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Guru Ravidas' image being worshipped on his birthday

Ravidasi (Punjabi: ਰਬਿਦਾਸੀ or ਆਦ ਧਰਮ ) is a tradition[1] based on the teachings of Ravidas, who is considered the Satguru.

Ravidasi tradition itself is not a part of Sikhism but are part of the larger Sikh ethnic group[citation needed], other teachings of Ravidas are part of the holy Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib.

In 14th century India, Ravidas, a Dalit by birth, taught spirituality and tried to bring forward the equality message of Guru Nanak Dev based on emancipation from the oppression of the Indian caste system. He was born in an oppressed community known as Chamars, who were considered "untouchable".

Ravidas attracted the lowest strata of Hindu society according to the caste system.

A member of the Ravidasi sect is called a "Ravidasi" or "Ravidasia". The sect is also known as the "Ravidasi Sampradaya".[2]

Procession of Ravidasias in Bedford

Contents

Founder

Shri Guru Ravidass Ji is the founder of the Ravidassi faith by his followers. Satguru Ravidass has become a very popular Guru in the Ad dharmi/Ravidassia community. Bangaru Laxman (Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Scheduled Caste Morcha president) accused the slandering of Hinduism for treatment of backward castes as a "disrespect to [Dalit] saints like Satguru Ravidas, Satyakam Jabali, Sadhna Kasai, Banka Mahar, Dhanna Chamar and others who protected Hindus against foreign onslaughts."[3]

His hymns are recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib, a quotation being: "My caste is low, my lineage is low, and mean is my birth. I have sought God's refuge, says Ravidas the cobbler."[4]

Guru Ravidass was also the guru of the Vaishnava Sant Mira Bai.

Beliefs

Part of a series on
The Ravidasi Faith
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Ravidasi Beliefs & practices
Arti
Meditation ·
Gurdehera
Guru Sikhya Sahib
Topics
Ravidass ·
Shri Guru Ravidass Jayanti

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Ravidas' teachings represent an offshoot of the bhakti and Sant Mat movements of the fifteenth century, a religious renaissance in India.

Ravidas taught the following principles:

  • The oneness, omnipresence and omnipotence of God, who is called Hari.
  • The human soul is a particle of the Divine; the different between the two is like the difference between gold and the ornament, water and the wave.
  • The rejection of caste.
  • To realize God, which is the ultimate end of human life, man should concentrate on Hari, giving up rituals.
  • Birth in a low caste is no hindrance in the way to spiritual development.
  • The only way to moksha is to free the mind from duality.
  • Pilgrimage and bathing in holy lakes is in vain.

The Shri Guru Ravidas Mission London states that:

  • One who preaches the Guru Ravidas' philosophy is a Ravidasi.
  • It is not a condition that one should have been born in the Ravidasi community to become or initiated as one.
  • There is even a holy scripture called Guru Sikhya Sahib mainly his quotations being taken out of the Guru Granth Sahib
  • To celebrate Shri Guru Ravidas Jayanti according to the Punjabi calendar, Sunday, Sukhal Falgin Parvithta.
  • To meditate on 'Sohang’.
  • Whenever any Ravidasi receives, meets, writes or addresses a fellow Ravidasi, he or she should say "Jai Gurudev".

Places of worship

Bhawan in Birmingham

The Ravidasi place of worship is called a bhawan and is referred to as such by strict orthodox Ravidasis.[5] Technically a Ravidasi can meditate and reflect on God anywhere, as Guru Ravidass stated that "God dwells within the heart and is always around us." It is not a strict requirement to cover one's head and to remove footwear when entering a bhawan, but many people do so, due to the influence of Sikhism on the Ravidasi faith. Outside a bhawan there is always a red flag upon which is written the Nishaan, and above it an electric lamp symbolising enlightenment from Guru Ravidas's teachings. Langar, a communal lunch, takes place inside the bhawan and all are free to partake of it. The Guru Granth Sahib is installed as the focal point in the main worship room, however most features of the center don't differentiate much to any features of the main Gurdwara

Arti

Arti takes place daily in the Gurdehera at the closing of the day's formal services, this consists of the famous Arti written by Guru Ravidas in which he tells God that only his name is sufficient.

"Thy Name Is My Aarti And Ablution, O Lord. Without God’s Name All Religious Paraphernalia Are False. Thy Name Is My Prayer-Mat, Thy Name My Saffron-Grater, And Thy Name Is The Saffron, Which I Sprinkle On Thee. Thy Name Is The Water, Thy Name The Sandal-Wood, And The Repetition Of The Name Is The Rubbing Thereof; This Is The Sandal Paste, Which I Take To Anoint Thee. Thy Name Is The Lamp, Thy Name The Wick, Thy Name Is The Oil, Which I Pour Therein. With Thy Name I Have Kindled The Light, With It’s Illumination My Entire Home Is Bright. Thy Name Is The String, Thy Name The Garland Of Flowers, Defiled Are All The Eighteen Loads Of Leaves, Offerings Of Ours. Why Should I Offer Thee What Thou Thyself Has Created? Thy Name Is The Whisk (Chawar) Which I Wave Over Thee. The Whole World Is Involved In The Eighteen Puranas, And The Sixty-Eight Places Of Pilgrimage, It Rotates Within The Four Forms Of Species. Thy Name Is The Aarti, Sayeth Ravidass And Thy True Name Itself Is Offered, O Lord, As The Ceremonial Food To Thee."

Centers

The Guru Granth Sahib contains 41 hymns by Guru Ravidas, which fall under the following: Raga – Siri(1), Gauri (5), Asa(6), Gujari(1), Sorath(7), Dhanasari(3), Jaitsari(1), Suhi(3), Bilaval(2), Gaund(2), Ramkali(1), Maru(2), Kedara(1), Bhairau(1), Basant(1), and Malhar(3). One with slight variations is given in both Rag Sorath and Rag Maru.

The Guru Granth Sahib also includes the hymns of many other gurus, contemporaries and disciples, including Nanak (the founder of the Sikh religion), Kabir, Baba Farid etc. who preached a spiritual path to personal enlightenment.

There is talk of the Guru Granth Sahib being replaced with works consisting entirely of Guru Ravidas' words (Ravidas Bani) or Ravidasdeep.

Inside the bhawan, hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib are recited daily.

Relationship with Sikhism

Today, former Chamars from the Punjab are the largest visible ethnic group in the Ravidasi community. Punjabi Ravidasis have a number of Gurdeheras in the United Kingdom, especially in the Midlands.[6]

The practice of the Ravidasi faith among its Punjabi converts is strongly influenced by Sikh practice and form due to their history in the Sikh community. Ravidasis believe that there is no hypocrisy in practicing Sikhism alongside their Ravidasi beliefs, as the two do not contradict each other.

Ravidasis also believe that Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, might have met with Guru Ravidas during his travels. It is believed that it was at this stage that Guru Ravidass handed over his hymns to Guru Nanak. Both spoke against discrimination based on caste, colour and creed, and preached ideas of equality and socialism, and this is evident from hymns incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib. Not only the Ravidasi's, but all Sikhs call Ravidas, a bhagat of God.

The movement gained an extra impetus in 1920 in Punjab, due to Sikh members of the Chamar caste rebelling against continued caste oppression aimed at them. This group split from the Sikh community and joined the Ravidasi faith en-masse. Today, former Chamars from the Punjab are the largest visible ethnic group in the Ravidasi community. Punjabi Ravidasis have a number of Gurdeheras in the United Kingdom, especially in the Midlands.[6]

Birthplace of Ravidass

Shri Guru Ravidass Janamasthan

According to historians, Guru Ravidas was born on 15 January 1377 and according to the Indian calendar, Sunday Sukhal Falgin Parvithta in 1433. His birthplace is located in the Uttar Pradesh state in India, in the city of Varanasi. The locality was known as Mandhuadhe. The community was known as ‘Kutvandla’, one of the Shudra communities. Shri Guru Ravidass Janam AsthanMandir, at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi, India is the ultimate place of pilgrimage for the followers of Ravidas today.

The Ravidassi religious symbol is known as the Nishaan, distinct from the SikhNishan Sahib. Strictly speaking "Nishaan" means "symbol" and is used in Ravidasi context to mean their mantras passed down by their Sants. There is some discussion going on among some Ravidasias that the symbol should be[Sohang].

Festival

The birthday of Guru Ravidass (Shri Guru Ravidass Jayanti)on February 16 is celebrated every year. It is the annual focal point for Ravidasis. On the day there is an Akhand Path read, the Nishan Sahib is changed ceremonially, and there is a special arti and a Nagar Kirtan procession bearing his portrait are taken out to the accompaniment of music through the streets of the temple locality.

Slogans and chants

The following slogans have been used in Ravidassia community worship since around 1490 CE, and are still used today:

  1. “Jo Bole So Nirbhey” – “Ravidassia Dharma Ki Jai”.
  2. “Jo Bole So Nirbhey – Sadh Sangat Ki Jai”.

All slogans have a high similarity to the main Sikh Slogan which is

  1. Jo Bole So NihaalSat Sri Akaal

Whenever any Ravidassi receives, meets, writes or addresses another he or she is supposed to say ਜੇ ਗੁਰੂਦੇਵ “Jai Gurudev”.

See also

References

  1. ^ P. 101 Journal of Social Research By Ranchi University Dept. of Anthropology, Council of Social and Cultural Research (Bihar, India)
  2. ^ P. 3 Folk-lore By Théodore De Puymaigre
  3. ^ Organiser, 6-8-1995
  4. ^ P. 659, Guru Granth Sahib
  5. ^ http://www.gururavidas.org.uk/ point 15: # To address our place of worship as Ravidasia Gurdehera Sahib’ all the time and for all the purposes.
  6. ^ a b Darshan Singh Tatla, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood, pp. 98, Routledge (199) ISBN 1-857-28300-7
  • Adi Granth 29, cited in Hawley, John S. and Jurgensmeyer, Mark (eds.), Songs of the Saints of India (2005) p. 17, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-505221-8
  • Guru Ravidass Marg, Harnam Singh Lakha, Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK undated.

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