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Mata Sulakhani

In the book, Mahan Kosh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha writes that a girl was born in the village Pakhoke, district Gurdaspur to Moolchand Chand Khatri and Mata Chando. Her father was a pious Chona Khatri merchant, who was the tax collector (patwari) of his village. The year is not given, but on the basis of her year of marriage, one can guess that it was around 1473. The writer states that she was born with "super characteristics," but neglects to elaborate what these were. It is quite obvious that he was not too concerned about this child. He does state that she was named Sulakhani. Nothing could be found about her childhood or her education, but we know as fact that girls were not formerly educated in those days. If she had any training, it would have been in cooking, sewing, embroidery and house-keeping. Unfortunately, no-one has bothered to record anything about her personal tastes, hobbies or interests.

In 1969 Sikhs celebrated the 500th birth anniversary of their founder. Much research was done at that time and some literature was produced. Professor Sahib Singh has written that: "Bhai Jai Ram was resident of Khanpur and was in the service of Nawab Daulat Khan. For his official work, he used to go to Pakhoke village. There he talked to Shri Moolchand for the marriage of his daughter, and he readily agreed to it. Guru Nanak was engaged on Visak 5, 1542, vs, and the marriage took place on Harh 24, 1544 vs. Guru Nanak was 18 years old at the time of marriage." Sulakhani must have been about 14.

Earlier writers have written many interesting stories leading up to the wedding day. It seems that Nanak refused to follow the marriage rituals dictated by the Brahmins of the day. He stated that any time would be an auspicious time for the wedding. There was no need to cast horoscopes as he was not superstitious. He consistently tried to break old traditions. Moolchand became alarmed and refused to marry his daughter to Guru Nanak. In those days, this would have been considered to be a major scandal. The news of this scandal spread quickly. Another gentleman, Shri Bhandari of the city of Batala offered his daughter for marriage with Guru Nanak. But Moolchand did not wish Guru Nanak to marry Bhandari's daughter. He thought that this could be interpreted as rejection of his daughter and, therefore, would be an insult to his family's honour. He conspired to kill Nanak instead. Moolchand arranged for the Brahmin priests to debate marriage rituals with the Guru. They made him sit near a damaged wall. It had been raining and the winds were strong. Everyone expected the wall to collapse. The story goes that Sulakhani, not wishing to break her relationship after two year engagement, sent an old woman to warn Guru Nanak of the conspiracy. Guru Nanak told the woman not to worry, the wall would not collapse for years to come. Indeed, that same wall stands today in Batala and a famous gurdwara has been built to commemorate the spot.

In 1487, the marriage finally did take place, and it did ignore the Brahmin rituals. Guru Nanak and his bride took four rounds instead of the prescribed seven around the sacred fire. It is said that he also spoke a few words at the ceremony. Unfortunately, these words were not duly recorded and nothing has been written regarding Sulakhani's thoughts or sentiments on the subject. That the event had a profound effect on her can certain]y be taken for granted. At any rate, the marriage party and celebrations were a grand and impressive event attended by the rich and influential people of that lime. Early writers have indicated that it was a most grand affair as befitted the daughter of the town's tax collector.

Nanak lived with Sulakhani at Nankana Sahib for fourteen years. Once again, he broke the conventions of the time, by living apart from both his family and hers. His sister Nanaki would try to neutralise any criticism by explaining to one and all, that her brother needed his own space, and a lot of it, because of all the people who were constantly drawn to him, to listen to his teaching. During those fourteen years, Sulakhani gave birth to two sons, Shri Chand and Lakhmi Das. Nanak took great interest in his family and gave them his love and attention. He demonstrated by his actions, his personal commitment to his teachings; that salvation is reached best through a married family life. His teaching of the equality of women must have also been demonstrated by the way he treated his wife, Sulakhani's self-esteem and happiness grew each day. She, in turn, supported his mission, participating in hymn-singing (kirtan), and working endlessly to feed the crowds that came to listen to her husband.

One day, when Guru was approximately 30 years old, the day of destiny came. Nanak sat in meditation at the bank of the Vanyi river, when he heard God's call to give his life for world up-lift by guiding men on the right path to Him."' Nanak resolved to obey the cal1 immediately. After three days in prayer, he emerged saying "There is no Hindu, no Moslem." Then he returned to the place of employment, resigning his post. He gave away all he had to the poor and prepared to set out on loot to bring his teachings to the world at large. Many authors have described this incident. Mata Sulakhani is reported to have complained of his absence to her sister-in-law. Most writers make this appear as a negative incident, with the wife whining and being unreasonable. However, one must ask, was it indeed unreasonable ? Any woman would worry if her husband suddenly disappeared for three days. What the incident demonstrates is that Sulakhani had enough self-esteem and courage that she was not afraid to speak to her sister-in-law. In the customs of those days, that was not easily done. Sulakhani took the initiative to tell Guru Nanak's family as well as her own, that he was missing. How they all must have rejoiced when he reappeared three days later.

Throughout this period, though he lived a relatively quiet life, Nanak continued to question Brahmin rituals and to rebel against them. He became quite well-known. His sister Bebe Nanaki and Rai Bhullar, the Choudhry of the area, proclaimed him "Messenger of God." His following grew. It is about this time that he met Mardana, a minstrel from Talwandi, who soon became his friend and confidante. They spent many evenings together, composing and singing sweet hymns to God. One Bhai Bhagirathi also came from Mailasi, near Multan, and stayed with him for a while, as a sort of disciple. Nanak's teaching life was beginning. At this point, Nanaki gave him a rabab, or rebeck, a musical instrument with which he accompanied himself in singing hymns of praise of the one true God. A rahab was a stringed instrument, which was of Arabian origin, and was very popular in Northern India at the time. It had four to six strings made of goat gut, with corresponding steel strings underneath which provided resonance. It looked somewhat similar to our modern mandolin. With time, it fell into disuse in India, though it remains popular in Arabic music. In providing her brother with a rahab, and later his companion Mardana with another, Nanaki helped Guru Nanak establish a musical tradition in the Sikh religion from the very start.

Nanak's disregard for Brahmin rituals must have caused havoc in his private life. All his piety did not impress his parents who did not understand what they considered to be his rebelliousness. His father-in-law would have preferred a more conventional mate for his daughter. While everyone around them lived in a joint family arrangement, Nanak, his wife and children lived separate from all. Every time he refused to observe Brahmin ritual, every time he scorned an accepted custom or tradition, it would have been Sulakhani who would have had to face the scorn of her neighbours and family. Still, he was consistent in denouncing any injustice, any custom based on caste, any tradition that discriminated against any one at all. On the other hand, Sulakhani had the benefit of listening to his preaching and his discussions with many strangers. She did not travel with him, as their children were very young when he went way. Travelling was most difficult in those days. But she did most certainly benefit by listening to the many people who constantly came to her house, seeking to hear the Guru speak. It was an education that should be envied by many.

At the age of 32, after making arrangements for the well-being of his family, Nanak left for his religious tours of preaching the doctrines of his mission. His boys were five and six years old at the time.'2 Before leaving, he made sure that his growing congregation of disciples would also be cared for. It was important that they not disband and lose faith in his absence. He left his wife with the task of being their spiritual and moral support until such time as he was able to return. Thus, it can be deduced that Sulakhani, a woman, was the first preacher and guardian of the new faith. She was assigned the task of making sure that the congregation (Panth) stays on the path given them by their founder.

Bebe Nanaki took Shri Chand, the oldest boy and adopted him as her own son. This type of arrangement was a quite common and accepted custom at that time. By this time, Sulakhani would have understood why her husband had to leave. With Baba Budha at her side, she looked after the needs of the small congregation. The tradition of hymn-singing continued, and with it the need to feed all who came (langar). Guru Nanak had taught the need to work with his own hands. Mata Sulakhani kept that teaching alive in the community. She did all the household chores herself. Nothing was beneath her. She looked after her son, did the kitchen chores and looked after the animals. Though she undoubtedly was lonely, she waited patiently. When Bebc Nanaki and Jai Ram died suddenly only threc days of each other, she took back her eldest son and continued with her daily chores of looking after the fledgling group of devotees and contributed fully to the mission of her husband.

In his first journey, Guru Nanak reached Dhubri in Kamrup (Assam) via Bengal. Nur Shah was the queen. At first she tried to tempt him in every way possible. But soon, Nur Shah was deeply moved hy the soul-stirring message of Nanak, and stood before him with joined palms, besceching him to forgive her past and to accept her as his disciple. This the Guru did, training her to become his main preacher in Assam. Thus, Nur Shah was trained by Guru Nanak himself and became the second known female preacher of Sikhism. Here again we see Guru Nanak's commitment to the equality of women. It was he, right from the very beginning, who first trained women to take their equal share of responsibility of this new religion.

In January of 15l6, after eight years of constant travel, Nanak returned from his first journey. At the age of 46, he settled on The present sitc of Kartarpur and took up farming. He consoled his ageing parents by bringing them to live with him quietly for nearly two years. Though they were upset by his continued disregard for caste rules and social order, they could not help hut be impressed by the fact that he had thousands of men and women of every class, seeking to hear him speak. He was their Guru. Late in 1517, Nanak and Mardana once more set out and resumed their journey.

Eventually, Nanak returned from his travels and established the new city of Kartarpur. He farmed to earn his livelihood and dressed himself as an ordinary householder of the day. His followers multiplied and people came to listen to him from great distances. He regularly preached to the crowds, teaching all to live in this world, in the present tense, which is, in fact, the only reality, and to work with their own hands, while at the same time to remember God in their thoughts, praying for nothing more than His grace. His strong personal attraction came from a message of love, a playful sense of humour and his persuasive words which were always simple. straightforward and easy for all to understand.

When his time had come in 1539, he chose to leave responsibility of his mission with a devout disciple, Bhai Lahina. Historians have recorded that the Guru's wife objected strongly to his choice. Their eldest son, Shri Chand had a reputation of saintliness, and was respected and liked by all. Like many others, Sulakhani had expected that he would be the rightful heir. She went to the Guru with her two sons and asked what would become of her and them, if Lahina was to be named the second Guru. Nanak replied simply that she should put her trust in God. Was Sulakhani impertinent or did she show ignorance by asking this question? I think not. On the contrary, at a time when women were completely subjugated by men, none would dare tn question their husband's decisions. Here we see proof positive that Guru Nanak did indeed have high regard for his family. He must have been very respectful to his wife, so much so, that she had the freedom to ask what she felt was important. Her self-esteem allowed her to find the courage to seek answers when she had a question. In his answer, Guru Nanak was not rebuking her or putting her down. He had made a decision. Lahina was better suited to be the next Guru. It was a very simple statement, the rest was up to God. Early writers have recorded that after Guru Nanak's death, Sulakhani spent the rest of her life in Kartarpur, contributing as always to the establishment of Sikh values and traditions. As wife of the first Guru, her role was an important one and she filled it well.

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Bibi Bhagbhari Ji

Bibi Bhagbhari ji was a disciple of Guru Amar Das ji. She was also one of the first

Sikh preachers. Little could be found on the early life of Bhagbhari, sometimes also

known as Bibi Bhago. She was very young when she became a disciple of Guru Amar

Das. After learning all that she could, the Guru gave her the manji of Kashmir. That

meant that she was appointed by Guru Amardas ji to preach Sikhism in the area of

Kashmir valley, around Srinagar.

She went out as a missionary, worked hard with considerable success, but never

returned to Punjab. She made her home in Srinagar. When she got older and was

unable to carry out her duties, her son Sewa Das continued the work of the Guru,

preaching and teaching Sikhism to all who would listen.

Bibi Bhagbhari dreamt of seeing her Guru one last time. She made a beautiful robe

and prayed to be able to see him wear it. By this time, it was Guru Hargobind ji was

on the Gaddi of Nanak as the sixth Guru of the Sikhs. The Guru on hearing of her

devotion procceded to Kashmir to meet her. He put on her robe and she blessed her

lucky stars that she had been so honoured. The Guru stayed for some time preaching

to the Sikhs in the area. While the Guru was in Srinagar, Bhagbhari who was quite

elderly at this time, died a happy woman. An important shrine dedicated to this visit

of the Guru still stands in Srinagar today.

Article taken from these book.

"Champion of Women" by Alice Basarke.

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Bibi Rajni Ji

sangat jio may have heard this sakhi under the duykh bhanjani bheri title

In the era of Guru Ram Das, one cannot leave out Rajni, youngest daughter of Rai

Duni Chand, revenue collector (kardar) of Patti. (The story has all the myth, magic

and miracles of a genuine Sakhi, but is nevertheless a charming story). Rajni was a

Sikh, a disciple of the Guru. One day she was sitting with her sisters admiring some

new clothing they all had received from their father. The girls were ecstatic and

exclaiming how good their father was to them. Rajni observed that all gifts are

ultimately from God. Their father was merely an instrument of His greatness.

Unfortunately for her, he overheard her comment and became very angry.

It was not the First time that she incurred his wrath because of her extreme piety. The

infuriated father, believing her to be an ungrateful wretch, married her to a leper with

a taunt that he would see how her God would help her lead a normal life. The leper

was severely disfigured and a foul smell came from his body. The poor girl had

accepted her fate ungrudgingly and worked hard to maintain herself and her crippled

husband. She kept repeating the name of God, and was certain that he was testing her

with this turn of events. She was forced to beg for a living. Still she bathed and fed

her leper husband, never losing faith. One day, she reached the site of a pool on her

way to a neighbouring village. Placing the basket containing her husband by the side

of the pool, she had gone otf on an errand, most probably to look for food. In the

meantime, her crippled husband had seen a black crow dip into the water of the pool

and come out white. Amazed at this miracle, the man crawled up to the edge of the

pool and managed a dip. He found himself completely cured. When his wife returned,

she was amazed to find her husband in good health. He was handsome and whole. At

first, she was alarmed and suspected that he might be a different person. He had,

however, kept one finger with leprosy marks un-dipped. He showed her the diseased

finger as proof of his identity. The couple thanked God, and went to the Guru to seek

his blessings.

The pool was the future site of the Golden Temple. The medicinal properties of the

water were said to have come trom Basil (Tulsi), which grew in abundance on its

banks. Guru Amar Das used to pick the herb there to make poultices for an infected

toe that plagued Guru Angad. The legendary importance of the site highlights the

medicinal properties of the waters of the pool, Rajni's leper husband was cured in.

Sakhi relates that if you keep faith in God then one day all rewards are paid. Bibi

Rajni had always kept the faith in Guru and God, being happy with whatever she had

and thus was rewarded at the end.

Article taken from these book.

"Champion of Women" by Alice Basarke.

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Bibi Viro

Bibi Viro ji was daughter of Guru Hargobind ( 1595-1644) and Mata Oamodan, was

born at Amritsar on llJuly 1615. She was married to Bhai Sadhu, son of Bhai Dharma,

a Khosla Khatri of the village of Malla. She was deeply religious and as well as a

warrior in the mould of her Brother like Tyag Mall (Guru Tegh Bahadur).

The nuptials were performed on 94 May 1699 at Jhabal, 15 km southwest of Amritsar.

She was the mother of five sons, Sango Shah, Jit Mall, Gulab Chand, Mahri Chand

and Galiga Ram. She raised them very well and with deep Sikh values. All the five

sons took part in a battle fought on 18 September 1688, between Guru Gobind Singh

and Raja Fateh Shah of Srinagar ( Garhval) at Bhangani, 11 km from Paonta, in the

present Sirmur district of Himachal Pradesh, Sango Shah and Jit Mall dying in action.

Article taken from these book.

Encyclopedia of Sikhism edited by Harbans Singh ji.

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Bibi Sachan Sach ji

When any one wanted an audience with Guru Amar das, they had to comply with

some simple instructions. First, they had to eat from the Guru's kitchen with all his

other guests regardless of status or gender. Women were asked to remove their veils.

The Raja of Haripur was no exception. He came with his entourage of wives, and all

were asked to have a meal first. The youngest wife was very shy and refused to

remove her veil. The Guru asked her what the problem was. In those days, women

never ate with men and were certainly not used to he spoken to by men. The poor girl

was totally confused and embarrassed. She ran out to hide herself. The Raja wanting

to please the Guru, feigned disgust with her behaviour and abandoned her altogether.

Thus, when he returned home, she was left behind, alone and frightened. This was

500 years ago, when women were not able to work and support themselves

independently. This poor girl was far away from family and friends. She hid in the

forest, and people said she went totally insane.

The Guru had many disciples and they all did their chores together and listened to the

Guru's teaching. There was one such man who came from a place near Shaikhupura

which is now in Pakistan. He left his home and joined the Guru's camp at Goindwal.

He took upon himself the responsibility of bringing firewood daily for the kitchen.

One day, while he was in the forest, he had a terrible clash with an insane woman. She

was filthy, her clothes were torn, and her hair was matted. He startled her when he

accidently tripped over her. She reacted by screaming and biting and clawing. He

managed to subdue her with kind words and a strong arm. Covering her with his

shawl, he brought her to the Guru. After taking a bath and eating well in the kitchen,

the lady was invited to join the congregation and listen to the prayers and the


A great peace entered her soul and she was able to slowly regain her strength and selfesteem.

She was once thc Rani of Haripur, but no one knew her real name. As she

grew stronger and joined the others in chores as well as prayers, she was often heard

muttering "sachan sach" meaning "truth is truth". This soon became her nickname. As

time passed, she became totally cured, and showed hatclliger1cc and goo(l

iudgclllellt. The Guru was immpressed with her commitment and devotion. She

eventually married the gentleman who had rescued her against her will from the

forest. Mata Sachan Sach was made a masand and sent with her hushand to his home

in west-Punjab to preach the word of God.

Article taken from these book."Champion of Women" by Alice Basarke.

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Mai Bhago


Mai Bhago was was a descendant of Pero Shah, the younger brother of Bhai Launga a

Dhillon Jatt who had converted a Sikh during the time of Guru Arjan. Born at her

ancestral village of Jhabal in present-day Amritsar district of the Punjab, she was

married to Nidhan Singh Varaich of Patti. A staunch Sikh by birth and upbringing.

Mughals and hilly chiefs had surrounded Anandpur and were demanding it be

evacuated. They called that any Sikh who says that "he/she is not anymore a Sikh of

Guru Gobind" will be left untouched. A group of 40 Sikhs, led by Mahan Singh Brar

told Guru Gobind Singh that they are not his Sikhs anymore. Guru told them that they

have to write it in a document that "they are not his Sikhs anymore" and sign it. All

forty Sikhs signed this document Bedava and left Guru Gobind Singh. Mai Bhago was

distressed to hear that some of the Sikhs of her neighborhood who had gone to

Anandpur to fight for Guru Gobind Singh had deserted him under adverse conditions.

Hearing her taunts, these Sikhs were ashamed at their deed. She rallied the deserters

persuading Guru, then traveling across the Malva region.

Meanwhile, Guru Gobind Singh had to evacuate the fort of Anandpur, his children

were lost in the confusion. Two youngest one's Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, went

along with their grandmother (mother of Guru Gobind Singh). While elder one's Ajit

Singh and Jhujhar Singh were with their father. Then at battle of Chamkaur Guru's

elder sons attained martyrdom, Guru was saved by five Sikhs and he evacuated

Chamkaur and was traveling in Malva region, being pursued by Mughal forces of

Aurungzeb. Traveling day and night in the Jungles of Malva region, imperial Mughal

forces were in constant pursuit of Guru. Guru Gobind Singh reached village of

Khidrana, when Mai Bhago and the men, she was leading stopped near the dhab or

pool of Khidrana where an imperial army in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh had almost

overtaken him. They challenged the pursuing host and fought furiously forcing it to

retreat. All forty Sikhs attained martyrdom in this pitched battle, in which Guru

himself was supporting them with a shower of arrows from a nearby high ground,

found all the men except one Mahan Singh, killed when he visited the battlefield. Mai

Bhago and Guru Gobind Singh ji were the sole survivors of this fiercely fought battle.

Mahan Singh, who had been seriously wounded, also died as the Guru took him into

his lap. Guru Gobind Singh blessed those forty dead as the Forty Liberated Ones. He

took into his care Mai Bhago who had also suffered injury in the battle. She there

after stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguard, in male attire. After

the death of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded in 1708, she retired further south. She

settled down at Jinvara, 11 km from Bidar in Karnataka where, immersed in

meditation, she lived to attain a ripe old age. Her hut in Jinvara has now been

converted into Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago. At Nanded, too, a hall within the

compound of Takht Sachkhand. Sri Hazur Sahib marking the site of her residence is

known as Bunga Mai Bhago.

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Kabul Wali Mai

Kabul wali mai, or the lady from Kabul is the name chroniclers have given to a

woman who rendered devoted service during the digging of the baoli at Goindwal

under the supervision of Guru Amardas. Day after day says Sarup Das Bhalla in

Mahima Prakash, she toiled away at the site,without anyone knowing who she was,

and where she had come from. One day Guru Amar Das told the Sikhs that lady was

from Kabul and that she had by her love of the almighty and duty towards her

husband attained spiritual insight.

An old manuscript Mahima Prakash sri Guru Amar Das and an inscription at

Gurdwara Haveli sahib at Goindwal mention a lady being in charge of the Manji or

Sikh centre at Kabul they give her name to be Mai Sevan.

Unfortunately nothing else is known about such great soul. There are million other

such great souls who through the years have tirelessly, effortlessly worked hard to

uplift sikhs and Sikhism.

Article taken from these book.

Encyclopedia of Sikhism edited by Harbans Singh ji.

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Bibi Anup Kaur

May this sakhi inspire todays generation of punjabi sikh women


The Sikh Gurus not only preached for the equal status of women, but also revolutionized their social life. History is full with examples where women who did not step out of house without covering their faces, performed wonderful daring deeds in life. After being baptized, they faced the enemy courageously and preferred death to an immoral comfortable life. Life story of martyr Anup Kaur is a golden example worth narration. She was born in 1690 in village Jalopur Khere, near Amritsar. Her father’s name was Lachchman Das Sodhi. In those days, Sodhis were divided in two opposite groups. One group favored Guru Tegh Bahadur for Guruship, while the other group led by Dhir Mal claimed that Guruship belonged to them. Many members of the Sodhi dynasty, like Lachchman who favored Guru Tegh Bahadur, left the central Punjab to avoid daily bickering and friction, and settled far away at Anandpur. Anup Kaur was only five years old when her parents migrated to Anandpur. She was an attractive, every happy, sweet-tongued and beautiful girl. She used to play with Sahibzadas (Guru Gobind Singh’s sons) and was liked by Mata Sundri. Anup Kaur spent most of her time with the Sahibzadas and was treated like a member of the Guru family. She acquired religious education and learned reading and writing Gurmukhi in their company. In 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh created Saint- soldiers, she along with her father who was now named Lachchman Singh was also baptized. It brought a wonderful change in her life and she rapidly grew physically as well as spiritually. Now she was regular in the performance of her daily prayers and visited Gurdwara daily. She collected other baptized girls and started learning fencing and other martial arts. They also used arms like sword, shield and spear. These girls also learned horse riding. This armed group under Anup Kaur was well versed in self defense and became famous in the area.

Anup Kaur with her group took part in the battle with the Sikhs against the hill chiefs. Victory in this battle created self-confidence among the young girls. The hill chiefs requested the Mughals at Delhi for help. As desired by Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, governor of Sirhind along with governor of Lahore and the hill chiefs besieged the Anandpur fort with a huge force. The Sikhs met the Mughal forces with fire from their guns. Sikh girls under the leadership of Anup Kaur played a very important part in this battle. They took responsibility of looking after the Guru’s family and taking the cooked food from the common kitchen to the Sikh soldiers in their trenches. They also helped in fighting wherever the Sikh soldiers needed help and showed feats of bravery. The siege continued for some days. The governor of Sirhind assured the Guru for the safety of all if the fort was vacated. The Guru did not rely on this assurance, but he knew that the effective defense was impossible owing to lack of food and other supplies. So the Guru agreed reluctantly to vacate Anandpur on the night of 20th December 1704. Anup Kaur’s group took care of the Guru’s family. The assurance proved false and the Sikhs were attacked outside the fort. Sikh soldiers and girls under Anup Kaur continued their march towards the rivulet Sirsa while fighting the enemy. While crossing the flooded Sirsa, Anup Kaur was separated from the Guru’s family in confusion. After crossing the river, she met five Sikh soldiers who told her that Guru Gobind Singh fought a battle with the Mughal forces at Chamkaur where the two elder Sahibzadas died fighting and the Guru had left Chamkaur. She was also told that the younger Sahibzadas were arrested at Sirhand. They all started towards Sirhand, but on their way they met a patrolling party of the Mughal soldiers. In the fight with them two Sikh soldiers were killed and Anup Kaur was injured, but the Mughal soldiers took to their heels. Anup Kaur came to know from someone that Mata Gujri and her two younger grandsons had been martyred, so they started to find the Guru. They were on their way when the chief of Malerkotla state with two hundred soldiers surrounded them. Anup Kaur’s companions died fighting but Anup Kaur’s horse stumbled, she fell down and broke her arm. She was arrested and taken to Malerkotla. When the chief came to know that the young charming girl was Anup Kaur about whose bravery he had heard a lot, he decided to marry her and instructed his soldiers to treat her respectfully and get her arm treated. She saw through their trick and realized that she would be forced to embrace Islam and marry the chief. She was a helpless prisoner, but she made up her mind to commit suicide to save her faith and honor. At Malerkotla she was under strict watch. Her maid servants told the chief that she was always meditating and remained in a serious mood. The chief persuaded Anup Kaur to marry him as there was no other way for her to save herself. He also promised her a comfortable life in the royal palace, but she refused. One day he called the Kazi (Muslim cleric) to forcibly convert and marry her, but they found only her dead body as she had thrust a dagger into her chest. She was buried quietly according to the Muslim rites.

Professor Ganda Singh, on the basis of his research, writes that Banda Singh Bahadur was moved to hear her pathetic story. When he marched upon Malerkotla in 1710, he said that last remains of this brave Sikh lady should not be allowed to rot in a grave. He was not opposed by anybody as the chief of the state had fled before Banda Bahadur reached there. He did not destroy Malerkotla as its chief had advocated mercy for the younger Sahibzadas at Sirhind. Body of Anup Kaur was exhumed and cremated according to Sikh rites as desired by Banda.

Thus the martyr Anup Kaur who sacrificed her life at the altar of her faith and chastity was given a decent cremation she richly deserved.

She had not embraced Islam and had died a Sikh. She is still remembered respectfully by the people of the area and her sacrifice will never be forgotten.


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Bibi Kaulan

Qazi Rustam Khan had bought her from her parents while she was a child. The Qazi gave her the education of Islam and sent her to Saint Mian Mir for higher schooling.

Saint Mian Mir was sufi saint. He had no prejudice against any religion. He had a very deep love with Guru Nanak's Institution. It was usual for him to go to Amritsar to meet the Guru. Whenever the Guru visited Lahore, he never went back without seeing Saint Mian Mir. Due to these meetings, Saint Mian Mir knew a large number of Guru's verses by heart which he used to quote to his disciples. Bibi Kaulan also remembered some of the verses by heart which she used to recite by herself for her pleasure. Her attachment to the Guru's institution increased further when she saw the Guru and the Sikhs came from Amritsar to Lahore at the time of the plague epidemic and nursed the patients with their own hands.

One day, Qazi Rustam Khan heard Bibi Kaulan reciting Guru Nanak's verses at home. He rebuked her and said "Do not recite these verses of the infidels in future." Bibi Kaulan Said, "Dear father! Saint Mian Mir bows in all humility to the man you call an infidel and thinks it a privelege to seat him by his side. It is unbecoming to call the man an infidel whome the saint hold in such esteem." The qazi gave a sound thrashing to Bibi Kaulan on hearing the praise of the Gurus from her and said, "I do not want that you recite the verses of these infidels even unintentionally." Between her sobs Bibi Kaulan said, "You may beat me to death but I cannot live without reciting these verses."

Qazi Rustam Khan went and asked other Qazis, "Kaulan persists with reciting the verses of the infidels inspite of my beating. What remedy shoul be adopted? They said, "It is a great sin for the Momins (believers of Islam) to praise the infidels and recite their word. Kaulan should be beheaded for this sin." When Saint Mian Mir heard about the decree of beheading of Bibi Kaulan, he sent her to the Guru's institution at Amritsar through Abdul Yaar Shah where the homeless were protected. Guru Hargobind made arrangement for separate accommodation for Bibi Kaulan. She had no fear at Amritsar of being killed by the order of the Qazis. To immortalize the memory of Bibi Kaulan's resolve to remain firm on her words, the Guru constructed a pool named Kaulsar in 1627 A.D. Bibi Kaulan died at Kartarpur in 1630 A.D

Excerpts taken from this book.

Article Written by

Sardar Santokh Singh Jagdev

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Matho Murari

There was at that time a young boy whose name was Prem. His mother died in childbirth. His father and other relations died in some epidemic when he was quite young. Being alone in the world, he soon contracted leprosy. The disease ravaged his body, and soon his fingers and toes fell off one after the other. He was reduced to crawling about to move himself from one place to another.

He had heard of the Guru and resolved to go and meet him, hoping that somehow he could be cured. Leprosy was a dreaded disease and nobody would allow him to approach. Still, he listened to the singing (kirtan) and preaching from outside the Guru's place. On hearing of his plight, Guru Amar Das went out to see him. The Guru himself looked after him, bathing him and wrapping him in clean clothes. He was given to eat from the Guru's kitchen, and allowed to join the congregation for prayers and hymn singing.

It is said that his health improved and that slowly he was cured; whether this cure was of mind and spirit, or of his physical body, is left for the reader to speculate. The Guru gave Prem a new name, Murrari, which means destroyer of the demons. Guru Amar Das then asked his Sikhs if anyone would give his daughter in marriage to this young man. A man named Singha offered his beautiful daughter, Matho, to be his bride. Naturally, the mother of Matho was quite upset.

She told the Guru that she objected to this marriage, for her daughter was virtuous and intelligent. This man had no family and no wealth. Matho's mother argued that she did not even know who the father or mother had been. Guru Amar Das told her that he was his son. He was both father and mother to him, and that he had great plans for him and her daughter. The couple would be known as Matho Murrari. Thc wedding took place. Both husband and wife served the Guru and took extensive training from him. When Guru Amar Das organised his parishs, he appointed Matho to head one of them. Murari was to assist her in every way possible.

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Mata Suhag Bai Ji

At the time of Guru Amardas ji there was a man, Bhai Mengha, who together with his wife, was searching for the truth. Like most people of that era, they were hampered by long cherished ideas of ascetic renunciation. One day a stranger, who was a distant relative of theirs, came for a visit Very quickly she made herself at home with them and served them, and looked after them as though she was the mother of the family. She cooked for them and served them. Soon after her arrival, the sense of acute despair that had engulfed the household began to slowly dissipate.

This kind woman, Mai Suhag Bai brought them hope, though they were not yet ready to admit that she was creating a fundamental change in their lives. The couple fell dangerously ill. For twenty one days, they were ravaged by typhoid fever, which was followed by a long period of physical weakness. Friends and relatives shunned them, afraid to catch the disease. Suhag Bai stayed at their bedside, with untiring love She washed them, brought them food and drink and kept an endless watch over them. This seemingly insignifieant woman became an imposing and mysterious figure in their eyes. They noticed that there was something in her that was curiously different. They began to ask questions. They found her acting as the mother of many orphans.

She was the sustainer of many a poor girl, deserted by a cruel husband, gambler, thief or drunkard. They found her visiting sick women, looking after their children, washing their clolhes, coolsing for them and bringing financial sustenance to those in need. They found in her a secret river flowing in a thousand channels, bringing water of lite to the dead and dying. They found it impossible to define her She brought hope and good cheer to them and all others that she encountered. Gradually, it dawned on this couple that every act of this Mai Suhag Bai was a playcl, her every step a song, and she herself as pure and as high as the very sky that spreads over the snow-topped mountains. This distant relative of theirs, became known in the community as the Grey lady, and was loved by all. She told them that it was Guru Amar Das who had sent her. Her instructions were to go out to preach the truth through the language of action. Love and service of mankind were the tools to hltluence now converts. This she did very well, bringing the couple and many others in the area to Goindwal, where they became loyal followers of the Guru.

Article taken from these book."Champion of Women" by Alice Basarke.

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Mata Sundari ji

Mata Sundari ji was wife of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), was the daughter of Bhai Ram Saran, a Kumarav Khatri of Bijvara, in present-day Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab. She was married to Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur on 4 April 1684. On 26 January 1687, at Paonta, she gave birth to Sahibzada Ajit Singh, the eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh. Consequent upon the evacuation of Anandpur on the night of i6 December 1705, Mata Sundari, along with Mata Sahib Devan, was escorted by Bhai Mani Singh to Delhi. She rejoined Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 at Talvandi Sabo, where she heard the news of the martyrdom of her son and the other Sahibzadas as also of the death of her aged mother-in-law, Mata Gujari. She went back to stay at Delhi while Guru Gobind Singh left Talvandi Sabo for the South. At Delhi, Mata Sundari adopted a young boy whom she named Ajit Singh because of his resemblance to her own late son. After the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded in October 1708, the Sikhs looked up to her for guidance. She appointed Bhai Mani Singh to manage the sacred shrines at Amritsar and also commissioned him to collect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh. She also issued under her own seal and authority hukamnamas to sangats. The hukamnamas since discovered and published bear dates between 12 October 1717 and 10 August 1730. Mata Sundari was disappointed in her adopted son, Ajit Singh. Emperor Bahadur Shah treated him as the successor of Guru Gobind Singh, called him to his court and gave him a robe of honour in September 1710. This went to his head and he started 1iving in style as a courtier. He grew arrogant and haughty even towards Mata Sundari who disowned him, and migrated to Mathura. Ajit Singh was later convicted for murder and was put to death on 18 January 1725. Mata Sundan returned to live in Delhi where she ,died in 1747. A memorial in her honour stands in the compound of Gurdwara Bala Sahib, New Delhi.

Article taken from these book. Encyclopedia of Sikhism edited by Harbans Singh ji.

Why did Guru Gobind Singh have more than one wife?

How many marriages did Guru Gobind Singh have?

The wrong impression that the Guru had more than one wife was created by those writers who were ignorant of Punjabi culture. Later authors accepted those writings indicating more than one marriage of the Guru and presented it as a royal act. During those days kings, chiefs, and other important people usually had more than one wife as a symbol of their being great and superior to the common man. Guru Gobind Singh, being a true king, was justified in their eyes to have had more than one wife. This is actually incorrect.

In Punjab, there are two and sometimes three big functions connected with marriage, i.e., engagement, wedding, and Muklawa. Big gatherings and singings are held at all these three functions. In many cases, the engagement was held as soon as the person had passed the infant stage. Even today engagements at 8 to 12 years of age are not uncommon in some interior parts of India. The wedding is performed a couple of years after the engagement. After the wedding, it takes another couple of years for the bride to move in with her in laws and live there. This is called Muklawa. A dowry and other gifts to the bride are usually given at this time of this ceremony to help her to establish a new home. Now, the wedding and Muklawa are performed on the same day and only when the partners are adults.

A big befitting function and other joyful activities were held at Anand Pur, according to custom, at the time of the engagement of the Guru. The bride, Mata Jeeto Ji, resided at Lahore, which was the capital of the Mughal rulers who were not on good terms with the Gurus. When the time for the marriage ceremony came, it was not considered desirable for the Guru to go to Lahore, along with the armed Sikhs in large numbers. Furthermore, it would involve a lot of traveling and huge expenses, in addition to the inconvenience to the Sangat, younger and old, who wished to witness the marriage of the Guru. Therefore, as mentioned in the Sikh chronicles, Lahore was 'brought' to Anand Pur Sahib for the marriage instead of the Guru going to Lahore. A scenic place a couple of miles to the north of Anand Pur was developed into a nice camp for the marriage. This place was named Guru Ka Lahore. Today, people are going to Anand Pur visit this place as well. The bride was brought to this place by her parents and the marriage was celebrated with a very huge gathering attending the ceremony.

The two elaborate functions, one at the time of engagement and the other at the time of the marriage of the Guru, gave the outside observers the impression of two marriages. They had reason to assume this because a second name was also there, i.e., Mata Sundari Ji. After the marriage, there is a custom in the Panjab of giving a new affectionate name to the bride by her inlaws. Mata Jeeto Ji, because of her fine features and good looks, was named Sundari (beautiful) by the Guru's mother. The two names and two functions gave a basis for outsiders to believe that the Guru had two wives. In fact, the Guru had one wife with two names as explained above.

Some historians even say that Guru Gobind Singh had a third wife, Mata Sahib Kaur. In 1699, the Guru asked her to put patasas (puffed sugar) in the water for preparing Amrit when he founded the Khalsa Panth. Whereas Guru Gobind Singh is recognized as the spiritual father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur is recognized as the spiritual mother of the Khalsa. People not conversant with the Amrit ceremony mistakenly assume that Mata Sahib Kaur was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh. As Guru Gobind Singh is the spiritual but not the biological father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa but not the wife of Guru Gobind Singh.

From ignorance of Punjabi culture and the Amrit ceremony, some writers mistook these three names of the women in the life of Guru Gobind Singh as the names of his three wives. Another reason for this isunderstanding is that the parents of Mata Sahib Devan, as some Sikh chronicles have mentioned, had decided to marry her to Guru Gobind Singh. When the proposal was brought for discussion to Anandpur, the Guru had already been married. Therefore, the Guru said that he could not have another wife since he was already married. The dilemma before the parents of the girl was that, the proposal having become public, no Sikh would be willing to marry her. The Guru agreed for her to stay at Anand Pur but without accepting her as his wife. The question arose, as most women desire to have children, how could she have one without being married. The Guru told, "She will be the "mother" of a great son who will live forever and be known all over the world." The people understood the hidden meaning of his statement only after the Guru associated Mata Sahib Devan with preparing Amrit by bringing patasas. It is, therefore, out of ignorance that some writers consider Mata Sahib Devan as the worldly wife of Guru Gobind Singh.

The worthy consort of Guru Gobind Singh, Mata Sundri, was a distinguished guide of the Sikhs for 40 years after the death of the tenth Master, her husband. As her life story will reveal, she was the champion of truth and high values. She courageously faced a life full to the brim with misery and stood fast in leading the followers of her husband at a critical time. She has the foremost rank in the Indian women leaders. Her original name was Jito. In those days brides were given a new name by their in laws after the marriage So she was named Sundri after marriage. She was born in Lahore in 1670. Her father, Harjas Subhikhi, was a respected rich man of Lahore, capital of the Punjab. Out of respect, we call her Mata (mother) Sundri. Her father was head of a clan, so she was brought up in the lap of luxury and enjoyed the life of a happy child. Nothing is known about her schooling, but her literary taste shows she was well educated. Her father started searching for a suitable match for her, as early marriage was the custom in those days. He was a devotee of Guru Tegh Bahadur and had seen Gobind Rai during his visits to Anandpur .He selected the young Gobind Rai as his would be son –in- law. He approached Mata Gujri, mother of Gobind Rai, and his maternal uncle, Kirpal Chand with the proposal. They agreed and accepted the proposal. Harjas wanted that the marriage should take place at Lahore. Gobind Rai did not like the idea in view of the prevailing circumstances and assured Ram Saran that he would establish a new city at a distance of 10 miles from Anandpur before marriage. Consequently, a new city called Guru Ka Lahore or New Lahore was built by Guru Gobind Rai. Historians write that the hustle and bustle of this new Lahore was commensurate with the old Lahore. It still exists under the same name, but now it is only a village. It is said that the wedding of Mata Sundri surpassed in grandeur all other marriages solemnized in the families of the Gurus. This new city seemed to be a lovely gift for the bride to welcome her. This marriage took place in 1677,but the’ Muklawa’ ceremony was performed after some years In 1685 the whole family left for Nahan, a hill state nearby, at the invitation of the king of Nahan. Mata Sundri was now a beloved member of the Guru’s family. She saw her husband giving military training to his followers. It was a new experience for her. After a few months, Guru Gobind Rai shifted to Paonta, on the bank of the River Yamuna. Here he built a fortress. Sahibzada Ajit Singh was born here in 1689. The Guru had fifty-two poets in his court and created some of his literary works here. Mata Sundri assisted her husband in every possible way in his compositions. Here, Guru Ji fought the battle of Bhangani and defeated the hill chiefs. Mata Sundri was deeply impressed by the bravery of her husband and his soldiers. These happenings prepared her for the challenges that were to follow.

Now the family shifted to Anandpur. Here were born the Sahibzadas – Jujhar Singh in 1690, Zoravar Singh in 1696, and Fateh Singh, in 1699.They were lovely children and were looked after by their mother and grandmother, Mata Gujri. In 1699, Gobind Rai created saint-soldiers by baptizing his followers; he himself got baptized by the five beloved ones and was called Gobind Singh. Mata Sundri remained by the side of her husband. She sweetened the water of ‘Pahul’ at the creation of the Khalsa. She was highly impressed and happy seeing the army of the Khalsa undergoing military instructions.

From 1701 to 1704, Anandpur was attacked by the hill chiefs and the Mughal forces, but Guru Gobind Singh and his Sikhs repulsed every attack and defeated the enemy. Mata Gujri, sometimes, yielded to the requests of some weak-hearted Sikhs, asked Guru Ji to give up the conflict with the enemy and vacate the fort, but Mata Sundri never agreed to this proposal. She was a bold and inspiring lady, who showed no sign of weakness. In 1704, Guru Gobind Singh agreed with the Sikhs to vacate the fort on the assurance by the Mughals that none would be harmed, but it proved to be a false assurance and a great crisis befell. As soon as the Sikhs vacated the fort, they were attacked. It was decided to send Mata Sundri with Jawahar Singh and Dhana Singh to Delhi. It is said that they covered the distance of two hundred miles in disguise. Mata Gujri, with her two younger grandsons, left for Sarhind with a servant. Guru Ji, with his two elder sons and forty Sikhs, left for Chamkaur. This was a period of great anxiety for Mata Sundri who faced it bravely. At Delhi, she stayed in Jawahar Singh’s house in Ajmeri Gate. It was here that she learnt the news of the martyrdom of the four Sahibzadas and her beloved mother-in-law. The elder two were myrtyered while bravely fighting against the Mughal forces. The younger two were bricked alive by the chief of Sarhind as they refused to be converted to Islam. Mata Gujri also breathed her last at Sarhind. In the meantime, Guru Gobind Singh reached Damdama Sahib in District Bhatinda after encountering many hardships and dangers. It was here that Mata Sundri met Guru Gobind Singh after covering a long distance from Delhi. She wanted to confirm the news of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas from their father who said, “I have sacrificed four sons for the Sikhs. It does not matter if four have died as we have been blessed with thousands of sons.” She was consoled on hearing these words and did not complain about the loss of comforts and Sahibzadas. She stayed there and served her husband, who was engaged in literary pursuits. Her stay at Damdama Sahib was short as Guru Gobind Singh left for the South India on the invitation of Aurangzeb. She along with Bhai Mani Singh, returned to Delhi.

In the meantime, Aurangzeb died and his son, Bahadur Shah, requested Guru Gobind Singh to help him against his younger brother, Azam Shah. After a fierce battle, Bahadur Shah won, thanked the Guru for his help, and took the Guru to Delhi where he stayed as a royal guest. Here Mata Sundri brought her five-year-old adopted son, Ajit Singh, to Guru Gobind Singh. Seeing the boy, the Guru said, “This child will be the cause of your troubles, be cautious.” Mata Sundri could not give up her affection for the boy. As Ajit Singh grew up, he proved a nuisance and created many enemies. He decorated himself with the Guru’s arms, which were held in high esteem by Mata Sundri. She snubbed him for his misbehavior, but he attacked her with his dagger. His rude behavior and murder of an innocent beggar led him into trouble with the Moghal government. Like a coward, he gave up his faith and cut his long hair. Mata Sundri was annoyed and refused to see him ever again. Overwhelmed with grief, she left for Mathra as the ruler of Mathra was known to her. She stayed there for a short period and returned to Delhi. On her return she started living in a new house built for her by her followers there. Mata Sundri College for Women, run by the Sikhs of Delhi is housed there these days. Guru Gobind Singh went from Delhi to the south, where he left this world in 1707. Now Mata Sundri took the responsibility of guiding the Sikhs. She contributed in many ways to fulfill her responsibility till her death. She maintained the unity among Sikhs during very difficult times. Now the Sikhs were divided in two groups. Followers

of Banda Singh Bahadur, known as Bandai Khalsa, and the remaining known as Tat Khalsa (Pure Khalsa) were ready to kill each other at Amritsar. There was a possibility of bloodshed. She sent Bhai Mani Singh to Amritsar as head priest and asked him to settle this dispute. As he was respected by both the parties, the dispute was resolved peacefully. Moreover, all the Sikhs had a deep respect for Mata Sundri and had a firm belief in her impartiality. The credit of preserving the unity among the Sikhs goes to Mata Sundri. She foiled attempts made by her adopted son and others to declare themselves the eleventh guru of the Sikhs. If she had not intervened, a lot of Sikh blood would have been shed and the community would have been weakened

She undertook another important task started by Guru Gobind Singh. She encouraged Bhai Mani Singh to teach the Sikhs critical appreciation and the meaning of Gurbani. He started the Gurmat Institute at Delhi and later at Amritsar. This is still continuing at Amritsar in street Sattowali. Teaching Gurmat in those adverse circumstances was not an easy job. She also saw that more copies of handwritten Guru Granth Sahib were prepared.

In 1779, a lady with her child, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, came to see Mata Sundri and left the child with her. The child grew up under her loving care. She groomed him as a saint soldier. When he grew up, he was sent to Nawab Kapoor Singh for further training. He was also given some arms used by Guru Gobind Singh and blessings by Mata Sundri. With her blessing and training, he became a leader of the Sikhs and was known as Badshah (King). It shows Mata Sundri’s house was a haven of refuge for the needy.

Edicts (Hukumnamas) written by her to the Sikhs in different parts of India provide us with good evidence concerning her life. In those edicts, she often addresses the Sikhs as her beloved sons. Her language is overflowing with love. In one edict, which is addressed to the Sikhs at Patna, she asks them for twenty-five rupees to be given at the marriage of a needy Sikh’s daughter. This shows her concern for the needy. In another edict, she advises to bridge the differences among her followers. It proves that she was very much concerned about the unity among the Sikhs. In most of the edicts, she asks her Sikhs to send money for running of the common kitchen. It shows she continued the tradition of the common kitchen. These edicts also show that she was loved and respected by the Sikhs. One edict shows that Sikhs sent some gold for the wife of her adopted son. In her old age, she remained absorbed in meditation. She used to sit in meditation in front of the weapons of her husband. Before her death, she sent weapons of Guru Gobind Singh to Akal Takhat at Amritsar. She breathed her last in 1747 at Delhi. According to her desire, her body was cremated near the cremation site of Guru Harkrishan Sahib, the eighth Master. The small room where the Mata lived is still kept as it was. A Gurdwara was constructed by S.Baghel Singh at this place, when he conquered the city. Now this Gurdwara is being managed by the Gurdwara management committee of Delhi.

None can deny the fact that Mata Sundri, the serene Mother, completed most of the works left unfinished by the Tenth Master. When the time required, she did not hesitate and shouldered the leadership of the Khalsa courageously. She was the epitome of selflessness and austerity. She did not waver in the face of misfortunes. Her contribution to the Sikh community is much more than the contribution of any other Sikh lady. She was a champion of truth and high values. She disowned her faithless adopted son and did not save him from the death punishment although she could have done so as she was respected by the Mughals. She will always shine like a star and guide the people to the right path. She was an ideal woman. I bow my head as a mark of respect before the greatness of her soul.

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Gurfateh !

Fantastic Post Bhen ji !

Here is a post I put up a while back on some forums ( I don't think I posted it here) - I thought I'd post it here to add a few pictures to your great post.

Just a small request - I've posted a short verse about Rani Sahib Kaur of Patiala - if anyone has a picture of her I would love to see it - she is a great heroine of mine.

Enjoy the post - it's a little long - but worth the long read

Here is the post - from early 2006



*taken from Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Steek (Fareedkot Wala Teeka) - Bhasha Vibhag -4th ed 1992 - page 1005

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh !

This large post was prompted by the visit of my niece. She is starting to learn to read and has become a real book-worm, she loves Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter but she also loves to come to her Mama's house (me) to read my books on Sikh Heritage, especially 'Warrior Saints' 'Sikh Heritage' and 'The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms'.

It was while looking through these that she came out with a very pertinent and cutting question - the way kids do - "where are all the pictures of Sikh women ?"

It then struck me that she was right, many of those books have absolutely no pictures of women. Some may have mythological depictions of Sita and Parbati or Raag Raagnis,some have portraits of Rani Jindan, but many have none at all.

This prompted my wife and me to look through all our books and these pictures represent the collection we found for my niece.

It is our hope this collection will help inspire and educate everyone on the pivotal role of Sikh women.

The list is not exhaustive - it is limited to pictures we could find in our book collection.

This post is dedicated to All Sikh Women - All Mothers, Guru Ke Mahel , Mahaan Shahids, Brave steadfast bahadar Singhaneean. To all Mata-jis, Bee-jis, Respected Grandmothers and mothers, Cherished sisters,soulmate partners and beloved daughters.

In a time when daughters are still murdered in Punjab (and around the world) despite Guru sahib's command - Sikhi is the only dharam that expressly forbids the murder of female children - perpetrators being called 'Kurimaar' and ostracized by the sangat - this crime still persists - before it was done by placing 'Gur' in the mouth of the baby girl and saying ;

"Gur khayeen te puni kateen , Aap na ayeen veeran nu ghateen" ( eat sugar and spin cotton , come not again but send brothers) now it is murder perpetrated in the sex determination clinic.

Misogyny is still rife in Punjab despite Guru Sahib's Hukums - when Guru Nanak was asked by the Siddhas why he had "added yeast to milk" by leading a householders life he replied that you denounce women but you still rely on women as you go begging for food to them.

The same question was asked to Guru Hargobind he replied that ;

Daulat guzran hai

Aurat Iman hai

Puttar nishan hai

(money is my servant, Wife is my conscience and children keep the race going)

Still today in popular Punjabi culture you will hear that - "a women is like a shoe" that "Janani di matt pichey geechee vich hundi" ( a women's brain is in the back of her head)

such sexist views are very prevalent as well as many superstitions regarding women. It is my hope that this post will show how women have played a pivotal role in Sikhi and continue to do so.

It is mothers who care for and cherish their children's Kesh and show the importance of Kesh.

It is mothers who instill the self confidence in their children to wear turbans

It is mothers who enshrine beautiful gurbani in the hearts and on the lips of their children

It is mothers who place gutkas into the hands of their children , who sing their children to sleep with gurbani "Tati Vao na lagaien" (Bilaval M5).

I bow my head to these Mahaan Sikh Women !

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

The birth of Guru Nanak - from a Baba Atal Tower fresco - showing Mata Tripta and Bibi Nanaki


A painting showing the same scene


*from Punjab Painting - RP Srivastava - Abhinav - 1983 - plate 130

Guru Nanak rejects the Janao


detail of Bibi Nanaki


The marriage of Guru Nanak


*from The Sikhs - T S Randhawa - Prakash - 2000 - pg 102

Bibi Nanaki and her husband Jai Ram - Bibi Nanaki is sometimes referred to as the first Sikh


*from Sikh Heritage in Paintings- Makhan Singh - Perfect - 1995 pg19

Guru Nanak with his parents returns from his 12 year 'udasi'


*from B40 Janamsakhi Guru Baba Nanak Paintings - S Hans - GNDU - plate 6

The wife of Guru Nanak - Mata Salakhani with their sons Lakhmi Das and Sri Chand


The Guru Sahiban spoke out against Sati (burning of the widow with her husband)and Pardah (the veil)



Guru Amar Das set up 'Manjian' to do 'prachar' which were like 'parishes' . He appointed men as well as women


* From Makhan Singh 1995 pg 28

Mata Khivi - Mata Khivi the wife of Guru Angad Dev. Mata Ji has the unique honour of being the only contemporary of the Guru Sahib's to be mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib - Her dedication and sewa is recorded in Ramkali Ki Waar


*from Makhan Singh 1995


*from Fareedkot wala Teeka

STTM translation

balava(n)dd kheevee naek jan jis bahuthee shhaao pathraalee ||

Balwand says that Khivi, the Guru's wife, is a noble woman, who gives soothing, leafy shade to all.

la(n)gar dhoulath va(n)ddeeai ras a(n)mrith kheer ghiaalee ||

She distributes the bounty of the Guru's Langar; the kheer - the rice pudding and ghee, is like sweet ambrosia.

This Shabad is by Bhatt Sathaa and Balvand in Raag Raamkalee on Ang 967

Bibi Bhani - Bibi Bhani the daughter of Guru Amar Das - has the unique honour of being a Guru's daughter, Guru's wife (Guru Ram Das) , Guru's Mother (Guru Arjan Dev). The mother of the first Sikh Shaheed Guru Arjan , her great grandson was Guru Tegh Bahadar , Great Great Grandson was Guru Gobind Singh.

Tradition says that Bibi Bhani was dedicated to the sewa of Guru Amar Das Ji - her father and in contrast to Punjabi tradition continued this sewa after her marriage to Guru Ram Das


*from Sikh Heritage - Dr Daljeet - Prakash - 2004 - pg 65


Mata Ganga - The wife of Guru Arjan Dev -She received from Baba Buddha the blessing that her son would be a great warrior whose powers no one could tame - Guru HarGobind Sahib


*from Album Central Sikh Museum - P. Satbir Singh - 1996 - pg 34

This is the rath (carriage) said to have been used by Mata ji to visit Baba Buddha


*from Gurdwaras in India and Pakistan - Mohinder Singh - NIPS- 2004 - pg 57

Mata Sulakhani - receives a blessing from Guru Hargobind Sahib - her entire family sacrificed their lives for the Panth


* from Makhan Singh 1995

Mata Gujri - wife of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Mother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji


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Mata Sahib Devan / Sahib Kaur -- Mother of the Khalsa


*from Gurdwaras Patwant Singh - HB- 1992 - pg 54


Gold panel from Baba Atal Tower



* both from Randhawa ( 2000)


*from Makhan Singh (1995)

Mata Gujri and The Sahibzadas in the Thanda Burj


*from Makhan Singh (1995)

Mata Ji and The Sahibzadas receiving milk from Moti Mehra in the Thanda Burj


*from P. Satbir Singh 1996 - pg 44

Mai Bhago - The Brave



*from Makhan singh 1995

The Rifle said to belong to Mai Bhago kept at Nander


Mata Sundari Ji - The wife of Guru Gobind Singh Ji - Mata Ji guided the Panth during the early 1700s . Mata Ji commissioned Bhai Mani Singh to collect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh and compile the Dasm Granth Sahib.


*from Patwant Singh 1992

A Hukumnama sent by Mata Sundari Ji


From Dr Daljeet (2004) pg 109

Gurdwara Mata Sundari, Delhi


*from Patwant Singh 1992 pg 113

The Tradition of the Faithful Bibi Rajni and her leper husband - cured by faith



*from Makhan Singh 1995

The Brave Faithful Singhneean in Mir Mannu's prison - we remember these brave Sikh women in our ardas - who in the1700s were imprisoned and tortured made to grind 60kg had their children butchered infront of them but stayed true to the last



*from P Satbir Singh (1996)

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