Gursikhs from the Past

Mata Gujri Ji

Mata Gujri Ji was the daughter of Bhai Lal Chand Subulikka and Bishan Kaur a pious couple of Kartarpur in present-day kapurthala district of the Punjab. Lal Chand had migrated from his ancestral village Lakhnaur in Ambala district to settle at Kartarpur where his daughter Gujari was married to (Guru) Tegh Bahadur on 4 February 1633. The betrothal had taken place four years earlier when Tegh Bahadur had come to Kartarpur in the marriage party of his elder brother Suraj Mall. Bishan Kaur the mother had been charmed by the handsome face of Tegh Bahadur and she and her husband pledged the hand of their daughter to him.

After the marriage ceremony the couple came to reside in Amritsar. Bride Gujari won the appreciation of everyone "Like bridegroom like bride" records Gurbilas Chhevi patshsahi. "Gujari is by destiny made worthy of Tegh Bahadur in every way " In 1635 Mata Gujari left Amritsar with the holy family and went to reside at Kartarpur in the Sivalik foothills. After Guru Hargobind left this world in 1644 she came with her husband and mother-in-law Mata Nanaki to Bakala now in Amritsar district of the Punjab. There they lived in peaceful seclusion Tegh Bahadur spending his days and nights in meditation and Gujari performing the humble duties of a pious and devoted housewife. After he was installed Guru in 1664 Guru Tegh Bahadur accompanied by Mata Gujari went on a visit to Amritsar traveling on to Makhoval near Kiratpur where a new habitation named Chakk Nanaki (later Anandpur) was founded in the middle of 1665.

Soon after this Guru Tegh Bahadur along with his mother Nanaki and wife Gujari set out on a long journey to the east Leaving the family at Patna he traveled on to Bengal and Assam. At Patna Mata Gujari gave birth to a son on 22 December 1666. The child was named Gobind Rai the illustrious Guru Gobind Singh of later day. Guru Tegh Bahadur returned to Patna in 1670 for a brief stay before he left for Delhi instructing the family to proceed to lakhnaur now in Haryana.

Mata Gujari accompanied by the aged Mata Nanaki and young Gobind Rai reached on 13 September 1670 Lakhnaur where she stayed with her brother Mehar chand until she was joined by her husband. An old well just outside Lakhnaur village and reverently called Matta da Khuh or Mata Gujari Da Khuh still commemorates her visit. From Lakhnaur the family proceeded to Chakk Nanaki where Guru Tegh Bahadur rejoined them in March 1671 after spending some more time traveling through the Malva region and meeting sangats. At Chakk Nanaki 11 July 1675 was a momentous day when Guru Tegh Bahadur left for Delhi prepared to make the supreme sacrifice. She showed courage at the time of parting and bore the ultimate trial with fortitude. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed in Delhi on 11 November 1675 and Guru Gobind Singh then being very young the responsibility of managing the affairs at Chakk Nanaki initially fell to her. She was assisted in the task by her younger brother Kirpal Chand.

When in face of a prolonged siege by hostile hill rajas and Mughal troops Chakk Nanaki (Anandpur) had to be evacuated by Guru Gobind Singh on the night of 5-6 December 1705 Mata Gujari with her younger grandsons Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh aged nine and seven year respectively was separated from the main body while crossing the rivulet Sarsa. The three of them were led by their servant Gangu to the latter's village Saheri near Morinda in present day Ropar district where he treacherously betrayed them to the local Muslim officer. Mata Gujari and her grandsons were arrested on 8 December and confined in Sirhind Fort in what is referred to in Sikh chronicles as Thanda Burj the cold tower. As the children were summoned to appear in court from day to day the grandmother kept urging them to remain steadfast in their faith. On 11 December they were ordered to be bricked up alive in a wall but since the masonry crumbled before it covered their heads they were executed the following day. Mata Gujari ji were imprisoned on top of a tower which was opened from all sides without any warm clothes in very cold month of December. She continued the tradition of Sikhism and without complaints give her body singing guru ki Bani. Mata Gujari ji attained martyrdom the same day as her grandsons. No doubt Guru Nanak Dev ji had said "Why isn't woman equal to man when she is who gave birth to kings and protectors of Dharma". Mata Gujari ji through upbringing of her grandsons played such an important role in Sikhism that as Sikhs we can owe our existence to her. It was due to her teachings that 6 year old and 9 year old did not bulge from their Dharma and attained martyrdom. Thus continuing and emphasizing the institute of martyrdom in Sikhism. Seth Todar Mall a kindhearted wealthy man of Sirhind cremated the three dead bodies the next day.

At Fatehgarh Sahib near Sirhind there is a shrine called Gurdwara Mata Gujari (Thanda Burj). This is where Mata Gujari spent the last four days of her life. About one kilometer to the southeast of it is Gurdwara Joti Sarup marking the cremation site. Here on the ground floor a small domed pavilion in white marble is dedicated to Mata Gujari. The Sikhs from far and near come to pay homage to her memory especially during a three-day fair held from 1113 Poh Bikrami dates falling in the last week of December.

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