2. Bhai Mati Das Ji
Early life :
Bhai Mati Das was a Mohyal Brahmin of the Chhibber clan. He belonged
to the village of Karyala, a stronghold of the Chhibbers, in the Jhelum
District in Punjab (Pakistan), about ten kilometres from Chakwal on the road
to the Katas Raj Temple Complex. The village stands on the top of the Surla
hills. This part of the country is known as Dhani meaning rich. A few
kilometres away are the Salt Mines and coal mines of Dandot. The Katas lake
is beautiful. Legend connects it to the Mahabharata. It is believed to be
the very pool, where the Pandava, Yudhishtira was tested by his father, Lord
Yama/Dharma in the form of a Yaksha. A great Hindu fair used to be held
there up to 1947.
Devotion to the Gurus :
Mati Das was the son of Hira Nand, a disciple of Guru Har Gobind, under whom
he had fought in many battles. He survived the Guru, and a little before his
death he had entrusted his two sons, Mati Das and Sati Das to the care of
Guru Har Rai, who had assured the dying man of his full attention and help.
Both the lads remained attached to the Guru's family at Kiratpur. When Guru
Har Krishan was summoned to Delhi by Aurangzeb, both the brothers, Mati Das
and Sati Das, were present in his entourage along with Dyal Das and Gurditta,
a descendant of Bhai Budha (different from Baba Gurditta, the son of Guru
Hargobind, brother of Guru Teg Bahadur and father of Guru Har Rai).
Guru Tegh Bahadur :
On Guru Har Krishan's death at Delhi, these two brothers were included in
the deputation of five men containing Dyal Das and Gurditta to declare the
nomination of Teg Bahadur as the ninth Guru at the village of Bakala where
the new Guru was then residing. The Guru was pleased to offer the two
important portfolios of finance and home departments to Mati Das and Sati
Das respectively. Both knew Persian well, and were quite familiar with the
working of the Guru's durbar. The departmnent of household affairs was
entrusted to Dyal Das.
The two brothers accompanied Guru Teg Bahadur during his journey to Assam.
Guru Tegh Bahadur bought a hillock near the village of Makhowal five miles
north of Kiratpur and established a new town, which he named as Anandpur
(the abode of bliss). Mati Das and Sati Das were present at the foundation
of Anandpur. The Guru's council of administration then consisted of Mati Das,
Sati Das, Dyal Das and Gurditta. When the Guru was arrested and taken to
Delhi, these four persons followed the Guru.
At Delhi, the Guru and his four companions were summoned into the council
chamber of the Red Fort. The Guru was asked numerous questions on religion,
Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. It was suggested to the Guru that he should
embrace Islam. On the Guru's emphatic refusal to abjure his faith, he was
asked why he was called Teg Bahadur (gladiator or Knight of the Sword;
before this, his name had been Tyag Mal). Bhai Mati Das immediately replied
that the Guru had won the title by inflicting a heavy blow on the imperial
forces at the young age of fourteen. He was reprimanded for his breach of
etiquette and outspokenness.
As Mati Das was a Brahmin, the Guru was asked
why he had courted the company of such men when he did not believe in caste,
and why he was defending the Brahmins of Kashmir. The Guru replied that when
a person became a Sikh, he lost his caste. As for the Kashmiri Pandits, it
was his duty to raise his voice against cruelty and injustice. The Guru and
his companions were ordered to be imprisoned and tortured until they agreed
to embrace Islam.
After a few days, Guru Teg Bahadur and three of his companions were produced
before the Qazi of the city. Gurditta had managed to escape. He remained in
hiding in the city, and in spite of all the efforts of the Government, he
could not be traced. The Qazi turned to Mati Das first and asked him to
embrace Islam. He refused to do so. He was condemned to an instantaneous
The executioners were called and the Guru and all the three of his
companions were made to sit at the place of the execution. Bhai Mati Das
approached the Guru with folded hands and asked for his blessings, saying
that he was happy to be the first to achieve martyrdom.
The Guru blessed him telling that they must resign themselves cheerfully to
the will of the Lord. He praised him for his lifelong single-minded devotion
to him and his cause. With tears in his eyes, he bade him farewell saying
his sacrifice would occupy an abiding place in history. Mati Das touched the
Guru's feet, embraced his friend and brother, and came to his place.
Mati Das while standing erect was tied between two posts. He was asked if he
had any parting words, to which Mati Das answered, "I request only that my
head be turned toward my Guru as I am executed." Two executioners placed a
double-handed saw on his head. Mati Das serenely uttered "Ek Onkar" and
started reciting the Japji Sahib, the great morning prayer of the Sikhs. He
was sawn across from head to loins. It is said that even as the body was
being sawn into two, the Japji continued to reverberate from each part until
it was all over.