VĀR PĀTSHAHĪ DASVIṄ KĪ, a ballad in Punjabi by an unknown poet describes Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's battle against the combined forces of hill rājās and the Mughal Faujdār Rustam Khān. The poet has not mentioned where and when the action took place, but the navies of the Mughal commander Rustam Khān and his brother Himmat Khān, mentioned in the Vār indicate that it was the battle of Nirmohgaṛh, fought in 1700.
The Vār opens with a supplicatory verse, whereafter the poet straightway begins the narrative. Rustam Khān has arrived at the head of a Mughal host with the proclaimed object of routing the Gurū and his Sikhs. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh invites his selected Sikhs for consultation. The Sikhs are eager to give the enemy a befitting reply on the battle ground. Then follows a vivid description of the march of the Sikh force. The remaining 44 stanzas (12 to 55) contain a forceful, if somewhat rhetorical, narration of the battle scenes. The assaults of the armies, the charge of the warriors, the neighing of the steeds, the excitement and confusion of combat are reproduced with imaginative fancy. In stanza after stanza the poet deals with the same theme, but every time employing fresh imagery.
A number of Sikhs fell on the field of battle. The adversary had, perhaps, suffered heavier losses, their commander Rustam Khān being among those slain. Thereafter Himmat Khān assumed the command, and the battle took a more fierce turn. Towards the close of the day, the Sikhs had to retreat, only to take field with renewed vigour the next day.
The last stanza of the Vār pronounces that those who sing this Vār would be rescued from the cycle of death and rebirth. The Gurū would protect those who listened to the narration of the valiant deeds of the heroes.
In addition to the pauṛīs, the poet has used dohrā, soraṭhā and savaiyyā measures. The pauṛīs are in old Punjabi while for other measures Braj Bhāṣā, mixed with Punjabi, has been used. The Vār contains a vast range of archaic words. The influence of Chaṇḍī dī Vār is evident. In addition to the vocabularly, the poet has borrowed imagery and, at places, complete lines, from Chaṇḍī dī Vār. However, the poet does not lack originality. His composition contains images and expressions which are new and fresh. The now famous line, "Chaṛhdā hoiā boliā paij rakhīṅ apṇe nāṅv dī, " going to make battle, he supplicated, now protect the honour of Thy name, O Lord.
The Vār remained in obscurity for over two centuries and was published by Piārā Siṅgh Padam, in 1967, in his collection Vārāṅ Srī Gurū Gobind Siṅgh Jī Dīāṅ.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok