Ravidas holds an importance place among the saints of Indian origin. He is also known as Raidas. Ravidas belonged to the same period as Kabir. Ravidas was born the day of Magh Purnima in the year 1398 in a village near Varanasi. He was born on a Sunday. Hence, he was named, Ravidas. He is known to be a disciple of Ramanand.Ravidas Jayanti will be observed on Tuesday, 7th February 2012.
There is not enough evidence about the period in which Ravidas lived. According to some, he was born in Kashi and lived during 1482-1527. Others believe that he was born on Magh Purnima in the year 1398. He was born in a family of shoe-makers. His father’s name as Raghu and mother was known as Ghurviniya. Shoe making was his family business. He accepted and worked hard. He was soft-spoken and sweet due to which he was liked by the other people.
Ravidas did not have any formal education. It is said that when his father tried to admit him in a ‘Pathshala’, the child Ravidas did not display any interest in his school lessons as even at that early age, he understood that true means of selvation is through love of God and through Bhajan and devotional worship. In his early life, Ravidas was often found in deep meditation for hours togather. Ravidas used to collect boys of his age and explained to them the various modes of adoring God. Ravidas inherited the professio of tanning and shoe-making from his father. But, he was content with making only one pair of shoes in a day. He never desired to make more money than was necessary to keep his body and soul togather. Often he supplied new shoes free of cost to those who could not afford to pay for them. Ravidas often spent his earnings in helping the poor and for feeding the sadhus whom he rspected as men of God. Once, when his father sent Ravidas with some shoes to be sold, Ravidas gave away the whole earnings. Such was his devotion to men of God and his compession for the poor and needy. To divert his attention, his father got him marriednd sattled him eperately. Ravidas lived in a humble cottage but carried on his life of faith and devotion and continued his service to the men of God. Ravidas did not believe in idol-worship. He emphasised the search for Truth and Realisation of the oneness of God. “To recognise oneself is to reach the Almighty God”, this is what Rvidas preached LL HIS LIFE. His true devotion towards God was the great source of his successs. He had to face many ordeals in life. He had to face the challenge of orthodox Hindu society which forbade him to wear a sacred thread. or blow the holy marks on his forehead these being meant for only the high caste Hindus. Ravidas being a ‘charmakar’ was even denied entry into temples. There are many legends about how Ravidas proved his worthness and God-possessed disposition. It is said that when he was brought before the court of Raja Naga Mal, he cit his shoulder and showed the four sacred thread that he wore in ‘Satyug’, ‘Dwapara Yuga,’ ‘Treta Yuga,’ and ‘Kalyuaga.’ This would not satisfy the orthodox Hindus. Ravidas again performed a miracle by making his ‘sila’ (a stone used by chamars for making shoes) float on the surface of Ganges, while making the idols of the pandits went down. Raja Nagar Mal admitted Ravidas’s greatness and become his disciple. He had further trouble when he went to the Ganga at Varanasi at the place called Panch Ganga Ghat to perform the last rites of his parents, who both died the same day. The publlic is stated to have objected to the waters of the Ganga reaching them after they were polluted by a chamar. It is said that the river changed its flow at the place to accomodate Ravidas. Mira Bai, the famous saint poetess, had great respect for him. It is said that even Sikandar Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi was impressed by the teachings of Ravidas and honoured hm with presents. Sant Ravidas composed many shabdas. Out of them about 41 shabdas have been included in the Holy Guru Granth Sahib. His shabdas are packed with divine wisdom and in each of them, he advocates the ‘Ram nam jap’ and extois the efficacy of this great mantra. In his teachings, he says, “God is everywhere – in you and me,” and insists, “it is time to worship God.” His philosophy was one of surrender to the Lord. He was fully convinced that in Kaliyuga, God’s name was the only remedy for salvation. Sant Ravidas was agreat reformer, lover of God and a preacher of saitly disposition, who emphasised the fundamental truth underlying all religions. Born in most humble surroundings in a so-called low-caste family, he proved that “irrespective of caste and creed, all are equal in the eyes of God and only sinful actions bring bad name and dishonour to a man.” Though the orthodox society was pitched against him, he never swered from the path of truth and propagated the love of God. He preached love of God and religious harmony as the only panacea for the survival of humanity. The osts and Telegraphs Department feels previleged to bring out a special commemorative stamp in honour and memory of his great saint, and a reformer, Sant Ravidas.