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Bhagat Ravi Das Ji

Bhagat Ravi Das (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 Ravi Das. In Guru Granth Sahib, many devotional hymns of Bhagat Ravi Das are present. He was devotee of God, and his hymns are placed under Bani Bhagatan ki. Ravi Dasi's treat Bhagat Ravi Das as their Guru and they have seperate Sect from mainstream hindus muslims and Sikhs. He was Tanner by profession.

Sikhs follow the teaching of Ravi Das, as in Gurmat, Kabir, Nanak, Ravi Das, 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. Ravi Das was born to Raghu and Ghurbinia, who lived near the city of Varanasi.

When Ravi Das reached the age of discretion his father inspired him to join the family business. But Ravi Das 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 Ravi Das 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 Ravi Das 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."

Bhagat Ravi Das

By the turn of fourteenth century, muslim rule was well established 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 Bhagat, 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 Bhagat ( teacher) with his own devotees.

A rich man tried to allure him with the charm of wealth. It is said that he gave Ravi Das a philosopher's stone by the touch of which one could change any article into gold. In spite of Ravi Das 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 Ravi Das. This episode is considered to be an ecclesiastic test to judge Bhagat Ravi Das's endurance towards the worldly love. But some accounts associate this to the devious manipulation of the Brahmin priests to discredit Ravi Das, which, rather, ended in the triumph of Ravi Das.

Ravi Das'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 straight-away went to the Temple of Ravi Das 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 Bhagat. He was full of rage when she returned. He was pacified by listening to some of the hymns of Bhagat Ravi Das. However, he still wanted test Bhagat Ravi Das to invalidate the allegations of the Brahmins. Ravi Das (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. Ravi Das voluntarily moved away. But miraculously every person distributing food appeared to look just like Bhagat Ravi Das to the Brahmins. (Another account states when the Brahmins sat down to eat, they saw Ravi Das seated between every two of them). They complained to the Maharana who perceived the hidden meaning of this marvel, and became an ardent devotee. Ravi Das 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 Ravi Das in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, there are 41 verses of Ravi Das, who the Sikhs refer to as Bhagat Ravi Das 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.


He was the first to motivate his followers to challenge discrimination on the grounds of caste. Because of his charismatic deeds, he has become an important figure in the Whole World, his followers who call themselves Ravi Dasis refer to him as their Guru, a term still used across India today. He was the first to motivate his followers to make/call them untouchables who make/call them so. By his deeds he proved that he was closer to God than those who were calling him ' low caste'. He was the first to attack the hindu caste system.

Devotional songs

His devotional songs and verses made a lasting impact in the Bhakti movement.

Translation: How to escape? I recite the name Ram.
Lord, if you are sandalwood, I am water;
with the fragrance in all parts of my body.
Lord, if you are a cloud, I am a peacock;
looking for you like a chakora for the moon.
Lord, if you are a lamp, I am the wick (bAti);
with the light burning day and night.
Lord, if you are a pearl, I am the thread;
together like gold and suhaga.
Lord, you are the master and I servant;
thus is the devotion of Raidas.

Forty-one of his writings have been included in the Sikh Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib. There is also a larger body of hymns passed on independently of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Bhagat Ravi Das is venerated in northern India, and in the Indian state of Maharashtra, in particular by the Ravi Dasi religion. The movement gained an extra impetus in 1920 in Punjab, due to Sikh members formerly of the Chamar caste rebelling against the continued caste oppression aimed at them by other Sikhs who, despite the teachings of the 10 Sikh Gurus, still apparently believed themselves superior to their brothers. Apparently the idea of Pahul (Amrit first drank from a common iron bowl by 5 men of differing castes) as intended by Guru Gobind Singh to wipe out once and for all any trace of casteism was continuing to be a little hard for some sikhs to swallow.

In weakness, this group split from the Sikh community and joined the Ravi Dasi faith en-masse. Today, former Chamars from the Punjab are the largest visible ethnic group in the Ravi Dasi community. Punjabi Ravi Dasis have a number of Gurdwaras in the United Kingdom, especially in the Midlands. The Ravi Dasians however still consider themselves Sikhs.

Bhakati Movement

An important personality in the Bhakati movement in the 14th century. Ravi Das was born to father, Ramu, also called by many: Mann Das and mother, Dhurbinia, alias Karama Devi) of Kahi, an important religious centre of hindusim. Because of his birth, in this caste, were considered low in the hindu caste hierarchy, even this loving devotee of God was looked down upon.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that caste barriers do not limit persons with high spiritual status. The thoughts and deeds of such devotees of God are unique. Their birth into this world is always in keeping with some superior design of the divine. Whatever such people do is never inspired by a selfish motive. Such seems to have been the object of Bhagat Ravi Das's birth also. He came into this world with a message of love for mankind, and he remained ever active to create among humans the feelings of equality and equity. He travelled quite widely to propogate these ideals among the masses. Along with other metaphysical tenets preached by him, he also gave mankind the message that it should kindle the lamp of knowledge and then plunge deep into the divine love.

Although he was of low social status, he was exalted and elevated, and people of all four castes came and bowed at his feet. ||2||

Writing about him, Kabir ji has also said that Ravi Das was 'the most saintly among saints'.

In so far as the humility of Bhagat Ravi Das is concerned, everybody who came in contact with him was impressed by this virtue of his. He was so softhearted that he would change the whole environment with his polite and respectful words even for an opponent. Mira Bai, one of his disciples, says of him:

'He who is fortunate enough to meet the Guru like Ravi Das will never distract his attention from divine Name'. It was the result of his devotion and love that he left deep impression on everybody and came to be called a great personage.

There is another anecdote related about the detached nature, temperance and contentment of Ravi Das, A brief account of the event is given here. Once a gentleman left Paras (invaluable touch stone) with Ravi Das so that he could make use of it to get rid of his poverty. The gentleman, after sometime again called on his way back. He was surprised to find no material change in Ravi Das' economic position. With the intention of reminding Ravi Das that he had Paras with him, the gentleman asked him to return the invaluable Paras to him. Ravi Das calmly replied hat he could pick it up where he had left it. He felt rather non-plussed that Ravi Das didn't make Any endeavours to improve his economic position despite the fact that he was well aware of the value and characteristics of Paras.

Bhagat Ravi Das knew what was going on in the visitor's mind and with a view to satisfy his curiosity he told him that it behoves man to engage himself in honest labour to make both ends meet. However, if he wants to gather wealth, he should gather the wealth of divine Name instead of Gold and Silver. It is the wealth of Name, which would help a person in this world and the afterlife too. In his quest for material comforts, man goes astray from the true aim of life, i.e. devotion to the Lord. Ravi Das advises him that without Hari's Name, all else is falsehood. Therefore, one should discard ego and devote themself to God whereby alone they can make their life beyond death secure and pleasant. All other deedsexcept remembrance of His Name are futile of course, it is therefore essential for a person to do some work to earn for their livelihood.

If we look at the life-pattern of animals, we shall find that the animals give us nectar-like-milk even if they are fed on very poor fodder. Thus, they are altruistic towards us and this service helps them in the future. On the other hand, God has blessed man with consciousness. He is conscious of everything, and has the resources to obtian and taste viands of 36 kinds. He eats and drinks so well, but if he still does not cultivate the divine love in his heart, this implis that he is not the acme, but the lowest among lowly animals. The spirit of greatness within him seems to have vanished. Therefore, remembrance of the Lord along with daily routine, is a must for everyone. Bhagat Ravi Das ji remembered Him in a variety of ways, thereby showing his deep devotion, immense love and complete satisfaction in Him.

A total of 41 hymns; set to 16 different musical measures, of Ravi Das are included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. These hymns address themselves to the theme of love for the divine, mankind's intimate and essential relationship with Him, and deep devotion to Him. According to Bhagat Ravi Das, realistaion of the divine is possible only through loving devotion and all else is mere pretension or futile exercise.


In the Guru Granth Sahib, the fourth [{Sikh Guru]], Guru Ram Das says how by remembering the Lord all the time, Bhagat Ravi Das came to be recognised and respected by all the people despite his low caste; the Guru tells us how people of all the four caste came and bowed to Bhagat Ravi Das. Ravi Das was honoured in the Court of the Lord.

ਰਵਿਦਾਸ੝ ਚਮਾਰ੝ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਕਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਨਿਮਖ ਇਕ ਗਾਇ ॥ ਪਤਿਤ ਜਾਤਿ ਉਤਮ੝ ਭਇਆ ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨ ਪਝ ਪਗਿ ਆਇ ॥੨॥

Raviḝĝs cẖamĝr usṯaṯ kare har kīraṯ nimakẖ ik gĝ▫e. Paṯiṯ jĝṯ uṯam bẖa▫i▫ĝ cẖĝr varan pa▫e pag ĝ▫e. (2)
Ravi Daas, the leather-worker, praised the Lord, and sang the Kirtan of His Praises each and every instant.
Although he was of low social status, he was exalted and elevated, and people of all four castes came and bowed at his feet. (2)
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 733)

In the shabad (hymn) below, Guru Nanak explains how the injustice of discrimination has no place in the Court of the Lord and how everyone has the same "light of God" within them and so should be treated equally without any bias. The holy Granth includes the Bani of Bhagats from different castes and religions.

ਜਾਣਹ੝ ਜੋਤਿ ਨ ਪੂਛਹ੝ ਜਾਤੀ ਆਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਹੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Jĝṇhu joṯ na pūcẖẖahu jĝṯī ĝgai jĝṯ na he. (1) rahĝ▫o.
Recognize the Lord's Light within all, and do not consider social class or status;
there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter. (1)(Pause)
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 349)

Bani in Guru Granth Sahib

ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗ੝ ॥ ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰ੝ ਕੈਸਾ ॥ ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਜਉ ਪੈ ਹਮ ਨ ਪਾਪ ਕਰੰਤਾ ਅਹੇ ਅਨੰਤਾ ॥ ਪਤਿਤ ਪਾਵਨ ਨਾਮ੝ ਕੈਸੇ ਹ੝ੰਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਤ੝ਮ੝ਹ੝ਹ ਜ੝ ਨਾਇਕ ਆਛਹ੝ ਅੰਤਰਜਾਮੀ ॥ ਪ੝ਰਭ ਤੇ ਜਨ੝ ਜਾਨੀਜੈ ਜਨ ਤੇ ਸ੝ਆਮੀ ॥੨॥ ਸਰੀਰ੝ ਆਰਾਧੈ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਬੀਚਾਰ੝ ਦੇਹੂ ॥ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਸਮ ਦਲ ਸਮਝਾਵੈ ਕੋਊ ॥੩॥
Sri Raag:
You are me, and I am You-what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves. ॥1॥ If I did not commit any sins, O Infinite Lord, how would You have acquired the name, 'Redeemer of sinners'? ॥1॥Pause॥ You are my Master, the Inner-knower, Searcher of hearts. The servant is known by his God, and the Lord and Master is known by His servant. ॥2॥ Grant me the wisdom to worship and adore You with my body. O Ravi Daas, one who understands that the Lord is equally in all, is very rare. ॥3॥
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 93)

This section spans pages 345 through to 346 beginning with this Shabad:

ਰਾਗ੝ ਗਉੜੀ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਕੇ ਪਦੇ ਗਉੜੀ ਗ੝ਆਰੇਰੀ
ੴ ਸਤਿਨਾਮ੝ ਕਰਤਾ ਪ੝ਰਖ੝ ਗ੝ਰਪ੝ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ ਮੇਰੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਪੋਚ ਸੋਚ ਦਿਨ੝ ਰਾਤੀ ॥ ਮੇਰਾ ਕਰਮ੝ ਕ੝ਟਿਲਤਾ ਜਨਮ੝ ਕ੝ਭਾਂਤੀ ॥੧॥

Raag Gauri, Padas Of Ravi Das Jee, Gauri Gwaarayri:
One Universal Creator God. Truth Is The Name. Creative Being Personified. By Guru's Grace: The company I keep is wretched and low, and I am anxious day and night; my actions are crooked, and I am of lowly birth.॥1॥
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 345)

More Bani

Ang 486-7: The deer, the fish, the bumble bee, the moth and the elephant are destroyed, each for a single defect. So the one who is filled with the five incurable vices - what hope is there for him? ||1||

Ang 525:The calf has contaminated the milk in the teats. The bumble bee has contaminated the flower, and the fish the water. ||1||

Ang 657-9: When I am in my ego, then You are not with me. Now that You are with me, there is no egotism within me. The wind may raise up huge waves in the vast ocean, but they are just water in water. ||1||

Ang 694: There is none as forlorn as I am, and none as Compassionate as You; what need is there to test us now? May my mind surrender to Your Word; please, bless Your humble servant with this perfection. ||1||

Ang 710: O my Lord and Master, I know nothing. My mind has sold out, and is in Maya's hands. ||1||Pause||

Ang 793-4: The happy soul-bride knows the worth of her Husband Lord. Renouncing pride, she enjoys peace and pleasure.....

Ang 858: Seeing my poverty, everyone laughed. Such was my condition. Now, I hold the eighteen miraculous spiritual powers in the palm of my hand; everything is by Your Grace. ||1||

Ang 875: Meditate on the Lord Mukanday, the Liberator, O people of the world. Without Mukanday, the body shall be reduced to ashes....

Ang 973-4: They read and reflect upon all the Names of God; they listen, but they do not see the Lord, the embodiment of love and intuition.....

Ang 1106: O Love, who else but You could do such a thing? O Patron of the poor, Lord of the World, You have put the canopy of Your Grace over my head. ||1||Pause||

Ang 1124: One who performs the six religious rituals and comes from a good family, but who does not have devotion to the Lord in his heart, one who does not appreciate talk of the Lord's Lotus Feet, is just like an outcaste, a pariah. ||1||

Ang 1167: Without seeing something, the yearning for it does not arise. Whatever is seen, shall pass away....

Ang 1196: You know nothing. Seeing your clothes, you are so proud of yourself. The proud bride shall not find a place with the Lord. Above your head, the crow of death is cawing. ||1||

Ang 1293: O humble townspeople, I am obviously just a shoemaker. In my heart I cherish the Glories of the Lord, the Lord of the Universe. ||1||Pause||

Bhagat Ravi Das Bani

The following Ang's in Guru Granth Sahib have recorded Bhagat Ravi Das Ji's bani:

Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 93
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 345 to 346
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 486 to 487
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 525
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 657 to 659
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 694
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 710
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 793 to 794
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 858
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 875
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 973 to 974
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 1106
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 1124
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 1167
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 1196
Bhagat Ravi Das, Ang 1293

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