The Mughal Emperor of India at that time had promulgated many orders against the Hindus & other non-Muslims. Sri Guru Hargobind exhorted his followers to break those discriminatory laws. The sixth master of the Sikhs liked arms, fine horses and brave men as a result of which his Sikh disciples had started presenting such items to him. The brave among them had started getting themselves enrolled as Guru’s soldiers. Courageous young man from Hindu community became Guru’s Sikhs in large numbers.
Bhai Mati Dass’s father Bhai Paraga was one such courageous young man of Hindu community who became Sikh of Sri Guru Hargobind. He fought side by side other brave Sikh soldiers in the battles launched against the Guru by the rulers of the time.
Bhai Paraga’s four sons named Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Dass, Bhai Jati Dass & Bhai Sakhi Dass too became Sikhs alongwith their father and remained in the active service of Sikh Gurus.
Guru Teg Bahadur appointed Bhai Mati Dass his Treasurer. Like his father Bhai Mati Dass was a well built young man whose actions were in union with his sayings (utterings).
While carrying out the duties of Treasurer, Bhai Mati Das had observed very carefully the abundance of sympathy and goodwill shown by the Ninth Guru for the cause of the poor, needy and the oppressed. He was also impressed by the unflinching faith and integrity of many Sikhs of Guru Teg Bahadur.
This experience had moulded Bhai Mati Dass into a disciple of courage and conviction of the highest order who could lay down his life at the silghtest bidding of the Guru.
He was present at the court of Guru when Kashmiri Brahmins led by Kirpa Ram narrated the atrocities being committed on Hindus by Sher Afghan, the Governor of Kashmir under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb for forcibly converting Hindus into Muslims. He was impressed beyond imagination by the decision taken by Sri Guru Teg Bahadur for the protection of Hindu religion from the onslaught of tyrant Aurangzeb. He had asked Kashmiri Brahmins to deliver a message to Aurangzeb assuring him that if he could persuade Guru Teg Bahadur to become a Muslim, then all Hindus of India would willingly become Muslims. Kashmiri Brahmins went away happy since they knew that Guru Ji would never agree to be converted to Islam. They sent a message to Emperor Aurangzeb through the then Governor of Lahore, as directed by Guru Teg Bahadur.
On his way to Delhi to meet Aurangzeb when Guru Teg Bahadur was arrested at Agra, he allowed only three of his Sikhs to accompany him. They were (a) Bhai Mati Dass (b) Bhai Sati Dass and (c) Bhai Dayala. Kazis of Aurangzeb tried their best to bring Guru Teg Bahadur into Islam fold through persuation but failed to do so. When Aurangzeb failed to convince the Guru that Muslim religion was superior,he tried to change mind of the Guru by first torturing to death his three followers, who were jailed along with the Ninth Guru.
Bhai Mati Dass was picked up first of all for torture and he was brought to Chandni Chowk, Delhi from the prison with his hands and legs bound with iron shackles. Thousands of people had gathered there to watch the events that were unfolding one by one. There were no signs of fear on the face of Bhai Mati Dass. Instead he was looking happy and absorbed in the rememberance of Guru ji and God.
Bhai Mati Dass was assured of luxorious life if he agreed to become a Muslim and told that Hazrat Mohammed Sahib would recommend him to be accommodated in heavens in the next world. In case of refusal he was threatened that he would be cut with saw alive. Neither persuation nor threats by Kazis could deter Bhai Mati Dass from his unflinching faith in Sikh religion. His answer to them was, “You are wasting your time. My religion is most sacred for me. I can sacrifice a thousand heavens for the sake of my faith in Sikhism.”
The Kazi asked Bhai Mati Dass if he had any last wish before he was done to death. Bhai Mati Dass told them to allow him to die facing Guru Teg Bahadur who too was brought to Chandni Chowk in a cage.
Fulfilling his last wish, Bhai Mati Dass was bound between two thick logs of wood. Two awful executioners placed a big saw on Bhai Ji’s head. Once again the Kazi told Bhai Mati Dass that he could even then save his life by agreeing to be converted to Islam. Bhai ji gave no reply and remained absorbed in meditation of God by reciting Gurbani.
The Kazi gave final orders for Bhai Ji’s execution and the executioners started sawing Bhai Mati Dass Ji’s body from head vertically down. The blood shot up high like a fountain from the body of Bhai Mati Dass drenching the executioner’s clothes as well. Within no time Bhai Ji’s body was cut into two pieces. Thus Bhai Mati Dass gave his life for his faith bravely.
Many among the spectators wept on seeing this dreadful method of execution. However, some stone-hearted Muslims felt happy and justified the execution.
Bhai Mati Dass by his example of stead-fastedness and courage pleased both Guru Teg Bahadur and God. His conduct became a beacon of light for the other followers of Guru Ji for generations to come.
This happened in November, 1675 A.D.