Bhai Taru Singh was a devout Sikh and the resident of the Puhla Village in Amritsar District of Punjab. His father died when he was still a child. He grew up to be a true Sikh by imbibing on the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib.
He was a farmer by profession and worked hard on his land. He lived an honest life paying all his dues to the local government and also helped other needy people as per the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. He was the bread - winner in the family, which included his mother and sister. He was a very hard working farmer and lived frugally. According to the basic principles of Sikh religion, he was always eager to help the needy out of his savings but without any distinction of caste, colour, creed, gender, race, region, religion or status.
At that time, Sikhs were victims of the high-handedness of the Muslim Rulers as a result of which many Sikhs had gone hiding into the local forests and continued to fight the oppression as per the teachings of our Gurus. Being a devout Sikh, Bhai Taru Singh used to help them by providing food and any other essential items whenever required by them.
Bhai Taru Singh was very popular in the area due to his honesty, truthfulness, hard work, endearing and helping nature. Everybody loved and respected him and his family. However, there were some people, who were working as informers to the government. There was one Hindu by the name Harbhagat Niranjania of Jandiala near Amritsar, belonging to Baba Hindal's family. Baba Hindal was a follower of Guru Nanak, but later on, his successors turned against the Sikhs and helped Zakariya Khan, the Governor at Lahore in killing hundreds of Sikhs. In addition, the Hindal's successors helped compile a Janam Sakhi, short stories about the life of Guru Nanak, under an imaginary name Bhai Bala, in which Guru Nanak is portrayed as a very bad person.
Harbhagat Niranjania was in the habit of spying on the Sikhs and accordingly, he lodged a complaint before Zakariya Khan, the Governor at Lahore that Bhai Taru Singh was assisting his Sikh brethren in exile.
The entire village/area protested against this and came out in support of Bhai Taru Singh. However, despite earnest pleading by the villagers, Bhai Taru Singh was arrested, imprisoned and tortured under the false charge of sedition. Bhai Taru Singh explained that he had not committed any offence as he tilled his land and paid all taxes. If out of my savings, I had extended any help to my brethren in need, I had not violated any law of the government. Why then I am being punished for nothing?
By listening to Bhai Taru Singh's plea, the Muslim Ruler was red in rage and pronounced the usual alternatives i.e. either to embrace Islam or face death. Bhai Taru Singh asked the Ruler that if he becomes a Muslim, would he never die? Being there no answer to his query, a torturous death by scrapping the scalp off his head was the verdict announced by the Government’s Quazi, the Court Law-Provider. The sentence was carried out on July 1, 1745 and Bhai Taru Singh’s dead body was cremated outside Delhi Gate at Lahore, where a Shaheed Ganj, the Martyrs' Memorial was later constructed.
The steadfastness of Bhai Taru Singh in his faith, his love for his Sikh brethren, his love for his Guru, fearlessness and spirit of truthfulness, living life according to the teachings of the Gurus are valuable lessons we should learn from his supreme sacrifice. We should always live in harmony and ever remain attuned to God’s True Naam. O Young Sikhs! Always respect your Hair,like other body limbs and components, which are the gift from God . We should never dishonour or cut our hair, beard, eyebrows, moustaches, etc, and at the same time, we should always keep our head covered by turban, sash or scarf. It is also our duty to share and serve the needy by considering them like our own brothers, sisters and elders.
By Gurmit Singh, Australia
A Quick Review of Bhai Taru Singh
1. Who was Bhai Taru Singh and how he kept himself busy?
2. At what age did his father die?
3. Who else were in Bhai Taru Singh's family?
4. How he supported his family?
5. How he remained engaged in his work and with the people of his village and others?
6. Why Bhai Taru Singh was liked by all, such as, by Muslims, Hindus and the Sikhs?
7. Why Bhai Taru Singh was arrested and punished?
8. Who was Harbhagat Niranjania and which village did he belong to?
9. Who were the Hindals and what Harbhagat Niranjania had to with the Hindals?
10. How did the successors of Hindal treat the Sikhs?
11. Who wrote the Bala's Janam Sakhi about Guru Nanak?
12. What happened to Bhai Taru Singh after he was arrested?
13. What alternatives were offered to Bhai Bhai Taru Singh to avoid torture and death?
14. Would you like to be like Bhai Taru Singh?
15. What lessons we learn from this story?