How many marriages did Guru Gobind Singh Ji have?
The wrong impression that the Guru had more than one wife was created by those writers who were ignorant of punjabi culture. Later authors accepted those writings regarding more than one marriage of the Guru and presented other important people usually had more than one wife as a symbol of their being great and superior to the common man. Guru Gobind Singh, being a true king, was justified in their eyes to have more than one wife. This is actually incorrect. In the Punjab, there are two and sometimes three big functions connected with a marriage, i.e., engagement, wedding and Muklawa. Big gatherings and singings are held at all these three functions. In many cases, engagements were held as soon as one had passed the baby stage. Even today, engagements at 8-12 years age are not uncommon in some interior parts of the country. The wedding is performed a couple of years after the engagement. After the wedding, it takes another couple of years for the bride to move in with her in-laws and live there. This is called Muklawa. Dowry and other gifts to the bride are usually given at the time of this ceremony to help her to establish a new home.
A big befitting function and other joyful activities were held at Anandpur, according to the customs, at the time of the engagement of the Guru. The bride, Mata Jeeto Ji, resided in Lahore which was the capital of the Mughal rulers, who were not on good terms with the Gurus. When the time for the marriage ceremony came, it was not considered desirable for the Guru to go to Lahore along with Sikhs in large numbers. Furthermore, it would involve a lot of inconvenience to the Sangat, young and old, who wished to witness the marriage of the Guru. Therefore, as mentioned in the Sikh chronicles, Lahore was ‘brought’ to Anandpur Sahib for the marriage instead of the Guru going to Lahore. A scenic place, a couple of miles to the north of Anandpur was developed into a nice camp for the marriage. This place was named Guru Ka Lahore. People going to Anandpur visit this place as well. The bride was brought to this place by her parents and the marriage was celebrated with a very huge gathering attending the ceremony.
The two elaborate functions, one at the time of engagement and the other at the time of the marriage of the Guru, gave the outside observers the impression of two marriages. They had the reason to feel like that because a second name was also there, i.e., Mata Sundari Ji. After the marriage, there is a custom in the Punjab to give a new affectionate name to the bride by her in-laws. Mata Jeeto Ji because of her fine features and good looks, was named Sundari (beautiful) by the Guru’s mother. The two names and two functions gave a cause to the outsiders to believe that the Guru had two wives. In fact, the Guru had one wife with two names as explained above.
There is one more very important function in the life of the Guru and the Sikhs. It took place in 1699 when the Guru founded the Khalsa Panth. For preparation of Amrit, he took a Khanda and a Bata (bowl) and asked Mata Sahib Kaur to bring Patasas (puffed sugar) for adding to the water in the Bata. Thus, Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Sahib Kaur jointly particpated in preparing Amrit. Alongwith firmness like steel, weetness is another great character of the Khalsa, gifted respectively by Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Sahib Kaur to them. Whereas Guru Gobind Singh is recognized as the spiritual father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur is recognized as the spiritual mother of the Khalsa.
Again, people not conversant with the Amrit ceremony mistakenly assume that Mata Sahib Kaur was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh. As Guru Gobind Singh is the spiritual father but not hte physical father of the khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa but not the physical wife of the Guru Gobind Singh. Because of their ignorance of the Punjabi culture and the Amrit ceremony, some writers mistook these three names of the women in the life of Guru Gobind Singh as the names of three wives. Another reason for this misunderstanding is that the parents of Mata Sahib Kaur had decided to marry her to Guru Gobind Singh. When the proposal was brought for discussion at Anandpur, the Guru said that he could not have another wife because he was already married. The dilemma before the parents of the girl was that, the proposal having become public, no Sikh would be willing to marry her. The Guru agreed for her stay at Anandpur but without accepting her as is wife. The question arose, as every woman desires to have a child, how she could have one without being married. The Guru said, “She will be the mother of a great son who will live forever and be known all over the world.” The people understood the hidden meaning of his statement only after the Guru associated Mata Sahib Kaur with preparing Amrit by bringing Patasas. It is, therefore, ignorant to consider Mata Sahib Kaur as the worldly wife of Guru Gobind Singh.