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Bhai Taru Singh
Zakriya Khan was carrying on a cruel, all-out campaign against the Khalsa. Hence, all daring and desperate Sikhs had gone away to places where the Mughal armies dared not to trouble them. So they had become out of the reach of the government. However, in several small villages there yet lived some gentle, harmless Sikhs. They were peaceful and peace loving by nature. daring military adventures were against their natures. They were averse to active clashes with the government. They wanted to live and work in peace. They kept themselves engaged in peaceful pursuits. At the same time, they practiced the main principles of life taught by their Gurus. They earned their living by honest labor; they shared their honest earnings with those in need, irrespective of cast or creed; they recited Gurbani and kept meditating on God. They were friends and helpers of all who needed help. Such persons were loved and honored by their neighbors; yes; even by their Muslim neighbors. One such Sikh was Bhai Taru Singh. He was a Jat living in Poola, a small village in the present district of Amritsar. He was a young man of 25. He was very gentle, kind hearted and pious. He loved a peaceful life. He enjoyed helping and serving those who needed his services and help. He loved all and he was loved by honored by all.
As we have seen, most of the daring, adventurous Sikhs had been driven from their homes. They lived in forests. One such place was Baba Buddha's Bir. It was quite near Bhai Taru Singh's village. Bhai Taru Singh took special pains to serve these exiled brethren of his. He cultivated his fields. Most of what he produced was offered to those whom the iron rule had driven into the wilderness. His aged mother and youthful sister were gentle and pious like him. They took delight in assisting him in every way. What they did for their exiled brethren was this. The two ladies ground the grain and baked cakes of bread. Usually, the cakes were made of a mixture of wheat and gram flour, salted and spiced. At night, Bhai Taru Singh took a basketful of them into the jungle nearby. He also carried a bucketful of milk. His exiled brethren used to be waiting for him. He distributed the cakes and milk among them. He used to sit and talk with them during a good part of the night. Sometimes, he happened to have learnt of some fresh government move against them. He warned them of it.
This went on for some years. As already mentioned one particular vile, mean enemy of the Khalsa. He was Harbhagat of Jandiala. He was ever at pans to harm the Sikhs. He found out about the work being done by Bhai Taru Singh. He was cut to the quick to hear that Bhai Taru Singh was very popular with his neighbors, even with his Muhammadan neighbors. He decided to put an end to Bhai Taru Singh's life and activities. So determined he went to Zakriya Khan. he said to him, 'In a small village named Poola, there lives a dangerous rebel Sikh. His name is Taru Singh. He has the outward garb of a gentle, innocent, peace loving man of religion. But really, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is a friend and helper of thieves and dacoits. He helps and shelter men of bad character. He also supplies milk and food to Sikhs living in the jungles. Your orders are that nobody should help or harbor these outlaws. He does both. He thus disobeys your orders. He is a dangerous rebel. He should be hauled up and punished. Zakriya Khan rewarded Harbhagat for this useful information. He sent a body of armed men to arrest Bhai Taru Singh and bring him to Lahore. His men went to posthaste to Poola. They arrested Bhai Taru Singh and he was taken to Lahore. There he was put in prison. In the prison he was subjected to severe, inhuman tortures for many days. He was asked to embrace Islam and get his hair cut. He was told, 'If you do that, you will be given in marriage a beautiful damsel of high Mughal family. You will be given riches and high position. You will lead a life of happiness and pleasure. If you refuse, you hair will be forcibly cut, you will be subjected to still severer 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.' Zakriya Khan said, 'Your God and Guru are powerless here. I am here to grant your prayer. Your hair shall not be cut. It will remain intact. Your scalp along with the hair shall be scraped off. What do you say to that ?' Bhai Taru Singh replied, 'That will be very good of you, indeed. Kill me in any manner that you like. Be quick. I am eager to join my martyred brethren at the feet of the Almighty and All-loving Father of all.'
Zakriya Khan gave the orders. Bhai Taru Singh was taken to the Nakhas, outside the Delhi gate. Thousands had been butchered there in the near past. A shoemaker was ordered to scrape off Bhai Taru Singh's scalp. Bhai Taru Singh stood the ordeal bravely. He went on reciting Japji and repeating the name of God. The scalp with the hair intact was scraped off. It was thrown before him. He bowed, and thanked God and the Guru. He was thankful that his hair had not been cut. After that, he was taken back to the prison. The tortures were repeated. After a few days he let his soul fly from his body and go to the feet of the All-loving Father. This happened on the 1st of July 1745. His torturer, Zakriya Khan, had died a few hours before him, after having borne intense suffering. He had an attack of kidney pain. He could not pass urine. His abdomen swelled up till breathing became difficult. In this hour of terrible suffering, he thought within himself, 'I have put a saintly, innocent person to horrible tortures. May be my agony is due to that act of mine.' He sent a messenger to Bhai Taru Singh, asking for forgiveness. Bhai Taru Singh said, 'I have no ill-will against him. All happens as willed by God. As far as I am concerned, he is forgiven. But he will have to render an account of his doings. The inmates of hell are waiting to welcome him.'
As soon as these words were spoken, Zakriya Khan was able to pass urine. His abdomen subsided. His pain was gone. But he died a few hours before Bhai Taru Singh's soul was released from his body.
Source - Sikh History Book 5 by Kartar Singh, Hemkunt Press, New Delhi