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Bibi Bhani - Noble And Brave Sikh Women

Aug 13, 2004
By Sawan Singh

Bibi Bhani has a unique place in the Sikh history. She is the noble lady who was daughter of a guru (Guru Amardas), wife of a guru (Guru RamDas), mother of a guru (Guru Arjan Dev), grandmother of a guru (Guru Hargobind), great grandmother of a guru (Guru Tegh Bahadar) and great, great grandmother of a guru (Guru Gobind Singh). Out of love, a young girl is called Bibi, but out of respect and love, Bhani is mentioned in the Sikh history, as Bibi, whether she is daughter or mother. She was a symbol of service. She was born in 1533 at village Basarke near Amritsar. She was the youngest daughter of Guru Amar Das so her parents loved her a lot and also called her Mohni (attractive). From her very childhood, she spent a lot of time in meditation and in the service of her father. She served her father like a disciple. In the Sikh history, she is known as an embodiment of service. It is said that she took special care that her father is not disturbed in his meditation and she served him at the cost of her own health. She was a devoted daughter of her father. Her cheerful, innocent and calm face attracted everybody. She also loved solitude and simplicity. When she grew up, her parents started looking for a suitable match for her. Her mother, Mansa Davi, wanted her husband to be as devoted to service and as humble as she was. They decided to select Jetha who sold roasted grams and also served selflessly in the common kitchen. Bibi Bhani also, like a devoted daughter, willingly accepted the selection made by her parents. Macauliff writes that a Sikh of Guru Amar Das brought some jewelry and precious clothes for Bibi Bhani so that she should use them at the time of her marriage, but she refused and said that this money should be spent for the common kitchen that serves the needy irrespective of his\her caste or creed. This shows her simplicity and love for the poor. She was married in the beginning of 1553.She served Bhai Jetha not only as a husband but also as a saint. She was so contented that she never complained about the poverty of her in-laws. She kept serving her father even after her marriage, as her in-laws were local. She continued doing her worldly duties along with the service of her father. Her husband continued serving in the common kitchen even after his marriage. The common kitchen at the time of Guru Amar Das was well known in the world. Emperor Akbar was so impressed with the humble service and the food served in the kitchen that he granted land of a few villages revenue-free to Bibi Bhani. Bhai Jetha became Guru Ram Das, the fourth master in 1574.They had three sons, Prithi Chand, Maha Dev, and Arjan Dev. Prithi Chand was arrogant, lazy, and dishonest, but still wanted the guruship after his father. He wanted that his mother should recommend him for guruship. She advised him that the decision made by his father would be on merit and she remained neutral. When Guru Arjan Dev was selected for guruship, Prithi Chand misbehaved with his father. Bibi Bhani snubbed Prithi Chand and admonished him. She said to him that the decision made by his father was impartial. This has been the tradition from the time of Guru Nanak. She also said, “Your father was also selected on the basis of his service and humility.” Bibi Bhani always stood for truth. Her eldest son, Prithi Chand, was ignored due to his haughty nature and the youngest one , Arjan Dev, was made the fifth Guru by his father. Prithi Chand claimed that he was the fifth Guru and through his agents collected the offerings of the devotees before they could see Guru Arjan Dev. He, thus, tried to fail the common kitchen run by Guru Arjan Dev. Bibi Bhani and Bhai Gurdas, a devotee of Guru Arjan Dev, foiled the conspiracy of Prithi Chand and the common kitchen continued as usual.
After the death of Guru Ram Das, Bibi Bhani helped her son, Guru Arjan Dev, in every activity undertaken by him and advised him She persuaded Guru Arjan Dev to remarry after the death of his first wife. It seems Guru Arjan Dev has mentioned her blessings and advice in one of his hymns given on page 496 of Guru Granth Sahib. It is being given below:
poothaa maathaa kee aasees ||
nimukh n bisuro thumu ko har har sudhaa bhujuhu jugudhees ||1|| rehaao || sathigur thumu ko hoe dhaeiaalaa su(n)thusu(n)g thaeree preeth ||
kaapurr path purumaesur raakhee bhojun keeruthun neeth ||2||
a(n)mrith peevuhu sudhaa chir jeevuhu har simuruth anudh anu(n)thaa ||
ru(n)g thumaasaa poorun aasaa kubehi n biaapai chi(n)thaa ||3||
bhuvur thumuaaraa eihu mun hovo har churunaa hohu koulaa ||
naanuk dhaas oun su(n)g luputtaaeiou jio boo(n)dhehi chaathrik moulaa ||4||3||4||
O son, this is your mother's hope and prayer that you may never forget the Lord, even for an instant. May you ever remember the Lord of the Universe!. ||Pause|| May the True Guru be kind to you, and may you love the Society of the Saints!. May the preservation of your honor by the Supreme Lord be your clothes, and may the singing of His Praises be your food! So drink in forever the Nectar. May you live long, and may the meditative remembrance of the Lord give you infinite delight! May joy and pleasure be yours; may your hopes be fulfilled, and may you never be troubled by worries.! Let this mind of yours be the bumblebee, and let the Lord's feet be thy lotus flower. Says servant Nanak, attach your mind to them, and blossom forth like the songbird, upon finding the raindrop.

Every mother should give such blessings to her children. When King Jahangir summoned Guru Arjan Dev, she encouraged him to face the difficulties boldly. When Guru Ji was tortured and the news of his martyrdom reached the family, she maintained her composure and did not let her daughter-in-law, Guru Arjan Dev’s wife, and 11 year-old grandson, Hargobind, lose heart. She advised them to abide by God’s will. She encouraged her grandson to face the new situation bravely. She left this world in 1598 at the age of 65 at Tarn Taran where she was serving the lepers. Guru Arjan Dev had a well constructed in her memory at Tarn Taran. It is still known as the Well of Bibi Bhani. We can safely call her the embodiment of service, truth, endurance, obedience, and humility. She will always be remembered for the unique service rendered by her to her father. She has the distinction of being the mother of the first Sikh martyr, Guru Arjan Dev, great-grandmother of the second Sikh martyr, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and great-great-grandmother of Guru Gobind Singh, who sacrificed himslf and his four sons for the sake of justice. Thus she belongs to a family whose seven members were martyred. My head bows in her memory.

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