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What extraordinary times we find ourselves in. In the light of the changing situation in schools, the Story Tent will continue to deliver a weekly story. It may be a resource that you could offer to parents who are supporting their children at home. There is a free sign up on our website which can be found at
This week we have our fifth story on the theme "What makes a Good Leader?" It is a story that comes from the Sikh tradition and describes the importance of bravery in difficult situations.
If you have any interesting responses to the story, do feel free to drop us an email at:
We would love to receive your feedback so that we can continue to develop and improve our stories.
What makes a Good Leader? – SIKHISM
The founder of the Sikh religion is known as Guru Nanak. He was born in the 15th Century (AD) in Punjab, North-West India. He was given the name Guru which means teacher and was the first of 10 Sikh Gurus.

The 11th and final Guru is not actually a person but rather it is a
sacred text which is known as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.  It contains teachings from the Guru's and helps Sikhs to learn how to live well. Nanak's followers became known as Sihks, from the Sanskrit word for learner or disciple, guided in their way of life by God and the Gurus.

Sikhs are also inspired by historical texts written during the 16th to 18th centuries, this story comes from these texts.

Mai Bhago and the Forty Liberated Ones

In 1704 Guru Gobind Singh Ji and many Sikhs lived in Anandpursahib, India. They practiced their faith freely as equals. Some emperors of India celebrated all the different faiths, but some were obsessed with power. Emperor Aurangzeb wanted to control everyone and tried to extinguish the Sikhs. Many Sikhs died and those that remained were starving and weakened.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji and a small group of soldiers escaped. They were chased and attacked over many miles by 16,000 of Aurangzeb’s troops. Forty soldiers had no hope and asked the Guru if they could leave. The Guru asked them to sign a document stating that they no longer saw him as their teacher and leader.
One of the forty men who deserted Guru Gobind Singh Ji then returned to his wife, Mai Bhago.  Mai Bhago was a devout Sikh who continuously remembered God’s name. She had trained in martial arts. When her husband returned home and told her that some of the soldiers had renounced the Guru, she became furious.
She readied herself to ride into battle with armour and weapons.  Mai Bhago was determined to defend the Guru and the Sikh faith. Nothing could stop her from defending the Sikh principles of equality, freedom and justice.  Mai Bhago took her horse and rode to the homes of the other deserters. She told them off for their cowardice.

Seeing Mai Bhago’s courage and determination the 40 deserters felt ashamed. They followed Mai Bhago and they defeated Aurangzeb in the battle of Muktsar. Her bravery and leadership turned the tide in one of the most important points in Sikh history. Through her inspirational leadership, the Guru was saved, and the forty deserters gained forgiveness and liberation.

Follow up questions:
  1. From this story, what do you think are the characteristics that make a great leader? (e.g. Mai Bhago - forgiveness, bravery to inspire others, dedication)
  2. From this story, what do you think are the characteristics that make a bad leader? (e.g. Aurangzeb - a thirst for absolute control)
  3. What are the difficulties that Mai Bhago would have faced as a woman solider in the 17th century do you think? How would she have overcome these challenges?
  4. Have you ever done anything that you consider to be really brave?
To access this story in pdf format please click on the link below:

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