MAKKHAṆ SHĀH, son of Nāik Dāse Shāh, was a wealthy trader of the Lubāṇā clan. He hailed from the village of Ṭāṇḍā, in present day Muzaffarābād district of Jammū and Kashmīr. He was a devout Sikh and had received Gurū Har Rāi in his home during the latter's visit to Kashmīr 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 Gurū an offering of 500 gold mohars. His boat came through the crisis, and he travelled to Bakālā where, as Gurū Har Krishan had just before his death pronounced, his successor would appear. As he arrived there on the day of Dīvālī 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. Makkhaṇ Shāh made straight for the house pointed out to him and saw Gurū Tegh Bahādur sitting in a secluded room rapt in reflection. He bowed and placed before him the customary two gold mohars. Gurū Tegh Bahādur gave him his blessing and said that his offering was considerably short of the promised five hundred. Makkhaṇ Shāh's heart leapt for joy to hear these words and he forthwith made good the difference. He was so delighted, says Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj 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, "Gurū lādho re, Gurū lādho re (I have found the Gurū, I have found the Gurū)."
Makkhāṇ Shāh's announcement dispirited the pretenders, but Dhīr Mall, a nephew of the Gurū, fortified in his claim by the possession of the Ādi Granth, or original recension of the holy book, was still envious. His masand Shīhāṅ, ransacked Gurū Tegh Bahādur's house, but the Gurū did not complain. Makkhaṇ Shāh retaliated by plundering Dhīr Mall, but the Gurū had everything returned to him, including the Granth Sāhib when he learnt what Makkhāṇ Shāh had done. He restored to Dhīr Mall goods pillaged by his men from his own house. As says Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth, Gurū Tegh Bahādur counselled Makkhaṇ Shāh 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 Makkhāṇ Shāh expressed his wish to visit Amritsar to perform ablutions in the holy pool, and felt thrilled when the Gurū offered to travel with him. As they reached Amritsar on Maghar Pūranmāshī 1721 Bk/22 November 1664, the custodians of the Harimandar barred their entry. He asked for permission to enter by force, but the Gurū forbade him to do so. Makkhaṇ Shāh remained in Gurū Tegh Bahādur's train as he travelled through the Punjab and arrived with him at Kīratpur where he took leave of him.
A. C. Banerjee