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*taken from Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Steek (Fareedkot Wala Teeka) - Bhasha Vibhag -4th ed 1992 - page 1005

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh !

This large post was prompted by the visit of my niece. She is starting to learn to read and has become a real book-worm, she loves Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter but she also loves to come to her Mama's house (me) to read my books on Sikh Heritage, especially 'Warrior Saints' 'Sikh Heritage' and 'The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms'.

It was while looking through these that she came out with a very pertinent and cutting question - the way kids do - "where are all the pictures of Sikh women ?"

It then struck me that she was right, many of those books have absolutely no pictures of women. Some may have mythological depictions of Sita and Parbati or Raag Raagnis,some have portraits of Rani Jindan, but many have none at all.

This prompted my wife and me to look through all our books and these pictures represent the collection we found for my niece.

It is our hope this collection will help inspire and educate everyone on the pivotal role of Sikh women.

The list is not exhaustive - it is limited to pictures we could find in our book collection.

This post is dedicated to All Sikh Women - All Mothers, Guru Ke Mahel , Mahaan Shahids, Brave steadfast bahadar Singhaneean. To all Mata-jis, Bee-jis, Respected Grandmothers and mothers, Cherished sisters,soulmate partners and beloved daughters.

In a time when daughters are still murdered in Punjab (and around the world) despite Guru sahib's command - Sikhi is the only dharam that expressly forbids the murder of female children - perpetrators being called 'Kurimaar' and ostracized by the sangat - this crime still persists - before it was done by placing 'Gur' in the mouth of the baby girl and saying ;

"Gur khayeen te puni kateen , Aap na ayeen veeran nu ghateen" ( eat sugar and spin cotton , come not again but send brothers) now it is murder perpetrated in the sex determination clinic.

Misogyny is still rife in Punjab despite Guru Sahib's Hukums - when Guru Nanak was asked by the Siddhas why he had "added yeast to milk" by leading a householders life he replied that you denounce women but you still rely on women as you go begging for food to them.

The same question was asked to Guru Hargobind he replied that ;

Daulat guzran hai

Aurat Iman hai

Puttar nishan hai

(money is my servant, Wife is my conscience and children keep the race going)

Still today in popular Punjabi culture you will hear that - "a women is like a shoe" that "Janani di matt pichey geechee vich hundi" ( a women's brain is in the back of her head)

such sexist views are very prevalent as well as many superstitions regarding women. It is my hope that this post will show how women have played a pivotal role in Sikhi and continue to do so.

It is mothers who care for and cherish their children's Kesh and show the importance of Kesh.

It is mothers who instill the self confidence in their children to wear turbans

It is mothers who enshrine beautiful gurbani in the hearts and on the lips of their children

It is mothers who place gutkas into the hands of their children , who sing their children to sleep with gurbani "Tati Vao na lagaien" (Bilaval M5).

I bow my head to these Mahaan Sikh Women !

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

The birth of Guru Nanak - from a Baba Atal Tower fresco - showing Mata Tripta and Bibi Nanaki


A painting showing the same scene


*from Punjab Painting - RP Srivastava - Abhinav - 1983 - plate 130

Guru Nanak rejects the Janao


detail of Bibi Nanaki


The marriage of Guru Nanak


*from The Sikhs - T S Randhawa - Prakash - 2000 - pg 102

Bibi Nanaki and her husband Jai Ram - Bibi Nanaki is sometimes referred to as the first Sikh


*from Sikh Heritage in Paintings- Makhan Singh - Perfect - 1995 pg19

Guru Nanak with his parents returns from his 12 year 'udasi'


*from B40 Janamsakhi Guru Baba Nanak Paintings - S Hans - GNDU - plate 6

The wife of Guru Nanak - Mata Salakhani with their sons Lakhmi Das and Sri Chand


The Guru Sahiban spoke out against Sati (burning of the widow with her husband)and Pardah (the veil)



Guru Amar Das set up 'Manjian' to do 'prachar' which were like 'parishes' . He appointed men as well as women


* From Makhan Singh 1995 pg 28

Mata Khivi - Mata Khivi the wife of Guru Angad Dev. Mata Ji has the unique honour of being the only contemporary of the Guru Sahib's to be mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib - Her dedication and sewa is recorded in Ramkali Ki Waar


*from Makhan Singh 1995


*from Fareedkot wala Teeka

STTM translation

balava(n)dd kheevee naek jan jis bahuthee shhaao pathraalee ||

Balwand says that Khivi, the Guru's wife, is a noble woman, who gives soothing, leafy shade to all.

la(n)gar dhoulath va(n)ddeeai ras a(n)mrith kheer ghiaalee ||

She distributes the bounty of the Guru's Langar; the kheer - the rice pudding and ghee, is like sweet ambrosia.

This Shabad is by Bhatt Sathaa and Balvand in Raag Raamkalee on Ang 967

Bibi Bhani - Bibi Bhani the daughter of Guru Amar Das - has the unique honour of being a Guru's daughter, Guru's wife (Guru Ram Das) , Guru's Mother (Guru Arjan Dev). The mother of the first Sikh Shaheed Guru Arjan , her great grandson was Guru Tegh Bahadar , Great Great Grandson was Guru Gobind Singh.

Tradition says that Bibi Bhani was dedicated to the sewa of Guru Amar Das Ji - her father and in contrast to Punjabi tradition continued this sewa after her marriage to Guru Ram Das


*from Sikh Heritage - Dr Daljeet - Prakash - 2004 - pg 65


Mata Ganga - The wife of Guru Arjan Dev -She received from Baba Buddha the blessing that her son would be a great warrior whose powers no one could tame - Guru HarGobind Sahib


*from Album Central Sikh Museum - P. Satbir Singh - 1996 - pg 34

This is the rath (carriage) said to have been used by Mata ji to visit Baba Buddha


*from Gurdwaras in India and Pakistan - Mohinder Singh - NIPS- 2004 - pg 57

Mata Sulakhani - receives a blessing from Guru Hargobind Sahib - her entire family sacrificed their lives for the Panth


* from Makhan Singh 1995

Mata Gujri - wife of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Mother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji


Mata Sahib Devan / Sahib Kaur -- Mother of the Khalsa


*from Gurdwaras Patwant Singh - HB- 1992 - pg 54


Gold panel from Baba Atal Tower



* both from Randhawa ( 2000)


*from Makhan Singh (1995)

Mata Gujri and The Sahibzadas in the Thanda Burj


*from Makhan Singh (1995)

Mata Ji and The Sahibzadas receiving milk from Moti Mehra in the Thanda Burj


*from P. Satbir Singh 1996 - pg 44

Mai Bhago - The Brave



*from Makhan singh 1995

The Rifle said to belong to Mai Bhago kept at Nander


Mata Sundari Ji - The wife of Guru Gobind Singh Ji - Mata Ji guided the Panth during the early 1700s . Mata Ji commissioned Bhai Mani Singh to collect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh and compile the Dasm Granth Sahib.


*from Patwant Singh 1992

A Hukumnama sent by Mata Sundari Ji


From Dr Daljeet (2004) pg 109

Gurdwara Mata Sundari, Delhi


*from Patwant Singh 1992 pg 113

The Tradition of the Faithful Bibi Rajni and her leper husband - cured by faith



*from Makhan Singh 1995

The Brave Faithful Singhneean in Mir Mannu's prison - we remember these brave Sikh women in our ardas - who in the1700s were imprisoned and tortured made to grind 60kg had their children butchered infront of them but stayed true to the last



*from P Satbir Singh (1996)

Gyani Gyan Singh's description of Sikh Women - When the Khalsa Walked unopposed into Delhi 1781






*from Panth Prakash - Gyani Gyan Singh - Bhasha Vibhag - 1987 Ed- pg 1150-4

Sardarni Sada Kaur - Wife of Gurbakhsh Singh Sardar of the Kanhaiya Misl - fought in battle against Ranjit Singh - though eventually sought an alliance by marrying her daughter to Ranjit Singh. It is said that see was the power behind the throne and that she "was the ladder by which Ranjit singh reached the Summit of power"


Sketch of Sardarni Sada Kaur - attributed to Kehar Singh


*from Punjab Painting - RP Srivastava - Abhinav - 1983 - plate 53

Rani Mehtab Kaur - daughter of Sada Kaur - married to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and mother of Maharaja Sher Singh


*from a flyer for a Lecture on Sikh women

Rani Chand Kaur - daughter of Jaimal Singh Kanhaya - married to Maharaja Kharrak Singh , mother of Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh


*from Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Jean-Marie Lafont - Oxford -2002 pg 133

Rani Jindan - Rani of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and mother of Duleep Singh.

from a fresco in the Haveli of the Sandhanwalia Sardars of Raja Sansi


*from Maharaja Ranjit Singh ,as patron of the Arts - Marg 1981


*from Lafont (2002)


*from Sikh portraits by European Artists - F S Aijazuddin - 1979 - plate v

The famous Rani Jindan Portrait


*from The Kapany Collection

The hands of Rani Jindan cast in marble by Duleep Singh


*from Maharaja Ranjit Singh - Mohinder Singh - NIPS 2002 pg 73

The Death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh


*from The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms - Susan Stronge - V&A 1999

A Sikh woman soldier


*from Dr Daljeet 2004 pg 143

A Sikh Marriage


Detail - while Sikh female portraiture is rare - it is even rarer to see depictions of elders


*from Sikh Art - Kerry Brown - Routledge - 1999 plate 9

Bhai Vir Singh




* from Brown 1999 plate 20

"The departure of the Heroes" soldiers leaving for a campaign




* from Marg 1981

Depictions of Nihangs and Nihangnis / Singhanees


*from Piety and Splendour - B N Goswamy -Nat Mus 2000



A verse from Prof Mohan Singh's Rani Sahib Kaur - she was a princess from the Patiala Dynasty - who fought the Marathas. This is a famous poem - My Mother would recite it to us as children.


*from 'Rani Sahib Kaur' - Kasumbhrha - Prof Mohan Singh -Lahore Book Shop - pg 53

Pilgrims at the Darbar Sahib


Pilgrims at Darbar Sahib Amritsar - during the visit of the Prince of Wales 1905


The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919


Bibi Balbir Kaur - whilst demonstrating in the Jaito Morcha on Feb 21 1923, Bibi Ji was shot at by British Troops - the bullet hit her child -which she was carrying - she laid the child by the side of the road and carried on the march singing Gurbani, eventually she was also shot. Just on that day 100 people were killed


The Panja Sahib saka - in 1922 a train carrying Sikh prisoners arrested during the Guru ka Bagh morcha was passing through Panja Sahib railway station - Sikhs gathered to feed them Langar , but the British refused to stop the train.

The Sikhs said if Guru Sahib can stop a rock with his hand his Sikhs can stop a train - so Men and Women sat on the track and stopped the train.


The Jaito Morcha


*from Makhan Singh 1995

The Cover of Bhai Vir Singh's 'Sundri


*from Sundri - Bhai Vir Singh - BVSSS - 1983 ed

Portrait of Rani Raj Kaur - from an edition of Rana Surat Singh - by Bhai Vir Singh


*from The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent - Cambridge - 1993

Illustration from Bhai Vir Singh's Punjabi Autumn


* from Nargas songs of a Sikh - Bhai Vir Singh trans Puran Singh - J M Dent - 1924

Cover of Warrior Princess


* from Warrior Princess - Harjit Lakhan - 2001

Maharani Bakhtavar Kaur - senior Rani of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala - grandmother of Capt. Amrinder Singh CM of Punjab


*from The Unforgettable Maharajas - Paul & Kapoor - 2003

The Horrors of Partition 1947

This clip is from the 1986 mini series of Bhisham Sahni's novel - 'Tamas'- It is very powerful - it dramatises the events in the Potohar and Bari Doab areas of West Punjab.

In a village Sikhs gather in a Gurdwara to protect themselves from Muslims - The Muslims attack- the menfolk go to fight - the women then gather in the darbar - the singing of 'Gagan Damama Bajeo' sends shivers down your spine .

When the women realise the muslims are coming into the Gurdwara they march to a well and jump in -to save their honour - taking the Singhaneen of mir mannu 's prison as inspiration.

at the end you will see that Rababis come into the gurdwara and sing 'Jagat Jalanda Rakh' - the Rababis have been stopped by the Muslims from going to the gurdwara to perform kirtan saying they are 'Kafirs' for singing Gurbani - but also the Sikhs have stopped the rababis from coming saying they are muslims.

The clip is very powerful - and shows the sacrifices of Sikh women during Partition.

Click on this link to see the clip (apologies for the quality !)


Morcha for Punjabi Suba 1960

These pictures show women at the forefront of the Morcha for Punjabi Suba - the second picture is of a widow of a protester shot at Patiala courting arrest with her children in Amritsar



*from The Illustrated History of the Sikhs 1947 -78 - Gur Rattan Pal Singh -1979

Women at the Forefront of the 'Dharam Yudh Morcha' of the 1980s


*from Khalsa Panth - Khushwant Singh Raghu Rai - 1984

The Ghallughara 1984

The Army Attack on Darbar Sahib - painted by The Singh Twins







The Singh Twins at work


*from Twin Perspectives - Paintings by Amrita and Rabindra KD Kaur Singh - 1999

Delhi Massacre 1984




Arpana Kaur , infront of her work depicting the horrors of the Delhi massacre


*from The Sikhs - Khushwant Singh Raghu Rai

Widows of the Chattisinghpore Masscre in Kashmir


Dr Inderjit Kaur - who carries on the Great work started by Bhagat Puran Singh at the Pingalwara Amritsar


*from Garland around my neck - Patwant Singh Harinder Kaur Sekhon - 2001







*from Khalsa Panth - Khushwant Singh Raghu Rai 1984

Tender Touch


The Archeress


Pure Longing - This painting by Gurkirn Kaur Khalsa shows her desire and that of all Sikh women to perform the Ishnan sewa at Darbar Sahib - still denied to women


*from Pure Longing Fulfilled - Gurukirn Kaur Khalsa 1999

The Care and Cherishing of Kesh



The closest women have come to perfoming Kirtan Sewa at Darbar Sahib - 1979 Vikram Singh and Jatha


Rehat Pyari


*from Spirit Born Magazine - Vaisakhi 1999

A Mother's Poem



*Taken from Style of the Lion -Jasprit Singh Theresa Singh - Akal - 1998 - pg 93

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa

Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

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