Bhai Mani Singh, a great Sikh personality of eighteenth century, occupies a very esteemed position in Sikh history. He assumed the control and steered the course of the Sikh destiny at a very critical stage in their history. A great scholar, a devoted Sikh, and a courageous leader, Bhai Mani Singh willingly laid down his life to uphold the dignity of the Sikh religion as well as nation. The nature of his martyrdom has become a part of the daily Sikh Ardas (prayer).
Year of birth
There is know uncertainty about the exact year of birth of Bhai Mani Singh. 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. Principle 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.
According to Shaheed Bilaas edited and published by Giani Garja Singh ji in 1961, the birth date of Bhai Mani Ram (alias Bhai Mani Singh Rajput) of Alipore
is 1644 AD.This obviously is not the correct Bhai Mani singh shaheed The Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed known for his extraordinary sacrifice was from the village kambowal in Amritsar district and yes he was a Dullat Jat Sikh as Giani Gian Singh portrays all mainsream religious bodies sanatan sikh including the Taksals and Akali Nihang Singh Dals are in agreement contrary to what self proclaimed scholars may want you to think as they base their findings on the bhat vahia historical records which are known to have been very incorrect for the portrayal of sikh history and facts.
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 approximately of the same age as the Guru's own son, Gobind Rai. Both grew up together - Gobind Rai and Mani were the names they went by in those pre-Khalsa days. 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.
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 Diwali
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 Zakarya 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.
Bhai Mani Singh acted as scribe when Guru Gobind Singh
Ji - the then Guru of the Sikhs - dictated Sri Guru Granth Sahib
. 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). 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.
Books and articles
- Ancient Bansawalinama, Charan 10, 13, 14, Bhai Kesar Singh ji Chhibber.
- Panth Parkash, Giani Gian Singh ji.
- Prachin Panth Parkash, (ed) Bhai Vir Singh, New Delhi Edition, p 222-223, Rattan Singh Bhangu.
- Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Prof Harbans Singh.
- Encyclopaedia of Sikh Literature, Mahan Kosh, 1974, foot note, p 951.
- Gurmat Sudhakar, Bhasha Vibhag, 1970, p 221, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha.
- Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji di Shabad Murti, p 38, Bhar Randhir Singh ji.
- Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed and his Caste, Kamboj Chetna Manch 1993, p 86, Dr Parkash Singh.
- Sidki Jeewan, Mani Singh Shaheed Da Jeewan Britaant, 1907, Giani Thakur Singh.
- Jeewan Sandesh, (Itihaas Number), Giani Gurdit Singh ji.
- Bhai Mani Singh, Bhasha Vibhag, 1961, p 85, Dr S. S. Kohli.
- Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji de Darbari Rattan, 1994, p 251-252, Prof Piara Singh Padam.
- Glimpses of Sikhism and the Sikhs, 1982, Sher Singh Sher.
- Bansawalai Nama Das Patshahian ka, Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibber, Singh Brothers Amritsar, 1997, p 26, Editor Piara Singh Padam,
- Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 248-267; Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed, 2004, Kirpal Singh ji.
- Punjab History Conference, Twenty Second Session, March 25-27, 1988, part I, Proceedings, Punjabi University Patiala, 1989, p 80, Dr G. S. Nayer Member Editorial Board, Punjabi University Patiala.
- Identity of Bhai Mani Singh, Article, Published in Punjab History Conference, Twenty Second Session, March 25-27, 1988, part I, Proceedings, Punjabi University Patiala, 1989, p 80-81, Prof Gurmukh Singh.
- Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed, (a research book), January 2004, Jullundur, K. S. Dardi.
- These Kamboj People, 1979, K. S. Dardi.