Shahid Bhai Mani Singh Ji
Family background :
Bhai Mani Singh is one of the most famous martyrs of the Sikh faith. He was from a distinguished family of Sikh warriors. In the days when the Mughals ruled Punjab and were bent on exterminating the Sikhs, no Sikh was allowed to utter the word "Guru". In 1733 when there was a price on the head of every Sikh, it was Bhai Mani Singh, the custodian of the Harmandir Sahib, a Saint-Soldier who had the courage to invite Sikhs to Amritsar for the celebration of Baisakhi and the celebration of the founding of the Khalsa. When Mughal military maneuvers caused the celebration not to be well attended and Bhai Mani Singh could not pay the fine the dues he had agreed to pay the Mughals (to legally hold the event) Bhai Mani Singh was ordered to convert to Islam. Refusing to give up his beliefs Bhai Mani Singh was dismembered joint by joint. The tale is told that when the executioner started to begin with his wrists, Bhai Mani Singh mockingly reminded the executioner of the sentence, reminding him of the joints in his hands. Bhai Mani Singh spent a considerable part of his life in service at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. He was born in Alipur distt Multan, one of the 12 sons of Mai Das. His grandfather was Bhai Bhaloo Rai, a great warrior who was a soldier in Guru Hargobind's army who took part in all the battles fought by Guru Hargobind against the Mughal attackers. When Mani Singh was 13 years old, his father, Bhai Mai Das, took him to Guru Har Rai at Kiratpur to pay their homage. When Mani Singh, in paying his respects, prostated himself before Guru Har Rai, the Guru prophesied, "This lad, full of good deeds, will be world famous." Mani Singh spent about two years at Kiratpur in the service of Guru Har Rai. He served in the Guru's kitchen everyday, scrubbing cooking pots and utensils. He also attended to other chores and at the same time found time to learn Gurbani. He took part in prayer sessions with great zeal. When Mani Singh was 15 years old, his father applied to Guru Har Rai for leave to be granted to Mani Singh for a short period. Leaving having been granted, Mani Singh and his father returned to their village Alipur. At the age of 15, Mani Singh was married to Bibi Seetobai, the daughter of Lakhi Rai, also known as Lakhi Shah who later, when Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded in Delhi, recovered the Guru's body, took it home and set fire to his home in Raisina in order to cremate the Guru's body. At that site now stands Gurdwara Rikabganj. After his marriage Mani Singh spent some time with his family in his village. Subsequently, Mani Singh, accompanied by his elder brothers, Bhai Jetha Singh and Bhai Dial Das, went to Kiratpur and presented themselves before Guru Har Rai for service at his shrine. Mani Singh's great desire was to spend all his life in the service of the Guru.
After the passing away of Guru Har Rai, Mani Singh started serving Guru Harkrishan Sahib. When Guru Harkrishan proceeded to Delhi, Mani Singh was one of the Sikhs who accompanied him. When Guru Harkrishan Sahib died on 30 March 1664 in Delhi, Mani Singh escorted the Guru's mother, Mata Sulakhani to Bakala and presented himself before Guru Teg Bahadur for service. Mani Singh's elder brothers, Bhai Jetha Singh and Bhai Dial Das also arrived at Bakala for service with the Guru. Mani Singh was at that time 20 years of age. After serving some time in the service of Guru Teg Bahahdur, Mani Singh took leave of the Guru and returned to his village in Alipur. Mani Singh later, accompanied by his family, proceeded to Anandpur Sahib for the Baisakhi festival. Guru Teg Bahadur had then just arrived at Anandpur Sahib after a preaching tour in the East. This was in 1672. Living in the presence of Guru Teg Bahadur, Mani Singh continued with great zeal making copies and preparing small pothis (books) of Gurbani. When Guru Teg Bahadur heeded the appeal of the Kashmiri Pandits and their request for help in saving the Hindu religion, Guru Teg Bahadur decided to proceed to Delhi. Bhai Jetha and Mani Singh and some other Sikhs remained at Anandpur with Guru Gohind Singh to look after him. Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dial Das accompanied Guru Teg Bahadur to Delhi.
They were arrested together with Guru Teg Bahadur and taken to Delhi where all of them suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Mughals. Bhai Dial Das was, as stated earlier, the elder brother of Bhai Mani Singh while Mati Das and Sati Das were the grandsons of Bhai Parag Das or Bhai Piraga, as he was known popularly, a Brahmin of the Chhibber clan, from Kariala, a village in District Jhelum(Pakistan), who became a Sikh at the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and later distinguished himself as a warrior while serving Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, especially in the battles of Ruhela and Amritsar. Mani Singh was not only a great scholar of Sikh sacred scripture and wrote books on it but was also a warrior who accompanied Guru Gobind Singh as one of his body guards on many occasions. In 1685, when Guru Gobind Singh went to Nahan, on the invitation of Raja Medni Prakash, Mani Singh was one of the Sikhs who accompanied the Guru. In 1687, when the Guru received a request for help from the widow of Baba Ram Rai, because the Masands were ill treating her, Guru Gobind Singh accompanied by Mani Singh went to Derah Doon, taught the Masands a good lesson and put them in their proper place. In 1688, at the Barsi (Death anniversary) of Baba Ram Rai, Guru Gobind Singh sent Mani Singh at the head of a Jatha of 50 Sikhs to represent him at the Barsi.
In 1688, at the battle of Bhangani, Mani Singh showed his prowess with the sword. In this battle his younger brother Hati Chand was killed. In 1690, in the battle of Nadaun, Mani Singh showed great bravery and prowess with the sword; so much so that after the victory of the Guru's forces, Guru Gobind Singh bestowed on Mani Singh the title of Diwan (Minister). In 1699, on Baisakhi day when Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa Panth, Mani took Amrit and from Mani Ram he became Mani Singh. On this day five of Mani Singh's sons were also initiated as Khalsas. They were :
1. Bachitar Singh
2. Udai Singh
3. Anaik Singh
4. Ajab Singh
5. Ajaib Singh
Mani Singh's brothers, Rai Singh, Roop Singh and Man Singh were also initiated.
The brave deeds of Mani Singh in so many battles earned him the reputation of a great warrior. In his position of being the Guru's Diwan (Minister) he had to attend to many matters in the Guru's establishment. Nevertheless he had time to study the Sikh scripture under the Guru's guidance and became an accomplished theologian. He acquired so much knowledge and understanding of Gurbani, that he used to do Katha (Exposition) of the Granth Sahib to the Sangat (Congregation) both at Anandpur Sahib and later at the Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Mani Singh, his grandfather, eleven brothers and seven of his ten sons died in battles fought on behalf of the Guru. The following seven sons of the Mai Das were from his wife Madribai:
1. Bhai Jetha Singh, martyred at Alowal in 1711.
2. Bhai Dial Das, accompanied Guru Teg Bahadur to Delhi where he was martyred in 1675.
3. Bhai Mani Singh, martyred in Lahore in 1734.
4. Bhai Dan Singh, killed in the battle of Chamkaur in 1705.
5. Bhai Man Singh, killed in the battle of Chitor - Garh in 1708.
6. Bhai Amar Chand, died in infancy.
7. Bhai Roop Singh, killed with his elder brother Jetha Singh in Alowal in 1711.
The following five sons of Mai Das were from his wife Ladki:
1. Bhai Jagat Singh, martyred together with Bhai Mani Singh in Lahore in 1734.
2. Bhai Sohan Chand, killed in the battle of Nadaun in 1691.
3. Bhai Lehna Ji, killed in the battle of Gular in 1696.
4. Bhai Rai Singh, killed in the battle of Muktsar in 1705.
5. Bhai Hati Chand, killed in the battle of Bhangani in 1688.
List of Bhai Mani Singh's sons:
1. Chitar Singh, martyred with Mani Singh in Lahore in 1734.
2. Bachitar Singh, martyred in the battle of Nihan near Anandpur in 1704.
3. Udai Singh, martyred in Sahi Tibi near Anandpur in 1704.
4. Anaik Singh, killed in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.
5. Ajab Singh, killed in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.
6. Ajaib Singh, killed in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.
7. Gurbaksh Singh, martyred with Mani Singh in Lahore in 1734.
8. Bhagwan Singh
9. Balram Singh
10. Desa Singh - the author of the Rahetnama (Code of conduct) of the Khalsa.
Seven of Mani Singh's sons were from his first wife, Seetobai and the remainder from his second wife Khemi.
In 1699, after the Khalsa Panth was created with the famous Amrit ceremony and Rahit Maryada (Code of conduct of the Khalsa) was ordained, Guru Gobind Singh sent Bhai Mani Singh and five other Khalsas to Amritsar with instructions to take possession of the Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Mani Singh was appointed Granthi of the Harmandir Sahib and Jathedar of the Akal Takhat. Mani Singh thus became the third Granthi of the Harmandir Sahib, after Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas. Mani Singh did away with all the Hindu practices that had crept into the Harmandir and restored all the traditional ceremonies of the Khalsa which became a regular daily feature. Apart from Kirtan Singing of hymns from the Granth Sahib, Mani Singh used to do Katha (Exposition of Gurbani) which became a very popular daily feature. Rahit Maryada was propagated and arrangements were made for administering Pahul (initiation) to new converts to the Khalsa fold. As a result of Bhai Mani Singh's efforts, a large number of Jats (farmers) from northern Punjab were initiated as Khalsas, whose numbers increased day by day. Many of them, when they went back to their villages, persuaded others to take the pahul and become Khalsas. Periodically, Bhai Mani Singh used to go to Anandpur Sahib to pay homage to Guru Gobind Singh and keep him informed of the affairs and happenings at Amritsar. In the first battle fought by Guru Gobind Singh after the creation of the Khalsa Panth in 1699, against Raja Ajmer Chand and his Mughal supporters, Bhai Mani Singh and his sons were in the first line of the Guru's forces. The Guru was so pleased with the bravery and the performance of Mani Singh's sons that after the Khalsa victory, the Guru issued a special Hukumnama (Edict) in praise of them. Mani Singh's sons mentioned in the Hukumnama were :
1. Bachitar Singh
2. Udai Singh
3. Anaik Singh
4. Ajab Singh
5. Ajaib Singh
Year of birth :
There is know uncertainty about the exact year of birth of Bhai Mani Singh. The following scholars er greatly and show how uncertain and unlearned unsikh like they were: Giani Thakur Singh writes his year of birth as 1672 AD while some other writers put it at 1670 AD. But according to Sohan Singh Seetal, a well known Sikh historian, Bhai Mani Singh was born in 1664 AD. Principal Satbir Singh wrote the year of birth as 1672 in his 1970 edition but changed it to 1662 AD in the later editions of "Sada Itihaas" According to Dr Santokh Singh also, Bhai Mani Singh was born in 1662 AD. These earlier dates are indirectly based on Giani Giani Singh's references to ninth Guru's visit to village Akoi/Malwa in year 1665 AD. Based on critical analysis of ancient Sikh writings, it may appear that Bhai Mani Singh was born no later than 1665 AD, hence years given by Giani Sohan Singh Seetal or Principal Satbir Singh/Dr Santokh Singh etc. appear much closer to the truth.mandir Sahib in order.
In the service of the Guru :
Bhai Mani Singh is said to have been brought in the early years of his childhood to the presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur. He was not of the same age as the Guru's own son, Gobind Rai but much younger. Mani Singh remained in his company even after he had ascended the religious seat as Guru. Mani Singh accompanied the Guru to the seclusion of Paonta where Guru Gobind Singh spent some three years exclusively given to literary work. Bhai Mani Singh took Amrit at the hands of Guru Gobind Singh Ji on the day of the creation of Khalsa. When Guru Gobind Singh Ji left Anandpur on the night of December 20, 1704, his family got separated at river Sirsa in the confusion created by the Mughal attack. Bhai Mani Singh took Mata Sundri Ji and Mata Sahib Devan to Delhi via Ambala. In 1706, Bhai Mani Singh escorted Guru Sahib's wife and Mata Sahib Devan to Talwandi Sabo where the Guru was staying. When Guru Sahib left Agra with Emperor Bahadur Shah for Nanded in 1707, Mata Sahib Devan and Bhai Mani Singh accompanied him. Afterwards Bhai Mani Singh escorted Mata Sahib Devan Ji back to Delhi where she lived with Mata Sundri Ji for the rest of her life. Mata Sundri Ji came to know of the trouble that was brewing between the Tat Khalsa and Bandai Khalsa military factions of the Sikhs. She appointed Bhai Mani Singh as the Granthi of Harmandir Sahib and sent him to Amritsar with Mama Kirpal Singh (Chand), the maternal uncle of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. On his arrival at Amritsar in 1721, Bhai Mani Singh restored peace among the Khalsa and put the affairs of Harmandir Sahib in order.army.
The Mughal Empire :
By 1737, the Mughal government of Lahore had strictly prohibited the Sikhs to visit Amritsar and bathe in the holy tank. To overcome this restriction, Bhai Mani Singh applied to Governor Zakariya Khan for permission to hold the Baisakhi festival at the Golden Temple. The permission was granted for a tribute of Rs.5,000. He hoped that he would be able to pay the sum out of the offerings to be made by the Sikhs who were invited to come. The Sikhs came in large numbers, and Zakariya Khan, under the pretext of keeping order, sent a force under Diwan Lakhpat Rae to Amritsar. It was to march towards the city on the day of the festival in order to intimidate and disperse the Sikhs, and the festival broke up at the approach of the Mughal army.
Bhai Mani Singh was arrested for not paying the stipulated sum. He was asked by the Qazi to embrace Islam or else face death. Bhai Mani Singh stoutly refused to barter his faith and boldly opted for death. By orders of Zakariya Khan, Bhai Mani Singh was executed at Nakhas, Lahore in December, 1737 AD. The Nakhas has since been known as Shaheed Ganj - the place of martyrdom. This was a gruesome execution in which Bhai Mani Singh's body was chopped to pieces joint by joint starting from the extremities.The irony of the execution was that when the executioner started to cut into Bhai Mani Singh wrist Bhai Mani singh gestured to the executioner that he should follow the orders of his lord with strictness like a true Muslim. Very puzzled the executioner and guards asked what he meant The Great Shaheed replied you have been ordered to execute me by way of chopping my joints, lest we forget that my joints start with my fingers.
A scholar :
Bhai Mani Singh acted as scribe when Guru Gobind Singh Ji - the then Guru of the Sikhs - dictated Sri Guru Granth Sahib he was only aged 14. He also transcribed many copies of the sacred Sikh scriptures which were sent to different preaching centers in India. He also taught the reading of Gurbani and its philosophy to the Sikhs. Bhai Sahib was responsible for collecting the Gurbani of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and compiling it in the form of Dasam Granth (Book of the Tenth Guru)[dubious – discuss]. Besides this, Bhai Sahib also authored Japji Sahib Da Garb Ganjni Teeka (teeka means translation and explanation of a work). He expanded the first of Bhai Gurdas's Vaars into a life of Guru Nanak which is called Gyan Ratnawali. Mani Singh wrote another work, the Bhagat Ratnawali, an expansion of Bhai Gurdas's eleventh Vaar, which contains a list of famous Sikhs up to the time of Guru Har Gobind. In his capacity as a Granthi of Darbar Sahib at the Golden Temple, Bhai Singh is also stated to have composed the Ardas (Supplication) in its current format; he also started the tradition of mentioning deeds of various Gursikhs with the supplication.