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Mata Ganga Ji was the wife of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The wife of a Guru is a very blessed thing to be. Even though her life was very blessed with the Guru, she still seemed very sad. One day she overheard an enemy of the Guru saying, “Ganga hasn’t had any children. She can’t have children. Someday Guru Arjun will die and he won’t have a child to appoint to be the next Guru. When that happens, we will be in a position to make sure that our son becomes the Guru. Ganga can’t do anything about it.” Hearing this made Ganga Ji sad because she wasn’t sure if she could have a child, even though she always really wanted one.    

So she talked to her husband, the Guru. “My beloved husband and Guru, I need to ask you something very important. Can you bless me to have a child so that our lineage can continue? I want to make sure there is stability in the house of Nanak.” Guru Ji looked at his wife and kindly explained, “If I bless you to have a child, I’m blessing myself to have a child. This can not be, I am not here to bless myself, I am here to bless others. I am nothing.”    

Mata Ganga Ji asked again, “My dear wise husband, surely there is a way. Surely you know of something I can do.” He said, “You need to ask the blessing of another holy man. Why don’t you request this blessing from a saint like Baba Budha?” She took her husband’s suggestion as an order. She immediately called all her servants, “Get ready we are going to travel to the village where Baba Budha lives.”

A caravan was prepared. She made sure her servants prepared the finest food, so she could give it to Baba Budha as an offering. She put on her most beautiful dress. She rode in a carriage and a whole group of her royal servants and attendants came on horses. They were a most impressive procession! The grand procession made its way to the village outside of Amritsar, where Baba Budha lived. When she got there, she asked a villager, “Where is Baba Budha, I have come to give him an offering.” The villager said, “He said he knows why you have come. He also said he doesn’t want to talk to you and he wants you to leave him alone and go away right now.”

This made Mata Ganga even more sad than she was before. She went back and asked the Guru, “What should I do now?” Guru Arjan told her, “You are visiting a saint for special, personal blessing. Don’t come as a queen. Don’t come as royalty. Just go humbly as yourself.” Mata Ganga knew what she had done wrong. She realized that she didn’t need to make a big scene like that. She got up early the next morning. She kneaded some dough with her own hands while humming prayers. She chopped vegetables for subjee and lovingly prepared a home-made meal. Of course she brought some raw onions. Holy men love onions. It is always a perfect gift. Then she left bare-foot and told no one where she was going. She carried the food on her head for more than 12 miles until she got to the village where Baba Budha lived.

When she arrived Baba Budha Ji was standing outside the village joyously waiting for her. When she got to him, he said, “I have been waiting for you! I’m hungry!” As they sat down, she humbly asked him about having a child. He smiled and blessed her.

Then he said, “Your son will become a large, strong and handsome man. He will wear two swords.” Then Baba Budha put an onion on a plate and he smashed it with his fist. He said, “Your son will crush the bad people in the same way that I crushed this onion.” And Mata Ganga Ji did have a son, and he was named Hargobind. Guru Arjun made sure he was trained in martial arts and self defense so when he grew up he could defend himself and others. When Mata Ji prayed humbly to a saint her prayer came true.

Read the Full Story:

The Birth of Guru Hargobind Ji

This is the story of the birth of Guru Hargobind Ji. There was always a period of time between the evening prayer, Rehraas, and the evening meal when Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Mata Ganga, His wife, could be alone together. And this became a very special time for the Guru and His wife. Mata Ganga Ji looked forward to this very special time, as their own time, because the Guru was always teaching and spending time with His Sikhs, and this time was their private time together . She had the Guru all to herself, and she could share her innermost thoughts and her feelings with Him. And during this time of the day, He wasn’t just her Guru, but also her husband, and there was a kind of warmth and coziness in being together. They felt happy every evening as they spent this time together.

But one evening when the Guru was thirty one years old,  as they sat down together in the evening to talk, there wasn’t any feeling of happiness that evening, and the Guru sensed that something was wrong. He said to His wife, “What is it Ganga? What’s troubling you?”
“Do you need to ask?”, she replied. And for the first time that evening she looked straight into her husband’s eyes.
“You know what’s troubling me.”
The Guru did indeed know what was troubling His wife. “It is the will of God.”,  He said in a gentle voice. “We have to accept His will and live with it.”
“But it’s the matter of blessings, Holy men are also important. Many women who have no children have been blessed by a Holy man, and they have received the gift of children.”

Now the Guru knew that was this true. And Mata Ganga went on, “Now who could be more holy than You? Why don’t You give me Your blessings?” Mata Ganga Ji pulled the edge of the dupatta over her mouth and she began to cry. And the Guru put His hand on her head. “I’m not holy.”, He said, “I’m just  a servant of God and my people, and I try to serve them the best I can. That’s all. Besides, even if I was holy, it wouldn’t be right for me to bless myself or my own family.” Mata Ganga Ji began to cry even more. “Don’t cry”, said Guru Ji. There is a Holy man who can give you blessings if you want. His name is Bhai Budda, he’s a great Saint. Go to him, get his blessing. And that will bear the fruit that you desire.” Mata Ganga Ji saw the sense of this and she knew that Bhai Buddha was a man of God. She knew he was greatly respected. Surely she thought, “If she blesses me, I’ll give birth to a son.” So she wiped the tears from her eyes. She smiled at the Guru, and she hurried into the house to get ready for the evening meals.    

The next day Mata Ganga went to visit Bhai Buddha Ji. She woke up early, she dressed herself in her most beautiful clothes, she took baskets of food and sweets and beautiful presents to give to the Sant, and she rode in a horse-drawn carriage. And she was escorted by all of her ladies who took care of her. Bhai Budda at that time lived in a little forest just outside of Amritsar. He heard the horses coming and he came out of his little hut to see who it was that was arriving, and he saw the group of people and then the carriage. Before the rider could even announce Mata Ganga  Ji’s arrival, Bhai Budda said, “What is this commotion in the Guru’s household?” The rider of the horse bowed low to Bhai Budda and said, “It’s Mata Ganga Ji, she’s come to seek your blessing.” “Tell her”, Bhai Budda said, “Tell her I will not see her.” He turned and went back into his hut. The rider went back to the carriage, and he told Mata Ganga Ji what Bhai Buddha had said, and she felt very hurt and upset. So she ordered everyone to turn around and go back to the Guru’s house.  She thought, “This, this evening, when Guru Ji and I are alone together, I won’t even look at Him.”

That night, after the evening prayers and before dinner, they sat together as usual. But she wouldn’t look Him in the eye at all. “What’s the matter?”, said Guru Ji. “I heard that you went to Bhai Budda’s house today. Didn’t he give you his blessing?” Mata Ganga Ji couldn’t control herself and she began crying again. The Guru just waited, and finally when she stopped crying, He said to her, “Tell me, what did Bhai Budda Ji say to you?”
“He wouldn’t even see me. He just locked himself in his hut. He wouldn’t even look at me.”

For a moment, seeing that she had began crying herself, she controlled herself. “Tell me more.”, said the Guru. And so Mata Ganga told Him the story of how she’d prepared and how she’d bought sweets and dressed beautifully and gone to her carriage to see the saint. As He listened, He nodded His head and smiled. “My beloved wife, you made a big mistake.” he said. “Today, go and see him again, but this time just go and see him humbly. I mean, you’re going to go ask a favor from him, so you have to just appear before him in the simplest and most humble way.”

The next day Mata Ganga Ji set out again to see Bhai Buddha. This time, she just wore very simple clothes made of homespun cotton. She didn’t wear any jewelry, and she went with bare feet. She didn’t even take presents and rich food. On a simple brass thaali, plate, she just took the food that the Sant ate, four rotis and some onions. The thaali was covered with a simple cotton cloth. She had no attendants or servants. She just carried the thaali herself. She didn’t ride in a carriage, she just walked barefoot to Bhai Buddha’s hut. Of course on this day, it took a lot longer for her to reach the hut. And she was afraid that he might already have eaten his food. But when she reached the hut, she found him sitting outside. “Come, come little mother.”, he said. “I’ve been waiting for my food, and I’m hungry.” He gently took the tray from her, and she bowed.
“Sit down, sit down.”
She just sat on the ground at his feet. He drew the cloth from the thaali, he looked at the roti and the onion, and then he lifted up his hand and squashed the onion with his fist. “You will have a son.”, he said as he began to eat. “He will be a very handsome man. He will also be a very brave man, very brave.  He will crush His enemies the way I have crushed this onion with my fist.” Mata Ganga Ji felt her heart fill with happiness. She was sure now that with the Saint’s blessing her wish would be fulfilled. She waited quietly until Bhai Buddha Ji had finished eating. Then she bowed to him, picked up the thaali, then hurried home.
    That evening, the Guru saw His wife in a very different mood. She sat with a far away look in her eyes. Every time someone spoke to her, she would smile and nod her head, and then she would be lost in her thoughts again. There was no sadness in her face. And in her eyes, there were shining stars, and the Guru knew right away that she had received the Saint’s blessing. After Rehraas, in that time before dinner, when they could sit alone together, He said to her, “You look very happy. I can see that the Saint has given you his blessings.” She smiled. “Yes,” she said quietly, the Saint has given me his blessings. He said we’ll have a son, a son who will be very handsome and very, very brave."

Nine months later, a son was born to her, and they named Him Hargobind. As soon as the child Hargobind could walk, He was put in charge of the special teachers who taught Him writing, swordsmanship, wrestling, and boxing, and the Guru Himself would supervise this instruction. Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas were confused by this, they didn’t understand why there was such a need for martial arts. “What is this strange education You’re giving Your son? You were not given such an education by your father and your grandfather.” Bhai Buddha asked the Guru. “It is not a strange education, “ the Guru explained. “He’s being taught the Gurbani and everything He needs to know. And we’re living in troubled times, and things are going to become very difficult for my Sikhs. So it is important that every Sikh knows how to defend himself and how to defend others. This we can only do if we are strong and learn all the skills that a soldier learns.” The Guru knew that the education that He was giving His young son, Hargobind would become the model for all Sikh children, and from this point in time, all Sikh boys and girls learned how to defend themselves and how to defend others.

Storyteller:  Guruka Singh Khalsa
Age ranges:  1 - 6, 7 - 12