After much wandering I have come back home
Where the wheel of time and change turns not
Where the natives are rich in the wealth of the heart
Where all live ever free in the City of God

Bhagat Ravidas (1544 − 1603), poet and mystic, lived in Varanasi (Benares). Not much biographical information about him is available, except from his own compositions. We know he belonged to a low-caste family. He followed the family profession of tanning hides and making shoes. His contact with dead animals marked him as an untouchable in Indian society. Yet he is revered by both Sikhs and Hindus. Forty of his hymns are included in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Some believe he was initiated by Ramananda and that he had thousands of followers, including members of high castes, among them being Mirabai, the Rajput princess. Ravidas fought against discrimination based on caste, color, and creed, and taught the lessons of universal brotherhood, tolerance, and the message of love your neighbor. Because of his untouchable social status, Ravidas has become an important figure for oppressed castes in India today, his followers calling themselves Ravidasis.

the Poetry of Ravidas

The Name alone is the Truth, O Ravidas, It was true in the beginning and shall remain true in the end. It destroyeth all sins and sufferings, and is, indeed, the mine of all true Bliss. Steeped in meditation with one-pointed attention, practice devotion to God, O Ravidas. Let the automatic repetition be continued within, reverberating Sat Naam. When concentration merges into the true Name, and becomes one with It, then one obtains the Supreme Bliss. The lamp burns inside, O Ravidas, and Divine Bliss arises within. You are me, and I am You -- what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves. If I did not commit any sins, O Infinite Lord, how would You have acquired the name, 'Redeemer of sinners'? You are my Master, the Inner-knower, Searcher of hearts. The servant is known by his God, and the Lord and Master is known by His servant. Grant me the wisdom to worship and adore You with my body. O Ravi Daas, one who understands that the Lord is equally in all, is very rare. THE CITY OF GOD Grieve not is the name of my town. Pain and fear cannot enter there, Free from possessions, free from life’s taxes, Free from fear of disease and death After much wandering I have come back home Where the wheel of time and change turns not, And my Emperor rules, without a second or third, In Abadan, filled with love and wisdom. Where the natives are rich in the wealth of the heart, Where all live ever free in the City of God, Listen to Ravidas, just a cobbler: All who live here are my true friends. When I existed, You did not. Now You exist and I do not: as a storm lifts waves from water -- still they are water within water. O Madho, how can we describe this illusion? What we believe does not exist. A mighty king sleeps on his throne and in his dream becomes a beggar. Seeing his kingdom vanish before him he greatly mourns -- such is our condition. Like the tale of the serpent and the rope -- I know a little of the secret. Seeing many bracelets we think gold has many forms -- but it is always forever gold. In all things exists the Lord, assuming countless shapes; in each pore he plays and sports. Ravi Dass say, He is nearer than my hand. All that comes to pass is by His will alone. Upon seeing poverty people laugh and jeer, and such was my plight. But now I hold the powers of creation in the palm of my hand -- all because of Your mercy. You know I am nothing, O Ram, Destroyer of fear. All creatures seek Your refuge, O Prabhu, Fulfiller of desires. Those who find Your refuge suffer no more afflictions. Because of You, the high and the low -- all have gone across, escaping from the prison of this world. Ravi Dass says, The tale cannot be told, so why speak further? You are what You are. What metaphor can I possibly use to describe You? If You are a mountain, then I am a peacock. If You are the moon, then I am a partridge. O Madho, if You break from me, then I shall break with You. And if I break from You, to whom shall I then go? If You are the lamp, then I am the wick. If You are the shrine, then I am the pilgrim. My love for You is true and real. When I fell in love with You, I gave up my love for others. Wherever I go, there I seek to serve You. No other god can be a Master like You. By praising You, I cut Yama's noose. Yearning for love Ravi Dass loudly sings.

English translation by Nirmal Dass

The 41 hymns of Ravidas in the Guru Granth Sahib compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, can be found under: Raga - Siri(1), Gauri (5), Asa(6), Gujari(1), Sorath(7), Dhanasari(3), Jaitsari(1),Suhi(3), Bilaval(2),Gaund(2),Ramkali(1),Maru(2),Kedara(1), Bhairau(1),Basant(1), and Malhar(3). one with slight variations is given in both Rag Sorath and rag Maru.

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