PRARTHANATITADAN, poem in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore on the Sikh martyr Bhai Taru Singh. Written on 2 Agrahayan, 1306 BS/1819 November 1899 and included in Kathd, a collection of Tagore`s poems published in October-November 1899, the poem refers to Bhai Taru Singh`s arrest along with some other Sikhs “who had surrendered after a stiff resistance making the battleground of Shahidganj crimson red,” and who were presented before the Nawab for execution. The Nawab Zakariya Khan, the Mughal governor of the Punjab] said that he would be happy to excuse Taru Singh.
Taru Singh asked the Nawab why he was showing this indulgence especially towards him. Expressing his appreciation of Bhai Taru Singh`s qualities as a warrior, the Nawab said that he bore him no ill will, adding that he would spare his life, but would expect him to cut off his hem (long hair tied into a knot and kept under his turban). Bhai Taru Singh spoke with a touch of sarcasm that he was impressed by the Nawab`s kindliness, but would rather sacrifice his head with the bent intact. Upon this the Nawab 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. H.B.