BĀLAK SIṄGH, BĀBĀ (1785-1862), mentor of Bābā Rām Siṅgh, acknowledged to be the forerunner of the Nāmdhārī movement, was born in 1841 Bk/AD 1785 to Diāl Siṅgh and Mātā Bhāg Bharī, in an Aroṛā family of village Chhoī in Attock district, in Rāwalpiṇḍī division, now in Pakistan. Bālak Siṅgh took from a young age to the family business of providing supplies to the garrison in the fort at Hazro, close to his native village. He was married to Māī Totī. No more biographical information is available about him except that he was a man of religious disposition and while at Hazro he was deeply influenced by Bhagat Jawāhar Mall. He soon attracted followers from among the inhabitants of Hazro and from among the garrison in the fort. Bābā Rām Siṅgh (q. v. ), who succeeded him as head of the sect, was one of the garrison here. His study of Sikh history and letters made him well aware of the rot that was at the time corroding Sikh society. He took upon himself to lead a campaign against the evil and corruption of the tenet that had set in. His religious and social ideas were shaped by the teaching of Bābā Bālak Siṅgh, though the political edge his movement eventually acquired can only be traced to the advanced precept of Bhāī Mahārāj Siṅgh (d. 1856).
The religious and ethical code of conduct preached by Bābā Bālak Siṅgh for his followers included constant meditation on the Transcendental Reality; bathing at least thrice daily; not to use a leather bucket for drinking water; performing marriage rites according to the Anand ceremony; offering as sacrament Kaṛāhprasād worth one and a quarter rupee every month; and not to eat food cooked by anyone outside of the Sikh faith. Giving of dowry, meat-eating and use of alcohol were totally prohibited. Honest labour and truth-telling were the virtues prized most.
Bābā Bālak Siṅgh built at Hazro a place where his followers used to meet regularly. It was here that Bābā Rām Siṅgh, who had earlier moved southwards with the garrison, came to meet his spiritual mentor around 1860 and sought permission to instruct the people in his doctrine. Prominent among his other disciples were Bhāī Kāhn Siṅgh, a son of his brother Mannā Siṅgh and Bhāī Lāl Siṅgh. The former is said to have occupied the gaddī at Hazro and the latter preached in the Amritsar area.
Bābā Bālak Siṅgh died at Hazro on Saturday, Maghar sudī 15, 1919 Bk/6 December 1862.