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Great Sikh Women

Bibi Ranjit Kaur

Bibi Ranjit Kaur

The wild animals were howling in the nearby jungle, the wind was biting Ranjeet Kaur’s face, she wrapped her midnight-blue shawl around a little tighter. Nothing to be afraid of, she quietly carried on repeating `Vaahi-guroo, Vaahi-guroo’ in time to her steps and Guru Gobind Singh jee’s glove of spiritual love completely protected her. She looked through the trees at the magnificent setting sun, for a moment she forgot all about the war and was lost in the magic and mystery of the Creative Being – Karta Purakh. She felt as beautiful as a blossoming flower radiating love and life in all directions.

-`Vaahi-Guroo Jee Ka Khalsa, Vaahi-Guroo Jee Kee Fateh! Ranjeet Kaur Bhain Jee (sister)’,

Ranjit Kaur quickly turned around and saw a young Khalsa warrior dressed in blue-battle dress, wearing a long curved sword down his left side, chain-mail armour across his chest and a three metal discus’s around his blue pointed turban.

-`Vaahi-Guroo Jee Ka Khalsa, Vaahi-Guroo Jee Kee Fateh! GurMukh Singh Jee. Why are you out so late?’,
-`Well I was about to ask you the same thing Bhain jee (sister), you know how dangerous it is for a woman to be out her alone while there are Turkish Soldiers patrolling the area. So Bhain Jee you better have a damn good excuse, otherwise you’re going back with me.’
– "Veer jee (brother), our Jathedar (leader) has asked me to fetch some important news from the SarPanch (village chief) and anyway you’re only 11 so you better run back to the Khalsa camp."
-"Bhain jee, I can’t believe he sent you alone. You know the War for our Independence is at it’s peak and there’s trouble around every corner. Look, I’ve got an idea – it’s safer for you to go back to the lake and rejoin the Khalsa Army and I will go in your place."
-"Why do you think it’s any safer for you to go, GurMukh Singh?"
-"Bhain jee, it will be dark soon and I don’t think it’s right for a woman to go anywhere alone. I am a Khalsa Warrior, I carry 5 weapons and I am prepared to die fighting. I want people to tell stories about me and how brave Bhai GurMukh Singh was."

Just then a bat came flying out of the dark trees directly towards Bhai GurMukh Singh, he didn’t know what was attacking him and screaming loudly he covered his face with his hands!
Ranjit Kaur burst out laughing and said "Veer jee, I too have been blessed with Guru’s immortal `khanda-batta-da-amrit’ nectar. I too carry a long sword over my blue battle-dress and wear a warrior’s turban. Guru Gobind Singh Jee is always with me. But you my younger brother have much to learn about ego and you are probably at more risk than me! Besides, the SarPanch (village headman) will not give anyone except me the strategic papers. Furthermore, the Jathedar stressed that I go. So my dear little brother, you better ran all the way home otherwise I’m going to grab you by the ear, drag you home and after the Khalsa has finshed their evening prayers, I’m going to tell them the story of the great Bhai GurMukh Singh and the black bat!"

"Okay, you win , but be careful." Saying this Gurmukh Singh ran down the path towards the lake while Ranjit Kaur went on with her journey towards the village.
Gurmukh Singh’s fears were not unfounded. Small bands of Turkish soldiers were wandering around the lake seeking information on Sikhs. Every Sikh was aware of this. However, it did not deter Ranjit Kaur. She fearlessly went on her way to the village. She had absolute faith in the strength of her Guru’s amrit and blessed sword.
Ranjit Kaur reached the SarPanch’s house. The women came out and hugged her, they hadn’t seen her for some time. It was getting late and the women insisted that she spent the night with them. Remembering what GurMukh Singh had said she agreed, it would be safer to travel during the day and Jathedar had given her permission to spend the night. The SarPanch took her to a private room and handed over the Strategic Papers, what she read spelled disaster for the Khalsa. She got up at once and covering herself with her shawl she headed back to the Kahnuwaan lake, the women tried to make her stay saying save your self. But Ranjit Kaur’s life was not worth anything without her Khalsa family.
A large number of Ahmed Shah Abdalee’s troops were on their way from Lahore to seize Kahnuwaan and these strategic papers contained orders to SarPanch to help the troops. Thousands of Khalsa lives were at stake and getting the information back to her Jathedar was foremost on her mind.

By now it was midnight. The skies were clear and the moonlight lit up the earth. In this calm and still atmosphere, Ranjit Kaur reached the outskirts of the quiet village and walked as fast as possible towards the lake. She had about 3 miles to cover, she increased her pace and marched with determination through the sounds of howling animals. She quietly carried on repeating `Vaahi-guroo, Vaahi-guroo’ in time to her footsteps as she always did and felt Guru Gobind Singh jee’s spiritual glove encase her.
Two Turkish soldiers with swords in their waist-bands, rode past her left side. She fearlessly looked at the soldiers and underneath her shawl she grabbed the handle of her sword, just in case. The heavenly moonlight glowed from Ranjit Kaur’s angelic face and intensified her beauty. The soldiers suddenly pulled their horses across her path and quickly dismounting they tried to grab her hands. She darted away with lightening speed and threateningly said "They’ll be trouble if you touch me!", she continued aggressively, `Who are you and what do you want?"
-"We are commanders of the royal forces" said the first soldier.
-"Then what business do you have with me?" said Ranjit Kaur.
Without answering, the second soldier loudly demanded "Who are you? And where are you wandering to at this time of night?"
-"Who ever I may be, you have no right to question me." Saying this Ranjit Kaur tried to walk past them at a fast pace.
The first soldier quickly moved to block her way once again and said, "we have orders to find out where the Sikhs are hiding. You look like a Sikh so until you explain what you are doing we aren’t going to let you go anywhere."
-"That’s right, I am a Sikh, what are you going to do about it?"
"Then consider yourself under arrest," said the first soldier, then he looked at the other one and said , "Khan Sahib, I think you better grab her and put her on your horse, because I dont know what I’ll do if I get to close to her."
Both looked at Ranjit Kaur’s face and then looked at each other and started laughing. Such overtures angered Ranjit Kaur. She started looking at them like a hunter at its’ prey. Her eyes were red with anger.

There was a brief silence before Khan Sahib calmly said, "Beautiful lady, we have been sent to find the whereabouts of Sikhs. However, we are not animals. We are human. We too have pumping hearts in our chest. What kind of heart would it be that does not worship a beautiful angel like you."
Both men were intoxicated with Ranjit Kaur’s beauty. A mere glimpse of her face had injected lustful insanity into them. Ranjit Kaur stared at their faces but remained silent. Upon completion of his sentence, the other soldier continued, "Beloved, what are you going to get from the wild Sikhs. Come with us. In Allah’s oath we shall make you our Begum (wife). You can wear silk and eat whatever you like. You can even choose which one of us you want to marry!"

Ranjit Kaur still continued to silently stare at the soldiers. She had made her decision to continue or to die fighting. But her silence and non-responsiveness was misinterpreted by the men. Khan Sahib tried to grab her wrist, saying, "Come, sit on my horse. It is getting late my love."
Ranjit Kaur moved swiftly, taking two steps backward she drew her sword from under her shawl and reflecting the moonlight it flashed like lightening . She shouted " If you come any closer I wont be responsible for what happens!"
The soldiers burst out laughing. Khan Sahib said, "Angel drawing a sword! That’s a first!"
The other soldier spoke "Isn’t she beautiful when she’s angry?"
This was the first time Khan Sahib had seen a woman protect her honor like a lioness, but she was still only a weak woman so he tried to grab her with his outstretched arms. A flashing sword dazzled him and he screamed in agony as his left hand dropped to the ground.
Having been bitten by the lioness the soldiers drew their swords and charged towards her. Ranjit Kaur wasn’t sitting idle wearing bangles, she lunged forward at Khan Sahib again and cut off his sword hand. He retreated squirming in pain.

The other soldier was a skilled swordsman. His continuous attacks inflicted several wounds to Ranjit Kaur. Blood covered her whole face. Exhaustion was setting in by now. Suddenly, the strength of Guru’s amrit injected so much courage into her, that she forgot all about her wounds and pains. Yelling the battle cry jaekara, "JO BOLAY SO NIHAL, SAT SREE AKAL," her sword moved with such force that the soldier’s head dropped to the ground and bounced like a ball. His body fell in a heap next to it.
Ranjit Kaur quickly looked around for Khan Sahib, but he had escaped without trace. Totally exhausted she still managed to search the heaped body and found several papers in the dead soldier’s pockets. Seizing them, she mounted his horse and rode to the Kahnuwaan lake. As she approached the camp she mustered up every last ounce of energy and yelled `JATHEDAR JEE! JATHEDAR JEE!’. The Jathedar, several Khalsa Warriors and little GurMukh Singh came running out to meet her, seeing her blood red face and exhausted condition they carried her inside while little GurMukh Singh started crying. Her sisters wiped her face and cleaned her wounds while she searched around her clothing and handed the papers over to the Jathedar. He was amazed to find full details of the Turk’s battle-plans. Ranjit Kaur was honoured greatly by the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s infinite and unparralled grace had given her the courage to fight her attackers and save her Khalsa family from a bloody massacre.

News of Ranjit Kaur’s courage spread through out the Khalsa Panth. She is known as the "Brave Daughter of the Guru". Even her name means the Princess (Kaur) who is Victorious (Jit) on the battlefield (Ran) – like her parents knew she’d be destined for great things.

"By Harjit Singh Lakhan (hslakhan@yahoo.com)
fictionalised version of a true story by Karam Singh in the punjabi book ‘Ardashak Singhnian’ "


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