For over 300 years now, Mai Bhago Ji (Mata Bhag Kaur) is remembered by the Sikhs as a “Saint Warrior”. She valiantly led 40 Sikh warriors against the Mughals in the famous Battle of Mukatsar on 29 Dec 1705 becoming the first women in the history of Punjab, to fight on a battlefield. Wearing Khalsa uniform and a Keski around her head she led from the front and killed several enemy soldiers. Being vastly outnumbered all 40 Sikhs attained martyrdom. Though injured, Mai Bhago was the sole survivor in this battle.Born at village Jhabaal Kalan in Amritsar district of Punjab, Mai Bhago was the daughter of Bhai Mallo Shah who had become a Sikh during the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. She was a staunch Sikh by birth and upbringing. She was married to Nidhan Singh Warraich of Patti.
In 1705, she was profusely distressed to learn that some Sikhs of the region had deserted Guru Gobind Singh Ji under adverse battle conditions at Anandpur Sahib. These Sikhs, forty in number gave Guruji a “Bedava” (written abnegation of allegiance and dis-avowing Him as the Guru or be His Sikhs) and left Him to fend for Himself. Mai Bhago reprimanded them for their disgraceful act after which these forty Sikhs were ruefully repentant. Mai Bhago set off along with them to find the Guru; seek His forgiveness and blessings for them to be reinstated as Khalsa.
Even before they could meet the Guruji they were forced to stop at Khidrana da Dhab (Pool of Khidrana) since the Mughal Army was closing in to attack the Guruji who was also around that area at that time. These forty Sikhs under Mai Bhago considered this a fateful chance to redeem themselves. Wading headlong into a 10,000 strong Mughal Army the brave Forty inflicted such damage that enemy was forced to retreat.
The Guru had watched the battle from a nearby hill and with deadly accuracy had rained down a flurry of arrows on the Mughal fighters during the attack. Seeing little activity among the party that had come to his aid He rode to the battlefield Himself. In the battlefield the Guru was deeply touched by the valour and devotion of the same forty who had dis-avowed him as their Guru. All of them had died of their wounds except one, Mahan Singh Brar, who was mortally wounded and had just enough time to look up at Guru Gobind Singh and seek forgiveness for all the forty. The Guru pulled him upright with his arms into his lap, tore-up the ‘Bedawa’ and blessed the forty men as the ‘Chaali Muktey’ the ‘Forty Liberated Ones’.
Mai Bhago Ji who herself was grievously injured, stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh Ji after recovering and served as one of His bodyguards, in a warrior’s attire. She was one of many Sikhs who accompanied the Guru on his journey to Nanded. After the Guru shed hid mortal self at Nanded in 1708, she retired down at Jinwara 11 km from Bidar in Karnatka where, immersed in meditation, she lived to attain a ripe old age. Her hut in Jinwara has now been converted into ‘Gurudwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago Ji’. At Nanded too, a hall within the compound of ‘Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib’ marking the site of her residence is known as ‘Bunga Mai Bhago Ji’.