BALVAṆḌ, RĀI, a rabābī or rebeck-player in the time of Gurū Arjan and co-composer with Sattā, said to be his brother, of a Vār included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib in the Rāmkalī musical measure. He was by birth a mirāsī Muslim minstrel and genealogist, and sang the sacred hymns to the accompaniment of rebeck like Bhāī Mardānā used to do during the time of Gurū Nānak. Not much authentic biographical information is available about him except that he and his brother, Sattā, were contemporaries with Gurū Arjan (1563-1606) for whom they recited śabda-kīrtan. According to another tradition, they started their career under Gurū Aṅgad sometime after he succeeded Gurū Nānak on the tatter's demise in 1539 and continued to serve the Gurūs until the time of Gurū Arjan.

        Story is recorded that Balvaṇḍ had become so proud of his art that he once refused Bābā Buḍḍhā's request for the recital of a śabda. He was reprimanded by the Gurū and was told that he (the Gurū) was within every Sikh and refusing a Sikh to recite a hymn meant refusal to the Gurū himself. On another occasion, Balvaṇḍ is said to have requested Gurū Arjan to let him and Sattā have all the offerings of the Baisākhī day of that year so as to enable them to meet the expenses of a marriage in the family. The Gurū agreed. But the offerings on that day fell far short of their expectations. They asked the Gurū for more which he refused. Under the mistaken notion of their indispensability, both Sattā and Balvaṇḍ left the Gurū, imagining that once they stopped reciting the hymns his following would dwindle. Gurū Arjan sent for them, but they refused to return. When the Gurū himself called on them, they spoke rudely of the House of Gurū Nānak. Now discarded by the Gurū, they found themselves alienated from the Sikhs. They suffered both mental anguish and fell sick with leprosy. A Sikh, named Laddhā, petitioned the Gurū on their behalf and secured them forgiveness. Back in the presence of the Gurū, they were cured of the disease. They then composed a Vār, popularly known as Ṭikke dī Vār, in praise of the Gurūs. They perceived all the Gurūs as sharing the same spirit, the same one light.

        Both Balvaṇḍ and Sattā are said to have passed away at Lahore in the time of Gurū Hargobind (1595-1644) and were buried on the bank of the River Rāvī. Bābak (d. 1692), Gurū Hargobind's Muslim rabābī performed their last rites.


  1. Bhallā, Sarūp Dās, Mahimā Prakāsh. Patiala, 1970
  2. Santokh Siṅgh, Bhāī, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth. Amritsar, 1926-37
  3. Vīr Siṅgh, Bhāī, Srī Aṣṭ Gur Chamatkār. Amritsar, 1952

Faujā Siṅgh