Today, when during the covid pandemic, we appreciate the contribution of the Sikh community towards selfless service for distribution of food to the needy during the lockdown, it would be pertinent not to mention Mata Khiviji, the force behind the Langar and making it synonymous with Sikhism.
Langar is the greatest contribution of Mata Khiviji in the spreading of Sikhism. Mata Khiviji was the person who took upon herself, the responsibility of Langar which was introduced by Guru Nanak Devji, and she further nurtured. Mata Khiviji was the wife of second Sikh Guru Angad Devji ( Bhai Lehna ), she was born in 1506 in a small town of Sanghar, Sindh province now in the present day Pakistan.
At the time when Bhai Lehna who became Guru Angad Devji the second Sikh Guru, Mata Khiviji wholeheartedly took the duty of organising the Langar and making devotees (Sangat) comfortable with her hospitality which till today all the Gurudwaras practice . Mata Khiviji saw to it that each and every person who came to see Guru Angad Devji was well fed and had a comfortable place to stay. She took Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings with great reverence regarding equality to all. She saw to it that everyone was treated with equal courtesy and no discrimination was made on basis of religion, caste, colour or creed. She saw to it that the best possible ingredients available were used in Langar preparations. Her kheer seved in the Langar was compared to ambrosia in Guru Granth Sahib. She took upon herself the onerous task of managing every detail of the Langar. Mata Khiviji created a loving atmosphere for all whom she came in contact with. She and Guru Angad Devji lavished all their love and affection not only on their children but to any child in the community. Her commitment was so strong that she became an example to all who witnessed it.
Mata Khiviji was known for her good nature, efficiency, beauty and her hospitality. Her greatest contribution to Sikhism was Langar and Sewa which has been emulated over centuries to become the first cultural identity of the Sikhs. Langar played an integral part for the spread of Sikhism. The idea behind it was to serve all without any discrimination. Langar was initiated by Guru Nanak Nanak Devji and nurtured by Mata Khiviji.
Greatly respected by all, she has been described as an affectionate mother, a person who provides and gives protection to others. Mata Khiviji lived for 30 years after the death of Guru Angad Devji’s death. Mata Ji continued to manage the Langar during Guru Amar Das Ji’s time, and did Seva until Guru Arjun Dev Ji’s time, the Langar became known as “Khivi ka Langar”. Mata Khiviji lived till the age of 75 and had the opportunity of meeting the first five Sikh Gurus. She was granted a Manjhi( being appointed to a Manji meant that she was given responsibility for preaching Guru’s teachings in a specific area) which included her husband’s village Basarke. Mata Khiviji was an example for women emancipation in Sikhism.
Mata Ji has the distinction of being to be mentioned by name in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. She is the only one of out of all the Sikh Guru s’ wives to be mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The following verse is from the Guru Granth Sahib which describes her personality.
ਬਲਵੰਡ ਖੀਵੀ ਨੇਕ ਜਨ ਜਿਸੁ ਬਹੁਤੀ ਛਾਉ ਪਤ੍ਰਾਲੀ ॥
Balwand says that Khivi, the Guru’s wife, is a noble woman, who gives soothing, leafy shade to all.
ਲੰਗਰਿ ਦਉਲਤਿ ਵੰਡੀਐ ਰਸੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਖੀਰਿ ਘਿਆਲੀ ॥
She distributes the bounty of the Guru’s Langar; the kheer – the rice pudding and ghee, is like sweet ambrosia.
ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾ ਕੇ ਮੁਖ ਉਜਲੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਥੀਏ ਪਰਾਲੀ ॥
The faces of the Guru’s Sikhs are radiant and bright; the self-willed manmukhs are pale, like straw.
ਪਏ ਕਬੂਲੁ ਖਸੰਮ ਨਾਲਿ ਜਾਂ ਘਾਲ ਮਰਦੀ ਘਾਲੀ ॥
The Master gave His approval, when Angad exerted Himself heroically.
ਮਾਤਾ ਖੀਵੀ ਸਹੁ ਸੋਇ ਜਿਨਿ ਗੋਇ ਉਠਾਲੀ ॥੩॥
Such is the Husband of mother Khivi; He sustains the world. ||3||
Today during the Covid 19 pandemic the Sikh community all over the world has gone forward with their Sewa and Langar and receiving accolades of appreciation. Whether it is Khalsa Aid or various Gurudwaras all over the world, that are feeding millions of hungry people, doing Sewa is something which the Sikhs have inherited from Mata Khiviji.
Mata Khiviji with her great devotion and relentless service to humanity in the form of Langar received as Guru Nanak Devji’s legacy has turned into a tradition which is followed by the Sikhs and were introduced to the tradition of selfless service.
Written by: Samita Kaur