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Saints and sages have long called India their home. Some saint or prophet appears on the scene whenever human morality or social life begins to deteriorate. Ravidas was one of these saints who gave the Hindu social structure new vigour and vitality.
Spirituality and Swami
Saint Ravidas was born in Banaras, the holy city of Hindus, in 1377. During school, little Ravidas was acquainted with the ills of society and casteism and very soon he dropped out. He would often sit alone and ponder as if in deep samadhi. Ravidas found material life meaningless and was only interested in matters related to the spirit. He was eager to obtain spiritual knowledge and became a disciple of Swami Ramanand. Swami’s preaching significantly influenced him and he transformed greatly.
These sermons taught him the true meaning of life and ancient Indian culture. Once the guru was satisfied with Ravidas, he asked his disciple to return home and lead a peaceful life. However, Ravidas was not content and felt as if something was missing. He yearned for more spiritual knowledge, so he beautified and dedicated an area of the forest for meditation.
The Hunter and the Deer
One day when Ravidas was meditating, a movement in the bushes caught his attention. A doe trapped in a hunter’s snare was struggling to escape. As the hunter came forward, the deer silently pleaded to let her go and feed her young ones. The three fawns and the mother were a painful picture of misery and helplessness. The hunter remained void of any pity or kindness.
The sight melted Ravidas’ heart with pity and he felt obliged to intervene and save the poor animals. He approached the hunter and spoke kind words of wisdom and compassion. He told the hunter to be generous and merciful and never cause anyone pain. The hunter was humbled by the kind words of saint Ravidas.
All evil thoughts were eliminated from the hunter’s mind. Call it a miracle, for a brief meeting with the saint, changed the hunter for good. The killer’s heart was filled with compassion and he promised to never cause harm to anyone and lead a good life.
Saint Ravidas was a humble man and never boasted of his wisdom. His spiritual message appealed to every heart. He believed in equality for all and opposed discrimination based on caste, colour and so on. He taught that untouchability is a sin to humanity. His spirit remained untouched by the stresses of the material world.