in her womb, born of her, he is betrothed and married to a woman.
With her you get friendship and through her does civilization originate.
When she dies you seek another for through her does the household
Why call her low from whom kings are born?
From one woman is another born; none can be born without her.
(Guru) Nanak says only God has originated without her.
That face is fortunate and as beautiful as a jewel which praises
Such a face will be bright in God's court.
-Guru Nanak (GGS p. 473)
In nearly every society the woman has been treated as
a second class citizen. Elaborate myths and legends have been developed
by men to degrade and vilify the woman. In Western religions the
woman is supposedly the cause of the fall from grace for man. In
the great Indian mythology of Mahabharat the heroes of the legend,
the Pandavas, lost their wife Draupadi in a card game! She was offered
after their other valuables, like gold and land, had been lost in
the gambling game.
When the wife is treated as the property of the man, there is no
possibility of a joyous family life. The husband who strikes his
wife, or abuses her emotionally, or insults her by having a mistress
is failing himself and his family. In the past, when women had few
recourses, such a family could remain intact, although at great
emotional cost to all living in it. But with the emerging power
and self-confidence of women such families are doomed.
The Sikh concept of miri piri...valor and spirituality...has
been exemplified by countless Sikhs. Both women and men have lived
lives that exemplify the saint-soldier. Most remarkable is the role
of Sikh women. Today Sikh women are physicians, scientists, business
owners, and educators. Guru Nanak
has called woman `friend, companion, originator of civilization.'
Guru Gobind Singh gave the privilege of the kirpan to both women
and men. Women quickly demonstrated that they were equal to men
in spirituality and in wielding the sword! Here is a quick glimpse
of some of these outstanding women
from Sikh history.
Nanaki was Guru Nanak's sister and perhaps the
first Sikh. She played a vital role in sustaining and spreading
Guru Nanak's spiritual message.
was Guru Angad Dev's wife and she occupies a special place
in Sikh history. She played
a critical role in the second Guru's life. Her most important contribution
is that she made the concept of langar...community kitchen...a reality.
A place where the rich and poor, people of all castes and races
can sit together for a simple meal is still rarity, except at langar.
Sundri was Guru Gobind Singh's wife. She nurtured
and guided the Khalsa for forty years after the Guru's death. She
was deeply spiritual, as well as intellectual, and was responsible
for making scholarship a central part of Sikh life.
Mai Bhago is perhaps the finest example of
valor and spirituality in human history. When Sikhs deserted Guru
Gobind Singh and left him at Anandpur Sahib, Mai Bhago infused them
She brought them to the momentous battle of Muktsar where the Sikhs
defeated the pursuing Mughal army. Mai Bhago, wearing a beautiful
high turban, fought side by side with Guru Gobind Singh.
Sada Kaur is aptly described as a first woman
commander-in-chief. She became a young widow when her husband was
killed in battle. She used this crisis to transform herself into
a woman-warrior, donning a high turban and battlefield garb with
full weaponry. She commanded numerous battles and eventually laid
the foundation for the Sikh empire. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was her
son-in-law and his
later successes were primarily due to Rani Sada Kaur's military
and political strategies.
Jinda, married to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was the
first female freedom fighter in the struggle to oust the British
from India. After Ranjit Singh's death, through guile, bribery and
battles, the British annexed the Punjab. Rani Jinda's
bold speeches and writings rattled the British who jailed her in
Punjab, Nepal, Calcutta and finally, England, where she died in
1863 at the age of forty-six. She had already sown the seeds of
the freedom struggle in India.