Bhai Mani Singh was a great personality of the 18th century. He is well known for his bravery and scholarship.
Bhai Mani Singh was born on March 10, 1644 (Vikrami Samvat 1701, Chetar Sudi Duaadsi) to Bhai Mai Dass Banjhrawat at 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.
At Anandpur, Bhai Mani Singh transcribed many copies of the sacred Sikh scriptures to send them to different preaching centers in India. He would also teach the reading of gurbani and its philosophy to the Sikhs.
Bhai Mani Singh accompanied Guru Gobind Singh when he went to Paonta, in Himachal, on the banks of the Jamna River. Bhai Mani Singh fought bravely in the Bhangani battle of 1686 to defend Paonta from the joint attack of all the hill rajas. Guru Gobind Singh, after winning the battle returned to Anandpur where the same rajas in 1687 requested him to protect them from the attack of the Army Commander of Kashmir. The Guru agreed to help them. A fierce battle took place at Nadaun in which Bhai Mani Singh took an active role in defeating the invader.
During 1704 Anandpur was surrounded by the combined forces of the hill rajas and those of the emperor of Delhi. When the Guru left the city in December, 1704, Bhai Mani Singh was to escort Mata Sunder Kaur and Mata Sahib Kaur to Delhi. He came with them to Takhat Damdama Sahib Talwandi Sabo, where the Guru settled after defeating the Mughal army in the last battle fought at Mukatsar. At Damdama Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh edited the current version of the Guru Granth Sahib. The honor of transcribing it was given to Bhai Mani Singh.
After the death of Banda Singh Bahadur in 1716, unfortunately, the Sikhs were split into factions, Bandai Sikh and Tat (True) Khalsa. Both sides wanted to take control of Amritsar, and thus there was a great likelihood of a mutual fight among the Sikhs. Fortunately, Bhai Mani Singh was able to tactfully reconcile the two factions.
As in charge of the Golden Temple management, Bhai Mani Singh used to call two general gatherings of the Sikhs there, one at Diwali and the other at Baisakhi. This built the morale of the Khalsa and gave them great strength.
In 1738, Zakaria Khan, Governor of Lahore, gave permission for the Diwali gathering only if the Sikhs paid a tax of Rs. 5000. Bhai Mani Singh hoped to collect the money from the Khalsa when they would come to attend the gathering. But the Governor had a different plan. He sent secret orders to his forces to make a surprise attack on the Sikhs during the night of the Baisakhi function. Bhai Mani Singh came to know of this plan, and sent messages to the Sikhs not to come to Amritsar. The Sikhs who did come, had to leave because of the expected attack by the army. Thus, no money could be collected or paid to the government.
Bhai Sahib sent a strong protest to the authorities. They, instead of submitting an apology for their treacherous act, arrested him and took him to Lahore. Bhai Mani Singh showed his inability to pay the money and refused to give up his faith in favor of Islam. He was, therefore, ordered to be killed by cutting his body at each joint. Bhai Mani Singh, who was then 94 years old, thus offered his life struggling for human rights.
It may be mentioned that Bhai Dayala who attained martyrdom at Delhi along with Guru Tegh Bahadur, was the real brother of Bhai Mani Singh.
Bhai Bachittar Singh who turned back the drunken elephant at Anandpur was his son. Bhai Udey Singh, his other son, killed Raja Kesri Chand who brought a big army to attack Anandpur. Eleven brothers and seven out of ten sons of Bhai Mani Singh attained martyrdom for protecting the Truth. His grandfather offered his life fighting Mughal forces during the first battle of Guru Har Gobind to defend Amritsar from the Mughal army. Bhai Mani Singh belongs to a family of great martyrs.
Shahid Ganj Bhai Mani Singh Lahore
The place where Bhai Mani Singh was martyred is situated inside the Masti Gate, which is behind the Lahore Fort. At the place on June 24, 1734 (Vikrami Samvat 1791, Asaad Sudi Panchmi) Bhai Mani Singh was martyred by cutting limb by limb. There was also an old well at this place where after bieng martyred, the Sikhs were thrown into. At first the management was with the Mahants. In 1923, the local committee took over the management which was transferred to S.G.P.C. from 1927 to 1947 A.D. After partition, this place was locked up and is still so.