others of the Panth
While in a state of Samadhi (deep meditation), one of Guru Amar Das Ji's manji (cot) legs was about to break. Guru Ji's youngest daughter, Bibi Bhani Ji, noticed this and quickly rushed to hold it together. She wanted to ensure that her father, the third Sikh Guru, could safely focus on preserving His direct connection with Vaheguru. She quietly held the splintered wood, disregarding the pain and bleeding that came with it.
Awakening from His meditation, Guru Amar Das Ji was impressed to see Bibi Bhani Ji's seva. He offered her any gift she wanted. She requested that every future Sikh Guru be from Their family. Guru Amar Das Ji informed Bibi Bhani Ji that the future Sikh Gurus would face taxing challenges and even obtain Shaheedi (martyrdom). Undeterred, she hoped to shield other families from such pain and grief.
Bibi Bhani Ji’s Lineage
As such, Bibi Bhani Ji has deep lineage across the Sikh Gurus: she is the wife of Guru Raam Das Ji, mother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, grandmother of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, great-grandmother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, and great-great-grandmother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Seven of her family members obtained Shaheedi—Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Mata Gujri Ji (wife of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji), and the four Sahibzaade.
Bibi Bhani Ji’s Qualities
Bibi Bhani Ji lived according to three ਭ: ਭਲਾ (bhalla or seeking others' wellbeing), ਭੁੱਲੀ (bhulli or humble acknowledgment), and ਭਾਣਾ (bhana or acceptance).
Her spirit of Bhalla—thinking about the wellbeing of others, is exemplified through her seva. Alongside serving her father Guru Amar Das Ji, she worked with lepers, served in the langar, and helped with the construction of Baoli Sahib, the first Sarovar (pool of water) in Goindwal Sahib. Her desire to help others was so strong that she refused fancy clothes and jewelry at her wedding with Bhai Jetha Ji (who became Guru Raam Das Ji), and instead allocated that money to help the poor.
Her marriage to Bhai Jetha Ji also demonstrates the quality of Bhulli (humility). At the time of their marriage, Bhai Jetha Ji sold roasted chickpeas and had little money. She gladly accepted that and served her husband with the same respect that she gave her father. Bibi Bhani Ji and Guru Raam Das Ji had three children, including Guru Arjan Dev Ji, whom she raised to have a strong love for Vaheguru and Sikhi. After the Joti Jot (Immersed in Eternal light) of Guru Raam Das Ji, she helped and advised Guru Arjan Dev Ji in every activity. In Guru Arjan Dev Ji's Shabad "Poota Mata Ki Asees”, Guru Ji addresses the blessing His mother gave Him, showing the profound impact she had on His life.
ਪੂਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਕੀ ਆਸੀਸ ॥
ਨਿਮਖ ਨ ਬਿਸਰਉ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਕਉ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਭਜਹੁ ਜਗਦੀਸ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
When the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, began troubling Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Bibi Bhani Ji encouraged Guru Arjan Dev Ji to face him boldly. When Guru Arjan Dev Ji was arrested, she maintained her composure. She helped teach her daughter-in-law, Mata Ganga Ji, and her 11-year old grandson Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji to accept Bhana (Vaheguru Ji's will). Her name, Bhani, means someone who lives comfortably in Bhana.
Bibi Bhani Ji and her sister, Bibi Dani Ji, helped to spread Sikhi under the system established by Guru Amar Das Ji. Bibi Bhani Ji did Parchaar (spreading the Guru’s message) and guided the Sangat (Sikh congregation). Through her contributions, the Sikh Panth transformed, and today, women play an essential role in doing Sikhi Parchaar.
For me, Bibi Bhani Ji is a revolutionary. When women were supposed to take a back seat, she served Vaheguru, Sikhi, and her own family with passion and commitment.