Five Important Women in Sikh History

Mata Nanaki – The First Sikh


mata nanaki


Mata Nanaki ji was the elder sister of the first Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and she loved and nurtured her younger brother. In 1469, when Guru Nanak Dev Ji experienced a divine vision as a young man and became the first Guru of the Sikh faith, Mata Nanaki was the first to follow him. She is celebrated as the first Sikh.


Mata Sahib Kaur – Mother of the Khalsa



Mata Sahib Kaur is known as the “Mother of the Khalsa”. She would join her husband Guru Gobind Singh Ji in serving langar, fighting battles and singing kirtan. On Vaisakhi 1699, at the first Amrit-Sanchaar at Anandpur Sahib, Mata Sahib Kaur Ji participated in the seva creating Amrit by adding sugar wafers to add sweeetness to it, and was bestowed the honour of eternal motherhood of Khalsa Panth.


Mata Khivi – Pioneer of Langar


Khivi 2


Mata Khivi was the First to follow in Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s footsteps and prepare food for all who came to hear the Guru’s spiritual discourse. When her husband, Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji, became the second Sikh guru, she presided over langar – the free and open kitchen run by Sikhs where food is served to rich and poor of all castes and backgrounds. Today, every Sikh Gurdwara in the world serves langar to the community.


Mai Bhago – The Warrior Kaur


Mai Bhago


The fearless female warrior born in Amritsar, Punjab, Mai Bhago grew up in a time when the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, fought to defend Sikhs against Mughal forces and hill chiefs. During a great siege in 1705, Mai Bhago rallied 40 deserters and led them into battle herself, sword in hand. They died fighting and became known as the Chali Mukte, the Forty Liberated Ones. Afterward, Mai Bhago became the Guru’s bodyguard, donning a turban and warrior attire. 


Her story is told in the animated short film: KAUR – A Story of Courage and Equality – by SikhNe 


Mata Gujri Ji

Mata Gujri ji holds the unique position of wife of a martyr, mother of martyr, the grandmother of martyrs and herself a martyr. Wife of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur; the mother of the tenth and last human Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and the grandmother of the four Sahibzade. As a wife she supported Guru Tegh Bahadur when he was deep in meditation for years, again while he was on his missionary tour, and finally, when the Guru left for Delhi to make the supreme sacrifice. As a mother she molded the father of the Khalsa, the great Guru Gobind Singh, raising him as a single mother after the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur ji. As a grandmother, when she and the Sahibzade were arrested and confined in Sirhind Fort, she urged them to remain steadfast in their faith. It was due to her role that the seven and nine year old children did not budge from their beliefs and attained martyrdom. Her support of her grandsons played such an important role in Sikhism that as Sikhs, we probably owe our existence to her.

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