Guru Ravidas Biography [ 1377-1540 ]
Guru Ravidas was a poet-sant of the Bhakti movement and founder of the Ravidassia religion. 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. He stressed equality where every citizen will enjoy human rights-social, political, cultural, spiritual.
Guru Ravidass is by far the most revered among the scheduled castes, especially Dalits of Northwest and Central India. His devotional verses are included in the Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib. He was one of the leading saints of the Bhakti movement who was against the Hindu Caste-System. He propagated equality, human rights, and universal brotherhood, liberty, fraternity, and worship of one God.
1. Full Name: Guru Ravidas
2. Other names: Raidas, Rohidas, Ruhidas
3. Birth: 1377 AD
4. Birthplace: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
5. Father’s name: Shri Santokh Dass
6. Mother’s name: Mata Kalsa Devi
7. Grandfather’s Name: Shri Kalu Ram Ji
8. Grandma’s name: Mata Lakhpati
9. Wife: Mrs. Lona
10. Son: Vijay Das
11. Death: 1540 AD (Varanasi)
Guru Ravidas was born in Seer Gobardhangaon near Varanasi on Magh Purnima. His mother was Kalsa Devi and his father was Santokh Dass. Everyone has their own opinion on the birth of Ravidas, some people believe that he was born around 1376-77, some say 1399 CE. According to some documents, Ravidas lived between 1450 and 1520. His birthplace is now called ‘Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan‘.
Guru Ravidas was born in a lower caste family and his father was a sarpanch in the Raja Nagar state. He used to make and repair shoes. Ravidas Ji’s father used to make leather from the dead animal’s skin and then make sandals and shoes.
Ravidas was very brave and adored God very much since childhood. Ravidas had to suffer from the inferiority complex of high clans since childhood, they used to always keep in mind that this child is not of a high clan. Ravidas used his pen to change society, he used to explain to people about life through his creations. Teaching people that a person should love his neighbor as himself without any discrimination.
In childhood, Ravidas used to go to his Guru Pandit Sharda Nand’s school for education. After some time, the upper caste people stopped him from attending school. Pandit Sharda Nand knew the talent of Ravidas, he did not believe in the great things of society, he believed that Ravidas is a child sent by God. After which Pandit Sharda Nand started teaching Ravidas in his own Pathshala. He was a very talented and promising student, more than his mentor taught him; He used to do education with his understanding. Pandit Sharda Nand was very impressed with Ravidas, seeing his conduct and talent, he used to think that Ravidas would become a good spiritual teacher and great social reformer.
Along with Ravidas, the son of Pandit Sharda Nand used to study in Pathshala, both of them were good friends. Once both of them were playing hide and seek, after playing 1-2 times it became night, due to which they asked to play the next day. On the second day, Ravidas comes to play in the morning, but that friend did not come. Then he went to his house, and find that his friend has died in the night. Hearing this, Ravidas becomes numb, then his guru Sharada Nand takes him to a dead friend. Ravidas had supernatural powers since childhood, he tells his friend that this is not the time to sleep, get up and play with me. His dead friend stands upon hearing this. Seeing this, everyone present there is amazed.
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 named 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.
Sant Ravidas life
As Ravidas grows older, his devotion to Lord Rama increases. He always used the words Ram, Raghunath, Rajaram Chandra, Krishna, Hari, Govind, etc., which gave proof of his religiousness. Ravidas Ji used to be the religious guru of Meera Bai. Meera Bai was the daughter of the king of Rajasthan and the queen of Chittor.
Guru Ravidas’s education very much influenced her and she became a great follower of guruji. Meera Bai also wrote a few words in honor of her mentor, such as ‘Guru Milaya Ravidas Ji...’ Meera Bai was the only child of her parents, after her mother’s death, her grandfather ‘Duda Ji’ raised her. Duda Ji was a great follower of Ravidas, Meera Bai along with her grandfather always used to meet Ravidas. Where she was very impressed by his education. After marriage, Meera Bai made Ravidas Ji her guru with the consent of her family. Meera Bai writes in her compositions that her Guru Ravidas Ji saved her several times from death.
Babur was the first king of the Mughal Empire, who after winning the battle of Panipat in 1526, sat on the throne of Delhi where he sacrificed millions for the trust of God. He was already familiar with the divine powers of Sant Ravidas and decided that one day he would meet Guruji along with Humayun. He went there and touched his feet to honor Guru Ji however; Instead of blessing, he was punished by Guruji because he had killed millions of innocent people. Guruji explained to him deeply which influenced Babur very much and after that, he became a follower of Sant Ravidas and started doing social service by serving the poor of Delhi and Agra.
Guru Ravidas teachings
People say, God sent Ravidas Ji into the earth to protect religion because at this time sin had increased a lot, people used to do caste, apartheid in the name of religion. Ravidas Ji bravely faced all the discrimination and explained the true definition of faith and caste to the people. He used to explain to people that man is not known by faith in caste, religion, or God, but he is recognized by his actions. Ravidas Ji made a lot of efforts to end the prevalence of untouchability in society.
At that time, those belonging to the lower caste were highly discouraged. They couldn’t worship in the temple, studied in school, moved out of the village during the day, and were even forced to live in a raw hut instead of a pucca house in the village. Seeing this plight of the society, Ravidas Ji decided to remove untouchability, discrimination from society and started giving the right message to the people.
Ravidas Ji used to message people that ‘God has created man, not a man has created God‘. This means God creates every human being and everyone has equal rights on the earth. Saint Guru Ravidas Ji used to give various teachings to the people about universal brotherhood and tolerance. Guru Ravidas opposed all activities banned to the lower caste people like Shudras (untouchables) were not allowed to wear common clothes like Brahman such as Janev, tilak on forehead, and other religious practices.
Various religious songs and other compositions written by Ravidas Ji have been included in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib‘. The fifth Sikh Guru ‘Arjan Dev‘ included them in the book. The followers of Guru Ravidas Ji’s teachings are called ‘Ravidassia’ and his collection of teachings is called ‘Ravidassia Panth‘.
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 human-made discriminations over social beliefs, caste, color, and etc.
Suggested Read: Guru Ravidas Jayanti
An important event in his life
Once some disciples of Guruji asked him to take a bath in the holy river Ganga, but he refused, saying that he had already promised to one of his customers to deliver shoes so he would not be able to join them. A student of Ravidas requested him again, then he said that he believed that “Man changa to kathoti mein Ganga” means the body needs to be purified by the soul and not by bathing in a holy river, if our soul and heart are pure Is, then we are completely pure 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 the 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.
Sant Ravidas Death
Seeing Guru Ravidas Ji’s truth, humanity, love for God, goodwill, his followers were increasing day by day. On the other hand, some Brahmins were planning to kill him. Some of Ravidas’s opponents organized a meeting, he organized a meeting away from the village and invited Guruji in it. Guru Ji already understands that trick of those people. Guruji goes there and starts the meeting. By mistake, their partner Bhalla Nath is killed in place of Guru Ji. After a while when Guru Ji blows a conch in his room, everyone is taken aback. 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.
Followers of Ravidas Ji believe that after 120 or 126 years Ravidas Ji gives up his body on his own. According to people, he breathed his last in Varanasi in 1540 AD.
God sent him to fulfill the real social and religious functions on earth and all the discrimination created by humans should be removed. Guru Ravidas Ji is known for his great deeds towards karma. In his time, the Dalit people were very much ignored and they were distanced from other castes in the society. They were not allowed to worship in temples and children were discriminated against in schools too. At such a time, Guru Ravidas gave a new spiritual message to the people of Dalit society so that they can fight the difficulties of this way.