by We Are Sikhs — May 12, 2022
"...O son, this is your mother's hope and prayer, that you may never forget the Lord..." -Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 496
Bibi Bhani was the youngest daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji and Mata Mansa Devi. She cared for her father and the Sangat (community) with so much devotion that she dispelled a common belief that women could not help their parents. Her selfless acts of service make her an excellent example of Seva, the Sikh value of selfless service.
Once, while meditating, her father’s seat began to break. Bibi Bhani rushed over and held the broken side of the seat until Guru Amar Das Ji finished his meditation. The wood cut her, but she did not complain. Guru Amar Das Ji said she would be rewarded for her dedication and service and that her descendants would inherit the guruship.
True to her father’s word, Bibi Bhani became the wife of Guru Ram Das Ji, mother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, grandmother of Guru Hargobind Ji, great grandmother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, and great great grandmother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Bibi Bhani’s humility and dedication attracted her to another selfless individual, Bhai Jetha (later Guru Ram Das Ji). He served in the community kitchen, and his commitment to Seva caught the attention of Guru Amar Das Ji. He knew Guru Ram Das Ji would be the perfect husband for his youngest daughter.
Guru Ram Das Ji loved Bibi Bhani and wrote The Four Laava (Sikh wedding hymns) specifically for their wedding. These are still recited at Sikh weddings today.
Both Bibi Bhani and Guru Ram Das Ji were committed to simplicity and service. Bibi Bhani even turned down a generous offer from a wealthy Sikh who brought her gowns and jewels to wear for her wedding. Instead, Bibi Bhani asked the generous Sikh to sell them and donate the money to the community kitchen.
Bibi Bhani and Guru Ram Das Ji had three sons, Prith Chand, Mahadev, and Arjan Dev (who would become the fifth Guru).
When Guru Ram Das Ji chose his youngest son to take over the Guruship, his eldest son was offended. Prith Chand attempted to trick the Sikhs into believing he was the Guru.
Bibi Bhani admonished him and prevented him from leading the Sangat astray. She remained close to Guru Arjan Dev Ji and advised him throughout his Guruship.
Many believe that Guru Arjan Dev Ji included his mother’s advice in the Ang 496 of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji when he said:
“Remembering Him, all sins are erased, and one's generations are saved. So meditate continually on the Lord, Har, Har; He has no end or limitation. O son, this is your mother's hope and prayer, that you may never forget the Lord, Har, Har, even for an instant. May you ever vibrate upon the Lord of the Universe. May the True Guru be kind to you, and may you love the Society of the Saints. May the preservation of your honor by the Transcendent Lord be your clothes, and may the singing of His Praises be your food. So drink in forever the Ambrosial Nectar; may you live long, and may the meditative remembrance of the Lord give you infinite delight. May joy and pleasure be yours; may your hopes be fulfilled, and may you never be troubled by worries. Let this mind of yours be the bumblebee, and let the Lord's feet be the lotus flower. Says servant Nanak, attach your mind to them, and blossom forth like the songbird upon finding the raindrop.”
Bibi Bhani passed on in 1598, but her story inspires every Sikh to be more humble, self-sacrificing, and devoted to Sikhi.