Panj Pyare: the 5 Beloved of Sikh History

Guru Gobind Singh Creates the Original Panj Pyare of 1699

In Sikh tradition, the Panj Pyare is the term used for the Five Beloved the men who were initiated into the khalsa (the brotherhood of the Sikh faith) under the leadership of the last of the ten Gurus, Gobind Singh The Panj Pyare are deeply revered by Sikhs as symbols of steadfastness and devotion.

According to tradition, Gobind Singh was proclaimed as Guru of the Sikhs upon the death of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, who refused to convert to Islam. At this time in history, Sikhs seeking escape from persecution by Muslims often returned to Hindu practice. To preserve the culture, Guru Gobind Singh at a meeting of the community asked for five men willing to surrender their lives for him and the cause. With great reluctance by nearly everyone, eventually, five volunteers stepped forward and were initiated into the khalsa—the special group of Sikh warriors.

The original five beloved Panj Pyare played a vital role in the shaping Sikh history and defining Sikhism. These spiritual warriors vowed not only to fight adversaries on the battlefield but to combat the inner enemy, egoism, with humility through service to humanity and efforts to abolish caste. They performed the original Amrit Sanchar (Sikh initiation ceremony), baptizing Guru Gobind Singh and about 80,000 others on the festival of Vaisakhi in 1699.

Each of the five Panj Pyare is revered and carefully studied to this day. All five Panj Pyare fought beside Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa in the siege of Anand Purin and helped the guru to escape from the battle of Chamkaur in December 1705.

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Bhai Daya Singh (1661 - 1708 CE)

Panj Pyare, leading a procession at Wolverhampton.
J Singh/Creative Commons

The first of the Panj Pyare to answer the call of Guru Gobind Singh and offer his head was Bhai Daya Singh.

  • Born as Daya Rum in1661 in Lahore (present-day Pakistan)
  • Family: Son of Suddha and his wife Mai Dayali of the Sobhi Khatri clan
  • Occupation: Shopkeeper
  • Initiation: at Anand Purin 1669, at age 38
  • Death: at Nanded in 1708; martyred age 47

Upon initiation, Daya Ram gave up the occupation and alliance of his Khatri caste to become Daya Singh and join the Khalsa warriors. The meaning of the term "Daya" is "merciful, kind, compassionate,"  and Singh means "lion"—qualities that are inherent in the five beloved Panj Pyare, all of whom share this name.

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    Bhai Dharam Singh (1699 - 1708 CE)

    PanjSacramento1500x.jpg
    Female Panj with Nishan Flags. S Khalsa

    The second of the Panj Pyare to answer the call of Guru Gobind Singh  was Bahi Dharam Singh.

    • Born as Dharam Dasin in 1666 by River Ganges in Hastinapur, northeast of Meerut  (present day Delhi) 
    • Family: Son of Sant Ram and his wife Mai Sabho, of the Jatt clan
    • Occupation: Farmer
    • Initiation: at Anand Purin in 1699, at age 33
    • Death: At Nanded in 1708; martyred age 42

    Upon initiation, Dharam Ram gave up the occupation and alliance of his Jatt caste to become Dharam Singh and join the Khalsa warriors. The meaning of "Dharam" is "righteous living." 

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    Bhai Himmat Singh (1661 - 1705 CE)

    Panj Pyare with Nishan Flag
    Panj Pyare with Nishan Flag. S Khalsa

    The third of the Panj Pyare to answer the call of Guru Gobind Singh was Bhai Himmat Singh.

    • Born as Himmat Rai on January 18, 1661, at Jagannath Puri,(present-day Orrissa)
    • Family: Son of Gulzaree and his wife Dhanoo of the Jheeaur clan
    • Occupation: Water carrier
    • Initiation: Anand Pur, 1699. Age 38
    • Death: At Chamkaur, December 7, 1705; martyred age 44

    Upon initiation, Himmat Rai gave up the occupation and alliance of his Kumhar caste to become Himmat Singh and join the Khalsa warriors. The meaning of "Himmat" is "courageous spirit." 

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    Bhai Muhkam Singh (1663 - 1705 CE)

    The fourth to answer the call of Guru Gobind Singh was Bhai Muhkam Singh.

    • Born as Muhkam Chand on June 6, 1663, at Dwarka (present-day Gujrat)
    • Family: Son of Tirath Chand and his wife Devi Bai of the Chhimba clan
    • Occupation: Tailor, printer of cloth
    • Initiation: at Anand Pur, 1699 at age 36
    • Death: Chamkaur, December 7, 1705;  martyred age 44

    Upon initiation, Muhkam Chand gave up the occupation and alliance of his Chhimba caste to become Muhkam Singh and join the Khalsa warriors. The meaning of "Muhkam" is "strong firm leader or manager"  Bhai Muhkam Singh fought beside Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa in Anand Pur and sacrificed his life at the battle of Chamkaur on December 7, 1705.

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    Bhai Sahib Singh (1662 - 1705 CE)

    Panj Pyara in Yuba City Annual Parade
    Panj Pyara in Yuba City Annual Parade. Khalsa Panth

     The fourth to answer the call of Guru Gobind Singh was Bhai Sahib Singh.

    • Born as Sahib Chand on June 17, 1663, in Bidar (present-day Karnatka, India) 
    • Family: Son of Bhai Guru Narayana and his wife Ankamma Bai of the Naee clan.
    • Occupation: Barber.
    • Initiation: at Anand Pur in 1699, at age 37
    • Death: at Chamkaur, December 7, 1705; martyred age 44.

    Upon initiation, Sahib Chand gave up the occupation and alliance of his Nai caste to become Sahib Singh and join the Khalsa warriors. The meaning of "Sahib" is "lordly or masterful." 

    Bhai Sahib Sigh sacrificed his life defending Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa at the battle of Chamkaur on December 7, 1705.