Guru Nanak's mother. The history of
Sikh women has to start with her. She was
the person who brought
Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh
religion into the world. In the annals of world history, the greatness of
Mata Tripta, deserves to be celebrated for bringing to the world a soul who
offered much spiritual and moral guidance and a solid and creditable
foundation for a new world religion.
Tripta and her husband
Mehta Kalu lived in
Punjab, which is now part of
Pakistan. Weary saints and 'fakirs' would
take rest here, and Mata Tripta would welcomed and serve all these
passers-by. Their dedication for service of others was finally rewarded when
Nanak was born in 1469. Thus, Mata Tripta was blessed with the honour of
giving birth to God's messenger, Guru Nanak, whose mission was to redeem
poet has ever been able to convey the ethereal beauty attained by Mata
Tripta when she was expecting Nanak. Of the many prophets that have visited
the earth, many of their mothers were unable to celebrate in the joy of
rearing such wondrous offspring. For example; in
Hinduism, Mata Devaki, the mother of
Krishan Ji, was unable to fulfil her maternal role as she languished in
yearned for her child, and he too missed the love of his mother. In
Christianity, Mary, the mother of Jesus, endured disbelief and prejudice, as
a result of the 'immaculate conception' and 'virgin birth' of Jesus.
Buddha's mother died on the day of his birth, and he was reared by his
mother's sister. Trishula, the mother of Mahavir, was constantly tormented
by nightmares before his birth.
contrast to all of these examples, Mata Tripta was happy and peaceful
throughout her pregnancy, meditating constantly on God's name. No other
mother can have been more fortunate than her, in rearing the saviour Nanak
Guru Nanak was born on the third day of the
month of Vaisakh, Saturday April 15, 1469.
midwife assisted mother Tripta on the occasion. Her name was
Daulatan. On giving birth to Nanak, she was
blessed with all the joys of motherhood as she raised him and cherished him.
MacAuliffe narrates in the tradition of the Janamsakhis that the midwife,
when interrogated the following morning by Hardial, the astrologer, as to
nature of the childís voice uttered at birth, said it was "as the laughing
voice of a wise man when joining a social circle."
Tripta was a kind lady. The young Nanak had a sociable nature, and,
therefore, had many friends. He liked to treat them often. We know from the
oral history tradition that Mata Tripta would sometimes slip him a coin or
two to spend on his friends. She also often made sweets for him to share
with his friends. She loved her son dearly, but his rejection of tradition
and custom was a source of constant aggravation for her husband,
the occasion when Guru Nanak undertook "Sacha Sauda" (i.e. the incident when
his father gave him money to buy some bargains from the nearest town, but
Nanak used that money instead to buy food for some starving sadhus' he met
on the way), Mehta Kalu was furious, but Mata Tripta's heart melted as she
could relate to her son's actions and realised the greatness of her son's
deeds at such a young age.
son, Nanak, questioned the authority of the
Brahmin priests, refused to wear the holy
thread, and rejected the validity of the caste system. Mata Tripta did not
understand the divine mission of her rebellious son. This is clear in the
story of Nanakís return from his first travel. His parents met him at the
edge of town.
was overcome with emotion, and was in tear when he met his mother. She
offered him sweets and asked him to remove the beggarís gown and put on the
clothes she brought him. She showed much love and care for her son and
wanted him to be seen in the best light in front of friends and neighbours
in the village.
Nanak got married and his wife
Bibi Sulakhni came to their home, Mata
Tripta was thrilled and overjoyed. Soon her happiness knew no bounds when
she became a grandmother with the birth of
Sri Chand, Guru Nanak's first son. She
distributed sweetmeats throughout the village, and on the birth of her
Lakhmi Das, she could barely contain her
her son Guru Nanak would undertake his many travels and although she had her
grandsons, she desperately missed her beloved son. However, she was selfless
and always comforted and guided Bibi Sulakhni. On the same occasion his
parents were much distressed. They believed that his travels and the
rejection of present conventions were a sign of great unhappiness.
father, Kalu, was greatly disturbed when he exclaimed; "Only if I knew what
has disappointed you in life, I would set things right. If you want to marry
another woman, Iíd get you one, if another house, Iíd provide you with it."
The behaviour of Nanak was not understood by his parents. His parents, who
were well-to-do and respected in their community, were greatly perturbed,
because they did not understand why he would not conform to social customs
of the day.
to the Bala Sakhis, Guru Nanak was very fond of his maternal grandmother.
They were very close. Her name was
Mata Bhirai, she was married to Rama of the
village Chahal near
Lahore. She was likely a frequent visitor
to the home of
Mata Banarasi, his paternal grandmother. In
the prevalent custom of a joint family system, a woman always went to live
in her husbandís family household, and because it was the custom for the
grandparents to raise the children, one can assume that he would have been
brought up by Mata Banarasi, his paternal grandmother. She was the mother of
two sons, Kalu and Lalu, and wife of Shiv Ram, resident of Talvandi Rai Bhoi
Ki, now called
of what we know about the women of that era, has to be conjecture. One must
look at what is known about socio-political, as well as the economic
situation of the era, before one can even begin to guess what life must have
been like for any given woman. The oral history or Janamsakhis give clues to
events, but cannot be taken too seriously, in that they are coloured by the
tellersí own perception and background. As with any oral history, the story
changes with time.
story-teller tries to put his personal stamp on the story, as well as
embellishment, so that it is always told better than the time it was told
before. We do know that at that time in Hindu society, woman, at least in
theory, controlled the family finances. In fact, they probably controlled
only the portion of income that dealt with the personal household; i.e., the
groceries and small household items. In a joint family system, even that
would be limited to the "mother-in-law" and not to all the women. Also, it
would be subject to the whi ms of the man of the house. Nevertheless, this
was the situation at the time of the birth of the first Guru.
one of Guru Nanak's return from his travels to Talwandi, Mata Tripta knew
her end was nigh so she implored him to stay. As Guru Nanak touched her feet
to receive her blessings, she pulled him instead into one last loving
embrace. It was in 1522 that she left this earth. Guru Nanak performed her
last rites himself, and instructed everyone that there was no need for any
rituals to be performed and everyone should meditate on God's name instead
and accept his will (Hukam),
as meditation and prayer is the only solace and reward for this life.