Bhagat Ravidas (Gurmukhi: ਭਗਤ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ), was a poet, devotee and Gurmukh was born on Maghshudhi 14 Pooranmashi in Smt.1456, i.e., 30 January 1399 in Kashi. He was a monotheist and was knower of Gurmat. He admired Kabir and Namdev who were probably before Ravidas. In Guru Granth Sahib, many devotional hymns of Bhagat Ravidas are […]

Bhagat Ravidas (Gurmukhi: ਭਗਤ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ), was a poet, devotee and Gurmukh was born on Maghshudhi 14 Pooranmashi in Smt.1456, i.e., 30 January 1399 in Kashi. He was a monotheist and was knower of Gurmat. He admired Kabir and Namdev who were probably before Ravidas. In Guru Granth Sahib, many devotional hymns of Bhagat Ravidas are present. He was a devotee of God, and his hymns are placed under Bani Bhagatan ki. Ravidasi’s treat Bhagat Ravidas as their Guru and they have separate Sect from mainstream Hindus Muslims and Sikhs. He was Tanner by profession.

Sikhs follow the teaching of Ravidas, as in Gurmat, Kabir, Nanak, Ravidas, Bhatts all are same and all are treated as Guru and Sikhs bow before Guru Granth Sahib which include the teaching of many who had similar thoughts about God.

Early Life

His parents were in the leather trade, and were very well off. He was barely five days old when Bhagat Ramanand visited his house and blessed the child. Ravidas was born to Raghu and Ghurbinia, who lived near the city of Varanasi.

When Ravidas reached the age of discretion his father inspired him to join the family business. But Ravidas was imbued with celestial and humane values. The money he received from his father for business, he spent in the welfare of the Saints and needy. His father was extremely perturbed and banished him from the house.
By this time Ravidas was already married. Rather than resenting his father’s actions he quietly left the house, started living in a make-shift hut with his wife, and set up a small wayside shop for mending shoes.
Devotion to the Lord

He did not abandon his love for the God and built a Temple of clay-walls and thatched roof. He installed an idol made out of hide in the Temple. His extreme devotion and universal love induced hundreds of people of all castes to join him in worship. This resulted in enviousness among the Brahmin priests who raised the matter in the Court of Muslim Nawab of Kashi. The Nawab was a man of righteousness, and put the matter in a miraculous test.

Bhagat Ravidas went into meditation and recited one of his hymns (Gauri Purbi P.346) and requested Almighty, “Take pity on me that my doubts may be dispelled.” His prayer was answered, and his adoration acclaimed the triumph in the miraculous test. To express his gratitude he sang his hymn (Asa P.1606), “Thou art sandal and I am the poor castor-plant, dwelling close to thee. From a mean tree I have become sublime and Thine fragrance, exquisite fragrance, now, abides in me.”

By the turn of the fourteenth century, Muslim rule was well established in India. When Bhagat Ramanand (1366-1467 AD) came to Northern India and made Kashi/Benares as his home, he noted that the Muslim religion had made inroads into Hinduism as a considerable number of Hindus had been converted and had adopted Islam as their religion.

Ramanand was an orthodox devotee of Shiva. He was, no doubt, impressed with the Islamic belief in only One God and their talk of the equality of men; except for the Ruling Feudal Elite, the Muslims of all classes mingled in every aspect of life–living, eating, religious ceremonies, marriages, paying no head to casteism.

But he was very much distressed to observe that this was enhancing the conversion of Hindus, particularly of the low-caste, into Islam. He forsook the Shivaite austere practices endowed to him by his Guru, Ramanuj, and initiated the veneration of Universal Brotherhood. He accepted Hindus of low-castes and even invited Muslims to join him in worship, and become his followers. Among his most noted disciples were Kabir, a Muslim weaver, Sain, a barber and Dhanna, a cultivator. Each of whom became a Guru ( teacher) with his own devotees.

A rich man tried to allure him with the charm of wealth. It is said that he gave Ravidas a philosopher’s stone by the touch of which one could change any article into gold. In spite of Ravidas refusing the gift the rich man left the stone hung under the ceiling. When he came back after one year the stone was still hanging there. The rich man announced to the world the indisputable godliness of Bhagat Ravidas. This episode is considered to be an ecclesiastic test to judge Bhagat Ravidas’s endurance towards the worldly love. But some accounts associate this to the devious manipulation of the Brahmin priests to discredit Ravidas, which, rather, ended in the triumph of Ravidas.

Ravidas’s selfless devotion and casteless love for humanity spread far and wide. Maharani Jhally of Chitaur’ was a noble woman of benevolence and piety. Her ardency brought her to Benares on a pilgrimage. In spite of the disapproval of the Brahmin priests, she straightaway went to the Temple of Ravidas who was in his ecclesiastic benediction at the time, reciting his hymns (Rag Sorath P.658-59). The Maharani was captivated. Eventually she became his disciple and abandoned all her luxurious trappings. Her husband, the Maharana, had been turned against her, over her adopting a cobbler as her Guru. He was full of rage when she returned. He was pacified by listening to some of the hymns of Bhagat Ravidas but still wanted to put her new Guru through a test to invalidate the allegations of the Brahmins. Ravidas (who remained a cobbler) was invited to Chitaur and requested to participate in an oblation. The Brahmin priests, of course, refused to eat while a cobbler was seated in the same column of rows. Ravidas voluntarily moved away. But miraculously every person distributing food appeared to look just like Bhagat Ravidas to the Brahmins. (Another account states when the Brahmins sat down to eat, they saw Ravidas seated between every two of them). They complained to the Maharana who perceived the hidden meaning of this marvel, and became an ardent devotee. Ravidas remained in Chitaur for a long time. It is said that Mira Bai became his disciple as well during that period. As per some accounts he died at a ripe old age of nearly 120 years in Benares.

Guru Arjan decided to include the works of Ravidas in the Shri Guru Granth Sahib, there are 41 verses of Ravidas, who the Sikhs refer to as Bhagat Ravidas in the Sikh holy book, most of which are in very clear Hindi. His poetry is brimming with ardent love for God, Universe, Nature, Guru, and the Name. His sarcasm and pique shows his closeness with God.

~ Source: Sikhiwiki