Bhai Mansha Singh
Bhai Mansha Singh jee was one of the best Kirtaniya in Siri Harmandir Sahib jee during the time of Raja Ranjit Singh. At that time Giani Sant Singh jee was the Head Granthi of Siri Harmandir Sahib and at the same time he was the top administrator of Siri Amritsar Sahib.
Once Raja Ranjit Singh jee came to Siri Amritsar Sahib and after darshan of Siri Darbar Sahib, he went to see Giani Sant Singh jee. As they were talking casually, Raja Ranjit Singh asked Giani jee if everything was okay at Siri Amritsar Sahib.
At this Giani jee thought of Bhai Mansha Singh jee who was very poor financially. Bhai Sahib jee was a singh of high spiritual state and stayed intoxicated in Naam and Gurbani. He did not care about making money. He did not accept salary for his services at Siri Harmandir Sahib. He used to accept a very minimal amount for food and clothing. Overall, worldly way, he was considered a poor person.
Giani jee spoke to Raja jee about how Bhai Mansha Singh was a very good kirtaniya and how he was very poor. Raja Ranjit Singh felt sorry for him and immediately ordered 100,000 mohars (Gold coins) from his treasurer and asked him to arrange that as soon as possible. Raja jee said that he wanted to payoff the debt of Bhai Mansha Singh.
The next day, Raja jee ordered one of his officers to request Bhai Mansha Singh jee to come and see him. Raja jee also asked his minister to take along a paalki to bring Bhai Mansha Singh and that he be treated with full respect and dignity.
Bhai Mansha Singh had just arrived back from Siri Harmandir Sahib when Raja jee’s officer met him at his home. The officer very humbly requested Bhai Sahib to accompany him to see Raja Ranjit Singh and have his lunch there.
Bhai Mansha Singh humbly replied, “I would have come but now I have already arranged for lunch at home. Please convey my thanks to Maharaja jee for inviting me”.
“It would have been good if you had come Bhai Sahib jee, “ the officer requested again.
“It would be good too, if I don’t go. Please let Maharaja know that Mansha Singh eats food only at home”. The reality was that Bhai Sahib jee was a sarblohi bibeki Singh and did not eat from ones who did not have full rehit.
The officer came back empty handed. Maharaja was waiting and was taken aback when he heard Bhai Sahib’s answer. He did not expect Bhai Sahib to refuse to see him. After all, who would think of refusing to see a king.
He started thinking what to do next. He found out that he had made a mistake by not going to see him personally, instead of having him to see him. He immediately ordered an elephant to ride there. By then someone told Bhai Sahib too that Raja Ranjit Singh was coming to see him and offer him 100,000 Mohars.
Bhai Sahib went in his house and locked his door. Maharaja arrived at Bhai Sahib’s house and saw the door locked. He asked his officer to open the door but Bhai Sahib did not open it.
“Bhai Mansha jee, please open the door. Maharaja jee has come to see you”.
“Why has he come to see me”, Bhai Sahib replied from inside.
“First please open the door, then I will let you know why I have come”, requested Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who by now had arrived at the door himself.
“I don’t want to meet the shareek of Guru Parmeshar”, replied Bhai Mansha Singh.
Maharaja said, “What have I done that makes you think that I am acting as a shareek of Guru Parmeshar”?
“Why have you brought one lakh mohars for me”.
“I have brought them for you Bhai Sahib jee”, said Maharaja defensively.
“But did I ask for the mohars?”
“Then why did you bring them?”
“I have brought them as a bheta (offering) for kirtan you sing. You are kirtaniya of Guru ghar”.
“Offering for kirtan should be taken to Siri Harmandir Sahib. Please take it there”.
“But Bhai Sahib jee, at least let me have your darshan”, pleaded Maharaja.
“No! You have come to me thinking I am poor. I had been informed by someone before your arrival. You tell me, doesn’t Guru Sahib know about my financial situation? Does he not have the power to take away my poverty? You consider yourself equal to him?”
“I have come here, probably inspired by that Guru that you believe in. And what can we say about our Guru Sahib. He takes care about everyone”, said Raja Ranjit Singh.
“If you believe that Guru Sahib takes care of everyone, then why are you trying to take that role? Is this not acting like a shareek of Guru Sahib?”
“Then how will you let me have your darshan”, pleaded Raja Ranjit Singh.
“For the reason you came here, I will not see you. Just think. Does not Guru know about my situation? If he is there to worry about me, why should I accept anything from you?
In the end, Maharaja had to come back empty-handed and could not donate mohars to Bhai Mansha Singh. On his way back he gave all the one lakh mohars to Giani Sant Singh and asked him to offer these at Siri Harmandir Sahib. He said that he had not brought these mohars to take back to his house.
Eventually, Bhai Mansha Singh and Raja Ranjit Singh did meet but at Harmandir Sahib where Bhai Sahib used to do kirtan. All life, Bhai Sahib led a very contented life and spent all his life in sewa and simran. He was a great gursikh.
If we look at the jeevans of raagis today, our heads go down in shame. What has become of our preachers? It is acceptable to accept money from Gurdwara Sahib if the preacher does not have any other source of income but to come in the field of preaching to make money is totally wrong. The primary aim of preachers today is to make money and not preaching. This is why our raagis, sants, katha-vaachaks have lost respect in the eyes of Sikh sangat. Something should be done about it.