Bhai Taru Singh Ji – “More than asked For”
Bhai Tahru Sahib was resident of village Poola, where he had a small piece of land. The wheat and the maize that he produced and the humble mud hut he had, he happily shared with all the weary travellers who passed through the village and needed a shelter to sleep for the night. He belonged wholly to the Guru’s hymns and early in the morning, under the stars, while on the plough, he recited the Japji; The Japji which has in it the inimitable cosmic-ness of life in nature. The villagers loved Taru Singh for his fellow feeling, harmlessness and spiritual purity.
But the authoritarian Mughal government of medieval India, was not willing to appreciate the way of life of the Sikhs, which drew no dividing line between man and man, between Hindus and Muslims, between Brahmins and the Shudras(so called lower caste people).
“Manas ki jat sab ek hi pahchanbo”. (Guru Gobind Singh)
à “All men are the same”, was a creed which cut at the very root of Mughal establishment based on human distinctions. To extinguish this smithy of love, the government offered to its subjects numerous monetary awards for the heads of the Sikhs and they were declared outlaws. The greed for gold tempted one Bhai Nirangi to lodge a complaint against Bhai Taru Singh, with the Subedar (governor) of Lahore, stating that he(Bhai Taru) gave shelter, to dacoits, the Sikhs, and thus the property of Muslim and Hindu subjects of His Gracious Majesty, was unsafe.
When the Subedar, saw this young man of 23, he was overwhelmed and shaken by his presence. Addressing Taru Singh, the Nawab said, “0, graceful Sikh, I feel sorry for you and I wish to give you a new lease of life”. Taru Singh with tears in his eyes, responded: “Reward me with a new lease of life? Why stain me with such dishonour while my brothers and sisters are being martyred here before me, everyday, every hour.”
The Subedar said, your presence is expounded with a heavenly light. Somehow my heart does not permit me to have you killed, but you must cut and present me your tress-knot” (juuda – Hairs).
Taru Singh replied, “The Sikh and his hair are one. I will be pleased to give you more than you ask me, my head with my tress-knot”. These hair are the eternal Gift of love of immeasurable beauty to the Khalsa by our Guru, they cannot be separated from a Sikhs head, without separating his head. The one who just looks at them can never understand them. It is like looking into a mirror, but you are not one with the mirror. The observer is only capable of experiencing; he is never the mirror, the experience, the state itself. These hair are the fountain of joy, the spring of life for us.
The Subedar, still confident of bribing him, then said: “Taru Singh, you are too young. You have not yet experienced the beauty and joys of life. I will make arrangements for your marriage with a woman of your choice. You will be awarded with a high mansab (office) in the Mughal army. You will be endowed with a hereditary jagir(estate), I promise you all sorts of luxuries but you must part with sikh way of life”.
A Guru’s Sikh can never be tamed and now his tears mingling with a smile of joy, Taru Singh replied, “Having been sent by Him they come (into the world) and recalled by Him they go back”, said Guru Nanak. “It is the right and privilege of the brave to die,” sayeth He. “For a Sikh, life has beginning and no end- it is both death and life. Neither my life nor my hair are for bargaining in your court which views beauty, life and religion in weights of gold. The value and beauty of our hair cannot be measured in terms of luxuries. Your thinking is materialistic and is therefore negligible, but an integrated living is always spiritual”.
The Subedar could no longer bear this song of truth and he cried out, “Stop him, for he disturbs the law and order of our province. Kill him at once, but cut his hair before”. The Mughal soldiers caught hold of Bhai Sahib’s head and chin, but the barber found it impossible to bring his hand near his head. With a stroke of his head he would push back his captors and make them whirl on the ground. A cobbler was then sent for, to try his skill with his tools and scrap off Taru Singh’s hair, but his attempt too proved abortive. At last the help of a carpenter was asked for the foul deed. With a stroke of his adze, he cut off Bhai Taru Singh’s head (1743 A.D.) but failed to cut his tress-knot.
Thakur Rabindranath Tagore, a great mystic-poet of Bengal (India) has a beautiful song of this episode: Prarthona Atit Dan — “More than asked For”
For a Sikh to cut his tress-knots
Amounts to discarding his dharma.
The Pathans brought,
bound hand and foot, the Sikh prisoners,
Shahid Ganj earth turned red with their blood.
The Nawab addressing Taru Singh,
said unto him:
‘I wish to spare thy life’.
Taru Singh retorted: ‘Spare my life!
why thou dishonors me?
Said the Nawab: ‘Thou art bravest of the brave?
I don’t wish to wreak my anger on thee.
Taru singh replied: ‘O Nawab thy request
with my heart I comply and liberally grant thee
more than what thou beg’est of me:
`My head with my tress-knot.’