Important Women in the Time of the Gurus

Mata Khivi serving langar.

The teachings of Sikh Dharma have always upheld the status of women. From the beginning, Guru Nanak Dev Ji left no doubt about the importance of women. His hymn from Asa Di Var, “Bhand Jamee-ai,” declares: “It is through woman that we are conceived and from her that we are born. It is to woman that we are engaged and then married. She is our life-long friend and the survival of mankind depends upon her. On her death a man seeks another woman. It is through a woman that we establish our social ties. Why denounce her, the one from whom Kings and saviors are born?”

Nanak’s recognition is carried through to the last of the Guru’s teachings, and instituted in Guru Gobind Singh’s establishment of the genderless Khalsa order. Both men and women are free to partake of Amrit, firmly embedding the equality of women in the Rehit.

Sikh women have always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men in their sacrifices for their faith. All women are important women in Sikh Dharma.

Some of the women who made unique contributions in the time of the Gurus are listed below: 

Mata TriptaGuru Nanak’s mother. By letting him serve food to all of his friends when he was a boy, she instilled in him the value of serving others, a value that later inspired him to create Guru Ka Langar.

Bibi Nanaki – Guru Nanak’s sister. Guru Nanak had great love for her. She consistently intervened on his behalf in the face of his father’s fury. Even

Painting: Bibi Bhani, the Rupa Collection (18th century).

when it was time for him to leave home, she gave her selfless assistance and enabled him to live his life as a saint.

Mata Khivi – Wife of Guru Amar Das, implemented the practice of serving langar (begun by Guru Nanak) on a larger scale. Her name was entered into the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in honor of her seva to humbly and sweetly serve the Guru’s langar to everyone gathered in the Guru’s court.

Bibi Bhani – The daughter of Guru Amar Das, wife of Guru Ram Das, and mother of Guru Arjan. Harimandir Sahib was built on the land purchased by

the fourth Guru from the villagers of Tung. She was the source of Guru Arjan’s inspiration for the Shabd “Poota Mata Kee Asees,” (the mother’s prayer) composed when he had to part from her to attend a wedding in Lahore.

Mata Ganga – Guru Arjan’s wife. Her transformation by shedding her ‘ego’ while serving Baba Buddha led to the birth of Hargobind, who changed the character of the Sikh faith by creating its martial tradition.

Mata Gujri -The wife of Guru Teg Bahadur and the mother of Gobind Rai, who later became Guru Gobind Singh. She maintained the meditative environment necessary to be the channel for the soul of Gobind Rai. She raised him by herself when Guru Teg Bahadur was frequently away on missionary work.

Mai Bhago – She served in Guru Gobind Singh’s army. In particular, she led the Forty Liberated Ones back into battle. 

Mata Sahib Kaur – The wife of Guru Gobind Singh. She added sweet candies to the first Amrit, giving the Khalsa the sweetness and kindness to balance their fierceness. She is known as the “Mother of the Khalsa.”


~ Resource:  Living Reality (1994) by Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa.