MULTĀN (30º-12'N, 71º-31'E), ancient city which had been a prominent centre of Muslim piety, was where according to Bhāī Gurdās, Vārāṅ I. 44-45, Gurū Nānak met with some local Sūfī saints. Travelling from Kartārpur, on the River Rāvī, Gurū Nānak first went to Achal Baṭālā and thence to Multān. As the Gurū arrived at Multān, the pīrs of Multān brought to him a bowl overflowing to the brim with milk. By this gesture they meant to say that the place was already full of religious teachers. Gurū Nānak laid upon the milk-bowl a jasmine petal indicating thereby that he would still find room for himself without displacing anyone. And the Gurū, says Bhāī Gurdās, mingled there as do the waters of the Ganges and the sea. The Miharbān Janam Sākhī, a work contemporaneous with that of Bhāī Gurdās, says that many inhabitants of Multān turned out to listen to Gurū Nānak, among them Shaikh Bahāuddīn Makhdūm, a descendant of the famous Muslim saint Bahāuddīn Zakarīā (b. 1171 AD).
Multān being a predominaitly Muslim city, no Sikh shrine commemorating Gurū Nānak's visit was established there, although according to Tārā Siṅgh Narotam, Srī Gurū Tīrath Saṅgrahi, a memorial did exist in the house of one of the pīrs. It was served by Muslim mujāwirs or officiants.
The city was the capital of a province under the Mughals. It was ceded to Ahmad Shāh Durrānī in 1752. The Bhaṅgī clan of the Sikhs conquered it in December 1772, but lost it to Taimūr Shāh, son and successor of Ahmad Shāh, early in 1780. Later in 1818, it became part of the kingdom of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. In 1848, the Sikh governor of Multān, Dīwān Mūl Rāj, revolted against the British which led to the second Anglo-Sikh war, 1848-49.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)