Mai Bhago
Mai Bhago urging the Sikh soldiers towards Mukatsar
In 1704 Anandpur was under an extended siege by the allied forces of the Mughals and the hill chiefs. Provisions were completely exhausted and the Khalsa lived on leaves and t~e bark of trees. The Jats of Majha made up their mind to go home. The Guru would not let them leave unless they signed a disclaimer saying that they were not the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh. Out of hun-dreds of Sikhs, only forty put their thumb im-pression on the disclaimer; they were then per-mitted to leave Anandpur.
The forty deserters from Anandpur lived in the Majha region in the district of Amritsar. In one of their villages, called Jhabal, there lived a brave woman named Mai Bhago. She was known for her faith and courage, and she had a great zeal to serve the Guru. Her blood boiled at the timidity of those who, beaten by the ravages of the prolonged siege of Anandpur, disclaimed Guru Gobind Singh Ji to return to their homes. She was smitten at the ignominy shown by these forty deserters. Mai Bhago charged them with cowardice and lack of faith. She was determined to wipe out this stain of infamy on Majha Singhs. She went around the neighbouring villages and exhorted the women folk not to be hospitable to the deserters who had disclaimed the Guru. She shamed and censured the Singhs for their cowardice and eventually brought them back to the path of devotion and sacrifice. She, donning a man's dress, inspired them to return to the fold of Guru Gobind Singh ii. Feeling ashamed for their act of cowardice, they followed her banner and joined in the famous battle of Muktsar, which was fought against the Mughal forces at Khidrana in the district of Ferozepur.
Mai Bhago symbolized in her person the virtues of chastity, faith and courage. Her blood boiled at the timidity of those who, smitten by the ravages of a prolonged siege, disclaimed Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib and returned to their homes. Mai Bhago charged them with cowardice and lack of faith and led them back to fight with the armies of Wazir Khan of Sirhind in 1705 AD, at Khidrana (Mukatsar)
Mai Bhago vowed to suffer death on the blood-stained battlefield on behalf of the Guru. She fought so well in their ranks that she dis-posed of several Muhammadan soldiers. At the end of the battle, when Guru Gobind Singh ii was looking for survivors, Mal Bhago, who was lying wounded, greeted him. She told him how the forty deserters valiantly laid down their lives fighting in the battlefield. Guru Saheb was greatly touched by her sense of remorse, self-sacrifice, and heroism. Mal Bhago recovered and remained in the Guru's presence after the battle of Muktsar.
Mal Bhago followed Guru Gobind Singh Ji to Nander. After the Guru left the earthly abode in October 1708, she settled at Bidar, about 200 kilo-metres from Nander. There she lived at Gurdwara Nanak Ihira. Finally, she returned to Abchalnagar, Nander, where she died at a ripe old age. She is considered a saint by the Sikhs. The spear that she used in the battle of Muktsar is still preserved at Takht Sri Hazur Saheb, Nander.
(Article courtesy Dr. Santokh Singh, "The Guru's Word")