BEDĪ, a sub-caste of the Khatrīs, Prākritized form of the Sanskrit kṣtriya which is one of the four caste groups into which the Hindu society is divided. The Khatrīs are mainly Hindus though there is among them a Sikh element which is small in number but important historically. There are no Muhammadans in the caste because a Khatrī after conversion into Islam ceases to be a Khatrī and becomes a Khojā. The Khatrīs are further divided into four sub-groups - Bāhrī, Khukhrain, Buñjāhī and Sarīn. Bāhrīs have twelve castes, Khukhrain eight, Buñjāhī fifty-two and Sarīns twenty. In Sikhism, the Bedī caste became pre-eminent because of the birth into it of Gurū Nānak, founder of the faith. Although the caste acquired sacred character which is enjoyed not only by the descendants of Gurū Nānak but by all those born into this caste group, yet this inherited sanctity has not altered the social status of the people within the caste. A legend narrated in Bachitra Nāṭak by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh refers to the Paurāṇic division of the Kṣatriyas into three branches - Solar, Lunar and Agnī-kula (Fire race). According to this tradition, the Bedīs belong to the Solar race and are descendants of Kuśa, the twin brother of Lava and son of Lord Rāma. Owing to a misunderstanding, the descendants of Kuśa and Lava fought amongst themselves. In this fight, the descendants of Kuśa were defeated and they rehabilitated themselves at Kāshī (Vārāṇasī) where they studied the Vedas and thus came to be called Vedīs : in Punjabi 'v' often turns phonetically into a 'b'. Vedīs became Bedīs.
Bedīs are mostly concentrated in Ḍerā Bābā Nānak, in Gurdāspur district, in the Punjab. Among Sikhs, the Bedī lineage continued after Gurū Nānak through his younger son Bābā Lakhmī Dās. Lakhmī Dās's son Dharam Dās settled down at Ḍerā Bābā Nānak. Two other important centres of Bedīs in the Punjab were at Ūnā, Hoshiārpur district, and Kallar, Rāwalpindī district. Two of the charismatic personalities of later period in the line were Sāhib Siṅgh Bedī (1756-1834), a contemporary of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and Bābā Sir Khem Siṅgh Bedī (1832-1905), one of the founders of the Siṅgh Sabhā movement in the seventies of the twentieth century.
S. S. Vañjārā Bedī