On the 16 June of every year since 1606, the Sikhs have commemorated the martyrdom of their first martyr, the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. Sikh history until then had been peaceful and non-violent. All the Sikh Gurus had taught the message of compassion, love, dedication, hard work, worship of one God and the commitment to peace and harmony for all the peoples of the world.
But how did Guru Arjan Sahib Ji become fearless, and selfless? How was he raised by his mother, to have such a consciousness? Everyone has the Light of the Divine within them. That is never the question. But to live that Light unto death - that is a matter of training and the mother is the first training ground of the soul. What values did His mothers instil in him? What discipline? What stories? How did His mothers teach him? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a parenting book for Sikhs based on how Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s Mother raised him?
...Truly, Bibi Bhanji must have been a Khalsa Mother, even though the Khalsa had not yet come to life...
Bibi Bhani has a unique place in the Sikh history. She is the noble lady who was,
Daughter of a Guru (Guru Amardas),
Wife of a Guru (Guru RamDas),
Mother of a Guru (Guru Arjan Dev),
Grandmother of a Guru (Guru Hargobind),
Great Grandmother of a Guru (Guru Tegh Bahadar)
and Great, Great Grandmother of a Guru (Guru Gobind Singh).
Whether we consider her as a Daughter or Mother. She was a symbol of service. In the Sikh history, she is known as an embodiment of service.
There is special status of Bibi Bhani in the life of Guru Amardas by the way she cared for her father proving that there was no difference between a son and a daughter. Both can equally serve their parents.
There is a superstition in Punjabi culture that a father does not get any service done from the daughter, but Bibi Bhani used to serve her father before marriage and kept serving him even after her marriage. We can learn a lesson from her way of serving that one can continue doing worldly duties along with daily religious service or worship.
Domestic circumstances never became any obstacles and she kept serving her father humbly and with devotion, even after she became the mother of three sons. She very gladly and regularly kept giving bath to her father and used to keep a watch so that no body disturbed him during his meditation. So much so that when a leg of that bath-stool was broken, she kept her arm underneath it, so that his meditation was not disturbed. Only Bibi Bhani could do that.
She was married in the beginning of 1553. She served Bhai Jetha not only as a husband but also as a saint.
She was so contented that she never complained about the poverty of her in-laws. She kept serving her father even after her marriage, as her in-laws were local. She continued doing her worldly duties along with the service of her father. Her husband continued serving in the common kitchen even after his marriage.They had three sons, Prithi Chand, Maha Dev, and Arjan Dev. Prithi Chand was arrogant, lazy, and dishonest, but still wanted the Guruship after his father. He wanted that his Mother should recommend him for Guruship. She advised him that the decision made by his father would be on merit and she remained neutral. When Guru Arjan Dev was selected for Guruship, Prithi Chand misbehaved with his father.
Bibi Bhani snubbed Prithi Chand and admonished him. She said to him that the decision made by his father was impartial. This has been the tradition from the time of Guru Nanak. She also said, “Your father was also selected on the basis of his service and humility.” Bibi Bhani always stood for truth.
Her eldest son, Prithi Chand, was ignored due to his haughty nature and the youngest one, Guru Arjan Dev, was made the fifth Guru by his father. Prithi Chand claimed that he was the fifth Guru and through his agents collected the offerings of the devotees before they could see Guru Arjan Dev. He, thus, tried to fail the common kitchen run by Guru Arjan Dev. Bibi Bhani and Bhai Gurdas, a devotee of Guru Arjan Dev, foiled the conspiracy of Prithi Chand and the common kitchen continued as usual. After the death of Guru Ram Das, Bibi Bhani helped her son, Guru Arjan Dev, in every activity undertaken by him and advised him She persuaded Guru Arjan Dev to remarry after the death of his first wife. It seems Guru Arjan Dev has mentioned her blessings and advice in one of his hymns given on Ang 496 of Guru Granth Sahib:
Goojaree, Fifth Mehla:
Remembering Him, all sins are erased, and ones generations are saved.
So meditate continually on the Lord, Har, Har; He has no end or limitation. 1
O son, this is your mother's hope and prayer,that you may never forget the Lord,
Har, Har, even for an instant. May you ever vibrate upon the Lord of the Universe. 1Pause
May the True Guru be kind to you, and may you love the Society of the Saints.
May the preservation of your honor by the Transcendent Lord be your clothes, and may the singing of His Praises be your food. 2
So drink in forever the Ambrosial Nectar; may you live long, and may the meditative remembrance of the Lord give you infinite delight.
May joy and pleasure be yours; may your hopes be fulfilled, and may you never be troubled by worries. 3
Let this mind of yours be the bumble bee, and let the Lord's feet be the lotus flower. Says servant Nanak, attach your mind to them, and blossom forth like the song-bird, upon finding the rain-drop. 434
Mata Ganga was the wife of Guru Arjan Dev, and Mother of Guru HarGobind ji. She had her only son that too, after a long time of her marriage. Mata Ganga Ji (Guru Ji's wife) once expressed a wish to be blessed with a son.
Mata Ji went to see Baba Ji taking with her many richly prepared dishes. Baba Ji was not happy, "I am but a grass cutter of the House of Guru Nanak how can I grant you what you wish?" Mata Ji returned home and told Guru ji what had happened. Guru Ji said "Mata Ji do as I say, prepare a simple meal. Make missi roti (bread made of wheat and lentils) with your own hands and take some onions and lassi (butter milk) and walk with humility in your heart. Mata Ji did as she was asked. She humbly presented the food, Baba Ji was pleased. As he ate he blessed Mata Ji
"O mother, thy son will be the king of kings, he will rule the hearts of his people" As he crushed an onion in his hand Baba ji said " and he will crush the heads of evil rulers".
Thus Mata Ji was blessed with a son, who was named HarGobind. Guru HarGobind Ji became the sixth Guru Of the Sikhs.
On 19th of June, 1595 (21st of the month of Har, Sambat 1652), Guru's wife gave birth to a son. On the birth of his son, the Guru uttered the following Sabad:
"The True Guru sent me a son;
A long-lived son hath been born by destiny.
When he took his dwelling in the womb,
His mother's heart was exceedingly glad.
The destiny recorded in the beginning hath become manifest to all.
By God's order the boy hath been born in the tenth month.
(Asa Mohalla 5, Ang-396)
Bibi Bhani was mother of Guru Arjan Dev, the Fifth Guru. Undoubtly Guru Arjan Dev was brought up as model GurSikh. Guru Arjan Dev was the first Sikh Martyr. Guru Arjan Dev compiled Adi Granth by collecting all the writings of Gurus before him and installed it at Harminder Sahib. Guru Arjan Dev completed the construction of Golden Temple.
The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji life:
Huge number of hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib over 2000
Author of Sukhmani Sahib Bani : Prayer for Peace
Compiled and installed for the first time the holy Sikh Book, which at this stage is called Adi Granth.
Built the Golden Temple
Developed Amritsar as a Centre of Excellence.
Enhanced the Structure of Sikh Society by introducing the Masund system
First Sikh Guru to be martyred.
Hymn by Guru Arjan Dev from the Sukhmani Sahib- SGGS from Ang 262
Meditate, meditate, meditate peace is obtained, Worry and anguish is expelled from the body.
Remembering God, you're not reborn. Remembering God, the fear of death is dispelled.
Remembering God, death is eliminated. Remembering God, your enemies are repelled.
Remembering God, no obstacles are met. Remembering God, night and day you're fully awake.
Remembering God, fear cannot touch you. Remembering God, you don't suffer with sorrow.
Remembrance of God, in the Company of Saints. All treasures, O Nanak, are by Lord Blessing. 2
Master of Martyrs
Chandu, the officer of Jahangeer, was in charge of torturing Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib told them, "I bear NO ENEMIES or ill-will against any one. All happens as God Almighty wills it to happen. I am prepared to ACCEPT HIS WILL. You may do what you like".
Day 1 of Torture:
Guru Jee was not given anything to EAT or DRINK. He was not allowed to sleep at night. He was KEPT AWAKE. Guru Sahib bore all this calmly. He remained immersed in Simran and repeated from his lips, "WaaheGuroo, WaaheGuroo, WaaheGuroo..." and sang Shabads from Gurbaani.
Day 2 of Torture:
On the following day, Chandu made the Guru sit in a BIG COPPER VESSEL. He filled the vessel with water. He ordered his men to light a fire under the copper vessel. The water began to get hot. After a time, the water began to boil. It SCALDED the Guru Sahib's body. But Guru Jee sat calmly and quietly. He felt no pain, nor did he cry out or even sigh. He felt no anger against those who were torturing him. He remained absorbed in the sweet remembrance of Waheguru and repeated,
"All is happening, O Waheguru, according to Thy Will.
Thy Will is ever sweet to me."
The boiling water made the Guru's flesh soft and left blisters all over the body.
Day 3 of Torture:
On the third day, Chandu ordered his men, "Make some sand red hot in iron pans. Seat the Guru in BOILING WATER. Then pour the RED HOT SAND on his head and body". The water boiled Guru Sahib's flesh from below. The burning red-hot sand burned Guru Jee's head and body from above. The persons engaged in torturing him were wet with sweat. They felt most uncomfortable because of the heat. It was the hottest summer month. But Guru Sahib kept calm and quiet. Again, Guru Jee felt no pain, nor did he cry out, sigh or feel anger. He kept thinking of Waheguru and doing Simran. Guru Jee repeated:
teraa kee-aa meethaa laagai.
O Waheguru! Your actions seem so sweet to me.
har naam padaarath naanak maaNgai.
Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord.
Baba Mian Meer Jee (a Muslim Sufi Saint and friend of Guru Sahib) tried to intercede on behalf of Guru Sahib but Guru Jee forbid him to interfere in the "Will of the Almighty". Guru Sahib said,
"All is happening in accordance with WAHEGURU's WILL. Men who stand for Truth have often to SUFFER. Their sufferings give STRENGTH to the cause of Truth. Go, brother. Pray for me. Pray for the success of my cause. Pray for VICTORY to TRUTH."
Day 4 of Torture:
On the fourth day, Guru Jee was made to sit on an IRON PLATE. It was heated from below. The iron plate became RED HOT with the heat. Guru Jee's flesh began to be ROASTED. Burning RED-HOT SAND was poured on his body. Guru Sahib sat calm and quite, without a cry or sigh, feeling no physical pain. He sat with his mind fixed on Waheguru and physically living the message of Gurbaani and accepting the Will of Waheguru sweetly.
Day 5 of Torture:
On the fifth day, Guru Sahib was taken the RIVER RAVI bounded in shackles. Guru Sahib's physical body was covered with burns and blisters. To add to the torture Guru Jee was thrown into the river, never to come back out, attaining shaheedi (martyrdom).
When King Jahangir summoned Guru Arjan Dev Ji, his Mother encouraged him to face the difficulties boldly. When Guru Ji was tortured and the news of his martyrdom reached the family, she maintained her composure and did not let her Daughter-in-law, Guru Arjan Dev’s wife, and 11 year-old grandson, Hargobind, lose heart.
We can safely call her the embodiment of service,
truth, endurance, obedience, and humility.
She will always be remembered for
the unique service rendered by her to her Father.
She has the distinction of being the
Mother of the first Sikh martyr, Guru Arjan Dev,
Great-Grandmother of the second
Sikh martyr, Guru Tegh Bahadur,
and Great-Great- Grandmother of Guru Gobind Singh,
who sacrificed himself and his four sons for the sake of justice.
Thus she belongs to a family
whose seven members were martyred.
and our Fifth Guru, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji