Chalih (forty) Mukte (liberated ones), is band of 40 brave Sikhs who laid down their lives while fighting near the dhab (lake) of Khidrana, also known as Isharsar against a Mughal force, which was chasing Guru Gobind Singh.
They are remembered daily in the Sikh ardas (prayer) offered individually or during end of all religious community services.
Guru Gobind Singh watched the battle from a nearby mound. He praised the martyrs’ valour and blessed them as Chali Mukte (the Forty Immortals).
In their rememberance, Khidrana became Muktsar (the Pool of Liberation). Mukta is the one, who has achieved salvation.
Mughals and hill chiefs had surrounded Anandpur in 1705. They demanded the evacuation of the fort of Anandpurby Guru Gobind Singh. They announced that any Sikh refusing to be the Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh would be provided safe passage for escape. During those testing and challenging conditions of the war, Sikhs fought valiantly against the combined force. But, forty Sikhs under the leadership of Sardar Maha Singh refused to fight for the Khalsa. They gave a letter of refusal to fight (Bedawa) to Guru Gobind Singh and left the fort. Ultimately, Guru Guru Gobind Singh also left Anandpur Sahib.
After the bloody battle at Chamkaur, Guru Gobind Singh and other three survivors needed a safe place for a brief respite.
At Kot Kapura, south of river Sutlej, Chaudhari Kapura, a Brar Chief, met Guru Gobind Singh and provided him with a guide to lead him to a dhab (a natural depression fed by rain water) at Khidrana.
In the meantime, Maha Singh along with Sikhs returned back to their native place. One brave woman named Mai Bhago made them realise their mistake of deserting the Guru under adverse conditions. She inspired them to return to the Guru’s fold and led them to meet the Guru to seek his pardon.
Mai Bhag Kaur and those Sikhs stopped near the dhab (pool) of Khidrana, where an imperial army in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh had almost overtaken him. They challenged the pursuing enemy and fought furiously to force them to retreat.
Guru Gobind Singh supported them with a shower of arrows from a nearby high ground.
When Guru visited the battlefield, he found all the men except Mahan Singh and Mai Bhag Kaur were killed in the fierce battle. Taking Maha Singh’s head in his lap, the Guru praised the valour and the gallantry of the Majha Sikhs, who had laid their life for him. The Guru asked the seriously wounded Maha Singh to ask for any boon. Maha Singh requested the Guru to tear the bedaawa. Guru honoured his wish and Mahan Singh closed his eyes forever.
Guru Gobind Singh asked Mai Bhag Kaur to go back to her village. She expressed her long cherished desire to become an active saint soldier in the army of the Guru. Mai Bhag Kaur had suffered severe injuries in the battle. Guru got her cured. Thereafter, she stayed with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguard in male attire.
When Guru Gobind Singh left for heavenly abode at Nanded in 1708, she retired further south. She settled at Jinvara, located about 11 km from Bidar in Karnataka. She meditated at that place till her last breath. Her hut in Jinvara has now been converted into Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhag Kaur. At Nanded, too, a hall within the compound of Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib marks the site of her residence. It is known as Bunga Mai Bhag Kaur.