Op/Ed: Bhagat Ravidaas Ji’s Teachings

ਘਿਅ ਪਟ ਭਾਂਡਾ ਕਹੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥  No one says that ghee or silk are polluted.
ਐਸਾ ਭਗਤੁ ਵਰਨ ਮਹਿ ਹੋਇ ॥  Such is the Lord’s devotee, no matter what his social caste is. (Ang 721)

There are forty Shabads of Bhagat Ravidaas Jee that are included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee.  Bhagat Jee was born to a shudra (untouchable), Chamaar (cobbler) family. Through bhagtee and love, his virtue is sang throughout the universe. There are countless stories of when God protected, tested and even teased his beloved devotee. Many of these are recorded eternally in gurbanee.

Bhagat Jee’s followers distance themselves from Gurbani

A sad tragedy amongst us is that contrary to Guru Sahib’s teachings many ‘self professed’ Sikhs stuck to Punjabi cultural conventions and outcasted ‘low’ castes.  These Sikhs were forced to create separate places of worship and eventually their own religion, a result of this social divide. Tensions have mounted after the radical Ravidaasi preacher of ‘Dera Ballan’ was murdered in Vienna, Austria. ‘Dera Ballan’ has always emphasised how the Sikh religion is flawed and is committed to attacking the Ravidaasi community.

Guru or Bhagat?

Many members of this community assert that Bhagat Ravidas Jee should be addressed as Guru or Satguru – some have even claimed that Bhagat Jee were the Guru (teacher) of Guru Nanak and have propagated false stories. Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Jee in their own Banee have revealed their own Guru to be none other than Vaheguru. Needless to digress, Bhagat Jee is of course was a diving being – because their Baneee just like all other Gurbaneee is true (Sat) and has the power to take one from Darkness (Gu) to Enlightenment, light (Ru)m but there is no historical evidence to suggest that like the Sikh Gurus, Bhagat Jee were referred to as Guru or Satguru. Bhagat is not by any means degrading – just look through Gurbanee to see the greatness of a Bhagat! The Bhatt Banee refers to Ravidass Jee as Bhagat:

ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ ਭਗਤੁ ਜੈਦੇਵ ਤ੍ਰਿਲੋਚਨ ॥ 
Guṇ gāvai Raviḏās bẖagaṯ Jaiḏev Ŧrilocẖan. 
His Glorious Praises are sung by the Bhagats Ravi Daas, Jai Dayv and Trilochan.
(Ang 1390)

Amrit Bani 

The so called ‘Sant Samaj’ of the Ravidaasia Religion announced at Bhagat Jees birth place in Kashi (Varanasi) in 2011 that they are publishing their own scripture ‘Amrit Bani’ which will contain the Banee of Bhagat Ravidas Jee exclusively. This was an indirect call for Ravidaasia Caste members to replace the Parkash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee with ‘Amrit Bani’ book at their own Gurdwaras etc. Ironically, had it not been for Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee’s composition much of the identity of these Bhagats and their works would of been lost. Amrit Bani contains 240 ‘Shabads’ – forty of which are Shabads of Bhagat Jee in Guru Granth Sahib Jee – when asked of the source of all these Shabads, sevadars of the place in Kashi claimed they had found one ‘saroop’ in chandigarh. Funny, how it only was found 500 years later after the vienna incident. In fact, a dera in Phagwara has filed a case for plagiarism regarding ‘Amrit Bani’ saying the extra ‘shabads’ are devotional compositions authored by their Sant Hira Das a 100 years ago!

We as Sikhs must show love and openness to such communities as they have broken apart from us due to our own attitude and mistakes – Every Sikh bows in the feet of ‘Chamaar’ Bhagat Ravidaas Jee when he bows before Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee no matter whether he/she is Jatt, Bhatra, Tarkhan or anything else he may consider to be!  The Ravidaasi community is slowly being assimilated into the Hindu religion – the same which has blemished their identity of thousands of years.

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