MANĪ SIṄGH, BHĀĪ (d.1737), scholar and martyr, came, according to Kesar Siṅgh Chhibbar, his contemporary, of a Kamboj family, and according to some later chroniclers, following Giānī Giān Siṅgh, Panth Prakāsh, of a Dullaṭ Jaṭṭ family of Kambovāl village (now extinct), near Sunām (30º-7'N, 75º-48'E), in Saṅgrūr district of the Punjab. Manī Siṅgh is said to have been brought in the early years of his birth to the presence of Gurū Tegh Bahādur at Anandpur. He was approximately of the same age as the Gurū's own son, Gobind Siṅgh. Both grew up together — Gobind Rāi [Dās] and Manī Rām were the names they went by in those pre Khālsā days. Manī Siṅgh remained in his company even after he had ascended the religious seat as Gurū. Manī Siṅgh accompanied the Gurū to the seclusion of Pāonṭā where Gurū Gobind Siṅgh spent some three years exclusively given to literary work.
Manī Siṅgh had also developed a taste in letters. He transcribed for distribution the holy volumes and shorter anthologies of hymns and śabdas. When on 30 March 1699 Gurū Gobind Siṅgh inaugurated the Khālsā, Bhāī Manī Siṅgh was among those who took the vows. Soon thereafter he was sent by the Gurū to Amritsar to take charge of the Harimandar which had been without a custodian since the death in1696 of Soḍhī Harjī. Manī Siṅgh happened to be in Anandpur again when following the last of a series of battles against the Hindu hill rājās and the Mughal troops at Anandpur, the Gurū evacuated the town on the night of 5-6 December 1705. He escorted Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's wives, Mātā Sundarī and Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ to Delhi. In 1706 re-rejoined Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at Talvaṇḍī Sābo (Damdamā Sāhib) where he prepared under his guidance the final recension of Sikh Scripture, the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Some time after the Gurū's departure for the South, Bhāī Manī Siṅgh resumed his duties at Amritsar. According to Ratan Siṅgh Bhaṅgū, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh, he carried out his duties at Amritsar under the authority of Mātā Sundarī, who was at Delhi.
"Residing in, the Akāl Buṅgā," says Ratan Siṅgh Bhaṅgū, "he strengthened the sinews of Sikhs' religious faith and corrected such of them as had faltered or erred. He sowed the seed and planted gurmat among all irrespective of caste, through discourse and anecdote. " He also went around the countryside preaching. For example, a letter, still preserved, written by him to Mātā Sundarī on 20 April 1711 shows him to be engaged in his religious and administrative duties at Amritsar; but three years later in 1714-15, he was, according to Gurbilās Chhevīṅ Pātshāhī at Nānaksar in Bāgāṅvālā village in Jhaṅg district giving discourses on the life of Gurū Hargobind.
As dissensions broke out in the Sikh Panth after the capture and martyrdom of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, Bhāī Manī Siṅgh used his influence to bring about peace between the warring groups — the Bandaī Sikhs and the Tat Khālsā. During the repression let loose on the Sikhs by the Mughal governors of the Punjab, Abd us-Samad Khān and his son and successor, Zakarīyā Khān, the traditional festivals Dīvālī and Baisākhī had hardly been held in peace. In 1737, Bhāī Manī Siṅgh sought Zakarīyā Khān's permission to hold the Dīvālī festival at Amritsar. It was granted on the condition that a poll tax amounting to five thousand rupees (ten thousand according to Ratan Siṅgh Bhaṅgū) would be paid to government. This was simply a ruse, because, on the other hand, the governor sent a strong force under Dīwān Lakhpat Rāi to annihilate the Sikhs collected for the festival. Manī Singh got wind of the governor's plan and forbade the Sikhs, scattered in different forests and desert regions, to assemble at Amritsar. Consequently no tax could be collected and paid. Bhāī Manī Siṅgh was prosecuted for not paying the stipulated sum. After a summary trial he was asked either to embrace Islam or face death. He chose the latter and was executed with his body mangled bone by bone. On the site of his martyrdom in Lahore stood, until the partition, Gurdwārā Shahīd Gañj. Another memorial Gurdwārā has been raised in recent decades at the ruined site of Kambovāl near Lauṇgovāl, believed to be his birthplace.
Bhāī Manī Siṅgh's achievement in the literary sphere is his compilation of the Dasam Granth, the Tenth Master's Book, containing compositions generally believed to be Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's. To his name are attributed two other works in prose: Giān Ratnāvalī, an account in traditional style of the life of Gurū Nānak, and Bhagat Ratnāvalī, better known as Sikhāṅ dī Bhagat Mālā, which is an illustrative commentary, in anecdotal style, on Bhāī Gurdās' Vār XI. The author of Gurbilās Chhevīṅ Pātshāhī also claims that his work is based upon discourses given by Bhāī Manī Siṅgh.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)