DARBĀRĀ SIṄGH, BĀBĀ (1814-1870), second in the hierarchy of the Niraṅkārī sect, was the eldest of the three sons of Bābā Dayāl, the founder of the sect. He was born at Rāwalpiṇḍī on 1 Baisākh 1871 Bk / 11 April 1814 and succeeded to his father's seat on 30 January 1855. From among the creed of religious and social reform preached by his father, he gave his utmost attention to one item - marriage by Anand ceremony. He summoned an assembly of his followers and admirers at the Niraṅkārī Darbār at Rāwalpiṇḍī on 13 March 1855, and married a Sikh couple in the presence of Gurū Granth Sāhib, without inviting Brāhmaṇ priests and dispensing with the rite of circumambulations around a fire. This kind of simple ceremony had in fact been reintroduced by his father himself as far back as his (Bābā Dayāl's) own marriage in 1808. Bābā Darbārā Siṅgh aimed at demonstrating the Anand rite at a large gathering with a view to popularizing it. Bābā Dayāl's marriage, it is said, was solemnized by reciting the Lāvāṅ and Anand hymns from the Gurū Granth Sāhib as the couple sat reverently in front of it and by sealing the union with ardās. Bābā Darbārā Siṅgh had four circumambulations of the Gurū Granth Sāhib performed by the couple, each accompanied by melodious singing of a stanza from the four-part hymn, Lāvāṅ, by Gurū Rām Dās. He undertook an extensive tour of Dhannī-Poṭhohār and Chhachh areas in northwestern Punjab promoting this Anand form of conjugal rite and making many converts to the Niraṅkārī sect in the process. He is also said to have performed one such marriage at Amritsar on Monday, 15 April 1861, witnessed by a large congregation. In order to organize the expanding community he established several dioceses called bīṛās, and appointed diocesan heads known as bīṛedārs.

         A significant contribution of Bābā Darbārā Siṅgh to standardizing the form of Sikh ceremonies was the preparation in 1856 of a hukamnāmā, setting forth a code of social conduct and giving detailed description of the rites of passage. To quote a few excerpts from the document:

        If a child is born, whether a son or a daughter, we sing the Gurū's hymns and offer the Gurū's, kaṛāhprasād (the Sikh sacrament). Brother, there is no impurity (in child birth) as Gurū Nānak cautions in Asā dī Vār in the śloka : (the relevant śloka and the hymn follow). . . .

        Then after forty days the mother comes to Darbār Sāhib along with the child. We then offer kaṛāhprasad in the name of the Gurū. The child is given a name from the Gurū Granth Sāhib. . . .

        When God brings the child to the age of understanding and when he is betrothed, we recite the following hymn of the Fifth Gurū in the measure Rāmkalī : (the hymn follows)…. .

        The Gurū's wedding hymns are chanted as the marriage ceremony is performed. Sikh men and women recite the Anand by the Third Gurū in the measure Rāmkalī. . . .

        Brother, we do not display the dowry as this is prohibited by the Gurū.

        And when, by the grace of the Formless One, a Sikh has completed his life, and the call comes, and the Sikh departs, we cover the body with a white shroud and, singing hymns, carry it for cremation or for releasing it into a flowing stream. We do not mourn. . . When we cremate a Sikh, we recite Anand and Kirtan Sohilā and then distribute kaṛāhprasād, if we can afford to do so. After that we come before the Gurū Granth Sāhib, reciting hymns and inaugurate an end-to-end reading of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. . . .


        The hukamnāmā lays special emphasis upon cultivating the Divine Name, reciting the sacred hymns, and shunning of Brāhmaṇical rites and rituals. For instance, it says, "We should not seek advice from the Brāhmaṇs who in their pride spread superstition. . . . The Brāhmaṇ claims that it is disgraceful to eat at one's daughter's house, but he himself performs marriages for a fee. . . . Brother, all years, months and days created by the Gurū are auspicious. In the words of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh Jī, the Tenth Master, the Gurū's Sikh sets about his task remembering the Gurū's name, regardless of all ill omens. . . Moreover, brother, the opportunity for union (with God) comes only during this life. So let us repeat the Name now, no one will be able to do it later. . . " The various injunctions are supported by quotations from the Gurū Granth Sāhib.

         Bābā Darbārā Siṅgh died at Rāwalpiṇḍī on 13 February 1870. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Bābā Ratan Chand, affectionately called Sāhib Rattā Jī.


  1. Webster, John C. B. , The Nirankari Sikhs. Batala, 1979
  2. Jolly, Surjit Kaur, Sikh Revivalist Movements. Delhi, 1988
  3. Farquhar, J. N. , Modern Religious Movements in India. Delhi, 1977
  4. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

Mān Siṅgh Niraṅkārī