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Guru Ravidas
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Introduction

SHRI GURU RAVIDASS JI was born in the fifteenth century at KANSHI (BANARAS) in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. His birthday comes every year at PURAN MASHI in the month of MAGH. His mother's name was MATA KALSI JI and his father's name was BABA SANTOKH DASS JI.

Guru Ravidass Ji was born in a humble family which was considered untouchable as per the social order prevailing at that time in Hindu society. Guru Ji spearheaded the fight against man-made discrimination based on caste, colour or creed and preached the lofty ideas of socialism, secularism, equality and fraternity.

From very childhood, he was very much devoted to worship Real God. The caste Brahmans created many problems for him. Guru Ji had to appear before King Nagarmal so many times. In the end, the King was convinced and became a follower of Guru Ravidass Ji.

Guru Ravidass Ji taught the lessons of universal brotherhood, tolerance, message of love your neighbour, which got more importance in today's world.

Guru Ravidass Ji fulfilled Guru Nanak Dev Ji's request by donating old manuscripts, which contained a collection of Guru Ravidass Ji's verses and poems. The earliest collection of these poems are available in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. There are 41 verses of Guru Ravidass Ji in the Sikh Holy Book, Guru Granth Sahib.

It is said that Guru Ravidass Ji disappeared from the world, leaving behind only his footprints. Some believe that Guru Ravidass Ji lived in banaras during his last days, dying a natural death at the age of 126 years.

According to historians, Ravidas was born on 15 January 1377 and according to the Indian calendar, Sunday Sukhal Falgin Parvithta in 1433. His birthplace is located in the Uttar Pradesh state in India, in the city of Varanasi. The locality was known as Mandhuadhe. The community was known as ‘Kutvandla’, one of the Shudra communities. Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan also known as Begampura, at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi, India is the ultimate place of pilgrimage for the followers of Ravidas today.

Leaders
Most Ravidasi devotees are aligned with a Sant who mentors them on their spiritual path, providing personalised mantras and advice. A very well known Sant by the name of Sant Rama Nand Ji was murdered in Vienna recently, he was well known for his highly personal style of mentoring, including his knowledge of each individual devotee's name worldwide.

The head of the Ravidasi Dharam, known as the Gaddi Nasheen is Sant Niranjan Dass Ji alongside Sant Garib Dass Ji. Former leaders include Sant Hari Dass Ji, Sant Sarwan Dass Ji and Sant Baba Pippal Dass Ji.

Festival
The birthday of Ravidass (Shri Guru Ravidass Jayanti)on February 16 is celebrated every year. It is the annual focal point for Ravidasis. On the day there is an Path of Sri Guru Ravidass Amritbani read, the Har nishaan is changed ceremonially, and there is a special arti and a Nagar Kirtan procession bearing his portrait are taken out to the accompaniment of music through the streets of the temple locality.

Slogans and chants
The following slogans have been used in Ravidassia community worship since around 1490 CE, and are still used today:

“Jo Bole So Nirbhey” – “Ravidassia Dharma Ki Jai”.
“Jo Bole So Nirbhey" – Sadh Sangat Ki Jai”.
“Jo Bole So Nirbhey" – Satguru Ravidass Maharaj Ki Jai”.