Gursikhs from the Past
Bhai Mati Das came from a Brahman family of village Kariala in the district of Jhelum (Pakistan). He was the eldest son of Bhai Praga. His grandfather Mahatma Gautam Das used to be a deeply religious man of noble saintly character. He was loved and respected by all Hindus and Muslims alike. Bhai Praga was a strong stalwart. He had the body and the strength of a giant. He embraced the Sikh faith during Guru Har Gobind's time. He lived the life of a true Sikh. His life was a model for others.
He was a prominent saint-soldier of Guru Har Gobind's. He took a hero's part in Guru Har Gobind's battle. He had four sons: Bhai Mati Das Sati Das Jati Das and Sakhi Das. Bhai Mati Das was a strongly built as his father Bhai Praga. He was a dear devout disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He actually practiced what he believed and professed. Guru Tegh Bahadur made him his diwan. He had to look after the income and expenditure of the Guru's darbar.
Along with the Guru Bhai Mati Das was also arrested chained and imprisoned. Under Emperor Aurangzeb's orders Guru Tegh Bahadur was to be beheaded. The qazis decided to torture and kill the Guru's companions before his eyes. They thought 'The sight of their suffering and fate might shake his resolve. He might be inclined to save himself be agreeing to our proposal. He might embrace Islam.' So they picked out Bhai Mati Das first of all. He was led out in chains to Chandani Chowk under a heavy guard. He was calm. His face beamed with glory. His gait was a mighty hero's swagger. He walked like a superior among inferiors. His whole bearing showed wonderful self-confidence and self-satisfaction. A large crowd had gathered already in Chandani Chowk. Bhai Mati Das was brought there under a heavy guard. A number of qazis accompanied him. They were apparently saying something to him. But he neither listened nor heard. His mind was wholly fixed on God. He was eager to meet him. No eyes were dry. All observers were filled with reverence and admiration for that tall strong calm and holy man of God. They shuddered at the thought of what was about to happen to him.
The spot fixed for his execution was reached. The guard and the qazis halted with Bhai Mati Das in their midst. The chief Qazi then said to Bhai Mati Das 'O brave young man be wise. This is my last appeal to your common-sense. Why throw away your youthful life and all the joys it may bring ? Accept Islam and be one of the ruling class. You will have wealth and high position. You will enjoy a life of peace plenty and pleasure. When you die prophet Mohammad will receive you among the faithful. You will be led into Paradise. You will live there forever among pleasure of all kinds. If you refuse to accept all these good things of this world and the next you will be killed with torture. So be wise. Make a wise choice.' Bhai Mati Das replied 'Why waste your time and breath ? I prefer dying to giving up my faith. Be quick.' The Qazi said 'All right let it be as you desire. But have you any last wish which you would like to be fulfilled before you are killed ?'
Bhai Mati Das said 'Yes. Stand me with my face toward my Guru. In that way I shall behold him to the last moments of my life here.' His wish was granted. He was made to stand with his face toward the Guru. He was tightly tied between two erect flat logs of wood. A saw was placed on his head. Each end of it was held by a fierce looking Pathan. The saw began to move to and fro. Blood began to flow down Bhai Mati Das's face and neck. He did not utter any cry of pain. His face showed no sign of suffering. He was calmly repeating Japji. His body was sawn into two. His devout brave soul reached the bosom of the kind and loving Father of all. Bhai Mati Das has not died. He still lives in the hearts of those who worship goodness who admire nobility. He lives in the minds of those who lead a spiritual life. He is the inspiration of those who prefer the soul to the body; who in order to save their soul to keep in pure and unsullied would gladly sacrifice the body and all its pleasures. He is the motivation of those who place duty before self. He is the hero of all who work for noble objectives not for rewards or recognition.