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The Panj Pyare

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Bhai Daya Singh (1669 – 1708), (the first of the Panj Pyare or the Five Beloved celebrated in the Sikh tradition,) was the son of Bhai Suddha, a Sobti Khatri of Lahore, and Mai Diali. His original name was Daya Ram. His name is uttered first among the five Beloved of the Guru (Panj Pyaras) in the Sikh Ardas.

Bhai Suddha was a devout Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur and had visited Anandpur more than once to seek his blessing. In 1677, he travelled to Anandpur along with his family including his young son, Daya Ram, to make obeisance to Guru Gobind Singh, this time to settle there permanently.

Daya Ram, already well versed in Punjabi and Persian, engaged himself in the study of gurbani. He also received training in the use of weapons.

In the historic divan in the Keshgarh Fort at Anandpur on 30 March 1699, he was the first to rise at the Guru’s call and offer his head, followed by four others in succession. These five were the first to be admitted to the fold of the Khalsa and they in turn administered the rites of initiation to Guru Gobind Singh who called them collectively Panj Piare. Daya Ram after initiation became Daya Singh.

Although the five enjoyed equal status as the Guru’s close confidants and constant attendants, Bhai Daya Singh was always regarded as the first among equals. He took part in the battles of Anandpur, and was one of the three Sikhs who followed Guru Gobind Singh out of Chamkaur on the night of 7/8 December 1705, eluding the besieging hordes. He was Guru Gobind Singh’s emissary sent from the village of Dina in the Punjab to deliver his letter which became famous as Zafarnamah, theLetter of Victory, to Emperor Aurangzeb, then camping at Ahmadnagar. Bhai Daya Singh, accompanied by Bhai Dharam Singh, another of the Panj Pyare, reached Ahmadnagar via Aurangabad, but found that it was not possible to have access to the Emperor and deliver to him the letter personally as Guru Gobind Singh had directed. Daya Singh sent Dharam Singh back to seek the Guru’s advice, but before the latter could rejoin him with fresh instructions, he had managed to have the letter delivered, and had himself returned to Aurangabad. A shrine called Gurdwara Bhai Daya Singh marks the place of his sojourn in Dhami Mahalla.

Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh returned and, according to Sikh tradition, they rejoined Guru Gobind Singh at Kalayat, a town 52 km southwest of Bikaner in Rajasthan. Bhai Daya Singh remained in attendance upon the Guru and was with him at the time of their Jyoti Jot at Nanded on 7 October 1708. He died at Nanded soon after, where today, a joint memorial for him and for Bhai Dharam Singh known as Angitha (literally burning pyre) stands in memory of these two famous Panj Piare. It stands on the site that marks their cremation near the bank of the river Godavri.

Bhai Daya Singh was a learned man. One of the Rahitnamas, manuals on Sikh conduct, is ascribed to him. The Nirmalas, a sect of Sikh schoolmen, claim him as one of their forebearers. Their Darauli branch traces its origin to Bhai Daya Singh through Baba Deep Singh.

Bhai Dharam Singh (1666-1708), one of the Panj Piare or the Five Beloved, the forerunners of Khalsa, came of farming stock. He was the son of Bhai Sant Ram and Mai Sabho, of Hastinapur, an ancient town on the right bank of the Ganges, 35 km northeast of Meerut.

Dharam Das, as he was originally named, was born around 1666. As a young man, he fell into the company of a Sikh who introduced him to the teachings of the Gurus. He left home at the age of thirty in quest of further instruction. At the Sikh shrine of Nanak Piau, dedicated to Guru Nanak, he was advised to go to Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur, where he arrived in 1698.

A few months later came the historic Baisakhi congregation at which five Sikhs responding to five successive calls of Guru Gobind Singh offered one after the other to lay down their heads. Dharam Das was one of those five. The Guru blessed them and called them Panj Piare, the five beloved of him. They were anointed as the first five members of the brotherhood of the Khalsa inaugurated on that day. Guru Gobind Singh then begged them to administer to him the vows of initiation.

Dharam Das, who, after initiation, became Dharam Singh, took part in the battles of Anandpur. He was with Guru Gobind Singh Ji when Anandpur and thereafter Chamkaur were evacuated. He accompanied Bhai Daya Singh to the South to deliver Guru Gobind Singh’s letter, the Zafarnamah, to Emperor Aurangzeb. Bhai Dharam Singh also fought in the battle of Jajau (8 June 1707).

Bhai Himmat Singh

Bhai Himmat Singh (18 January 1661- 7 December 1705), one of the Panj Piare, was born in 1661 at Jagannath in a family of water suppliers. He came to Anandpur at the young age of 17, and attached himself to the service of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Bhai Himmat, as he was called before his initiation, received the vows of the Khalsa at Guru Gobind Singh’s hands and was renamed Himmat Singh.

Bhai Himmat Singh proved himself to be a brave warrior and while at Anandpur, he took part in battles with the surrounding hill chiefs and imperial commanders. He died in the battle of Chamkaur on 7 December 1705 together with Bhai Sahib Singh and Bhai Mukham Singh also members of the historic Panj Pyares.

Bhai Mokham Singh

Bhai Mokham Singh (1663-1705), born Mohkam Chand, was the son of Tirath Chand, a calico printer/tailor of Dvaraka in Gujarat. About the year 1685, he came to Anandpur, then the seat of Guru Gobind Singh where he practised martial arts and took part in theSikhs’ battles with the surrounding hill chiefs and imperial troops. Initiated into the order of the Khalsa, Mokham Chand received the common surname of Singh and became Mokham Singh. He died in the battle of Chamkaur on 7 December 1705 with Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh.

Bhai Sahib Singh

Bhai Sahib Singh, was the son of Bhai Guru Narayana, a barber of Bidar in Karnataka, and his wife Ankamma. Bidar had been visited by Guru Nanak early in the sixteenth century and a Sikh shrine had been established there in his honour. Sahib Chand, as Sahib Singh was called before he underwent the rites of the Khalsa, travelled to Anandpur at the young age of 16, and attached himself permanently toGuru Gobind Singh.

He won a name for himself as marksman and in one of the battles at Anandpur he shot dead the Gujjar chief Jamatulla. In another action the raja of Hindur, Bhup Chand, was seriously wounded by a shot from his musket following which the entire hill army fled the field. Bhai Sahib Singh fell in the battle of Chamkaur on 7 December 1705 with Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Mukham Singh.

Let us pay tribute to these five beloved ones, who when needed answered the Guru’s call and have been immortalised forever.

– Kirat Raj Singh
(First written on 14th April 2011)

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