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Guru Ram Das Is Chosen

Bhai Jetha (Guru Amar Das's son-in-law) was tasked by Guru Amar Das with establishing a new settlement on a site where Guru Nanak had visited which became known as Guru Ka Chakk or Ramdaspur (subsquently named Amritsar). Bhai Jetha, however, still spent most of his time at Goindwal beside his Guru, and alloted just enough time to supervise the construction work.

Guru Amar Das was very pleased with the progress on the new township, and confided to Bhai Jetha that this new city would prove to be a landmark in the history of the Sikh religion. Though the order to establish a new township was made privately, it was a clear indication that Guru Amar Das had chosen his successor.

The Necklace

Guru Amar Das's successor became even more evident when one day, a very rich banker arrived in Goindwal to visit Guru Amar Das. As a mark of respect he presented a very expensive pearl necklace containing precious stones to the Guru. The man wanted to put the necklace on Guru Amar Das, but the Guru said he was too old for such ornaments.

Instead, he asked the man to put it the necklace on one who was the Guru's image, that resembled him the most. The puzzled devotee did know what to do so he handed the necklace to Guru Amar Das asking him to give it to the one he thought was his mirror image. The gathered Sangat started speculating whether it would be one of the Guru's two sons, Mohri and Mohan, others again thought of other faithful and obedient Sikhs.

Guru Amar Das surprised them all when he asked Bhai Jetha to approach him. Then, placing the necklace, with all its beauty and splendour on him, he declared that no one resembled him more in looks and nature than Bhai Jetha. This was an open indication to the people that Bhai Jetha would succeed Guru Amar Das.


During the course of time, Bhai Jetha had had two sons, and Bibi Bhani was expecting her third child. Guru Amar Das was as fond of his daughter as he was of Bhai Jetha. One morning, it is said, as Guru Amar Das was absorbed in meditation, Bibi Bhani noticed that one of the legs of the (manji (low wooden seat) on which the Guru sat was about to give way, she at once put forward her hand to support the stool.

As the Guru ended his devotions, he discovered how Bibi Bhani's hand was bleeding from the injury it had sustained. Guru Amar Das blessed Bibi Bhani her saying that her family would inherit the Guruship but also forewarned her by saying they would have to endure great sacrifices. When Bibi Bhani's third son, Arjan, was born, Guru Amar Das looked at the newborn child and realised that a future Guru had come into the world.

There was rejoicing in his house and the Guru too was very pleased. But Bibi Bhani could not help noticing that her brothers, Mohan and Mohri, were not too pleased since they too had children. Bibi Bhani own two sons, Prithi Chand and Mahadev, did not seem pleased at all. In fact, they did not take to their new brother very well.


Whenever Arjan, Bhai Jetha's youngest child, was brought to Guru Amar Das he would warmly embrace him. One day as Guru Amar was taking his meal, Arjan crawled into his chamber and put his hand on his plate. The Sikhs in attendance took the child away, but he returned and acted as before. Arjan was removed again, and on his return for the third time the Guru gave him some of his food. Guru Amar Das said that one day Arjan would help people cross the ocean of life. The Sikhs understood that the Guru, by these words, foretold Arjan's succession to the exalted position of Guruship.

Guru Amar Das realised that it was time to leave the earthly abode and announce his successor formally to the people. Though there was no doubt in his mind about the successor, he still wanted the people to know why he had chosen Bhai Jetha. Since most people considered his other son-in-law, Bhai Rama, to be a prospective Guru. So Guru Amar Das decided to put the two men to a test before a gathering of a few hundred Sikhs.

The Test

Guru Amar Das asked both his son-in-laws to construct a Thara (platfrom) near the Baoli, one that he might sit on in the morning, and the other in the evening. He who did the better work would receive the greater honour. Soon they got to work, and both built nice looking platforms. When the platforms were completed, the Guru went to inspect them, he looked at each platform critically and shook his head in disapproval.

Bhai Rama, after the customary obeisance, showed the Guru his work, and thought he had done well. Guru Amar Das said, "Your platform is not straight, start again and build another." Bhai Rama represented that he had made the platform straight and very beautiful with his own hands after great exertion. The Guru replied, "No doubt you have laboured hard, but the platform is not to my satisfaction."

Guru Amar Das insisted on its demolition and another built in its place. Bhai Rama consented and built the platform a second time. It still failed to please the Guru. After a long argument, Bhai Rama threw it down again, but refused to build it up a third time. He said, "The Guru has grown old and his reasoning has failed him." The Guru remarked, "This man does not have true devotion; how shall he be worthy of the Guruship?"

Humility, Patience, Perseverance And Devotion

When Guru Amar Das examined Bhai Jetha's platform, he said, "I do not like this platform. Start again and build another." Bhai Jetha at once began to demolish his work and build it anew. When it was finished, the Guru said that he was not satisfied with that either, and asked him to do the work over again.

Bhai Jetha consented and worked day and night till he had completed the platform for the third time. The Guru affected to find fault with it until it had been demolished and rebuilt seven times. This went on for a long time, and the people were wondering what the Guru really wanted. Finally, Bhai Jetha clasped the Guru's feet and humbly addressed him, "I am a fool; pray have regard of me as your son. I keep making mistakes and you have been very tolerant of me." At this, Guru Amar Das embraced him and turned to the assembly of people gathered there, who by now had understood the purpose of this test.

Guru Amar Das said, "Obeying my order, seven times you built the platform, so seven generations of yours shall sit on the Guru's throne." Then turning to the Sikhs the Guru said, "I have now tested the devotion of both my sons-in-law. You have seen the result; that is why Jetha is dearer to me. He is a perfect being who has become incarnate, and the world following him shall be saved."


The Guru then announced that he was going to appoint Bhai Jetha as the next Guru because he was not only the most deserving, but like the other Gurus he had the patience to strive for the very best. He also told the public that Bhai Jetha carried the flame of Guru Nanak in him, and was the true heir to the throne of the Sikh Gurus.

He declared that from then on, Bhai Jetha would be called Guru Ram Das. The Sikhs were astonished on witnessing Jetha's marvellous devotion and obedience, and began to recognize him as the image of the Guru. And so, in 1574, Guru Ram Das became the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, amid great rejoicing and celebrations. Everyone was pleased with the decision except Guru Amar Das's son, Mohan, who felt that as the Guru's eldest son he was the rightful heir to Guruship.

Although Guru Amar Das explained to Mohan that he lacked the virtues of humility, patience, perseverance and devotion which Guru Ram Das possessed, Mohan was not satisfied. However, the whole Sikh community rejoiced, and looked to Guru Ram Das for all their spiritual guidance. Guru Amar Das who had seen how well Guru Ram Das fulfilled his duties felt sure that the legacy of Guru Nanak was in safe hands.

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