Articles: Sikh Martyrs:
Mai Bhag Kaur
Mai Bhag Kaur
Mai Bhag Kaur, popularly known as Mai Bhago, was born
in village Jhabal, near Amritsar. She was the granddaughter of Bhai
Paro Shah, brother of Bhai Langaha, who served Guru Arjan Dev and Guru
Har Gobind Ji.
As a young girl, she heard the sakhis of the martyrdom
of Guru Arjan Dev and of army attacks on Guru Har Gobind. State terrorism
against the Gurus and the Sikhs was often talked about in the family.
Her two generations were closely involved with it because they had personally
experienced it while serving the Gurus. A regular hearing of the
sakhis of injustices done to the Sikhs and their harassment by the police
and army made a deep effect on her tender heart.
Mai Bhago was still a child when she heard sakhis of Guru
Tegh Bahadur and three Sikhs, Bhai Dayala, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai
Sati Das who were tortured and murdered at Delhi in 1675. The sad
news touched her heart and she decided in her mind to do her duty to stop
such state violence against the Sikhs. This thought grew stronger
and stronger in her mind as she grew into her teens.
She went to Anandpur Sahib along with her father in 1699
when Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Panth. She took Amrit and
wanted to stay there to learn the art of fighting and self defense.
But, her father brought her to their village because she was a woman and
not a man to go to the fighting lines. In her mind, however, she
continued to nurse the idea of joining the Khalsa forces.
After returning to her village, she started learning martial
arts, particularly the use of the spear. She would go to a nearby
forest reserve and practice piercing trees with her spear. She soon
became an expert in the art of using this handy weapon in battle.
Government forces surrounded Anandpur in 1704 but they
could not defeat the Guru or make him vacate the city. Finally to
save their face with the emperor, they under a written oath, requested
the Guru to leave Anandpur without being harmed by them. They agreed
not only to let the Guru move out of Anandpur to anywhere he liked to go,
but also to let him come and stay at Anandpur again after some time.
They wrote to the Guru that their only aim was to make the Guru leave Anandpur
at that time and that they had no intention of harming the Guru.
The generals, however, broke their oath and attacked the
Guru when he came out of the fort. He was forced to fight battles
while crossing the river Sirsa and at a nearby village Chamkaur where many
of his Sikhs and his two elder sons became martyrs. They, however,
could not harm the person of the Guru.
The news that the Guru had left Anandpur and was coming
to Malwa made Mai Bhago do what she was thinking long since. She
went from village to village to inform the Sikhs and organize them to challenge
the army following the Guru. While addressing people in a village
she would tell them, "Our Guru has sacrificed all his family for our freedom.
Why can't we ourselves stand up and protect our own civil and human rights?"
Her sharp words awakened the souls of many men. They would wonder
at the bravery of a woman going around courageously and making people get
together for claiming their rights and fighting for justice.
Mai Bhag Kaur and hundreds of men with her were planning
their strategy when the news came that the Guru was proceeding towards
Khidrana Di Dhab, the lake now called Mukatsar, and the Mughal Army was
following him. They decided to check the army from reaching the lake,
the only source of water for many miles around. The Guru with some
Sikhs occupied the top of the mound on the bank of the lake. Mai
Bhag Kaur and the Sikhs with her organized themselves around the lake.
When the army arrived at the lake and attacked the Sikhs,
they were ready to beat them back. A bloody battle took place.
Mai showed her bravery by fighting with the soldiers in the front lines.
She would use her spear with a smart move. Before a soldier could
get ready to attack her, he was down on the earth with his chest pierced
by her spear. The mercenary soldiers could not face the devoted Sikhs.
The Guru from the mound provided the necessary support with his snake-like
arrows. The army generals soon found that unless they retreated quickly
all of them would find their graveyard in the battlefield and none would
return alive. Historians say that they left even their wounded soldiers
unattended and returned as fast as they could. This was the
last battle the Mughal army could dare to fight with the Guru.
After the battle was won, the Guru came down from the
mound and took care of the wounded and the dead. Mai Bhag Kaur
was lying badly injured. She was treated carefully and she soon became
healthy. When the Guru asked her to go back to her village along
with other Sikhs, she told the Guru her long cherished desire to become
an active saint-soldier in the army of the Guru. Her wishes were
granted and the Guru agreed to let her stay with him as a member of his
Along with the Guru, she went to Nanded in the south of
India and lived there for the rest of her life. There is a Gurdwara
where she lived at Nanded, near the Gurdwara Sachkand built in memory of
the Guru. It reminds the visitors of her devotion and services to the Guru.
Like Sikh men, Sikh women are equally good saint-soldiers.
They can organize men and lead them to fight and win battles for the freedom
of people and their human rights.