The Allegation that Sant Ravidas was not a Hindu Saint is Ridiculous

I recently happened to come across an article written by Pardeep Atri (he also runs the Hindu-bashing twitter handle @AmbedkarCaravan) The article is filled with blatant falsehoods so I decided to do a point-wise rebuttal of the allegations made by the writer.

In the said article, Atri writes;

“So-called upper castes have been trying since decades to include Guru Ravidas in the list of their own numerous Gods. Many attempts – such as depicting Guru Ravidas on the foot of a cow, dressing Guru Ravidas in saffron garments, putting brahma-vishnu tilak on Guru Ravidas’s forehead, showing him as being blessed by some Hindu Gods etc. (please see pictures posted through this article) – have been made, when he was against all such customs. A few years back, in Punjab School Education Board’s books, the names of Guru Ravidas’ parents, his date of birth and even his name were wrongly published. Such mischief is being done by so-called upper castes to show Guru Ravidas was one of their Gods. Dalit academics from Punjab, especially, have been actively condemning the process of Brahminization of Guru Ravidas.”

Oh really, Mr Atri? So trying to portray Sant Ravidas as a sage wearing saffron, putting a tilak on his forehead, showing him being blessed by Hindu Gods is ‘Brahmanization’?

Atri would be shocked to know that Ravidassia temples themselves portray Ravidas wearing saffron and having a tilak on his forehead.

And how is a depiction of a Hindu God blessing Ravidas ‘Brahmanization’? We shall come to this in a bit. Atri continues;

“HEF’s (Hindu Education Foundation) projection of Guru Ravidas as a part of Hinduism and the Hindu Bhakti Movement (as HEF puts forward in its article) in the name representation of all communities is as illogical as it can be.  Further to its suggestions on changes, HEF article wants the current text be changed as –

Current text: “Bhakti grew more popular, thanks to saints such as Meera Bai and Ramananda.”

HEF Suggested change: “Bhakti grew more popular, thanks to saints such as Meera Bai, Ravidas, Alvars, and Ramananda.”

Alvars, as per Wikipedia, are considered to have lived between 4200 BCE – 2700 BCE and worshipped Vishnu or Krishna. Guru Ravidas lived in the 15th Century and rejected Brahma-Vishnu – so how much sense does it make to include them in the same list when, first, they lived thousands of years apart and were in opposition to each other? Including Guru Ravidas among Vishnu worshippers is mischievous and another desperate attempt to appropriate Guru Ravidas.”

Atri’s ignorance (or rather ability to lie so easily) is exceptional. Atri claims that Sant Ravidas ‘rejected Brahma-Vishnu’ and that including Sant Ravidas as a Vishnu worshipper is ‘mischievous and an attempt to appropriate Guru Ravidas’ as he calls it.

All we need to do to counter the lies propagated by this charlatan is to delve into the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, which also contains hymns written by several Vaishnava saints of the Bhakti movement, including Sant Ravidas.

In Adi Granth, Sant Ravidas uses the example of Valmiki, the writer of the Ramayana to imply of even people born in the lower-castes could attain high status merely through devotion to the Lord (Hari).

Why do you not look at Baalmeek?

From such a low social status, what a high status he obtained! Devotional worship to Rama is sublime!

The killer of dogs, the lowest of all, was lovingly embraced by Krishna.

See how the poor people praise him! His praise extends throughout the three worlds.

Ravidas further uses the examples of Ajamala, Pingula, Lodhia and the elephant (Gajendra) going to the Lord (Hari). All of these characters are Vaishnavas and their stories find mention in the Hindu Puranas.

Ajaamal, Pingulaa, Lodhia and the elephant went to Hari.

Even such evil-minded beings were emancipated. Why should you not also be saved, O Ravi Daas?

Ravidas even goes on to praise Vaishnavas in his compositions.

That family in which a Vaishnava is born

whether of high or low social class, whether rich or poor, shall have its pure fragrance spread all over the world.

Whether he is a Brahmin, a Vaisya, a Soodra, or a Kshatriya; whether he is a poet, an outcaste, or a filthy-minded person,

he becomes pure, by meditating on Bhagavan. He saves himself, and the families of both his parents.

Blessed is that village, and blessed is the place of his birth; blessed is his pure family, throughout all the worlds.

Let us move on and continue exposing Atri, who further writes;

“Further, Ramananda, who being upper caste rejected Guru Kabir from being his disciple; and Guru Ravidas stood throughout his life against injustice.”

Disgusting lie indeed. In his Doha, Kabir himself wrote about how the Brahmin sage Ramanand illumined him.

 I became suddenly revealed in Benares, and Ramananda illumined me.

Let us proceed. Atri writes –

“If anything, the Bhakti movement was close to Sikhism and emerged in 15th century in an opposition to Brahminical practices that had denied rights to lower castes. Guru Ravidas, Guru Kabir, Guru Namdev etc – all rejected those Brahminical practices and Brahmin supremacy. Guru Kabir didn’t even hesitate to call Brahmins as wretched criminals of all 4 yugas. He said, ‘Charon yug Brahman khote.’”

Another lie. The Bhakti movement saints did not reject Brahmanism or caste; they merely sought to redefine several terms whose meanings had been corrupted over time. For instance in Adi Granth, Nanak stated that a Brahmin is one who is immersed in worship and spiritual wisdom of God.

He alone is a Brahmin who takes his cleansing bath in the spiritual wisdom of God, and whose leafy-offerings in worship are the Glorious Praises of the Lord.

Such a position is hardly a ‘rejection of caste’; it is merely a recontextualisation and redefinition of the varnas. None of the Bhakti saints sought to abolish caste (varna), they merely stressed that it is one’s duties and qualities that define one’s caste and not one’s birth alone. Such a view is not inconsistent with the views of the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, Vedas and Puranas on varna.

Let us continue rebutting Atri’s accusations.

“Further in its articles, HEF writes, “His [Guru Ravidas’s] Bhajans (devotional songs) brought the greatest of spiritual ideas from the Vedas and Upanishads to the common masses.”

This is just another blatant lie spread by so-called upper castes and organisations like HEF. The best way to understand Guru Ravidas is from his writings where he rejects all vedas.”

In such an environment, Guru Ravidas, a cobbler and an untouchable himself, emerged as a formidable challenge to Brahminical hegemony and spoke for the rights of the downtrodden. He openly denounced all the brahminical scriptures like the Vedas, Puranas, Smritis, Upanishads etc., as these promote the hegemony of Brahmins and justify social inequality and exploitation of masses. As he says –

Charon ved kiya khandoti, Jan Ravidas kare dandoti
(I, Ravidas, proclaim all Vedas are worthless)”

Really? Where did that quote of Sant Ravidas proclaiming the Vedas as worthless come from? Some Dalit Christian forum? Atri is truly a shameless propagandist who has no qualms in lying through his teeth. Far from rejecting the Vedas and the Puranas, in Adi Granth, Sant Ravidas unequivocally calls the Puranas and the Vedas of Vyasa the ‘supreme truth’.

The many epics, the Puraanas and the Vedas are all composed out of the letters of the alphabet.

After careful thought, Vyaasa spoke the supreme truth, that there is nothing equal to the Lord’s Name.

The ‘Shastras, Puranas and Vedas of Brahma’ are positively referenced by Ravidas in another Shabad present in the Granth.  So much for Ravidas rejecting the existence of Hindu deities like Brahma!

The various Shaastras, Puranaas, and the Vedas of Brahma, are made up of thirty-four letters.

After deep contemplation, Vyaas spoke of the supreme objective; there is nothing equal to the Lord’s Name.

Atri even goes as far as to make nonsensical allegations that Brahmins ‘tortured and forced Namdev to leave Maharashtra’ (not corroborated by facts), killed Tukaram and Chokhamela (he seems to have lifted this from a Sambhaji Brigade site as these accusations are constantly made by bigots belonging to the organization), burnt Nandanar alive (yet another dastardly lie spread by Dravidian nationalists) and killed Ravidas at Chittor (this one seems to be a pretty original fabrication as I haven’t read this before). Atri also cites a very dubious and relatively modern-day source by some author called Satnam Singh as a ‘reference’ for his perfidious and disgusting claims.

 “Murder of Guru Ravidas

Torture of Dalit-Bahujans is not new, Manuwadi people have always tried to suppress, torture, tried to kill and loot Dalit-Bahujans. Whosoever had tried to raise his voice against the cruelty, evils of Brahmanism was either murdered or burnt alive. Guru Namdev was tortured and forced to leave Maharashtra; Guru Tukaram, Sant Chokha Mal were murdered, Sant Nandanar was burnt alive. Brahmins tried to kill Mahatma Phule; in the same way, Guru Ravidas was murdered at Chittorgarh by people who opposed him all the time. (Reference: ‘Guru Ravidas Ki Hatya Ke Parmanik Dastawez’ by Satnam Singh)”

The bigot Atri, who masquerades as a Dalit intellectual, makes another truly laughable claim that Mirabai was not a Krishna devotee.

“A large number of kings and queens became Guru Ravidas’ disciples and they accepted him as a ‘Guru’, not only a Guru but as ‘Raj-Guru’. Prominent among them were Raja Pipa, Raja Nagar Mal, Rewa Naresh, Rani Jhalan Bai, and Meera Bai (it’s wrongly projected by people that she was an admirer of king Krishna, but in reality she was a follower of Guru Ravidas).”

From where does this claim come from I wonder. This is such a ridiculous claim that is does not even need to be rebutted as Mirabai’s Krishna Bhakti is known to one and all.

We hope you enjoyed my takedown of the writer and hope you can share the article as much as possible.

Thanks for the read!

References:

  1. Adi Granth compiled by Guru Arjan Dev featuring compositions of various saints of medieval Bharat

Websites:

  1. Google Books

Did you find this article useful? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.