Guru Har Krishan passed away on March .
30,1 664 in Delhi. Before his death, when the Sikhs asked himi who the next Guru would be, he uttered the words Baba Bakale.
From the last words of Guru Har Krishan, it was clear that the next Guru was at the village of Bakala. Baba Gurditta, the grandson of Baba Budda and some other wiseSikhs knew that Guru Har Krishan had his indication towards Guru Teg Bahadur, who was his Baba (grand parent) and lived in the village of Bakala. So they installed Guru Teg Bahadur as the real Guru. But the Sikhs in general were still confused.
The unscrupulous and greedy scions of the Guru’s family wanted to benefit from the confused situation. Dhirmal was restless to capture the Gurugaddi. Not one Dhirmal, but as many as twenty two Sodhi aspirants of the Gurugaddi had shifted to Bakala in the hope to become the Guru.
Every one of them installed himself on the seat and proclaimed that he was the real Guru.
The Sikhs came to visit their Guru with tithes and presents, but they were disappointed to see the band of deceits ever ready to befool them.
They came to drink deeply from the spiritual fountain, but instead of finding soothing peace for their thirsty souls, they found greed and confusion reigning there. The Masands and the so called Gurus were interested to get as much as they could from the visiting Sikhs. Such an attitude of the so called Gurus and the Masands was sure to make the Sikhs lose their faith in their Guru.
Makhan Shah was a rich merchant. He was
entrusted with the supply of rations and other requirements to the Mughal army. His ships laden with merchandise sailed in the Arabian sea. He had his trade relations even with other countries neighbouring Indian shores. He kept a good number of armed men with him. He had teams of servants to help him in his enterprising business.
Makhan Shah was a devout Sikh. He had an unshakable faith in the Sikh Gurus. He was a pious Sikh, practising the principles laid down by the Gurus. He recited the Gurbani with perfect devotion. He was particular in sending the tithes (1/10 of the income) to the Guru for Langar and other welfare projects, carried on by the Gurus. He kept himself aware of the Gurus, their place of abode and their activities for the good of mankind.
Once his ship, laden with merchandise, was sailing in the sea near the harbour of Surat. It was drifted away by a severe storm into the sea. The more the sailors tried to bring it near the harbour, the more it was pushed away by the strong currents. Makhan Shah feared that the ship would sink along with the cargo and he had to suffer heavy losses. He sat down. He fixed his mind on God. He recited Japji Sahib. He, then, prayed to the Guru occupying the Gurugaddi of Guru Nanak to save him from the impending ruin. He promised to contribute the 1/10 of the income to the Guru, if the cargo reached safely to the shore for sale.
His prayer was heard. The storm passed away.
The sea became calm. The sailors were able to anchor the ship into the harbour.
Makhan Shah sold his merchandise and made a good profit. The promised 1/10 of the income amounted to five hundred gold coins. Makhan Shah was very anxious to contribute that amount to the Guru as soon as it was possible.
He had the information that the Guru had been staying at Delhi. So first of all, he hastened to Delhi. There, he heard that the new Guru was at Bakala.
He was told that Guru Har Krishan had passed away ana that the light of Ninth Nanak could be found at Bakala.
Makhan Shah had his wife and sons with him.
He had his retinue in hundreds. He had his elephants and arm guards. With all that paraphernalia, Makhan Shah set out for Bakala. Reaching there he encamped outside the village. The Sodhis heard that a rich merchant had arrived in the village. He would offer costly presents to the Guru.
So a race started among the aspirant Gurus to influence him. Every one of them wanted to contact him first. They all sent their Masands to his camp. Makhan Shah heard all of them one by one.
Dhirmal’s Masand argued that the Gurugaddi would remain in Dhirmals’s family, because he was the grandson of Guru HarGobind. He tried to impress Makhan Shah saying.” As the Granth Sahib is in his possession, so he and only he is the real Guru.”
Makhan Shah was a very experienced and wise person. He said to himself, “The Guru bestows gifts. He despises greed. He is a magnate holding the highest position and utmost regards among his Sikhs. His personal character is like a magnet that attracts Sikhs to him. But these people are after money. They send their men to receive the offerings lest they should fall into the hands of others.
What kind of persons these men are! Their personal conduct does not give any sign of sublimity.
I am at a loss to find the rightful heir to the throne of Guru Nanak”. Then an idea struck his mind. He decided to offer five gold coins to every one of the twenty two aspirants of the Gurugaddi. He thought that the real Guru would ask for the full tithe. That way he would discover the real Guru.
The next day, Makhan Shah recited Japji Sahib, said his prayers and came out of his camp. First, he visited Dhirmal. The latter received him warmly.
He presented a khilat (dress) to him. He told Makhan Shah that the Granth Sahib was with him and he was the real Guru. Makhan Shah made an offering of five gold coins and came out of his Darbar.
He made the offerings of five gold coin to each of the twenty two so called Sodhi Gurus. No one asked him about the full amount of the tithe.
Makhan Shah became sad. He had firm faith in the last words of the Eighth Guru. He was certain that the Guru must be in the village of Bakala. So, he continued his search for the true Guru.
He met all the Sodhis one after another and asked if there was any other Sodhi living in Bakala.
He was told that Teg Bahadur lived with his mother and wife in a house. But he was a recluse. He spent most of his time in seclusion and deep meditation. He had been living there since long.
The other Sodhis had come there only recently after the heavenly departure of Guru Har Krishan.
Makhan Shah decided to try him also.
Makhan Shah, then, proceeded to the
residence of Guru Teg Bahadur along with his men and many more Sikhs-, who too,were very anxious to find out the true Guru. Guru Teg Bahadur was in his room absorbed in his divine thoughts. The Guru’s mother Mata Nanaki informed him that a crowd of Sikhs wanted to see him.
Guru Teg Bahadur sent a Sikh to tell the crowd that they should make no noise. They should visit the Guru bearing reverence and respect in their minds. Makhan Shah, then, made them stay outside. He alone went into the room. He knelt before the Guru, He placed five gold coins before him. He was about to leave when the Guru said,”0 Sikh!
You have covered a long journey to present the tithe personally. Why are you hesitant to offer the full amount of five hundred gold coins now? Your prayer to save your ship from wrecking was heard.
Your cargo was safely brought to the shores and now you are backing out of your promised amount of tithe.”
Hearing the words of the Guru, Makhan Shah’s joy knew no bounds. He said to the Guru/True King, if you continue to conceal the indentity of yours, who will then guide the Sikhs? The base and greedy men will spoil the good work of generations of our Gurus. Leave this life of seclusion, come out and guide the Sikhs who are now without their spiritual Guide. You have saved me. You should save the Sikhs.”
Makhan Shah made the offering of five hundred gold coins. He was very excited and happy. He was eager to break the news that he had found the real Guru.
But the Guru restrained him saying, “whoso •ever reveals my identity must first blacken his face.” Makhan Shah could not disobey the Guru’s order. He resolved to reveal the identity of the true Guru. He was ready to blacken his face, thus satisfying the condition put-forth by the Guru.
He came back to his camp. During the night, he got a dress prepared for the Guru. Next day, early in the morning, he came along with his men and some Sikhs. He,f irst^went to the kitchen. He blackened his face with the ash. He, then, paid his obeisance to the Guru. He presented the dress to the Guru. He, then, climbed atop of the house and shouted. “Congratulations Sikh brethren! I have found the true Guru. He is not claiming the Guruship. He is hiding himself. Let us request him to come out of his seclusion and guide us.”
Hearing the excited outbursts of Makhan Shah, crowds of Sikh came to the Guru. They requested him to accept the spiritual leadership of the community.
They earnestly requested him to tear away the falsehood of the pretenders.
The Guru acceded to their request. He came out of his hiding place. There were rejoicings among the Sikhs. The Guru was duly seated on the throne. With the emergence of the true Guru, the pretenders disappeared from the scene, as the darkness of night disappears with the appearance of the sun.