Mai Bhago (Mata Bhag Kaur), born in Jhabal near Amritsar was the sole survivor of the battle of Khidrana (Battle of Muktsar, 1705) and is well known for her courage and devotion to Guru Gobind Singh ji. In 1704, Anandpur was under an extended siege by the imperial Mughal army and the forces of the surrounding Hill Rajas. Guru Gobind Singh Ji had called upon all Sikhs to come to the city to defend it and over a period of several years many bloody battles ensued and the city held out against the Mughal emperor’s forces. The enemy then turned to the tactic of siege warfare in an effort to starve the Sikhs and force them to retreat from the fort.
When the siege went on for months, in hunger and despair, 40 Sikhs from Mai Bhago’s village of Jhabal lost heart and renounced their loyalty to the Guru in writing and deserted him. News of the betrayal quickly reached Jhabal and the ears of Mai Bhago. Boiling with rage, she went around the village and exhorted the women folk not to receive the deserters into their homes unless the made amends for the disgrace they had brought home with them. Mai Bhago rode out and intercepted the forty deserters as they neared the boundaries of the village. She challenged them to return to the service of the Guru and brought these men back to the path of devotion and sacrifice.
The 40 Sikhs, lead by Mai Bhago intercepted a large Mughal force that was pursuing the Guru’s retinue and fought long and fierce battle at Khindrana until they were finally overwhelmed by superior numbers. After the battle, the Guru returned to the scene of the battle and found that every member of Bhag Kaur’s party was either dead or gravely wounded but Mai Bhago still lived. One other, Bhai Mahan Singh, before his last breath asked the Guru to forgive all the deserters and restore their kinship so that they might die in peace and obtain salvation. The Guru tore up the Badava and named them the Chali Mukte (40 liberated ones).