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Mai Bhago Ji


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Mai Bhago was a descendant of Pero Shah, the younger brother of Bhai Langah, who had converted to Sikhi 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 of Patti. She was a staunch Sikh by upbringing.

Mughals and hill chiefs had surrounded Anandpur and were demanding it be evacuated. They called that any Sikh who says that "he / she is no more a Sikh of Guru Gobind" would be left untouched. A group of 40 Sikhs, led by Mahan Singh 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. When she made them realise the enormity of their deed these Sikhs were much ashamed. 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 traveling across the Malwa region.

Meanwhile, Guru Gobind Singh had to evacuate the fort of Anandpur, his children were separated in the confusion. Two youngest ones Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, went along with their grandmother (mother of Guru Gobind Singh). While elder ones 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 Malwa region, being pursued by Mughal forces of Aurangzeb. Traveling day and night in the Jungles of Malwa region, imperial Mughal forces were in constant pursuit of the 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. When after the battle, the Guru came to the battlefield, he found all the men, except Mahan Singh, dead. Mai Bhago and Guru Gobind Singh were the sole survivors of this fiercely fought battle.

Mahan Singh, who had been seriously wounded, also died as the Guru took his head into his lap. Guru Gobind Singh blessed those forty dead as the Forty Emancipated Ones. He took into his care Mai Bhago who had also suffered injuries in the battle. She thereafter stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his personal guard. 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 Gurudwara 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.

Article sourced from :

Encyclopedia of Sikhism by Dr Harbans Singh

Published by Punjabi University, Patiala

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