Bhagat Ravidas ji

pictoral representation of Bhagat Ravidass ji

Ravidas, poet and mystic, was born to Raghu and Ghurbinia, who lived near the city of Varanasi. Not much biographical information about him is available, but, from what can be made out of his own compositions, he belonged to a low-caste family. He followed the family profession of tanning hides and making shoes. Gradually he started spending most of his time in the company of saints and Sadhus and built himself a thatched hut wherein he received and entertained wandering ascetics. Many stories became current about his simplicity and piety of nature.

He became famous as a vaisnava saint in the tradition of Ramanand. In the course of his spiritual quest, he reached a stage when he discarded images and idols and turned to the worship of the one supreme being. He wrote deeply impassioned devotional verses and left his mark on Braj Bhasha literature for the fusion of religious sentiment with the vernacular medium. Forty of his hymns have been incorporated in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. He travelled fairly widely and visited Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhdra Pradesh, Maharashtra besides a number of places in the northern India such as Prayab, Mathura, Vrindavan Haridvar, Gurgaon and Multan. At most of these places , there are monuments honouring his memory. In his lifetime, he had thousands of followers, including members of High Castes, among them being Mirabai, the Rajput princess. They hymns Ravidas included in the Guru Granth Sahib fall under Raga - Siri(1), Gauri (5), Asa(6), Gujari(1), Sorathi(7), Dhanasari(3), Jaitsari(1),Suhi(3), Bilaval(2),Gaund(2),Ramkali(1),Maru(2),Kedara(1),Bhairau(1),Basant(1), and Malhar. One of the hymns in raga Maru is the same (with a few minor changes) as included in raga Sorathi.

Ravidas acknowledged the unicity and imnopresence and omnipotence of God. According to him human soul is only a particle of the Divine; the different between the two is like the difference between Gold and the ornament, the water and the wave (GG,, 93). He rejects distinctions between man and man on the basis of caste or creed, for, as he says, in the world beyond no such differentiations will be acknowledges( GG, 345). To realize God, which is the ultimate end of human life, man should concentrate on His/Her name, giving up mere forms and ritualism (GG, 658, 1106). Birth in a low caste is no hindrance in the way to spiritual development. The only condition required is freedom from duality; all else including pilgrimage to and bathing in the sixty-eight centres is in vain (GG, 875).


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