CHELLARAM, BHAl (1904-1964), a well known Sahajdhari Sikh of modern times who sang and preached gurbani, the Guru`s inspired word, with a rare love and devotion, was born in a Sindhi family of Hyderabad (Sindh) on 3 May 1904, the son of Dr Tekchand Rachumal Mansukhani and Chettbai. Chellaram`s parents died while he was still in his infancy and his only sister not long afterwards. Successive deaths in the family left him a lonely youth, with a rather pensive mind. He took his degree in Law and set up practice as a lawyer, but his heart was not in the profession.
He joined civil service which left him ample time for the study of religious books. Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, took hold of his mind and he started reciting Sikh hymns in the Gurdwara at Karachi.He also taught children to recite kirtan, i.e. hymn singing. Soon a group of devotees formed around him dedicated to namsimran, i.e. repetition of God`s name. His growing popularity earned him the epithet of dada, the equivalent of baba in Punjabi (lit. grandfather), a term of respect for elderly or holy men.
He was invited to perform kirtan at Sikh divans on special occasions in gurdwaras in the Punjab including those at Nankana Sahib and Amritsar. In 1938, Dada Chellaram Ashram was established in Karachi. After the partition of the country in 1947, Dada Chellaram joined service in the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi and continued to reside there.In 1958, he established a religious centre Nij Thanu (lit. His own place).
It is an eclectic institution where recitations from the Bible, the Gita, and the Qur`an are made side by side with those from the Guru Granth Sahib. Another institution in Delhi which owes its origin to Dada Chellaram is Nirguna Balak Satsarig Mandal. It has branches at Bombay, Pune and Saproon, near Solan in Himachal Pradesh. Dada Chellaram died at Delhi on 7 March 1964.