Bhai Mani Singh was born on the 10th March 1644 CE, in the village Alipur, district Muzaffargarh. He came for a glimpse of Guru Har Rai to Kiratpur with his father Mai Dass for the first time and stayed back for service of the Guru's institution. He was married at fifteen to Bibi Sito, the daughter of Bhai Lakhi Rai.
After the battle of Nadaun of 1690 CE, Guru Gobind Singh entrusted him with the service of Diwan. At the time of leaving Anandpur on the night of December 20-21, 1704 CE, the Guru entrusted him to take the Guru's consorts to Delhi. In May 1705 CE, at the call of the Guru, he reached Talwandi Sabo where the Guru got him to write the original manuscript of the Holy Granth and prepare some copies. In 1708 CE, Mother Sunder Kaur sent him from Delhi to Amritsar for the service of the Harmandir Sahib.
Bhai Mani Singh and Qaji Abdul Razak
In 1735 CE, Zakria Khan, the Governor of Lahore, ordered village headmen and landlords to finish Sikhs of their areas. He also appointed Diwan Lakhpat Rai, an enemy of the Sikhs, the administrator of Amritsar, and Qazi Abdul Razak as the police chief. One day the Governor asked them, “What is the reason that no matter what the number of Sikhs we kill more are created ?” The Qazi replied, “Their Guru had put the elixir of life in the pool at Harmandir Sahib. Whosoever bathes in that pool, gains eternal life.” Hearing this, the Governor ordered the filling up of the pool with sand and turned Bhai Mani Singh out from the service of Harmandir Sahib. Having been turned out from Harmandir Sahib, He took up residence at the Sultan Windian's well.
One evening Qazi Abdul Razak came to Bhai Mani Singh and said, “My children are very ill. Medicines of local physicians and doctors are having no effect. Children wake up with nightmares.” He went with him to his house. He sprinkled water from the pool of Harmandir Sahib over the children and said to them, “Be not afraid during the night.” As the Lord would have it, the children stopped having nightmares. Qazi Abdul Razak stopped silting up the pool.
With the help of the Qazi, Bhai Mani Singh got permission from the Governor to allow Sikhs to have free access to Harmandir Sahib for ten days on the occasion of Diwali of 1737 CE, on the condition to pay a tax of Rupees five thousand and so he wrote letters to invite the Sikhs. The Governor and Diwan Lakhpat Rai secretly planned to kill the Sikhs coming for the pilgrimage.
Martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh
Bhai Mani Singh came to know of their plan in time. He sent messages to Sikhs not to come and so no fair was held. The Governor called him to Lahore and demanded the tax money. Bhai Mani Singh said, “What should I pay the money when the fair was not held?” Then the Governor asked Bhai Mani Singh to embrace Islam. He refused. Qazi Abdul Razak ordered that Bhai Mani Singh be cut joint by joint. On the 14th of June 1738 A.D., he was martyred at Nakhaas Chowk by cutting him joint by joint. Apart from scripting the Damdami Bir of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, He is credited for writing Janamsakhi Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
While the above piece of the article shows that Bhai Mani Singh was martyred in 1738 and the incident involving Qazi Abdul Razak took place between 1735-1737, the latest research depicts the Shaheedi (martyrdom) of Bhai Mani Singh on June 24th, 1734. Below is a detailed chronological version of the life journey of Bhai Mani Singh as told in "Mahan Kosh" by Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer.
CHRONOLOGICAL BIOGRAPHY OF BHAI MANI SINGH JI
Early Years and Dedicated Service
Birth and Introduction to Kiratpur (1644-1657)
On a serene day, the 10th of March in 1644, a child named Mani Ram entered this world in Alipur village, nestled within Muzaffargarh district, present-day Pakistan. Endearingly referred to as "Mania," he was destined to lead a life of unwavering devotion. At the tender age of 13, his father, Bhai Mai Das, guided him to Kiratpur, where his journey in the footsteps of spirituality commenced. Embracing the sanctuary of Guru Hari Rai Sahib, Mani Ram immersed himself in the Guru's service within the Gur Darbar.
Journeying with Guru Harkrishna Sahib and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib
Delhi Encounter and Transcending Gurus (1657-1664)
In 1657, an invitation from Aurangzeb led Guru Harkrishna Sahib to the bustling city of Delhi, accompanied by the young Mani Ram. Witnessing the historic meeting between Guru Sahib and Aurangzeb, Mani Ram's faith deepened. Tragically, Guru Harkrishna Sahib's divine light was extinguished on the 6th of October in 1661. With the ascension of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, Mani Ram remained steadfast in his devotion. He rejoiced as Guru Sahib was formally entrusted with the Guruship on the 11th of August in 1664, marking a pivotal moment in Sikh history.
The Guardian of Guru Granth Sahib
Preserving the Divine Word (1664-1678)
Recognized for his profound understanding of Gurbani, Mani Ram played an integral role in preparing the revered scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. At the holy abode of Damdama Sahib Takht, he meticulously oversaw the creation of the Damdama Wali Beer, completed in July 1678. However, the original copy of Guru Granth Sahib, prepared by Guru Arjan Sahib and Bhai Gurdas, remained in Bakala, under the control of Dhir Mall. With diplomacy and determination, Mani Ram ventured to Bakala, striving to secure the revered text. Despite challenges and cunning tactics, his devotion triumphed, enabling the completion of the Bir and the widespread distribution of scriptures.
The Valiant Warrior and Respected Scholar
A Multifaceted Luminary (1678-1685)
Bhai Mani Singh's remarkable qualities extended beyond his role as a scribe. He displayed exceptional skill in horsemanship and swordsmanship, earning him the reputation of a formidable warrior. With an agile and astute physique, he embodied both physical and intellectual prowess. As the years passed, he became an esteemed scholar, delving into philosophical and historical literature, enriching his understanding of Sikh teachings.
The Indomitable Companion
Journeys and Establishing Paunta Sahib (1685-1690)
In March 1685, the revered Guru Gobind Singh Sahib was invited to Nahan by Medni Prakash, the vizier of the Nahan king. Accompanying Guru Sahib on this significant journey, Bhai Mani Singh stood steadfast by his side. Welcomed with regal splendor, Guru Sahib accepted Medni Prakash's invitation and settled in the village of Paunta Sahib. Throughout this transformative period, Mani Singh remained an unwavering companion, upholding the divine mission.
Courageous Battles and Defending Faith
A Battle of Conviction (1687-1691)
Tragedy struck on the 4th of September 1687 as Ram Rai breathed his last in Khurwaddhi, now known as Dehradun. Guru Sahib, accompanied by the loyal Mani Ram, traveled to Khurwaddhi to pay their final respects. The following year, on the occasion of Ram Rai's death anniversary, Guru Sahib dispatched Diwan Nand Chand Sangha and Mani Ram to Khurwaddhi. During the commemorative feast, an unsettling incident occurred. As Diwan Nand Chand commenced the prayers, Masand Gurbakhsh Rai uttered disparaging words. Reacting swiftly, Mani Ram, with unwavering devotion, lifted Gurbakhsh Rai from the table of Guru Granth Sahib and cast him aside. This brave act quelled the disturbance, and the malicious Gurbakhsh Rai and his allies fled. Little did they know, their plans to incite Garhwal king Fateh Shah against Paunta Sahib would soon face a resolute challenge.
An Ever-Present Devotee and Trusted Aide
Service and Esteemed Status (1688-1691)
On the 27th of October 1688, Guru Sahib departed Paunta for Anandpur Sahib, accompanied by Mani Ram. Mani Ram held a position of great importance in the Gur Darbar, second only to Diwan Nand Chand. His daily routine reflected utmost discipline, beginning with an early rise, followed by a bath, and dedicating himself to service—a practice that earned him immense respect among the Sangat. Guru Sahib held a deep affection for Mani Ram, recognizing his unwavering commitment and devotion.
The Heroic Conquest and Diplomatic Struggles
Battles and Testing Times (1691-1694)
In March 1691, as Alf Khan launched an assault on the hill kings, the king of Bilaspur, Bhim Chand, sought Guruji's assistance. Accompanied by notable generals such as Diwan Nand Chand, Diwan Dharam Chand Chhibbar, Mani Ram, and Alam Chand, Guru Sahib arrived in Nadaun to confront the enemy. Mani Ram's valor shone brightly during the Battle of Nadaun on the 19th of March 1691, where his skillful archery decimated six battalions of Alf Khan's army. Victorious, Guru Sahib stayed in the palace of the Nadaun king for a week before returning to Anandpur Sahib. During this period, Diwan Nand Chand, the Court Diwan, encountered controversy regarding a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib. Eventually, he fled from Anandpur Sahib, but his escape proved fatal, as he met his demise at the hands of Dhir Mallis in Kartarpur.
The Trusted Administrator and Spiritual Guardian
Prominent Responsibilities (1691-1694)
In the wake of Diwan Nand Chand's departure, Guru Sahib appointed Mani Ram as "Darbari Diwan" on the 29th of March 1691. Assisting him was Dharam Chand as "Gharbari Diwan." Together, these two Diwans diligently managed the affairs of Guru Darbar and Guru Ghar, ensuring the sanctity and smooth functioning of these revered institutions.
Journeys and Spiritual Encounters
Accompanying Guru Sahib (1693-1696)
In May 1693, Guru Sahib embarked on a visit to the Bangar region, and once again, Mani Ram stood faithfully by his side. Subsequently, in February 1694, Guru Sahib's journey took them to Khurvadhi (Dehradun) and Hardwar, where Mani Ram continued his steadfast companionship. The Panda Vahi of Hardwar vividly records Mani Ram's presence alongside Guru Sahib on the 28th of February 1696.
An Honored Family in Guru's House
Receiving the Pahul of Khande (1699):
Two years after significant events in Bhai Mani Singh's life, Guru Sahib initiated the Khalsa and began administering the Pahul of Khande to the Sikhs. Among the first batch of individuals to receive this sacred initiation were Bhai Mani Singh, his six sons (Chitar Singh, Bachitar Singh, Uday Singh, Anak Singh, Ajab Singh, Ajab Singh), Chaupa Singh, Dewan Dharam Singh, Bhai Alim Singh, and Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh (Ram Kunwar). Their inclusion in this group highlights the special place and importance of Bhai Mani Singh's family in the Guru's household.
Service in Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib
Appointment as Chief Sikh of Amritsar (1698)
In response to Sangat's request, Guru Sahib assigned Bhai Mani Singh the responsibility of taking care of the service in Guru Da Chak (Amritsar). Accompanied by five companions, Bhai Mani Singh arrived in Amritsar on the 2nd of May 1698. On the following day, he hoisted the Blue Nishan Sahib and lit the Guru Granth Sahib in Darbar Sahib, establishing his presence in Amritsar. From that point onward, pilgrims began visiting Amritsar, and Bhai Mani Singh took on the role of narrating stories to the Sangat while also making periodic visits to Anandpur Sahib.
Courage Amidst Turmoil
Battle of Fort Lohgarh and Injuries (1700)
When Ajmer Chand Bilaspuri attacked Anandpur Sahib in August 1700, Bhai Mani Singh was present during the conflict. In the fierce Battle of Fort Lohgarh on the 1st of September 1700, he fought alongside his sons Bachitar Singh and Uday Singh, displaying unwavering courage against the opposing forces. However, Bhai Mani Singh sustained severe injuries during the battle. After recovering from his wounds, he returned to Amritsar and resided there for the next five years, making occasional trips to Anandpur Sahib in response to Guru Sahib's messages.
Recognition and Special Edict
Guru Sahib's Special Edict for Bhai Mani Singh's Sons (1703)
On the 2nd of October 1703, Guru Sahib bestowed a special edict upon Bhai Mani Singh's five sons, designating them as "Farjandah Khane Zaad" (special sons). In this edict, Guru Sahib expressed his pleasure with them, declaring them as his own children and assuring their protection and blessings. The significance of this edict further solidified the honorable position and exceptional relationship Bhai Mani Singh's family held within the Guru's house.
Journey alongside Guru Sahib
Visits to Talwandi Sabo and Kulait (1705-1706)
When Guru Sahib left Anandpur Sahib on the night of 5-6 December 1705, Bhai Mani Singh was in Amritsar. He later traveled to Talwandi Sabo and met Guru Sahib in January 1706. After a brief stay in Talwandi Sabo, Bhai Mani Singh returned to Amritsar. In October 1706, when Guru Sahib planned to head south from Talwandi Sabo, Bhai Mani Singh joined him along with four other Singhs. Together, they embarked on a journey, with Bhai Mani Singh leading the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib.
Challenging Times and Defending Amritsar
Battles Against Chuhar Mall and Deva (1709)
Despite Meena's departure from Amritsar in 1697, his steward Chuhar Mall remained. Chuhar Mall's sons, Mohakam Singh and Ramu Mall, instigated a conflict by cutting mulberry trees from the land of Darbar Sahib during Baisakhi in March 1709. The Sikhs demanded compensation, but Chuhar Mall became stubborn and resorted to threats. The Sikhs intervened, resulting in his demise in the Lahore Darbar. However, Chuhar Mall's repeated appeals led to an attack on Guru-da-Chak by Chaudhry Har Sahai of Patti. Bhai Mani Singh, along with Tara Singh Dal-wan, led the Sikhs to victory against Har Sahai's army. Later, Chuhar Mall brought another force led by Chaudhary Deva, but the Sikhs decisively defeated them. A period of relative peace followed these events.
Times of Change and Martyrdom
Banda Singh Bahadur's Victories and Mani Singh's Exile (1709-1716)
On the 26th of September 1709, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur captured Samana, marking a turning point as the Sikhs began to exert their influence in Punjab. Subsequently, the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah arrived in Punjab with a large army, prompting Bhai Mani Singh to leave Amritsar due to the changing circumstances. Bahadur Shah granted the Jagir of Amritsar to Ajit Singh Palit on the 30th of December 1711, enabling him to oppose Banda Singh. After Bahadur Shah's death in February 1712, Ajit Singh Palit departed Amritsar, while Bhai Mani Singh stayed in the Jhang area for a period. He spent the following years in that region as events unfolded. Ultimately, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was martyred on the 9th of March 1716, making it difficult for Bhai Mani Singh to return to Amritsar.
Returning to Amritsar - Diwan Decoration and Occupied Darbar Sahib (1721)
After a period of difficulty for the Sikhs, Bhai Mani Singh returned to Amritsar in 1721, filled with determination and a renewed spirit. His first task was to adorn the Diwan (assembly hall) in Darbar Sahib. However, at that time, Amritsar faced a challenging situation. Kahan Singh Terehan, known as Bhujhangi due to his connection to Guru Angad Sahib's clan, occupied Darbar Sahib. Meanwhile, Jhanda Bunga was occupied by Amar Singh Kamboj Khemkarni, a companion of Baba Banda Singh.
A Contest of Tickets and Wrestling Matches (1721)
One eventful day, Amar Singh arrived with his companions in a chariot, intending to seize control of Darbar Sahib. Sensing the tension, Bhai Mani Singh devised a clever plan. He invited all the Sikhs and proposed finding slips representing both factions in the Amritsar Sarovar. Whichever faction's slip emerged first would determine the fate of the other leader. Miraculously, the slip representing Kahan Singh's faction surfaced first, sealing Amar Singh's fate.
Not stopping there, Bhai Mani Singh arranged wrestling matches between Kahan Singh and Amar Singh's champions. In a surprising turn of events, Amar Singh's wrestler was defeated, solidifying Kahan Singh's leadership. While Amar Singh's companions accepted this outcome, Amar Singh himself remained reluctant. Sadly, Amar Singh met his demise during a subsequent altercation on 18th October 1723. Bhai Mani Singh continued his dedicated service in Amritsar for the next three years.
The Promise of Collaboration and Looting of Government Treasures (1723-1726)
Following the martyrdom of Bhai Tara Singh on 14th January 1723, the Sikhs had promised to collaborate with the government. However, in 1726, the Sikhs began looting government treasures in various locations. This led to Bhai Mani Singh once again having to leave Guru-da-Chak (Amritsar). For a few years, a secret struggle ensued between the Sikhs and the government. Eventually, Zakaria Khan offered a Nawabi (leadership position) to the Sikhs.
Compromises and Unrest (1733)
On 29th March 1733, a gathering was held at Darbar Sahib, attended by Sikh chiefs like Bhai Mani Singh, Darbara Singh, and Kapur Singh. The gathering aimed to accept the Nawabi as an experiment, despite reservations from many Sikhs. However, the compromise with the tyrannical government was not in line with Sikh principles, and within a few months, the agreement started crumbling.
The Sikhs resorted to looting treasures and collecting revenue from affluent farmers, leading to the closure of gatherings in Amritsar. As a result of the confiscated Jagir, the Sikhs returned to their hideouts, significantly reducing their interactions with Bhai Mani Singh. In October 1733, Bhai Mani Singh negotiated with the government, calling for a week-long gathering in Amritsar during Diwali, provided a tax of 10,000 rupees was paid.
Arrest, Torture, and Martyrdom (1734)
However, the Mughal government allowed the gathering while secretly preparing their forces to attack the Pir Sikhs. Learning of this plot, the Sikhs abandoned the meeting. Bhai Mani Singh was unable to collect the required funds, which resulted in his arrest along with his brother Jagat Singh, two sons, Gulzar Singh, Sangat Singh, Ran Singh, and his wife Seeto Bai (Basant Kaur). Additionally, other Sikhs, including Bhupat Singh, Mohkam Singh, Aulia Singh, Kirat Singh, and Kahan Singh, were also apprehended.
These courageous individuals endured severe torture in Lahore jail. They were offered the choice between "death" and "Islam," but they chose martyrdom instead. Bhupat Singh suffered the brutal loss of his eyes before being executed on a wheel. Gulzar Singh was hanged and skinned. The remaining Sikhs met a similar fate, enduring unimaginable brutality.
Bhai Mani Singh's life was a testament to his unwavering dedication, resilience, and significant contributions to Sikh history. From receiving the Pahul of Khanda-Batta to his role in the Guru's court, his presence in Amritsar, and his involvement in battles and defense, Bhai Mani Singh's journey exemplified his commitment to the Sikh faith. Despite the challenges and changing times, he remained steadfast and continued his service until the end. Bhai Mani Singh's legacy remains an inspiration, inspiring generations with his unwavering devotion and sacrifice for Guru Sahib.
Three books are also associated with the name of Bhai Mani Singh: Bhagatmala of the Sikhs, Gyan Ratnavali, and Janmasakhi Guru Nanak Sahib. However, these works are not authored by Mani Singh; their author is Surat Singh Nirmala, the father of Giani Sant Singh Nirmala.
Disclaimer: The dates and years mentioned in the previous narrative are derived from "Vadda Mahan Kosh" authored by Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer. While efforts have been made to accurately present the historical information, it is important to note that historical records can sometimes vary, and there may be differing accounts or interpretations regarding specific events and dates. Therefore, readers are encouraged to consult multiple sources and conduct their own research to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the historical context. The mentioned dates should be considered approximations based on the referenced work, and any discrepancies or alternative viewpoints should be duly acknowledged. You can read the Punjabi Version of this article on the Social Handle of Dr. HS Dilgeer.
Bhai Mani Singh Life History
Bhai Mani Singh, a true saint-soldier, lived a life of unwavering faith, struggle, and sacrifice. Throughout his 90 years of life, he devoted 77 years to the service of the Panth. Bhai Mani Singh's bravery, wisdom, scholarly pursuits, and moral character left an indelible mark on Sikh history. Though his martyrdom site was desecrated and partially occupied, his name will forever be revered within the Sikh community.