SIKH SACRIFICE 3
Bhai Mati Das Ji
Bhai Mati Das came from a Brahman family of village Kariala in the district of Jhelum (Pakistan). He was the eldest son of Bhai Praga. His grandfather, Mahatma Gautam Das, used to be a deeply religious man of noble, saintly character. He was loved and respected by all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Bhai Praga was a strong stalwart. He had the body and the strength of a giant. He embraced the Sikh faith during Guru Har Gobind's time. He lived the life of a true Sikh. His life was a model for others. He was a prominent saint-soldier of Guru Har Gobind's. He took a hero's part in Guru Har Gobind's battle. He had four sons: Bhai Mati Das, Sati Das, Jati Das and Sakhi Das. Bhai Mati Das was a strongly built as his father, Bhai Praga. He was a dear, devout disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He actually practiced what he believed and professed. Guru Tegh Bahadur made him his diwan. He had to look after the income and expenditure of the Guru's darbar.
Along with the Guru, Bhai Mati Das was also arrested, chained and imprisoned. Under Emperor Aurangzeb's orders, Guru Tegh Bahadur was to be beheaded. The qazis decided to torture and kill the Guru's companions before his eyes. They thought, 'The sight of their suffering and fate might shake his resolve. He might be inclined to save himself be agreeing to our proposal. He might embrace Islam.' So they picked out Bhai Mati Das first of all. He was led out in chains to Chandani Chowk under a heavy guard. He was calm. His face beamed with glory. His gait was a mighty hero's swagger. He walked like a superior among inferiors. His whole bearing showed wonderful self-confidence and self-satisfaction. A large crowd had gathered already in Chandani Chowk. Bhai Mati Das was brought there under a heavy guard. A number of qazis accompanied him. They were apparently saying something to him. But he neither listened nor heard. His mind was wholly fixed on God. He was eager to meet him. No eyes were dry. All observers were filled with reverence and admiration for that tall, strong, calm, and holy man of God. They shuddered at the thought of what was about to happen to him.
The spot fixed for his execution was reached. The guard and the qazis halted, with Bhai Mati Das in their midst. The chief Qazi then said to Bhai Mati Das, 'O brave young man, be wise. This is my last appeal to your common-sense. Why throw away your youthful life and all the joys it may bring ? Accept Islam, and be one of the ruling class. You will have wealth and high position. You will enjoy a life of peace, plenty and pleasure. When you die, prophet Mohammad will receive you among the faithful. You will be led into Paradise. You will live there forever among pleasure of all kinds. If you refuse to accept all these good things of this world and the next, you will be killed with torture. So be wise. Make a wise choice.' Bhai Mati Das replied, 'Why waste your time and breath ? I prefer dying to giving up my faith. Be quick.' The Qazi said, 'All right, let it be as you desire. But have you any last wish which you would like to be fulfilled before you are killed ?'
Bhai Mati Das said, 'Yes. Stand me with my face toward my Guru. In that way I shall behold him to the last moments of my life here.' His wish was granted. He was made to stand with his face toward the Guru. He was tightly tied between two erect flat logs of wood. A saw was placed on his head. Each end of it was held by a fierce looking Pathan. The saw began to move to and fro. Blood began to flow down Bhai Mati Das's face and neck. He did not utter any cry of pain. His face showed no sign of suffering. He was calmly repeating Japji. His body was sawn into two. His devout, brave soul reached the bosom of the kind and loving Father of all. Bhai Mati Das has not died. He still lives in the hearts of those who worship goodness, who admire nobility. He lives in the minds of those who lead a spiritual life. He is the inspiration of those who prefer the soul to the body; who, in order to save their soul, to keep in pure and unsullied, would gladly sacrifice the body and all its pleasures. He is the motivation of those who place duty before self. He is the hero of all who work for noble objectives, not for rewards or recognition.
Bhai Dyal Das Ji
Bhai Dyal Das was another of the Sikhs who had been arrested along with Guru Tegh Bahadur, and taken to Delhi. Like his companions, Bhai Dyal Das was also arrested, chained and imprisoned in the Kotwali Delhi. After having martyred Bhai Mati Das, the qazis turned to Bhai Dyal Das. They led him to the spot where Bhai Mati Das had been sawn into two. He was told to see what had happened to his companion. He was advised to be wiser. He was told of joys and pleasures he could enjoy by accepting Islam. He was told what would happen to him if he refused to become a Muslim. Bhai Dyal Das heard all this. He did not feel nervous or afraid. He remained firm in his resolve. Then he said, 'My misguided friends, do you think that you have killed my brother, Bhai Mati Das ? You are mistaken. You have not killed him. You have given him ever lasting life. He has become immortal. He will live forever in the hearts of men. he will be source of inspiration to others. Many like him will rise and follow his example. A time will come when you and your emperor will be no more, but Bhai Mati Das will be yet alive. I will not give up my faith. The pleasure which you offer have no charm for me. The tortures which you have threaten me have no terrors for me. Be quick. Send me to where my brother, Bhai Mati Das, has gone to live forever in the lap of the Lord.'
'All right,' said the Chief Qazi, 'be ready.' He was seated in a large boiling vessel. It was filled with water. Then they lit fire under it. They went on heating it from below. The water began to boil. Bhai Dyal Das was calm and cool all this while. He sat in the boiling water with no sign of suffering on his face. He did not give out even the faintest cry of pain. He went on repeating Guru's hymns. This went on until his soul left his body to join Bhai Mati Das.
Bhai Sati Das Ji
Bhai Sati Das was a brother of Bhai Mati Das, who had been the first to be martyred on that day. After putting Bhai Dyal Das to death, Aurangzeb's men took out Bhai Sati Das from the prison. He was told to see what had happened to his other two companions. 'If you don't want to suffer what they have suffered,' they said, 'give up your kufar or false faith, and embrace Islam, the only acceptable to God. Be wise, make a wise choice. If you embrace Islam, you will be given a high position and plenty of pleasures. Make up your mind. Bhai Sati Das was firm as a rock in his resolve. He told the Qazi and his men that he was eager to join his martyred companions. Under the Qazis's orders, Bhai Sati Das was wrapped in cotton, which was soaked in oil. Thus wrapped, he was burnt alive to death. All the time he was calm and cheerful, and continued reciting the Guru's hymns. This happened on 11th November, 1675. Such heroic souls never die. They live for all times as sublime as ever. Throughout the ages they stand like light-houses in the waves, guiding humanity through storms. They are inspiration of the soul for the rising generation.
It behoves us to ever remember such heroes; to preserve and pursue, in our life and practice, the noble principles for which they laid down their lives. We should be firm and sincere in our faith. We should prefer a life of spiritual joys to a life of flesh and fleshy pleasures.
Sardar Subeg Singh, Shahbaz Singh Ji
Sardar Subeg Singh was an influential Jat zamindar of Jambar, in the district of Lahore. He was also a government contractor. He was great scholar of Persian, a wise and upright man. He proved useful to Zakriya Khan on a number of occasions. For many years the Mughal government pursued a policy of persecuting the Sikhs. It was determined to root them out completely. Thousands and thousands were murdered in cold blood. But the Sikhs just continued to grow. They never thought of giving up their faith to save their lives. The martyrdom of persons like Bhai Taru Singh produced a wave of indignation among Sikhs of the Majha. They decided to retaliate. They resolved to take revenge. They began to fall on government treasuries and caravans. Parties coming with chests of revenue meant for Lahore were waylaid and looted. As a result for some years no money from revenue could reach the government treasury. The forces of government tried to punish the offenders. But they were unable to contact them; for the Sikhs did not live in houses or forts. After each attack, they used to run away to their camps in the forests. The story of persecution and revenge went on for some time. The government, at last, felt tired of this method of dealing with rebels. It decided to pacify and conciliate them. Accordingly, in 1733 Zakriya Khan represented his difficulties to the Delhi government. He suggested that a policy of conciliation should be given in a trial. with that end in view, he proposed that a grant be made to the Sikhs and a title be conferred on their leader. The proposal was accepted. The next thing needed was to persuade the Sikhs to agree to the proposal. Zakriya Khan felt that to persuade them would not be an easy task. He turned to Sardar Subeg Singh for help. He said to him, 'If you succeed in bringing them round, you will receive good service to me and my government. It will be remembered, appreciated and duly rewarded.'
Sardar Subeg Singh agreed to do his best. He agreed to meet the Sikhs and try his skill. At that time the Khalsa had assembled at the Akal Takhat, Amritsar. He went there and held discussion with them. He informed them of the offer made by the government. He offered them the title of 'Nawab' for their leader, along with a Jagir of about one lakh rupees. They would not accept the offer. They were about to reject it outright. But Sardar Subeg Singh succeeded in overcoming their objections. Then they accepted the offer. In this way, some sort of peace was made between Mughal government and the Sikhs. Zakriya Khan felt relived a good deal. He appreciated the part played by Sardar Subeg Singh in bringing about the reconciliation. But after some time, the campaign of persecution was started once again. In the heat of that campaign even Sardar Subeg Singh was not spared. He was arrested along with his son, Sardar Shahbaz Singh. This is how it happened. Sardar Subeg Singh had a son named Sardar Shahbaz Singh. He used to read in a Muhammadan school under a qazi. The boy was usually handsome, bright and promising. The qazi took a fancy to him. He wished to convert him to Islam. He wanted to marry his daughter to him. The qazi tried his utmost. He used all his skills. But Sardar Shahbaz Singh was firm in his faith. Neither threats nor tempting offers could make him change his resolve. Because of this, the qazi's fondness for the bright, handsome boy diminished. He became determined to finish him. He reported unfavourably to the government against him. He said, 'The boy has used disrespectful words against his prophet. He has said foul thing against Islam. This kafir deserves no mercy. He deserves death.'
On the basis of this report, Sardar Shahbaz Singh was arrested and taken to Lahore. He was to stand trial before the governor. At the same time, his father, Sardar Subeg Singh, was also arrested and imprisoned. It was said against him that he supplied information to the Sikhs. But Zakriya Khan died before he could see the end of his victims. He was succeeded by his son, Yahiya Khan. This person was more cruel than his father. He had no soft corner in his heart for Sardar Subeg Singh. He took up his case and pursued it to the bitter end. Sardar Subeg Singh was asked to give up his religion or suffer death at the wheel. He refused to give up his religion. Thereupon, he was put on the wheel and turned on it. The pain was sharp and intense. But it did not break his spirit. Then his son, Shahbaz Singh, was told, 'You can save your life by accepting Islam.' He refused to give up his faith. Thereupon, he was bound to the wheel. He was turned on it before his father's eyes. Both bore the torture with great patience. They went on shouting, 'Akal' all the time. At intervals, the wheels were stopped and the two were asked, 'Do you agree to embrace Islam ?' Every time they shook their heads and shouted, 'NO'. The wheels were set in motion again. The two kept on shouting 'Akal' ! 'Akal'. The wheels had sharp knives arranged around them. They went on working mercilessly. The shouts of Akal grew feebler and feebler. Then they ceased altogether. Both left their bodies. They went away to join the ranks of illustration Sikh martyrs. This occurred in the year 1745.