Bhai Mani Singh was an 18th-century Sikh scholar and martyr.
He was a childhood companion of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and was initiated into Sikhi when the Guru inaugurated the Khalsa in April 1699.
Mani Singh wrote books on Sikhi and was also a warrior who accompanied Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguards on many occasions. The brave deeds of Mani Singh in so many battles earned him the reputation of a great warrior.
He was sent by the Guru to Amritsar to take charge at Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple), which had been without a custodian since 1696. He took control and steered the course of Sikh destiny at a critical stage in Sikh history.
Mani Singh did away with all the Hindu practices that had crept into the Harmandir and restored all the traditional ceremonies of the Khalsa which became a regular daily feature. Apart from Kirtan – Singing of hymns from the Granth Sahib, Bhai Mani Singh used to do Katha (Exposition of Gurbani) which became a very popular daily feature.
The nature of his death in which he was dismembered joint by joint has become a part of the daily Sikh Ardas (prayer).
In 1737, Bhai Mani Singh asked to Governor of Lahore, Zakaria Khan, for permission to hold the Diwali festival to celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas at the Harmandir Sahib.
The permission was granted but the Governor, alongside Diwan Lakhpat Rai, had different intentions and sent secret orders to their forces to make a surprise attack on the Sikhs during the festival.
Bhai Mani Singh came to know of this plan and sent messages to tell the Sikhs not to come but Bhai Mani Singh was taken to Lahore in chains.
When he could not pay the fine that was imposed, he was ordered to convert to Islam. Refusing to give up his beliefs he was ordered to death by dismemberment.
When the executioner started to begin with his wrists, Bhai Mani Singh sincerely reminded the executioner of the sentence, reminding the executioner of his punishment and to start at the joints in his hands.
“You have been ordered to execute me by chopping my joints, have you forgotten that my joints start with my fingers?”