Early Gursikhs:Bhai Mani Singh Ji
Dayal Das was the eldest brother of Bhai Mani Singh. He was one of the five companions of Guru Tegh Bahadur before his execution at Delhi. First of all Bhai Mati Das was asked to become a Musalman. He boldly pleaded for his own religion as being the best. He was at once tied between two posts, and while standing erect was sawn across from head to loins. Dayal Das condemned the Emperor and his courtiers for this inhuman act. He was immediately tied up like a bundle, thrown into a huge cauldron of boiling oil and roasted alive into a block of charcoal.
Mani Singh was born nearly three years before Dayal Das’s martyrdom in the beginning of February, 1673, on Wednesday. His father was Kala Dullat and Mother Daya Kaur. They lived at village Longowal near Kangar in Malwa. Some writers are of the opinion that Mani Siugh was born in Akoi village not far from Longowal. When Guru Tegh Bahadur was touring in Maiwa, Kala waited on him with his two younger sons, Nigahia and Mani Ram.
Guru Tegh Bahadur’s execution took place in November, 1675. In 1682 Kala called at Anandpur to pay homage to Guru Gobind Singh. Both of his sons were with him. Maui Ram was then nine years of age. Nigahia was older. Mani Ram had such a fascination for the place, the Guru and sangat that he declined to return home.
Mani Ram spent his time in singing hymns, in serving sangats, in learning Gurmukbi and in memorising Gurbani. In 1699 AD on the occasion of creation of the Khalsa, after the Five Beloved Ones, Maui Ram received baptism from Guru Gobind Siugh and became Mani ~ingh. According to Dr. Trilochan Singh, Bhai Maui Siugh was married to Sito Bai, daughter of Lakhi Rae Yadav of Muzaffargarh district.
At the time of evacuation of Anandpur by Guru Gobind Singh in December, 1704, Mani Siugh followed the Guru. When on the bank of river Sarsa the Guru was suddenly attacked at night by the Mughal forces, all were scattered in different sides. The Guru’s mother and his two youngest sons went in one direction. The Guru’s wives, Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devi, followed another route. Maui Singh immediately joined the ladies. He led them along the bank to a distance. In a village he change~ their clothes into those of a peasant woman. He also acquired ordinary ponies with pack saddles. Thus disguised he led them across the river the following day when the flood water bad subsided. He guided them on to Ambala. His aim was to take them to Nahan, the capital of the friendly Raja in whose territory the Guru spent three years at Paonta. But the numerous streams were flooded on account of heavy rains. Under advice of Nand Lal, who also accompanied the ladies, it was decided to go to Delhi outside Wazir Khan’s jurisdiction. There posing themselves as Muslims they stayed in Matya Mahal, a purely Muslim locality even upto now, out of sheer necessity for security. When Mani Siugh knew that the Guru was living at Talwandi Sabo now called Damdma Sahib, he conducted the Guru’s wives there.
The Adi Granth was in possession of Dhir Mal, a grandson of Guru Hargobind who lived at Kartarpur near Jalandhar. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s disciples had seized the Granth by force without the knowledge of the Guru, who returned it to Dhir Mal. Guru Gobind Siugh sent Mani Siugh to Kartarpur to borrow the Granth, and in case of refusal to copy it. Dhir Mal declined to part with it, or to be copied. He tauntingly said if Gobind Singh were a true Guru, he should be able to reproduce it. This challenge touched the Guru’s heart, and he set himself to this task in right earnest. It is said that he dictated the whole Granth to Bbai Mani Siugh from memory including 116 hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur, and one of his own.
Afterwards the Guru dictated to Bhai Maui Singh his Jap, Bachitra Notak or his own autobiography, Akal Ustat or praise of God, Chandi Ki Var or the praise of Durga, the goddess of war, Gian Prabod or the awakening of knowledge, Chaubis Avtars or twenty-four warlike incarnations of God, Swayyas or religious hymns in praise of God, Shastar Nan’ Mala or a description of weapons of war both offensive and defensive, Triya Charitar or character of women, and Zafar Nama or the Epistle of Victory addressed to Aurarigzeb. All these works were later on arranged by Mani Singh in one volume. Collectively they formed the Dasam Granth.
Having spent a little over nine months at Damdama Sabib, the Guru decided to leave for the Deccan to see Aurangzeb. He sent his wives back to Delhi under the charge of Bhai Mani Singh. When Guru Gobind Singh had advanced into Rajasthan as far as Baghaur, he learnt that the Emperor was no more. He turned towards Delhi. He joined the new Emperor, Bahadur Shah, at Agra in July, 1707, Mata Sundari was left in Delhi, while Mata Sahib Devi accompanied him. Bhai Mani Singli remained in attendance upon the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh passed away at Nander on October 7, 1708. Bhai Mani Singh was present there. He escorted Mata Sahib Devi back to Delhi where she lived with Mata Sundari for the rest of her life.
Mani Singh took leave of the ladies and came to Amritsar to look after the holy places, and to convey to them the offerings received at Han Mandar for their maintenance. At that time Banda Bahadur was conquering Panjab. A rift soon took place among the Sikhs. A group who considered themselves as the real Khalsa for they had been baptised either by Guru Gobind Singh himself or by his baptised persons, called themselves Tatva Khalsa. The other group directly recruited by Banda in his army were designated Bandai Sikhs. A conflict arose over the possession of the holy places of Amritsar. Bhai Mani Singh was then in charge of Han Mandar. He decided the case in a simple way. On two pieces of paper he wrote the words Tatv’ Khalsa and Bandai Khalsa. The papers were rolled up into a ball and thrown into the holy tank at Har ki Pauri. The paper bearing the name of Tatv Khalsa came up the water first, and the holy places were immediately handed over to them.
In 1721 it struck Bhai Maui Singh that the Adi Granth based upon ragas created confusion. He thought that its rearrangement into separate chapters of every Guru and bhakta would be easier for the common man to read and understand. Consequently he took up this work and after years’ hard labour reorganised it. The sangats grew furious. The Bhai was condemned for tampering with the sacred scriptures in such a brutal way. He was cursed that his body should be cut to pieces as he had mutilated the Holy Granth. The condemnation by the sangats came out to be true.
The Mughal Government of Lahore had strictly forbidden Sikhs to. visit Amritsar and bathe in the holy tank. On all sides of the city strong contingents were posted to arrest every Sikh approaching their sacred shrines. Tall towers were constructed to keep a close watch on fresh arrivals. Mani Singh grew tired of isolated life. He wished to meet the sangats. He applied to the Government that the Sikhs might be allowed to attend the Baisakhi in 1734, for a tribute of Rs. 5,000, and permission was granted. The real object of the government seemed to be to destroy all the Sikhs gathered there.
Mani Singh sent messages all over the Panjab inviting the Sikhs to celebrate the Baisakhi festival at Amritsar. Young men from far and wide began to pour into the holy city in tens and twenties. The Governor of Lahore sent a strong force to Amritsar on the plea that troops were needed to maintain peace and order. Mani Singh protested that it was his duty to preserve tranquility. Meanwhile a report was received that many more troops were on their way from Lahore to Amritsar. The Sikhs considered it a trap and all of them took to their heels.
No fair was held and no offerings came. Mani Singh had planned to pay Rs, 5,000 out of the offerings, otherwise he had no money with him. The Government demanded the promised fee. Mani Singh blamed the Government for not enabling him to h9ld the fair. He was arrested and taken to Lahore. The Qazi sentenced him to death, and he was cut to pieces limb by limb on June 24, 1734.1 A monument in honour of Mani Singh’s martyrdom was later on erected on the spot of his execution behind the Lahore Fort. A poet remarked:
Janani jane tan bhakta jan keh data keh sur
Nah~an janani ban’h rahe kahe gawave nur.
[If a woman is to give birth, she should bear generous and brave men, otherwise the woman should remain barren to save her honour.).
This saying is fully applicable to Bhai Mani Singh. He was indeed great in Sikh lore and learning as well as in service and sacrifice
Mani Singh. Bhai (d. 1708), a warrior in Guru Gobind Singh’s retinue, was, according to Seva Singh, Shahid Bilas Bhai Mani Singh, the son of Mal Das of Alipur in Muzaffargarh district (now in Pakistan) and a brother of Bhai Mani Ram whose five sons were among the first few to be initiated at the time of the inauguration of the Khalsa on 30 March 1699. Bhai Mani Singh took part in the battles of Anandpur both as an ensign and a fighting soldier. He also fought at Chamkaur and was one of the three Sikhs who survived that critically unequal battle and came out with Guru Gobind Singh unscathed. Bhai Mani Singh constantly attended upon the Guru thereafter until his death in a chance skirmish with Mughal troops near Chittor during the Guru’s march to the Deccan along with Emperor Bahadur Shah. A minor dispute between the foraging parties of the two camps had developed into a fierce encounter. Guru Gobind Singh sent Bhai Mani Singh to the scene to intervene and settle the issue, but a chance bullet hit him and proved fatal. The exact place and date of the incident are not known. While Giani Garja Singh, editor of Shahta Bilas quoting Bhatt Vahis, places the event in Chittor in Rajasthan (3 April 1708), Kavi Sainapati, a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh, in his Sri GurSobha records that the skirmish took place near the River Narbada (Narmada), which was crossed a few weeks after the date metioned in the former work. The Nihang Sikhs trace the origin of their order from Bhai Mani Singh.
- Singh, Sukha (1912). Gurbilas Patshahi Dasvin. Lahore. ISBN.
- Singh, Santokh (1927-35). Sri Guru Pratap Suraj Granth. Amritsar. ISBN.
- Singh, Giani Gian (1970). Twarikh Guru Khalsa [Reprint]. Patiala. ISBN.
- Macauliffe, M.A (1909). The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus Sacred Writings and Authors. Low Price Publications