Mata Sahib Kaur Ji: Why the World Needs to Know Her Remarkable Life-Story.
Today, the number of women holding positions of power and influence is ever-growing. The women’s movement, fight for equality, legislation and most fundamentally, education, have been pivotal in ensuring that every generation has fewer obstacles and glass ceilings to smash than the ones before.
Let’s travel back in time and disembark in Nankana Sahib, in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The year is 1469 and a most remarkable soul is born: Guru Nanak Dev Ji – the founder of the Sikh religion. Among their many inspiring teachings, Guru Ji speaks vehemently about the status of women. They so eloquently preach: “Why call her inferior, she from whom kings are born?”. This paves the way for a religion that enables females to participate and lead religious, spiritual and cultural activities. A ground-breaking move in times of rampant sexism and discrimination.
Feminism way before the term was even coined!
Fast-forward to 1681 and another great individual is born. Mata Sahib Kaur Ji. She is incredibly spiritual and devout from an early age, yet boldly fights Mughal tyranny and injustice too. She goes on to become the wife of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (tenth Guru of the Sikhs) and is given the prestigious title of ‘Mother of the Khalsa’ by Guru Ji themselves. She is a strong female leader, armed warrior and fearless pioneer. She leads the Khalsa for forty years after Guru Gobind Singh Ji and continues to be revered at every Sikh initiation ceremony.
Despite all the above, Mata Sahib Kaur Ji’s contribution to society is largely unknown.
As a Sikh female, born and raised in the West, I would have benefited hugely from knowing more about this remarkable figure from Sikh History. My own history. Apart from seeing the odd portrait of Mata Ji and knowing a handful of facts, there were next to no resources that I could access. The flame of curiosity was always there; who was this majestic looking-female, sword resting on her crossed legs, right hand imparting some divine blessing? With the advent of the digital age, knowledge became available at our fingertips, but this wasn’t something that was the case in my more formative years.
That’s why, when I heard that a movie was being made about the life story of Mata Sahib Kaur Ji, I had to get involved. But how? I’m not a director, producer or animator. The beauty of the project, as I soon found out, was that it was being made by the sangat/community, for the sangat.
I was sold!
The 3D animation is called Motherhood: The Journey of Mata Sahib Kaur Ji and is the brainchild of Nihal Nihal Nihal Productions. I learned that they were (and still are) looking for volunteers. Whether you were a technical wizard, digital marketing maestro, creative writer, artist, number cruncher or someone with stamina, passion and enthusiasm, they wanted you to bring whatever you could to the table. I offered my humble services as someone who enjoys writing (by day I am a secondary school teacher) and was given seva to this effect. I’ve had the pleasure of producing online articles about the remarkable Mata Sahib Kaur Ji and the movie itself. Ironically, this has given me a sense of fulfilment that cannot be put into words!
I was also blessed with the chance to contribute to the creation of an education activity booklet, aimed at children. The purpose was twofold: to teach youngsters about Mata Sahib Kaur Ji and give their brains a good workout with the numeracy, literacy and creative tasks. The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting that there are a lack of Sikhi-related education books. It’s been wonderful to work on something that has started to bridge a gap, yet simultaneously inspired children to learn about their spiritual mother. This £5 activity book, Learning with Mata Sahib Kaur, where the profits will go towards the production of the movie, can be brought online www.MotherhoodTheMovie.com/shop
Along the way I have met like-minded individuals, many of whom I would now consider to be like family. I have learnt so much from them, their Gian (knowledge), enthusiasm for the project and camaraderie have been invaluable.
As you can imagine, hundreds of volunteers from around the world are involved and many lives have been touched and transformed. Take Sarveen Kaur for example, when it was first announced that a 3D animated movie on the life of the Mother of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur ji was going to be produced, she could never have guessed the impact it would have on her, both personally and professionally. Here she speaks from the heart:
“From being a female who always wanted to see other females uplifted, yet hardly finding the time to do anything other than work, domestic duties and raise children – ‘Motherhood’ was the first project that got me to step out of my comfort zone and engage with passion, fear and vulnerability!
My heart jumped at the thought of being able to show the world the incredible and untold contributions and qualities of Mata Sahib Kaur ji. When I was first asked to write some literature about Mata Ji, I juggled time between work, studies, children and the in-laws. The newfound time management skills gave me the opportunity to reflect and make time for other social projects. Challenging my unconscious beliefs, I went on to achieve one of my longest dreams – creating a modular programme through an afterschool club for young girls to develop their self-esteem and confidence, called Kaurs Fulwari for a charity called Mata Sahib Kaur Educational Trust.
Once I took that initial step, the fulfilment I felt led to further projects, increasing my confidence even more. The movie, aptly entitled ‘Motherhood: The Journey of Mata Sahib Kaur’ has been a personal journey which helped me realise happiness comes from what you give, not receive. Mata Sahib Kaur ji spent her entire life giving to the world and the gratitude I feel in my life has become a priceless part of my devotion. If it had not been for this movie, I wonder what regrets I would have had reaching the end of my life. It is with the blessings of Mata Sahib Kaur ji and the encouragement of the whole sangat that has helped to truly empower and inspire me. I’m positive the movie will do the same for millions more.”
Another sister, whose life has become unrecognisable since becoming involved, is Bhagwant Kaur:
“Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities don’t come along often. For me, the Motherhood Movie has been that life changer. As an aspiring writer, I’d always wished and hoped to get into movie-making. Many writers wish and hope, but that doesn’t mean they make it. However, I was lucky. As a volunteer, I got the chance to work on the movie’s screenplay, which was my dream come true. After that, I was invited to help with the movie’s production in India. I’ve recently spent the past nine months splitting my time between Mumbai & Punjab, working on the movie in every possible way, living and breathing this beautiful, soulful project day and night. The work is very demanding, but the rewards have been priceless.
Working as a volunteer for the Motherhood Movie has helped me achieve my deepest dreams, conquer my biggest fears and become my best self. Living and working abroad has made me stronger, sharper and more confident. I’ve picked up skills that I never thought I could learn, such as project management & leadership qualities. And I’m still growing every day. Working on this huge project, knowing that it’s a community effort, a non-profit initiative, made by those with the purest intentions, gives me great satisfaction and contentment. Many volunteers are working tirelessly to make sure that Mata Sahib Kaur’s little-known history gets shared and brings positive change in the world. I feel extremely honoured and blessed to be part of The Journey.”
So there you have it. Like-minded individuals coming together to drive forward a project that they feel strongly about. We all want the Sikh religion’s rich heritage to be immortalised and we have a hope that Mata Ji’s story will inspire generations.
If you would like a flavour of what to expect, two breath-taking movie teasers have been released. Just head to the Nihal Nihal Nihal Productions channel on YouTube. For more extensive information about the animated movie and how you can show your support, go to www.motherhoodthemovie.com.
I am truly privileged. I have two mothers: the one who has raised and nurtured me from birth, and my spiritual mother. She nurtures my soul, my spirituality and guides me to make bold decisions and fight injustice in my own way.