Guru Ravidass Ji as a Promising Student
Pt. Sharda Nand ran his Pathshala (School) in his house. Guru Ravidass Ji was put to his Pathshala (School) by his revered parents. Many other casteist people tried to restrain Pt. Sharda Nand from admitting in his Pathshala (School) and teaching Ravidass Ji – a low caste boy. He was a wise man he realized from his face that the boy Ravidass Ji appeared to be a godly boy. In utter disregard of the pressure of casteist people, Pt. Sharda Nand admitted Guru Ravidass Ji and started teaching him. He was a sober and promising student. When he taught him the letters of alphabet, Guru Ravidass Ji expanded and spoke poetic lines, originating from the particular letter, signifying Glory of God.
Man re! chal(i) chatsar parhaoon
Chit(u) kagad kar(i) mas(i) nainan ri,
A-agyan chhanr(i) man moorikh,
Aa-aasan achal lagaoon.
I-ila pingla khol kivrya,
Soon(i) samadh rakhoon.
U-ur mainh ram h(i) rakhoon,
Nainan mainh basaoon.
M-mer(i) taj(i) raam naam mil(i),
Param tatt kau paoon.
R-ran raam moh(i) guru deenhau,
Nanh(i)ih(u) mantar visraoon.
Kahai Ravidass rrankaar japthin(i)
Bhau sagar(u) tar(i) jaaoon.
All this had great influence on Pt. Sharda Nand, his teacher. He realized that boy Ravidass Ji was spiritually enlightened since beginning. Although Guru Ravidass Ji was still a boy, yet Pt. Sharda Nand had developed deep regard for student Ravidass Ji.
Brings a Dead Son Alive
In his childhood when Guru Ravidass Ji was studying in the Pathshala (School) of Pt. Sharda Nand, he developed friendship with his son. They used to play together.
One day in game of hide and seek, Guru Ravidass Ji won and his friend lost the game. As a result, his friend was to seek hidden Guru Ravidass Ji in his next turn. By this time night had fallen. It was manually agreed that the friend (son of Pt. Sharda Nand) would play his turn of seeking Guru Ravidass Ji tomorrow in the morning.
In the next morning, Guru Ravidass Ji, along with other play-mates waited for his friend for a long time but he did not turn up. At last Guru Ravidass Ji himself went to his residence with other play-mates.
The parents and other members of family of friend of Guru Ravidass Ji were weeping. The neighbours and others were also sitting in remorse. Guru Ravidass Ji enquired as to what had happened. He was apprised that his friend (son of Pt. Sharda Nand) had died during night. Guru Ji wondered as to why he had died without playing his turn of seeking Guru Ji in the game of hide and seek. He wanted to see his friend. Pt. Sharda Nand took Guru Ravidass Ji along to the place where dead body of his son was lying. In a friendly tone, Guru Ravidass Ji, asked his friend that it was not the time to sleep and he should get up and play his turn of seeking him in the game of hide and seek. By virtue of spiritual powers of Guru Ravidass Ji, His friend became alive. He got up and was willing to play. His parents and others were astonished. They were happy again.
The parents and relatives of the friend of Guru Ji and others bowed at sacred feet of Guru Ji and thanked him.
Rescues Brahman Boy
A Brahman boy named Ram Lal was a close friend of Guru Ravidass Ji. For most of the time they remained together and played together. The Brahman boy did not observe untouchability also. He loved Guru Ji very much. The Brahmans were jealous and could not tolerate that a Brahman boy should play with an untouchable boy. They emphatically impressed upon his parents to detract their son from moving and playing with a boy of low-caste. But Ram Lal obeyed none.
The Brahmans being jealous of Guru Ravidass Ji, complained to the king about the friendship of Ram Lal (a Brahman) and Guru Ravidass Ji (an untouchable). The king called Ram Lal to the court. He was decided to be killed by throwing before a hungry lion. As such, he was thrown before a hungry lion. The lion thundered. Ram Lal cried at his high pitch and fainted. When the lion came near the boy it became calm. It looked around. Instead of killing the boy it looked frightened. It saw Guru Ravidass Ji sitting near and protecting Ram Lal. The lion bowed before Ram Lal and receded. Ram Lal came to senses. He got up and came straight to his friend Guru Ravidass Ji and thanked him for his protection from the lion.
The King and Brahmans felt ashamed. The King realized that Ram Lal has been protected by some spiritual power. The king freed him.
Guru Ravidass Ji was a great saint of medieval Age who remained contented with his minimum belongings and resources of livelihood. He preferred to lead a poor man’s life. Many kings and queens and other rich people were his disciples but he never expected and accepted any wealthy offers. God deemed it proper to give him a philosopher’s stone. One day God, in the guise of a saint, visited Guru Ji’s hut and offered him a philosopher’s stone with whose touch iron would be converted into gold. The saint asked him to construct a palatial building with money earned with converted gold. Suitable boarding and lodging arrangements could also be made for visiting Sadhus. Guru Ji listened all this. After a pause he politely refused the offer with the plea that he prefers to be poor and that he would serve the visiting Sadhus with his available resources. Even the repeated offers of the philosopher’s stone by the Godly saint were not accepted by Guru Ji.
At last the saint thought that he should leave the philosopher’s stone in his hut and he could utilize it later. He requested Guru Ji to keep it with him and he would collect it from him or return. Guru Ji told him to keep it in a particular place in the hut. The saint kept that stone there.
The saint came back after 13 months. He asked for philosopher’s stone. Guru Ravidass Ji asked him to collect it from the place where he had kept. He had not utilized it. The saint wondered on his tenacity of non-involvement in worldly wealth. The saint was very happy and took away the philosopher’s stone, went out and disappeared.
Guru Ji has taught us a lesson that one should not be greedy. One should work hard for earning livelihood.
Ever since his childhood, Guru Ravidass Ji had religious bent of mind. His talks were not conventional. Even his family members were astonished at his strange actions. He was an undaunted boy. When he became adult, he started worshipping God like the Brahmans. He blew conch-shell applied Tilak (mark) on forehead wore Janju (sacred thread) and tied Dhoti (cloth sheet used instead of trousers) like the Brahmans. He vehemently condemned caste system and untouchability. He preached equality, secularism, truthfulness, oneness of God and human rights. Since his message was of universal brotherhood, people of all shades irrespective of caste, sex or creed came to listen his sermons. His following was fast increasing. At this, the Brahmans and Piran Ditta Mirasi planned a strategy to kill Guru Ravidass Ji. A meeting of several young-men was to be arranged in desolate and lonely place away from the village where Guru Ravidass Ji would also be invited. In the course of discussion, Guru Ravidass Ji would be manhandled and killed. Guru Ji knew it before hand due to his spiritual power.
The meeting started at the venue. In course of discussion a group of persons caught hold of him and tried to kill him. At this juncture, by virtue of his spiritual powers, Guru Ravidass Ji cast his appearance on one Bhalla Nath. As a result, Bhalla Nath, their companion, looked to others as Ravidass. They killed him. After a short while, Guru Ji blew conch-shell at his hut. The killers were astonished to hear the sound of the conch-shell. They went back to the spot of the scuffle and found that Bhalla Nath had been killed instead of Guru Ravidass Ji. They repented and prayed Guru Ravidass Ji for forgiveness.
According to Hindu scriptures, worship of God was the sole right of Brahmins only. On the contrary Shri Guru Ravidass Ji, who belonged to Chamar caste, also started worship of God. He started blowing conch-shell and ringing the bell. He was enlightened and had realized God. He simplified mode of worship and discarded rituals. His religious discourses were most convincing and truthful. As a result, cutting across caste barriers, large number of people became his followers. All this irked the Brahmans. It was a challenge not only to their priestly supremacy but an adverse impact on their source of livelihood also. Brahmans forbade him from worshipping God. But he did not relent and took worship as his birth-right.
At last Brahmans approached the then Kashi Naresh Hardev Singh and complained against Guru Ravidass Ji for practicing worship of God. Guru Ravidass Ji was summoned to appear in the court of the king. Guru Ji explained in the court that worship is everybody’s right and that he is the truthful worshipper of God. The Pandit priests and Guru Ravidass Ji were asked to bring their Thakur (Idol) whom they worshipped, to the river Ganga on the appointed day. Only that party will be adjusted as the true worshipper whose Thakur floats in the river.
Brahman priests and Guru Ravidass Ji arrived at Rajghat of the river Ganga as directed by the king. The Pandits had brought small Thakur stones wrapped in the cotton. But Guru Ravidass Ji was stoutly carrying a 40 kg heavy-weight square stone on his shoulders with unshakeable confidence. A huge crowd of residents of Benaras gathered on Rajghat of river Ganga to witness the fateful and decisive event. The king and the courtiers also reached the spot. The Brahman priests who were the aggrieved party were given first turn to float their Thakur stones in the river. All the tall fleshy, head shaven, Janju (thick thread) wearing and Tilak applied Brahman priests blew conch-shells and fumbled Vedic Mantras and gently placed their Thakur stones in the river one by one. To their great dismay, all their Thakur stone gently sank down deep into the water. All of them bowed down their heads. The on-lookers were stunned to see the sinking Thakurs of Brahmans.
Then was the turn of Guru Ravidass Ji, He lifted his heavy-weight stone on his shoulders. There was thaw. All eyes were focused on Guru Ji and the stone he carried. Curiosity prevailed. It was a decisive moment. In case his stone also sinks, there will be further gloom for the lowly. Guru Ji closed his eyes and stood erect. His face blushed and with all humility he prayed to God.
Meri sangat poch soch din raati
Mera karam kutilta janam kubhati.
Raam gosaeeaa jeea ke jeewnaa
Mohi naa bisaarho main jan tera. (Rahaao)
Meri haro vipt jan karo subhaaiee
Charn naa chhadoo sareer kall jaaiee.
Kaho Ravidass pario teri saabha.
Beig milho jan karu naa bilanbaa.
At this moment there was dazzling light in the sky. All the on-lookers expected something miraculous. Guru Ji moved ahead to the water and gently placed the stone in light-blue transparent water of the river. To great astonishment of the on-lookers the stone (Pathri) floated majestically. Guru Ji gently smiled and thanked God for coming to his rescue. There was spontaneous applause from the viewers.
The Pandits had failed in the test. They had been proved false worshippers. The on-lookers made a mockery of the Pandits. The king announced victory of Guru Ravidass Ji as a Truthful worshipper. All respectfully fell at his feet. Guru Ravidass Ji was seated in a golden palanquin and moved in a procession in the city. The minds of the masses were changed and they developed regard for him and the lowly. They were blissful after having glimpses of Guru Ji.
A gala-function was organized after sometime in the honour of Guru Ravidass Ji to celebrate his victory. He was seated at a raised cushioned and beautiful seat decorated with jewels. All the courtiers, diwans, intelligentsia, chieftains and selected people former the gathering. All spoke high of Guru Ravidass Ji. The king and member of his family instantly became followers of Guru Ji. At the end of the functions sweets were distributed. The people touched sacred feet of Guru Ji and went back home singing his praise. This event was recorded in the annals of court in calligraphic golden letters.
It was an unprecedented and eventful day for the untouchables. New glorious history was created for them on that fateful day. Truth had come out victorious against falsehood. False beliefs had been belied!
Saintly persons belong to entire mankind. They do not represent any single caste or creed. They cherish universal well-being; and persuade humanity to follow the path of Truth and Equality. Guru Ravidass Ji was a reputed enlightened saint of medieval Age. Influenced by the truthfulness of his sacred sermons of worship of God, devotees from all castes became his disciples. After having learnt of his fame as an Emancipated saint, a wealthy Seth visited his place to hear his religious discourses. On that day Guru Ji threw light on importance of human birth. It was elucidated that our rare birth is a result of our benevolent deeds in our previous life.
Dulabh janam pun phal payo
The Almighty should, therefore, be worshipped to enlighten our this life. Other than his Name all show of rituals is false.
At the end of Sat Sang (religious discourses) Guru Ji distributed nectar from shallow earthen pot lying near his seat. It was offered to rich Seth also. On observing it as dirty water, he threw nectar behind his head and back instead of drinking it. It fell partially on his clothes and partially on the floor.
The gathering dispersed. The Seth came back home. Thinking that his clothes had been spoiled and polluted by dirty water given by Guru Ravidass Ji, he took off the clothes and donated to a poor man who was suffering from leprosy.
The poor man wore the clothes donated by the Seth. The clothes bore blots of nectar given by Guru Ravidass Ji to the Seth. The poor man felt soothing effect on his body as soon as he put on the clothes. The wounds of leprosy started healing up. He started having sound sleep at night. In a short period, the poor man became completely healthy as if he had never suffered from the disease. On the other hand, leprosy developed on the body of the Seth. He got lot of treatment from highly qualified and experienced Vaids and Hakims but the disease continued becoming serious. The wounds of leprosy became wet. Continuous intense pricking pain upset the psyche of the Seth and plunged him in gloom. He sat alone and pondered as to whether the disease was due to disgrace of the saint. He went to Guru Ravidass Ji and apologized for throwing nectar on his earlier visit. Guru Ji forgave him. He got relief from the disease automatically within a few days. Thereafter, the entire family of the Seth became Guru Ji’s disciples.
The Hindu religious books have put a bar on the so-called Shudras from worshipping God. The Shudras were not allowed to wear the Janju (Sacred thick thread), put mark (Tilak) on forehead and observe other religious practices. Guru Ravidass was born to face the brunt. He started wearing Janju, put Tilak (religious mark) on forehead and wearing Dhoti like that of Pandits. He also observed other practices which were peculiar to the Brahmans only. All this was taken very ill by the Pandits. In the beginning they tried to impress upon Guru Ravidass Ji not to resort to the practices followed by them. But Guru Ji would not agree. He told them that they were wearing false Janju.
Aggrieved by the intransigent attitude of Guru Ravidass Ji, the Brahmans brought to the notice of the king, the religious practices followed by Ravidass Ji which are peculiar to the Brahmans only. The King was furious on this issue. He sent for Guru Ravidass Ji appeared in the court of the king. The Brahmans too had come in large numbers. The issue of wearing Janju (sacred thick thread) was discussed.
Brahmans said that as per Hindu scriptures, Janju is to be worn by the Brahmans only. Ravidass being untouchable should stop wearing it. Guru Ravidass Ji told the king that it has falsely been written in the scriptures that non-brahmans will not wear Janju. It is injustice with others. However, he will stop wearing Janju on one condition. The Pandits would show him what he was just going to show to the king. Guru Ji took out a Rambi (knife) and pushed it into his chest making four-inch long cut. Blood blew profusely. There was a pool of blood on the floor. He pulled out four Janjus from his chest-one of gold, second of silver, third of copper and fourth of thread- signifying his wearing these Janjus in Satyuga, Treta, Duapper and Kalyuga. This also demonstrated that the untouchables are pure, truthful and innocent. The Brahmans cut a sorry figure. Their faces turned pale. Understanding the reality, the king fell on the feet of Guru Ji and begged apology for the harassment caused to him. A broad-minded Guru Ji forgave him.
At the end of the event, Guru Ji told the king and the gathering that in fact Janju has no significance in attainment of God. He wore it only to demonstrate its futility and to show the right path to the Brahmans. Guru Ji took off his Janju and gave it to the king. Thereafter, he never wore any Janju as such.
The pains taken by Guru Ravidass Ji to wrest human rights should not be allowed to go unfelt and unsung. It should further kindle the spirit to continue the pace. Blood flowed from his chest may energise blood of the generations to tread his foot-prints and thrill the era.