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  In the Guru's footsteps
In the Guru's footsteps

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: In the Guru's footsteps:

Guru Ladho Re

Guru Ladho Re

At the time of Guru Har Krishan's death, the Sikhs did not know who would be their next Guru. Guru Har Krishan had a severe attack of smallpox and before he died, he could only say "Baba Bakale" (the Guru is in the village of Bakala). It was not known who this man was and where he lived and therefore the Sikhs were confused.

When the Sodhis (distant blood relations of Guru Har Krishan) of Bakala heard the last words of Guru Har Krishan, twenty-two of them claimed to be the Guru, and tried to set up twenty-two seats. These twenty-two self-made Gurus would snatch the offerings of the faithful Sikhs who came to find the real Guru. Each of these impostor Gurus had a number of Masands who would not only entrap the simple people but would also extort money by unfair means. Some of them even kept guns.

A Sikh named Makhan Shah of the Lobana clan lived in Gujarat. While his ship was at sea carrying a valuable cargo, it got stuck on a sand bank near an island. Makhan Shah and his men were in great trouble and for many days no help reached them. They were sure they would die. Makhan Shah had firm faith in God and the Guru. He prayed to God and vowed that, if his life and his ship were saved from disaster, he would offer the Guru five hundred Mohars (gold coins) for welfare work. A strong wind began to blow, the ship was freed from the mud and reached the port safe and sound.

Having come back to India, Makhan Shah decided to go to the Guru with his offering before doing anything else. He took five hundred Mohars and reached Bakala as soon as he could. He was confused and bewildered to find 22 Sodhis posing as Gurus. How to find the real Guru was a problem. He gave serious thought to the matter and at last made up his mind to divide his offering among all the con- tender Gurus. He went to them turn by turn and offered them two mohars each. Wherever he went, he was made welcome but he found each of the 'false gurus' calling the others cheats and swindlers. Makhan Shah was very upset to find each guru extolling himself to the skies and finding serious faults with the others. He remembered Guru Arjan's words :

"Goodness shall not even come near him
Who calls himself good and others bad."
Another hymn of Guru Arjan was ringing in his ears :
"He who considers himself low;
Shall be considered the most high."
There was conflict in his mind, but without saying a word to anybody he visited all the Gurus, one after the other. Having satisfied himself that he had seen all of them, he enquired of the people if there was any other Sodhi from the Guru's family. He was told that a man named Tegha lived in an underground cellar and had no ambition to call himself a Guru. Although Makhan Shah was now losing his faith in the Guru, he thought he should not go back without having visited Tegha.

He reached Tegha's cellar and found him seated with his eyes closed and his mind calm and relaxed. Makhan Shah bowed before him and very lovingly placed two mohars near the Guru's seat. The Guru opened his eyes very gently smiled and said, "How now, O Makhan Shah, are you trying to cheat the Guru by offering only two mohars, instead of the five hundred you so willingly vowed to offer? I don't like my Sikhs to break their promises, tell lies or cheat others."

Makhan Shah, shouting from the house top in villiage Bakala (Amritsar) -- Guru Ladho Re, Guru Ladho Re (I have found the True Guru!)Makhan Shah was delightfully surprised and did not know what to say. Unable to control his joy, he ran out of the cellar, climbed to a house-top and waving a flag, pro- claimed at the top of his voice, "Guru Ladho Re! Guru Ladho Re!" (I have found the Guru ! I have found the Guru ! ). On hearing this, the people came together from every quarter and thronged to the Guru's cellar. Nobody cared to stay with the twenty-two impostor Gurus who collected all that they could carry and vanished overnight.

One, Dhir Mal, was so much annoyed at this event that he incited his follower Shinha to fire a bullet at the Guru. The Guru was hurt, but his wounds did not prove fatal. Dhir Mal and his men plundered all the Guru's belongings but he did not interfere, nor did he speak an angry word. He just kept cool and calm. Later the Sikhs caught Dhir Mal and the members of his gang and brought back all the Guru's belongings. The Guru would not accept anything back. He asked his Sikhs to release the wrong-doers and forget what had happened. He said to Makhan Shah and his friends, "Anger makes a man mad and makes him do evil deeds. An angry man loses control over himself and dishonours his religion. Anger thus makes him a criminal and he sins against Society, his parents and even his Guru. He utters harsh words and tries to take life which he should protect. His mind is restless until his desires are fulfilled. This affects his sleep and appetite. He tries to put out fire with petrol. He keeps making evil plans day and night and thus creates hell for himself. To forgive is a great act. It is like giving alms. It is a step towards Sikhism and nothing equals forgiveness. Do not bother about worldly wealth my friends, try to have the wealth of God's Name. which is superior to all jewels and gems. It cannot be stolen, burnt or washed away like worldly wealth."

Saying this, the Guru gave away all his belongings to Dhir Mal and his friends and saw them off cheerfully. After this the Sikhs proclaimed him their Guru. Instead of Tegha, he carne to be called Guru Tegh Bahadur.

"He protected the frontal marks and sacrificial threads of the Hindus;
He displayed great bravery in this dark age.
When he put an end to his life for the sake of holy men,
He gave his head, but uttered not a groan.
He suffered martyrdom for the sake of religion;
He gave his head but swerved not from his determination. God's people would be ashamed
To perform tricks and miracles to save themselves."
(Guru Gobind Singh)
"The true Guru cherishes his disciple,
The true Guru is ever merciful to his follower,
The true Guru removes filth from his disciple's mind,
The true Guru instructs his disciple to repeat the Name of God,
The true Guru will cut the fetters of his disciple,
The true Guru's Sikh recoils from evil deeds.
The true Guru gives the wealth of God's Name to his disciple.
Very fortunate is the Sikh of the Guru."
(Sukhmani, Guru Granth Sahib)
"O Sir, why do you go searching for God in a forest?
God lives everywhere and He resides even in you.
As there is sweet smell in flowers
And reflection in a mirror;
So does God live in your heart;
Search for him there, O Brother.
Whether you are abroad or at home;
Know that there is but One God.
Unless you know yourself, says Nanak,
You shall never remove the shadow of doubt."
(Guru Tegh Bahadur)
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