BABA, a Persian word meaning 'father' or 'grandfather', is used among Sikhs as a title of affection and reverence. In its original Persian context, Baba is a title used for superiors of the Qalandar order of the Sufis, but as transferred to India its meaning extends to cover the old as well as any faqiror sannyasi of recognized piety. This was also one of Guru Nanak's honorific titles during his lifetime. It assumed a hereditary character and all the physical descendants of the Gurus were generally addressed by this title. Apart from them, the title was also applied to one who combined piety with the exercise of a secular authority.
The founder of the Patiala city and the progenitor of its royal house is commonly known as Baba Ala Singh. One most revered name in Sikh history is that of the long lived Baba Buddha (1506-1631), a Sikh of Guru Nanak's time, who anointed with his hands five succeeding Gurus. Beyond the orthodox ranks of the Panth, the title is also applied to the leaders of sects which claim to exist within the community or to have strong links with it.s