Bebe Nanaki ji (1464–1518) was the elder sister of Guru Nanak Dev JI, the founder and first Guru (teacher) of Sikhism. Bebe Nanaki is an important religious figure of Sikhism, and is known as the first Gursikh. She was the first to realize her brother’s “spiritual eminence”.
Early life and background
Bebe Nanaki ji and her brother were the children of Mehta Kalu and Mata Tripta. Born in the city of Chahal, near Lahore (present Kasur district), Bebe Nanaki was named by her grandparents who named her Nanaki after the word Nanakian, meaning the home of your maternal parents.Bebe and Ji are added to her name as a sign of respect. Bebe is used in regards to an older sister and Ji given to anyone you want to show your respects to. Bebe Nanaki was married off at an early age at 11 years old. In those days it was customary to be married at such a young age.
Brother and sister
Bebe Nanaki had an immense adoration for her brother and was the first to recognize his “enlightened soul”.She was 5 years his elder but played the role of a mother to him. She not only protected him from their father but she loved him unconditionally. Guru Nanak Dev was sent to live with Bebe Nanaki when he was only 15 years old. To instil his independence, she searched for a wife for him. Bebe Nanaki along with her husband found a woman, Mata Sulakhni, for Guru Nanak Dev to marry.Since Bebe Nanaki had no children of her own she loved and helped raise her brother’s children, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand.
Bebe Nanaki ji is known as being Guru Nanak Dev’s first follower.She was eternally devoted to him and his cause. As well as she is known for inspiring Guru Nanak Dev in using music as an instrument of devotion to God. Knowing he had musical talent she bought him a Rebab to help him further his music.
Bebe Nanaki died in 1518. As one of her last wishes she willed her brother, Guru Nanak Dev, to be by her side during her last days. Her last breaths were enlightened with the Japji Sahib which was recited to her.