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Great Sikh Women

Mata Mansa Devi

Mata Mansa Devi

Mata Mansa Devi eras the consort of the third Sikh guru. Guru Amar Dass. Guru Amar Dass got the seat of Sikhism in old age. Therefore it is evident that Mata Mansa Devi also must be quite old at that time. It is obvious from the life history of Guru Amar Dass that he used to go on long religious trips. Being religious minded, he attached great importance to giving alms and bathing at religious places. During those days because of scarcity of means of transport. people used to travel In groups. In one such group of pilgrims, his consort Main Mansa Devi, must have accompanied him. They shared the difficulties and pleasures together during such long pilgrimage. During the course of pilgrimage. they used to pitch camps on the way at many places to rest. At the same time they used to study the style and culture of local people around them. The couple thus gained a lot of insight and experience.

Their marriage took place in the year 1502. Mata Mansa Devi was 16 years old at that time and it can safely be assumed that she eras born between the years 1482-1455. Generally. historians do not throw much light on the lives of consorts of theGurus. Whatever little information is available it is only pertaining to their lives after marriage. We do not get any information therefore about Mata Mansa Devi’s childhood and education. history is devoidof such vital facts.

Guru Amar Dass’s father was a rich landlord and a trader. He was quite well-off’. Ii can be assurned that Bhai Dali Chand fatherof Mata Mansa Devi. must also hoye held good’position in society: Rhni Tej Bhan (fatherof Guru Ainor Dass)must have marricdhisson in a familyofcqual status. Guru Amar Dass was a resident of village ‘Basarkt’. district Amrits3r. and his marriage took place at village ‘Sank-harp;, at a distance of 60 miles. This distance was quitea bit during those’ days and they must he visiting these villages in connection with their normhl trading activities: It is evident from this fact that Mata Mansa Devi was born and brought up in a rich family. Naturally she must be educated and considering the prevailing circumstances must have a thorough knowledge of Gurmukhi language.

Main Mansa Devi gave birth to two sons – (Dana) Mohan and (Baba) Mohri – and two daughters -Dani and lhani. Bhanl was the eldest daughter and she had the privilege of later being Guru’s consort. Guru’s mother and Guru’s grand mother. She was quite calm, composed and kind-hearted woman, The Guru used to So to Haridwnr for a few months every year leaving Main Mansa 1)cvi behind to look after the family affairs. Site bore all the family responsibilities without complaining till the Guru’s return and this shows her broad- mindedness. She was always busy looking after her children. family and fulfilling social obligations. ‘This also shows her quality of selfless service. Also, Guru Amar Dass; at the age of 52 years, went to Khadur from Antritsar to serve Guru Angad Dev and sometimes he used to stay there for the whole year. But Main Mansa Devi never complained about his absence. She made Guru bani as her way of life. Her conscience was satisfied that her husband was engaged in Guru’s service. Site discharged all the duties like an obedient wife. This isa fate example of following God’s wishes. Site gave ample proof of her intelligence and.paticnee by happily carrying out all her duties.
Guru Amar Dass was?2 years old when he devoted himself fully to the scrvicc of Guru Angad Dcv. For twelve long years Ite used to brim, a pitcher lull ofwater from river Picas for the Guru’s bath every day. lie attained Guru Gurkli at the age of 34. At that time his wile also had grown quite old, sv Ilea she attained the status of Guru’s consort. Before this she was just a common mother I ike others. According to the swishes of Guru Angad Dcv the Guru took over charge ofthe constriction ofGoindwal Nagar on the banks of the river Beas. His family also moved Front Bosarke to Goindwal. Thus both the Guru and the Mata made great contribution towards the development of Guindwal. It is obvious that she was quite at home with selfless service to the people. She helped the Guru in the buildingofllaoliSahib (well). Under her leadership many other women also contributed their bit during the karw•ewta (free labour). On the one hand the Mata used to look after the preparation of Jwr;ur according to guru tradition and on the uthcr she helped in the Aarseva. She used to serve free meals (luugar) with pleasure to the kursevafs• and hcrscll’took the task of cleaning utensils.
According to tenets of grime-ka-larkgac (community kitchen). all devotees, rich or poor. have to sit together on the floor in a row reciting sararam-valaegveie until food has been distributed to every one. Thus she used to serve hangar to all with great faith and enthusiasm.
The Mata played an important role in the uplifintcnt of women. Being a
woman she could very well understand the plight of the widows of that
period. In those times widows were forced to shave-off their heads and were turned out oftheir homes. The-sc hapkas ladies often took shltcr in religious
s
places. As stated earlier she used to draw the attention of the Guru towards the plight of such women in society. The Guru was a great personality In those days. lie drew people’s attenttotl’to this social evil and aroused awareness in the society with the result that even today such cruelties are not inflicted on women in the Punjab. Neither their heads are shaved nor are they thrown out ofthcirhomes. Generally, widows are remarried so that they can lead a normal life.
The Mata also discussed with the Guru another social evil prevailing in those days. Sail pratlcr (burning of widows). Sati pratha was common in Rajasthan and many other states. According to this custom a widow used to burn hcrse4falive at the pyre of her deceased husband. In a way she was forced to this act by the society. There were many reasons for this evil: tiritly, that a widow may not become legal heir to her late husband’s property: and secondly she should not fall prey to the evil desires of other men of the family as in such cases there were more chances of adultery in the society. To get rid of all the subsequent problems, sari was considered an appropriate action. The Guru opposed this social evil and mentioned it in his religious verses. A woman who burns herself at the pyre of her husband is not a sat.’ but real sari is the one who bears her bereavement and dies spiritually. lit his verses the guru has defined ideal social behaviour of married couples. “An ideal couple is not the one that sit together but the one who remain two bodies in one soul”.
Thus whenever the Mata pointed out any social evil or social custom to the guru he used to criticize that as if it was a part of his life style. Ile deplored this custom of sold in very strong words, that is why this custom has no place in Sikhism.
One day theMatadrew the Guru’cattention to another socialevil yards (veil). She told the Guru that women were doing social service hand-in-hand with men but their greatest problem wasthc veil. With veil on their faces, their efficiency got diminished and they suffered From inferiority complex. The Guru was against this custom. So he had given instructions that no woman should conic with her face veiled in his kirran durbar (religious congregations). Women started obeying his command and gradually this custom carne loan end. Voice against veil was first raised by the Mnta.
Guru Nanak Dev was the first one to give equal status to women in society in his poetical work, cal led ascr-di.tsw. Following the very tradition GuruAmnr pass said that upliftmentofwomen wasnecessary forupliflmcnt

ociety. Not only did the Guru remove these evils but he also encouraged the role of women in propagation of religion. it was evident that the couple enjoyed complete one-ness in deeds and thoughts and they often discussed social problems freely. The Mala had a lot of experience. She not only discussed the problems but also helped in finding their solution. There is. however, no doubt that the final solution of the problems rested with the Guru.
Guru Arnar Dass appointed women preachers for the lirsttime. It issaid that the Guru established 72 small scats (pirlho) and 22 big scats (manji) for women preachers. These were big and small centres for propagation of religion. He honoured two women with these centres. They were ‘Matho Murnri’ and “Sanchan Sach’. lie also gave 72 sub-scats (purrba(kr) to wY3m a n.
Guru Amar Dass chose a poor and simple man as life partner for his daughter. Under such circumstances any mother would have been worried about her daughter’s future. but the Mata did not worry at all and respected the wishes of her husband, who knew that the same poor young man would one day become the fourth Guru and will work for the welfare of the world. Guru Amar Dass’s choice of the son-in-law and the Mata’s joyful aeeptattce of the same points to the Guru’s and Mato’s cohesiveness. both hod great faith in God and so left everything in God’s hands. They neither worried about the future of their daughter nor about the poor financial condition of their son-in-law.
Following Guru Angad Dcv’s orders (Guru) Amer Doss moved from Khodur to Goindwal. He called his family to Goindwal also which included his daughter Aibi Bhani and son-in-law lThai Jetha (later Guru Rant Dass). Panguras were cradles in which small children were put to sleep. While moving these cradles the women used to tell their neighbours tales related to the lives of the gurus. In this way they helped in making roots of religion str+ongcrandtransmii ingittothecominggenerations.TheMatacontributed a lot in this field. Bibi Bhani is a solid proof of inheriting these assimilated values from her mother.’ She served her father selflessly and thus created history. When she became the consort of Guru Ram Dass she gave ample proof of her co-operation. When she became the mother of her-son Guru Arjun Dcv, then too she helped and gavcad iccto him in all his work. Guru Amar Doss got votumcs (Sanclrian) of Gurubani compiled by his son 8hai Mohan. Law an while compiling GL. U Granth Sahib Guru Arjun Dev got possession of thc3e volumes (Sao’lriurr) from Baba Mohan froth Goindwal. fhe Main is solely responsible for building up of Goindwal township and
Baoli Sahib. She created history by doing kar ssva in their construction.
Main Marisa Devi was broad-minded and kind. This can be assessed from the way she cultivated the habit of service in ties daughter. This was the reason why she and her colleagues (.Sangar) were absorbed In the kar. scva of Baoli Sahib. Bhai Jetha also used to spend his day doing kar seva and selling roasted gram in the evening to corn his living. Thus the whole family did a lot of free service.
In brief it can be said That Mate Marisa Devi played an important role in Guru Amar Dass’s mission tospreaod Sikhism and introduce social reforms. She raised her voice against social evils relating towomen. Her contribution in these reforms is admirable. Particularly in an age when women were confined to the house, she did a commendable job in freeing women from these shackles and made their lives respectable.

Article taken from these book.
“Eminent Sikh Women” byM.K. Gill

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