8. Mata Kaulaan

Mata Kaulan was a women who was a free spirit and wanted to explore her surroundings. She had been adopted by a Muslim priest called Rustam Khan. He was based in Lahore, Pakistan. Qazi Rustam Khan had bought her from her parents while she was a child. It is possible that her parents were Hindus. The Qazi gave her the education of Islam and sent her to Saint Mian Mir for higher schooling. Saint Mian Mir was a Sufi saint. He had no prejudice against any religion. He had a very deep love with Guru Nanak's Institution. It was usual for him to go to Amritsar to meet the Guru Arjan Dev ji. Whenever the Guru visited Lahore, he never went back without seeing Saint Mian Mir. Due to these meetings, Saint Mian Mir knew a large number of Guru's verses by heart which he used to quote to his disciples. Bibi Kaulan also remembered some of the verses by heart which she used to recite herself as she found them very touching and allowed her to relate to God. Her attachment to the Guru's institution increased further when she saw the Guru Hargobind and the Sikhs came from Amritsar to Lahore at the time of the plague epidemic and nursed the patients with their own hands. The dedication of the Sikhs to serve God was something that impressed Kaulan ji as she too was a disciple of the true Guru.

Qazi father rebukes Mata ji

One day, Qazi Rustam Khan heard Bibi Kaulan reciting Guru Nanak's verses at home. He rebuked her and said "Do not recite these verses of the infidels in the future." Bibi Kaulan Said, "Dear father! Saint Mian Mir bows in all humility to the man you call an infidel and thinks it a privilege to be seated by his side. It is unbecoming to call the man an infidel whom the saint hold in such esteem." The qazi gave a sound thrashing to Bibi Kaulan on hearing the praise of the Gurus from her and said, "I do not want that you recite the verses of these infidels even unintentionally."' Between her sobs Bibi Kaulan said, "You may beat me to death but I cannot live without reciting these verses." This angered Qazi Rustam Khan immensely. He went and asked other Qazis, "Kaulan persists with reciting the verses of the infidels inspite of my beating. What remedy should be adopted?" After much discussion, they said, "It is a great sin for the Momins (believers of Islam) to praise the infidels and recite their word. Kaulan should be beheaded for this sin."

Hazrat Mian Mir is appalled !

When the wife of Qazi Rustam Khan learned that the Qazis had declared Bibi Kaulan an apostate and had ordered her execution (even in today's Lahore, any Muslim who is declared apostate, is sentenced to death) she rushed her adopted daughter to Saint Mian Mir, who knew that the only course of action was to get Bibi Kaulan to the safety of Guru Hargobind's protection at Amritsar. He asked one of his disciple Abdullah Yaar Khan (also given as Abdul Yar Khan) to escort Kaulan Ji safely to Amritsar where would be safely beyond the Qazis' reach. At Amritsar Guru Hargobind made arrangements for separate accommodations for Bibi Kaulan. Guru Hargobind took over the role of her spiritual guidance from Mian Mir. Under the Guru's guidance, Kaulan was free to meditate and sing the Bani of the Gurus that she had refused to abandon even after her adopted father had threatened her with death. Guru Hargobind instructed some of his sikhs to construct a building to serve as her living quarters, next to a pond beyond the Harmandir Sahib. He told her not to worry, that she could spend her time as she pleased. Even before leaving Lahore, Kaulan had spent hours in deep meditation and prayer often singing the hymns of Guru Nanak. In her new home in the Guru’s court, she continued her routine of study and meditation. It is said that when Guru Hargobind saw her continual contemplation on the Divine, he was deeply pleased with her devotion. In order to protect that devotion and give it shelter, so it could flourish, he took care of her completely. Soon the devotion of the Guru's new charge, earned the respect of the Guru's sikhs, who took to calling her Mata Kaulan.

Mata ji becomes ill

Three years after the completion of the tank in Amritsar, Kaulan became ill. Ever her Protector, Guru Hargobind came to see her regularly. She was so weak, she could hardly speak. Guru Hargobind could see that she had only another day to live – another 24 hours. As she lay there, weak in body, with little voice, he took her through the experience of her life. How lucky she was, it is reported he said, that she left the company of people who had no sense to see the Divine. How fortunate that she had come into the company of the Guru and the Sikhs to meditate and pray. With his compassion, he guided her to assess her life and see that there was no reason to feel pain about leaving her family – but only joy at how her life had been transformed. Then, he began to give her spiritual instructions that would guide her through the last 24 hours of her life. He directed her to keep meditating and reflecting on the Akal Moorat – on the deathless spirit that lived within her. Death could not touch her spirit, her awareness – it was only an illusion. For the next 24 hours, the Guru instructed, she should do nothing but meditate on the Creator, and stay present with that Deathless Awareness inside of herself. He promised that he would come at the moment of her departure.

Mata ji last moment with the Guru

Twenty-four hours later, as he had promised, Guru Hargobind returned to Kaulan’s side. Macauliffe’s account of Kaulan’s last moment is very precise and very moving; so let me just share with you what he wrote. “The Guru proceeded to Kaulan’s apartments and addressed her consolatory words. ‘Be ready. Prepare thyself. Thine hour hath come. Dismiss all consideration for thy body and fix thine attention on God, who is unborn and imperishable. The world is unreal and only shineth with His light. The soul is pure, real, conscious, happy. As long as man is proud of his body he is subject to birth and death. But when he hath obtained divine knowledge and passed beyond the bounds of love and hate, then he obtaineth deliverance.’ When Kaulan, after meditating on the Guru’s instruction, again opened her eyes, she addressed her last words to the Guru. ‘I thank thee! I thank thee! O patron of the homeless that I found shelter in thee. Thou didst in a moment confer on me the position which Jogis for years vainly strive to attain. Thou didst dispel the ignorance which hung over my millions of births like an inveterate disease.’ She then fixed her attention on God, repeated ‘Waheguru,’ and heaving her last breath departed to the heaven of her aspirations. The Guru ordered her maids and manservant to prepare her for the last rites. Her maids bathed her and clothed her in a shroud and costly shawl. While the minstrel sang the Guru’s hymns, her body was removed to the garden attached to her dwelling and there cremated. The Sohila was read and prayers offered for the repose of her soul.” To immortalize the memory of Bibi Kaulan's resolve to remain firm on her words, the Guru constructed a pool named Kaulsar in 1627 A.D. Bibi Kaulan died at Kartarpur in 1630 A.D.