referring to the minor skirmishes on the way, it moves on to his conquest of Peshawar. His final combat in the Fort of Jamrud where he fell fighting against the Afghans is depicted in all its graphic detail. Since a few of the last pages are missing, the work comes to an end with the Sikh army chasing the fleeing enemy forces. The Var celebrates in sonorous verse the brave exploits of its hero, Hari Singh Nalva." It extols his valour and munificence, and his qualities as a man and as soldier. Hari Singh has been portrayed as a man who is pious and philanthropic by nature and who has deep faith in Sikh tenets.

References :

1. Padam, Piara Singh, Panjabi Varan. Patiala, 1980
2. Ashok, Shamsher Singh, Prachin Varan te Jangname. Amritsar, 1947

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