BIJAI SIṄGH, by Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh, is a historical romance constructed around the heroic figure of Bijai Siṅgh, a fictitious character, through whose spiritual integrity it endeavours to delineate a whole people, its inspiration and way of life. First published in 1899, Bijai Singh is the author's second novel and, like its predecessor Sundarī (q. v.), it is situated in the same 18th century period of suffering and trial for the Sikhs. Bijai Siṅgh is in every sense an exemplary character. Born Rām Lāl in a Hindu Khatrī family of Lahore, he received the new name Bijai Siṅgh as, moved by the gallant deeds of the Sikhs, he, along with his wife and son, receives the initiatory rites and joins the ranks of the Khālsā. The family quits home to take refuge in a forest, but is spied upon and captured by a Mughal troop. All efforts to convert Bijai Siṅgh to Islam and persuade his wife, Sushīl Kaur, to enter the Nawāb's harem fail. Bijai Siṅgh is released on the intercession of a Sūfi Saint Sabīr Shāh, and his wife and son, the six-year-old Vāryām Siṅgh, sent to a detention camp. The Nawāb is still desirous of marrying Sushīl Kaur, but Murād Begam who, like her husband Mīr Mannū, is a historical character, protects her. After her husband's death in an action against the Sikhs, Murād Begam assumed power in Lahore.

        Bijai Siṅgh joins the jathā or band of Sardār Karoṛā Siṅgh - that is a real name from Sikh history, but wounded in a battle, he again falls into captivity and is taken to Lahore. Here Murād Begam loses her heart to him and proposes marriage, exempting him from the condition of renouncing his faith and embracing Islam. He, however, spurns the offer. The Begam's intrigue to get rid of Sushīl Kaur by having her thrown into the rivers also fails. The Sikh spy Bijlā Siṅgh who happens to be around, picks her up as well as her son and brings them back to the camp of their leader, Karoṛā Siṅgh. While the mother and son regain health in the jathā, an attack is planned to get Bijai Siṅgh released. Although the plan succeeds, Bijai Siṅgh is wounded grievously. Back in the camp, he bleeds profusely and dies with the Gurū's name on his lips. Sushīl Kaur also breathes her last at the same moment. Their son, Varyām Siṅgh, is brought up by Karoṛā Siṅgh.

        As the author himself proclaims in the preface, he wrote the novel with a view to resurrecting Sikh values and belief. The Sikh actors in the story are presented at their idealistic best. This makes plot as well as characterization somewhat tentative. Yet the novelist did succeed in his purpose of stirring the hearts of his readers. For them Bijai Siṅgh and Sushīl Kaur became real persons, embodying the Sikh virtues of faith, tenacity and sacrifice.


  1. Harbans Singh, Bhai Vir Singh. Delhi, 1972
  2. Kohlī, Surindar Siṅgh, and Harnām Siṅgh Shān, eds. , Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh, Jīvan, Samāṅ te Rachnā. Chandigarh, 1973

Dharam Siṅgh