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Mata Sunder Kaur (Mata Sundri) was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). She was the daughter of Bhai Ram Saran, a Kumarav Khatri of Bajwara, in present-day Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab. She was married to the tenth Sikh Guru at Anandpur on 4 April 1684. The father-in-law had desired that the bridegroom should come at the head of a marriage party to Lahore where the ceremony should be performed with due dignity.

The fateful events leading to the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur intervened, and in the changed circumstances it was not possible for the young Guru to go to Lahore. Therefore a temporary encampment was raised near the village of Basantgarh, 10 km north of Anandpur, and named Guru ka Lahore where the nuptials were held on 23 Har 1734 Bk/21 June 1684. Mata Jito ji became Mata Sundari ji after marriage as was the custom in Punjabi families.

Four sons were born to Mata Jito/Sundar - Baba Ajit Singh (b:11 February 1687), Baba Jujhar Singh (9 April 1691), Baba Zorawar Singh (28 November 1696) and Baba Fateh Singh (12 December 1699). Mata ji received Amrit at the 1699 Vaisakhi Amrit Sanchaar ceremony and adopted the name 'Sunder Kaur'. Mata Sundari raised her four sons on the martyrdom tales of their grandfather Guru Tegh Bahadur and great great grandfather Guru Arjan Dev. She told them that a Sikh never runs from a battle field. It was because of her teachings that all her four sons attained Martyrdom. Baba Ajit Singh, the oldest and Baba Jujhar Singh, only 15 years old fighting with Mughals at Chamkaur Sahib; Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh who were only 9 and 6 years old at the hands of Wazir Khan, Mughal Governor of Sirhind, when the young Sahibzades would not convert to Islam.

During the evacuation of Anandpur on the night of 5-6 December 1705, Mata Sundari ji, along with Mata Sahib Devan (who adopted the name 'Sahib Kaur' after recieving Amrit), was escorted by Bhai Mani Singh ji to Delhi.
Gurdwara Mata Sunder Kaur in Poor Condition

She rejoined Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 at Talwandi Sabo, where she heard the news of the martyrdom of her sons also of the death of her aged mother-in-law, Mata Gujar Kaur ji. She went back to stay at Delhi while Guru Gobind Singh left Talvandi Sabo for the South. At Delhi, Mata Sundari ji adopted a young boy whom she named Ajit Singh because of his resemblance to her own late son, Sahibzada Ajit Singh ji. After the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh ji at Nanded in October 1708, the Sikhs looked up to her for guidance. She appointed Bhai Mani Singh ji to manage the sacred shrines at Amritsar and also commissioned him to collect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh ji. She also issued under her own seal and authority hukamnamas to sangats. The hukamnamas since discovered and published bear dates between 12 October 1717 and 10 August 1730.

Mata Sundari ji was disappointed in her adopted son, Ajit Singh. Emperor Bahadur Shah treated him as the successor of Guru Gobind Singh ji, called him to his court and gave him a robe of honour in September 1710. This went to his head and he started living in style as a courtier. He grew arrogant and haughty even towards Mata Sundari who disowned him, and migrated to Mathura.

Ajit Singh was later convicted for murder and was put to death on 18 January 1725. Mata Sundari ji returned to live in Delhi where she, died in 1747. A memorial in her honour stands in the compound of Gurdwara Bala Sahib, New Delhi.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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