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विक्रम सम्वत् 2073
माघ शुक्ल पूर्णिमा
Sant Ravidas Jayanti
10th February 2017

Guru or Bhagat Ravidas (also Raidas) was a north Indian Sant mystic of the bhakti movement who was active in the 15th century CE. Venerated in northern India and in the Indian state of Maharashtra, he is the Satguru of the Ravidasi sect and one of the fifteen Bhagats of the Sikhs. His devotional songs and verses made a lasting impact upon the bhakti movement.

A poor shoemaker, forty of his earliest songs were to be included in the Sikh anthology Adi Granth. There is also a larger body of hymns passed on independently. Ravidas was subversive in that his devotionalism implied a levelling of the social divisions of caste and gender, yet ecumenical in that it tended to promote crossing of sectarian divides in the name of a higher spiritual unity. He taught that one is distinguished not by one's caste (jati) but by one's actions (karma) and that every person has the right to worship God and read holy texts.

In the 19th and 20th centuries there emerged a distinct sect, the Ravidasis, for whom he is the chief guru. A temple was built at his birthplace. Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated with a procession, bearing the portrait of the great ascetic in the main streets and bazaars of the city with music. Special pujas and feasts are arranged in temples dedicated to Guru Ravidas.


अब कैसे छूटे राम, नाम रट लागी |
प्रभुजी तुम चन्दन हम पानी,
जाकी अंग अंग बास समानि |
प्रभुजी तुम घन बन हम मोरा,
जैसे चितवत चन्द चकोरा |
प्रभुजी तुम दीपक हम बाती,
जाकी जोति बरै दिन राती |
प्रभुजी तुम मोती हम धागा,
जैसे सोने मिलत सुहागा |
प्रभुजी तुम स्वामी हम दासा,
ऐसी भक्ति करै रैदासा |

How to escape? I recite the nameRam
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;
With a light burning day and night.
Lord, if you are a pearl, I am the thread;
Together like gold and bracelet.
Lord, you are the master and I servant;
thus is the devotion of Raida

This song demonstrates several key facets of Ravidas' sant bhakti. The use of the name Ram for god establishes him as a Vaishnava. His devotion is that of the disciple to the master, as exemplified by Rama's commander Hanuman in the Ramayana.

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