Shiromani Bhagat Ravidas ji – Bhagat or Guru?

Bhagat Ravidas Ji

Bhagat Ravidas ji, poet and mystic, was born to Raghu and Ghurbinia, who lived near the city of Varanasi. Not much biographical information about him is available, but, from what can be made out of his own compositions, he belonged to a low-caste family, from the “Chamaar” (leather-maker) caste according to the old caste system.

Waheguru does not recognize castes and clans. Waheguru recognizes devotion. Bhagat Ravidaas Ji was blessed with union of Akaal Purakh and the jyot (Light) of Akaal Purakh wrote Gurbani through him which was made official by Guru Arjan Dev Ji and included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

The shabads “Raam Guseiyaa Jee Kae Jeevanaa” and “Bahuth Janam Bichharay Thay Maadho” these are from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and they are by Bhagat Ravidas Ji.

Bhagat or Guru?

Many members of 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 Ji is of course was a diving being – because their Baneee just like all other Gurbani is true (Sat) and has the power to take one from Darkness (Gu) to Enlightenment, light (Ru)m. Bhagat Ravidaas Ji was one with Waheguru and the Guru. However, in Sikhi he is not recognized as the Guru because he was a Sikh of the Guru. There is no historical evidence to suggest that like the Sikh Gurus, Bhagat Jee were referred to as Guru or Satguru. Guru Arjun Dev Ji who gave us Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, has clearly made a distinction between the Bhagats and Guru Sahibaan. All Bhagats have been referred to as “Bhagat” and all Guru Sahibaan have been referred to as “Mahalla” in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Of course Guru Sahibaan were Bhagats too but their status was above that of Bhagats. Bhagat Ravidaas jee was a great Bhagat but he was a Bhagat only and not by any means a Guru. If he had been a Guru, he would have been called so in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

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 ॥ ਨਾਮਾ ਭਗਤੁ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਸਦਾ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਸਮ ਲੋਚਨ ॥ {ਪੰਨਾ 1390}
His Glorious Praises are sung by the Bhagats Ravi Daas, Jai Dayv and Trilochan. (Ang 1390)

Even though Sikhi does not believe in castes, some people who are still attached to the caste system consider themselves “Chamaar” caste and they believe in Bhagat Ravidas Ji as their Guru. They respect Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, but not as their Poora (complete) Satguru (True Guru).

In their temple (bhawan) they have a different Nishaan Sahib with says “Sohung” which they believe to be their Gurmantar. They have prakaash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and even have Amritdhari Granthi Singh who does seva of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. They do a different Ardaas, but they do take Hukamnama from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Raagis are usually Amrithdhari Sikhs. When they do Keertan, they mostly do it from Bhagat Ravidaas Ji’s Bani. They are not part of the Khalsa Panth but they respect the Sikh community and call themselves “Ravidaasia” or “Ravidaasia Sikh”.

On their flyers they use “Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh” and they do celebrate important Sikh occasions as well as Bhagat Ravidaas Ji’s aagman (birth date) and barsi (physical passing).

Some people consider them to be anti-Panthic like Kookas and Narakdharis, while other people consider them to just be a different religion.

Some people think they are only furthering the caste-system just like Ramgharias, Bhatras, Brahmins, Dalits, etc. who have their own separate temples. These people say that Ravidaasias should take Khande-di-Pahul Amrit and abandon the caste system. They can respect Bhagat Ravidaas Ji as a Bhagat, but take Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji as their Guru.

Others say – it is their own religion, let them practice it as they wish.

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.