From the time of Guru Nanak Dev, the next Teacher was anointed from amongst the devotees, but not from within the family, after the prospective leader was tested to confirm steadfastness to the teachings.
The third Guru Amar Das had two sons and two daughters. One of the daughters, Bhani, was married to a devotee, Jetha, and both of them continued to stay with and serve the Guru. One day, Bhani asked her father for a boon – that the Guru shall be from within the family. While granting the boon, the Guru said that leadership was the result of devotion and sacrifice, and warned that tying it down will cause much sadness. Soon, he arranged a test.
He asked his son Mohan, and son-in-law Jetha, to construct separate platforms, within the next twenty four hours. Later, he inspected them, and said they needed to be pulled down and rebuilt, a cycle that he conducted many times.
Mohan lost patience. “Every day I make the platform as you tell me, but you are unhappy, and want it broken down. It is you who forgets what you had ordered, and then you blame me!” Jetha was truly unperturbed. “My Teacher, give me intelligence to understand what you want made. I am but a devotee at your feet.”
“Jetha is pure and selfless, and ready to lead the congregation,” the Guru told Bhani, “but his time on Earth is over. What will you do when he dies?” Bhani said, “I can only accept His will, and continue to serve the people.”
Guru Amar Das then called the congregation. “I give seven years of my life to Jetha, and anoint him as the fourth Guru Ram Das,” he said. He left his body on September 1, 1574. Guru Ram Das took over leadership. He planned and created the holy city of Amritsar. Seven years later, left his body on September 1, 1581.A fascinating case of spiritual time share!