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Early Gursikhs

Early Gursikhs: Bhai Mati Das Ji

Bhai Mati Das was a Mohyal Brahman of village Kariala in Jehlam district, about 10 kilometres from Chakwal on the road to Katas Raj. The village stands on the top of 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. A great Hindu fair was held there upto 1947. The Hindus always selected fine places of enchanting natural beauty for their fairs, festivals and pilgrimages. The inhabitants upto 1947 were both Hindu and Muslim, all handsome, tall, robust, and strong, enjoying a good standard of living.

Mati Das was the son of Hira Nand a devotee of Guru Hargobind 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 Rae, 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 Har Krishan was summoned to Delhi by Aurangzeb, both the brothers, Mati Das and Sati Das, were present in his entourage along with Dayal Das, Gurditta, a descendant of Bhai Budha.

On Guru Rar Krishan’s death at Delhi, these two brothers were included in the deputation of five men containing Dayal Das and Gurditta also to declare the nomination of Tegh Bahadur as the ninth Guru at 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 Dayal Das.

The two brothers accompanied Guru Tegh Bahadur during his journey to Assam. They were present at the foundation of Anandpur by Guru Tegh Bahadur on his return to Panjab. The Guru’s council of administration then consisted of Mati Das, Sati Das, Dayal Das and Gurditta. When the Guru was carried 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 rdigion, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. It was sugges­ted that the Guru should embrace Islam, an he was offered many temptations. Several newly converted Hindus were produced before the Guru to tell him how happy they were in Islam. On Guru’s em­phatic refusal to abjure his faith, he was asked why he was called Tegh Bahadur or gladiator. 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 Brahman, 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 Brahmans 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 Tegh 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 first of all turned to Mati Das and asked him to embrace Islam. He replied that Sikhism was true and Islam was false, and he would not renounce virtue for vice. If God had created only Islam, all men would have been born circumcised, he said. He was condemned to instantaneous death.

The executioners were called and the Guru and all the three of his companions were made to sit at the place of execution. Bhai Mati­Das 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. Two executioners placed a double-handed saw on his head. Mati Das serenely uttered "Ik Om" and started repeating the Japji.’ He was sawn across from head to loins. Dayal Das abused the Emperor and his courtiers for this infernal act. He was tied up like a round bundle and thrown into a huge cauldron of boiling oil. He was roasted alive into a block of charcoal. Sati Das condemned these brutalities. He was hacked to pieces limb by limb. The Guru witnessed this savagery with divine coolness. The world history does not offer anything worse than this halal butchery of human beings.

Bhai Mati Das, the martyr, was the son of Bhai Hira Mal, also called Hiranand, a Chhibbar Brahman of Kariala, now in Pakistan. His grandfather, Bhai Paraga, had embraced the Sikh faith in the time of Guru Hargobind and had taken part in battles with the Mughal forces. His uncle Dargah Mall served Guru Har Rai and Guru Har Krishan as Diwan or manager of the household. Bhai Mati Das and his brother, Bhai Sati Das, assisted Dargah Mall in his work during Guru Tegh Bahadur’s time. The former was himself appointed Diwan along with Dargah Mall who was by then considerably advanced in years. Diwan Mati Das accompanied Guru Tegh Bahadur during his travels in the eastern parts in 1665-70. He was among those who were detained with Guru Tegh Bahadur at Dhamtan in 1665 and then released from Delhi at the intervention of Karivar Ram Singh, of Amber. In 1675, when the Guru set out from Anandpur for Delhi, Bhai Mati Das accompanied him. He was arrested with him under imperial orders and taken to Delhi. Upon his refusal to forswear his faith, he was tortured to death. He was, on 11 November 1675, sawn into two, from head downwards.


  1. Bhalla, Samp Das, Mahima Prakash. Patiala, 1971
  2. Gian Singh, Giani, Sri Gur Panth Prakash. Patiala, 1970
  3. Santokh Singh, Bhai, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth. Amritsar, 1927-35
  4. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909
  5. Trilochan Singh, Guru. Tegh Bahadur. : Prophet and Martyr. Delhi, 1967
  6. Harbans Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Delhi, 1989

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