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The Street Where Bibi KaulaN Lived

SUHAIL ABID

 

 

 

Lahore, Punjab

I live in the same street of Lahore where Bibi KaulaN once lived.

She's the Muslim woman who found solace in the few verses of the Guru Granth Sahib she had learnt and was locked up by her guardians for she kept on reciting them.

She's the woman who has a gurdwara right next to Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar named after her, in whose sarovar devotees were directed by Guru Hargobind to take a dip first before going to the Harmandar Sahib.

That “house” in my street with beautifully-carved blue-colored windows that one can’t help but notice is the place where Guru Hargobind, the Sixth Sikh Guru, had tied his horse to a tree when he came to rescue her.

Bibi KaulaN was a student of Mian Mir’s where she was sent by her guardians to learn the letters. Mian Mir, being a close friend of the Sikh gurus and the inclusive Sufi that he was, must have quoted the verses in his lectures and it must have been there that she learnt them by heart.

Whatever the source was, the people at her home, where she was brought up during her early years, were not happy when they heard her reciting the verses. She was asked to stop saying the words of the infidels. She didn’t.

Mian Mir was consulted. His advice -- that she had a special association with God and that she should be let free in choosing however she likes to connect with Him -- wasn’t accepted and she was barred from leaving the house.

She somehow managed to get a message delivered to Guru Hargobind to rescue her. The Guru naturally first consulted Mian Mir.

“She has to come out of the house by herself,” said Mian Mir, possibly for invoking her free will and to save the Guru from later accusations. A day was set, she escaped from the vent window and walked up to the Guru who then took her to Amritsar, where her living quarters were built near Harmandar Sahib.

During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign, the place where Bibi KaulaN took the first steps towards liberation was turned into a gurdwara -- Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi, in honour of the Sixth Kingdom.

That is where Lahore’s Temple Road gets its name from and that is where I live.

 

August 23, 2014

 

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 23, 2014, 5:58 PM.

Suhail ji, this is the most poignant and soaked with love description of your erstwhile neighbour, Bibi Kaulan, who was rightly a disciple of Mian Mir who laid the foundation stone of Harmandar Sahib. Guru Nanak said: "Naanak vaychaaraa ki-aa kahai sabh lok salaahay ahyksai / sir naanak lokaa paav hai / balihaaree jaa-o jaytay tayray naav ahi" [GGS:1168.14] - "What can poor Nanak say; all people praise the One Waheguru, Nanak places his head on the feet of such people. I am a sacrifice to your Names, as many as there are." Guru Granth Sahib transcends creed. The One: "Toon saanjhaa sahib baap hamara" [GGS:97.6] - "You are the one Father of all." All the Islamic names for God are freely used in Guru Granth Sahib. Mian Mir was deeply drawn to Guru Arjan and later to Guru Hargobind and rightly found the right haven for Bibi Kaulan and got her removed from the stifling atmosphere of bigotry. Bibi Kaulan remains immortalized for all times and hase a sarovar -- Kaulsar -- named after her.

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