Issued on 10/02/1971
The Posts and Telegraphs Department feels privileged to bring out a special commemorative stamp in honour and memory of this great saint, and reformer, Sant Ravidass.
Issued on 24/06/2001
- Sant Ravidas was born of humble parentage at Seer Govardhanapura in Kashi now known as Varanasi, around the 15th century. His parents Shri Santokh Das and Smt. Kalsi Devi were so struck by the divine effulgence of their child when he was born that they named him Ravidas after the Sun–God.
- 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 salvation is through love of God and through Bhajan and devotional worship. In his early life, Ravidas was often found in deep meditation for hours together. Ravidas used to collect boys of his age and explained to them the various modes of adoring God.
- Ravidas inherited the profession 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 together. 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 respected 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 compassion for the poor and needy. To divert his attention, his father got him married and settled him separately. 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 Ravidas preached all his life.
- His true devotion towards God was the great source of his success. 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 a conch shell during worship or to put on the holy marks on his forehead these being meant for only the high caste Hindus. Ravidas being a ‘charmkar’ was even denied entry into temples. There are many legends about how Ravidas proved his worthiness and God-possessed disposition.
- It is said that when he was brought before the court of Raja Nagar Mal, he cut his shoulder and showed the four sacred threads that he wore in ‘Satya Yuga, ‘Dwapara Yuga‘, ‘Treta Yuga‘ and ‘Kali Yuga.’ 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 the idols of the pandits went down. Raja Nagar Mal admitted Ravidas’s greatness and became 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 public 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 accommodate 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 him 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 naam jap‘ and extols 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 a great reformer, a true lover of God and a preacher of saintly 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 swerved 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.