Who was Sant Ravidas
Shri Guru Sant Ravidas Ji was a great Saint, philosopher, poet, social reformer, and follower of God in India during the 15th century. He was one of the most famous and leading stars of the nirguna sampradaya (sant parampara) and was one of the prominent leaders of the North Indian Bhakti movement. He had given a variety of spiritual and social messages through his great writings of poetry to his lovers, followers, and peoples of the society to reform their minds and show their boundless love towards God.
He was like a messiah in order to complete the social and spiritual needs of people. He was a spiritually rich person and was also worshipped by people. They use to listen to him and use to recite his great songs, Padas and etc at every morning and evening, on his birthday anniversary celebration, or any religious events celebration. He is loved and respected all over the world however the most respected regions were Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra for his Bhakti movement and devotional songs.
Sant Ravidas Jayanti
Sant Ravidas Jayanti or birthday anniversary is celebrated every year on Magh Purnima on full moon day of Magh month with great enthusiasm and happiness all over India however; people in Varanasi celebrate this occasion like a memorable event and festival.
It will be (644th) Sant Ravidas Jayanti in 2021 and will be celebrated on – 27th of February (Saturday)
On this special day, a ceremony of Nagar Kirtan procession is performed by people with the chants of mantras during Aarti. Music, songs, and Doha are sung in the temples located on the streets. Some of the followers and devotees also perform the ceremony of holy bath in the Ganga River or other holy places then go to worship his image at home or in a temple. A grand celebration takes place by the people in Varanasi every year at the most famous place of “Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan Mandir, Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi” in order to mark the occasion. People and devotees from all over the world visit Varanasi to actively participate in the occasion.
Facts about Sant Ravidas
Birth: in 1377 AD (means Bikrami Samvat-Magh Sudi 15, 1433, however; some people believed that it was 1440 A.D.) at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi, U.P.
Father: Shri Santokh Dass Ji
Mother: Smt. Kalsa Devi Ji
Grandfather: Shri Kalu Ram Ji
Grandmother: Smt. Lakhpati Ji
Wife: Smt. Lona Ji
Son: Vijay Dass Ji
Death: in Varanasi in 1540 A.D.
Biography (Jivani) and History of Sant Ravidas
Guru, Sant Ravidas Ji was born in Harijan caste in the Varanasi to Kalsa Devi Ji and Baba Santokh Dass Ji in the Seer Goverdhanpur village, Varanasi, U.P., India in the 15th century. However, his real birth date is still controversial because some people estimate it was 1376, 1377 and even 1399 CE. According to the data by some scholars it has been estimated that his lifespan was from 1450-1520 in 15th to 16th century CE.
His father was working as a Sarpanch at Raja Nagar Mal’s Kingdom and has his own business of shoemaking and repairing. His birthday anniversary is celebrated at every Puran Mashi (Magh Purnima) of the Magh month by the people. He was very brave and highly devoted to God from his early childhood later he struggled with lots of problems created by upper caste people which he faced and let people realize about facts of life through his writings. He taught people that always love their neighbors without any discrimination.
His birth anniversary is still celebrated by his great followers to remember his great teachings as well as renew the establishment of peace and brotherhood all over the world. During the early days of his teachings, his popularity was prohibited by the conservative Brahmins living in Kashi as he was also an untouchable guru. People complained regarding him in front of the king as a deformer of the social order. He was prohibited to talk about God and as well as advising or teaching people following him.
His Early Education
In his childhood, he went to the Pathshala of his Guru, Pt. Sharda Nand who was later restricted by some higher caste people to teach in the Pathshala. However, Pt. Sharda Nand realized that Ravidas is a child boy and sent by God as a godly boy. Pt. Sharda Nand admitted Ravidas to his own Pathshala and started teaching him. He was a very brilliant and promising student and got more than what he was taught by his Guru. Pt. Sharda Nand was very much influenced by him and his behavior and he thought that one-day Ravidas would be spiritually enlightened and will become a great social reformer.
During his studies at Pathshala, he became a good friend of Pt. Sharda Nand’s son. One day both of them were playing a game called hide and seek. In the first part, Ravidas Ji won the game and in the second part, his friend won the game. On the next turn, it was the time of Ravidas to seek again but they were unable to complete the game because it was quite dark, they decided to continue the game the next morning. The next morning Guru Ravidas Ji came but his friend did not. He waited for a long time and then went to his friend’s home to get him and saw that his friend’s parents and neighbors were weeping.
He asked about his friend to one of them and surprised when he came to know about his death last night. He was brought by the Pt. Sharda Nand near the dead body of his friend, he asked his friend that it is not sleeping time, it is time to get up and play the game of ‘hide and seek’. As Guru Ravidas Ji was blessed by the spiritual powers from birth, his friend got alive after hearing his words. The parents and neighbors of his friend were very surprised to see all this.
His love and devotion towards God were one of the main reasons for his distraction from his professional family business life and his parents were worried too worried about him. Regarding this, he was set to get married by his parents in order to get engaged in the family profession of shoemaking and repairing. Then he got married to Smt. Lona Devi in his early age and got a son called Vijaydas.
Even after his marriage, he was not able to completely concentrate on his family business because of his more interest in worldly affairs. For his such behavior, he was one day separated from his house by his father to go away and manage his all social affairs without taking help from his family. Then he started living in the backyard of his own house and get involved completely in social matters.
Later in his life, he became a great follower of Lord Rama and started following some names like Ram, Raghunath, Raja Ram Chanda, Krishna, Hari, Gobind, and etc in order to express his feeling towards God.
His Relation to Begumpura Shehr or City
Begampura is the city pioneered by Guru Ravidas Ji as it is a city without any sorrow and full of peace and humanity. Begampura city was idealized by him while writing his poem where he described that a city with no sufferings, pain, or fear and a land where all people are equal without any discrimination, poverty, and caste humiliation. A place, where nobody pays any tax, no one is worried, no terror, or torture another one.
His Association with Meera Bai
Sant Guru Ravidas Ji is considered as a spiritual Guru of Meera Bai who was the queen of Chittoor and daughter of one of the famous kings in Rajasthan naming Rao Dudaji. She was very impressed by the teachings of Guru Ravidass Ji and became a great follower of him. Meera Bai has written some lines in the respect of his Guru “Guru Milyaa Ravidas Ji …”.
She was the only daughter of her parents (king and queen of Rajasthan) who later became a queen of Chittoor. She lost her mother during her childhood and then her grandparents look after her and he was a follower of Guru Ravidas Ji. She met Guru Ji several times with her grandfather and was much influenced by him. After her marriage, she and her husband were blessed by Guru Ji, Later she accepted Guru Ji as her real Guru with the agreement of her husband and in-laws. She started hearing all the religious discourses of Guru Ji that influenced her a lot and attracted towards the divine devotion then she started singing songs and praising the divine power. In one of her songs, she said that:
“Guru milya Ravidas ji dini gyan ki gutki.
Chot lagi nijnam hari ki mharey hivrey khatki”.
Day by day she got attracted towards mediation and started living in the company of saints. Later she was checked by her younger brother-in-law after the death of her husband and in-laws but she never distracted and relent in front of them. Even, she was thrown by them in the Gambhir River at midnight but was saved by the blessings of Guru Ji.
Once, she was given poisoned milk by her brother-in-law as nectar by Guru Ji however she drank that poisoned milk assuming nectar by Guru Ji and still she was alive. She said that:
“Vish ko pyala Rana Ji melio dyo
mertani ne paye
Kar charanamit pee gayee re,
gun Gobind ra gaye”.
Some of His Life Incidents
Once, some of his disciples and followers asked him to take the holy dip in the sacred river of Ganges but he denied it by saying that he had already promised to one of his customers to deliver shoes so he would not be able to join them. One of his disciples urged him repeatedly then he answered his beliefs about common saying “Man changa to kathoti mein Ganga” means our body needs to be holy by soul not by just taking bath into the holy river, if our soul and heart is pure and happy then we are completely holy even after taking bath in the water-filled in a tub at home.
Once he saved the life of his Brahman friend from being killed by the hungry lion. He became a close friend of one of the Brahman boys while playing together however other Brahman people were jealous of their friendship and complained to the king. His Brahman friend was called by the king in the court and announced to be killed by a hungry lion. As soon as the hungry lion came to him to kill Brahman boy, the lion became very calm by seeing Guru Ravidas Ji near his friend. Lion moves away and Guru Ravidas Ji and he brought his Brahman friend to his home. Brahman people and king were very ashamed off and realized about the spiritual power of the Guru Ravidas Ji and they started following him.
His Involvement in Social Issues
He was a true messenger of God and he came on earth when it was necessary to save the real Dharma as at that time when social and religious patterns were distressing because of the lots of manmade discriminations over social beliefs, caste, color, and etc. He bravely faced all the discriminations and answered people about the real definition and beliefs of castes. He taught people that one is not known by his caste, religion, or believes in God, he is known only for his great actions (or karma). He also worked against the system of untouchability in the society by the higher caste people for lower caste people.
During his time, low caste people were neglected and were not allowed to do some common jobs in the society of higher caste people such as inhibited to go to the temples for prayer, inhibited to go to schools for study, restricted to visit the village during the daytime, they were allowed to live in huts instead of a proper house in the village and many more. After seeing such a social scenario, Guruji started giving spiritual messages to everybody in order to permanently tackle the bad situations of low caste people.
He spread a message that “God created man and not man created God” means everyone is created by God and has equal rights on this earth. Regarding this social situation, Sant Guru Ravidas Ji has given various teachings to the people about the universal brotherhood and tolerance. The King and Queen of the Chittoor kingdom became his great disciples after being influenced by his teachings.
His Contribution to the Sikhism
His padas, devotional songs, and other writings (around 41 verses) are mentioned in the Sikh Scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib who was compiled by the 5th Sikh’s Guru, Arjan Dev. The followers of Guru Ravidas Ji’s teachings are commonly called Ravidassia and a collection of teachings called Ravidassia Panth.
The 41 holy writings of him which is included in the Guru Granth Sahib are mentioned in the following ways: “Raga – Siri(1), Gauri(5), Asa(6), Gujari(1), Sorath(7), Dhanasari(3), Jaitsari(1), Suhi(3), Bilaval(2), Gaund(2), Ramkali(1), Maru(2), Kedara(1), Bhairau(1), Basant(1), and Malhar(3).
His Greatness was Examined by the God
He was the great saint of his time and preferred to live the life of a common man whereas he was followed by many rich kings and queens of that time including other rich people but he never accepted any wealth offered. One day, Guru Ravidas Ji was examined by God for the common man’s greediness within him. A philosopher came to the Guru Ravidas Ji and told him about the surprising aspects of a stone that was able to convert iron into gold. Guru Ravidas Ji was forced by that philosopher to take that stone and construct big buildings instead of a simple hut but Guru Ravidas Ji denied it.
Philosopher again forced him and said to keep it; I would collect it back when I would be returned. Guru Ji accepted his request and told him to keep this stone at any particular place in the hut. Philosopher returned after many years and saw that the stone was there as usual. Philosopher became very happy by the persistence of Guru Ravidas Ji and his distraction towards inwardly wealth. He took his precious stone, went away, and disappeared. Guru Ravidas Ji always taught his disciples no to be greedy for wealth, it is not stable, instead work hard for earning a livelihood.
Once, Guru Ravidas Ji was called to the court by the Kashi Naresh upon complaint of other Brahman people against the act of worship of God by Guru Ji and other untouchables. He was the person who made the process of worship easy by discarding all the unnecessary rituals. He represented himself in front of the king where both of them (Guru Ji and other Pandit priests) were requested to bring their own Thakur statue on the Rajghat bank of river Ganga on the decided day.
King had announced that if the statue of one would float he would be a true worshipper otherwise false. Both of them arrived at the Ganga River and started doing their act of challenge as announced by the king. Brahman brought a small statue of Thakur Ji wrapped in cotton clothe whereas Guru Ji brought a statue of 40 kg made up of heavy-weight square stone. There was a huge crowd of people at Rajghat bank of river Ganga to see the event in the presence of King.
The first turn was given to the Brahman priests to release their Thakur statue in the river, they did the process with all the ritual and mantras chanting and then the statue sank down very deep into the water. The second turn was given to the Guru Ravidas Ji, he took the statue on his shoulder and gently placed it in the water which was started floating on the surface of the water. After the complete process, it was decided that Brahman were false worshippers and Guru Ji was a true worshipper.
People started touching his feet for availing untouchables the right to worship God. From then, Kashi Naresh and others (who were against Guru Ji) started following and honoring Guru Ji. This auspicious and victorious event was recorded in the golden letters in the court for future records.
He was Blessed with Natural Powers to Treat Leprosy
After his lots of amazing activities in a society full of supernatural powers, people from all the castes and religions were influenced by his truthfulness towards the worship of God and became his strong followers, devotees, and disciples. A long ago, he was giving sermons to his disciples, and then a wealthy Seth also reached there to hear the religious discourses over the topic of the importance of human birth.
At the end of religious discourse, Guru Ji gave everybody sacred water from his earthen pot as a Prasad. People took that and started drinking however, wealthy Seth considered that as dirty water and threw it behind his back which was partially dispersed on his clothes and floor. He went his home and gave his clothe to the poor person suffering from leprosy disease. As soon as the poor man get clothe and wore, he started feeling soothing effects all over his body and skin whereas leprotic wounds started healing up and became healthy very soon.
However; wealthy Seth got diseased with leprosy and never got relief from any costly treatment by qualified and experienced Vaidya. His condition was deteriorating day by day then he realized his misbehavior and went to the Guru Ravidas Ji to apologize and get that sacred water to heal wounds. Guru Ji was very kind and forgave him with lots of blessings to get healthy. Finally, wealthy Seth including his family became a devotee of Guru Ji for his whole life.
His Positive Attitude
During his time, Shudras (untouchables) were not allowed to wear common clothes like Brahman such as Janev, tilak on forehead, and other religious practices. Guru Ravidas Ji was a very great person who opposed all those activities banned for the untouchable community for their equal rights in society. He started doing all such activities banned to the lower group people such as wearing Janev, dhoti, putting tilak on forehead and etc.
Brahmans were against his activities and tried to check him doing such for untouchables in the society. However; Guru Ravidas Ji faced all bad situations very bravely and answered Brahmans with humble actions. He was called to the court of a king on the complaint of Brahmans for wearing Janev instead of being untouchable. He presented there and said that untouchables too should be given equal rights in the society as they have the same blood color and sacred soul and heart as others.
He instantly made a deep cut on his chest and pulled four Janev of gold, silver, copper, and cotton for respectively for the four Yuga like Satyuga, Treta, Dwaper, and Kalyuga. People including the king available there were very astonished and honored Guru Ji by touching his feet. King was much shamed and begged for his childish behavior, Guru Ji forgave all and told that wearing Janev does not has any means to attain God. He only involved in this activity to show people the reality and truth. He took off Janev and gave it to the king, after that, he never used Janev, Tilak and etc.
One of the Events at the Kumbh Festival
Once, Pandit Ganga Ram met GuruJi and honored him. He was going to the Kumbh festival in Haridwar, Guru Ji asked him to give this small coin to the Ganga Mata if she takes it by her own hand. He took that very easily and went to Haridwar. He took bath, prayed, and started returning home without offering coins to Mata given by Guru Ji.
He fainted on his way and sat down then realized that he forgot something, he went back to the bank of a river and called loudly to Mata, and she came and accepted the coin by putting her own hand out of the water. She returned a golden bangle as a return gift for Guru Ji. Pandit Ganga Ram came home and gave that bangle to his wife instead of Guruji.
One day his wife went to sell that bangle in the market to get money. The jeweler was clever, he decided to show the bangle to king and king to queen. Queen liked that very much and requested to get another one. King announced that the one would not get a matching bangle, Pandit was very sad as he was wrong and cheated Guru Ji. He met Guru Ravidas Ji and requested for pardon. Guruji said to him that “Mun changa to kathauti mein Ganga” find another set of bangle in this water-filled earthen shallow pot as Ganga is flowing here. They were shocked by seeing the spiritual power of Guru Ji and later became followers.
One of the Events during His Father Death
After his father’s death, he requested his neighbors to support him in the last rites at the bank of Gange. However, Brahmans were against the rite that they took bath from the Ganga water which flows towards the main city from the place of rite and that would be polluted. Guru Ji felt very sad and felt helpless, however; he never lost his patience and started praying for the peace of his father’s soul. Suddenly, there was a heavy thunder in the environment and river water started flowing in the reverse direction and suddenly a deep wave of water came to the dead body, washed away and absorbed all the remains. From that time it is considered that the holy water of river Gange flows in a reverse direction.
How Babur was influenced by His Teachings
According to history, Babur was the first king of the Mughal emperor who throned in Delhi after his victory in the battle of Panipat in 1526 where he massacred tons of people in the belief of God. He already knew about the spiritual powers of GuruJi and decided one day to meet Guruji with his son Humayun. He went there and touched the feet of GuruJi to honor him, however; instead, he got blessings he was punished by Guruji as he murdered lots of innocent bodies. Guruji taught him deeply which influenced Babur very much then he became a great follower of the Guruji and started doing social works by supporting the poor in Delhi and Agra.
Death of Sant Ravidas
Day by day the followers of Guru Ji were increasing because of his truthfulness, humanity, the oneness of God, and bought equality in society and many more. Another side, some Brahmans and Piran Ditta Mirasi were planning to kill Guru Ravidas Ji that’s why they arranged a meeting at a lonely place that was far away from the village. They invited Guru Ji to involve in the meeting to discuss the topic where they decided to kill Guru Ji however Guru Ji was already known of all the events because of his spiritual powers.
As soon as the discussion started, Guru Ji showed his appearance on one of the companions named Bhalla Nath who was then killed by mistake. Later, when Guru Ji blew his conch shell in his hut, the killers were very shocked by seeing Guru Ji alive then they ran to the place of murder where they found the dead body of their own companion called Bhalla Nath instead of Guru Ji. They felt guilty and went to the hut of Guru Ji for pardon.
However, by some of his followers, it is believed that he died naturally after 120 or 126 years of his life. Some people believed that he died in Varanasi (his birth place) in 1540 A.D.
Memorials for Guru Ravidas Ji
- Sri Guru Ravidas Park in Varanasi
There is a Sri Guru Ravidas Park in Varanasi which is made as a memorial behind his name in the Nagwa which has been clearly named as “Guru Ravidass Smark and Park”.
- Guru Ravidas Ghat
Guru Ravidas Ghat has also been proposed by the government of India to be implemented at the bank of Gange River behind his name almost adjacent to the park in Varanasi.
- Sant Ravidas Nagar
There is a Sant Ravidas Nagar (old name Bhadohi) which has also been established behind his name located in the Sant Ravidas Nagar District near Gyanpur.
- Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan Mandir Varanasi
There is Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan Mandir located at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi has been built in the honor of him which is run by his followers all over the world which has now become their main religious headquarters.
- Shri Guru Ravidas Memorial Gate
There is a big gate located at Lanka Chauraha, Varanasi has been built in honor of Guru Ji named “Shri Guru Ravidas Memorial Gate”.
Some other memorials are also located all over India as well as abroad behind the name of Sant Guru Ravidas Ji.
Other Related People
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Ans. He was born in the holy city of Varanasi, in the village Seer Goverdhanpur. Now his birthplace is known as Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan.
Ans. There is a belief that he was strongly influenced by Guru Nanak and started reciting poems after meeting him and you can also find his poems in Adi Granth.
Ans. The exact records are unknown but it is believed that he was born in 1450 CE and died in the year 1520 CE.
Ans. It was saint Ravidas who showed her the path of Bhakti and told her about Krishna.