VĀR AMAR SIṄGH KĪ is a versified account of a battle fought in AD 1774 between Rājā Amar Siṅgh, the ruler of Paṭiālā and the neighbouring Bhaṭṭī Rājpūt chiefs.
The writer is Kavi (poet) Kesho Dās, a Brāhmaṇ bard at the court of the Rājā of Paṭiālā. He was a resident of the state of Bikāner, and had served its ruler Rājā Gaj Siṅgh before he came to Paṭiālā.
The Bhaṭṭis were Rājputs 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 Rājā Ālā Siṅgh of Paṭiālā in 1765, these Bhaṭṭī chiefs were further emboldened and they then started plundering the villages of Paṭiālā state. In their abjectness, the subjects of the Bhaṭṭī rulers called on Rājā Amar Siṅgh who was camping at Ḍhoḍe fort (Bhavānīgaṛh). His mother Rāṇī Hukmāṅ felt much distressed to hear their tales of woe. Poet Kesho Dās is profuse in praise of Rāṇī Hukmāṅ, though he seems to be confused about her relationship with Rājā Amar Siṅgh ---his statement implies that she was his rāṇī. The poet compares her to great women of mythology and legend, such as Śachī, queen of Indra; Kauśalyā, the mother of Rāma, and Sītā, his wife; and Draupadī the wife of Arjan. Hukmāṅ was a woman of determination and was well versed in the strategy of war. She counselled her son to march against the Bhaṭṭīs forthwith. Rājā Amar Siṅgh said his ardās and marched with his troops towards the village of Mūṇak, where his main force from the capital joined him.
The Bhaṭṭīs, on hearing of the invasion of Amar Siṅgh, assembled their armies at Bīghar. A fierce battle took place. The Bhaṭṭīs suffered heavy losses and retreated to the fortress of Dhūlkoṭ. The Paṭiālā force stormed the fortress, but did not succeed in capturing it. Kesho Dās narrates a miracle here. The Rājā had vowed to subdue the Bhaṭṭīs before sunset. Seeing how time was running out, he made a prayer to the Lord Almighty. According to Kesho Dās, 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 Bhaṭṭīs accepted defeat. The fort of Fatehābād was also surrendered to Rājā Amar Siṅgh.
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 Rājasthānī. Kesho Dās is an experienced poet, who has command of Indian prosody. He has successfully employed a large number of metres; dohrā, chhapay and kabit having the highest frequency. The ballad has in all 52 stanzas of varying length. Extracts from this Vār have since been published in the collection entitled Prāchīn Jaṅgnāme, edited by Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok and published by Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok