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Women, their struggles, and their unique perspectives have always held a distinct place in our world. While the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib offer universal truths, stories like that of Mata Damodari, Guru Hargobind Ji’s wife, shed light on how these truths can resonate in the lives of women. One such story revolves around Mata Damodari's simple yet impactful decision to withhold sweets from her husband's followers. Let's explore an anecdote taken from  Max Macauliffe's The Sikh Religion illustrates how this seemingly innocent act carries deeper insights into navigating life's challenges from a woman's standpoint.

The tale of a strong woman 

Late one night, a group of weary Sikhs arrived to pay a visit to Guru Hargobind Ji. They had traveled a long way and came bearing offerings for the Guru. Exhausted and hungry, they hoped for a meal. The Guru, known for his hospitality, wanted to fulfill their needs. But a hurdle arose - the cooking fires were out, and the cooks had left for the day.

Thinking on his feet, the Guru remembered a room brimming with sweets meant for his daughter Viro's wedding. However, only his wife, Mata Damodari, held the key to that room. When asked to share the sweets with the hungry Sikhs, she hesitated. Tradition dictated that the sweets were to be served first to the bridegroom's family, and she was unwilling to break that custom.

In a moment captured in time, Mata Damodari faced a dilemma that resonates with the emotions many of us experience. In the midst of preparations for her daughter's wedding, a sense of unease lingered in Mataji's expression. The image reveals her protectiveness over a stash of sweets, a precious offering for her daughter's marriage festivities. Despite the Guru's request to share these sweets, Mataji hesitated, torn between honoring her intentions and avoiding offense to the groom's family. This poignant moment captures a conflict of emotions and priorities, inviting us to ponder the complexity of human feelings and decisions in such significant moments.

The requests and refusals went on and on until the Guru finally gave up. But when He surrendered the fight, He also predicted the outcome.

"My Sikhs are dearer to me than life. If they were the first to taste the sweets, all the obstacles to the marriage would have been removed. But now the Mughal forces will come and take the sweets for themselves. When traveling Sikhs come to our house and leave disappointed, it is a just consequence that the sweets should go to strangers and the marriage be interrupted."

Mata Damodari worked hard to keep the sweets safe for her daughter's wedding, even turning down her husband's offer to share them with the guests. But on the big day, things took a surprising turn. There was a fight between some Sikhs and soldiers loyal to Emperor Shah Jahan during a hunting trip. The Emperor got upset and sent General Mukhlis Khan to punish the Sikhs.

The news of an impending attack reached Amritsar just when they were celebrating Viro's wedding with songs. Everyone had to rush to leave town, leaving many important things behind, like the precious sweets. A group of 25 Sikhs stayed back at Lohgarh fort and bravely fought the Emperor's soldiers. They fought hard and took down many enemies, but eventually, they were defeated. The soldiers made it to the Guru's palace, where they didn't find the Guru but did find the sweets.

The Guru's family went to Ramsar, but they found out they made a big mistake. Lots of important things for a wedding were left in Amritsar, and they forgot Viro, their daughter, too! Guru Hargobind asked two of his friends to bring her back. Viro was hiding in the house while the Emperor's people were eating the sweets the family had left. Singha and Babak, the two friends, managed to save Viro, but it was really tough.

There were courageous moments and a lot of fighting, with many lives lost on both sides. Guru Hargobind managed to defeat Mukhlis Khan's big army, which upset the Emperor. The bridegroom's party joined the Guru's family in Jhabal where Viro was eventually married .It was a different wedding nothing like the celebration they had expected.

It makes one ponder. Is it really the truth that by refusing to share her sweets, Mata Damodari attracted a war? Can such acts of selfishness have such consequences? If Mata Damodari had allowed the Guru those sweets for the Sikhs, would it have averted all the deaths that followed? All the pain and suffering of the families on both sides who lost someone they loved?

Is this then, the essence of Hukam, of Cosmic Law?

Though equipped with the choice to say no, deny, and stand our ground, we must remember that such choices echo further than we can grasp. While Guru Hargobind's path led him to fight inevitable battles, guided by a universal force.

Thinking about this story,one sees that little acts of kindness, like giving and sharing, really make a big difference in bringing peace to the world. Mata Damodari's choice shows how even small acts of kindness or meanness matter a lot.

*Based on an article by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa, published in Sikhchic.com on 10th March 2010


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