HAQĪQAT RĀI (1724-1742) was born to well-to-do Khatrī parents, Bāgh Mall Purī and Gaurāṅ of Siālkoṭ. He was married to a Sikh girl Durgā Devī, daughter of Kishan Siṅgh Uppal of Baṭālā, in Gurdāspur district. Haqīqat Rāi came under the influence of Sikhism in consequence of his marriage into a devout Sikh family. Even his own family were not unacquainted with the new creed. As Gurū Kīāṅ Sākhīāṅ mentions, while Gurū Har Rāi was at Siālkoṭ on his way to Kashmīr in 1660, Bhāī Nand Lāl Purī, grandfather of Haqīqat Rāi, came along with his three sons, Maṅgal Sen, Bāgh Mall and Bhāg Mall, to make obeisance to the Gurū. As a young boy, Haqīqat Rāi went to a Muslim school to study Persian and Arabic. One day some of his Muslim classmates made disparaging remarks about Hindu gods and goddesses. Haqīqat Rāi retaliated by attacking a personage from Muslim tradition. He was charged with sacrilege before the qāzī, who referred the case to the chief qāzī at Lahore. Haqīqat Rāi was taken to the city under heavy police escort. A trial was held by the chief qāzī at the conclusion of which he was given the choice of Islam or death. Haqīqat Rāi refused to forswear the faith of his forefathers. Appeals for mercy were laid by the parents and other citizens of Lahore before the governor, Zakarīyā Khān, and his minister, Lakhpat Rāi, but nothing availed. On the other hand, Haqīqat Rāi remained firm in his resolve not to renounce his faith at any cost. Under the orders of his persecutors, he was first chained to a pillar and caned. Then on the Basant Pañchamī day, 29 January 1742, he was handed over to the deathman for execution. According to the Panth Prakāsh, the Sikhs fell on the qāzī who had pronounced the verdict against Haqīqat Rāi, captured him and severed his head from his body.

         Haqīqat Rāi's body was cremated near the mausoleum of Shāh Bilāval, 3 km east of Lahore. A shrine was built on the site and pilgrims came the year round to pay homage to the memory of the young martyr. On Basant Pañchamī day was observed the anniversary of the martyrdom. Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh had special reverence for Haqīqat Rāi's shrine and sometimes called his darbārs in its precincts.


  1. Nijjar, Bakhshīsh Siṅgh, Vīr Haqīqat Rāi. Patiala, 1975
  2. Aggrā, "Vār Haqīqat Rāi" in Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, ed., Pañjab diāṅ Vārāṅ. Amritsar, 1946
  3. Padam, Piārā Siṅgh, and Giānī Garjā Siṅgh, eds., Gurū kīāṅ Sākhīāṅ. Patiala, 1986
  4. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Panth Prakāsh [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970
  5. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prachīn Panth Prakāsh. Amritsar, 1914
  6. Lakshman Singh, Bhagat, Sikh Martyrs. Madras, 1928

Bhagat Siṅgh