Guru Hargobind would hold his morning congregation at the Akal Takht, adjacent to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Verses and cantos from the Guru Granth Sahib were read aloud by one person, and the congregation would listen. The Guru would say that those who will recite with single minded concentration, will find eternal happiness.

One day, Bhai Gopala from Hafizabad steps forward, and requests to be permitted to recite the composition of Japji Sahib from the holy book. Closed eyes focused on his inner self, he begins to recite in a soft, magical voice. The Japji Sahib is composed of 38 steps, and as Bhai Gopala is saying the words, his concentration is total. The congregation is surprised to see that as the recitation proceeds, Guru Hargobind begins to slowly slide off his seat. Finally, the recitation enters the last step, and the Guru has almost slid off the seat. However, he then stops, and assumes his position in the centre of his chair. The Guru blesses Bhai Gopala for a wonderful recital, and calls for a horse to be given as a gift to Bhai Gopala. The horse was part of a magnificent trio brought from Kabul, and had arrived a day earlier.

The perplexed congregation asks the Guru to explain his acts of first sliding off and then assuming his seat again. He explains that the recitation was performed with so much selfless concentration that he had decided that Bhai Gopala would be the next guru, and he was vacating the seat. However, when Gopala came to the last step, his mind suddenly wandered to think of one of the Kabul horses that he has seen a day earlier and he secretly desired that Guru Hargobind should gift it to him.

Bhai Gopala’s concentration brought him to the very edge of the understanding life’s secrets, but a momentary lapse of reason, and he could get only worldly trinkets for a reward.

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