Choosing his Heir : Guru Ram Das Ji

Meanwhile, the holy tank was more than half done, and a big settlement began to grow around it. As the tank got into progress, the town gained popularity as ‘Amritsar*. Now the Guru spent more and more time supervising the tank. He began to feel that his days were numbered now. He was also troubled by the feeling that he might not live to see the completion of this holy tank.

Around this time, one of his cousins, Sahari Mai, came to Amritsar to invite the Guru to his son’s wedding. But the Guru was much too occupied with the tank and

expressed his inability to accompany Sahari Mai. However, he told him that he would send one of his sons on his behalf. For this, he called his eldest son, Prithi Chand, and asked him to go with Sahari Mai to Lahore. But Prithi Chand, who was aware that his father was contemplating choosing an heir to the Guru’s throne did not want to be absent at this time. He was afraid that his father would install his younger brother, Arjan, in his absence, and so he refused to go. This really pained Guru Ram Das, and so he called his second son, Mahadev, to go instead. But he too excused himself on some pretext. Guru Ram Das, who was well aware of what was brewing in their minds, did not reprimand them at all. Finally, he sent for his youngest and favourite son, Arjan. He explained the whole situation to him and asked him to go.

Arjan, without a word, packed his bags and left for Lahore to attend the wedding as his father’s representative. Guru Ram Das also asked him to look after the dharamsala at Lahore and to stay there until he sent for him.

Several months passed and the Guru was so engrossed in the construction work of the tank that he forgot he had asked Arjan to wait in Lahore, till he was sent for. Meanwhile, Arjan was getting restless since he had not seen his beloved father for a very long time, and was dying to have a glimpse of him. But he could not disobey his father’s orders to return without being sent for, and hence he stayed on. After yet another month of waiting, he decided to send a message to his father through a servant, expressing his wisfi to return. Unfortunately, it so happened that when the servant arrived Guru Ram Das was resting, and the letter was received by Prithi Chand who said he would pass it to the Guru.

He then dismissed the servant after sending the message that Arjan was to stay there a little longer. Again when a few months passed and there was no news from his father, Arjan wrote again seeking permission to r eturn. But again, Prithi Chand who was always on the lookout for messengers from Lahore took the letter, and sent back the same message.

A few months later Arjan decided to send a message again, and this time he asked him to deliver the letter personally to his father.

When the Guru read the letter he realised that it was Arjan’s third letter. After enquiring, he was told that all this while Prithi Chand had been taking the messages and not passing it to him. The Guru was really angry and he immediately sent for Prithi Chand, who at first denied everything but was found guilty when the Guru had his room checked.

Guru Ram Das then ordered Prithi Chand to go with Bhai Budha, one of their old and trusted priests, and bring Arjan back with full honour. When Arjan was finally brought back to Amritsar, Guru Ram Das declared to that he was appointing Arjan as his successor.

Everyone present was very pleased with the ^ Guru’s decision, since they were all as fond of * Arjan as the Guru himself.

Bhai Budha then applied the tilak qji.

Arjan’s forehead, and the flame of

sovereignity passed on from Guru Ram Das to Guru Arjan, who became the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. It was the year 1581, and it marked a new chapter in the history of the Sikh Gurus.

From here onwards the nomination of Guru came to be based on both heredity and merit.

It gave a whole new meaning to ‘guruship’, and brought more power and authority to the succeeding Gurus.