Haqiqat Rai

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Haqiqat Rai
Other namesHaqiqat Rai Bakhmal Puri
CitizenshipMughal India

Haqiqat Rai (Punjabi: ਹਕ਼ੀਕ਼ਤ ਰਾਯ ਬਾਖਮਲ ਪੂਰੀ (Gurmukhi), حقیقت رائے باکہمل پوری (Shahmukhi); Hindi: हक़ीक़त राय बाख्मल पुरी) was an 18th-century Hindu martyr from Sialkot, who was executed in Lahore (Mughal India) for refusing to convert to Islam.[1][2][3][4]


Haqiqat Rai was born into a Hindu family, in Sialkot, Punjab, Mughal India with his caste being a Puri Khatri.[5] He was the grandson of Bhai Nand Ram Ji, a devotee of Guru Har Rai Ji. His maternal great grandfather was Bhai Kanhaiya Ji. His uncle (mother’s brother) Bhai Arjan Ji was also martyred. Sardar Kishan Singh Ji was his father-in-law. His father's name was Bagh Mal Rai, a wealthy Hindu trader. At the age of 14, Rai was sent to a Maulvi to learn Persian. One day some of his Muslim classmates were making fun of various Hindu deities, ridiculing his religion. In return he asked them how they would feel if anyone insulted Muhammad or Ayesha. For this, his classmates reported this to the Maulvi as it was taken as an insult of Islam. [6][7]

As a result, he was taken to Lahore (then a provincial capital in the Mughal Empire), where he was given an option to convert to Islam to save his life but he refused and leave his Hindu faith. As a result he was beheaded at a young age. He attained martyrdom at the age of 14, during the governorship of Zakariya Khan. Quasi Abdul Haq, who was responsible for the Fatwa, was also beheaded later on by Sardar Dal Singh and Saradar Mana Singh and shown around the city of Batala[8] Different sources give different dates of his death, including 1732,[9] or 1735.[10]


In 1782, a poet named Aggra (aka Agra or Aggar Singh) wrote a Punjabi var (ballad) titled Haqiqat Rai di Var.[11] Maharaja Ranjit Singh particularly revered Haqiqat Rai as a Hindu martyr.[12]

In the first decade of the twentieth century (1905–10), three Bengali writers popularized the legend of Haqiqat Rai's martyrdom through their essays. The three accounts differ greatly.[6] The Arya Samaj organized a play Dharmaveer Haqiqat Rai, advocating deep loyalty to Hinduism. It also printed copies of the legend, and distributed them free of cost or at a nominal price of 2 paisa.[13]

Before the partition of India in 1947, Hindus and Sikhs used to gather at his samadhi in Lahore, during the Basant Panchami Festival.[14] His samadhi in Sialkot was also a place of worship.[15] In 2004, Nawa-i-Waqt, a Pakistani daily opposed Basant Panchami celebrations in Pakistan, arguing that the festival celebrated Haqiqat Rai's insult of Muhammad.[16]

Another samadhi dedicated to Haqiqat Rai is located in Boeli of Baba Bhandari (Hoshiarpur district), where people gather and pay obeisance to Haqiqat Rai during Basant Panchami.[17] In Gurdaspur district, a shrine dedicated to him is located at Batala.[18] The town also has a samadhi dedicated to Sati Lakshmi Devi, said to be the wife of Haqiqat Rai.[19]

Many cities in India have localities named after Haqiqat Rai, mostly the ones where the partition refugees settled; for example, Haqiqat Nagar in Delhi. An ISBT located in Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi, India is also named after him.


  1. ^ Malhotra, Anshu; Mir, Farina (2012). Punjab Reconsidered: History, Culture, and Practice. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199088775. At one level this story is about the inexorable distance between the Hindus and the Muslims—Haqiqat Rai is evidently a martyr to the Hindu cause (refusal to convert), when Muslims exercise political power.
  2. ^ Gooptu, Nandini (2001). The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-Century India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521443661. Plays about Hindu martyrs such as Dharmveer Haqiqat Rai or Maharani Padmini advocated deep loyalty to Hinduism and the need to fight for one's faith.
  3. ^ Maan Singh Nirankari (2008). Sikhism, a Perspective. Unistar Books. p. 154. ISBN 978-81-7142-621-8.
  4. ^ Lakshman Singh (2006). The Sikh Martyrs. Singh Brothers. pp. 118–122. ISBN 978-81-7205-382-6.
  5. ^ Grewal, J. S.; Banga, Indu (2015). Early Nineteenth-Century Panjab. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781317336945. Haqiqat Rai's father, a Puri Khatri of Sialkot, sent him to the local maktab for education.
  6. ^ a b Himadri Banerjee (2003). The other Sikhs: a view from eastern India. Manohar. pp. 185–186. ISBN 978-81-7304-495-3.
  7. ^ Gokul Chand Narang (1972). Glorious history of Sikhism: from the times and teachings of Guru Nanak to the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. New Book Society of India. pp. 70–71.
  8. ^ Ishwar Dayal Gaur (2008). Martyr as Bridegroom: A Folk Representation of Bhagat Singh. Anthem Press. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-81-905835-0-3.
  9. ^ Ahsan Jan Qaisar; Som Prakash Verma; Mohammad Habib (1 January 1996). Art and Culture: Endeavours in Interpretation. Abhinav Publications. p. 9. ISBN 978-81-7017-315-1.
  10. ^ Reeta Grewal; Sheena Pall; Indu Banga (2005). Precolonial and colonial Punjab: society, economy, politics, and culture : essays for Indu Banga. Manohar. p. 176. ISBN 978-81-7304-654-4.
  11. ^ Harbans Singh (1 January 1998). The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism: S-Z. Publications Bureau. p. 413. ISBN 978-81-7380-530-1.
  12. ^ W. H. McLeod (24 July 2009). The A to Z of Sikhism. Scarecrow Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8108-6344-6.
  13. ^ Nandini Gooptu (5 July 2001). The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-Century India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 223–. ISBN 978-0-521-44366-1.
  14. ^ Pran Nevile (2006). Lahore : A Sentimental Journey. Penguin Books India. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-14-306197-7.
  15. ^ Pritam Singh and Shinder Thandi, ed. (1996). Globalisation and the region: explorations in Punjabi identity. Association for Punjab Studies (UK). p. 49. ISBN 978-1-874699-05-7.
  16. ^ "EDITORIAL: Can't we have a nice time?". Daily Times. 2004-02-16. Archived from the original on 2014-11-03.
  17. ^ "Basant Panchami celebrated in traditional way". The Tribune. 2010-01-21.
  18. ^ Gurdaspur: Tourist Places
  19. ^ India. Director of Census Operations, Punjab (1996). Census of India, 1991: Punjab. Controller of Publications. p. 17.