Satguru Ravidass Ji Mahraj
CHAUDAN SAAI TETEES KI MAGH SUDI PANDRAS,
DUKHION KE KALYAN HIT PARGTE SRI RAVIDAS
As per this couplet Guru Ravidass Ji appeared on this earth on 15th Magh Saudi fullmoon day of Bikram Samvat 1433 which coincides with Sunday, the 15th of JANUARY 1377 A.D. at Seer Govardhanpur a sub-urban area of Benaras. His revered father Santokh Dass Ji and mother Kalsi Devi Ji were happy to receive in their family the smiling sun-like face of Ravidass with eyes full of godly love. This divine gift was meant not only for family of Santokh Dass alone but it was a life-light for mankind as a whole. The brilliance on his face fore-shadowed his future deeds.
Since the advent of Vedic Age caste system and untouchability have been prevalent in India. In passage of time, the socio-religious inhibitions became more strict and cruel. The untouchables were given an ignoble place. They were debarred from acquiring knowledge, own property and worship of God. They were considered untouchable in the sense that not only physical contact with them but even their physical contact with them but even their shadow would pollute the body of high-caste people. These conditions prevailed in India for more than 3000 years. Social system had been crippled. Apathy meted out to the Shudras culminated in 13th and 14th century A.D Worship synchronized with observance of rituals only and became hand-tool of priesthood. In such degenerated environment Guru Ravidass Ji emerged in Benaras (Kanshi-Uttar Pradesh, India) as a formidable adversary of socio-religious infirmities and stood for truthfulness. He defined worship afresh. He was protagonist of equality, oneness of God, human rights and universal brotherhood. Guru Ji was a multifaceted personality. He was a suave socio-religious reformer, a thinker, a theosophist, a humanist, a poet, a traveler, a pacifist and above all a towering spiritual figure before whom even head-priests of Benaras lay prostrate to pay homage. He was pioneer of socialistic thought and strengthened noble values.
The caste in which he was born is called CHAMAR (also KUTBANDHLA-a sub-caste of Scheduled Castes in Uttar Pradesh). They were oppressed and badly treated by the society. Practicing in leather and tanning is the profession of this community.
On attaining adulthood Guru Ravidass Ji faced the brunt of social handicaps. However, he started blowing conch-shell, ringing bells and applying tilak on his fore-head and worshipping God. This was taken seriously by the priests. They tried to restrict him from following such practices. But he did not deter. They lodged complaints with the Kashi Naresh against Guru Ravidass Ji for copying them and disregarding Hindu religious tenets. The king interfered. Acid tests were put by the king for ascertaining truthfulness. Guru Ravidass Ji floated PATHRI (stone) in river Ganga, took out JANJUS of 4 yugs FROM HIS CHEST AND SHOWED TO THE KING, AT Chittorgarh he became as many Ravidass as the Pandits, he gave his appearance to one BHALLA NATH and Bhalla Nath was killed in place of Ravidass.
On all these occasions he was victorious and priests had to eat a humble pie. He proved to be the saviors of down-trodden community groping in darkness of unjust socio-religious environment for survival in tight grip of hate, despair and serfdom.
Guru Ravidass Ji composed hymns profusely in praise of God. 40 hymns and one couplet have been inscribed in Guru Granth Sahib. Other hymns are scattered and are available in piecemeal at different places at Sant Dadu Dyal Sanskrit Mahavidyala, Jaipur, Nagri Pracharni Sabha Library, Varanasi and various libraries in Bikaner, Jodhpur, Naraina, Chittor etc. He preached his thought and philosophy through his hymns.
The hymns of Guru Ravidass Ji had become popular. Dr. Darshan Singh, the learned author, writes in his book “A Study of Bhakta Ravidass” (Page 6, Punjabi University, Patiala Publication Second Edition 1996) – “It is maintained in the Janam-Sakhi by Sodhi Meharvan (1581-1640) that Mardana the rebeck player and life long companion of Guru Nanak used to sing the hymns of Bhakta Ravidass and other Bhaktas. ”He has made this assertion with reference to Sodhi Meharban’s Janamsakhi Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Vol. I (Amritsar Khalsa College) Page 73 wherein it is depicted as below:
MARDANA DOOM(U) KALALAN KA TALWANDI RAI
BHOAI KI REHDA, RABAB(U)
WAJAIDA, NAAM KAMBIR, TILOCHAN,
RAVIDAS, DHANNE BENI DE PADE
GAWTA, GURU BABE NANAK KAI
AAGE PADE GAWTA
In the hymn “Begumpura”, Guru Ravidass Ji Postulates the world of his dreams. There will be no distress, no tax, no restriction from going and coming, no fear, in that world. It will be an ideal place to live in. The preamble of the Charter of the United Nations appears to have been prepared in conformity with theme of this hymn.
He was eminent for his spiritual perfection. A large number of King and queens became his disciples. Prominent among them were Raja Pipa, Raja Nagar Mal, Rani Jhalan Bai, Meera Bai. The kings had built many temples dedicated to Guru Ji but these were later either demolished or converted into worship place of other faiths.
As per “Shri Guru Ravidass-Life and Writings” Editions 1993 of learned author Dr. Lekh Raj Parwana, Mata Loona, wife of Guru Ravidass Ji, was humble and she extended her full co-operation for success in the mission of her husband. By virtue of her blissful behaviour she was taken as goddess by the devotees.
As recorded by learned author Dr. Lekh Raj Parwana at Page 116-117 in his book “Shri Guru Ravidass- Life and writing, first edition 1993, Guru Ravidass Ji visited Northern India twice. Firstly, he was accompanied by Kabir Ji, Tarlochan Ji, Sain Ji and Dhanna Ji and met Guru Nanak Dev Ji at Chuharkana, now known as Nankana Sahib where Guru Nanak Dev served them food with Rs.20/- which had been given to him by his revered father Mehta Kalu Ji for some profitable business. At his second visit to Punjab, Guru Ravidass Ji met Guru Nanak Dev Ji at Sant Ghat of Kali Bein in Sultanpur Lodhi. At third time he met at Guru Nanak Ji at Guru Ka Bagh, Benaras and exchanged their views on several topics pertaining to religion, social system and liberty of human beings. Guru Ravidass Ji gave gift of his VANI of 40 hymns and one couplet to Guru Nanak Dev Ji as desired by him.
Guru Ravidass Ji is said to have visited Mathura, Prayag, Haridwar, Kurukshetra, Godavari, Sultanpur, Panghat, Ranipur, Bhagalpur, Naraingarh, Nagpur, Bija Bhopal, Jhansi, Bundi, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Bombay, Hyderabad Kathiawar, Karachi, Bahawalpur, Kala Bagh, Kohat, Khaibar Pass, Jalalabad, Srinagar, Dalhousie, Gorakhpur and widely preached his philosophy. As such, where ever he went large number of people came under his influence and became his devotees. It is due to his itinerary that he is known in entire India.
Guru Ravidass Ji held discussions with Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Satguru Kabir Ji and Sant Ramanand Ji against prevalent social, religious, economic and political persecution. Topics of casteless and classless society, oneness of God, equality and human rights were discussed. He was one of the pioneers of Bhakti Movement. It was reformatory wave against ritualistic worship and other evils with which society was gripped. Worship was given a fresh simple definition. Predominantly, all saints of ideal thought joined Bhakti Movement. Since the mode of worship preached by them was free from rituals, people of different faiths became their devotees. It was a period of religious renaissance.
He lived for about 151years. He was able to bring abut a sea change in socio-religious environment of our society. His sermons are relevant even today as in the 15th century A.D. All human beings may derive inspiration from his hymns and enlighten their lives.