Context: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind has greeted fellow-citizens on the eve of birthday of Guru Ravidas.
WHO IS GURU RAVI DAS? Ravidas was an Indian mystic poet-saint of the Bhakti movement during the 15th to 16th century CE. He is venerated as a guru (teacher) in the region of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The devotional songs of Ravidas have had a lasting impact upon the Bhakti Movement. He was a poet-saint, social reformer and a spiritual figure. LIFE AND LITERARY WORKS OF GURU RAVIDAS According to some scholars, he was born in 1371 CE. According to the tradition and medieval era texts, Ravidas was one of the disciples of the bhakti saint-poet Ramananda and a contemporary of the bhakti saint-poet Kabir. Ravidas’ devotional songs were included in the Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib. The Panch Vani text of the Dadupanthi tradition within Hinduism also includes numerous poems of Ravidas. Ravidas taught removal of social divisions of caste and gender, and promoted unity in the pursuit of personal spiritual freedoms. The Adi Granth of Sikhs, and Panchvani of the Hindu warrior-ascetic group Dadupanthis are the two oldest attested sources of the literary works of Ravidas. The compilation of poetry in Adi Granth responds to, among other things, issues of dealing with conflict and tyranny, war and resolution, and willingness to dedicate one’s life to the right cause. Ravidas’s poetry covers topics such as the definition of a just state where there are no second or third class unequal citizens, the need for dispassion, and who is a real Yogi.
The songs of Ravidas discuss Nirguna-Saguna themes, as well as ideas that are at the foundation of Nath Yoga philosophy of Hinduism. He frequently mentions the term Sahaj, a mystical state where there is a union of the truths of the many and the one. A political party was founded in India in 2012 by the followers of Ravidas, with the word Begumpura (Be-gam-pura, or “land without sorrow”), a term coined in a poem by Ravidas. The term means the city where there is no suffering or fear, and all are equal. There is a small chhatri (umbrella) in front of Meera’s temple in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan which bears Ravidas’ engraved foot print.
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