DAYĀ SIṄGH, BHĀĪ (1661-1708), one of the Pañj Piāre or the Five Beloved celebrated in the Sikh tradition, was the son of Bhāī Suddhā, a Sobtī Khatrī of Lahore, and Māī Diālī. His original name was Dayā Rām. Bhāī Suddhā was a devout Sikh of Gurū Tegh Bahādur 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, Dayā Rām, to make obeisance to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, this time to settle there permanently. Dayā Rām, already well versed in Punjabi and Persian, engaged himself in the study of classics and gurbāṇī. He also received training in the use of weapons. In the historic dīvān in the Kesgaṛh Fort at Anandpur on 30 March 1699, he was the first to rise at the Gurū'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 Khālsā and they in turn administered the rites of initiation to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh who called them collectively Pañj Piāre. Dayā Rām after initiation became Dayā Siṅgh. Although the five enjoyed equal status as the Gurū's close confidants and constant attendants, Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh 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 Gurū Gobind Siṅgh out of Chamkaur on the night of 7-8 December 1705, eluding the besieging hordes. He was Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's emissary sent from the village of Dīnā in the Punjab to deliver his letter which became famous as Zafarnāmah, the Letter of Victory, to Emperor Auraṅgzīb, then camping at Ahmadnagar. Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh, accompanied by Bhāī Dharam Siṅgh, another of the Pañj Piāre, reached Ahmadnagar via Auraṅgābād, but found that it was not possible to have access to the Emperor and deliver to him the letter personally as Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had directed. Dayā Siṅgh sent Dharam Siṅgh back to seek the Gurū'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 Auraṅgābād. A shrine called Gurdwārā Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh marks the place of his sojourn in Dhāmī Mahallā.
Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh and Bhāī Dharam Siṅgh returned and, according to Sikh tradition, they rejoined Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at Kalāyat, a town 52 km southwest of Bīkāner (280-4'N, 730-21'E) in Rājasthān. Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh remained in attendance upon the Gurū and was with him at the time of his death at Nāndeḍ on 7 October 1708. He died at Nāndeḍ soon after and a joint memorial there for him and for Bhāī Dharam Siṅgh known as Aṅgīṭha (lit. burning pyre) Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh ate Dharam Siṅgh marks the site of their cremation.
Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh was a learned man. One of the Rahitnāmās, manuals on Sikh conduct, is ascribed to him. The Nirmalās, a sect of Sikh schoolmen, claim him as one of their forebears. Their Ḍaraulī branch traces its origin to Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh through Bābā Dīp Siṅgh.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok