GURU RAVIDASS JI A SYMBOL OF LIBERTY
CHAUDAN SAAI TETEES KI MAGH SUDI PANDRAS,
DUKHION KE KALYAN HIT PARGTE SRI RAVIDAS
Some important facts of life Jagat Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji.
Date of Birth : Year 1377 AD (Bikrami Samvat-Magh Sudi 15, 1433)
Birth Place : Seer Goverdhanpur, Banaras (U.P.)
Name of Mother & Father : Mother, Respected Smt. Kalsi Devi Ji & Father, Respected Sh. Santokh Dass Ji
Name of Grandmother & Grandfather : Grandmother, Respected Smt. Lakhpati Ji & Grandfather, Respected Sh. Kalu Ram Ji
Name of wife & son : Wife-Respected Smt. Lona Ji & Son-Respected Sh. Vijay Dass Ji.
Brahamleen : Harh Di Sangrand 1584, Bikrami Samvat (1528) at Banaras.
As per this couplet Guru Ravidass Ji appeared on this earth on 15th Magh Sudi full-moon day of Bikram Samvat 1433 which coincides with, 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 there 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 synchronised 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 multi-faceted personality. He was a suave socio-religious reformer, a thinker, a theosophist, a humanist, a poet, a traveller, 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. Practising 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 saviour of down-trodden community groping in darkness of unjust socioreligious environment for survival in tight grip of hate, despair and serfdom. Guru Ravidass Ji composed hymns profusely in praise of God. 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 the world. It will be an ideal place to live in. The preamble of the Charter of the United Nations has been prepared in conformity with theme of this hymn. He was famous for his spiritual perfection. A large number of kings 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 places of other faiths. Satguru Ji spoke high of his Chamar caste. He addressed the ‘nagar janan’ – the residents of Benaras in particular and masses in general that ‘meri jaat(i) bikhiaat chamaarn’. He told the then king that Chamar caste is well-known. Since he had taken shelter in the Naam of the Lord, even the leading and distinguished Brahmans bowed down flat before him in reverence. As per “Shri Guru Ravidass-Life and Writings” Edition 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 writings” 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 Guru Nanak Dev 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 Bhag, Kohat, Khaibar Pass, Jalalabad, Srinagar, Dalhousie, Gorakpur, and widely preached his philosophy. As such, wherever 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 151 years. He was able to bring about 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 teachings and hymns and enlighten their lives.
Birth of Shri Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji
It is a historical truth that even God is shaken when the people commit sinful activities
at a large scale. When the situation becomes acute, God sends his emissary to put the stray
humanity on the right path. In the medieval period of Indian history Satguru Namdev Ji,
Satguru Kabir Ji, Satguru Sain Ji, Satguru Ravidass Ji, Satguru Nanak Dev Ji and many
others preached equality, fraternity, truth and secularism. They exhorted human beings to shun
discrimination on any ground. It the 13th and 14th century, people in Indian territory were plundered by foreign invaders. They were subjected to inhuman treatment. Hinduism and Islam were two main religions in India. The society was divided into hundreds of castes and sub-castes. Mul-Niwasis- the original inhabitants of India were deprived of human rights. They were not allowed to get education, wear neat and clean clothes. Even their shadow was understood to pollute the high caste persons. There were cruelties and misery all around. In such a pathetic and awesome scenario, Satguru Ravidass Maharaj Ji took birth in the family of father Santokh Dass Ji and mother Kalsi Devi Ji on 15th Magh Sudi full-moon day of Bikram Samvat 1433 which coincides with 1377 A.D. at Seer Govardhanpur a sub-urban of Benaras. His grandfather was revered Kalu Ram Jassal and grandmother Lakhpati Saroy. There was dazzling light in the Universe at the time of his birth. Even the saints, sages, rishis and munis bowed before him in reverence and predicted him to do something miraculous. They predicted that Ravidass Ji will annul caste system, equality will prevail and human rights will be wrested to the betterment of the common man. The eyesight of the midwife of birth of Guru Ji was weak. As the birth of Guru Ji took place, the old lady had a glance at the new born baby. Her eye sight improved immediately. She was very happy. She told the parents of Guru Ji, that a large number of babies have taken birth through her. The parts of body of this infant are peculiar. She has never seen such a baby. She predicted that as a result of his deeds, the family will become famous.
Temple at birthplace
After a lapse of 600 years Sant Sarwan Dass Ji of Dera Sach Khand Ballan, district Jalandhar (Punjab, India) traced the birthplace of Guru Ravidass Ji at Seer Govardhanpur, Benaras. As a result of strenuous efforts of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji, Sant Hari Dass Ji and Sant Garib Dass Ji, a 7-storey grand temple has been constructed at the birthplace. It has now become Ultimate Place of Pilgrimage for the devotees in India and abroad. There is an imli tree quite adjacent to the mandir site. When the foundation stone of the temple was laid it was a dry trunk of the tree. Sant Hari Dass Ji watered the tree daily so long as he stayed there. The tree became live again. To-day it is big tree. The pilgrims pay their obeisance at this place also.
Once revered father’s sister of Guru Ravidass Ji visited his house. She brought a leather hare toy for child. Leather hare toy was given to child Ravidass Ji. He felt very happy to have the fascinating toy. While playing with the toy, he pushed the toy with his feet thrice. When it was pushed third time the leather hare toy became live hare. It was running and playing with Guru Ravidass Ji. Guru Ji was happy with it. Guru Ji’s father’s sister’s husband came in. He was told all about the leather hare toy. He was astonished to hear all about miracle. They all touched the soft feet of Guru Ji. Guru Ravidass Ji was of 5 years’ age when his revered mother expired. There was one Karmawati who was of 60-65 years age. She was blind. She was residing at Seer Govardhanpur (Benaras). She was friend of Mata Lakhpati Ji- the grandmother of Guru Ravidass Ji. Whenever Lakhpati Ji visited Karmawati, she took Ravidass Ji along. Although Karmawati was blind, she used to prepare yarn on charkha. One day Ravidass Ji took the BOHIA (a small sarkanda vessel for keeping poonian and galota) away from the charkha. Karamwati tried to locate it but it was not there. Then Guru Ji kept BOHIA at the same place. Karamwati again tried to locate the BOHIA. It was there. She was astonished at this. She thought that earlier also she tried to locate the BOHIA at the same place but it was not there then. She felt as if somebody is there near her. However, she started preparing yarn on the charkha. Then Guru Ji tried to snatch the charkha from Karamwati. She resisted. She stretched her arms around and caught hold of Guru Ji and uttered as to who you were? Guru Ji pulled his hands from her hold and put both his hands on her eyes and said, “Mother you see who am I”. Guru Ji took off his hands from her eyes. She opened her eyes. Her eye-sight was normal. She had the glance of beautiful face of Guru Ji. She touched his feet in reverence. ”Fortunate are your parents in whose family you have taken birth”, she complimented to Guru Ji. Guru Ji came back to his house. Karmawati wanted to have still more darshan of Guru Ji. She came to house of parents of Guru Ji. She narrated the entire story. She congratulated his parents for having such a godly son.
As Guru Ji attained boyhood, he remained absorbed is spiritual activities for most of his time. His father wanted him to take up ancestral occupation. Although he did help his father in his profession but he did not take keen interest in it. He was mostly in detached mood. His parents were worried about of his future. By and by he started religious discourses, Casteist people used to laugh at him that being of low caste, he is talking of spirituality. But he continued his discourses. His parents planned his marriage that he could engross himself in his family life and stop spiritual leanings. He was married to a religious minded girl name Lona Devi of Mirzapur. She handled all domestic work at her in-laws. She was a noble lady. She cooperated her husband in spiritual discourses. Guru Ji had one son Vijay Dass. In book ‘The Chamars’ G.W. BRIGGS writes ‘Name of his wife was Lona that of his son Vijay Dass’.