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Bhagats Bhagat Ravidas of The Guru Granth

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by Admin Singh, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. Admin Singh

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    Bhagat Ravidas of The Guru Granth
    by Hardev Bahri & Harjinder Singh


    Today, January 30, is the birth anniversary of Bhagat Ravidas ji [1450 - 1520, estimated]

    Ravidās, poet and mystic, was born to Raghū and Ghurbiniā, who lived near the city of Vārāṇasī, in present day Uttar Pradesh, India.

    Not much biographical information about him is available but, from what can be made out of his own compositions, he belonged to a hindu 'low-caste' (chamār - leather worker/ cobbler ) family. He followed the family profession of tanning hides and making shoes.

    Gradually he started spending most of his time in the company of saints and sādhūs and built himself a thatched hut wherein he received and entertained wandering ascetics. Many stories became knownt about his simplicity and piety of nature. He became famous as a Vaiṣṇava saint in the tradition of Rāmānand.

    In the course of his spiritual quest, he reached a stage when he discarded images and idols and turned to the worship of the Supreme Being. He wrote deeply impassioned devotional verses and left his mark on Hindi literature for the fusion of religious sentiment with the vernacular medium.

    Forty of his hymns have been incorporated in the Sikh Scripture, the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Accordingly, he is accorded deep respect by Sikhs as his compositions form part of our Living Guru. He is therefore accorded the high honorofic of "Bhagat" - literally, God's Devotee - by Sikhs, as are the other non-Guru contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib.

    The sect of Bhagat Ravidas Panthis that follows him honour him as "Guru Ravidas".

    He travelled fairly widely and visited Rājasthān, Gujarāt, Āndhra Pradesh, Mahārāshṭra, besides a number of places in the northern India such as Prayāg, Mathurā, Vrindāvan, Haridvār, Guṛgāoṅ and Multān. At most of these places, there are monuments honouring his memory. In his lifetime, he had thousands of followers, including members of the higher castes, among them being Mīrābāī, the Rājput princess.

    The hymns of Ravidās included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib fall under rāga - Sirī (1), Gauṛī (5), Āsā (6), Gūjarī (1), Soraṭhi (7), Dhanāsarī (3), Jaitsarī (1), Suhī (3), Bilāval (2), Gauṇḍ (2), Rāmkalī (1), Mārū (2); Kedārā (1), Bhairau (1), Basant (1) and Malhār (3). One of the hymns in rāga Mārū is the same (with a few minor changes) as included in rāga Soraṭhi.

    Ravidās acknowledged the unicity and omnipresence and omnipotence of God. According to him, the human soul is only a particle of the Divine : the difference between the two is like the difference between the gold and the ornament, the water and the wave (GGS:93).

    He rejects distinctions between man and man on the basis of caste or creed, for, as he says, in the world beyond no such differentiations will be acknowledged (GGS: 345). To realize God, which is the ultimate end of human life, man should concentrate on His Name, giving up mere forms and ritualism (GGS: 658, 1106). Birth in a 'low caste' is no hindrance in the way to spiritual development. The only condition required is freedom from duality; all else including pilgrimage to and bathing in the sixty-eight hindu centres is in vain (GGS: 875).



    BHAGAT RAVIDAS PANTHIS

    by HARJINDER SINGH


    In view of the recent tension between Sikhs and the followers of Bhagat Ravidas I want to clarify the position between us Sikhs and the followers of Bhagat Ravidas. Forty sabads of Ravidas are included in the Guru Granth.

    ‘Guru' Ravidas

    The followers of Ravidas call him Guru, which means ‘teacher' or ‘bringer of light into darkness'. For Sikhs the word Guru has a specific meaning, but we should not pick a fight with those who use the term in the more general Indian way. The shabads of Ravidas that are included in the Guru Granth are part of our eternal Guru, and as such Ravidas is part of the Sikh Guru.

    The teachings of Ravidas are perfectly in tune with those of the Guru Granth Sahib.

    Sudras & Jutts

    The followers of Ravidas and Kabir tend be people of low caste. When I visited a friend of mine in a village near Hoshiarpur whose family were of so-called 'low caste', the Sikhs from the local gurdwara dominated by 'jutts' would not greet me, as I was staying with Ravidas panthis, who were deemed to be of a 'low caste'.

    Saying to each other that our Guru teaches unity of mankind is not relevant for the Ravidas panthis, as long as Sikhs do not practice what the Guru teaches. When we start practicing the Guru's teachings we can reach out to the Ravidas panthis and share the sabads of our eternal Guru.

    Guru Granth Sahib

    Because of our ‘respect for the Guru Granth' Sikhs love to fight with those groups that do not give the same importance to the Guru Granth Sahib as we do. Instead of being happy that non-Sikhs read the Guru Granth and see it as an important source of teaching and inspiration, we want to take the Guru Granth away from Ravidas or Námdhari Gurdwaré / temples.

    I am very happy that we do not set out to convert others in the way that Christians and Muslims do. But the attitude of many Sikhs is not very open-minded either. The Guru speaks to everybody, the Guru considers everybody who is a serious student of the Guru to be a Sikh. The way of life set out in the Guru Granth Sahib can be followed by all of all ‘dharams'.

    Think about these three definitions : 1) a ‘Sikh' is someone who is a serious student of God. 2) A ‘Sikh' is someone who recognises the leadership of the Guru Granth and Guru Panth as ordained by Guru Gobind Singh. 3) A ‘Khalsa' is someone who is totally committed to Guru's teachings and as a sign of that commitment has taken amrit and wears the 5 Ks.

    I have been trying to find out what exactly happened in the Ravi Das Gurdwara in Vienna, but neither I nor the people charged to do this by a meeting at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall, London, U.K., succeeded in this. It is clear that people were wounded and killed, but it is not clear whether the ‘men of violence' were Sikhs, Ravidas panthis or both.

    Babé, our common problem

    The baba involved is controversial amongst the followers of Ravidas. I heard that the majority of the Ravidas Gurdwaré in the U.K. do not like this baba (which of course is no excuse for killing or wounding him or his cronies).

    We have to recognise that we have common problems. Fake holy men can be found amongst all traditions in South Asia, even amongst Muslims in West Panjab or amongst Syrian Christians of Kerala.

    I do not want to start a rant about sants, but I do think that Ravidas panthis and Sikhs of good will should join forces and take a stand against the plague of the fake saints.

    Caste, the scourge of the sub-continent

    I was disappointed by most of the Sikh reactions to the news from Vienna. It is true that a Ravidas Gurdwara is not a mainstream Sikh place of worship, and caste is not part of the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. But Sikhs do not fully realise that Ravidas is part of the Sikh Guru and do not want to admit that caste still plays an important negative part in the ‘Sikh' community.

    Caste in some shape or form is practiced amongst followers of almost all religious traditions on the subcontinent. Many of our brothers and sisters of Punjabi background fail to translate ‘seeing God's presence in all' in treating all as equals.

    Equality is also a problem in the U.K., where we struggle with the legacy of its rigid class structures and with the present situation where many people are doing quite well, but where there is a growing ‘underclass'.

    Sikhs, in the light of Guru's teachings, should see people of low caste, from sink estates, gypsies and travellers or any other group as their sisters and brothers.

    If we really practice this we will become better Sikhs and there would be no more need for Ramgarhia or Ravidas Gurdwaré. It is now more than five hundred years after Guru Nanak taught us about One God and One Humanity, are we actually going to adopt these teachings in 2009 ?

    [Courtesy: The Encylopaedia of Sikhism and The Man in Blue]

    January 30, 2010
     

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  3. kee_jaana_mein_kaun

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    Sat Sri Akaal ji,

    I have heard that Ravidaasiya community has started a new panth and new granth and their own flag yesterday on the birth anniversary of Bhagat Ravidas from Kaashi.UP.
    Details are awaited....
     
  4. ugsbay

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    Aman Ji, Excellent post. I agree fully with what you say, my personal opinion on this matter is the Ravidassis have made Our Bhagat into there Guru simply because he was there caste which i think is not right, as far as i know he never claimed to be one, but like you said i agree with you we should all put our petty differances aside and stick together, i always get a feeling there are forces out there who do not like seeing people getting on with one another and are trying to divide our communities making us argue or fight one another. There are a lot of false men claiming to be Holy and are fooling our people in the millions, we should expose and put a stop to it together.
     
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  5. spnadmin

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    :happykudi::happykudi::happykudi::happykudi: When there is disrespect of Guruji, we should not be quiet, but speak out. There is also a way to express concern and distaste without burning bridges. That part of the message the false babas leave out to create total dependence on their message -- which in the end leads only to tragedy.
     
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  6. Seeker9

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    ================
    Sat Sri Akal everyone
    Have just joined and am compelled to respond to a refreshingly honest thread on this subject
    Have had a look at the Jattworld forums as well and would humbly suggest the problem is that too often, Sikhism is replaced by Jattism
    If everyone was freely allowed access to all Gurdwaras then there would be no need to have separate temples and practices
    My understanding, and please correct me if I say anything wrong, is that Guru Gobind Singh Ji established the practice of changing surnames to "Singh" and "Kaur" to emphasise fraternity and unity and to put an end to any possible grounds for discrimination
    Sadly, it is my view that discrimination is rife in the Sikh faith, or at least it is very much so in the UK
    However, I do strongly agree that SGGSJ should be completely respected and not altered or manipulated in any way

    A most excellent post indeed
    Thank you very much - you have gone a long way to restore my faith amongst some followers of this path
     
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  7. ugsbay

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    I agree with you Seeker Ji & welcome. I was born and live here in the UK. We have separate Temples example Ramgariya, Ravidass and so forth. This caste buisness is like a Cancer disease. With Cancer there can sometimes be a cure, but with caste from what i have seen and experianced it seems it will never go. I love Sikhi and am very proud to be a part of it, but i would not look at myself and look at others in a low way. That seems to be the problem when people start to think they are some how superior because of there caste, it is one thing to be proud of whom you are and another thing to look down at people because of caste. It should not be allowed in Sikhi as it is forbidden but people seem to not let go. We would not have separate Temples if caste was not the issue. It is also the biggest downfall and with it these Deras and fake Babass follow like Leaches.
     
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  8. Seeker9

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    There only is one SGGSJ and there always will be!!

    That said, I think it is fair to note that enlightened souls whose contributions have been incorporated into SGGSJ had a following in their own right and a range of teachings prior to their inclusion in SGGSJ

    And ultimately, I would suggest those teachings are for the benefit of all

    And due to caste pressures which we have already touched on, it is not unreasonable for those followers to have continued

    As you may have gathered, I am a Chamar but my parents hail from Punjab and we have been brought up in the Sikh tradition

    As I said earlier, no one should absolutely not in any way try to undermine SGGSJ nor should there be an edited version of SGGSJ in our temples. We can have a book of teachings of "our Saint" (note use of inverted commas as the Saints are for the benefit of everyone) but we should not call it SGGSJ or associate it in such a way

    As to the distinction of Bhagat, Saint, Guru etc, I would offer you this view

    Jesus is accepted as a real individual in both Christianity (obviously!) and Islam religions. However, the distinction is that the Christians regard him as the Son of God and co-creator of the Universe, whereas the Muslims regard him as a great Prophet. There is even a story that Jesus survived the crucifixion, continued to preach, travelled to India and is now buried in Kashmir!!

    So, guess my point is that different religions can venerate different saints in different and legitimate ways

    We can disagree on that but important thing is to have mutual respect and not have arguments of the type "My Guru is better than your Guru!" etc

    Nor should we take any action that demeans or insults others. I can understand why some would think any attempt to extract passages from
    SGGSJ would be equivalent to cutting Guru's limbs. And I can understand why people would be upset by that

    But the origins of those same teachings and the rest of their canon should also be acknowledged and it is not the intention to insult or undermine SGGSJ

    Just my personal view folks...happy to discuss further

    Must say this is refreshing....burning the midnight oil right now studying for exams so welcome the break!!!
     
  9. ugsbay

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    Seeker Ji very good post, i just noticed you are from England too i just saw that flag, i still do not know how to put mine on, anyway like i said Castism is one of the biggest problems facing Sikhism today, i judge a person not from their cast, colour or creed but by their characteristic and personality. Unfortunatly not everyone thinks like that i have noticed. Many claim that Caste is against their religion but the same people use it and hide behind it over and over again. Hypocracy is the right word. You will like it here see you around Brother.
     
  10. spnadmin

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    Seeker9 ji

    Your words:

    "Nor should we take any action that demeans or insults others. I can understand why some would think any attempt to extract passages from SGGSJ would be equivalent to cutting Guru's limbs. And I can understand why people would be upset by that

    But the origins of those same teachings and the rest of their canon should also be acknowledged and it is not the intention to insult or undermine SGGSJ?"


    The statement is confusing to me, and almost contradictory.

    What do you mean by the origins of "those same teachings" that "have not been acknowledged?"

    Which teachings have not been acknowledged? Who has not acknowledged them?

    What do you mean by "the rest of their canon?" Are you referring to the rest of the canon of writings by Sant Ravidas that are not included in SGGS ji? And who do you mean by "their?"

    or,

    Are you saying that SGGS ji as written is not a complete Sikh scripture?

    Quite rightly you state that any "attempt to extract passages" from SGGS ji is insulting to Sikhs because it is like "cutting the Guru's limbs." You have also said you can see why Sikhs would be upset if SGGS ji were undermined. But this is confusing. Any suggestion that there is some canon beyond SGGS that makes SGGS complete is also insulting.

    Please do clarify.

    If this is a conversation that is meaningful for members of any Sant Ravidas panth, do we need to start a new thread and place it in Interfaith dialogs?
     
    #9 spnadmin, May 3, 2010
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  11. ugsbay

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    Naranyanjot Ji, i am sorry i have just read back my own posts and they have gone off topic a little, that bit what you asked Seeker i did not understand properly in all honesty, but only he himself can answer that, i do see what you are saying it is a little confusing. However the rest of the post i agreed with.
     
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  12. Seeker9

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    Dear Narayanjot Ji andUgsbay Ji


    Apologies for any confusion
    I am not saying SGGSJ is in anyway incomplete
    I will attempt to clarify:


    But the origins of those same teachings and the rest of their canon should also be acknowledged and it is not the intention to insult or undermine SGGSJ?"


    The teachings of a number of saints have been included in the SGGSJ. Does that mean from that point forward they became the exclusive “Property” of SGGSJ and can never be used by those who would follow those Saints in their own right?


    There are other religious movements based on the teachings of Guru Ravidass Ji and Sant Kabir Ji. Are followers of those Saints and their teachings directly insulting SGGSJ just by following those teachings??


    The point about “cutting limbs” was that if anyone was asking for passages to be removed from SGGSJ then that would be deeply insulting and totally unacceptable. Or any imitation or disrespect of SGGSJ would be deeply insulting and totally unacceptable.


    Re “acknowledgement” my point was, the existence of Kabir-panthis or followers of Guru Ravidass Ji should not be seen as an insult to Sikhism or SGGSJ but as an alternative path. And there are many paths and religions out there with some commonality between them but still different in their own right


    Does that make more sense??
     
  13. Seeker9

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    Dear Narayanjot Ji and Ugsbay JI


    I am not saying SGGSJ is in anyway incomplete
    Apologies for any confusion
    I will attempt to clarify:


    But the origins of those same teachings and the rest of their canon should also be acknowledged and it is not the intention to insult or undermine SGGSJ?"


    The teachings of a number of saints have been included in the SGGSJ. Does that mean from that point forward they are now the exclusive “Property” of SGGSJ and can never be used by those who would follow those Saints in their own right?


    There are other religious movements based on the teachings of Guru Ravidass Ji and Sant Kabir Ji


    Are followers of those Saints and their teachings directly insulting SGGSJ??


    The point about “cutting limbs” was that if anyone was asking for passages to be removed from SGGSJ then that would be deeply insulting and completely unacceptable. Or any imitation of SGGSJ or disrespect of it would be deeply insulting and completely unacceptable



    the rest of their canon should also be acknowledged”



    my point then is to acknwoledge the existence of Saints and their teachings and that the existence of Kabir-panthis or followers of Guru Ravidass Ji should not be seen as an insult to Sikhism or SGGSJ but as an alternative path.


    I hope this is clearer and would really appreciate your point of view


    Thanks
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    Seeker9 ji

    Thank you for clarifying your statements. It really is important for Sikhs everywhere, and members of SPN. to uphold the unbroken and complete transmission of Shabad Guru from Guru Nanak to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj as final, sole, and everlasting Guru without any qualifications whatsoever. Message unqualified. There is no other Guru. There is no other "scripture."
     
  15. Seeker9

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    Dear Narayanjot Ji
    There should also be a universal message that there is no exclusivity and no turning away of seekers from Gurudwaras by virtue of their caste
    As long as that continues then there will be different temples.
    Everyone has the right to seek enlightenment and no one has the right to say this is the only true way but we are not going to let you join us!
    Personally, I love going to the Gurudwara and just sitting there and listening to the Shabads but I also know I am not welcome in all Gurudwaras
    So I would humbly suggest any message of promoting one true path needs to also include a message of genuinely welcoming everyone to join that path
     
  16. spnadmin

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    Seeker9 ji

    in an earlier post I asked some questions and that was my attempt to redirect the conversation. I was "seeking" a diplomatic way for all of us writing in this thread to avoid placing SGGS in the middle of yet another controversy where panth Ravidass and Sikhism are at odds.


    It did not work. Therefore, allow me be very direct.


    The integrity of SGGS and the only Guru of the Sikhs cannot be compromised in this forum. That means that any other controversies that might qualify its unique and fundamental importance will not be permitted. There are no other canons. Authorship of SGGS is clear.

    No one here has disputed the evils of the caste system. No one here will deny that Guru Nanak and all our Gurus spoke against the evils of the caste system. No one here will argue that gurdwaras should not exclude by caste.


    The fact that caste persists within Sikhism as an important issue is a cultural matter. There is no need to combine issues of caste with issues of other "canons" in the same article. The fact that you did so made me wonder as admin whether a needless controversy was about to be inserted into this thread.


    Let us stipulate that for Sikhs SGGS ji is the unbroken and complete transmission of Shabad Guru from Guru Nanak to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj as final, sole, and everlasting Guru without any qualifications whatsoever.

    Let us discuss the evils of the caste system separately in a different thread as a cultural and historical matter. Let us discuss controversies between Sikhism and the Ravidassi panth in an appropriate thread.


    And if this thread does veer in a direction that in anyway undermines the Guru Granth I will take action as needed. Please know that I have spent the night considering the situation, and my remarks are not made in haste.
     
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    #15 spnadmin, May 3, 2010
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  17. Seeker9

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    Dear Narayanjot Ji
    I appreciate your candour and apologise if I have caused you stress
    You will hopefully appreciate from my posts that I have never said anything derogatory about SGGSJ so happy to agree with your clear message about status of SGGSJ
    This thread started off with a historical context then there was a
    a comment about why their is another path following Guru Ravidass Ji
    I was responding to that comment on this thread and the point I was making, hopefully in a diplomatic way as well, is that if their was no division in the first place, there would be no need for alternative paths as SGGSJ says it all in crystal clear fashion
    However, the fact that there is division has forced those seeking enligthenment on to an alternative path. As long as that sort of division exists then I am not going to deride anyone for following that path as ultimately all they are doing is looking for spiritual enlightenment
    I have never said anything disrespectful about SGGSJ
    I do stand by my statement that I think it is fundamentally wrong for anyone to proclaim one true path and then at the same time exclude others. I say it because I have experienced it and been hurt by it
    If you want to move to another thread than that is fine, although I think I have probably said enough already!!
    Thanks with respect
     
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  18. spnadmin

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    Thanks and let's move on or perhaps back to a discussion of Sant Ravidas. Clearly the caste system was despicable in the eyes of our Gurus and SGGS does not support its practice.
     
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