Mata Sundari

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Mata Jito ji/Sundari Ji Taken from

Mata Jito Ji was ji was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh ji (1666-1708) and the daughter of Bhai Ram Saran, a Kumarav Khatri of Bijvara, in present-day Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab. She was married to Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur on 4 April 1684. The father-in-law had desired that the bridegroom should come at the head of a marriage party to Lahore where the ceremony should be performed with due dignity.

The fateful events leading to the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji intervened, and in the changed circumstances it was not possible for the young Guru to go to Lahore. Therefore a temporary encampment was raised near the village of Basantgarh, 10 km north of Anandpur, and named Guru ka Lahore where the nuptials were held on 23 Har 1734 Bk/21 June 1684. Mata Jito ji became Mata Sundari ji after marriage as was the custom in Punjabi families.

Four sons were born to Mata Jito ji/Sundari ji - Baba Ajit Singh ji, Baba Jujhar Singh ji (14 March 1691), Baba Zorawar Singh ji (17 November 1696) and Baba Fateh Singh ji (25 February 1699). Mata Sundari Ji raised her four sons on the martyrdom tales of their grandfather Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and great great grandfather Guru Arjan Dev ji. She told them a Sikh never runs from a battle field. Being raised on such tales of bravery, her sons, like thousands of other Sikhs, both men and women, have attained Martyrdom.

The flight from Anandpur

After several attacks on the fortifications of Anandpur Sahib and a long siege, the Guru was finally convinced to leave Anandpur, but as he later related in his Epistle of Victory (a letter he wrote to Aurangzeb called in Persian the Zafarnama) he only left Anandpur after a second promise from both the Hindu and Mughal forces made on their most Holy Books of safe passage for him and his Sikhs to the Punjab. History and Sikh narratives tell us that the main body of the Sikhs accompanied their Guru headed towards the Sarsa River where the fury of the storm swollen frigid waters of the Sarsar an an attack by a far superior Mughal force caused the Guru, his two older sons and the remaining Sikh forces to be separated from the Guru's mother and the two younger Shahibzadas. Mata Sundari ji, along with Mata Sahib Devan (who adopted the name 'Sahib Kaur' after recieving Amrit), were escorted in another direction by Bhai Mani Singh ji to Delhi on the night of 5-6 December 1705.

The Battle of Chamkaur

Vastly outnumbered Baba Ajit Singh ji, 19 years old and Baba Jujhar Singh ji, only 15 years old, both having asked their father for permission to join their fellow Sikhs in attacking the forces of the hill chiefs and the Muslim at Chamkaur attained Martyrdom before their father's eyes. Turned over to the Mughal forces with their paternal grandmother, Baba Zorawar Singh ji, only 9 and Baba Fateh Singh ji, only 6, were cut down on the orders of Wazir Khan, Mughal Governor of Sarhind. The young Sahibzadas were offered wealth and worldly treats, if only they would accept Islam. They too attained Martyrdom at the edge of a Mughal blade having refused to abandon the Sikh religion.

Mata Sundari ji rejoined Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 at Talwandi Sabo, where she was told of the martyrdom of her sons and of the death of her aged mother-in-law, Mata Gujari Kaur ji. She went back to stay at Delhi while Guru Gobind Singh left Talwandi Sabo for the South. At Delhi, Mata Sundari ji adopted a young boy whom she named Ajit Singh because of his resemblance to her own late son, Sahibzada Ajit Singh ji. After the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh ji at Nanded in October 1708, the Sikhs looked to her for guidance. She appointed Bhai Mani Singh ji to manage the sacred shrines at Amritsar and also commissioned him to collect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh ji. She also issued under her own seal and authority hukamnamas to sangats. The hukamnamas since discovered and published bear dates between 12 October 1717 and 10 August 1730.

Mata Sundari ji was disappointed in her adopted son, Ajit Singh. Emperor Bahadur Shah treated him as the successor of Guru Gobind Singh ji, called him to his court and gave him a robe of honour in September 1710. This went to his head and he started living in style as a courtier. He grew arrogant and haughty even towards Mata Sundari who disowned him, and migrated to Mathura. Ajit Singh was later convicted for murder and was put to death on 18 January 1725. Mata Sundari ji returned to live in Delhi where she ,died in 1747. A memorial in her honour stands in the compound of Gurdwara Bala Sahib, New Delhi.

Clearing up some misconceptions

Article taken from The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, edited by Harbans Singh ji.

Also based on the following results on the research by Dr. Gurbaksh Singh ji

The wrong impression that Guru Gobind Singh had more than one wife was created by writers who were ignorant of Punjabi culture. Later authors accepted their writing, which indicated more than one marriage of the Guru and presented it as a royal act. During those days kings, chiefs, and other important people usually had more than one wife as a symbol of their being great and superior to the common man. Guru Gobind Singh ji, being a true king, was justified in their eyes to have had more than one wife. This is actually incorrect. In Punjab, there are two and sometimes three big functions connected with marriage, i.e., engagement, wedding, and Muklaawaa. Big gatherings and singings are held at all these three functions. In many cases, the engagement was held as soon as the person had passed the infant stage. Even today engagements at 8 to 12 years of age are not uncommon in some interior parts of India. The wedding is performed a couple of years after the engagement. After the wedding, it takes another couple of years for the bride to move in with her in laws and live there. This is called Muklaawaa. A dowry and other gifts to the bride are usually given at this time of this ceremony to help her to establish a new home. Now, the wedding and Muklaawaa are performed on the same day and only when the partners are adults.

A big befitting function and other joyful activities were held at Anand Pur, according to custom, at the time of the engagement of the Guru. The bride, Mata Jeeto Ji, resided at Lahore, which was the capital of the Mughal rulers who were not on good terms with the Gurus. When the time for the marriage ceremony came, it was not considered desirable for the Guru to go to Lahore, along with the armed Sikhs in large numbers. Furthermore, it would involve a lot of traveling and huge expenses, in addition to the inconvenience to the Sangat, younger and old, who wished to witness the marriage of the Guru. Therefore, as mentioned in the Sikh chronicles, Lahore was 'brought' to Anand Pur Sahib for the marriage instead of the Guru going to Lahore. A scenic place a couple of miles to the north of Anand Pur was developed into a nice camp for the marriage. This place was named Guru Ka Lahore. Today, people are going to Anand Pur visit this place as well. The bride was brought to this place by her parents and the marria ge was celebrated with a very huge gathering attending the ceremony.

The two elaborate functions, one at the time of engagement and the other at the time of the marriage of the Guru, gave the outside observers the impression of two marriages. They had reason to assume this because a second name was also there, i.e., Mata Sundari Ji. After the marriage, there is a custom in the Panjab of giving a new affectionate name to the bride by her inlaws. Mata Jeeto Ji, because of her fine features and good looks, was named Sundari (beautiful) by the Guru's mother. The two names and two functions gave a basis for outsiders to believe that the Guru had two wives. In fact, the Guru had one wife with two names as explained above. Some historians even say that Guru Gobind Singh ji had a third wife, Mata Sahib Kaur. In 1699, the Guru asked her to put pataasas (puffed sugar) in the water for preparing Amrit when he founded the Khalsa Panth. Whereas Guru Gobind Singh ji is recognized as the spiritual father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur ji is recognized as the spiritual mother of the Khalsa. People not conversant with the Amrit ceremony mistakenly assume that Mata Sahib Kaur ji was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh ji. As Guru Gobind Singh ji is the spiritual but not the biological father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan ji is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa but not the wife of Guru Gobind Singh. From ignorance of Punjabi culture and the Amrit ceremony, some writers mistook these three names of the women in the life of Guru Gobind Singh as the names of his three wives. Another reason for this misunderstanding is that the parents of Mata Sahib Devan, as some Sikh chronicles have mentioned, had decided to marry her to Guru Gobind Singh ji. When the proposal was brought for discussion to Anandpur, the Guru had already been married. Therefore, the Guru said that he could not have another wife since he was already married. The dilemma before the parents of the girl was that, the proposal having become public, no Sikh would be willing to marry her. The Guru agreed for her to stay at Anand Pur but without accepting her as his wife. The question arose, as most women desire to have children, how could she have one without being married. The Guru told, "She will be the "mother" of a great son who will live forever and be known all over the world." The people understood the hidden meaning of his statement only after the Guru associated Mata Sahib Devan with preparing Amrit by bringing patasas. It is, therefore, out of ignorance that some writers consider Mata Sahib Devan as the worldly wife of Guru Gobind Singh.


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