Women in Sikh History

Sikhism was the first religion to confer equal status to women as men. Throughout our history there have been many brave and praiseworthy women. We list some of the achievements of women here…
Bibi Nanaki – Guru Nanak’s older sister was arguably the first Sikh (disciple) she was the first to recognise Guru Nanak as a great prophet. She and Mata Tripta (Guru Nanak’s mother) were very important in encouraging Guru Nanak to pursue his lifelong mission.
Mata Khivi was the wife of Guru Angad Dev and was in charge of the langar. She was an unlimited source of bounty and helped create a new social consciousness for women.
Sikh Missionaries. Guru Amar Das trained missionaries to spread Sikhism throughout the country. Of the 146 missionaries Guru Amar Das trained and sent out, 52 were women. At one time the country of Afghanistan and Kashmir were under the jurisdiction of women, who had responsibilities of decision making, collection of revenues and preaching to the congregation.
Bibi Bhani has a unique position in Sikh history as the daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji, wife of Guru Ram Das Ji and mother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Bibi Bhani was an inspiration during the formative years of Sikh History.
Mata Gujri was an illuminating force behind her husband Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji and after his martyrdom she guided and inspired her son, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Mata Sahib Kaur, the wife of Guru Gobind Singh Ji,  played an important role during the Initiation of the Khalsa on Vaisakhi 1699. She added sweets to the Amrit which was prepared by Guru Gobind Singh Ji for the Panj Payare. Mata Sahib Kaur is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa.
Mai Bhago was the brave warrior who shamed the 40 Muktai (deserters) to return to the battle of Muktsar. She led them into battle where they were blessed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji and were martyred defending the Sikh ideal.
Women Braving Persecution. During the time of the Mogul occupation of India, Sikhs caused the greatest threat to the Moguls. For this reason they were also most persecuted and a price was put on every Sikh’s head. Sikh women were particularly targeted and many were captured and imprisoned at Nakhas in Lahore. Here they were tortured and saw their children cut up and their limbs were hung around the necks of these brave women who still did not succumb to Islam. We think of these women and many more who have sacrificed everything for Sikhism, in the ardas we read each day.

Sandeep Singh Brar