Saturday, January 14, 2006
In Memory of Chali Mukte
orty (chali) liberated ones (mukte), is how a band of 40 brave Sikhs who laid down their lives fighting near the dhab or lake of Khidrana, also called Isharsar, on 29 December 1705 against a Mughal force in chase of Guru Gobind Sahib Singh Ji are remembered in Sikh history and daily in the Sikh ardas or supplicatory prayer offered individually or at gatherings at the end of all religious services. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji, who had watched the battle from a nearby mound praised the martyrs' valour and blessed them as Chali Mukte, the Forty Immortals. After them Khidrana became Muktsar - the Pool of Liberation. Etymologically, mukta from Sanskrit mukt means 'liberated, delivered, emancipated,' especially from the cycle of birth and death. Mukti (liberation, emancipation) in Sikhism is the highest spiritual goal of human existence, and mukt or mukta is the one who has achieved this state of final beatitude. Mukta, also means a pearl, and the word would thus signify a title or epithet of distinction. It was probably in this sense that the five Sikhs, who on 30 March 1699 received the vows of the Khalsa immediately after the first five Panj Piare (q.v.), were blessed with the title mukta, plural mukte.I
n the Sikh tradition the forty martyrs of Muktsar who earned this title by sacrificing their lives for the Guru and who redeemed their past apostasy of having disowned the Guru and deserted him driven to desperation by the prolonged siege of Anandpur by the hill chiefs and Mughal forces by having their disclaimer torn by the Guru. They were led by Mai Bhag Kaur and Mahan Singh Brar.M
ai Bhag Kaur: As a young girl, she heard sakhis of martyrdom of Sikh Gurus' and their disciples. A regular hearing of the sakhis and harassment by the tyrannous rulers made a deep effect on her tender heart. She decided in her mind to do her duty to stop such state violence against the Sikhs. She went to Anandpur Sahib along with his father in 1699 A.D., when Guru Gobind Singh Sahib ji
founded the Khalsa Panth.
"She took Amrit and learned the art of fighting and self defence."
Mughals and hilly chiefs had surrounded Anandpur and were demanding it be evacuated. They called that any Sikh who says that "he/she is not anymore a Sikh of Guru Gobind" will be left untouched. A group of 40 Sikhs, led by Mahan Singh Brar 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 Bhag Kaur was distressed to hear 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. Hearing her taunts, these Sikhs were ashamed at their deed. She rallied the deserters persuading Guru, then traveling across the Malva region. Her sharp words awakened the souls of numerous men. When forty Sikhs left Guru Gobind Singh Sahib ji during the siege of Anandpur Fort, she inspired them to return to the Guru's fold and led them to meet the Guru and seek his pardon. Knowing that Wa/ir Khan was advancing to attack the Guru, Mai Bhago took up positions along with forty Sikhs and others at Mukatsar.
Meanwhile, Guru Gobind Singh had to evacuate the fort of Anandpur, his children were lost in the confusion. Two youngest one's Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, went along with their grandmother (mother of Guru Gobind Singh). While elder one's 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 traveling in Malva region, being pursued by Mughal forces of Aurungzeb. Traveling day and night in the Jungles of Malva region, imperial Mughal forces were in constant pursuit of Guru. Guru Gobind Singh reached village of Khidrana, when Mai Bhag Kaur 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, found all the men except one Mahan Singh, killed when he visited the battlefield. Mai Bhag Kaur and Guru Gobind Singh ji were the sole survivors of this fiercely fought battle.
"Mai Bhag Kaur showed the bravery by lighting with valour and redeemed the honour of the faithless forty Sikhs."
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. After the battle was won, Guru Gobind Singh asked Mai Bhag Kaur to go back to her village.
"She told Guru her long cherished desire to become an active saint soldier in the army of the Guru's."
He took into his care Mai Bhag Kaurwho had also suffered injury in the battle. She there after stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguard, 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 Bhag Kaur. 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 Bhag Kaur.
The Khalsa Women: The 40 Liberated Ones. Forty of Guru Gobind Singh's men deserted him at Anadpur. They were afraid to die, afraid for their lives, desperate and starving. They were so concerned with their own survival, that they willing wrote and signed a letter denouncing their Guru. When they arrived home, rather than finding wives joyful for their return, happy that they were alive, what did they find? Wives who were appalled that they had deserted Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji. The male side of this story is that the men returned to fight for the Guru and died in the battle, liberating their souls in the process. But the hidden story is:
That the consciousness of their Khalsa wives is what inspired them to do it. The Khalsa women consciously chose widowhood. They would have rather born the burden of seeing their husbands dead, of being left with the sorrow of being widowed, of raising their children alone, of having to find their economic security in the absence of a husband -they would have rather endured all this than to see their husbands walk away from their destinies and betray their Guru.
These women knew - the duty and role of a Khalsa wife is to serve the soul of her husband and deliver him to his destiny and to God and Guru no matter what. Who liberated these men? Themselves? No - it was the grace, security, wisdom and blessing of their wives: that allowed them to be liberated. It was the meditative discipline, the trust in the Divine, the attunement with God's Will through the experience of their own Spirits that allowed these women to look their husbands in the eye and say:
"You are dead to us, no matter what! Go back and stand with your Guru or leave!"
inus the spiritual understanding of the women, the 40 Liberated Ones would have never returned to their Guru and would have gone through lifetimes of karma to repay the mistake. These Khalsa women understood non-attachment, security in the Divine, living in the Will of God, loyalty to the Guru so well that they could fearlessly send their husbands to their death, knowing that it was better for their husbands to die in service of the Guru than to live any other way. And the pain of loosing their husbands was less to them than the pain of seeing their husbands loose their path to God. Publicly- the valour of the men prevailed. Privately- the wisdom of the women prevailed.
"It was this joint consciousness, valour and wisdom, male and female that displayed the true power of the Khalsa."
The names of the Chalih Mukte are listed below:
(1). Bhai Bhag Singh (2). Bhai Dilbag Singh (3). Bhai Mann Singh (4). Bhai Nidhan Singh (5). Bhai Kharbara Singh (6). Bhai Darbara Singh (7). Bhai Dyal Singh (8). Bhai Nihal Singh (9). Bhai Khushal Singh (10). Bhai Ganda Singh (11). Bhai Ishmer Singh (12). Bhai Singha (13). Bhai Bhalla Singh (14). Bhai Suhel Singh (15). Bhai Chamba Singh (16). Bhai Ganga Singh (17). Bhai Sumer Singh (18). Bhai Sultan Singh (19). Bhai Maya Singh (20). Bhai Massa Singh (21). Bhai Sarja Singh (22). Bhai Sadhu Singh (23). Bhai Gulab Singh (24). Bhai Harsa Singh (25). Bhai Sangat Singh (26). Bhai Hari Singh (27). Bhai Dhana Singh (28). Bhai Karam Singh (29). Bhai Kirt Singh (30). Bhai Lachman Singh (31). Bhai Buddha Singh (32). Bhai Kesho Singh (33). Bhai Jado Singh (34). Bhai Sobha Singh (35). Bhai Bhanga Singh (36). Bhai Joga Singh (37). Bhai Dharam Singh (38). Bhai Karam Singh (39). Bhai Kala Singh (40). Bhai Mahan Singh
People say that women shouldn't be a part of the panj. They talk of tradition, that is their only reason. There is no gender in Khalsa! When did gender become an issue? People who talk of tradition are the same people who don't know tradition. People make strong judgements based on their opinions of tradition. We have a tradition of langar and yet others started a tradition where they will only eat food prepared by Amritdhari Sikhs. People have this tradition of disallowing women in the panj pyare. What happened to recognizing all of humanity as one?
This is a nice blog and I'm writing strong words because this is an important topic. At some point in the future I'm really hoping I will have photographic evidence of the old texts that speak of women in the panj. I have learned from a really great man, who has so much pyar for the Guru and has so much gian of Sikhi, that women in history have been a part of the panj including Mai Bhag Kaur. Thanks for writing about her.
WaheGuru Ji Ka Khalsa, WaheGuru Ji Ki Fateh!
beautiful article on the amazing mothers and daughters of the khalsaa panth
nice article...would u have information on bibi harsharan kaur jee(last shaheed of saka chamkaur sahib)?
any book or something?
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