SĀHIB SIṄGH BEDĪ, BĀBĀ (1756-1834), tenth in direct descent from Gurū Nānak, was much revered in Sikh times for his piety as well as for his martial prowess. He was born at Ḍerā Bābā Nānak, Gurdāspur district on Chet sudī 5, 1813 Bk/5 April 1756. Around 1770, his parents Bābā Ajīt Siṅgh and Mātā Sarūpāṅ Devī, shifted from Ḍerā Bābā Nānak to Ūnā, a town now in Himāchal Pradesh in the Śivālik foothills, where the family held extensive jāgīrs. As a young boy, Sāhib Siṅgh studied the Sikh sacred texts and had training in the use of arms. On the death of his father in Calcutta in 1773, Sāhib Siṅgh succeeded to the ancestral estate. He became widely reputed for his religious learning and devotees flocked to his magnificently-built fortress at Ūnā to listen to his discourses. A charisma grew around his person and it was considered a signal honour to receive pāhul or the Sikh initiatory rite at his hands. At the same time, he became the arbiter of political feuds among the mīsldārs, then engaged in occupying territories in parts of the Punjab. The sardārs settled upon him grants of lands and he came to acquire great influence in the Jalandhar Doāb and the Mājhā region.

        In 1794, he led a punitive campaign against the Afghān ruler, Atā Ullāh Khān, of Mālerkoṭlā. Tārā Siṅgh Ghaibā, Baghel Siṅgh and Bhaṅgā Siṅgh of Thānesar joined forces with him in this expedition. But Paṭiālā, Nābhā, Jīnd and Kalsīā troops intervened on behalf of 'Atā Ullāh Khān and Sāhib Siṅgh withdrew after receiving a war indemnity. In 1798, helped by the forces of Tārā Siṅgh, Gurdit Siṅgh and Jodh Siṅgh, he attacked Rāi lliyās, of Rāikoṭ, about 40 km from Ludhiāṇā. He occupied Jagrāoṅ, Dākhā and Baddovāl, and then advanced towards Ludhiāṇā and Mansūrāṅ and took both these places. A gurdwārā in the village of Akhāṛā (Ludhiāṇā district) commemorates his victory. During Shāh Zamān's invasion of northern India (1796-98), Sāhib Siṅgh spearheaded Sikh resistance. When on 7 July 1799, the young Sukkarchakkīā chief Raṇjīt Siṅgh took possession of Lahore, Sāhib Siṅgh threw his weight on his side and helped him to vanquish Gulāb Siṅgh Bhaṅgī in the battle of Bhasīn in March 1800.

        At the time of Raṇjīt Siṅgh's coronation at Lahore on 11 April 1801, Bābā Sāhib Siṅgh placed the tilak or mark of sovereignty on his forehead. In 1807, he helped to settle a long standing dispute between the rulers of Nābhā and Paṭiālā. He was also instrumental in arranging a meeting between Sāhib Siṅgh of Paṭiālā and Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh at Lakhnaur in November 1808, when they entered into a bond of mutual fraternity by exchanging turbans. He accompanied Raṇjīt Siṅgh on several of his military expeditions. Later in his life, Bābā Sāhib Siṅgh devoted himself entirely to preaching Gurū Nānak’s word. He travelled extensively in the Poṭhohār, Mājhā and Mālvā regions and wherever he went people thronged in large numbers to see him and to pay homage to him. Bābā Sāhib Siṅgh died at Ūnā on 17 July 1834.


  1. Sobhā Rām, Gur-Bilās Sāhib Siṅgh Bedī. Ed. Gurmukh Siṅgh.Patiala,1988
  2. Griffin, Lepel, and C.E Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore,1890
  3. Khushwant Singh, Ranjit Singh : Maharajah of the Punjab. Bombay,1962

Rājinder Siṅgh