The Guru is Chosen : Guru Ram Das Ji

During one of his visits to Lahore, Emperor Akbar stopped at Goindwal, and visited the Guru about whom he had heard so much.

There he actually sat down with the Guru and all the other Sikhs, and ate the common food served to all. He was impressed with the idea of a free kitchen which was being maintained and supervised by Bhai Jetha. Akbar even offered to grant a jagir by which the kitchen ration could be obtained. But the Guru refused saying that the food was donated by the devotees themselves. However, the king insisted on presenting a few villages to the Guru’s daughter as a wedding gift.

When the papers of the villages finally arrived, Guru Amardas immediately sent for Bhai Jetha and handed them over to him.

While handing the land over he told Bhai Jetha that he wanted him to set up a new township on the land presented to him by the emperor. Bowing to the Guru, Bhai Jetha immediately took his leave and set off to act on his Guru’s orders. He surveyed the various tracts of land and finally chose one, situated near a pond, not too far from Goindwal. He decided to set up the new township there.

Within no time he had men working on clearing the place. At first, he got a small house built there, where he stayed with all the other men who worked there. This house come to be known as Guru-ka-chak or chakGuru, and included not just the house but even the surrounding area. Bhai Jetha even decided to have a tank dug there to develop a settlement around it. Soon he started work on the tank after obtaining the Guru’s approval.

One by one, people started settling there, and the area began to bear the look of a small town.

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 Amardas 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 Sikh religion. This indeed proved to be true since that area which came to be known as ‘Amritsar’ or the ‘pool of nectar’ became the most sacred city of the Sikhs, in times to come.

Though the order to establish a new

township was made privately, it was a clear indication that Guru Amardas had chosen his successor. This became even more evident when one day, a very rich devotee came to visit the Guru. As a mark of respect he presented a very expensive pearl necklace to him. But Guru Amardas declined it saying that he had no use for. Instead, he asked to put it on one that resembled him the most. A puzzled devotee could not understand this, and he handed the necklace back to the Guru asking him to give it to anyone he thought was his mirror image. Soon the whole crowd gathered there speculating whether it would be one of the Guru’s two sons. But the Guru surprised them all when he asked Bhai Jetha to come up to him. Then, placing the necklace 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 Amardas.

Meanwhile, Bhai Jetha had had two sons, and Bibi Bhani was expecting her third child.

Guru Amardas was as fond of his daughter as he was of Bhai Jetha, and one day in his fatherly affection asked Bibi Bhani to make a wish. At this, Bibi Bhani requested her father that the guruship remain in her family from then on.

On hearing this, Guru Amardas was a

little disturbed. Till then all the Gurus were chosen on merit alone, and not by birth. He feared that making the guruship hereditary, would create problems. Though he had already chosen Bhai Jetha as his heir, he was not too sure if his children would be worthy enough. Bhai Jetha already had two sons, and Guru Amardas knew that they were both incapable of guruship. But now since he had already given his word he could not back out.

Thus he granted her wish, but also added, sadly, that there would be unpleasantness and heart burning at every step. Bibi Bhani who was thrilled at the boon did not pay much attention to the rest, till her third child, Arjan, was born. The minute Guru Amardas looked at the newborn child he realised that the 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 the Guru’s two sons, Mohan and Mohri, were not too pleased since they too had children. Even her own two sons, Prithi Chand and Mahadev, were not pleased at all.

In fact, they did not take to their new brother very well.

One day, when Guru Amardas was taking his afternoon nap young Arjan went up to him and woke him. When Bhai Jetha asked the attendant to take him away the Guru smiled and told him that this grandson would one day cruise people across the ocean of life. Bhai Jetha was extremely pleased, and so were the people around him. But Bibi Bhani could see that not many in her family were pleased. She recalled the ominous words of her father, and it troubled her to no end.

By now, Guru Amardas 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, Sriram, to be a prospective Guru. So Guru Amardas decided to put the two men to test before a gathering of a few hundred Sikhs. He went along with them to the place where the ‘bawli’ was being constructed. There he asked the two men to erect a platform each.

Soon they got to work, and both erected a nice looking platform. But Guru Amardas looked at each platform critically and shook his head in disapproval. He asked them to break it down and erect new ones. Again they made new platforms and again the Guru asked them to rebuild it. This went on for a long time, and the people were wondering what the Guru really wanted.

By now Sriram was running out of

patience, and signs of irritation were showing on his face. But Bhai Jetha, on the other hand, went on making and breaking the platform calmly and quietly. When Guru Amardas objected again, Sriram openly confronted him and questioned him as to where the fault lay. He even refused to break it down again. Bhai Jetha, on the other hand, immediately fell on his Guru’s feet and pleaded to be given yet another chance to make one platform which he hoped would please him. At this, Guru Amardas embraced him and turned to the assembly of people gathered there, who by now had understood the purpose of this test.

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.

Thus, 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 Amardas’s son, Mohan, who felt that as the Guru’s eldest son he was the rightful heir to guruship.

Although the Guru explained to him 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 Amardas who had seen how well Guru Ram Das fulfilled his duties felt sure that the legacy of Guru Nanak was in safe hands.