PRĀRTHANĀTĪTA DĀN, poem in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore on the Sikh martyr Bhāī Tārū Siṅgh. Written on 2 Agrahāyaṇ,1306 Bs/18-19 November 1899 and included in Kathā, a collection of Tagore's poems published in October-November 1899, the poem refers to Bhāī Tārū Siṅgh's arrest along with some other Sikhs "who had surrendered after a stiff resistance making the battleground of Shāhīdgañj crimson red," and who were presented before the Nawāb for execution. The Nawāb [Zakarīyā Khān, the Mughal governor of the Punjab] said that he would be happy to excuse Tārū Siṅgh. Tārū Siṅgh asked the Nawāb why he was showing this indulgence especially towards him. Expressing his appreciation of Bhāī Tārū Siṅgh's qualities as a warrior, the Nawāb said that he bore him no ill will, adding that he would spare his life, but would expect him to cut off his beṇī (long hair tied into a knot and kept under his turban). Bhāī Tārū Siṅgh spoke with a touch of sarcasm that he was impressed by the Nawāb's kindliness, but would rather sacrifice his head with the beṇī intact. Upon this the Nawāb ordered his head execution. Notable for its terse style, the poem makes the point how important for Sikhs are their religious symbols, especially kesa, their long, unshorn hair.

Himādrī Banerjee