Bibi Bhani was the daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji, wife of Guru Ram Das Ji, mother to Guru Arjan Dev Ji, grandmother to Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, great grandmother to Guru Tegh Bahadar Ji and great-great grandmother to Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Bibi Bhani was born in 1533 at village Basarke near Amritsar. She was the youngest daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji and was very much doted upon by her parents who called her Mohni (attractive). From her very early childhood she spent a lot of time in meditation and in the service of her father. She served her father like a disciple.While her father Guru Amar Das ji meditated, Bibi Bhani Ji took extra care to ensure he was not disturbed. She was so devout that she served him at the cost of her own health. As she grew older her parents started looking for a suitable match for her. Her mother, Mansa Davi, wanted her daughter’s husband to be as devoted to service and as humble as she was. They decided to select Bhai Jetha who sold roasted grams and also served selflessly in the common kitchen.
Bibi Bhani, as a devoted daughter willingly accepted the suitor chosen by her parents. There is a gursakhi (story from guru’s time) about a Sikh of Guru Amar Das buying some jewellery and precious clothes for Bibi Bhani so that she should wear them at the time of her marriage, but she refused and said that this money should be spent for the common kitchen that serves the needy irrespective of his/her caste or creed.
Her love for the poor was strong and she was content in living life without want for material possessions. Bibi Bhani was married in 1533 and served Bhai Jetha who was not only her husband but also a saint. She kept serving her father even after her marriage, as she continued to live in Goindval with her husband and his family. Bhai Jetha also continued to serve in the common kitchen.
The common kitchen was well known and Emperor Akbar was so impressed with the humble service and the food served in the kitchen that he granted land of a few villages revenue-free to Bibi Bhani. Bhai Jetha became Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru in 1574. Bibi Bhani and Guru Ram Das ji had three sons, Prithi Chand, Maha Dev, and Arjan Dev. Prithi Chand was arrogant, lazy, and dishonest, but still wanted the guruship after his father. He wanted his mother to recommend him to his father but she advised him the decision made by his father would be on merit.
When Guru Arjan Dev Ji was selected as the fifth Guru, Prithi Chand behaved badly towards his father and youngest brother. Bibi Bhani affronted Prithi Chand and admonished him. She said the decision made by his father was impartial and correct. This has been the tradition from the time of Guru Nanak. She also said, “Your father was also selected on the basis of his service and humility.” Bibi Bhani always stood for truth.
Prithi Chand claimed offerings from the devotees before they could see Guru Arjan Dev Ji, by falsely claiming that he was the Guru. He tried to fail the common kitchen run by Guru Arjan Dev but his plans were foiled by Bibi Bhani and Bhai Gurdas ji who was a devotee of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
Bibi Bhani helped her son, Guru Arjan Dev ji in every activity he undertook. When the next Emperor, Jahangir summoned Guru Arjan Dev, she encouraged him to face the difficulties boldly. When Guru Ji was tortured and the news of his martyrdom reached the family, she maintained her composure and did not let her daughter-in-law and 11 year-old grandson, Hargobind, lose heart. She advised them to abide by God’s will and encouraged her grandson to face the new situation bravely for he was the sixth Guru.
Bibi Bhani left this world at the age of 65 at Tarn Taran where she was serving the lepers. A Well was constructed in her memory there and is still known as the Well of Bibi Bhani. Bibi Bhani is a true role model to all who do seva (selfless service) as she is the embodiment of service, truth, endurance and humility. She will always be remembered for the unique service rendered by her to her father. She has the distinction of being the mother of the first Sikh martyr, Guru Arjan Dev, great-grandmother of the second Sikh martyr, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and great-great- grandmother of Guru Gobind Singh, who sacrificed his family for the Sikh panth.