A Wonderful New Book on Sikh Women

To my surprise and delight, we then see 20 more profiles of contemporary Sikh women, some young and some old, told with ...

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Princess Sophia Duleep Singh 

Sikh women have always played an important role in Sikh history – they are heroes, saints, and warriors in their own right, and impactful mothers of heroes, saints, and warriors. Sikh women are the bedrock on which our dharma stands.  And yet, so little has been written by Sikh historians about their nature, their courage, and their strength.

Giani Gian Singh writes a wonderful vignette in his 1877 Naveen Panth Prakash.  In 1781, Baba Baghel Singh marched into Delhi as conqueror, with no one to oppose him. Shah Alam, the Mogul emperor, came out to the city gates and welcomed him. Shah Alam’s begams (royal wives in the harem) had heard about these Singhs and their women who fought alongside their men folk. In their curiosity, they asked their husband to arrange a meeting with these warrior women and Shah Alam requested this of Baba Baghel Singh.  He consented and ten Kaurs went to visit the begams. The following describes that meeting as recorded by the Mughal court scribe:

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A minority of women in the book are not Sikh like Dr Kalpana Chawla who is featured for her courage and kindness. 

“Dressed in Sikh bana, the Kaurs wore weapons, chakars, and kirpans – a total of forty kilos of weapons and armor.  They were strong, powerful, and graceful.  Getting ready, and taking a few men with them, the Kaurs set off towards the royal palace. The powerful Singhs stood outside as all the royal women came out to greet them… 

“The Kaurs said, ‘Sat Siri Akal’, and the begams replied ‘Salaam’ as they sat down together. Seeing their form and strong bodies, dressed in armor and weapons, the begams listened to the Kaurs tell of fighting and battle. They spoke of how to hunt, and how to aim with bows and muskets. Their salwars were twenty yards wide and their dumalas stood over a foot tall. Their kameez were of special design and their physiques were large and healthy. Seeing their great clothes and listening to their manly words, the begams were astounded …

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Dame Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill Ji

Hearing of the chastity, sincerity, and morality of the Sikhs, the begams spoke, nodding their heads. ‘Kaurs, you are of great destiny! You move about freely with your husbands while we are pathetic and suffer greatly. Our life is a life of imprisonment where one king has sixty wives. By marrying, we become like a bird trapped in a cage’.”

A new book on Sikh women has emerged from Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa – Women of Grace and Power. This enchanting book will capture the imagination of all ages.  Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa gives life-sketches of a wide panorama of Sikh women and the contribution they have made to the Sikh community.

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The book starts out with biographical sketches of 10 treasured Sikh women from history - nicely done in a storytelling voice.  These start with Bibi Nanaki, the sister of Guru Nanak Dev ji, and goes through Princess Sophia, the granddaughter of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.  

To my surprise and delight, we then see 20 more profiles of contemporary Sikh women, some young and some old, told with loving anecdotes of their lives.  This is a wonderful book - inspiring, real, and long overdue! All of our sons and daughters should read this book and appreciate the contribution of their sisters and mothers with love. It is my prayer that we see many, many more books about this important topic. 

Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa is a prolific author and Sikh historian

You can get your copy at The Sikh Bookshelf

or from Amazon


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