Four days ago, my daughter Gani’s teacher at The Preschool Place invited my wife for the mother’s day celebration. Gani “carefree” Kaur was entrusted to us by the Divine to “grow” and “care” over four and half years ago. To Gani’s surprise, her ma (mom), her dadi (paternal grandmother), and pardadi (paternal great grandmother) showed up; her teacher had to arrange for three “diamond” necklaces and few more brownies with ice cream given the pleasant surprise. Gani sang, created, shared, thanked, and enjoyed; three moms loved it too.
Yesterday, we went out for mother’s day dinner, a day early because Gani’s mom is busy on Sunday with Kaur & Singh Academy and Camp Nadar meetings. The meal, the journey, and the conversations, were filling and fun between the four generations within our family. But last night I started thinking about what I now term Mata-e-Panth (Mother of the Guru Khalsa Panth under the authority of the Guru Granth Sahib).
What do I really know about the Mother of the Khalsa?
When I took Amrit (literally beyond death) via Khande-ki-Pahul (Sikh initiation ceremony where elixir of life is prepared by double edged sword), I was told she is my mother. I accepted it unquestionably, but never really ventured to get to know her. I spend the day surfing on the “web” (sure is complex and worldwide), but even the best of the “cut and paste” jobs were not that exciting. May be I am just wired weird. Yes, there were issues surrounding dates, varying accounts on one or two events, mostly it was footnote style intermix of lore, love, and logic. So what? I wanted to know more about her: her associations, leadership, and role in the Panth (the Sikh collective).
Then, I went on to read excerpts or complete books. Of the several (all in Panjabi language in Gurmukhi script) I went thru to learn about my Shero, only one was authored by woman. Another reminder her story does need to leave a carbon mark by more Kaurs and in English. I fully realize my transgressions, but Mata Sahib Kaur is my mother too.
In the age of give me “short and sweet”, here’s what I found elevating about Mata Sahib Kaur (1681-1747). I hope it implores us to find out much more about her.
In somewhat chronological order:
- Born Sahib Devan in city of Rohtas (Jhelum district), undivided Panjab where a gurduara (Sikh place of learning) Choa Sahib commemorates Guru Nanak’s visit.
- Met Guru Gobind Singh Sahib (last of the ten founder Gurus; “the Guru”) in 1700, sought Khande-ki-Pahul, spiritually wedded the Guru as “Koara Dola” (virgin spouse), and the Guru declared her to be the “Mother of the Khalsa” thenceforth.
- Assured masands (emissaries) didn’t represent the Guru after 108 of them were chastised for corruption; the Khalsa was the Guru’s representative since the Vaisakhi of 1699.
- Raised all four Sahibzade (Sovereign’s children) of the Guru, especially loved gracing two Chote (young) Sahibzade.
- Separated from the Guru while leaving Anandpur Sahib, ended up in Ropar, and then Delhi.
- Arranged antim path (last rites) upon learning the news of martyrdom (due to fight for justice against the State) of Sahibzade and Mata Gujri ji (biological mother of the Guru).
- Mentored Jassa Singh Ahluvalia for 7 years in Delhi who returned to Panjab as Misl (one of the Sikh confederate states) leader, and eventually “Sultan-ul-Qaum” (national Sikh leader).
- Accompanied the Guru to the Deccan, 2000-mile arduous journey from Delhi to Nander with stopovers in several cities in between.
- Advised Banda Singh Bahadur (anointed commander by the Guru to free Panjab from state oppression) “to complete the Guru’s mission with courage and inspiration.”
- Ordered by the Guru to return to Delhi while being bestowed the Guru’s five arms (a khanjar, a kirpan, a khanda and two jhamdhars; all ofwhich the Sixth Sovereign, Guru Harbgobind Sahib,use to adorn at Akal Takhat) and his seal.
- Reprimanded adopted son Ajit Singh for claiming the Guru’s gifted arms to be his inheritance.
- Refused to stop Banda Singh Bahadur’s mission in Panjab upon emperor Bahadur Shah’s demand; resulted in genocidal campaign against Sikhs of Delhi.
- Spent about 7 years with the Guru and led the Sikh nation for about 38 years.
In the year when the Delhi’s throne is caught in its own trinity (Modi aided killings, Gandhi defends killers and Kejriwal getting “killed”, i.e., literally slapped) and Panjab’s rulers bankrupting the state, what is the Mother asking its 27 million aspiring offspring?
Yes, it is heartening to see the gurduaras being named after the Mother: from Glen Cove, New York to Sydney, Australia. But, just as a yearly dinner doesn’t quite cut it on the mother’s day (though it is welcomed), a philanthropic transaction is not enough to memorialize the Mother either. Isn’t it?
How do I develop my relationship with Mata-e-Panth? The one who longed for the Guru, wedded the Guru, and led the Guru’s Panth. I don’t know, I just re-started this journey and am taking inspiration from her life and legacy.
Of the 9 hukamname (edicts) attributed to her, the Mother’s blessing and assurance in one of them is very clear: “You are my children, the Perfect Guru will protect your honor.”
Harinder Singh is the co-founder and CEO of the Sikh Research Institute. You can reach him at harinder.singh@SikhRI.org or @1force on twitter.