BHAGO, MAI, the sole survivor of the battle of Khidrana, i.e. Muktsar (29 December 1705), was a descendant of Pero Shah, the younger brother of Bhai Langah, a Dhillon Jatt who had converted a Sikh during the time of Guru Arjan. Born at her ancestral village of Jhabal in present day Amritsar district of the Punjab, she was married to Nidhan Singh Varaich of Patti. A staunch Sikh by birth and upbringing, she was distressed to hear in 1705 that some of the Sikhs of her neighbourhood who had gone to Anandpur to fight for Guru Gobind Singh had deserted him under adverse conditions. She set off along with them and some other Sikhs to seek out the Guru, then travelling across the Malva region.
Mat Bhago and the men she was leading stopped near the dhab or pool of Khidrana where an imperial army in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh had almost overtaken him. They challenged the pursuing host and fought furiously forcing it to retreat. Guru Gobind Singh, who had supported them with a shower of arrows from a nearby high ground, found all the men except one, Mahan Singh, killed when he visited the battlefield. Mahari Singh, who had been seriously wounded, also died as the Guru took him into his lap.
Guru Gobind Singh blessed those forty dead as the Forty Liberated Ones. He took into his care Mat Bhago who had also suffered injury in the battle. She thereafter stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguard, in male attire. After the death of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded in 1708, she retired further south.
She settled down at Jinvara, 11 km from Bidar in Karnataka where, immersed in meditation, she lived to attain a ripe old age. Her hut in Jinvara has now been converted into Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago. At Nanded, too, a hall within the compound of Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib marking the site of her residence is known as Bunga Mai Bhago.
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