SATVANT KAUR, whose full title is Srīmatī Satvant Kaur dī jīvan Vithiā, is a historical romance by Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh. Its first part was published in 1900 and the second in 1927. In later editions, both parts were combined in a single volume. The plot has been set against the backdrop of the Afghān invasions of the Punjab in the eighteenth century. With Ahmad Shāh Durrānī's fourth-raid in 1756 is linked the story of the heroic Sikh girl, Satvant Kaur, who, having been abducted to Kābul, undergoes untold tribulation but remains streadfast in her devotion to her religious faith. Her days in the Afghān capital are full of hair-raising adventure. She is purchased from her abductor by another Afghān noble. In this family, she wins the affection of the wife (Fātimā) and her little son and is thus able to evade the Afghān. She lays Fātimā under her debt by dramatically saving her life one day from the schemes of her drunken husband. He himself is committed to jail for a crime and is sentenced to death by royal fiat. Satvant Kaur further obliges her mistress by saving her husband's life by a clever ruse. Disguised as Fatimā, she goes in a palanquin to see the Afghān in the prison. She sends him out in the palanquin and herself stays behind in his place. The ruse is discovered the following day when the prisoner is led out for execution.
Satvant Kaur is granted a reprieve. When the story reaches the ears of the Amīr (presumably, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī), he is deeply impressed by her daring. On her request, he pardons the nobleman, but, instead of sending her back to her native village of Khannā, in India, he insists on admitting her into the harem as one of his begums. A fire in the building where she is detained gives her the chance to make good her escape. She is afforded willing and secret refuge in Fātimā's house. Through an old tunnel from that house she establishes communication with a Hindu family in the city. She finally sets out for the Punjab disguised as a boy with a party led by an elder of the family, called Ladhā Siṅgh. The caravan is stopped by an Afghān squad on search for a royal diamond missing from the treasury. The leader of the squad Āghā Khān is, in reality, the son of a Sikh sardār abducted as a child, with his mother and a maid, during Nādir Shāh's invasion of India. The mother was beheaded on refusing to marry the trooper. The child grew up as his adopted son, but discovered the secret through the old maidservant of the family. He now separates himself from the Afghān troops and travels on to India with Satvant Kaur ---Jasvant Siṅgh, in boy's dress-- and the maidservant. They all reach Amritsar safely, Āghā Khān returns to the faith of his forbears and becomes Alāmbā Siṅgh. He vows himself to fighting for the honour of the Khālsā. This also is Satvant Kaur's ambition. The maid is initiated as Tej Kaur and takes the same pledge.
Āghā Khān, now Alāmbā Siṅgh, traces his sister. Satvant Kaur visits her parents at Khannā. Fātimā journeys to the Punjab in search of her husband who has been wounded in another of Ahmad Shāh's campaigns against the Sikhs and arrested. She meets Satvant Kaur, receives the rites of the Khālsā and becomes her comrade in faith and in arms.
Unlike Sundarī and Bijay Siṅgh, the plot of Satvant Kaur is full of digressions into history. The chapters describing the history of Peshāwar, Bodhi Vihārs and withdrawal of Marāṭhās have no relevance to the history of the period. The story is strewn with miraculous and extraordinary elements. The style throughout is rhetorical. The plot and the characters have been devised to bring out the chivalry of the Sikh tradition and the ethical excellence of the Sikh faith.
M. P. Kohlī