VAR SHAH MUHAMMAD
VAR SHAH MUHAMMAD, also known as Jangnama Shah Muhammad or Hind Panjab da Jang, is a long poem in Punjabi in the traditional baint metre dealing with the events following the deaul of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, notably the Sikhs` warwiui the English in 1845-46. The author is a Muslim, Shah Muhammad (1782-1862), who lived at Vadala Viram, near Amritsar. He identifies himself with the Sikh elan and ascendancy and recalls with pride the glorious days of Ranjit Singh`s empire. With equal personal concern and anguish, he relates the tragic events which overtake it after the passing away of die Maharaja.
Shah Muhammad`s poem comprises 105 baints, each baint having four verses. The first forty five baints describe the murderous intrigues which follow the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839. Dhian Singh Dogra, the prime minister, enticed Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh, son of Kharak Singh, who had succeeded Maharaja Ranjit Singh as the ruler of the Punjab. He set aside Maharaja Kharak Singh and got rid of his favourite Chet Singh who was murdered in his presence in his bedchamber.
This was the beginning of the bloody story of intrigue and murder which engulfed prince as well as courtier. Maharaja Kharak Singh, his son Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh, Maharaja Sher Singh, and his son Kanvar Partap Singh fell victims to intrigue.Dhian Singh himself was killed by the Sandhanvalias who had murdered the reigning Maharaja Sher Singh and his son Partap Singh within minutes of each other. Shah Muhammad has related` this tale of political nightmare with a historical precision and brevity of expression unusual in a popular poet.
Then follows a description of the engagements between the English and the Sikhs during the first Anglo-Sikh war. In several of his baints. Shah Muhammad lyrically evokes the memory of bygone days when the Sikh warriors had subdued Khaibar, Kangra, Jammu and numerous other places. He describes with admiration the deeds of heroism and sacrifice of sardars such as Sham Singh Atarivala and Ranjodh Singh. The historical framework the poet has laid out for the events that took place has not so far been superseded.
1. Kohli, Sita Ram, ed., Var Shah Muhammad. Ludhiana, 1966
2. Ganda Singh, ed., Panjab dian Varan. Amritsar, 1946 3 Ashok, Shamsher Singh, Prachin Varan te Jangname. Amritsar, 1950