Men's stories are public. Women's stories are private. Men commit great feats in a burst of energy that are sung and talked about for hundreds of years. Women slowly and consistently nurture and build their children, their families, their communities, their visions. It is easy to point to a man's accomplishments. It is much more difficult to point to a woman's. Yet, the Gurus understood that men and women both participate equally in the play of Creation- that both are necessary. In Sikh history, it is easy to identify the public, male stories that show the power of the Khalsa consciousness. Yet, with every male story there is a hidden side – the private world of the Khalsa woman. The Chali Mukte: The 40 Liberated Ones. Forty of Guru Gobind Singh's men deserted him at Anandpur. They were afraid to die, afraid for their lives, desperate and starving. They were so concerned with their own survival, that they willing wrote and signed a letter denouncing their Guru. When they arrived home, rather than finding wives joyful for their return, happy that they were alive, what did they find? Wives who were appalled that they had deserted Guru Gobind Singh. The male side of this story is that the men returned to fight for the Guru and died in the battle, liberating their souls in the process. But the hidden story is that the consciousness of their Khalsa wives is what inspired them to do it. The Khalsa women consciously chose widowhood. They would have rather born the burden of seeing their husbands dead, of being left with the sorrow of being widowed, of raising their children alone, of having to find their economic security in the absence of a husband - they would have rather endured all this than to see their husbands walk away from their destinies and betray their Guru. These women knew - the duty and role of a Khalsa wife is to serve the soul of her husband and deliver him to his destiny and to God and Guru no matter what. Who liberated these men? Themselves? No - it was the grace, security, wisdom and blessing of their wives that allowed them to be liberated. It was the meditative discipline, the trust in the Divine, the attunement with God’s Will through the experience of their own Spirits that allowed these women to look their husbands in the eye and say - you are dead to us, no matter what. Go back and stand with your Guru or leave. Minus the spiritual understanding of the women, the 40 Liberated Ones would have never returned to their Guru and would have gone through lifetimes of karma to repay the mistake. These Khalsa women understood non-attachment, security in the Divine, living in the Will of God, loyalty to the Guru so well that they could fearlessly send their husbands to their death, knowing that it was better for their husbands to die in service of the Guru than to live any other way. And the pain of loosing their husbands was less to them than the pain of seeing their husbands loose their path to God. Publicly- the valor of the men prevailed. Privately- the wisdom of the women prevailed. And it was this joint consciousness, valor and wisdom, male and female, that displayed the true power of the Khalsa. Mata Gujri ji: Wife of Guru Teg Bahadur, mother of Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Rai assumed the Guruship at the age of 9. During those early years of his life, his father, Guru Teg Bahadur, traveled and taught. The responsibility for training Gobind Rai was left in the hands of his mother, Mata Gujri Ji. What kind of woman must she have been to be chosen by God to teach and guide Gobind Rai so that he would be capable of assuming the Guruship? He was a human boy, but he had the most divine mother who instructed him in the ways of wisdom so thoroughly that he was ready to take on the responsibility for his destiny when he was nine years old. God works through a woman's touch. Man is what woman creates him to be. Gobind Rai was what he was, but the destiny of his soul was entrusted to Mata Gujri Ji's care it was the touch of his mother through which God could awaken him. And didn't the Gurus teach us - those who are truly married are one soul in two bodies? If this is Divine Truth, can we possibly say that Mata Gujri Ji and Guru Teg Bahadur were one soul in two bodies? One mission with two faces - the public and the private, the male and the female, the conscious and the subconscious, the power and the wisdom? If marriage creates us as one soul in two bodies - then what is the difference between Guru Teg Bahadur and Mata Gujri Ji except that they had two different jobs to do, two different times and spaces, yet sharing one light between them? She was the woman who created the man who created the Khalsa. And so powerful was her touch that Gobind Rai was ready to lead when he was a nine year old boy. The Panj Piare: The names of the Panj Piare are inscribed in the heart of every Khalsa. Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh, and Bhai Sahib Singh. Their act of total surrender and devotion, of being willing to give their heads to the Guru, is celebrated every year at Baisakhi. It was through their selfless courage, absolute love, and total fearlessness that the Khalsa came to life. But do we know the names of their mothers and what their mothers did to raise them with such a consciousness? Everyone has the Light of the Divine within them. That is never the question. But to live that Light unto death - that is a matter of training and the mother is the first training ground of the soul. What values did their mothers instill in them? What discipline? What stories? How did their mothers teach them? What did they teach them? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a parenting book for Sikhs based on how these mothers raised these boys? The boys who became the Panj Piare and initiated the order of the Khalsa? Truly, they must have had Khalsa women as mothers, even though the Khalsa had not yet come to life. So now we have this debate about women doing seva in the Golden Temple, and I think about the anguish of the Panth: where has our glory gone? Where are the great, selfless acts of valor and courage that show us the Khalsa spirit still lives? Perhaps the simple truth is the public acts of Khalsa men are missing because the importance of the private strength of the Khalsa woman has been forgotten. The stories of the Khalsa women are lost because they are quiet and patient stories, stories of endurance and duty, stories, ultimately, that are difficult to tell, difficult to point to - until a man created by the touch of a Khalsa woman delivers his Spirit in the face of death. Those who deny women seva in the Guru's Court and the blessing of leading the sangat in devotional kirtan are creating an unfortunate future, not just for themselves, but for the entire Panth. Those who would keep women in spiritual darkness are the true enemies of the Panth, trying to preserve the reigns of power for their own egos. It was never Guru's will for the daughters of the Khalsa to be enslaved by tradition. Who has the right to tell a Khalsa woman what she can and cannot do for her Guru? Who can determine what spiritual acts will bring her to her full spiritual awakening? What person has the authority to deny her the blessing of seva, of the selfless service that will clear her karma, awaken her soul, and bring her to an understanding of her destiny? When the day comes for the Khalsa nation to truly rise in its glory, greatness and spiritual sovereignty, it will be Khalsa women who lead the way. Women who have crowned themselves as Princesses of Guru Gobind Singh and live in the nobility, dignity and grace of the 10th Master. Women who, with their loving touch, transform their homes into the Ghrist Ashram where meditation and practice of the Guru's teachings are the center of family life. Where all who need solace, healing and comfort are welcomed with open arms, warm food and kindness. Women who can train their sons and daughters in meditation and Gurbani so that their children do not become confused by doubt and maya, but have such a clear, direct experience of the Divine that they can fearlessly live to the calling of their Spirit and Destiny, even unto death. For the Khalsa nation to come to life, those who have the destiny to give birth to it must realize their duty. And every Sikh has an obligation to do everything possible to give those Khalsa women a chance to wake up, own their power and change the world. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.