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MAKKHAN SHAH

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MAKKHAN SHAH, son of Naik Dase Shah, was a wealthy trader of the Lubana clan. He hailed from the village of Tanda, in present day Muzaffarabad district of Jammu and Kashmir. He was a devout Sikh and had received Guru Har Rai in his home during the latter's visit to Kashmir in 1660. Once a vessel carrying his wares went aground, and he vowed that if he reached the nearest port safely he would make to the Guru an offering of 500 gold mohars.

His boat came through the crisis, and he travelled to Bakala where, as Guru Har Krishan had just before his death pronounced, his successor would appear. As he arrived there on the day of Divali festival, 9 October 1664, he was baffled to discover twenty-two different claimants to the holy office having established their seats. He visited them all by turns, greeting each with an offering of two gold mohars. He learnt from a young boy that there lived in town a holy man mostly absorbed within himself.

Makkhan Shah made straight for the house pointed out to him and saw Guru Tegh Bahadur sitting in a secluded room rapt in reflection. He bowed and placed before him the customary two gold mohars. Guru Tegh Bahadur gave him his blessing and said that his offering was considerably short of the promised five hundred. Makkhan Shah's heart leapt for joy to hear these words and he forthwith made good the difference. He was so delighted, says Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, "that the bands of his cloak sundered.

His face blossomed like the flower opening up at the sight of the sun. This was like a beggar striking upon a treasure." He ran upstairs and began shouting from the rooftop, "Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re (I have found the Guru, I have found the Guru)." Makkhan Shah's announcement dispirited the pretenders, but Dhir Mall, a nephew of the Guru, fortified in his claim by the possession of the Adi Granth, or original recension of the holy book, was still envious. His masand Shihan, ransacked Guru Tegh Bahadur's house, but the Guru did not complain.

Makkhan Shah retaliated by plundering Dhir Mall, but the Guru had everything returned to him, including the Granth Sahib when he learnt what Makkhan Shah had done. He restored to Dhir Mall goods pillaged by his men from his own house. As says Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, Guru Tegh Bahadur counselled Makkhan Shah and other Sikhs: "Forgiveness is the austerity most meritorious; forgiveness is the best of charities. Forgiveness is equivalent to all the pilgrimages and ablutions. In forgiveness lies liberation.

No other virtue parallels forgiveness. Forgiveness thou must learn." One day Makkhan Shah expressed his wish to visit Amritsar to perform ablutions in the holy pool, and felt thrilled when the Guru offered to travel with him. As they reached Amritsar on Maghar Puranmashi 1721 Bk/22 November 1664, the custodians of the Harimandar barred their entry. He asked for permission to enter by force, but the Guru forbade him to do so. Makkhan Shah remained in Guru Tegh Bahadur's train as he travelled through the Punjab and arrived with him at Kiratpur where he took leave of him.

References :

1. Bhalla, Sarup Das, Mahima Prakash. Patiala, 1977
2. Padam, Piara Singh, and Giani Garja Singh, eds., Guru kian Sakhian. Patiala, 1986
3. Gian Singh, Giani, Sri Guru Panth Prakash. Patiala, 1970
4. Trilochan Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur: Prophet and Martyr. Delhi, 1967
5. Harbans Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Delhi, 1989

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