Panj Pyare - The Beloved Five
On the Vaisakhi day of the year 1699, Guru Gobind Singh held a big gathering at Anandpur. It was held at a place where now stands the Gurdwara named Kesgarh. After the morning service, he stood up, drew his sword, and said aloud, 'Is there anyone here ready to lay down his life at my call? This sword of mine is crying for the blood of a dear Sikh of mine.' At this call the whole assembly was filled with terror and amazement. The Guru went on repeating his demand for the head of a dear Sikh. At the third call, Bhai Daya Ram got up and offered his head. The Guru pulled him into a tent nearby. The sound of a blow, as of a sword cutting of man's head, was heard from inside the tent. A stream blood flowed out of the tent. The Guru came out. He waved his sword dripping with blood. He called for another Sikh's head. At this Bhai Dharam Das stood up and offered his head to the Guru. He was taken into the tent. Again the sounds of a sword-blow and body falling to the ground were heard from inside the tent. A fresh stream blood was seen to come out. In the same way, three other Sikhs stood up, one after another, and offered their heads to the Guru. They were Bhai Himmat Rai, Bhai Mohkam Chand, and Bhai Sahib Chand.
Then dressing the five in handsome new clothes, the Guru brought them before the assembly. He then baptized them with his amrit, sweetened water stirred with a two edged sword called Khanda. He called them his beloved five. He made their names end in "Singh" (Lion). They became : Bhai Daya Singh Ji, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, Bhai Himmat Singh Ji, Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji and Bhai Sahib Singh Ji. Then Guru desired his Beloved five to prepare amrit or nectar in the same way as he had done. They obeyed. When it was ready, he stood up before them with folded hands and said. 'Now, my Dear Ones, baptize me as I have baptized you. Make me Singh as I have made you Singhs. Don't feel puzzled. Don't hesitate. My Dear Ones, you are my Guru. I am your Chela (disciple). O my Guru, grant my request. They obeyed. They baptized him as he had baptized them. He thanked them and said, "Now my name is not Gobind Rai, but Gobind Singh."
Having offered their heads to the Guru in response to his amazing call, they became martyrs. From that day they were living martyrs. They became his, body and soul. They remained with him to the end of their earthly lives. Their names have become immortal. They will be remembered as long as the Singh community lasts. They are remembered daily, morning and evening, in every place where a Sikh lives. Every time a Sikh recites the Sikh prayer, he repeats their names. Every time Karah Parshad is distributed in a Sikh congregation, their share is taken out before distribution among the persons present there.
Not much is known about their early lives of the Beloved Five. What is known about them is given in brief below.
Bhai Daya Singh Ji
Bhai Daya Singh was a son of Mayea Ram Ji, a Khatri of Lahore. His mother's name was Sobha Deyi Ji. He was born in 1668 A.D. After taking Amrit, he became Bhai Daya Singh. He was appointed the leader of the Beloved Five.
He accompanied the Guru to the end of his life. He took a heroic part in the Guru's wars. In December 1704, the Guru was prevailed upon by the Beloved Five to leave Chamkaur Sahib. Bhai Daya Singh was assigned the duty of accompanying the Guru. It was Bhai Daya Singh who took the Guru's letter called Zafarnama to Aurangzeb. The emperor was then in Deccan (South). The journey was difficult, risky and long. On going through the letter the emperor was visibly moved. He appeared to be nervous and agitated. He became irritated and angry. But the latter stood calm and unafraid. He then said. 'O emperor, just think of the cruel, inhuman wrongs that you and your men have done to the Guru. In spite of all that, he was taken the courage to write to you and to give you sound advice. He has tried to reveal himself to you, to make you see what you are in your prophet's eyes, to make you realize how your actions contradict your professions. He occupies the throne of Baba Nanak, before whom your ancestor, Emperor Babar, bowed and prayed for blessings. He has the power to make and unmake kings; for he is ever in tune with the Almighty father. You will be well advised to seek his friendship. You, too, should seek his blessings. He can give you what your great conquest and your wide empire have failed to give you. He will give you peace of mind. I feel that it is peace of mind that you now need more than anything else. If you go and see him, he will extend his love and kindness to you. He will forget and forgive all the wrongs done to him. He is as forgiving and kind as God; for God dwells in him and he ever lives in God.'
Bhai Daya Singh's conduct was like bearding the lion in his own den. You know he was one of the Guru Gobind Singh' lions. His words softened the emperor. He said, 'The Guru's letter and your words have opened my eyes. I now realize that I have done him much wrong. I now realize that he is a dear one of Almighty Allah. I am nearing the end of my life's journey. I shall soon have to render an account of my doings. I shudder to think what the verdict of the great, All-knowing, All-loving Judge will be. The Guru can help me. He has invited me to see him. I long to see him. But I am sick, perhaps on my death-bed. I can't go to him. Go back to him and request him to see me. He has promised to do so in this letter.' The emperor then ordered his men to treat Daya Singh with kindness and honor. He himself conferred a robe of honor on the Guru's bold and fearless messenger. For his return journey, he gave him a parwana (chit) of safe conduct. It was an order to his officials on the way back to see that the holder was well treated, and that no harm of any kind should be done to him. Because of that royal chit, Bhai Daya Singh could travel mor safely and more quickly. On reaching the Guru's presence, he delivered to him the emperor's message. To that he added his own recommendation. The Guru agreed to see the ailing monarch. Bhai Daya Singh accompanied the Guru to Nanded in the Deccan. He continued to serve him with utmost affection and devotion. He died there in 1708.
Bhai Dharam Singh Ji
Bhai Dharam Das was the second of the five Sikhs who offered their heads to Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi day of 1699. He was born at Delhi in the year of 1670. His father's name was Param Sukh Ji and mother's name was Ananti Ji. He was Jat by caste. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Dharam Singh. He accompanied the Guru to the end of his life He took a hero's part in the Guru Gobind Singh's wars. When the Guru was prevailed upon to leave Chamkaur Sahib in 1704, the Beloved Five there assigned Bhai Dharam Singh the duty of going with the Guru. He accompanied the Guru to Nanded, Deccan. He served him with utmost affection and devotion. He died there in 1711.
Bhai Himmat Singh Ji
Bhai Himmat Rai was the third Sikh to offer his head to Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi day of 1699. His Father, Mal Deo Ji, was a water-carrier of Jagannath. His mother's name was Srimati Lal Dei Ji. He was born in the year 1664 in Jagannath. He was, thus, about thirty-five years old on the day of his becoming one of the Beloved Five. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Himmat Singh. He remained with the Guru to the end of his life. All along he served the Guru most faithfully and lovingly. He also played a heroic part in the Guru's wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704.
Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji
Bhai Mohkam Chand was the fourth Sikh who offered his head to the Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi day of 1699. He was born in the year 1669. His father's name was Jagjeevan Rai Ji and mother's name was Sambhli Ji. His father was a washer man of Dawarka. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Himmat Singh. Thereafter he remained with the Guru. He played a heroic part in Guru Gobind Singh's wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704.
Bhai Sahib Singh Ji
Bhai Sahib Chand was the fifth to qualify himself for being one of the Guru Gobind Singh's Beloved Five. He was born to Sri Gur Naarayan Ji, a barber of Bidar, in the year 1675. His mother's name was Ankampa Ji. He came to Guru at the age of 11. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Sahib Singh Ji. He remained with the Guru at last. He fought heroically in the Guru's wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704.
Source - Sikh History Book 5 by Kartar Singh, Hemkunt Press, New Delhi