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Suba-Mahatma Bibi Hukmi Kaur Namdhari


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Gur Fateh!

I am presenting the following account of Suba-Mahatma Bibi Hukmi Kaur Namdhari (from the Namdhari yahoo group) for the forum to read. This is not intended to be a discussion on Namdharis (I believe there was one last year in which Fateh Singh and Bikramjit Singh held the debate) but rather an account of a female Gursikh/Sant. I have not altered the account from the original made available on the Namdhari site, hence refers to ‘Satguru’ Ram Singh are retained and I ask that we do not fall into dispute on this matter (let’s keep that for the aforementioned thread).

I am not a Namdhari myself, however I do have an immense amount of respect for Baba Ram Singh Namdhari and much of his efforts and spirit. He was indeed the true Khalsa of his time and his outlook in so many ways is applicable today as it was then during the late 19th century, for both Namdharis and non-Namdharis alike.

I have mentioned my views on this earlier on this forum, with regard to Baba Ram Singh Namdhari’s efforts in terms of Nam-Simran and shudh-santhiya of Gurbani and also his socio-political efforts for retaining the ‘shastardhari’ Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh and promotion of the Khalsa Woman in all spheres and it is for these reasons I feel the following account sheds much light on the great soul that was Baba Ram Singh Namdhari and also on the misconceptions that surround Namdharis as such:-

-they do not respect Gurbani,

-do not take Amrit –this is a notion very wide spread amongst the UK Sikh youth!,

-they are a “tarkhan” movement and there are no “jat” Namdharis –this is so laughable, even those from the Sanatan Sikh camp feel that the Namdharis are some form of “tarkhan” uprising wherein the Tarkhans have chosen to glorify the saviour as one of their own kin!

-they are Hindus because they read Chandi Path and perform Havans

Also in light of the recent Sanatan Sikh lectures, it is worth noting that if one was to broadly view Sikh movements as either Sanatan or Tat Khalsa, Namdharis, given their use of Chandi Path, Havans, Dasam Bani, protection of cows etc are more akin to the former than the latter Lahore Singh Sabhia, yet they were instrumental in the initial protests against the so-called ‘Sikh Raj’ of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and indeed many of the lax views, disguised as an ‘accommodating outlook’ of the Sanatan Singh Sabha.

Gur Fateh!


Suba-Mahatma Hukmi

One of the many recipients of the Great Blessings of Satguru Ram Singh

Ji was Mahatma Hukmiji. In the Namdhari history, she is known as `Mai

Hukmi' or `Mai Mahatma' as well. She was the first in Namdhari history

whose level of spirituality and commitment to Naam Simran earned her

the rank of a `Suba' of Satguruji, especially because of her

tremendous efforts in spreading the Dharma in the Sikh kingdoms of

Nabha, Patiala and Jind by making people the disciples of Satguru Ram

Singh Ji and follow the teachings of Guru Nanak/Guru Gobind Singh Ji

and thereby making them stand up to the British moguls. Those people

who valued the moguls' materialistic offerings and had abandoned

Sikhism were once again reintroduced to the righteous path of freedom

and the condition of enslavement under the British rule was made known

to them.

Satguru Ram Singh Ji has spread Satyuga in this Kalyuga. After

Maharaja Ranjit Singh's death, the feeling of being enslaved was

almost touchable amongst the people. That feeling was put away by

listening to His Divine Message. He taught the people the correct way

to live a life and taught the Sikhs to be true in both their Dharma

and Karmas (Deeds). Even though the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is

today called a `Sikh-Raj', there was almost no noticeable or unique

propagation or uplifting of Sikhism to speak of during those years.

Even though the Maharaja had donated unaccountable sums of money for

the construction and maintenance of Gurdwaras and had fixed a good

amount of regular income for them, these channels of income would

later, after his death, prove to have done more harm than good. It is

a historical fact that the Mahants and Pujaris who had control of

those Gurdwaras were using the offerings given to them for personal

use and the Gurdwaras themselves were sadly being trashed. The British

exploited them even more and made them an un-ending problem in the

Sikh Panth.

Satguru Ram Singh Ji were confronted by those Pujaris in 1867 A.D.,

when they tried to stop Him from paying homage to the Gurdwara

Kesgarhr Sahib, Sri HariMandir Sahib and Akal Takhat Sahib. To rectify

the situation of the fallen Sikh Dharma, Satguru Ram Singh Ji had

established the Sant Khalsa in 1857 A.D. and traveled from village to

village, city to city, in order to wake the sleeping people up and put

them on the right path of Dharma. Killing of female infants,

plural-wives, child-marriages and several other `Kurahits' (sins) were

exposed and fought against. In the year 1863 A.D. in the village

Khote, six inter-caste marriages were performed and the 4 Verses from

the Sri Aad Granth Sahib were recited as the new Khalsa Marriage

Ceremony (Anand Karaj) was initiated for the very first time.

The Satguru's Crusades around the country and His Message of freedom

from the shackles of enslavement imposed by the British had ruined the

sleeps of many Englishmen. When His Holiness were traveling in Punjab

on 5th April, 1863, the deputy commissioner, Mr. Mcnab, had written

the following, which was the first, report about Him:

"From district of Ludhiana has arrived one middle-aged man called

(Guru) Ram Singh. Accompanied by roughly a hundred disciples He is

traveling in the district of Sialkote. His disciples carry

wooden-clubs (Salotar) instead of guns and don't obey anyone else's

commands. Among His followers are many women as well. His entire

following is estimated at about five-thousand and He will be arriving

for the Vaisakhi festival in Amritsar along with them.

Hearing the report the English government's ears were raised and they

passed out an order to restricted His Holiness from traveling outside

of Bhaini Sahib from 1863 A.D. to 1867 A.D. During those years the

responsibility of spreading His message was carried on by the Subas.

Just like how Emperor Akbar had divided the country into 22 Subas to

run his entire kingdom, so was the Punjab divided into 22 parts and

the duty of spreading the Dharma within these parts was given to the

Subas. Giani Gian Singh wrote in his Panth Parkash Granth as follow:


Thus His Holy Fame spread far and wide; those who came to weigh, found

Him full and became His disciples.

He had a huge following of no less than three-hundred-thousand of

people from Malwa, Doaba, Majha and Pothohar.

Like Akbar, the Emperor, He appointed twenty-two Governors known as

Subas and blessed them with speech as effective as His own.

Men and Women would form themselves into choirs, play drums and

melodiously chant the Supreme Word of the Guru.

His Subas spread His Message not only within Punjab and India but even

reached out to foreign countries in order to make Satguru Ram Singh

Ji's Mission better known. Likewise was Satguru Ram Singh Ji's Suba,

Bibi Hukmiji (Mahatma Hukmi) upon whom was the unique blessing of the

Satguru. From among the women-folk, she was the first to be given the

honor of serving as a Suba.

Birth and Childhood-

Bibi Hukmi were born in the village Variah, district Amritsar, near

Tarn-Taran, to Sardar Rattan Singh. Sardar Rattan Singh was a Gurmukh.

The entire family, for that matter, was that of Gurmukhs. Rattan

Singh's son was called Naina Singh. It was Rattan Singh's dream to see

both his son and daughter brought up as saintly figures. Hence, to

fulfill his dreams, Rattan Singh sent his daughter Bibi Hukmi to the

Dharamsala of a Sant called Mishra Singh.

At Dera Baba Mishra Singh, Bibiji learnt the Vedas and many other

Hindu-Granths. There she also acquired immense knowledge about the

Hindu Scriptures and the teachings of Guru Nanak as well. Then she

came in contact with a female Saint called Charan Kaur and reached a

new level in her spirituality. She did not live the Grehsath (Married)

way of life her entire life. Even though she was married by her

parents at the age of eleven, she became a widow that very same year.

Becoming disciple of Satguru Ram Singh Ji-

Although Bibi Hukmi was given a Mantra to recite and was a learnt

person in the field of Hindu Granths and Dharma by reading the Vedas,

yet her mind was not yet at peace. Her mind was seeking the True Guru.

Out of Dera Baba Mishra Singh, she came in contact with numerous

Sadhus and Sants but no where did her mind find its niche. Right about

that time in Punjab, Satyuga was being spread by Satguru Ram Signh Ji.

The patriots traveled from everywhere to Sri Bhaini Sahib and upon

becoming Sant Khalsa, they traveled everywhere with the slogan "Bhaini

Satguru Jagia, Hore Koorhr Jahana |". ("The Satguru Appeared In

Bhaini, The Rest Of The World Is Rubbish.")

Bibi Hukmiji's wish was soon to be fulfilled. Her mind was already

cleansed; all that was left was the presence of `Naam'. First her

father, Sant Rattan Singh, was blessed and became a Namdhari Singh,

then her brother Naina Singh and finally Bibiji, all became Namdharis.

Their minds were settled as they recited the Naam with every breath.

Bibi Hukmiji partook the Amrit and her name was changed to Hukam Kaur.

She gave up feminine clothing and started wearing men's attire and

traveled from village to village in order to spread Gurmat (The

Message of the Satguru). Satguru Ram Singh Ji were very pleased to

hear about her deeds and on the occasion of Diwali in Amritsar in 1867

A.D., Mahatma Hukmiji was given the title of `Suba'. The well known

historian Prof. Jaswant Singh Jas's book called "Baba Ram Singh

Namdhari" says the following about this incident on page 65:

"During this occasion of Diwali in Amritsar (October 1867 A.D.), the

uniqueness was that in the Namdhari Panth, women were encouraged to do

Parchar. A teenager daughter of a farmer Rattan Singh from village

Variah, called Bibi Hukmi, was given the title of a Suba so that she

could control a following of women-folk, just like how the men Subas

did and so that she could travel to different villages to convert

people to Amritdhari."

At that time, she was about twenty years old. With the title of Suba

also came more responsibilities for Bibi Hukmi, however, she remained

committed to her mission and kept on progressing further. Along with

spreading the Dharma, she also taught the women-folk Gurmukhi and made

them strong students of Gurbani. During those days there was no place

for women in society. The Sikhs had adopted the practice of `Sati'

(cremation of live female widows) like the fallen Hindus. Evidently

when Maharaja Ranjit Singh died, many of his wives were also burnt

along with his body. Similarly, killing of female infant was also

wide-spread. Satguru Ram Singh Ji had raised His Voice against these

practices which are also evident in His Hukamnamas. Bibi Hukmi had put

the teachings of the Satguru into practice and traveled to many

villages with a Jatha (Group) of women-folk in order to spread the

Message of Gursikhi.

Biography of Suba Hukam Kaur (Part 2)

During the Time of Satguru Hari Singh Ji:-

The Era of Satguru Hari Singh Ji is known in the Namdhari Panth as one

of the most challenging and testing of all. On the morning of 18th

June, 1872 A.D., Sri Satguru Ram Singh Ji were sent to exile by the

English government. Cruel punishment was imposed on the Namdhari

population and the Gurdwara Sri Bhaini Sahib. The Gurdwara was heavily

scrutinized, every square inch searched, and a police post was

constructed infront if It.

At the time when the Satguru went into exile, Bibi Hukmi was present

at Sri Bhaini Sahib. The next day, the entire Sangat that was present

at Sri Bhaini Sahib was taken to Ludhiana and kept under the police's

watch for sometime. Bibi Hukmi too was detained at Ludhiana. From

Ludhiana, Bibiji were taken to Amritsar. For sometime she was

imprisoned in a jail there but was later detained in her own village

of origin, Variah, where she had to report to the police station

daily. Even there, Bibiji accepted the Satguru's Bhana (Will) and kept

on teaching Gurmukhi, recitation of the Scriptures and kept preaching

the Dharma.

Once Sant Bachan Singh of village Bhumavdi (Nabha) came to visit Bibi

Hukmiji at Variah and told her about the cruel punishment that had

been carried on by the British on the Namdhari population at Bhaini

Sahib. The police was torturing the Sangat. No more than five

Namdharis were allowed to gather anywhere. Once a person had Darshan

(Sight) of the Gurdwara, he was restricted from returning until six

more months have expired. The Sangat that went to have Darshan of the

Gurdwara were punished severely. No Namdhari was allowed to recite the

Sri Aad Granth Sahib. If they were seen doing Akhand Path anywhere at

all, the very land upon which the Path (Recitation of Gurbani) was

being done would be evicted and looted by the government because the

Kukas pray for the end of the British rule every time they do Ardas

(The Sikh Common Prayer). Countless Namdharis faced these punishments

without a frown on their forehead.

Listening to Sant Bachan Singh inspired Suba Hukmiji and she at once

got on her horse without thinking twice about the British's imposed

punishments and traveled throughout Patiala, Nabha and Jind to spread

the anti-british notion to the masses. For two years she traveled

through villages and made them stand up to the British. Soon enough,

the government too found out about her activities and police sepoys

were deployed to follow her. All her belongings, including her horse,

were confiscated and she was summoned to the court at Firozepur.

Mahatma Hukmi in the Jail of Firozepur:-

At that time, the prisons of the british were no different than hell.

No care was given to cleanliness whatsoever. The bread given as food

was literally mixed with soil and the side dish with pebbles. The

prison officials were no less harsh themselves. Their hearts were made

of stone. They were without any moral value let alone any compassion.

They presented themselves as butchers before the prisoners. The court

of the british had no justice. The court was theirs and so was the

verdict. When Bibi Hukmiji was brought to the trial, she was sentenced

to two years of imprisonment.

But Bibiji was not at all afraid; she accepted the imprisonment as the

Bhana of the Satguru as well. She had started her Jap Paryog

(Continuous recitation of Naam) right in the prison. At 2.30 in the

morning she would rise, go to the well to do Ishnaan (Take Bath) and

then begin her Naam Simran and fearlessly does the Jaap (loud

pronunciation of God's Name) of the Satguru. Once an officer, Mr.

Berne, came to have a look at the jail and saw a four feet long black

snake lurking in the prison cell where Bibiji were doing Naam Simran.

The snake went atop Bibiji's head and then returned to the ground

before disappearing out from an opening near the door.

Similarly, once the official in charge of the jail, Mr. Moore, became

drunk and seeing Bibiji alone in the prison cell, his mind became

polluted. But just as he entered through the door into the cell, he

felt as if he was bitten by a snake and had to make a run for his life

out of there.

Moreover, whatever Bibi said would turn out to be true. Once an inmate

who was plagued by some disease was also restored to health by

Bibiji's bachan (word).

Many times during the night the officers in charge of the jail would

hear noises although no one was around. With all these strange

occurring, Mr. Berne sent a report to the Governor and D.C. of Punjab

and Bibiji's sentence was reduced and finally removed. Freed from

imprisonment, Bibiji traveled directly to Mata Juala Devi at Amritsar

and once again started preaching the Dharma.

Bibiji blessing Maharaja of Nabha with a son:-

In 1906 A.D. Satguru Hari Singh Ji merged with the Divine Light (Joti

Jote) and the Great Virtuous Satguru Partap Singh Ji's Era began. The

torture imposed by the British on the Namdharis had slightly lessened.

The Maharajas and the Englishmen's stooges' treatment of the Namdharis

had also become somewhat less harsh. Bibi Hukmiji along with Mai

Gurdei Khudi Valia went to preach the Dharma in Nabha. The Maharaja of

Nabha, Maharaja Ripudman Singh, had no male offspring. Bibiji told him

that his house will be blessed with a son if the Maharaja takes the

Bhajan (Gurmantra/Naam) of the Barveh Patshah (Twelfth King) Satguru

Ram Singh Ji and recite Ardas of Bara Patshahia daily.

The Maharaja agreed to do so and after sometime Maharani Sarojni Devi

became pregnant. The Maharaja called upon an English doctor to give

his wife a check-up. She told him that the unborn fetus was female.

This news also reached Mahatma Hukmiji. Bibiji rejected the English

doctor's claim. She proclaimed that her Satguru's Bachan can never be

unfulfilled. Not much longer, the child was born, and the English

doctor's prediction was proven wrong. Maharaja Ripudman Singh was

elated. He paid homage to the Satguru with land and a Rolls Royce car.

He also made offerings of several Bastar (Clothing items) to the

Satguru and the Sadh Sangat.

At that time the singh sabha's news papers had started to make big

news out of this and `accused' him of being a Namdhari. Learning this,

the Maharaja gave an answer with an exclamation that was published in

the Satjug newspaper during that time:-

"Being a Namdhari is neither a crime nor a sin,

I am a priest of Bhaini Sahib.

Lacs of times I'd say, thousands of times I'd say,


To drive the Rolls Royce car, the Maharaja had also sent a driver

called Duman Singh for this service. As such, Mahatma Hukmiji had done

so much for the sake of doing Parchar (Preaching). With her words she

put away numerous people's ailments and sorrows. Near the Parliament

in India today, there's also a road called "Bibi Hukmi Road" that was

named after her. Her name has become immortal in our history.

-(Originally written by Devinder Singh Gil)

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I'd like to express thanks to 'Niranjana' for his efforts in sharing with everyone the history of this great female Khalsa. I personally did not know many of the misconceptions the other sikhs had about Namdhari Singhs as mentioned earlier in the post. It's both an eye-opening as well as saddening news. Hopefully more people would read this post including the foreword by Niranjana and learn something.

God bless.

Fateh Singh

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