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Mai Bhago Ji

Great Sikh Female Warrior

Mai Bhago Ji was the sole survivor of the battle of Khidrana, i.e. Muktsar (29 December 1705), was a descendant of Pero Shah, the younger brother of Bhai Langah, 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,

she was distressed to hear in 1705 that some of the Sikhs of her neighbourhood who had gone to Anandpur to fight for Guru Gobind Singh had deserted him under adverse conditions. 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. Mai Bhago and the men she was leading stopped near the dhib 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. Guru Gobind Singh, who had supported 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. 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 thereafter stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguards, 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.

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Maharani Jind Kaur

Wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Mother of Maharaja Duleep Singh

Popularly known as Jindan, was, the last Sikh sovereign of the Punjab. She was daughter of Manna Singh of Gujranwala, who held a humble position at the court as an overseer of the royal kennels. Scant notice of Maharani Jind Kaur is taken either by the official Lahore diarist, Sohan Lal Suri, or the British records until 1838, when according to the former, a munshi brought the blessed tidings of the birth of a son to her. It appears that she and her son lived a life of obscurity under the care of Raja Dhian Singh at Jammu. In August 1843, the young prince and her mother were brought to Lahore. In September 1843, both Maharaja Sher Singh and Dhian Singh were assassinated.

Raja Hira Singh, Dhian Singh's son, with the support of the army and chiefs, wiped out the Sandhanvalia faction. Shortly after, Hira Singh captured the Fort of Lahore and on 16 September 1843, the army proclaimed minor Duleep Singh the sovereign of the State. Hira Singh was appointed the wazir. The political history of Jind Kaur begins from that date. Gradually, she assumed the role of regent to the minor Maharaja. Both Hira Singh and his adviser, Pandit Jalla, did not show her the courtesy and consideration she was entitled to. Her establishment was put under the control of Misr Lal Singh. Jind Kaur mobilised opinion at the Darbar against the dominance of the Dogras. She and her brother, Jawahar Singh, pleaded with the army panchayats (regimental committees) to banish Pandit Jalla and protect the rights of minor Duleep Singh. "Who is the real sovereign?" she angrily asked the regimental committees assembled in council. "Duleep Singh or Hira Singh? If the former, then the Khalsa should ensure that he was not a king with an empty title." The council assured the Rani that Duleep Singh was the real king of the Punjab. The army panchayats treated Jind Kaur with deference and addressed her as Mai Sahib or mother of the entire Khalsa commonwealth.

The eclipse of the Jalla regime was a political victory for Maharani Jind Kaur, who had goaded the army to overthrow Hira Singh and install her brother Jawahar Singh as the wazir. She now assumed control of the government with the approval of the army panchayats who declared that they would place her on the throne of Delhi. Jind, Kaur proclaimed herself regent and cast off her veil. She became the symbol of the sovereignty of the Khalsa ruling the Punjab in the name of her son. She reviewed the troops and addressed them, held court and transacted,in public, State business. She reconstituted the supreme Khalsa Council by giving representation to the principal sardars and restored a working balance between the army panchayats and the civil administration.

Numerous vexatious problems confronted the Maharani. Pashaura Singh had bestirred himself again. An alarm was created that an English force was accompanying him to Lahore, and that he was being helped secretly by Gulab Singh. Second, the troops clamoured for a raise in their pay. The feudatory chiefs demanded the restoration of their resumed jagirs, remission of fines and reduction of enhanced taxes and burdens imposed upon them by Hira Singh. Finally, it appeared that the diminishing revenues of the State could not balance the increasing cost of the civil and military administration.

Jind Kaur applied herself to the solution of these problems and secured to this end the assistance of a newly appointed council of elder statesmen and military generals. Kanvar Pashaura Singh was summoned to Lahore and persuaded to return to his jagir. Early in 1845, a force 35,000 strong marched to Jammu for the chastisement of Gulab Singh. The council had accused him of being a traitor to the Panth and charged him with treachery and intrigue against his sovereign. In April 1845, the army returned to Lahore with the Dogra chief as a hostage. The pay of the soldiery was enhanced and Jawahar Singh was formally installed wazir Maharani Jind Kaur's choice of Jawahar Singh as wazir became the subject of criticism. To counteract the rising disaffection, Jind Kaur hastily betrothed Duleep Singh, in the powerful Atari family, opened up negotiations with Gulab Singh and promised higher pay to the soldiery. When Jawahar Singh was assassinated by the army panchayats suspecting his hand in the murder of kanvar Pashaura Singh, Jind Kaur gave vent to her anguish with loud lamentation. Early in November 1845, she, with the approval of the Khalsa Council, nominated Misr Lal Singh to the office of wazir

Maharani Jind Kaur has been accused by some historians of wishing the Khalsa army to destroy itself in a war with the English. A much more balanced and realistic view will be obtained by a closer examination of the policies of Ellenborough and Hardinge and of other incidental political factors which led to a clash of arms between the Sikhs and the English in December 1845. The Ellenborough papers in the Public Records Office, London, especially Ellenborough's and Hardinge's private correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, disclose the extent of British military preparations on the Sikh frontier. The correspondence reveals the inside story of the main causes of the first Anglo-Sikh war - the republican upsurge of the Khalsa soldiery to save Ranjit Singh's kingdom from foreign aggression, the concentration of large British forces on the Sutlej, the British seizure of Suchet Singh's treasure, the intrigues of British political officers to subvert the loyalty of the Sikh governors of Kashmir and Multan, the rejection of Lahore claim to the village of Moran, and the extraordinarily hostile conduct of Major George Broadfoot, the British Political Agent at the North-West Frontier Agency, towards the Sikhs, particularly the virtual seizure by him of the Sutlej possessions 'of the Lahore Government. In view of these factors, the theory that the Sikh army had become perilous to the regency and that the courtiers plotted to engage the army against the British becomes untenable. On the contrary, the Regent was the only person who exhibited determination and courage during the critical period of the war with the British.

In December 1846, Maharani Jind Kaur surrendered political power to the council of ministers appointed by the British Resident after the treaty of Bharoval. The Sikh Darbar ceased to exist as a sovereign political body. The regent was dismissed with an annuity of Rs 1,50,000 and "an officer of Company's artillery became, in effect, the successor to Ranjit Singh."

Maharani Jind Kaur was treated with unnecessary acrimony and suspicion. She had retired gracefully to a life of religious devotion in the palace, yet mindful of the rights of her minor son as the sovereign of the Punjab. Henry Lawrence, the British Resident at Lahore, and Viscount Hardinge both accused her of fomenting intrigue and influencing the Darbar politics. After Bharoval, Hardinge had issued instructions that she must be deprived of all political power. In March 1847, he expressed the view that she must be sent away from Lahore.

At the time of Tej Singh's investiture as Raja of Sialkot in August 1847, it was suspected that the young Maharaja had refused to confer the title on him at the instigation of his mother. She was also suspected of having a hand in what is known as the Prema Plot - a conspiracy designed to murder the British Resident and Tej Singh at a fete at the Shalamar Gardens. Although neither of the charges against find Kaur could be substantiated on enquiry, she was removed to Sheikhpura in September 1847, and her allowance was reduced to Rs 48,000. Lord Dalhousie, instructed Sir Frederick Currie, the British Resident at Lahore, to expel her from the Punjab. Currie acted promptly. He implicated Jind Kaur in a fictitious plot and sent her away from Sheikhupura to Banaras. She remained interned at Banaras under strict surveillance. In 1848, allegations were made by Major MacGregor, in attendance on her, that she was in correspondence with Mulraj and Sher Singh at Multan. A few of her letters were intercepted and an alarm was created when one of her slave girls escaped from Banaras. She was removed to the Fort of Chunar from where she escaped to Nepal disguised as a maid-servant.

Maharani Jind Kaur arrived at Kathmandu on 29 April 1849. The British Government promptly confiscated her jewellery worth Rs 900, 000 and stopped her pension. At Kathmandu, the sudden appearance of the widow of Ranjit Singh was both unexpected and unwelcome. Yet Jung Bahadur, the prime minister, granted her asylum, mainly as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Maharaja Ranjit Singh A residence was assigned to her at Thapathali, on the banks of the Vagmati river, and the Nepalese Government settled upon her an allowance for her maintenance. The Nepal Residency papers relate the details of Jind Kaur's unhappy sojourn in Nepal till 1860. The British Residency in Kathmandu kept a vigilant eye on her throughout. It believed that she was engaged in political intrigue to secure the revival of the Sikh dynasty in the Punjab. Under constant pressure from the British, the Nepal Darbar turned hostile towards the Maharani and levied the most humiliating restrictions on her. But the forlorn widow of Ranjit Singh remained undaunted. She quietly protested against the indignities and restrictions imposed upon her by,Jung Bahadur. Jung Bahadur expelled from the valley one of her attendants, and the Maharani dismissed the entire staff foisted upon her by the Nepalese Government. She was then ordered to appear in person in the Darbar to acknowledge Nepalese hospitality, which she refused to do. The breach between her and Jung Bahadur widened. The Nepal Residency Records tell us that an open rift took place, and "several scenes occurred in which each seemed to have given way to temper, to have addressed the other in very insulting language."

Towards the end of 1860, it was signified to Maharani Jind Kaur that her son, Maharaja Duleep Singh, was about to return to India and that she could visit him in Calcutta. She welcomed the suggestion and travelled to Calcutta to meet her son who took her with him to England. Maharani Jind Kaur died at Kensington, England, on 1 August 1863.

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Bibi Balbir Kaur

Brave Sikh Women of the Akali Movement (1892-1917)

The Akali movement had rejuvenated a new life among GurSikhs. Since the Sikh Raj period, this was the first time GurSikhs had asserted their religious independence and initiated non-violent efforts to seek control of their Gurdwaras. The bloody incident of Nankana Sahib and Guru-Kae-Bagh added fuel to the fire and served to strengthen the movement. As a result, the Sikhs raised slogans of India's freedom along with slogans for the independence of their Gurdwaras. Unfortunately, the level of commitment and self-sacrifice of Sikhs deeply disturbed the British. They sensed a potential threat to their control from this small community of lions. Expectedly, the British directed their terror machinery against the Sikhs. Along with Akalis, their sympathizers also troubled the British Psyche. As a result, the British forces arrested and confined all Akali sympathizers in the jails.

The Maharaja of Nabha, Ripudaman Singh, was an independent minded ruler. He never considered himself disjoint from his community. When Guru Khalsa Panth observed the eve of Nankana Sahib martyrdom, he too conducted Akhand Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Nabha and wore black turban to participate in this Panthic observance. Subsequently, he visited Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar and consulted with Akali leaders who were outside the jails. Maharaja's activities deeply troubled the British. They could not tolerate such activities as they smelled some sort of a rebellion through such participation. The British action was swift. They initiated legal steps to seize control of Nabha rule and expelled Maharaja Ripudaman Singh.

The news of Maharaja Ripudaman Singh's expulsion spread through Guru Khalsa Panth like a lightening rod. It shook the very core of Sikh psyche. Such excesses by the British became unbearable for the Sikhs and the whole Sikh nation galvanized to fight against this injustice. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC), working in collaboration with the Shiromani Akali Dal, conducted Akhand Paths at various places to openly express their outrage at this injustice and demanded the reinstatement of Maharaja. Sikhs initiated a Akhand Paath of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at the Jaito Gurdwara as well to express their outrage against this injustice. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to be completed. The agents of British empire, operating under British instructions, dragged and arrested the Granth Sahib who was reciting the Paath. As a result, the Akhand Paath was forcibly interrupted.

This incident was equivalent of pouring salt over open Sikh wounds. The expulsion of Maharaja was a political affair that the Panth was still struggling to grapple with. It hadn't yet resolved on how to best deal with this issue when the forced interruption of Akhand Paath served a deep blow from the rulers to the Sikhs religious sentiments. This was an open challenge to Guru Khalsa Panth's freedom and honor. Akali leaders decided to accept this challenge. They immediately announced a non- violent morcha for the resumption and completion of the interrupted Akhand Paath. Thousands of GurSikh Singh, Singhnia, children, and elders started flocking in Amritsar ready to shed their lives for this religious battle. They were all eager to reach Jaito. However, the Akali committee decided to send a Jatha of 500 GurSikhs. The remaining GurSikhs were asked to await the schedule for the next Jatha. Everyone was eager to proceed to Jaito, yet they had to accept their Jathedar's decision.

Under the echoes of Jaekara, "Jo Bolay So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal," this Jatha left Amritsar after having sought the Hukam from Sri Akal Takhat and pledged to remain non- violent. Thousands of supporters were present on this occasion. Singhnias were not allowed to proceed on this Jatha. But how could they remain behind and not participate in such a holy endeavor? They successfully sought permission to accompany the Jatha for organizing langar along the way.

The non-violent march of this Jatha was a unique event for the whole world. Organized in rows of four, these Saint-Soldiers proceeded bare-foot from Amritsar while reciting "Satnaam VaahGuru." Soon they reached their first rest-stop. The dedication and volunteer sewa of the local Sikhs testified to the whole world that the Sikh nation not only understood non-violence and how to die but how to honor its martyrs.

It become evident from the first rest-stop that the services of Singhnia, who had accompanied the Jatha for organizing langar, were not needed. Jathedar asked with them to return. Many did. However, several wanted to continue with their brave brothers and they did not return. Our Balbir Kaur was among this group. When Jathedar asked her to return, her eyes were filled with tears. She said, "Veer! Do not stop me from serving the living martyrs of Guru Gobind Singh. Sewa is the only essence of this life. Beside we never know when death will come upon us. I plead for permission to continue for Guru's sake. Let me proceed." Jathedar could not break her heart. He reluctant gave permission, especially when faced with the utter display of self-sacrifice.

Balbir Kaur was 22 years old, full of youth and utterly beautiful. Guru's faith and feelings of selfless service for humanity had generated such a glow on her face that she seemed like a goddess of purity or an angel. She was not alone. She was accompanied by an year old beautiful son. The playful happy face of this child was not only Balbir Kaur's joy but the source of amusement for the whole Jatha. He played with everyone in the Jatha along the way.

The journey was nearing completion. Jatha prepared to depart from its final rest-stop. Jathedar stood on a high spot and pleaded for the return of the accompanying congregation. British forces had dug-in with machine gun. This information had previously reached the Jatha. Jathedar did not hide this information from anyone. He said, "With Guru's blessing, a martyr's maela is being organized. However, only those GurSikhs, who have Sri Akal Takhat's Hukam, should proceed further. Others should return and await their turn."

The congregation stopped and let the Jatha proceed. However, not everyone obeyed the Jathedar's instructions. Several GurSikhs, eager to seek the martyrdom, found hidden routes parallel to the Jatha's established route. They advance in hiding, with the view that when the whole program of martyrdom is unveiled they too will participate to seek martyrdom. However, Bibi Balbir Kaur did not seek any hidden routes. She continued marching with her brothers while her son enjoyed the sight, simply watching people on either side.

When Jathedar learned of Balbir Kaur's continued march with the Jatha, he left his leading position and caught up with her. "Bibi, there is potential of firing ahead. You should not continue any further." Jathedar pleaded. "My Veer! Do not stop me. My quest for sewa has not been quenched yet. Allow me to enjoy this sewa. You tell me of the dangers from the potential firing ahead? Five hundred Veers are with me. Since they are continuing for sure death why shouldn't they be accompanied by a Bahan (sister). I too have partaken Gurus Amrit. I shall consider myself blessed if I too could accept martyrdom along with my brothers and reach Guru Gobind Singh's court. Here my quest has not been quenched by serving my Veers." Balbir Kaur again pleaded with tears in her eyes.

"But .." Jathedar was about to say something when he was interrupted by Balbir Kaur saying, "My child, this is what you wanted to point out. He too is Guru's blessing. If he too serve the Panth, what greater deeds could be beyond this." Saying this, Balbir Kaur again hugged her child who burst out laughing.

Jathedar pressured Balbir Kaur to return. Others pressured her too, but she did not budge from her decision to continue her march to death with her brothers. She insisted that the "non-inclusion of a Bahan along with 500 Veers in the pending martyrdom is an insult to the brave daughters of Tenth Guru. How could the Guru, whose amrit turned women into Singhnia, who bestowed equality to women, tolerate that not even a single daughter participate in his holy war? This is sacrilegious that Balbir Kaur simply could not allow."

The power of her persuasive arguments forced her brothers to accept her position. Even the Jathedar had to bow against her spirit of sacrifice and courage. Who so ever talked with her was perplexed and could not raise a convincing counter argument.

Jathedar having been forced to accept her decision, returned to his lead position in the march. Guru Khalsa's Kesri flag was freely fluttering in the winds. The Jatha exhibited a unique presence while the accompanying band's performance portrayed innocence. Under the guidance of their deeply held faith in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the command of their Jathedar, the brave force of Sant-Sipahis marched toward the Jaito Gurdwara. They were chanting "Satnaam VaahGuru." Every GurSikh in the Jatha was projecting calmness.

Hindu, Muslims, and Sikhs welcomed the Jatha all along of the way from Amritsar to Jaito, because of their participation in this religious task. They were served with abundant amounts milk, kheer (milk and rice pudding) and other things. Flowers were showered upon these living martyrs along the way. Thousands of rupees were donated.

Now it was turn for people serving the British to extend their welcome. They too welcomed these braves GurSikhs with rifle and gun fire. They showered them with rain of bullets. Gurus non-violent force was prepared for such a welcome. They accepted this welcome with "Satnaam Sri VaahGuru's" Hukam and continued the sweet walk towards their goal without any interruptions. Witnessing the scene it appeared that the Jatha was playing holli (festival of colors). After all martyr's holli is a holli of blood. If someone's face was colored with blood, someone else's head, chest, or thigh were colored. Blessed were the GurSikhs, for no one's back was visibly colored. Many Veers fell to the ground but would rise immediately to continue their march. The bullets would hit their chest only to fall again. With courage they would either rise again or accept death to reach the Kalgidhar father's lap.

Martyrdom was being openly served by now. It was the same serving that Balbir Kaur had insisted to reached and accept. Let us focus our attention on her condition. She continued her march while hugging to her child. She loved the rain of bullets that she had eagerly awaited. By now her face was glowing with some unique brightness.

Suddenly, She was hit by a bullet in her forehead. A blood spring burst open. Her whole face was covered with blood, eyes were covered with blood. However, this did not affect her march. She continued with the chanting of "Satnaam VaahGuru" while her child played with the flowing blood on her face. It was all a game for the child.

Suddenly another bullet hit Balbir Kaur's child. The bullet pierced the child through his ear and then hit Balbir Kaur's chest. The child died immediately and proceeded to the Guru's court. Balbir Kaur kissed his forehead and place his body on a nearby platform saying "VaahGuru look after your amanat (temporarily entrusted to me for safe custody)." However, she did not stop. Her face had turned yellow from the loss of blood. She had no strength left to continue. Her walk was wobbly by now, yet her heart's quest had not been quenched. Chanting the tune of "Satnaam VaahGuru," she kept her pace with others. On the other hand, the bullets had not stopped raining. They continued showering as if their thirst for blood had not yet mellowed.

Surprisingly, another bullet came hissing her way. It hit straight in Balbir Kaur's chest, pierced her body and left from the other side. This bullet was the message of death, the one Balbir Kaur had been eagerly awaiting. With this bullet, her beautiful body fell to the ground. But not her soul. Her soul left to join her child in Kalgidhar Father's protection. Her deepest quest was finally fulfilled. Her blood filled face still exhibited peace and dancing valor.

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Women Martyrs Of Shaheed Ganj

This sakhi belongs to the period of Mir Mannu, governor of Lahore (1748-1753). During that period the looting, torturing and killing of Sikhs was made legal and the killers were rewarded by the government. The Punjab was attacked for the third time by Ahmed Shah Abdali, the ruler of Afganistan, in December 1751. Mannu was defeated and the province of Punjab was taken over by the Afgans from the Delhi Emperor. Kaura Mal, a Minister of Mannu, but a friend of the Sikhs was killed in the battle. Thus, the only link between misldars (Sikh chiefs) and Mannu was lost. No body was left to hold Mannu from executing his evil ideas and ill motives against the Sikhs.

Inhuman tortures were given to the Sikh women and children brought to Lahore to force them to change their faith. Not a single person submitted to the cruel government. All of them, without a sorrow, suffered all kinds of pain and death.

The women were kept hungry and forced to grind grain by working heavy stone mills. The minimum ration was given to them so that they did not die of hunger, but were able to keep on living and suffering tortures. To break their will and high spirits, they were made to watch their children being thrown up in the air to fall back on the sharp blades of spears. Children pierced through by the spears were cut into pieces and out as a necklace around the necks of their mothers. The dogs were permitted to eat their flesh before the eyes of their helpless mothers. These great women bore all this without even a sigh on their lips.

The martyrdom and unparalleled sacrifices of the great Sikh women and their children are remembered by Sikhs in their prayer “let us remember the women who suffered in the jail of Mannu, remained hungry, worked heavy stone mills, watched their children being pierced by the spears and got their body pieces around their necks…. Keeping their sacrifices in mind let us hail them and say Waheguru.â€

In memory of those martyrs, there now stands Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj, Lahore.

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Mai Kishan Kaur

Mai Kisan Kaur is known for her tearless role in the Jaito agitation. She was the daughter of Suba Singh and Mai Sobham of the village of Lohgarh in Ludhiana district. The family, goldsmith by profession, later migrated to Daudhar in Moga tahsil of present-day Faridkot district. Kishan Kaur was married to Harnam Singh of Kaolike village, near Jagraon, in Ludhiana district. He was a dafadar or sergeant in cavalry who later resigned from the army and migrated to Barnala, where he died at the young age of 33. Three children, two sons and a daughter, were born to Kishan Kaur, but all of them predeceased their father. Kishan Kaur, now a childless widow, came hack to live at Golike . She took the pahul or rites of the Khalsa in 1907 and decided to devote the rest of her life to the service of the Guru. She took a leaning part, in 1912, in the construction of historical Gurdwara (,tlrusal-, dedicatdd to Guru Hargobind, near the 1- village Ah-eady over 6().

She took active part in the Jaito agitation of 1922-24. The Government of India had forced Maharaja Ripudaman Singh, the ruler of Nabha state known for his independent attitude, to abdicate. The Sikhs of Jaito, which fell within his territory, planned to hold prayers for his well-heing and restoration. By order of the British-controlled state administration, a posse of armed police entered Gurdwara Gangsar, where an akhanad path or non-stop recital of Guru Granth Sahib was in progress, it not only interrupted the service but also bruatally imprisoned the entire sangat gathered there denying them exit and permitting no provisions from outside to reach them. Jathedar Dulla Singh and Suchcha siigh of the village of Rode organized a land of volunteers, popularly known as Durli Jatha, who collected thc required rations and managed through feint and force to unload them inside the Gurdwara compound Mai Kishan Kaur was a member of this hand which later arranged rations for the Shahidi Jathas and the huge crowds that accompanied them.

The first Shahidi Jatha, lit band of martyrs, 500 strong and vowed to non-violence, was to reach Jaito on 21 February 1924 in a bid to enter Gurdwara Gangsar at any cost to recommence the akhand path. The state Government was equally determined not to let them do so and had deployed armed police and military contingents with orders to open fire, if necessary. Mai Kishan Kaur and her companion, Bibi Tej Kaur, went to it disguised as ladies of the Hindu trading association, collected intelligence about government's plans and preparations, and joined the jatha to convey the information he jatha accordingly rescheduled their march and instead of going straight to Gurdwara Gangsar, changed course suddenly and headed for Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib, half a kilometre to the north. State troops, however, barred entry even to that shrine and opened fire on the jatha. Kishan kaur, with her small band of volunteers, at night busied herself attending the wounded. she along with 21 others was arrested and Prosecuted. The trial commenced at Nabha on 17 May 1924 Kishan Kaur was sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment. Released on June 1928, she was accorded a warm welcome the following day at Amritsar, where a siropa or robe of honour was hestowed on her from the Akal Takht. The Sikhs everywhere acclaimed her courage and sacrifice.

Mai Kishan Kaur continued to serve Gurdwara Gurusar at Kaonke till her last day She died there on 10 Augtast 1959.

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Mata Khivi

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. This created a problem for the Guru’s sons. Increasingly they grew jealous of Lahina, and took no pains to conceal their dislike.19 Without a doubt, this kind of stress and strain would have been very difficult for Lahina’s wife to deal with. There are no records of her thoughts or feelings or how she handled the situation. Had she behaved foolishly during this time, you can be sure that someone would have recorded it.

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 one’s 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.23

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’s 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.

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Shaheed Bibi Harsarn Kaur

Sikh women are always known to have responded to the call of their duty. They have not allowed hardships and dangers to stand in the way of the performance of their moral obligations. Bibi Harsarn Kaur was one of these women who faced the odds to fulfill her obligations.

Guru Gobind Singh's two elder sons together with many other Sikhs, were martyred while fighting the foes at the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. Under pressure of supplications of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was obliged to leave the place under cover of darkness. The enemy too, taking advantage of the lull and darkness, rested in the surrounding area where they had besieged the Sikhs.

After leaving Chamkaur Sahib, Guru Ji reached the village where Bibi Harsarn Kaur lived. When he met her, she at once recognised the Guru. She bowed to Guru Ji and asked about the Sahib Jadey. She had been a nursing sister to them. Guru Ji told her about their martydom. She hurried to Chamkaur Sahib and stole on cat's paw to the battle scene and recognised the martyred Sikhs.

She collected all the wood she could and piled them high. She placed the bodies of the Sahib Jadey and the Sikhs on the pile and set it afire. The big conflagration woke the enemy with consternation. All their expectations of getting prizes and honours were dashed to the ground. Now there was nothing left to show their identities of their victims.

In the light of the fire, they were amazed to espy a female figure with a javelin in hand near the pile. They approached her and demanded to know who she was and whence she came. But nothing could make her speak. They became furious and threw Bibi Harsarn, javelin and all in the fire. Thus she too obtained martyrdom on 23rd Dec 1704.

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Mata Kaula Ji was the daughter of a Hindu family. Her actual name was Kamla. When she was just a child Qazi Rustam Khan bought her from her parents. The Qazi gave her an education purely based on Islam, and then he sant her to Sai Mia Mir for extra learning.

Sai Mia Mir was a Sufi saint and was a most loyal follower of Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. He had no prejudice against any religion, colour, caste or creed. He was deeply in love with the Baani of the Sikh Gurus. Sometimes Sai Ji used to go to Amritsar to meet the Guru. And whenenver Guru Sahib visited Lahore he'd always meet Sai Ji. Sai Ji knew much of the Sikh Guru Sahibaans baani off by heart. He regularly used to read the Jap Ji Sahib and Sukhmani Sahib, and he would often quote stanzas of Gurbani to his disciples. Mata Kaula Ji fell inlove with the Gurbani. She memorised as much Gurbani as she could and used to frequently recite the Gurbani. The more Gurbani she recited the more her love for Sikhi increased. And when she saw Guru Hargobind Sahib come from Amritsar to Lahore in order to treat and look after people dying of a plague epidemic with their own hands she was amazed and her love for Sikhi increased tenfold.

One day Mata Kaula Ji was reciting the Jap Ji when suddely Qazi Rustam Khan heard her. He shouted at Mata Ji and said,

"Do not recite these poems of heathens and infidels!"

Mata Kaula Ji replied,

"Dear Father, Sai Mia Mir Ji bows down to, and fully believes in the man you call an infidel. Sai Ji thinks it is a very high privillege to sit by his side. It is wrong to call the Guru who Sai Ji bows to an infidel!"

The Qazi mercilessly beat Mata Ji, ande shouted at her again and again,

"I don't want you to recite the verses of these infidel dogs ever!"

Mata Kaula Ji sobbed and said,

"Beat me all you want, I cannot live without the Guru's Baani."

Qazi Rustam Khan was very angry and he decided to ask the Qazi's what to do. The Qazi said,

"Kaula keeps reciting the poems of the infidels. I have beaten her many times but she does not stop. What can I do?"

The other Qazis said,

"It is a mortal sin for a Muslim to praise infidels or recite their verses. Kaula shoul be be-headed for this mortal sin."

When Sai Mia Mir Ji fond out that the Qazis were planning to be-head Mata Kaula Ji he took her straight away to the protection of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji in Amritsar. Guru Hargobind Ji aranged for some accomadation for Mata Ji. Each day Mata Ji now recited the Gurus' Baani. She was revered for the local Sikhs and she was considered a saint. To immortalise Mata Ji's memory Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji constructed a pool named Kaulsar in 1627 C.E. Mata Ji died at Kartarpur Sahib in 1630 C.E. There is also a Gurdwara called Gurdwara Mata Kaula Ji in Amritsar.

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Bibi Amro Ji

Bibi Amro was the daughter of Guru Angad, the second Nanak. She was born in 1532 in the village of Khadur Sahib, in present-day district of Amritsar. She received her early education and training directly from her parents, Guru Angad and Mata Khivi. Guru Angad spent a lot of time with his children. He taught them the Gurmukhi script that he had refined and which has been used in Guru Granth Sahib. When she came of age she was married to Bhai Jasoo, son of Manak Chand of Basarke village.

As per the custom, 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. Baba 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 that he became such a devout Sikhs that Guru Angad announced him as his successor. Thus, Guru Amar Das, the third Nanak, got to his destiny of becoming a Guru through Bibi Amro.

Years later when Guru Amar Das gave organisational 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 the Kirtan would sit on the Manji while whole sangat sat in front of him.

The person occupying Manji was the Sikh preacher appointed by Guru Amardas. This appointment can best be compared to the position of Bishop in the 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 the sangat. Her Manji 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 preachers that Amritsar today is synonymous 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 memory.

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Bebe Nanaki Ji

Bebe Nanaki, elder sister of Guru Nanak,was born in 1464 CE in her mother's parental village of Chahal, in the Lahore district of West Punjab province of present-day Pakistan. The Guru's affection for his sister is referred to in most touching terms in some of the Sakhis. A sister's love for her brother is a perennial theme of Punjabi folklore. There are many stories of Nanaki's deep and devoted affection for her brother, Nanak.

Five years older than Guru Nanak, she was the first to recognize his spiritual eminence and to become his disciple. She protected Nanak from their father's wrath, when repeatedly he disappointed and angered him. She was with him throughout the early years of his childhood. When Guru Nanak was only six years old in 1475, Nanaki was married to Jai Ram, a revenue official of very good reputation at Sultanpur, which is in the present day Punjab district of Kapurthala, and was then the capital of the Jalandhar Doab.

Nanak continued to live at home. He rebelled against any norms that were imposed without reason. He loved to be in the company of saints who were the wise men of the day, and gave money away to the poor and the hungry. His father despaired of never being able to make him conform and take on a responsible position in the society. And so it was that his father gave up, and at the age of fifteen, Nanak was sent to live with his sister, and to work on a position in the local Nawab’s granary, arranged by her husband. It was Jai Ram who arranged the wedding of Nanak to Sulakhani, daughter of Moolchand and Bibi Chando of the village Pakhoke, District Gurdaspur. Herself childless, Bebe Nanaki adored her brother, Nanak, and felt herself blessed when he came to join the Nawab's service and put up with her at Sultanpur.

She arranged Guru Nanak's marriage and she loved his sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das, like her own. Guru Nanak reciprocated her affection and after he had quit the Nawab's service to go out to preach his message, he did not fail to visit Sultanpur and meet his sister between whiles. When he visited her in 1518, Bebe Nanaki sensing her end near, requested him to spend more time with her. As she had wished, she departed this life in the presence of her brother, The Guru. Three days later, her husband, Jai Ram, also expired. Guru Nanak himself performed their obsequies. There is no doubt that the first Sikh was none other than Bebe Nanaki.

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Bibi Bhani Ji

Bibi Bhani was daughter of Guru Amar Das, consort of Guru Ram Das and mother of Guru Arjan. She was born to Mata Mansa Devi on 21 Magh 1591 BK / 19 January 1535 CE at Basarke Gillan, a village near Amritsar. She was married on 18 February 1554 to Bhai Jetha (later Guru Ram Das), who belonged to Lahore, then in Goindwal rendering voluntary service in the construction of the Baoli Sahib. After marriage, the couple remained in Goindwal serving the Guru. From Goindwal Bhai Jetha was deputed by the Guru to go and establish a city (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, Prithi Chand (1558), Mahadev (1560) and (Guru) Arjan (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 for her selfless service. Bibi Bhani died at Goindwal on 9 April 1598.

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  • 3 weeks later...

BILLO WALO SAREH BHAINA TE BHRAVA NU PYAR PARI SSA _/_!

KAUR SIS, JUST WANTED TO SAY THANKS FOR THOSE POSTS, I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT THE WOMEN IN OUR HISTORY, STUFF THAT I DIDNT KNOW B4. GOOD JOB BHAINA :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

We should try to always remember Mata Sahib Kaur, Mata Khivi Jee, Bibi Nanaki Jee, Mai Bhago Jee, etc. in our ardaas and stuff.. It's upto us to remember all the bahadur singhneea that died for this cause..

"Jina mataava ne aapne shotey shotey bachheyaa dhiaa shaheediya vekh ke thuhada bhanaa MITHA kar ke manneya.....Jina Bahadur Singhneea ne modey modey apney veeraa naal, ghoreya thay baikey, talwaara farkey, keskiya bankey, khalsa dhey jalma nu larhaiya vich mar key, FATEH BHULAI, jina singhneeya ne chun chun junglaa vich vaireeya nu maarkey, thuhadey charna thay baikey kurbaneeya kiteea..."

its amazing if u think abt it... bcuz they forget all fear of their own deaths, of their own pain, in order to preserve the khalsa and keep the dream alive... in order to keep the khalsa jot shining forever, these women became real singhs and fought to the last drop of blood they had in them..

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