The Panj Piaras were the first five Sikhs to be initiated into the Khalsa brotherhood by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, on Baisakhi day in 1699.
A very large gathering of Sikhs had arrived at Anandpur Sahib on that day as per the Gurus instructions. After prayers Guru Gobind Singh stood up with his sword and asked the large congregation, “Is there anyone here ready to lay down his life at my call? This sword of mine is crying for the blood of a dear Sikh of mine.”
The congregation was shocked and afraid.
The third time Guru Gobind Singh repeated his call, Daya Ram stood up and offered his head. Guru Gobind Singh took him into a tent. The sound of a sword cutting a body was heard and blood trickled out of the tent. Guru Gobind Singh emerged from the tent and asked for another Sikh.
Dharam Das stood up and volunteered. Again the same episode was repeated. Three more Sikhs offered their heads to the Guru in the same way, Mukham Chand, Himmat Rai and Sahib Chand.
After some time Guru Gobind Singh brought the five Sikhs before the congregation dressed in new clothes. Guru Gobind Singh then baptized them with amrit (sweetened water) stirred with his Khanda, The Guru called them his Beloved Ones and gave them the last name ‘Singh’ which means Lion. Guru Gobind Singh then humbly bowed before the Five Beloved Ones and asked them to initiate Him into the Khalsa Brotherhood.
All of the Five Beloved Ones remained with Guru Gobind Singh for the rest of their lives and they are remembered every day in Ardas (the common Sikh prayer).
- Bhai Daya Singh (1669 to 1708): The first Beloved One, Bhai Daya Singh was born to Khatri parents in Lahore in 1669. He attended Guru Gobind Singh in leaving Chamkaur Sahib during the famous battle in 1704. Bhai Daya Singh also personally delivered Guru Gobind Singhs letter Zafarnama to emperor Aurangzeb in the Deccan. Bhai Daya Singh accompanied Guru Gobind Singh to Nander and died there in 1708.
- Bhai Dharam Singh (1666 to 1708): The second Beloved One, Bhai Dharam Singh, was born to Jat parents at Hastinapur or Delhi in 1666. Bhai Dharam Singh was also assigned to look after Guru Gobind Singhs personal safety during the battle of Chamkaur in 1704. It is unclear whether he died fighting in the battle or accompanied Guru Gobind Singh to Nanader and died there in 1708.
- Bhai Mukham Singh (1663 to 1704): The third Beloved One, Bhai Muhkam Chand, was born in 1663 to a washerman of Dwarka. He died fighting in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.
- Bhai Sahib Singh (1662 to 1704): The fourth Beloved One, Bhai Sahib Singh, was born to a barber family in 1662. He died fighting in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.
- Bhai Himmat Singh (1661 to 1704): The fifth Beloved One, Bhai Himmat Singh, was born to a water carrier in 1661. He died fighting in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.