Jathedars of Budha Dal

1.Jathedar Akali Baba Binod Singh Ji

Jathedar Akali Baba Binod Singh Ji was a descendant of the 2nd Patshah, Akali Guru Angad Dev Ji Maharaj. Baba Ji was the first Jathedar of the Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal and was a close companion to the 10th Master, Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Akali. Baba Ji also travelled with Kalgidhar Patshah to Nanded in 1708. Jathedar Akali Baba Binod Singh Ji also was one of the 5 Singhs who went with Baba Banda Singh Ji Bahadur to destroy the Malesh Wazir Khan who was responsible for the death of the younger Sahibzadeh, Sahibzada Akali Baba Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Akali Baba Fateh Singh Ji. Baba Ji commanded the left wing of the Khalsa Fauj during the Battle of Sirhind (May 1710). Baba Ji later fought various battles, such as 4 battles at Tarori in Amin, Karnal, Thanesar and Shahabad. Jathedar Akali Baba Binod Singh Ji attained Shaheedi at Tarori in 1716.

2.Jathedar Akali Baba Darbara Singh Ji

Jathedar Akali Baba Darbara Singh ji was the 2nd Jathedar of Guru Ki Laadli Fauj. Baba Ji was born in the village of Dal, and was born into the house of Baba Nanu Singh, a descendant of Sahib Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s family. Baba Ji did Darshan of Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maaraj at Anandpur Sahib aged 12. Baba Ji served Guru Maharaj for 16 years, and as is the custom of every Budha Dal Jathedar, Baba Ji became Jathedar of the Akaal Takhat for 12 years. Baba Ji lived for 90 years and attained Shaheedi in 1734.

3.Jathedar Akali Baba Nawab Kapoor Singh Ji

Jathedar Akali Baba Nawab Kapoor Singh Ji was the third Jathedar of the Budha Dal. Baba Ji was born in Kaloka, Sheikhpur in 1697. Baba Ji joined the Budha Dal in 1726. Baba Ji conqured the town of Faizalpur in 1733 and renamed it Singhpur, and was awarded with the title of Nawab. Baba Ji was responsible for dividing the Khalsa Fauj into 2 groups, the Budha Dal and the Tarna Dal. Baba Nawab Kapoor Singh Ji led many battles and was known as a revolutionary and remarkable General. Baba Ji left this world for Sachkhand in 1753.




Jathedar Akali Baba Nawab Kapoor Ji, overlooking the Khalsa Fauj

4.Jathedar Sirdar Akali Baba Jassa Singh Ji Ahluwalia.

Jathedar Sirdar Akali Baba Jassa Singh Ji Ahluwalia was the fourth Jathedar of the Budha Dal and was born on 3rd May in Alu. Baba Ji’s father, Sardar Badar Singh Ji died in 1723, therefore Baba Ji and his mother went to stay with Mata Sundar Kaur Ji in Delhi, where they stayed for 6 years. Baba Ji took Amrit from Jathedar Akali Baba Nawab Kapoor Singh Ji and on 14th October 1745, Baba Ji conquered Kapurthala. Baba Ji also conquered Lahore on 26th April 1761. Baba Ji rescued many Hindu women from the Muslim rulers on 5th February 1762.

5.Jathedar Akali Baba Naina Singh Ji

Jathedar Akali Baba Naina Singh Ji joined the Budha dal aged 20. Baba Ji was the 5th Jathedar of The Budha Dal. Baba Ji was a firm believer in Gurmat and was a master of Shastar Vidiya. It was Baba Ji who had raised the illustrious and great Soorma of the Panth, Akali Phoola Singh Ji. Baba Ji led many Singhs into war and was victorious on many accounts. One young boy’s father became a Shaheed in one of these wars, and was raised by Jathedar Baba Naina Singh Ji. Baba Naina Singh Ji had taught this young boy everything he knew. This young boy grew up to be Akali Phoola Singh Ji.

6.Jathedar Akali Baba Phoola Singh Ji

Jathedar Akali Baba Phoola Singh Ji was the General of the Budha Dal, the elite army during the era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji. Baba Ji was born in 1761 to Baba Ishar Singh Ji of Misl Nishanchia. Baba Ishar Singh Ji attained Shaheedi in war under the leadership of Jathedar Akali Baba Naina Singh Ji. Akali Baba Phoola Singh Ji was left orphaned, and was raised by Baba Naina Singh Ji. Baba Ji first joined Misl Shaheedan, fought valiantly and then became a member of the Budha Dal. Jathedar Akali Baba Phoola Singh Ji had all of the current Budha Dal Sundar Gutka Kant (memorised) and was known to be amazing in Kirtan. Baba Ji also was known to be the Jathedar of the Akaal Takhat and was known to be the most remarkable Akali Nihang of his time, and is still to this day highly revered. Baba Ji attained Shaheedi on 14th March 1823, in the Battle of Naushera. One of Baba Ji’s legs were blasted off in the battle, and Baba Ji tied his other leg to his horse and continued fighting until he attained Shaheedi.


7. Jathedar Akali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji Nihang

Akali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji Nihang was born in 1756 and raised by his grandmother Mata Seva Kaur, after losing his mother, Harnam Kaur, to a musket shot at a young age. He became a student of the great Akali Phula Singh Nihang, exhibiting a similar temperament to his mentor but more reserved in some areas. When the Governor General Lord Auckland visited Punjab in 1838, Baba Hanuman Singh cursed Maharaja Ranjit Singh for letting the British enter the sacred pool of the Sikhs with their shoes on. At the break of the First Anglo-Sikh war during the Battle of Sobraon, Baba Hanuman Singh mobilised the Budha Dal warriors to guard the Harimandar Sahib and led several thousand of them towards Lahore. In these desperate circumstances in which the British army vastly outnumbered the amount of Nihang warriors, the Budha Dal saw its ranks depleted to unprecedented levels. Baba Hanuman Singh led the survivors towards Patiala to seek refuge. When they refused to surrender at the hands of the British, the enemy troops launched a cannonade into the Akali Nihang encampment. A cannon ball exploded by the side of Baba Hanuman Singh and a piece of shrapnel mortally wounded the elderly Nihang in his thigh. He breathed his last in 1846, aged 90. H.F.Brooks, a British military observer, recorded the events of this battle in a poem which he included in his book ‘The Victories of the Sutlej’ (1848):

‘See the Akalees fiercely are raging in fight, See them bathing in red blood their scimitars bright, See them hurl from their finger the murderous ring, Surpassing in swiftness the proud eagle’s wing. And see – But why extend the mournful tale? Their manful efforts nothing could avail; All their defences lost on every side, Borne down directly by the sweeping tide.

8. Jathedar Akali Baba Prehlada Singh Ji Nihang

After the martyrdom of Akali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji Nihang, Akali Baba Prehlada Singh Ji Nihang became the 9th Jathedar of Budha Dal. When the British implemented a shoot-on-sight order to exterminate all Nihang Singhs, Baba Prehlada Singh regrouped the remaining Akalis at Nanded and left for Hazoor Sahib. Other Nihang Singhs took refuge in the jungles of Maharashtra and Punjab to preserve the Guru’s Sikhi.

9. Jathedar Akali Baba Giana Singh Ji Nihang

A dozen years after the Great Mutiny of 1857, the main body of Nihang Singhs lead by Akali Baba Giana Singh Ji Nihang sought to re-establish the ancient role of the Akali Panth and resurrect the Sikh spirit amongst the populace of Punjab which had been lost through interference by the foreign British aims to de-militarise the Khalsa. Having failed to subdue the Nihangs through bribery and the shoot-on-sight policy, the British did much to subliminally destroy the mindset of the Sikhs, such as take away two of the three Guru Granths and change the style of the Sikh turban.


10. Jathedar Akali Baba Teja Singh Ji Nihang

Born in 1839, Akali Baba Teja Singh Ji Nihang became the 11th Jathedar of Budha Dal in 1907. His most notable trait was the manner in which he used to sing the praises of Akaal Purakh, by hitting the edge of his Kara with a glass. He sat on the throne of Budha Dal for 22 years and passed away at the age of 90.

11. Jathedar Akali Baba Sahib Singh Ji Nihang

After the death of the Akali Baba Teja Singh Ji Nihang, there was much confusion as to who would become the succeeding Jathedar of the Budha Dal. The Nihang Singhs resorted to consulting the great saint Akali Baba Mitt Singh Ji, who after much mediation concluded that Akali Baba Sahib Singh Ji Nihang was to become the next Jathedar on the grounds that he brings back the traditions of Shastar Pooja (weapon worship) and Dussehra. Baba Sahib Singh Ji unhesitatingly agreed and accepted the mantle of leadership. As per historical practices, the Jathedar of the Budha Dal was also the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht. The British were afraid of the control and authority that the Nihang Singhs had over the Sikh religion and they sought to overthrow this stranglehold of power which lead to the creation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Baba Sahib Singh Ji was attacked by members of the SGPC and was sent to prison in 1929 after his refusal to lay down his weapons. As a result the Budha Dal lost control of all Gurdwaras and the Nihangs were no longer on the seat of authority.


12. Jathedar Akali Baba Chet Singh Ji Nihang

Akali Baba Chet Singh Ji Nihang was born in 1914, son of Sardar Gurdit Singh and Pradhan Kaur Sabo. He served the Budha Dal with all his heart and reinstated the traditions of Sarbloh Bibek (to eat out of Sarbloh bowls and keep Sarbloh weapons etc). He bought a small piece of land in front of Anandpur Sahib Railway Station from the Sodhi’s and renamed it ‘Guru Da Bagh’ (The Park of the Guru). He passed away in 1968 and his Gurdwara is located at Damdama Sahib, the place of his birth.

13. Jathedar Akali Baba Santa Singh Ji Nihang

When asked to think about the greatest modern day Sikhs of recent times it’s hard not to see the venerable Akali Baba Santa Singh Ji Nihang as being one of the most prestigious of Singhs, which is exactly what he was. Baba Ji was initially named Pashaura Singh and was born in 1928 in the pious town of Gujranwala, the same town where renowned Sikhs such as Hari Singh Nalwa and Maharaja Ranjit Singh entered the world. With the blessings of Mahakaal himself, the young Pashaura Singh took the Khande de Pahul and was initiated into the Budha Dal on the Divali of 1935, at the hands of Akali Baba Sahib Singh Ji Nihang. From that day onwards Baba Ji’s mindset stood firmly only on doing the seva of the Akali Panth, by maintaining the Langar and preparing the Sukhnidaan for the Nihang Singhs at the base camp. Such was his religious fervour that the elderly Nihangs quickly realised his promise of greater future prospects and had him enrolled to do the seva of conducting the annual Amrit Sarchar at Hola Mohalla, a position not given to the feeble minded. It was thus that Baba Ji fulfilled his duty by taking Santhiya from Head Granthi Baba Sukhdev Singh Nihang of Budha Dal. Baba Ji not only flourished in studying Gurbani and the literature of ancient granths, but also proved himself to be a distinguished warrior. When shastar-vidiya fairs were organised he would destroy his opponents with ease using hand to hand, weapon to hand, weapon to weapon and firearms combat methods. He only added to these feats by showing his equestrian control and giving horse riding displays at Hola Mohalla, leaving crowds gasping in awe. In May 1969 when Akali Baba Chet Singh Ji Nihang sadly passed away, Akali Baba Santa Singh Ji was given the throne and was marked down in history as the 15th Jathedar of Budha Dal. Baba Ji wasted no time in spreading the message of the lost tenants of Sikh heritage, and constructed Gurdwaras and schools around Punjab and across India. Baba Ji began a regimen of doing kathas daily on Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Sri Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib Ji as well as establishing a Nihang newspaper to update the Sikh populace on the progress being made on promoting Gurbani. Baba Ji regularly gave santhiya of the three Guru Granths and wrote the first ever translation of the entire Sri Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib Ji into modern day Punjabi as well as building a weapons factory run by Nihang blacksmiths to accommodate the requirements for the Khalsa to be ever ready with arms, and also to create jobs for the local Sikhs of the area. During the 1984 genocide Baba Ji ordered his Nihang acquaintances to dress up as normal everyday Singhs and to tie their turbans in the ‘Nok’ fashion as to protect themselves from the Indian army (as Nihang Singhs were easily recognisable and would be instantly shot by the soldiers), but to fight undercover. In the aftermath of the genocide, Baba Ji forced the Indian government to rebuild the dilapidated Akaal Takht which they had destroyed but the mainstream Sikhs accused Baba Ji of working with the Sarkaar, and unjustly ex-communicated him. He passed away on 8th May 2008 (the same day he received Jathedari). Despite all the hard work he did from birth till death to promote true Sikhi and lead the Khalsa in to a better future, he was taken for granted and treated less to what he deserved. Akali Baba Santa Singh Ji Nihang was truly a gem amongst soil.

14. Jathedar Akali Baba Surjeet Singh Ji Nihang

Baba Surjit Singh ji was the 14th Jathedar of the Buddha Dal, they were born on the 7th of June 1945 in Murar, Amritsar.

Before joining the Dal Panth, Baba Surjit Singh Ji served in the armed forces of the Punjab police, from 1964 to 1969. After Baba ji quit the armed forces in 1969, they went to Anandpur Sahib, and served the Sangata there for three months before returning home.

Baba Surjit Singh ji officially joined the Buddha Dal in 1970, whereupon he was given a horse and Shastar by the then 12th Jathedar of the Buddha Dal, Akali Baba Chet Singh ji. Baba Surjit Singh ji was initiated into the Khalsa Panth in 1972, by the Buddha Dal, who administered the Amrit or Khande-ka-pahul to him.

Baba Surjit Singh ji was then given one of hardest duties in the Buddha Dal, Ghoreyaan di seva, the selfless service of feeding, cleaning, and grooming the sacred horses of Guru sahib.

Guru Gobind Singh writes with Dasam Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and in Sau Sakhi, that the seva of the horses is the highest in the Khalsa Panth. Guru sahib stated that one year of this seva is the equivalent to twelve years of any other seva. In this way Baba ji achieved more than a lifetimes worth of seva in this very janam.

After this seva Baba Surjit Singh then participated in the karsewa of Sachkhand Sri Harimandar Sahib for two years from 1973-75.

Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji followed a daily routine of doing seva around the clock, taking minimal rest. They would wake up for amritvela at 12am, have ishnan and then read Nitnem. After completing their Nitnem at 03:30 am Baba Surjit Singh ji would begin their seva and would continue this throughout the day. Baba Surjit Singh ji loved serving the Sangat and would serve them with complete love and devotion whenever he would be presented with the opportunity to do so.

Baba Surjit Singh ji was later assigned the duty/seva of a Nagarchi Singh by the then Jathedar, Akali Baba Chet Singh ji. Again in this new duty as a Nagarchi Singh, Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji served the Dal and carried out his duties wholeheartedly with enthusiasm.

Seeing the love, devotion, and the years of service that Baba Surjit Singh ji put into the Buddha Dal, led Jathedar, Akali Baba Chet Singh ji to bestow the Farla, and thus made Baba Surjit Singh Ji into a Mahakal Singh.

Shortly after Jathedar Akali Baba Chet Singh ji left Earth for Sachkand (heavenly abode), Akali Baba Santa Singh ji was elected as the 13th Jathedar of the Buddha Dal. Jathedar Baba Santa Singh ji then entrusted Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji with many important tasks and duties. Baba Surjit Singh ji continued to serve the Buddha Dal and the Sangat wholeheartedly and at the same time carried on with his devotion towards Akal Purakh.

Baba Surjit Singh ji would now wake up daily at 12 am and recite Gurbani until 8 am in the morning.

Baba Surjit Singh ji served Jathedar Akali Baba Santa Singh ji with great love, devotion and always obeyed their hukam.

Seeing the great qualities within Baba Surjit Singh, Akali Baba Santa Singh ji appointed Baba Surjit Singh ji as his second in command. This now meant that Baba Surjit Singh would now be in charge of the chakkravarti Dal, – the moving Battalion, which consisted of the Guru’s horses, and Singhs. They would travel from village to village performing Akhand Paths and conducting Amrit Sanchars.

The level of discipline within this Dal is one of the strictest. The level of bibek or physical cleanliness is of great importance, which means all food must be cooked on fire wood, in sarbloh – iron utensils, all water must be well drawn or from a river – not from pumps or taps.

As per hukam of Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the chakarvarti Dal is never to stay in one place for more than three days, come wind rain or shine. So you can imagine how difficult this tradition/maryada can be to uphold.

Even during the turbulent times within Punjab during the 1980’s where Sikhs were being harassed and tormented by government forces, Baba Surjit Singh upheld this maryada and prevented the tradition from being broken.

In 2005 due to their ailing health Jathedar Akali Baba Santa Singh ji declared Baba Surjit Singh ji as the 14th Jathedar of the Buddha Dal.

However The S.G.P.C and Akali Dal placed a false case upon Baba Surjit Singh and Baba Ji was tortured and imprisoned. Due to the protests of Nihang Singhs he was subsequently released though,

On the 8th of August 2008 at the age of 90 Akali Baba Santa Singh the 13th Jathedar left their Earthly abode for Sachkand. After the nine days of paath for the passing of Baba Santa Singh, at the bhog, Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji was formally initiated as the 14th Jathedar of the Buddha Dal and on the 18th of August 2008 the formal dastar bandi ceremony took place.

In 2009 Jathedar Baba Surjit Singh ji along with 22 other Singh’s were arrested on false charges and were presented to the session court of Punjab, this was due to a political coup on the Buddha Dal by the S.G.P.C – Akali Dal alliance. The court ordered a legal case to be commenced and till its completion through a final verdict by the Judge and Jury, the session’s court ordered the Punjab Police to arrest Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji and place him in the Patiala Jail. Baba ji remained in jail, along with 22 other Nihang Singhs (some who have never been charged and who are still in jail to this day). False witnesses, corrupt officials, and long court dates delayed Jathedar Baba Surjit Singh ji’s case.


While in Patiala Jail, Jathedar Baba Surjit Singh ji led a life of example and inspired many people just has he had done before and changed the lives of many inmates within the Jail. He inspired many of them to lead a life of devotion and inspired many of them to shun their old ways of crime and to correct their wrong doings.

Even the Jail authority and the officials noticed a change in their prison after Jathedar Baba Surjit Singh ji had been brought there as an inmate. Several Prison authority’s recognised Baba Ji’s greatness and would seek his guidance as they respected him. Prisoners, the policemen inside the jail and even the jail warden, would seek his holy company.

Even whilst in jail Jathedar Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji continued his daily routine, nitnem and remained in chardikalah. Baba Ji organized more than 40 Akhand Paths of Adi Guru Granth Sahib, Dasam Guru Granth Sahib and Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib ji during a 5 yr period.


In 2011 Baba Ji fell ill due to the unhygienic food and unsanitary conditions within the Jail.


By June 2013 Jathedar Baba Surjit Singh ji’s health started deteriorating significantly, and Baba ji was taken to P.G.I Hospital Chandigarh, for regular weekly checkups. By 2014 his health worsened and he spent the best part of two or three days of a week at the P.G.I hospital in Chandigarh. Finally, due to acute illness, Jathedar Akali Baba Surjit Singh ji breathed his last breath on the 3rd of September 2014 in the Central Patiala Jail, Punjab.


Panth Paatshah Akali Nihang Baba Surjit Singh was an exceptional leader and tremendous soul who changed the lives of so many people through his great guidance, wisdom and vast amounts of selfless seva.


Baba Jis Antim Sanskar was performed last year at Gurdwara Lakhi Jangal Sahib and Jathedar Akali Baba Prem Singh Nihang Ji 96 krori was officially selected as the 15 th head of the Budha Dal. And it’s with Panth Paatshah Akali Nihang Baba Prem Singh 96 crori Jis blessings that we are today commemeorating the barsi of Akali Baba Surjit Singh.