Baba Makhan Shah Labana

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Guru Ladho Re
Baba Makhan Shah Labana
Baba Makhan Shah Labana.jpg
Born 7 July 1619
Kathiawad, Gujrat
Died 1674
Vill. Raja Harpal, Sialkot
Monuments Gurdwara Baba Bakala
Occupation Merchant Marine
Known for Finding Guru Tegh Bahadur
Spouse(s) Bibi Sital Devi(Suljai)
Children Lal Das
Parent(s) Father:Baba Dasa Labana and Mother: Bijay Devi

Makhan Shah Lubana (Punjabi: ਮੱਖਣ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਲਬਾਣਾ, Makkhaṇa Śāha Labāṇā, also written as Lobana) (born July 7, 1619) was a devout Sikh and a rich trader who discovered the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Tegh Bahadar in Bakala, India in around 1665. He is also noted for his other contributions like preaching of Sikhism in West Punjab and abroad, punishing Shihan and Dhir Mal for attack and initial settlement of Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur Sahib.

Birth and early life[edit]

In 1619, He was born to Bhai Dasa Labana, who was devout Sikh of Guru Hargobind. There are different views of different scholars regarding his birthplace. Giani Gian Singh believes that he was born in Tanda, probably in Kashmir, but Col. Gurbachan Singh refute this claim.[1] Also, there many places with name Tanda in India like Mansura Tanda in Rajasthan, Khed Tanda;Basti Tanda;Sankpur Tanda;Chikvadi Tanda in Madhya Pradesh, Naka Tanda in Maharashtra, Anapur Tanda;Andhara Yera;Goda Tanda in Karnataka, Tanda in Kashmir and in Punjab there are multiple villages. Scholars like Max Arthur Macauliffe, GS Chabra, Sukha Singh believes that he was native of Kathiawar in Gujarat..

Following is commentary from Bhatt Vahis regarding background of Makhan Shah:

  • Makhan Shah, son of Bhai Dasa, grandson of Binai, maternal grandson of Beheru. [2]
  • The cavalcade of Bhai Makhan Shah who was the Sikh of Guru, was going to Kashmir. The Satguru joined him there. After pilgrimage of Mutton Martand along with Bhai Dasa and Bhai Aru Ram, he reached the place of Bhai Makhan Shah at Mota Tanda. Bhai Dasa, father of Bhai Makhan Shah breathed his last there.

He learned Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic and other languages, but his mother tongue was Labanki. Makhan Shah was married, according to Rajput Customs, with Sital Devi (also known as Suljai). She was daughter of Naik Puroshotam Das, belong to Sandlas caste of Naik Rajputs. They had a son who they named Bhai Lal Das. It is believed Lal Das took was baptized by Guru Gobind Singh and named as Naik Jawahar Singh who was martyred in the Battle of Chamkaur.


He continued his ancestral profession of mechant and trading. Makhan was a merchant who used to bring valuable merchandise by land and sea and sell it wholesale in parts of Gujarat, Punjab in India and abroad up to Mediterranean. He traded in spices, Bengali silk, Kashmiri shawls. In India he used camels, oxen and horses, often pulling carts. He crossed beyond Egypt and sailed the Mediterranean with his goods, trading as far as Portugal.

Discovery of Guru Tegh Bahadur[edit]

The Sakhi (true story) of that discovery was recorded in "Janamsakhis" and told as stories for many generations of Sikhs.

Ship Struck Incident[edit]

His ship was caught up in a furious storm while he was sailing, fully loaded with trade goods northwards, up the coast of India towards the Gulf of Khambhat.

The ship was terribly damaged during the storm, with the force of lightning splitting the mainsail, the sails hanging in shreds, the ship taking on water and when it seemed like he would lose the ship, Makhan decided his time had come to remember his Guru and ask for his help. Completely powerless, he knelt down, and said his Ardas (prayed) to God and Guru Nanak for safety. "Baba jee", he prayed desperately, "Please save my ship and my men... I pledge the 500 gold mohars tied to the belt at my waist, which without your help will soon be at the bottom of the sea. Please accept this as my humble offering. He then recited this Shabad of Guru Arjan Dev:

ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ Aasaa, Fifth Mehl: Guru Granth Sahib Page 403

Punjabi: ਅਪੁਨੇ ਸੇਵਕ ਕੀ ਆਪੇ ਰਾਖੈ ਆਪੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਜਹ ਜਹ ਕਾਜ ਕਿਰਤਿ ਸੇਵਕ ਕੀ ਤਹਾ ਤਹਾ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥ ਸੇਵਕ ਕਉ ਨਿਕਟੀ ਹੋਇ ਦਿਖਾਵੈ ॥ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਕਹੈ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਪਹਿ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਤਤਕਾਲ ਹੋਇ ਆਵੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Transliteration: apunay sayvak kee aapay raakhai aapay naam japaavai. jah jah kaaj kirat sayvak kee tahaa tahaa uth Dhaavai. ((1)) sayvak ka-o niktee ho-ay dikhaavai. jo jo kahai thaakur peh sayvak tatkaal ho-ay aavai. ((1)) rahaa-o.
English:He Himself preserves His servants; He causes them to chant His Name. Wherever the business and affairs of His servants are, there the Lord hurries to be. ((1)) The Lord appears near at hand to His servant. Whatever the servant asks of his Lord and Master, immediately comes to pass. ((1)(Pause))

Miraculously the winds started to die down, and the wild seas calmed. Safely secure, in the very centre of the storm, the ship was carried past the dangerous rocks, and guided without further harm, through the treacherous waters, into the nearest harbour, the Port of Surat. From there he made his way to Punjab, where he made it his mission to fulfil his vow and present himself to his Guru and present the 500 Mohar to the Guru's charity.

Guru Harkrishan Prophecy and Baba Bakala[edit]

Following Guru Harkrishans prophecy that the next Guru would be found in Bakala, he went there, arriving in August 1664. But on reaching Bakala he found as many as 22 people posing as the next Guru. He decided to offer only two Dinars (also given as five mohars [1] ) to every one posing to be Guru Harkrishan's successor. The true Guru would himself demand the exact amount he had vowed to give. According to him it would not be possible for the false and imposters to define the exact purpose of his visit. Thereby their ignorance, lack of spiritual insight and character would be exposed.

As expected, none of the imposters could recognise him, which still left him the problem of having to find the rightful Guru. Then he heard of the solitarian Teg Bahedur, son of Guru Hargobind. Makhan Shah was taken to see him on August 10, 1664 by a local youth. When Makhan placed the two Dinars before Tegh Bahadur, he remarked "God bless you, my man, why only two Dinars after pledging five hundred? The Guru is never in need of any thing but a Sikh is expected to keep his pledge to the Guru." Thus the issue was clinched and the real Guru was discovered by Makhan Shah.

Makhan Shah proclaimed that he would inform everyone upon discovering the True Guru. Guru Teg Bahadur was still desiring to meditate in solitude and told Makhan Shah not to tell anyone. The Guru tried to discourage him by saying his face would be blackened if he did so. (meaning dishonour will be obtained). Makhan Shah took this as a challenge instead of a curse and put ash on his face and climbed to the roof top to announce to all that he had found the Guru.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Retrieved from Labana Sewak, Oct 2007
  2. ^ Page 40, Guru Kian Sakhian, Saroop Singh Kashish

External links[edit]