Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Celebrating Sant Ravidas Jayanti: Remembering the Humanitarian Saint

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

Sant Ravidas Jayanti, observed on Magh Purnima, holds profound significance for millions of devotees across the nation. Falling on Saturday, February 24th this year, it commemorates the birth anniversary of Sant Ravidas, a saint born in Varanasi, whose teachings resonate with timeless wisdom and compassion.

Born in the village of Govardhanpur in Varanasi in 1376 AD on Magh Purnima, Sant Ravidas was named after the day of his birth, ‘Ravidas’. His father, Santokh Das, and mother, Karma Devi, belonged to the Chamar community, traditionally involved in leatherwork. Despite the prevalent religious transformations in India during his time, Sant Ravidas chose the path of humanity over religious conversions. His teachings and actions emphasized service to humanity over material pursuits.

Sant Ravidas shared a special bond with contemporary saints like Kabir Das and was revered for his devotion and humility. His life was a testament to selflessness and compassion. Renowned for his craftsmanship in making shoes, he transformed his trade into a means of service, offering footwear to the needy without accepting payment.

Legend has it that once, a Brahmin approached Sant Ravidas seeking a shoe before he embarked on a pilgrimage to bathe in the Ganges. Sant Ravidas, in his customary generosity, offered the shoe for free and also gave a coin to be offered to the Ganges on his behalf. However, upon reaching the river, the Brahmin disdainfully threw the coin into the water. To everyone’s astonishment, the Ganges manifested herself, accepting the coin and presenting a golden bracelet to the Brahmin, recognizing the sincerity of Sant Ravidas’ devotion.

This miraculous event spread across Kashi, drawing both awe and skepticism. To test Sant Ravidas’ integrity, some skeptics demanded another miracle. Undeterred, Sant Ravidas began singing hymns, and miraculously, the Ganges appeared again, handing him the bracelet meant for the doubter. This incident solidified his reputation as a true saint, revered by all.

Sant Ravidas’s teachings, like those of his contemporaries, emphasized love, equality, and devotion to God. His invaluable wisdom continues to guide humanity, inspiring people to transcend social barriers and embrace the essence of spirituality. Here are some of his timeless teachings:

  1. “God resides in the heart where there is no malice or hatred, no greed or animosity.”
  2. “We should focus on our actions and renounce the desire for results because actions are our duty, and outcomes are our destiny.”
  3. “Do not let pride dwell within you; even a tiny ant can crush grains of sugar, but a mighty elephant cannot.”
  4. “Those entangled in the illusion of worldly desires wander aimlessly; only the creator of Maya can grant liberation.”
  5. “If the mind is pure, even a thorn bush becomes like the Ganges; purity surrounds those with a virtuous heart.”

As we commemorate Sant Ravidas Jayanti, let us reflect on these profound teachings and strive to imbibe the spirit of love, humility, and service in our lives. May the legacy of Sant Ravidas continue to illuminate our path towards spiritual enlightenment and social harmony.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

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