Bhai Mani Singh was the Head Granthi of Sri Darbaar Sahib, Amritsar. Mata Jeeto Ji (short for Ajeet Kaur, also known as Mata Sundri Ji), the wife of Guru Gobind Singh Ji requested Bhai Mani Singh to sort out the disputes amongst the different Sikh groups, which had formed, and unite the Sikh nation as one. Bhai Mani Singh Ji planned to use Bandi Chhor Divas, Diwali, as an opportunity to unite the Khalsa together at Sri Harimandar Sahib.
Permission was sought from the Mughal authorities to allow the big gathering on Diwali. The Governor of Punjab, Zakariya Khan accepted the plea in return of 5000 gold coins worth of tax. Bhai Mani Singh Ji accepted and sent letters out to the Sikhs across Punjab that all Sikhs will unite on Diwali day at Amritsar.
However, the Mughals were cunning and they planned to attack the Sikhs and kill all the young Sikh men when they gathered at Amritsar. With the blessings of Waheguru, an informant informed Bhai Mani Singh of the Mughal plans. Bhai Mani Singh Ji was angered at the betrayal of Zakariya Khan. He resent letters out to the Sikhs across Punjab, telling them not to come to Amritsar on Diwali and that the gathering of the Khalsa has been cancelled.
Bhai Mani Singh Ji refused to pay the tax for Sikh gathering at Amritsar, which was supposed to take place on Diwali day but was canceled. On refusing to pay the 5000 gold coins worth of tax, Bhai Mani Singh Ji was arrested by the Mughal police force and brought to Lahore to the court of Zakariya Khan. Bhai Mani Singh Ji greeted Zakhriya Khan with Guru Gobind Sing Ji’s salutation, “Waheguru Jee Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Jee Ki Fateh (the Khalsa is Waheguru’s, the victory is Waheguru’s).
Listening, Zakariya Khan became enraged and said, “Oh Mani Singh, open your eyes and see, you are that this moment not walking in the parkarmaa of Harimandar, where you shout these slogans! You are now in Lahore, in Zakariya Khan’s court, where the air says, “Allah is great, Allah is great”, where do you get the nerve to say your Sikh slogans? Bhai Mani Singh said with might and power, “you haven’t met a fox today, you have today met a lion of Guru Gobind Singh Ji!”
Zakariya Khan contained his anger and said, “Oh old man, you are no longer young. If you convert into my religion, then I will convert the remainder of your life into happiness and pleasure. I will give you many wives, I will give you land and will give you a throne to sit on. Oh Mani Singh, what is the difference, before you read Gurbaani and now can you read the Qur’an. Before you used to say ‘Waheguru’, now you can say ‘Allah is Great’. What is the difference in this?”
Bhai Mani Singh, who was an educated Sikh, said, “Oh Zakariya Khan, remember, we have no anger or hatred with your religion. Our Bani says… ਫਰੀਦਾ ਬੇ ਨਿਵਾਜਾ ਕੁਤਿਆ ਏਹ ਨ ਭਲੀ ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਕਬਹੀ ਚਲਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ਪੰਜੇ ਵਖਤ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥੭੦॥ Fareeda be nevaajaa kutiyaa, eh naa bhallee reeth. Kabhee chal naa aayiaa panjey vakath maseeth… Fareed: O faithless dog, this is not a good way of life. You never come to the Mosque for your five daily prayers (Ang 1381, SGGS).”
“ਅਵਲਿ ਅਲਹ ਨੂਰੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕੇ ਸਭ ਬੰਦੇ ॥ ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥ Aval Allah noor upaayiaa, kudhrath ke sabh bandhey. Eik noor the sabh jag upjiyia,a kaun bhalley ko mundhey… First, Allah created the Light; then, by His Creative Power, He made all mortal beings. From the One Light, the entire universe welled up. So who is good, and who is bad? (Ang 1349, SGGS)”
“Oh Zakariya Khan, remember, in the religion we were born, in that religion, we will breathe our last breaths. You say you know the stories about the Sikhs. Do you know that Guru Nanak Ji planted the flower of Sikhi and that even a storm cannot uproot that flower? Not even a storm! It is that type of flower which does not bend down but instead breaks,” said Bhai Mani Singh Ji.
Shakespeare says: “Those who face the storm they stay, those who bend they break.”
Gurbaani says: ਪੁਰਜਾ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਕਟਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਖੇਤੁ ॥੨॥੨॥ Purjaa purjaa katt marai, kabhooh naa chhaadai keyth…He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but he never leaves the field of battle’ (Ang 1105, SGGS).
Zakariya Khan replied to Bhai Mani Singh Ji, “Your talk is very big Mani Singh. Remember, I will give you that type of torture; I will decree that type of fatwa, legal decree, that you will shake and tremble.
With a smile on his face, Bhai Mani Singh Ji answered back, “The land can shake, the sky can tremble, but a Sikh of Guru Nanak Ji cannot tremble or shake. Sikhi is that religion, whose fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji sat on a hot plate and faced tortures. It is that religion, that in order to keep it alive, children aged 5 and 7 years old gave up their lives but not their religion. Remember Zakariya, I will die for my religion, but will not do what you say.”
The next day, Zakariya Khan called the Qazi. “Oh Qazi, from your book of Shari’a Law, I want you to declare a fatwa (legal judgment), such a fatwa that the whole earth and sky will tremble,” said Zakariya Khan. The Qazi opened the Book of Shari’a and announced the fatwa: “May this Kaafir (Infidel) be cut piece by piece, limb by limb.”
Listening, Bhai Mani Singh started to stump his foot into the ground in frustration. Zakariya was standing by and said, “Oh Mani Singh, you got scared? You seemed to be getting frustrated. We have only made you listen to the fatwa, we have yet to cut you limb by limb.”
Staring into Zakariya Khan’s eyes, Bhai Mani Singh said, “Oh Zakhriya Khan I am not scared. I am frustrated with my Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.” He replied, “Obviously you were going to get frustrated with your Guru! What have you got out of your Guru’s Sikhi? Having a fatwa of being cut limb by limb. You still have time to convert to Islam.”
Bhai Mani Singh answered back, “This is not the case. I am frustrated with my Guru because when I left Amritsar, I did an Ardaas. “Oh King and Master, may each hair on my body be accepted for GurSikhi.” But instead, why have my limbs only been accepted and not each hair on my body. What shortage (kammee) was there in my Ardaas?”
“You seem to talk lots, but remember yet you have not seen the face of the executioner. When you see him you will get frightened,” said Zakariya Khan. The executioner arrived. In his hand is a blade. “Oh executioner, sharpen up your blade and I will sharpen up my mind,” said Bhai Mani Singh to the executioner. The executioner replied, “I will sharpen my blade with sand. What will you sharpen your mind with?” Bhai Mani Singh answered him, “Oh executioner, with the sand you are going to sharpen your blade, that sand can break because man made it. But Akaal Purakh makes the sand I am going to use. That sand is, Naam, that sand is Gurbaani. I will sharpen my mind with Naam and Gurbaani.”
Now the executioner sharpens his blade with sand and Bhai Mani Singh Ji sharpened his mind with Naam. He recited Japji sahib and finishing reciting Gurbaani he roared a loud jaikaara, “Boley so nihaal! Sat sri Akaal!” With a glowing face with the power of Naam and Gurbaani, Bhai Mani Singh Ji shouted to the executioner, “Come on executioner, now me and you will talk.” A wooden block was brought forward. Bhai Mani Singh came forward saying “Satnaam Waheguru” he put forward his right hand on the wooden block.
The executioner makes his mark on Bhai Mani Singh’s fingers. Bhai Mani Singh Ji pulls away from his hand. “Mani Singh, you got scared! Before you were talking so much, yet this is the first cut. You couldn’t even handle the first cut, yet we are going to cut you limb by limb, your whole body,” said Zakariya Khan.
Bhai Mani Singh Ji replied back, “Oh executioner, what were your orders? You were ordered to cut me piece by piece. You have left all my fingers. Zakariyaਪੁਰਜਾ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਕਟਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਖੇਤੁ ॥੨॥੨॥ Khan, ensure your servant doesn’t disrespect your orders and I will not disrespect my Father, Guru Gobind Singh Ji Paatshaah’s orders.
Piece by piece, Bhai Mani Singh Ji’s body was cut to bits. Bhai Mani Singh Ji only recited Gurbaani, and it was what he had lived and breathed… “ਪੁਰਜਾ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਕਟਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਖੇਤੁ ॥੨॥੨॥ Purjaa purjaa katt marai, kabhooh naa chhaadai keyth…He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but he never leaves the field of battle (Ang. 1105).
Saying ‘Satnaam Waheguru’ Bhai Mani Singh Ji’s fingers, wrist, elbows, shoulder, toes and knees were all chopped on the wooden block. There was a pool of blood. The body lay severed into pieces. No arms, no legs. “Mera Sir Jaava Taa Jaava Par Meri Sikhi Sidq naa java… If my head goes then so be it, but may I never give up my Sikh faith.”
We salute Bhai Mani Singh Ji.
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