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The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur
The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur:

 "The True Guru is Found"

"The True Guru is Found"

There was a wealthy merchant by the name of Makhan Shah, who belonged to the Labana tribe of "Vanjaras" (literally meaning merchants). He was once sailing in the high seas on his business exploits when he suddenly found that his sea vessel was stuck in sand and would move no more. Every effort was made by his marine engineers to refloat it but to no avail. Then, Makhan Shah suddenly noticed that there was a devout Sikh of Guru Nanak Ji on board, who was then reciting aloud the melodious hymns of the Great Gurus. Makhan Shah enquired of his Sikh passenger if his Great Guru could help him get out of trouble. The Sikh replied that the Guru helps all His Sikhs in distress, wherever they may be. All a Sikh need do is to pray to God through his Guru with a pure heart and full faith. Makhan Shah then requested the holy Sikh to pray on behalf of the crew and the passengers, and Makhan Shah himself. Makhan Shah also promised that on his return to India he would pay a personal visit to the Great Guru and offer him five hundred gold sovereigns and thank him a million times for helping him in the middle of no where. The holy Sikh then asked all the crew and passengers to stand up with folded hands. He himself stood in front of the congregation with folded hands, too. He then recited the names of Guru Nanak Ji, Guru Angad Ji, Guru Amardas Ji, Guru Ramdas Ji, Guru Arjan Ji, Guru Hargobind Ji, Guru Hari Rai Ji and Guru Hari Krishan Ji. He then said to the Great Guru Nanak that although "your Ninth Form is not known to us Lord; wherever you are, help your Sikh get out of this distress." He then repeated that Makhan Shah had promised the House of Guru Nanak a personal visit and an offering of 500 gold sovereigns. The congregation then bowed their heads to the Great Guru Nanak. Suddenly the wind blew from the right direction and with the right force and before anyone could notice the ship was rolling again. Makhan Shah and the holy Sikh thanked their Guru and longed for His "Darshan" (audience) and blessing on return to India.

As soon as his business transactions were completed, Makhan Shah set sails for India, anxiously waiting for the audience with the Ninth Guru Nanak, who was yet unknown to the public. On reaching India, he went straight to Delhi from where he heard that on Sri Guru Har Krishan Ji's Ascent, He ordained the Sikhs with the words "Baba Bakale" (i.e. the Baba is at Bakala). It was clear that Guru Har Krishan had wished his Grand-uncle Tegh Bahadur ji to be his successor to the Spiritual Throne of Guru Nanak, and hence the word "Baba", which in the Punjabi language means grandfather. This statement was unambiguous at the time when it was made, for there was only one person in the village Bakala at that time whom the Guru could have referred to as his Grandfather (baba) and that was Baba Tegh Bahadur ji.

However, as soon as other nearby relatives of Sri Guru Har Krishan ji came to know of His last words, they all reached Bakala in the hope of making some wealth by fooling the Sikhs. The chief amongst those was Dhirmal, who was the eldest son of Baba Gurditta, and a grandson of Guru Hargobind ji. He was not a grandfather of Guru Har Krishan ji, but merely an uncle. However, since all male descendants of the Gurus are addressed as "Babas" even to this day, Dhirmal interpreted the order as being that the future Guru is to be a Sodhi Prince residing at Bakala. The next Guru had to be a Sodhi Prince, for Bibi Bhani had wished that this spiritual Kingdom of Guru Nanak should stay within her descendants. But, even under this broader definition of "Baba," Dhirmal had no claim to the Holy Throne of Guru Nanak, for he was not at Bakala at the time of Guru Har Krishan Ji's ascent.

On reaching Bakala, Makhan Shah found to his surprise that there were twenty-two different Sodhi Babas each claiming to be the genuine Ninth Guru of the Sikhs. Each of them employed agents who wittingly attempted to justify their respective master's claim to the Holy Throne of Guru Nanak. Since Dhirmal was a very near relative of Sri Guru Har Krishan Ji, he naturally had a stronger claim, and hence a bigger tent and a larger following.

Makhan Shah decided to visit each one of these "impostor" gurus in turn. On visiting each one of these self-proclaimed gurus, he gave them an offering of two gold sovereigns. They all blessed his soul and wished him prosperity and good health. But Makhan Shah was not satisfied with these few kind words. He had decided within his heart of hearts that He who is the genuine Guru of the Sikhs and He who can rescue his ship in the high seas, can certainly demand him to produce the offering of five hundred gold sovereigns, which he promised when in distress.

After meeting all the twenty-two impostors Makhan Shah was utterly disappointed. He had come to Bakala in the hope of receiving audience with the True Guru but was being led astray by impostors. These pretenders did not know that the night cannot be prolonged simply by hiding the Sun. When the night is dark different stars may be mistaken to be the Sun. But, in the words of Bhai Gurdas, as soon as the sun rises all other stars disappear and the darkness vanishes. So, the truth could not be hidden for long, it had to appear sooner or later.

Makhan Shah enquired of a young lad as to whether there was another Sodhi Baba in Bakala, who may have a legitimate claim to the Spiritual Throne of Guru Nanak. The lad replied there was one other Baba, whose name was Baba Tegh Bahadur. He told Makhan Shah that Baba Tegh Bahadur ji was of a very different nature and that he did not like any pomp or show. He was humble and had a charming personality. Whilst other Babas had come from nearby towns, Baba Tegh Bahadur had lived and meditated at Bakala for twenty-six years. Makhan Shah had longed to see such a pure soul. He knew that Baba Tegh Bahadur ji could be the True Guru. So, he asked the lad to show him the place where Baba Tegh Bahadur ji was meditating.

On reaching the place (now known as Bhora Sahib), Makhan Shah bowed in reverence to Mata Gujri and Mata Nanaki (wife and mother respectively of Baba Tegh Bahadur ji). He then retold Mata Gujri that he had come from far off lands and would like to have an audience with Baba Tegh Bahadur ji. Mata Gujri went and told Baba Tegh Bahadur ji that someone had come to see Him. Baba Tegh Bahadur ji at once ordained that he be sent in.

On going into the cell where Baba Tegh Bahadur ji had been meditating for the last twenty-six years, Makhan Shah found a glow of Divine Light and sweetness. Baba Tegh Bahadur ji's face was radiantly glowing like the sun and Makhan Shah could not dare look eye to eye with Him. Makhan Singh was so pleased and impressed that he at once prostrated before the True Guru. But still being not sure, he made up his mind to offer only five gold sovereigns (instead of two that he had given earlier to the twenty-two impostors). He placed this offering before Baba Tegh Bahadur ji and kowtowed in reverence. On seeing this, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, the Ninth Sovereign on the Throne of Guru Nanak, said to Makhan Shah, "Makhan Shah, why five instead of five hundred gold sovereigns as promised to Guru Nanak? It is not good to back out of promises."

Makhan Shah was amazed, overjoyed and stuck for words. He could not understand as to why the Guru had not disclosed His identity earlier. He kowtowed again in reverence to the Great Guru and requested that he be allowed to make the Guru's identity public. The Guru said to Makhan Shah that the responsibility of the Throne of Guru Nanak was heavy and that the time had not yet come to make Himself public. The Guru hinted that by accepting the seat of Guru Nanak, He will have to lay down His life for the cause of the Dharma (Faith). But, Makhan Shah did not under stand all this. He felt that the Sikhs were being led astray by those impostors, and that sooner the Guru disclosed His identity, the better it would be. The Guru then said to Makhan Shah that whosoever declared the identity of the Guru shall suffer the consequences both in this world and the next. Makhan Shah accepted this condition readily, for he knew that he was disclosing the identity of the Guru for the greater good of the Sikhs as well as the Indians as a whole.

Makhan Shah finds the GuruThen, Makhan Shah got on to the top of the house and waving a cloth he Shouted aloud, "I've found the Guru! I've found the Guru!!" So, in this novel fashion the identity of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji was disclosed by Makhan Shah Vanjara. Soon afterwards an investiture ceremony was conducted, where Bhai Gurditta (a descendant of Baba Budha Jee) presented Guru Tegh Bahadur ji with a coconut and five paisas*. This was the customary way of Investiture in the House of Guru Nanak. The people were so much overjoyed that they wanted their Guru to be taken out in a procession so that everyone could have his Darshan. This was accordingly arranged. Dhirmal could not bear this out of jealousy and had one of his agents named Shihan fire a bullet aiming at Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. The bullet passed close to the Guru's forehead. There was a slight bleeding. At this incidence the Great Guru calmly remarked that "a Tilak of blood was the most appropriate for Tegh Bahadur." Of course, no one understood what the Guru had meant, but looking at the incidence from hindsight, we know that the Guru was referring to His unique and supreme sacrifice at Delhi, which was yet to come.
* An Indian coin.
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