Begumpura: The Casteless Utopia of Sant Ravidas

Magh Ekadashi- Sant Ravidas Jayanti Today
Sant Ravidas Jayanti
Sant Ravidas Jayanti

Sant Ravidas was a 14th-15th century non-brahmin saint who defied the caste system and gained popularity among all castes. His teachings were based on equality, humanity and rejection of brahmin supremacy. He is seen as a foil to the Brahminism of Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas and perpetuated anti-woman and anti-lower caste ideas.

Ravidas was born in 1377 in Banaras to parents from the Chamar community. Despite the rigid caste system, he began his spiritual journey at the banks of the Ganges. His spiritual journey took him to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and the Himalayas. His popularity among all castes is said to have caused discomfort among Brahmins.

The work of Tulsidas is believed to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the humanitarian and equality-driven work of Sant Ravidas, who passed away in 1528 in Banaras.

Brahmann mat pujiaye jo howe gunheen. Pujihin charan Chandhal ki jao howe gun parbin.

Compared to Tulsidas, Ravidas is seen as a direct challenge to the Brahminism of the former. Ravidas believed that one should not worship a Brahmin who is guilty of wrongdoing, but instead worship the feet of the outcaste who has virtue.

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Sant Ravidas, the poet-saint of the Bhakti movement, believed in the equality of all people regardless of their caste or social status. He challenged the caste system and the superiority of Brahmins. In his teachings, he emphasized that devotion to God and good deeds were the path to salvation, not one's birth or caste. His message of equality and compassion was a significant challenge to the prevailing social order and resonated with the lower castes and marginalized communities.

Aisa chahu raaj main, jahan mile saban ko ann,

Chhot baade sam basse, Ravidas rahe prasan.

Ravidas believed in Begumpura, a city without grief or discrimination based on caste or class. His teachings, compiled in Amritwani Satguru Ravidas Maharaj ji, still influence people today and are seen as a precursor to the ideas of socialism.

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The concept of Begumpura, a city free from grief and untouchability, was envisioned by the great saint and poet Sant Ravidas in the 14th-15th century, centuries before the rise of socialism in Europe. According to the text "Amritwani Satguru Ravidas Maharaj Ji," the saint desired a rule where everyone has access to food and is equal. This utopian city, where everyone is happy and there are no class or caste differences, is a testament to the saint's forward-thinking and compassionate worldview. Despite the fact that Ravidas passed away over four centuries before the advent of socialism, his vision of a world without poverty and inequality continues to inspire generations.

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