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Guru Har Krishan

HarKrishan was just over five when he was installed as the eighth Guru. Though young in years he displayed an unusual maturity and impressed his followers by his discourses. His elder brother, Ram Rai, who had been passed over for the succession, sought redress from Aurangzeb for the seeming injustice of his father. The emperor summoned the young guru to Delhi. He arrived in the capital in early March of 1664 and stayed at the house of raja jai Singh of Amber. A Gurdwara known as Bangla Sahib now stands there.


Several instances are recorded ti illustrate his intelligence. Cunningham relates one where the child was taken into the royal harem and asked to identify the empress amongst a group of ladies, all equally well dressed. He straightaway identified her and went and sat on her lap. Another tells of Aurangzeb one day catching hold of both his little hands in one of his and asking what he would do if he were slapped.The Guru replied that anyone whose hand the emperor took had nothing to fear; what then had he to be afraid of when the emperor had taken hold of his both hands! Aurangzeb was greatly impressed by his wit and intelligence.


While HarKrishan was in Delhi, an epidemic of small pox broke out in the city. He came out to give aid and succor to those afflicted. In the process, he himself caught the infection. He moved out of raja jai Singh’s house to a camp on the banks of the river Jamuna. Even while gravely ill he was conscious of his responsibility to name a successor. Before he breathed his last, he uttered the cryptic words “baba bakale” ----the baba, namely, the guru, is at the bakala.Bakala, a village near Amritsar, is where Guru HarGobind had sent his wife and youngest son not long before he passed away. Tegbahadur, in his youth, was an accomplished rider and marksman. He had fought valiantly during the conflicts with the Mughal forces. However, he was essentially of an aloof and retiring nature, inclined more towards meditation and contemplation rather than worldly affairs.Nevertheless, he attended to family responsibilities and looked after his mother and wife. When news reached Bakala of the late Guru’s dying words, several pretenders set themselves up claiming to be the successor. The most prominent was Dhirmal, the sixth guru’s eldest grandson, who had been passed over for succession in favour of his younger brother, HarRai. There were also others, each with his own masands, who were beguiling Sikhs who came in search of the guru.


Makhan Shah, a prosperous Sikh merchant, also came to Bakala. Legend has it that he had vowed an offering of five hundred mohurs (gold coins) to the guru for success in a venture.  When he arrived at Bakala, he was bewildered to find several claimants to the gaddi. So, he went around the village placing a coin before each “Guru” who nonchalantly accepted the offering. He was quite perplexed when he was unable to identify the guru. Then he was told of another pious soul in the village who made no claims for himself. Thereupon the merchant sought him out and made his usual offering. He obtained the normal blessing followed by the remark that this was considerably short of the promised five hundred. Makhan Shah was delighted and ran out shouting: ‘Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re!’ (I have found the Guru).

Hearing this, others flocked to the place, ecstatic at the discovery. Dhirmal’sanger drove him to reckless action. He had his man pillage Guru TegBahadur’s dwelling, and make a murderous attack on his person which, fortunately, was not successful. In retaliation, some Sikhs ransacked Dhirmal’s house but the Guru had everything restored. At the same time, he deplored their action and lectured them on the virtue of forgiveness.