SĀHIB DEVĀṄ, by tradition mother of the Khālsā, was the daughter of Bhāī Har Bhagvān alias Rāmū, a Bassī Khatrī, and his wife, Jas Devī, a devout Sikh couple of Rohtās, in Jehlum district (now in Pakistan). Her parents had from the beginning dedicated her to the service of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. They took her along as they came to Anandpur on the occasion of the Baisākhī festival of 1700, and disclosed to the Gurū their heart's wish to give away their daughter in marriage to him. The Gurū, who already had two wives and was the father of four sons, refused the offer. But when Bhāī Har Bhagvān insisted that their daughter had been brought up as a prospective spouse of the Gurū and would not countenance marriage with anyone else, he agreed, but made it explicit that she would remain virgin all her life. The nuptials took place at Anandpur on 15 April 1700. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh proclaimed Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ to be the mother of the Khālsā. Ever since the custom has been that, at the time of initiation, the novitiates declare themselves to be the sons and daughters of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ.
During the fateful night of 5-6 December 1705, after Anandpur had been evacuated, the Gurū's withdrawing column was attacked on the bank of the rivulet Sarsā. In the confusion that followed, the Gurū's family and disciples got scattered, and Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ and Mātā Sundarī were escorted by Bhāī Manī Siṅgh to Delhi. They re-joined the Gurū at Talvaṇḍī Sābo for some time during 1706 and were sent back to Delhi before Gurū Gobind Siṅgh set out on his journey through the desert of Rājasthān on his way to meet Emperor Auraṅgzīb in the South. But on learning of the emperor's death, he changed his course and went to Āgrā via Delhi to meet the new emperor, Bahādur Shāh, whom he accompanied to Rājasthān and onward to the Deccan in 1708. This time Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ accompanied Gurū Gobind Siṅgh to Nāndeḍ, but again, shortly before his assassination in early October 1708, she was persuaded to return to Delhi and stay with Mātā Sundarī. She brought with her from Nāndeḍ five weapons said to have originally belonged to Gurū Hargobind. From Delhi she, jointly with Mātā Sundarī, supervised the affairs of the community as is evident from some of the hukamnāmās issued to saṅgats in her name. The exact date of Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ's death is not known, but it is believed that she passed away some time before Mātā Sundarī who died in 1747. The available hukamnāmās issued by Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ bear dates between 1726 and 1734 indicating that she must have expired some time between 1734 and 1747. The memorial in her honour stands close to the one commemorating Mātā Sundarī in the premises of Gurdwārā Bālā Sāhib, New Delhi. The weapons said to have been brought by her from Nāndeḍ are preserved as sacred relics in Gurdwārā Rikābgañj in Parliament Street, New Delhi.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok