Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bhai Mani Singh Ji

Bhai Mani Singh was born at a village named Kailbowal. The village was later destroyed during Nadar Shah's invasion. Its ruins are near Sunam, district Patiala. His father was a Jat Sikh, named Chaudri Kala. His parents called him Mania. When he was about five years of age, his parents visited Anadpur. They did so to see and pay homage to Guru Tegh Bahadur. Guru Gobind Singh, then known as Gobind Rai, was about the same age as Mania. They became playmates and friends. When Chaudri Kala and his wife decided to return home, Mania refused to accompany them. He expressed a wish to stay at Anandpur and play with Gobind Rai. His wish was granted. He became a life-long companion and devoted Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh. Mata Gujri took charge of Mania. She treated him like her own son. The playmates lived together, dined together, played together and learnt together. Mania became a great scholar. 

When Guru Gobind Singh introduced his new baptismal or Amrit ceremony, he baptized his playmate Mania, too. Thereupon, Mania became Mani Singh. the Guru held him in high esteem and consulted him on all matters. When Guru Gobind Singh evacuated Anandpur in 1704, Bhai Mani Singh was with him. Under the Guru's orders, he conducted Mata Sahib Kaur and Mata Sundri to Delhi. There he busied himself in serving them. 

In 1705-06 he accompanied them to Damdama Sahib. There under Guru Gobind Singh's direction, he wrote a copy of Guru Granth Sahib. Later he accompanied the Guru to the Deccan. When the Guru was about to depart from this world, he sent Bhai Mani Singh to Delhi alone with Mata Sahib Kaur. At Delhi, he busied himself in serving Mata Sahib Kaur and Mata Sundri. He also did much to preach and popularize the Sikh faith. After the martyr of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur some Sikhs began to regard him (Banda Singh) as Guru. They were called Bandeis. But the strict followers of Guru Gobind Singh, or Tatt Khalsa, believed that the system of personal Guruship had ended with the Tenth Guru. The Bandeis began to claim that they should have an equal share in the management of the Gurdwaras and other affairs of the Panth. But the Tat Khalsa refused to accept this claim. They did not favor such divisions in the Panth. 

Still, the Bandeis persisted in their claim. Much tension was created between the two parties. 

Mata Sundri, who was residing at Delhi, became aware of these troubles. She sent Bhai Mani Singh to Amritsar, with Sri Kirpal Singh, the maternal uncle of Guru Gobind Singh. He was charged with the duty of bringing about peace and unity among Singh. He was appointed Granthi (or head priest) of the Darbar Sahib. He was asked to organize the service in the Gurdwara and to manage its affairs. He was further told by her, 'Don't send any money from the offerings to me. The whole income should be spent there. It should be spent in maintaining the service, langar, and other needs of the institution. Bhai Mani Singh and his companion arrived at Amritsar in the beginning of 1721. In the consultation with the notables of the city, they put the affairs of the Gurdwara in order. A few days later it was the Vaisakhi fair. Elaborate arrangements were made for the grand celebrations. Thousands of Sikhs gathered around the tank. The Tatt Khalsa and the Bandeis also gathered in large numbers. 

They were preparing to come to blows. But Bhai Mani Singh came between them and saved the situation. He suggested that instead of fighting, they should decided their claim be casting lots. He took two slips of paper. On one he wrote, 'WaheGuru Ji Ki Fateh'. These words were used by the Tatt Khalsa when meeting and saluting each other. On the other slip he wrote, 'Fateh Darshan'. These words were used by the Bandeis for the same purpose. Both slips were immersed in the water at Har Ki Pauri. The agreement was that the party whose slip rose first to the surface, would be considered to have carried the day. For some time neither slip came up to the surface. It seemed as if both the slips had sunk for ever. The parties stood in great suspense. At long last, the slip with Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh came to the surface. The Tatt Khalsa was declared to have won. The Bandeis took it as the Guru's verdict. They agreed to give up their claim. 

In this way, on account of Bhai Mani Singh's wisdom and sweetness, the dispute was settled in a peaceful manner. Bhai Mani Singh was the most learned and respected man of his time. As Granthi of Darbar Sahib, he did very valuable work for the Panth. His masterly exposition of Gurbani was appreciated by all. It drew an immense congregation every day. His saintly life and affectionate manners won everybody's esteem and admiration. He wrote a number of scholarly books, like the Gyan Ratnavali. He also compiled the Dasam Granth. For years the Muslim rulers had carried on a large scale massacre of the Sikhs. All efforts was made to prevent the Sikhs from assembling in their favorite shrine, the Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. Therefore, for years the Diwali festival had not been held there. In the year 1738, Bhai Mani Singh applied to the governor of Lahore for permission to hold the Diwali festival in the Gurdwara. Permission was given on condition that Bhai Mani Singh should pay to the government 5000 rupees after the affair. The fair was to last for ten days. Bhai Mani Singh hoped that he would be able to pay the sum out of offerings to be made by the Sikh visitors. He issued invitation to the Sikhs of all places. In response to that invitation, thousands of them started from their homes. 

But the governor's intentions were not good or friendly. He sent a large force to Amritsar under the command of Diwan Lakhpat Rai. This man was a bitter and sworn enemy of the Khalsa. The governor said that the force was intended to keep order. But the real purpose was to prevent the Sikhs from gathering in large numbers. The force was stay at Ram Tirath, near Amritsar. It was to march towards the city on the day of the fair. Seeing it advancing towards the city, the Sikhs would be frightened, and would disperse of their own accord. Bhai Mani Singh knew that Mughals don't like Sikhs so they are here to kill the Sikhs because a large number of Khalsa was going to gather. So Bhai Mani Singh issued an order to all Sikhs to not to come to the festival. 

Bhai Mani Singh Ji refused to pay the tax for Sikh gathering at Amritsar, which was supposed take place on Diwali day but was cancelled. 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 Zakhriya 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, Zakhriya Khan became enraged and said, “O 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 Zakhriya 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!”

Zakhriya Khan contained his anger and said, “O 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. O 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, “O Zakhriya Khan, remember, we have no anger or hatred with your religion.” Bhai Sahib quoted Gurbaani:

Fareedaa be nevaajaa kutiyaa, eih naa bhallee reeth. Kabhee chal naa aayiaa panjey vakhat maseet. ||70||  

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).
Aval Allah noor upaayiaa, kudrat ke sabh bandey. Eik noor te sabh jag upjiyiaa, kaun bhalley ko mandey. ||1||  

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)

“O Zakhriya Khan, remember, in the religion we were born, in that religion we will breath 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 is 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:

Purjaa purjaa katt marai, kabhooh naa chhaadai keyt. ||
He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but he never leaves the field of battle.
(Ang 1105, SGGS).
Zakhriya 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 fatwaa, legal decree, that you will shake and tremble. 

With a smile one 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 Zakhriya, I will die for my religion, but will not do what you say.”

The next day, Zakhriya Khan called the Qazi. “O Qazi, from your book of Shari’a Law, I want you declare a fatwaa (legal judgement), such a fatwaa that the whole earth and sky will tremble,” said Zakhriya Khan. The Qazi opened the Book of Shari’a and announced the fatwaa: “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. Zakhriya was standing by and said, “O Mani Singh, you got scared? You seemed be getting frustrated. We have only made you listen to the fatwaa, we have yet to cut you limb by limb.”

Staring into Zakhriya Khan’s eyes, Bhai Mani Singh said, “O 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 fatwaa 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. “O 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 Zakhriya Khan. The executioner arrived. In his hand is a blade. “O 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, “O 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 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 Zakhriya Khan.
Bhai Mani Singh Ji replied back, “O executioner, what were your orders? You were ordered to cut me piece by piece. You have left all my fingers. Zakhriya 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.

Purjaa purjaa katt marai, kabhooh naa chhaadai keyt. ||
He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but he never leaves the field of battle.
(Ang 1105, SGGS)

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 jaave. ||
If my head goes then so be it, but may I never give up my Sikh faith.
(Sikh proverb)

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