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Women Great Women Of Sikhism


Apr 4, 2005
Bibi Nanaki

(1464 - 1518)

Bibi Nanaki Ji was the elder sister of Guru Nanak. She was born to Mehta Kalu Ji and Mata Tripta Ji. Her birth took place in 1464 at her mother’s village of Chahal, now in the Lahore district of Pakistan. This is explained in the Sooraj Parkash as follows:

[FONT=ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅਖ਼ਰ]ihm igir mYnw ky Gir mwhI[

pwrbqI jnmI ijm AwhI[

BeI nwnkI sB gux KwnI[

mwno Bgq Dr dyh suhwnI[ [/FONT]

([FONT=ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅਖ਼ਰ]sUrj pRkwS[/FONT])

Five years later, in 1469, her brother, Guru Nanak Saheb came to this world in Talwandi.

Bibi Nanaki Ji was the first to recognize that Guru Nanak was not an ordinary man. While Mehta Kalu Ji, Mata Tripta Ji, and others would get upset with Guru Nanak’s actions, Bibi Nanaki Ji would encourage her brother on his mission.

There is no doubt that she was Guru Nanak’s first Sikh, first follower. All through her life, she did not think of Guru Nanak as her brother, instead she thought of him as her Guru. From an early age it became apparent that the brother and sister had a close relationship. There are many stories relating to their mutual affection and her deep faith in her brother's purpose in life.

She was with him throughout the early years of his childhood. When Guru Nanak Saheb was only Six years old in 1475, his sister was married to Jai Ram Ji, a revenue official from Sultanpur, which is in the present-day native state of Kapurthala, and was then the capital of the Jalandhar Doab. Bibi Nanaki was only eleven years old when she was married.

Guru Nanak continued to live with his parents in Talwandi, but his parents were very much stressed with him. Mehta Kalu Ji would get upset with Guru Nanak because he would spend all day meditating or visiting saints and would not do any work around the house. Before her marriage, Bibi Nanaki Ji would calm her father, but now that she had moved away there was no one to stand up for the Guru.

One day, Guru Nanak Saheb Ji saw a poor saint and gave him a brass jug from home and some gold. When Mehta Kalu Ji found out, he was very upset and scolded his son. After this incident, Rai Bular, the village Chief suggested that Guru Nanak should move to Sultanpur and live with his loving sister. Mehta Kalu Ji agreed and during his teenage years, Guru Nanak moved to Sultanpur.

When Guru Nanak came to Sultanpur, Bibi Nanaki started to bow to her younger brother. The Guru stopped her and told her that she was his older sister and she should not bow to him. However, Bibi Nanaki responded, "That is true if you were a regular man, but you are more, to me, I see God in you."

Bhai Jai Ram himself had a great respect for his younger brother-in-law. He respected the Guru for his spirituality and considered himself blessed for being related to him. So he accepted the offer of Guru Nanak moving into his house.

Bhai Jai Ram Ji worked for Nawab Daulat Khan, the governor. He decided to ask Nawab Daulat Khan if he could find some work for Guru Nanak. The Nawab met Guru Nanak and was very pleased with the Guru’s personality. He gave Guru Nanak a job in the modhi khana (general store).

Bibi Nanaki and Bhai Jai Ram Ji were also the ones who arranged Guru Nanak’s marriage to Mata Sulakhni Ji, daughter of Baba Mool Chand and Mata Chando Rani from the village of Pakhoke, district Gurdaspur.

When Guru Nanak went missing in the Beas River, everyone had given up hope, they all thought that the Guru had drowned in the River. Bhai Jai Ram Ji was even writing a letter to Guru Nanak’s parents telling them that their son had drowned. However, Bibi Nanaki Ji kept faith, she told her husband not to write the letter and she told everyone else, “That my brother came to this world on a mission and he will not leave until the mission is completed.”

She is the only one who kept faith:

[FONT=ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅਖ਼ਰ]iek nwnkI qoN ibnwW AorY lok sok smwie[ [/FONT]

([FONT=ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅਖ਼ਰ]jnm swKI[/FONT])

Translation: Besides Bibi Nanaki, all of the other people started to feel sad. She treated Guru Nanak’s sons as her own, while Guru Nanak went on his preaching journeys, Mata Sulakhni Ji took the younger son, Baba Lakhmi Das Ji to her parents home. The older son, Baba Sri Chand Ji stayed in Sultanpur and lived with Bibi Nanaki and Bhai Jai Ram Ji.

During the rest of their lives, Guru Nanak visited his Sister many times. He had promised to visit her whenever her heart yearned to see him:

[FONT=ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅਖ਼ਰ]Xwd kry gurU sI nwnkI phuMcy bwr nw lweI[[/FONT] ([FONT=ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅਖ਼ਰ]pMQ pRkwS[/FONT])

Translation: Whenever Bibi Nanaki would remember her brother, he would come meet her right away. (Panth Prakash)

Not only was he her younger brother, he was her Guru.

The last time Guru Nanak met his sister was in 1518. For Bibi Nanaki this visit was filled with joy, but also with sadness. Guru Nanak had said that he would only be visiting for three days. She begged that she should stay a little longer. After two days she suddenly fell ill. She breathed her last as the Guru's sacred hymn, Japji Sahib, was being recited to her. Bhai Jai Ram himself did not live much longer. Three days later he also passed away. For Guru Nanak this was his last visit to Sultanpur. He had kept his promise to his sister and had visited her whenever her heart had called out for him. He was with her when she passed away.


Apr 4, 2005
Bibi Amro Ji

Bibi Amro was the daughter of Guru Angad Dev ji, the Second Guru. She was born in
1532 in the village of Khadur Sahib, District Amritsar. She received her early
education and training directly from her parents Guru Angad Dev ji and Mata Khivi.
Guru Angad spent a lot of time with his children. He taught them the Gurmukhi script
that he had revised and simplified which is used in Guru Granth Sahib. When she
came of age she was married to Bhai Jasoo son of Manak Chand of Basarke village.
As was the custom of the day she was sent to live with her husband's family. Her
father encouraged her to continue doing kirtan and to preach Sikhism to all that she
came in contact with.

Amar Das who was her husband's uncle was quite taken by her
sweet melodious voice when he heard her singing shabads (holy hymns). It was she
who first introduced him to the teachings of Sikhism. As his interest grew it was she
who sent him to her father to learn more about these teachings. Amar Das was so
deeply influenced by Guru Angad Dev ji that he became a devout Sikhs, so much that
Guru Angad Dev ji announced him as his Successors. Thus Guru Amar Das ji, the
third Guru got to his destiny of becoming a Guru through Bibi Amro ji.
Years laters when Guru Amar Das ji gave structure to the Sikh Nation and organised
his preachers into 22 teaching districts he put Bibi Amro ji in-charge of one of these
districts that he callcd Manji. What Manji meant was that a person who was leading a
Kirtan to be sit on the Manji while whole sangat in front of him.

The person occupying Manji was the Sikh preacher appointed by Guru Amardas. This
appointmcet can best be compared to the position of Bishop in thc Christian Church
today. It was an administrative position, with full responsibility for the equality and
content of the preaching. She also would have the responsibility of collecting
revenues and making decisions for the welfare of her diocese. Her manji or diocese
included Basarke, her husband's village, where they made their home. It is the direct
result of the efforts of Bibi Amro and other Sikh preaches that Amritsar today is
synonomous with Sikhism. Today, close to the village of Basarke, there is a tank
(man made pond) bearing the name Bibi Amro da Talab (Tank of Bibi Amro) in her

from the "Champion of Women" by Alice Basarke.


Apr 4, 2005
Bibi Bhani ji

Bibi Bhani was daughter of Guru Amar Das, consort of Guru Ram Das and mother of
Guru Arjan Dev, was born to Mata Mansa Devi on 21 Magh 1591 Bk/19January 1535
at Basarke Gillan, a village near Amritsar. She was married on 18 February 1554 to
Bhai Jetha (later Guru Ram Das), a Sodhi Khatri belonging to Lahore, then in
Goindval rendering voluntary service in the construction of the Baoli Sahib. After
marriage, the couple remained in Goindval serving the Guru. From Goindval Bhai
Jetha was deputed by the Guru to go and establish a habitation (present-day Amritsar)
on a piece of land gifted, according to one version, by Emperor Akbar to Bibi Bhani
at the time of his visit to Guru Amar Das.

Three sons, Prith Chand (1558), Mahadev (1560) and (Guru) Arjan Dev (1563) were
born to her. A popular anecdote mentioned in old chronicles describes how devotedly
Bibi Bhani served her father. One morning, it is said, as Guru Amar Das was absorbed
in meditation, Bibi Bhani noticed that one of the legs of the low wooden seat on
which the Guru sat was about to give way. she at once put forward her hand to
support the stool. As the Guru ended his devotions, he discovered how her hand was
bleeding from the injury it had sustained. He blessed her saying that her progeny
would inherit the guruship. Bibi Bhani died at Goindval on 9 April 1598.

Bibi Bhani was mother of Guru Arjan Dev, the Fifth Guru. Undoubtly Guru Arjan
Dev was brought up as model GurSikh. Guru Arjan Dev was the first Sikh Martyr.
Guru Arjan Dev compiled Adi Granth by collecting all the writings of gurus before
him and installed it at Golden Temple, which is now The Guru Granth. Guru Arjan
Dev completed the construction of Golden Temple.


Apr 4, 2005
Mata Gujri Ji

Mata Gujari ji, through upbringing of her grandsons played such an important role in Sikhism that as Sikhs, we can owe our existence to her. It was due to her teachings that 6 year old and 9 year old did not bulge from their Dharma and attained martyrdom

Mata Gujari was the daughter of Bhai lal Chand Subulikka and Bishan Kaur, a pious
couple of Kartarpur, in present-day kapurthala district of the Punjab. Lal Chand had
migrated from his ancestral village, Lakhnaur, in Ambala district, to settle at
Kartarpur where his daughter Gujari was married to (Guru) Tegh Bahadur on 4
February 1633. The betrothal had taken place four years earlier when Tegh Bahadur
had come to Kartarpur in the marriage party of his elder brother, Suraj Mall. Bishan
Kaur, the mother, had been charmed by the handsome face of Tegh Bahadur and she
and her husband pledged the hand of their daughter to him. After the marriage
ceremony, the couple came to reside in Amritsar. Bride Gujari won the appreciation
of everyone "Like bridegroom like bride" records Gurbilas Chhevi patshsahi. "Gujari
is by destiny made worthy of Tegh Bahadur in every way " In 1635, Mata Gujari left
Amritsar with the holy family and went to reside at Kartarpur, in the Sivalik foothills.

After of Guru Hargobind left this world in 1644, she came with her husband and
mother-in-law, Mata Nanaki, to Bakala, now in Amritsar district of the Punjab. There
they lived in peaceful seclusion, Tegh Bahadur spending his days and nights in
meditation and Gujari performing the humble duties of a pious and devoted
housewife. After he was installed Guru in 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur, accompanied by
Mata Gujari, went on a visit to Amritsar, traveling on to Makhoval, near Kiratpur,
where a new habitation, named Chakk Nanaki (later Anandpur) was founded in the
middle of 1665.

Soon after this, Guru Tegh Bahadur along with his mother, Nanaki, and wife, Gujari,
set out on a long journey to the east Leaving the family at Patna, he traveled on to
Bengal and Assam. At Patna, Mata Gujari gave birth to a son on 22 December 1666.
The child was named Gobind Rai, the illustrious Guru Gobind Singh of later day.
Guru Tegh Bahadur returned to Patna in 1670 for a brief stay before he left for Delhi,
instructing the family to proceed to lakhnaur, now in Haryana.

Mata Gujari, accompanied by the aged Mata Nanaki and young Gobind Rai, reached,
on 13 September 1670, Lakhnaur where she stayed with her brother Mehar chand,
until she was joined by her husband. An old well just outside Lakhnaur village and
reverently called Matta da Khuh or Mata Gujari DA Khuh still commemorates her
visit. From Lakhnaur the family proceeded to Chakk Nanaki where Guru Tegh
Bahadur rejoined them in March 1671 after spending some more time traveling
through the Malva region and meeting sangats. At Chakk Nanaki, 11 July 1675 was a
momentous day when Guru Tegh Bahadur left for Delhi prepared to make the
supreme sacrifice. She showed courage at the time of parting and bore the ultimate
trial with fortitude. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed in Delhi on 11 November 1675,
and, Guru Cobind Singh then being very young, the responsibility of managing the
affairs at Chakk Nanaki, initially, fell to her. She was assisted in the task by her
younger brother, Kirpal Chand.

When in face of a prolonged siege by hostile hill rajas and Mughal troops Chakk
Nanaki (Anandpur) had to be evacuated by Guru Gobind Singh on the night of 5-6
December 1705, Mata Gujari with her younger grandsons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh
Singh, aged nine and seven year respectively, was separated from the main body
while crossing the rivulet Sarsa. The three of them were led by their servant, Gangu,
to the latter's village, Saheri, near Morinda in present day Ropar district, where he
treacherously betrayed them to the local Muslim officer. Mata Gujari and her
grandsons were arrested on 8 December and confined in Sirhind Fort in what is
referred to in Sikh chronicles as Thanda Burj, the cold tower. As the children were
summoned to appear in court from day to day, the grandmother kept urging them to
remain steadfast in their faith. On 11 December they were ordered to be bricked up
alive in a wall, but, since the masonry crumbled before it covered their heads, they
were executed the following day. Mata Gujari ji were imprisoned on top of a tower
which was opened from all sides without any warm clothes in very cold month of
December. She continued the tradition of Sikhism and without complaints give her
body singing guru ki Bani. Mata Gujari ji attained martyrdom the same day as her
grandsons. No doubt Guru Nanak Dev ji had said "Why isn't woman equal to man
when she is who gave birth to kings, and protectors of Dharma". Mata Gujari ji
through upbringing of her grandsons played such an important role in Sikhism that as
Sikhs, we can owe our existence to her. It was due to her teachings that 6 year old and
9 year old did not bulge from their Dharma and attained martyrdom. Thus continuing
and emphasizing the institute of martyrdom in Sikhism. Seth Todar Mall, a
kindhearted wealthy man of Sirhind, cremated the three dead bodies the next day.
At Fatehgarh Sahib, near Sirhind, there is a shrine called Gurdwara Mata Gujari
(Thanda Burj). This is where Mata Gujari spent the last four days of her life. About
one kilometer to the southeast of it is Gurdwara Joti Sarup, marking the cremation
site. Here, on the ground floor, a small domed pavilion in white marble is dedicated to
Mata Gujari. The Sikhs from far and near come to pay homage to her memory,
especially during a three-day fair held from 1113 Poh, Bikrami dates falling in the last
week of December.

Kirpal Singh

Jul 23, 2006
You are doing a great service by reminding,how immensley important it is to celebrate the contributions of sikh women in building the sikh way of life shoulder to shoulder with sikh men.Please keep up the wonderful initiative.


gone to greener pastures
Apr 4, 2007
my hero...

Mai Bhago

Mai Bhago was was a descendant of Pero Shah, the younger brother of Bhai Langah 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 sorrounded 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 fourty Sikhs signed this document Bedava and left Guru Gobind Singh. Mai Bhago was distressed to hear that some of the Sikhs of her neighbourhood who had gone to Anandpur to fight for Guru Cobind Singh had deserted him under adverse conditions. Hearing her taunts, these Sikhs were ashamed at their deed. She rallied the deserters persuading them to meet the Guru and apologize to him. she set off along with them and some other Sikhs to seek out the Guru, then travelling 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 travelling in Malva region, being pursued by Mughal forces of Aurungzeb. Travelling 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 fourty 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.

Great Sikh Warriors


Apr 4, 2005
Mata Khivi Ji

Khivi was born in 1506 to Karan Devi17 and Bhai Devi Chand Khatri. Her father was a shopkeeper and moneylender, and was a popular man in the neighbourhood. She inherited all his finest attributes of generosity and congenial spirit. She was married in 1519, when she was 13 years old. Khivi was married to Lahina for 20 years before he became the second Guru of the Sikhs. There is historical evidence that she had 4 children. Dasu, the eldest was born in 1524. Bibi Amro18 was born in 1532, followed by Bibi Anokhi in 1535 and son Datu in 1537. The family was content and doing well. As the wife of one of the town's richest men, Khivi must have enjoyed a great deal of respect. Her life was one of luxury and pleasure. Life would have gone on this way, had it not been for her coming under the influence of Mai Bhirai, who told her about Guru Nanak's teachings. At approximately the same time, Lahina also heard of the Guru through Bhai Jodha, one of Guru Nanak's earliest disciples. Lahina was a seeker of truth, and his curiosity was aroused. In 1532, shortly after the birth of his first daughter Amro, Lahina set out for his annual pilgrimage. On the way, he broke his journey at Kartarpur to see the Guru. On listening to Nanak speak, Lahina begged to be allowed to stay and become his disciple. He had found the truth he had been seeking, and would never again stray away from it. He served his master with the greatest devotion. He busied himself, sweeping the visitor's quarters, washing their clothes and helping with the most menial work in fields. As his knowledge and understanding of the new teachings grew, so did the Guru's affection and approval of his disciple

Lahina was 28 years old at the time, had a wife and two young children. The Guru he had chosen, spoke of the equality of women and advocated a normal family life as the best way to attain salvation. After serving the Guru for some time, he was sent back to Khadur to see his family. His instructions were to take his time and to spend it spreading the word of the new faith to all he met. He did this well, and Guru Nanak was pleased with the reports he heard of him. The reports were so good that Guru Nanak came to his village twice to visit him and to re-inforce his work with his own preaching. Khivi also learnt from her husband, and embraced the new faith wholeheartedly. The women in the village taunted her, saying that her husband was becoming an important holy man, and would, therefore, soon forsake her. She knew she had nothing to worry about, and gave birth to two more children in that period of time.

When Guru Nanak died, Guru Angad felt a great need to prepare himself for the work ahead. Nihali, 20 a devout woman disciple, made her house available to him, while he prayed and meditated for six months. He allowed her to supply him with milk, but otherwise asked to be left alone.
When Lahina became Guru Angad, second Guru of the Sikhs, life became very busy for Khivi. People were now coming to her house to see their Guru. She had always been accustomed to a busy social life, but this was different. There was a purpose to all this coming and going that had not been there before. Moreover, Sikh teaching was very clear that one must earn ones living through one's own labour. Khivi took these teachings very seriously. She took upon herself the onerous task of managing every detail of the langar. Only the best possible ingredients were used, and everyone was treated with utmost courtesy. Her hospitality has been emulated over the centuries and has become the first cultural identity of the Sikhs. She helped the Guru in establishing the infant Sikh community on a stronger footing.21 She has been described as good natured, efficient, beautiful and all round perfect Khivi.22 She has the distinction of being the only one of the Guru•s wives to be mentioned by name in Guru Granth Sahib. There she is described as a "good person", "an affectionate mother" and as "one who provides shelter and protection to others."

Khivi did much more than work in the kitchen. She created a loving atmosphere for all whom she came in contact with. She and Guru Angad were very fond of their children. They lavished their love and affection on not only their own, but on any child in the community. Their commitment was so strong that it gave a beautiful example to all who witnessed it. The Guru took great delight in spending time with the children, teaching them a modified version of the Punjabi script which was easier to learn by the illiterate masses. This new script, which was his invention, soon became known as Gurmukhi script. He is credited in popularising this alphabet, in which the Guru Granth Sahib is written. Each day there was special time set aside first to teach the children and delight in their clever ways. Then they would watch the children at play, and often watch wrestling matches together. From the games, the Guru would draw lessons for his congregation. Guru Angad, with the help of Bhai Bala and other disciples, wrote the first "Life" of Guru Nanak, and this work became the first published prose of the Punjabi language.

Mata Khivi lived for thirty years after her husband's death. She continued to serve the community and remained associated with the Guru's house in all that time. When Guru Angad passed the succession to Guru Amar Das, his son Datu was very disappointed. Encouraged by some of his friends, he tried to declare himself the rightful heir. He took his following and they sang hymns by themselves. Khivi was quite upset. When Datu developed headaches, she was able to persuade him that his responsibility was too much for him. The only way to cure the headache is to go back to the rightful Guru and beg his forgiveness. She took her son back to Guru Amar Das, who on hearing that she was coming, came out to meet her half way. All was forgiven. Datu's headaches disappeared and Sikhism was spared another schism, thanks to Khivi's intervention.24 Khivi continued to manage Guru Amar Das' kitchen. She was proud of her children till the day she died. Her daughter Amro had married Bhai Jasoo of Basarke village. He was the son of Bhai Manak Chand and nephew of Guru Amar Das.25 Bibi Amro had become a preacher of Sikhism, and it is she who transformed the life of Guru Amar Das by introducing him to the teachings she had learnt from her father Guru Angad. Later, when Amar Das organised the teaching of Sikhism into specific districts and jurisdictions, he gave her a Manji, that is, he appointed her head of a diocese. Being appointed to head a Manji would be the equivalent of being a bishop in the Christian Church. She was responsible not only for the quality of the preaching, but also for collecting revenues and making decisions for the welfare of her diocese. Her diocese or Manji included Basarke, her husband's village. Today, close to the modern village of Basarke an old tank (man-made pond) bears the name of Bibi Amro Da Talab (Tank of Bibi Amro) in her memory.

Khivi had the distinction of meeting five Gurus. She lived to the age of 75 and died in the year 1582. Guru Arjun Dev attended her funeral. Her contributions to the Sikh cause can easily be divided into three parts. The first period was the twenty years of marriage before Guru Angad succeeded Guru Nanak. This period was a test not only for Angad, but for her as well. Any decisions he made affected her very much. Her response would also have affected his actions. She never complained, nor did anything to deter him from his objectives. The second period of her life as wife of the Guru was extraordinary in its devotion and dedication to the cause. The third and last period would be after her husband died. She continued to nourish the Sikh community and to work tirelessly for that which she now believed in with all her heart.

She had a long productive life. She worked hard and was loved by all. Her good humour and pleasant personality made a large contribution to the spirit of hospitality, which is now considered an essential trait of Sikh culture. She is quite possibly the first woman of her era who ever worked outside her immediate family home and obligations at a time when her children were very young. She handled both roles admirably well. It is time that Sikhs acknowledge her very important contribution.


Apr 4, 2005
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.


Apr 4, 2005
You were Blocked

Bibi Anup Kaur

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.


gone to greener pastures
Apr 4, 2007
Bibi Kaulan

Mata Kaulan was a women who was a free spirit and wanted to explore her surroundings. She had been adopted by a muslim priest called Rustam Khan. He was based in Lahore, Pakistan. Qazi Rustam Khan had bought her from her parents while she was a child. It is possible that her parents were Hindus. 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 Arjan Dev ji. 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 herself as she found them very touching. 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. The dedication of the Sikhs to serve God was something that impressed Kaulan Ji as she too was a disciple of the true Guru.
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 whom 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 should 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.

Guru Hargobind took over the role of spiritual guide and counselor from Mian Mir. Under his guidance, Kaulan learned to meditate and sing the teachings songs of the Sikhs. Guru Hargobind instructed that a separate building be built for her as living quarters, and told her not to worry. She could spend her time as she pleased. In her home in Lahore, Kaulan spent hours in deep meditation and prayer. In her new home in the Guru’s court, she continued her routine of study and meditation. It is said that when Guru Hargobind saw her continual dependence on the Divine, he was deeply pleased with Kaulan’s devotion. And in order to protect that devotion, to give it shelter so it could flourish, he took care of her completely.

Three years after the completion of the tank in Amritsar, Kaulan became ill. Ever her Protector, Guru Hargobind came to see her. She was so weak, she could hardly speak. Guru Hargobind could see that she had only another day to live – another 24 hours. As she lay there, weak in body, with little voice, he took her through the experience of her life. How lucky she was, it is reported he said, that she left the company of people who had no sense to see the Divine. How fortunate that she had come into the company of the Guru and the Sikhs to meditate and pray. With his compassion, he guided her to assess her life and see that there was no reason to feel pain about leaving her family – but only joy at how her life had been transformed.

Then, he began to give her spiritual instructions that would guide her through the last 24 hours of her life. He directed her to keep meditating and reflecting on the Akal Moorat – on the deathless spirit that lived within her. Death could not touch her spirit, her awareness – it was only an illusion. For the next 24 hours, the Guru instructed, she should do nothing but meditate on the Creator, and stay present with that Deathless Awareness inside of herself. He promised that he would come at the moment of her departure.

Twenty-four hours later, as he had promised, Guru Hargobind returned to Kaulan’s side. Macauliffe’s account of Kaulan’s death is too moving re-write. So let me just share with you what he wrote.

“The Guru proceeded to Kaulan’s apartments and addressed her consolatory words. ‘Be ready. Prepare thyself. Thine hour hath come. Dismiss all consideration for thy body and fix thine attention on God, who is unborn and imperishable. The world is unreal and only shineth with His light. The soul is pure, real, conscious, happy. As long as man is proud of his body he is subject to birth and death. But when he hath obtained divine knowledge and passed beyond the bounds of love and hate, then he obtaineth deliverance.’

When Kaulan, after meditating on the Guru’s instruction, again opened her eyes, she addressed her last words to the Guru. ‘I thank thee! I thank thee! O patron of the homeless that I found shelter in thee. Thou didst in a moment confer on me the position which Jogis for years vainly strive to attain. Thou didst dispel the ignorance which hung over my millions of births like an inveterate disease.’ She then fixed her attention on God, repeated ‘Waheguru,’ and heaving her last breath departed to the heaven of her aspirations. The Guru ordered her maids and manservant to prepare her for the last rites. Her maids bathed her and clothed her in a shroud and costly shawl. While the minstrel sang the Guru’s hymns, her body was removed to the garden attached to her dwelling and there cremated. The Sohila was read and prayers offered for the repose of her soul.” (2)

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.

Bibi Kaulan - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia.

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Ang 690
This shabad uses the word ਜੀਉ frequently, it is written as if Guru Ram Das is talking to a friend (us). What do you think is the significance of this?

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