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ALL A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Var

‘Var’ is a heroic poetic form, similar to a ballad, written in stanzas (pauris). According to the Mahān Kosh: “Var is a composition that describes war. The meaning of the word ‘var’ has become pauri (ni:shreni/nisheni/nishani) chand also, because poets have mostly used this chand to sing praises of the valor of warriors.”

In old Panjabi literature, the subject of vars is generally focused on worldly rule and the struggle for material wealth. Although vars written in the Guru Granth Sahib bring other subjects within their expansive scope, they fundamentally focus on the internal struggle of virtues and vices within the human mind, in a quest to become Divine-like. At the same time, these vars, while praising the Divine-existence, also praise the Truth-seeking travelers and the Guru, their mentor on this path.

In their original form, vars recorded in Guru Granth Sahib were written only in the form of pauris. During the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Arjan Sahib added appropriate saloks with the pauris of each var, while maintaining the central message of the pauris (usually expressed in their last line). Those saloks that did not match the central message of any pauri were recorded on pages 1410-1426 under the title ‘salok vārāṁ te vadhīk’ (saloks beyond the vars).

Information given at the beginning of a var about its creator, mahal (e.g., mahalā 1), is actually an indicator of the creator of all of the pauris in that var. Wherever a pauri by another mahal is used, it is indicated through an appropriate title (e.g., pauri m: 5).

There are twenty-two vars included in the Guru Granth Sahib. Out of these, two vars contain only pauris and no salok. In the rest of the twenty vars, saloks accompanying the pauris that are either of the same mahal or another were added by Guru Arjan Sahib at the time of Adi Granth’s compilation. Usually these saloks (accompanying a pauri), are two or more in number.

In a var, saloks appear before the pauri. The number recorded at the end of each pauri indicates only the number of pauris (in a var), and not the number of saloks. For this reason, numbers counting the pauris (in a var) remain in sequential order from the beginning to the end, while the numbers counting saloks are limited to their respective pauris. The numbers accompanying saloks restart (from 1) with every new pauri.