First Legendary Sikh Missionary Woman – Balbir Singh

Mata Bhag Bari, a legendary Sikh woman from 17th century Kashmir….

In the summer of 1620 A.D. Guru Hargobind Sahib, the 6th Sikh Guru visited Kashmir. A Manji, seat of Sikh mission as it was called was already established in Kashmir during the tenure of third Sikh Guru Amar Das’s time when he constituted 23 missions and 52 sub missions all across the Punjab, Kashmir, Afghanistan and other parts of the sub-continent to propagate the mission of Guru Nanak.

Mata Bagh Bari from Kashmir was the first woman among missionaries to head a manji, a rare feat those days. A pious lady she along with her son Sewa Dass stayed just outside the walled city of Srinagar at the banks of Dal lake in the outskirts of Srinagar. People across the valley would visit her to seek blessings and she would propagate the mission of Guru Nanak among her visitors.

In Kashmiri Pandit tradition, Mata Bagya Bari is a person renowned for her high spiritual merits. As was the age old tradition, people of Kashmir especially women would spin wool and prepare beautiful wraps with their hands, Mata Bagh Bari had sewn a gown for Guru with her own hands and cherished a wish that the Guru should wear it in front of her eyes. Her wish travelled to Guru Hargobind Sahib, it was the magnetism of Mai Bhagbhari which drew Guru Hargobind to Kashmir.

On reaching Srinagar the Guru visited her place met Sewa Das, the Manji head and many more Kashmiri devotees. They received him with great love and devotion. Mata Bagh Bari, now an old lady who could barely walk or see clearly touched the feet of the Guru. The Guru asked her to bring the gown she had made for him and put it on. The joy of Mai Bhagbhari knew no bounds.

The Guru stayed at Srinagar for nearly three months. He held congregations. delivered discourses and left the place only after he had supervised the last rites of Mata Bhagbhari and had thus immortalised her. At Srinagar Guru Hargobind expounded the thesis that the Guru’s treasure chest is for the benevolence of the poor. A splendours Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi stands there today testifying the sanctity and history of the place.

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