“I’ll Accept Death Over Touching Tobacco”

The Sakhi of Bhai Jai Singh by Manvir Singh Published on Manvir Singh Blog

Bhai Jai Singh ‘Khalkaat’ was a honest hard working Sikh living in the village of Mughalmajra about 5km on the Patiala to Sirhind Road.


He was a loving humble Rehitvaan Gursikh and had great love for the Guru. One day in 1753 Bhai Jai Singh jee was doing Naam Abhyaas (Practising the Divine-Name) in the fields when Muslim Governor Abdul Samund Khan passed by. Bhai Jai Singh jee didn’t get up or salute Samund Khan as he was not even aware of his presence. His Second in Command kicked him awake and ordered him, “Wake up! Carry the Nawaab’s baggage!” At that time such free labour was conscripted to carry baggage from one village to another.

Bhai Jai Singh jee replied, “Can you please tell me what is in the bag that you have asked me to carry?” Bhai Sahib suspected from the smell that it might be hooka and tobacco. The Mughal admitted that it was indeed tobacco and hukka of the Nawaab. Bhai Jai Singh jee refused point blank to touch the bag and said, “It is my Guru’s Hukam (order) that I cannot touch the tobacco, let alone carry the bag containing it.”

ਸੁਣ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਕੀ ਰਹਿਤ ਕੋ ਤਜੇ ਤਮਾਕੂ ਸੰਗ ||
ਮਰਣੀ ਮਰੈ ਤੌ ਅਤਿ ਭਲਾ ਜਗਤ ਜੂਠ ਨਹਿ ਅੰਗ ||

“Listen to the Rehit of a Gursikh who comes in contact with tobacco – it is better to die than to touch the world pollutant drug (tobacco).”
(Rehitnama Bhai Nand Laal Singh jee)
Hearing this defiance, the Mughal arrested Bhai Sahib jee and also his family. After continuing to refuse to give up his Sikhi principals and compromise with the Guru’s Hukam, the Mughal order for Bhai Jai Singh to be hung upside down from the nearest tree and skinned alive.

Bhai Sahib was dragged to the nearest tree and his feet were tied to the branches, with his body hanging downwards. Using sharp blades they peeled off the skin from Bhai Sahib’s entire body, starting from the feet. Within minutes his whole body and the ground become red with blood. All along this barbaric torture Bhai Sahib was repeating “Vaheguru… Vaheguru…. Vaheguru…”, with his surtee (consciousness) in Akaal Purkh.

ਮਨੁ ਨ ਡਿਗੈ ਤਨੁ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਡਰਾਇ ||
ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਚਿਤੁ ਰਹਿਓ ਸਮਾਇ || ਰਹਾਉ ||
“My mind was not shaken; why should my body be afraid? My consciousness remained immersed in the Lotus Feet of the Lord. ||1||Pause||”
(Bhairo M:5, 1162)
Despite the attempts to frighten Bhai Sahib and hope he would surrender his Sikhi to the demands of the Mughals, he remained in Anand (bliss) of Naam.
ਆਸਾ || ਕਰਵਤੁ ਭਲਾ ਨ ਕਰਵਟ ਤੇਰੀ || ਲਾਗੁ ਗਲੇ ਸੁਨੁ ਬਿਨਤੀ ਮੇਰੀ ||੧||
ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਮੁਖੁ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਿਆਰੇ || ਕਰਵਟੁ ਦੇ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
ਜਉ ਤਨੁ ਚੀਰਹਿ ਅੰਗੁ ਨ ਮੋਰਉ || ਪਿੰਡੁ ਪਰੈ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਤੋਰਉ ||੨||
ਹਮ ਤੁਮ ਬੀਚੁ ਭਇਓ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ || ਤੁਮਹਿ ਸੁ ਕੰਤ ਨਾਰਿ ਹਮ ਸੋਈ ||੩||
ਕਹਤੁ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਰੇ ਲੋਈ || ਅਬ ਤੁਮਰੀ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ||੪||੨||੩੫||
“Aasaa: I would rather be cut apart by a saw, than have You turn Your back on me. Hug me close, and listen to my prayer. ||1|| I am a sacrifice to You – please, turn Your face to me, O Beloved Lord. Why have You turned Your back to me? Why have You killed me? ||1||Pause|| Even if You cut my body apart, I shall not pull my limbs away from You. Even if my body falls, I shall not break my bonds of love with You. ||2|| Between You and I, there is no other. You are the Husband Lord, and I am the soul-bride. ||3|| Says Kabeer, listen, O people: now, I place no reliance in you. ||4||2||35||”
(Aasa Kabeer Ji, 484)

After Bhai Sahib’s martyrdom, the Nawaab order for Bhai Sahib’s wife, Mata Dhan Kaur, his sons Karaka Singh and Kharak Singh, and daughter-in-law Bibi Raj Kaur, to be mercilessly killed. Bhai Jai Singh and his entire family attained Shaheedi (martyrdom) maintaining Sikhi and Rehat. When the Khalsa heard of this great tragedy they attacked the village of Mughalmajra and attacked the barbaric Mughals.

Today in the village Baran stands a Gurdwara in memory of this forgotten sacrifice.

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