Baba Bakala – Pilgrim Town in Amritsar
By Smitakshi Guha
A small pilgrim town located in Amritsar, in the Indian state of Punjab, Baba Bakala happens to be one of the most sacred pilgrim places for the Sikhs, and is also widely associated with the popular 9th Sikh Guru—Guru Tegh Bahadur.
The pilgrim spot has many interesting tales associated to it, one of which is about how the 9th Sikh Guru emerged, after a long fiasco of figuring out who would be the 9th Guru after the death of the 8th Sikh Guru, Guru Harkrishnan. It is said that when the 8th Guru was on his death bed and was supposed to announce the name of his successor, all he could utter before passing out was the name of the place “Baba Bakala.” Ever since then, a rampage broke out in the place as people were left perplexed about the identity of the next Guru and as a result of the confusion, many started falsely claiming that they were the 9th Guru.
Subsequently, a rich maritime trader named Baba Makhan Shah Labana was stuck in a bad sea storm, during which he prayed to Guru Nanak Ji that if the lord helped him pass the storm and reach the shore safe, he would donate 500 dinars to the Guru for protecting him. On making it to the shore safe, he was rather astounded by the commotion that had broken out in the place with every other person claiming to be the 9th Sikh Guru.
To put an end to the confusion, he decided to execute a plan, which was simple but tremendously wise in order to unmask the façade and bring the true Guru into light. He said that he would be donating 2 Dinars to each and every individual who claimed that he was the real successor of the 8th Guru—Guru Harkrishnan. This was a well thought plan as he knew that only the true and pure Guru would know that he had actually promised 500 Dinars and not 2 Dinars in his prayers to the Guru.
Soon after, whoever accepted the 2 Dinars from the trader proved it blatantly that they weren’t the true Guru. It was only after a little while that a hermit named Tegh Bahadur came into notice and the trader offered him 2 Dinars, which he simply refused and reminded him of the promise and pledge he made to the Guru of 500 Dinars. Labana was shocked beyond words and it was then that Guru Tegh Bahadur emerged as the 9th Sikh Guru.
The place has a number of tourist attractions that include Gurdwara Baba Bakala, the Wagah Border, as well as the beautiful city of Amritsar.
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