Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh (1720– 1745) gave up his life for his religion, he chose to die than to give up his religion. The emperor was a muslim and wanted everyone to become a muslim.
Bhai Taru Singh was the son of Shaheed Bhai Jodh Singh and Bibi Dharam Kaur, a Sandhu Jatt family of Puhla village, in Amritsar district of the Punjab.
Born in Punjab during the reign of the Mughal Empire, Bhai Taru Singh was raised as a Sikh by his widowed mother, Bibi Dharam Kaur as his father, Bhai Jodh Singh had died in battle.
He had a younger sister named Bibi Tar Kaur. He was a pious Sikh who following the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, worked hard tilling his land diligently and lived frugally; although not a rich man, he was always happy and did much for his Sikh brothers and sisters.
Whatever Bhai Taru Singh saved, went to his Sikh brethren forced into exile by muslim persecution. Bhai Taru Singh was spied upon by Akil Das (also known as Harbhagat Niranjania) of Jandiala, a muslim informer. As the Prachin Panth Prakash narrates the story, Zakariya Khan once asked his men, “From where do the Sikhs obtain their nourishment? I have debarred them from all occupations. They realize no taxes. They do not farm, nor are they allowed to do business or join public employment. I have stopped all offerings to their gurdwaras, their places of worship. No provisions or supplies are accessible to them. Why do they not die of sheer starvation?”
Harbhagat, a sworn foe of the Sikhs, remarked, “There are Sikhs in this world who would not eat until they have fed their brethren. They may themselves go without food and clothing but cannot bear their comrades’ distress. They would pass the winter by fireside and send them their own clothes. They would sweat to grind corn and have it sent to them. They would do the roughest chore to earn a small wage for their sake. They migrate to distant places to eke out money for their brothers in exile.”
“In the village of Puhla in Majha,” continued Harbhagat, “lives one Taru Singh. He tills his land and pays the revenue to the officials. He eats but little and sends what he saves to his brothers in the jungle. His mother and sister both toil and grind to make a living. They eat sparingly and wear the coarsest homespun. Whatever they save, they pass on to their fellow Sikhs.”
Accompanied by twenty policemen and armed with orders of arrest of Bhai Taru Singh and his sister, Harbhagat Niranjania arrived in the village Puhla. Bhai Taru Singh said to the soldiers who had come to arrest him, “You have come to take me away on the orders of your master. I, bound by the orders of my Master, and cannot let you go without eating meals.” The soldiers acceded to his request and after taking meals, arrested him.
Bhai Taru’s hair could not be removed so instead his scalp was removed and thrown on the floor by muslims
While Bhai Taur Singh was arrested and being taken away, the villagers protested and pleaded with the policemen to set Bhai Taru Singh free since he was a very noble, peace loving and kind hearted person. However, their plea fell on deaf ears.
While the police party was passing through village Bhadhana the Sikhs of the village tried to free Bhai Taru Singh by force, but Bhai Taru Singh persuaded them to desist from doing so.
When Bhai Taru Singh was caught along with his sister, many Sikhs offered to rescue them. However, Bhai Taru Singh said that he wanted to show mughals that Sikhs are not afraid of death. After convincing him otherwise, Bhai Taru Singh allowed his sister to be rescued. Sikhs and other villagers paid bribes and his sister managed to escape. Though his sister’s freedom was secured, Bhai Taru Singh refused to seek a pardon. Bhai Taru Singh Ji had taken amrit from Bhai Mani Singh Ji and was much influenced by him.
Bhai Taru Singh was locked in a prison cell and was tortured in various ways. The more they tortured him, the more Bhai Taru Singh became stead fast in his resolve to protect his faith at all costs. Ultimately, Bhai Taru Singh was produced before Zakariya Khan and greeted him with the Sikh greeting: Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh. When charged with sedition, he said, “I earn my livelihood by cultivating my land and working hard. I make payments of land tax regularly, which can be verified from the records. If I engage in commerce, I pay taxes. What is left after our payments is for our bellies. What we save from our mouths, we give to our brethren. We take nothing from you. Why then do you punish us?”
Zakariya Khan was in a rage and could not think of an appropriate answer, Khan asked Bhai Taru Singh where he got his strength from. Bhai Taru Singh said he got his strength through his kesh (hair) as given by Guru Gobind Singh. Angered, Zakariya Khan then gave him the choice of converting to Islam or having his hair cut off and death by torture. Bhai Taru Singh calmly asked, “Will I never die if I become a musalmaan? Don’t muslims die? I am going to die one day, irrespective of my religion, so why should I desert my faith? of which I am extremely proud of? Why should I commit such an act as to fall out of favour of my beloved Guru? If God had wanted me to be a muslim, I would have been born to Muslim parents. I love my faith more than my life and I will defend it at all costs.”
Zakariya Khan then said, ‘If you convert to Islam, you will be given a beautiful wife from a high mughal family. You will be given riches and a high position. You will lead a life of happiness and pleasure. If you refuse, you hair will be forcibly cut off and you will be subjected to severe tortures. Finally, you will beheaded or broken on the wheel. Be well advised. Don’t throw away your life and all that it can offer you.’ Bhai Taru Singh firmly and defiantly refused to give up his faith. He said, ‘Even if I were offered kingship of the whole world, even if all the beauties of paradise were offered to me as my personal servants, even if the treasure of the entire world were placed at my feet, I would not give up my religion. It is far more precious and dear than all these. I would not let my hair be cut, not even a single hair. I am prepared to die. May God and the Guru let me die with my hair all intact.’
Khan called a barber to cut Bhai Taru Singh’s hair. However, when the barbers tried to cut Bhai Taru’s hair it was as hard as iron. Bhai Taru Singh said, “I have kept my faith with my hair”. The barber refused to continue trying to cut Bhai Taru’s kesh so Zakariya Khan called a cobbler and ordered him to cut the scalp of Bhai Taru Singh with his axe. Amidst the torture Bhai Sahib could only be heard reciting Japji Sahib.
That very evening, Zakariya Khan was thinking about the events of the day. He suddenly found he could not pass urine. He was in agony and thought he was going mad. All his medical specialists did their best, but there was no effect. When the efforts of the physicians failed, Zakariya Khan sent Bhai Subeg Singh to seek pardon from the Sikhs. He sent him to the leader of Dal Khalsa. The leader said, “Zakariya Khan will pass urine if he takes the shoe of Bhai Taru Singh and hits himself on the head with it but he has committed a great sin and is destined to die before Bhai Taru Singh.
When Khan took the shoe of Bhai Taru Singh and hit his head with it, he was able to urinate. Unfortunately, the pain returned, Khan was having to hit his head harder and harder every day. After surviving for 22 days with the help of that shoe, the Governor died on the 1st July, 1745 A.D. Bhai Taru Singh gave up this mortal body after hearing about the death of the Governor.