At age 12, Bhai Jetha and his grandmother moved to Goindval, where they met Guru Amar Das. The boy thereafter accepted Amar Das as mentor and served him. The daughter of Amar Das married Bhai Jetha, and he thus became part of Amar Das's family. As with the first two Gurus of Sikhism, Guru Amar Das instead of choosing his own sons, chose Bhai Jetha as his successor and renamed him as Ram Das or "servant or slave of god ".
Ram Das became the Guru of Sikhism in 1574 and served as the Sikh leader until his death in 1581. He faced hostilities from the sons of Amar Das, shifted his official base to lands identified by Amar Das as Guru-ka-Chak. This newly founded town was eponymous Ramdaspur, later to evolve and get renamed as Amritsar – the holiest city of Sikhism. He is also remembered in the Sikh tradition for expanding the manji organization for clerical appointments and donation collections to theologically and economically support the Sikh movement. He appointed his own son as his successor, and unlike the first four Gurus who were not related through descent, the fifth through tenth Sikh Gurus were the direct descendants of Ram Das.
Ram Das was born in a Sodhi Khatri family in Chuna Mandi, Lahore (now part of Pakistan). His father was Hari Das and mother Anup Devi, both of whom died when he was aged seven. He was brought up by his grandmother. He married Bibi Bhani, the younger daughter of Amar Das. They had three sons: Prithi Chand, Mahadev and Guru Arjan.
Of his three sons, Ram Das chose Arjan, the youngest, to succeed him as the fifth Sikh Guru. The choice of successor, as throughout most of the history of Sikh Guru successions, led to disputes and internal divisions among the Sikhs. The elder son of Ram Das named Prithi Chand is remembered in the Sikh tradition as vehemently opposing Arjan, creating a faction Sikh community which the Sikhs following Arjan called as Minas (literally, "scoundrels"), and is alleged to have attempted to assassinate young Hargobind. However, alternate competing texts written by the Prithi Chand led Sikh faction offer a different story, contradict this explanation on Hargobind's life, and present the elder son of Ram Das as devoted to his younger brother Arjan. The competing texts do acknowledge disagreement and describe Prithi Chand as having become the Sahib Guru after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev and disputing the succession of Guru Hargobind, the grandson of Ram Das.