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Kaur - A Story of Courage and Equality

The Short film KAUR tells the story of a young Sikh girl, Saibhang Kaur, who loves science but feels the social pressure...

KAUR - A Story of Courage and Equality - by SikhNet

Saibhang is a regular Sikh girl who came out of her house to meet her friend Sarah, "What’s up Sarah?" Saibhang and Sarah left the house while Saibhang's grand mother meditated.

At school Saibhang and Sarah stood next to each other at the lockers while all the students bustled around for class. Sarah asked Saibhang, "So after school we’re going over to Stacy’s to listen to the new Onl3 U album! You coming?" Saibhang replied, "Can’t, it’s the first day of Science Club." Sarah: "Science Club over Onl3 U? Priorities girl"

Saibhang walked into the room for science club and shyly takes a seat. Hey everyone. The teacher gets everyone’s attention and said, "Alright, settle down. Welcome to the first day of Science Club. I want you to come up with your own unique science experiment. It can be anything you can think of. Except for baking soda and vinegar Volcanoes. Never again. Never!"

Then all the students got into groups of four. Saibhang got in a group with three boys who were talking about movies instead of science, "We watched The Phantom Menace last night." "Psh, that one was lame." "Are you kidding me right now? That movie was the best." Then Saibhang asked, "So what should we make our presentation about?" The boys seem to barely notice her. One of the boys, Billy says, "It should be about the tactical design flaws of the death star!" The other boys agreed, "Yeah!" Saibhang protested, "This is science not science fiction." One of the boys, Hu, mockingly imitated her, "This is science not science fiction, heheh." Then Billy said, "Shouldn’t you be in a cooking club? Anyways back to the death star..." The boys were being mean and dismissive, it didn't look like this was going to be fun for Saibhang...

After she came home Saibhang’s mother was cooking dinner and asked, "How was your day darling?" Saibhang was not very enthusiastic, "It was alright... I guess..." "You guess?" "Well I went to Science Club and it turns out everyone there are just t, just mean. None of them even care about science." Her mother said, "Mmhmmm" and continued cooking. Saibhang continued, "It really bothered me." and her mother replied, "Hhmmm. Well..." "Well what?" Her father interjected, "Beti you shouldn’t be worrying about science anyways. I mean to say that’s not for a woman to worry about. If your mother didn’t cook for us how would we eat?"

Saibhang protested, "But you know how much I like Science!" and her mother said, "Oh Beti that’s true. You should do
what you like. But in the meantime come help your mother make Roti. Science or no science I will teach you how to make the perfect round roti to attract the perfect husband! But hopefully not too round himself! Get it, huh, papa’s
getting fat!" Saibhang got up to help glumly.

Later Saibhang was in her room feeling sad and tried to call her friend Sarah but Sarah didn't pick up. She took an astronaut doll from her bed and held it above her. She remembered when she was a little girl staring in amazement at a meteor shower with her mother asking, "Mommy, has there ever been a girl Astronaut?"

Saibhang flashback ended and she was on her bed crying. Then her Grandma comes in the room and walks over to Saibhang who wipes away a tear, "Is something wrong beti?" Then Saibhang said, "I think I should quit the science club. I’m the only girl and nobody wants me there..." "Oh my poor girl." Saibhang continued, "I love science but maybe it’s just a silly dream.""Hey be quiet! Don’t call your dream silly. A woman can do anything she wants. You haven't heard the story of Mai Bhago?" "Nani I'm not sure if I'm a good enough mood..." "Beti, trust me, you will love it. The story of Mai Bhago changed my life." So Saibhang agreed to listen to the story.

We are brought to another world of old Punjab as Nanak narrates the story:

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Nani: "There once was a girl named Bhago. She lived in a village near Amritsar. Her father had learned martial arts and fought in the army of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind. Bhaago was raised as a Sikh just like you. It was now the time of the ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur and her and her family went to receive darshan from the Guru."

Bhago's family bowed to Guru Teg Bahadur who later gave his life so people could live the way they want to live.

Nani: "The news of his great sacrifice touched Bhaago’s heart and she knew, even as a young girl, that she would always fight against injustice."
Years later Bhago was grown up,

Nani: "At Vaisakhi, the birth of the Khalsa, Bhaago received Amrit from the tenth sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib. She then became known as Bhaago KAUR, 'Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji
Ki Fateh.' And soon she married a Khalsa as well."

Bhago Kaur and her family were leaving Anandpur to go home but she was so inspired by the Khalsa warriors that she wanted to stay, "Father, as Khalsa I know I must serve the Guru. My new home is Anandpur Sahib. I want to stay here and join the Sikh army. This is my destiny." Her father said, "Your heart is pure my child, but battle is not the place for a woman. You have received Amrit and become Khalsa and you will spread these blessings at home. Come now, don’t delay." They all left Anandpur Sahib but Bhago Kaur still had the warrior spirit in her heart.

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We come back to Saibhangs room where she says, "See men are jerks. They never let girls do anything." "Well beti, at that time the Gurus did a lot of work for women. Before Guru Nanak women were treated like you cannot believe!" "Well then why wouldn’t her father allow Bhago to join the army?" "Such a smart girl. You're right! It's in the human nature to cling to the old ways. Not everyone was ready to allow women the true equality." "I guess things aren't much different now..." 

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We go back to Bhago Kaur, "Father you have denied my request to stay in Anandpur Sahib and train to be a warrior. I have decided to train myself." Her father was proud to see her warrior spirit, "I see that you are determined child. Allow me to train you myself." So he trained her in martial arts skills. She started learning horse-back riding, spear throwing and other things as well.
Nani: "One day Bhago Kaur's husband came home with some VERY bad news... 'The Mughals have attacked Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur! It is my duty to join the fight. I am going at once!' Bhago insisted, 'If it is your duty then it is also mine!' 'Bhaago, you cannot come with me. You must stay here and take care of the home.' 'The home will be fine. The Guru needs my help.' 'I am sorry my love, but I can’t allow it.' Bhago Kaur didn't agree but she didn't argue, 'Fight bravely with your spirit as well as mine. Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.'"

He rode off and Bhago Kaur stayed behind training in case she did have to fight one day.

Nani: "After many months her husband returned. Nidhan looked tired and weak, 'We were under siege for eight long months. Eventually we ran out of food supplies and had to resort to eating bark from trees. We were starving and so we pleaded with the Guru to surrender but he would not. We had no choice but to leave.' Bhago Kaur was not happy about his actions, 'You abandoned the Guru?!?' 'We did what we had to.' '...What you had to? You had to stay with your Guru.' Bhaago Kaur was infuriated. Her husband spent some time gaining his health back, and in the meantime they got news that the Guru’s mother and four sons were killed. The Guru was forced into hiding."

The Guru’s two younger sons being bricked alive but they kept their warrior spirit till their last breath. Guru Gobind Singh ended up by himself in a jungle, he had a clay pot to use as a pillow. He was still blissfully merged with God. The news of this situation spread and Nidhan decided he should do something, "I’ll get the men together and go find the Guru. With luck we can help him negotiate peace with the Emperor." Nidhan rode away on his horse." 

Nani: "But two weeks later they returned with more bad news."

Bhago Kaur asked her husband, "What happened? Did you find the Guru?" "We found him but he won’t listen to our requests. He refused to negotiate with the Emperor. He demanded that we sign a document stating that we were no longer his Sikhs and he was no longer our Guru."

This was the most tragic news so far. Bhago Kaur had reached her limit, "Guru ji refused to surrender and
you still abandoned him... a second time?!" "There is no chance to defeat the Moghuls. There are too many of them. What the Guru is doing is suicide. He forced us to sign. What other choice did we have?"

Bhago’s Father shakes his head. She continued speaking with her warrior spirit, "You disowned Guru ji when he needed
you most! Where is your bravery? If you won’t fight for the Khalsa then I will!"

Bhago Kaur's father didn't want her to fight, "You are precious to me. I don’t want to lose you."

"We are already lost if we are not defending the Khalsa. Guru Ji has sacrificed his family, comforts, everything for our freedom. We must stand up and protect our rights no matter the odds. Yes we may die, but we all die eventually, how
lucky would we be to die fighting for freedom? Don’t you understand that?"

Bhago Kaur took off her bracelets and threw them on the ground, "If you won’t join me in battle then you take these bangels and do the house work. But if you want a chance at regaining your honor, come with me now and have no
fear of death!!"

Bhago Kaur got dressed in full warrior gear. She rode her horse in to action. Nidhan followed behind her, "Bhago, I’m coming too."

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Saibhang get inspired from hearing how brave and heroic a woman can be, "YEAH. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!! Oh, oops. Was that too loud?" "Well... Yes, but it’s OK. Let’s move on shall we?" "Wait. So was Bhago Kaur was the first woman allowed in the Sikh army?" "What is this, allowed? No it is not a matter of what women are allowed to do, it is a matter of what we demand for ourselves."

Nani continued the story...

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Nani: "On their way Bhaago Kaur visited the wives of the men who had deserted the Guru. She encouraged the wives to send their husbands back into the fight."

Nani: "In all, 40 Sikhs decided to join her and return to the Guru. They vowed never to retreat again and started calling her Mai Bhago out of respect."

Nani: "Outside the forest where the Guru was rumored to be hiding, a Sikh messenger came to Mai Bhago with grave news. The Mughal army, now sixteen thousand strong, but dying of thirst, were headed their way in search of the Guru. It was time to act."

They found that the well outside the village was dry. The army would want to get water from there but Bhago and the other warriors came up with a military trick, "They won’t find water here." The army might end their pursuit of the Guru once they find there is no water and the Guru would be saved, even if it cost them their lives. The army of many thousands was approaching. Mai Bhago rallied the men,

"This is where we make our stand. Today will be our last day on this earth. Are you ready to fight until your very last breath? khushia de jakaaray, bolaavay, nihal ho jaavey Guru Gobind Singh ji de maan nu paaveh, sat siri akal!" All the warriors started their battle cries. A fierce battles ensued. The Sikhs fought with legendary courage, each taking on several opponents. During the battle Mai Bhago Kaur notices a white hawk in the sky. This is the hawk of Guru Gobind Singh. Just then an arrow flies from somewhere and takes out an opponent who was trying to kill her. The arrow has the gold that only Guru Gobind used. Finally the Mughol army with their vastly superior numbers seemed to conquer the small group of courageous Sikhs. 

The army commander said, "We have finally killed Gobind and the last of his army. Get the men some water and confirm that his body is among the dead."

Nani: "But they couldn't take the time to look for Guru ji's body to prove it because his men were dying of thirst. The troops had refused to do anything besides leave that place to find water. So Mai Bhago's plan worked, and the Guru was safe."

The imperial army left to go find water right then. 

Nani: "Mahan Singh, the leader of the 40 Sikhs that had deserted the Guru, made a final request to Guru Gobind Singh. He asked the Guru to tear up the original note they had signed, clearing them of their karmic debts... which allowed them to be liberated."

Guru ji came to Mai Bhago ji, "Oh, my dear daughter you have been so brave. I will take care here until you have recovered and then you can return to your family." Mai Bhago made a request to Guru ji, "Guru Ji, my husband was killed in the battle, he was my family. My place is hear by your side. I wish to join the Khalsa army."

"Very well. You are my very own and will always be by my side." 
Mai Bhago became a body guard for Guru Gobind Singh and served as an example to all women as a warrior princess. 
And how did Mai Bhago get so strong? When you believe something in your heart, you are blessed with strength, then you can do anything your soul calls you to do. If you want to be a scientist, if you want to go to the stars, if you have some longing - call on the Guru inside of you to give you strength.

The next day Saibhang went to share with the boys an idea she came up with, "Ok guys, we have to present something tomorrow and I was thinking we could do our presentation on the discoveries of the Hubble telescope. There are some amazing breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe..." 
But the boys didn't take her seriously, they cut her off and basically repeated back what she had said as if it was their idea, "Ok well that’s never gonna work. What we should do is look into this satellite that NASA put up that takes awesome pictures like an iPhone." "Oh yeah! I think it’s called the Hubba." All the boys agree. Saibhang protested, "It’s Hubble and I just said that... But if you want to do it on the Hubba satellite then be my guest!" No one listened to her.

The next day in the science club their team was getting ready to show their progress. Saibhang informed them, "I’ve done a lot of research and I can present on the recent discovery of Dark Energy. I’ve prepared a whole slide show actually." One of the boys mocked her in a silly voice, "I’ve prepared a whole slide show
actually." Another boy said, "You’re not going to present. This was my idea." Saibhang knew that there weren't prepared though, "Look, I know the material better
then any of you." One of the boys grabbed the thumb drive out of her hand, "Just go back home." Finally Saibhang expressed her anger and stormed off, "I quit!" 
Saibhang sat on the school steps and started crying. She also started having glimpses of Mai Bhago, standing radiant and strong in full armor before battle. She wiped her eye’s and stood up, "Waheguru." Then she closed her eyes and saw Mai Bhago receiving a sword from Guru Gobind Singh. It was as if Saibhang's Guru-Father, Guru Gobind Singh, was giving her the sword of sovereignty.  

Then Saibhang went back into the class where her team was fumbling badly with the presentation they weren't prepared for, "Uh, so yeah, you know they um, put
the Hubba into space and now it’s taking tons of super awesome pictures of um, stuff." The teacher is rolling his eyes. Saibhang came forward and corrected the spelling from’Hubba’ to ’Hubble’ and started to help out the main boy.

Sarah sat in the stands and gave Saibhang the thumbs up, "That’s my girl!" Saibhang's parents, and Nani also watched from the stands as Saibhang shined in the presentation, "Exactly! Amazing pictures and it was super cool for more reasons then just one. Thanks to Hubble’s images and the discovery of Dark Matter we now not only know with certainty that the Universe is expanding, but that it is accelerating at an exponential rate. Take a look at slide A..."

The teacher was very impressed, "Huh, I did not know that." as Saibhang continued the presentation after which everyone clapped and applauded. 

Afterwards her family met with her. Her dad congratulated her, "Well done Beti. See, I always tell you to focus on your studies! True? Smart just like her father. So
good." Her mother also congratulated her, "Such a bright girl! We will wait in the car Beti." Then her parents went to the care and Grandma offered her wisdom, "You have so much courage child. I’m so proud of you." "Thank you Grandma." Then Grandma also left and the boys on her team came up now that they had been humbled, "Hey that was awesome, thanks for saving us." Saibhang prodded them for more, "And?" They hesitantly continued, "And we're sorry we doubted you." "Yeah we’re sorry." "...Um yeah, me too..." And then one of them added a comment which lightened the mood, "But I still think it would be cool to do it on the death star next time." 
Then Sarah showed up and said, "Saibhang, that was awesome! You’re like my hero." "Well it was just a bit of physics." The boys walk away talking about light sabers. Saibhang and Sarah start walking towards Saibhang’s parents who wait down the hall. Sarah said, "I guess being a dork can pay off sometimes." Then Saibhang started getting excited about other scientific subject as the two of them walked away together, "I know right. It’s like they didn’t even know the basics of astral observation. Hey, did you know that the Hubble telescope has a 2.4 meter aperture, that’s like ginormous! And it can take extremely high resolution photos in almost no light? And don’t get me started on-" "-Alright, alright calm down you’re giving me a headache..." 
Many years later Saibhang is a grown woman wearing an astronaut suit walking from a platform into a space shuttle which which is ready to launch off earth. 
She sat in the cockpit and took out her Astronaut doll and looked at it. In her mind she could see Mai Bhaago sitting on her horse outside the window of the shuttle. 
At that moment the mission control started the countdown for the space shuttle to take off, "Lift off in 3...2...1..." Saibhang whispered "Waheguru..."