VAR AMAR SINGH KI
VAR AMAR SINGH KI is a versified account of a battle fought in AD 1774 between Raja Amar Singh, the ruler of Patiala and the neighbouring Bhatti Rajput chiefs. The writer is Kavi (poet) Kesho Das, a Brahman bard at the court of the Raja of Patiala. He was a resident of the state of Bikaner, and had served its ruler Raja Gaj Singh before he came to Patiala. The Bhattis were Rajputs by origin, and had embraced Islam forsaking the faith of their forefathers. Now they were staunch opponents of the Hindus and Hinduism. They were haughty and tyrannical towards the people. Their treatment of their Hindu subjects was far from mild.
They insulted and humiliated them in many ways. After the death of Raja Ala Singh of Patiala in 1765, these Bhatti chiefs were further emboldened and they then started plundering the villages of Patiala state. In their abjectness, the subjects of the Bhatti rulers called on Raja Amar Singh who was camping at Dhode fort (Bhavanigarh). His mother Rani Hukman felt much distressed to hear their tales of woe. Poet Kesho Das is profuse in praise of Rani Hukman, though he seems to be confused about her relationship with Raja Amar Singh his statement implies that she was his ram.
The poet compares her to. great women of mythology and legend, such as Sachi, queen of lndra; Kausalya, the mother of Rama, and Sita, his wife ; and Draupadi the wife of Arjun. Hukman was a woman of determination and was well versed in the strategy of war. She counselled her son to march against the Bhattis forthwith. Raja Amar Singh said his ardas and marched with his troops towards the village of Munak, where his main force from the capital joined him. The Bhattis, on hearing of the invasion of Amar Singh, assembled their armies at Bighar. A fierce battle took place. The Bhattis suffered heavy losses and retreated to the fortress of Dhulkot The Patiala force stormed the fortress, but did not succeed in capturing it.
Kesho Das narrates a miracle here. The Raja had vowed to subdue the Bhattis before sunset. Seeing how time was running out, he made a prayer to the Lord Almighty. According to Kesho Das, the prayer was heard and the sun came to a standstill allowing him more time to force the issue. Another assault was made and the fortress fell. The Bhattis accepted defeat. The fort of Fatehabad was also surrendered to Raja Amar Singh. It is probable that the poem was composed by the poet just after the campaign in 1775 or 1776. The verse is eloquent and vigorous.
The language used is Braj, with some admixture of Punjabi and Rajasthani. Kesho Das is an experienced poet, who has command of Indian prosody. He has successfully employed a large number of metres ; dohra, chhapay and kabit having the highest frequency. The ballad has in all 52 stanzas of varying length. Extracts from this Var have since been published in the collection entitled Prachin Jangname, edited by Shamsher Singh Ashok and published by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
1. Ashok, Shamsher Singh, Prachin Jangname. Amritsar, 1950