Sant Ravidas also popularly known as Bhagat Raidas, Ruhidas, Robidas was traditionally considered a contemporary of God Kabir. Sant Ravidas Ji belonged to a leather-working cobbler community from Kashi, Uttar Pradesh which was considered to be an untouchable caste. He was the shoe craftsman. He was the follower of Kabir Sahib who had descended on earth 625 years ago. Highly influenced by the preachings of God Kabir devotee Ravidas followed the same principles laid down by God Kabir such as abandoning social evils like untouchability, social division based on caste, creed, gender, differentiation between rich and poor, religious supremacy amongst people, and superstition.
Similar to the preachings of God Kabir devotee Raidas also preached about unity in the pursuit of spiritual freedom on a personal basis. He taught every individual to worship only one God, who is the creator of entire universes and abandon arbitrary worship. This write-up highlights a few true incidents that happened in the life of devotee Ravidas which proved him to be a great social reformer and a spiritual leader.
The following will be the highlights of this article.
- Birth of devotee Sant Ravidas
- Sant Ravidas fixed the intellect of greedy Brahmin
- Ravidas Ji cured the incurable disease of the Queen
- Ravidas Ji Acquired 700 forms
- Sant Ravidas gave initiation to devotee Meerabai
- Swami Ramanand Ji was the Guru of Ravidas Ji
Birth of Devotee Sant Ravidas Ji
Reference: Mukti Bodh Book, Chapter ‘Sumiran Ka Ang’ Speech no 111, translated by Jagatguru Sant Rampal Ji Maharaj on page no. 94-97.
Garib, Ravidas Rangeela Rang hai, Diye Janaeu tode |
Jag jaunaar Chauley Dhare, Ek Ravidas ek Gaud || 111 ||
There was one Brahmin in Kashi (Varanasi) city bearing auspicious thoughts and practising celibacy. He was doing devotion. He abandoned materialistic pleasures and left home. He was living in the hermitage of a sage. One morning, after taking a bath in the river Ganges flowing near the city of Kashi, that ascetic sitting under a tree, was meditating on God. At the same time, a 15-16-year-old girl along with her mother carrying the cattle fodder was going towards the forest.
Seeing the shadow on the other side under the same tree, the daughter put the fodder bale on the ground and sat to relax. When the seeker Brahmin saw the young girl, a subtle desire arose in him ‘How beautiful the girl is? How would it be like to have her as a wife?’ At that very moment, the learned Brahmin came to know through his spiritual knowledge about the loss of his spiritual practice that
Jeti naari dekhiyan mun dosh upaye |
Tak dosh bhi lagat hai jaise bhog kamaye ||
Meaning:- Whichever women are seen with the intention of developing a relation the same amount of sin is incurred in the subtle relation. There is also a provision in spirituality that filth comes to the mind. But it can be terminated with a noble thought. A young man was coming to his village by bicycle. He saw from a distance that three girls were going towards the same village carrying cattle feed on their heads. He started following them on a bicycle and got fascinated by one girl who was more attractive than the three. There was a special feeling of youth towards that one girl. With the fault in his mind, he took the bicycle ahead of those girls and looked back to see the girl's face and found she was his real sister. Immediately, good thoughts came in his mind seeing her and bad thoughts went away as if they didn’t arise. He felt guilty. Good thoughts became so deep that bad thoughts were completely destroyed.
That pious ascetic Brahmin knew that the sin of bad thoughts could be completely destroyed by the firmness and correctness of good thoughts. Therefore, he wanted to protect his devotion by completely destroying the evil thoughts generated towards that girl and thought from his heart that ‘I wish she was my mother’. This thought arose in the same sense as that young man recognized his sister as a sister. Then there was no place for fault. That girl was from the Cobbler caste. The Brahmin deeply desired her to be his mother. After two years Brahmin died. That girl from the cobbler community got married. The same seeker Brahmin was born to that girl in a shoe-maker house in Kashi city. That child became Sant Ravidas.
Sant Ravidas Fixed the Intellect of Greedy Brahmin
Steadfast devotee Ravidas Ji used to do his work as a shoe craftsman and also used devotion to Supreme God Kabir. One day a Brahmin met Sant Ravidas Ji on the way and said, ‘Devotee, will you go for taking a bath in the holy Ganga river?’ I am going there Sant Ravidas Ji said that
'Mun changa to Katauti mein Ganga'
Meaning:- If one’s mind is pure then there is no need to take a dip in Ganga, Ganga will be in Katauti itself.
(Katauti is a tub usually of mud that is filled with water in which cobblers used to dip thread as well as animal skin to make it soft and then use it for making leather shoes)
Sant Ravidas Ji said that I am not going. Pandit Ji said that You seem to have become an atheist since you have started living with Kabir Ji and you have given up your religious work. If you want to donate something, give it to me, and I will give it to Ganga Maiya. Ravidas Ji took out a coin from his pocket and gave it to the Brahmin and said 'O Vipra! Give this coin to Ganga Ji and listen to one thing, if Ganga Ji takes this coin in her hand, then give it, otherwise bring it back. Tell to Ganga Ji that "O Ganga, devotee Ravidas from the city of Kashi has sent this coin, please accept it’.
Pandit Ji went inside the river Ganga and stood inside the water and said the same words. Ganga took the coin from the Brahmin with one hand and with the other hand gave a beautiful and valuable gold bracelet to Pandit Ji. Ganga said that this bracelet is very valuable. Then Ganga said Give this bracelet to supreme Sant Ravidas Ji and say that you have made me (Ganga) grateful by offering (Prasad) with your hand. What offering (Prasad) can I give to a Sant? Kindly accept this as my meagre offering. Pandit Ji took the bracelet and started walking. He became greedy and thought that he would give this bracelet to the king. He will give me a lot of money in return for this wonderful bracelet. The King liked the bracelet and took it from him and gave him a lot of money and bade farewell by noting his name and address. The king gave the bracelet to his Queen. The Queen liked it as she had never seen such a beautiful and valuable bracelet. The Queen said that there should be another bracelet like this, it must be a pair’.
The king called the same Brahman and said that he should bring another bracelet similar to the one he had brought earlier. I will give him whatever money he will demand. A mountain-like problem arose in front of that cheater (420) and greedy Brahmin. Where to find a similar bracelet? He went to all goldsmiths but did not find a similar bracelet anywhere. At last, he got sad and finally went to Sant Ravidas Ji and admitted his mistake. He narrated the whole incident of giving a coin to Ganga, taking a bracelet in return, then how he got into trouble by not giving that bracelet to devotee Ravidas Ji and what the King told him? etc. Pandit Ji begged Ravidas Ji to save the life of his family. Ravidas Ji said Pandit Ji you are not worthy of forgiveness but since your family is in trouble so I will help you. You put your hand in this ‘Katauti’ (a big earthen tub in which leather was soaked) and say to Ganga that 'Devotee Ravidas Ji prays that you come to the ‘Katauti’ and give a similar bracelet like that'. By saying this, Pandit Ji, who used to talk to Ravidas from a distance of 5 feet because he was from an untouchable cobbler community has now put his hand in the mud tub used for soaking leather. He got four similar bracelets from it.
Devotee Ravidas Ji said 'Pandit Ji only take one and return the rest to Ganga Ji, otherwise, you will land up in further trouble'. The Brahmin immediately put the rest of the three bracelets back in the tub and took one bracelet and gave it to the king. The Queen asked ‘Pandit Ji! From where did you get this bracelet, tell me?’ Brahmin told the address of Sant Ravidas Ji.
Ravidas Ji Cured Incurable Disease of The Queen
The queen thought that Raidas would be a goldsmith and she would go and meet him and bring lots of precious bracelets. The Queen had an incurable disease and was also haunted by deceased ancestors (Pitras) because of which she used to be very upset. Although she got treatment done everywhere and had also taken the blessings of several Sants but she did not get any relief.
The Queen went to meet Sant Ravidas at the address told by greedy Brahmin accompanied by maidservants and bodyguards. She saluted him and as soon as Ravidas Ji blessed her the suffering of the Queen's body ended. The Queen felt as if a heavy load had been removed from her head. Ravidas Ji said, ‘how did the Queen come to me, the pauper?’ The Queen said that ‘I had come here mistaking this place to be a goldsmith's shop, Guru Ji. My life had become hell due to health problems, the disease has made my life worse but now I have become healthy by your audience. I had left no stone unturned for its treatment but I was not getting any benefit.
Sant Ravidas Ji said that 'Sister, you have sufficient material wealth which is the result of the virtues of your previous birth. To get happiness in the future also you have to do virtues in the present. Collect spiritual wealth now also. The Queen said that ‘Sant, I do a lot of charity, I organise a community meal on the full moon day every month in Kashi and I feed food to the Brahmins and Sants around.
Sant Ravidas Ji said
Bin Guru bhajan dhyan virath hai, jyon loota chor |
Na mukti na laabh sansari, keh samjhaun tore ||
Kabir, guru bin mala pherte, guru bin detey daan |
Guru bin dono nishphal hai chahe pooch Ved Puran ||
The Queen said ‘Sant Ji, I have made a Brahmin my Guru. Ravidas Ji said that there is no benefit even from a fake teacher, you have also made a guru yet the sufferings remained the same. What is the benefit of such a Guru? The Queen said that You tell the truth, you make me your disciple. Ravidas Ji gave the first mantra to the Queen.
Ravidas Ji Acquired 700 Forms
The Queen said, 'Guru Ji, this time I will organise a community meal (Bhandara/ langar) in your name on the full moon day. Kindly honour the occasion’. Ravidas Ji reached the king's palace on the fixed date. 700 Brahmins who were also invited also reached to have the food. The Bhandara started. The Queen made her guru Ravidas Ji sit on a good seat and requested 700 Brahmins to sit in line to have food. The food was served to 700 Brahmins.
At the same time, they saw Ravidas Ji belonging to the untouchable caste sitting along with them. They got annoyed and told the Queen that ‘Why is this untouchable Ravidas sitting here? Ask him to go else we will not eat food’. The Queen disagreed hence refused to let her Guru Ji move out. Sant Ravidas Ji said to the Queen that daughter, listen to me, no big deal. I will sit outside. Ravidas Ji got up and sat behind the Brahmins where they had removed their shoes. The Brahmins sat down to eat. At the same time, Ravidas Ji made his 700 forms and was seen sitting along with each Brahmin eating food. One Brahmin tells another that ‘a Shudra (untouchable) Ravidas is eating food with you, Skip this meal’. Another Brahmin also says that Ravidas is eating food with you as well.
In this way, Ravidas Ji showed eating food with everyone. While sitting far away. This was his spectacle to teach them all a lesson that one should not differentiate people based on caste since all are the children of God and should be treated equally.
Then he said ‘O Brahmins! Why do you defame me? Look, I am sitting here where your shoes are kept’. The king, Queen, ministers and all the dignitaries present were also watching this spectacle.
Then Ravidas Ji said that Brahmin is made by deeds not by caste. Then he showed gold Janeu (a gold thread inside his body (skin)) and said that I am really a Brahmin, I am a Brahmin by birth. Then he preached for some time. At that time 700 Brahmins felt guilty and broke their fake Janeu (made of raw cotton thread) and became disciples of Sant Ravidas Ji and got their welfare done by doing true devotion.
The soot (cotton thread) taken down by 700 Brahmins weighed a quarter of a maund (50 kg).
When Brahmins used to differentiate people on the basis of low caste and count them as untouchable then Ravidas Ji used to preach them stating that accept his guru (God) everything has a cover (Chaam)
Bata re Pandit gyani, Kaun Cham se nyara ||
Chaam Ka Brahma, Chaam ka Vishnu, Chaam ka sakal pasara ||
Chaam ka Umber, Chaam ki dharti, Chaam ka hai jug saara ||
Chaam ka Chanda, Chaam ka Suraj, Chaam ka naulakh Tara ||
Chaam ka Yogi, Chaam ka Bhogi, Chaam ka Guru tumhara ||
Kahe ‘Raidas’ suno re Pandit, Chaam ka nahi guru humara ||
Sant Ravidas Gave Initiation to Devotee Meerabai
Devotee Meerabai was from a Rajput community in Rajasthan and was a great worshipper of Lord Shri Krishna. She does not consider anyone superior to Lord Shri Krishna/ Lord Vishnu which was an outcome due to her ignorance. One day by the grace of God Kabir she got the opportunity to hear the spiritual discourse that was being done by God Kabir, 625 years ago in Kashi (Varanasi), India when Almighty KavirDev Himself had descended and was playing the divine spectacle of a weaver. In the spiritual discourse, Meerabai heard about the creation of the Universe and got to know that the Supreme God is some other who nurtures the three realms by entering there and Lord Shri Krishna is not the supreme God. He is mortal and is in the vicious cycle of birth and death. Shri Krishna cannot provide emancipation to the seekers since he himself is trapped in the web of Brahm kaal, the owner of 21 universes.
Mirabai went to Sant Kabir Sahib and expressed her wish to obtain true spiritual knowledge and true salvation mantras since she wanted to attain salvation. She wants God. Kabir Saheb agreed and told her to go and take initiation from his disciple Sant Ravidas. Meerabai did the same. Ravidas Ji told Mirabai that he is from an untouchable community from a leather-workers caste whereas she belongs to a Rajput community which is an upper caste. If she made him her Guru then people of her community would get annoyed and would not like this but devotee Meerabai requested that she wants to take initiation. Then Sant Ravi Das Ji granted her name initiation and became her spiritual Guru.
Swami Ramanand Ji was the Guru of Ravidas Ji
Almighty Kabir Ji had explained the true path of devotion to the famous Acharya Swami Ramanand Ji. He took Swami Ramanand Ji of Kashi who was from the Vaishnava sect into His refuge. He showed him His eternal word Satlok then left him back. Thereafter, Swami Ramanand Ji abandoned arbitrary worship and did the true worship of God Kabir. In the eyes of the people of the World, Swami Ramanand Ji accepted to be the Guru of Kabir Sahib which was an act done on the order of God Himself just to keep the tradition of the Guru-Disciple intact.
Earlier Swami Ramanand Ji used to make only Brahmin caste people his disciples. After seeing Satlok and gaining true spiritual knowledge Swami Ramanand Ji started making people of other castes also his disciples. Amongst the various disciples of Swami Ramanand Ji, Sant Ravidas Ji was also initiated by him. He granted him the same five mantras which were given to him by God Kabir. Indirectly it can be said that God Kabir Sahib was the guru of Sant Ravidas.
Sant Garibdas Ji Maharaj says in his nectar speech that God Kabir blessed Sant Ravidas Ji who did His true devotion and got his welfare done. No one knows about the divine act of the Supreme God/ Param Akshar Brahm.
Nama aur Raidas Raseela | koi na Jane avigat Leela ||
The same Satpurush/ Param Akshar Brahm/ Alighty Kabir has incarnated yet again on earth at present and is playing the divine spectacle in the cover of Sant Rampal Ji Maharaj.
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