Saturday, 12 March 2011

Guru Ravidas: A Victim of Mistaken Identity

It pains me when the people enslave Guru Ravidas, the great visionary in the dark cell of spiritualism, Bhakti, miraculous hypocrisy and priesthood where there is no space and scope for the contemporary scientific and progressive thoughts for any super intellectual as Guru Ravidas has been. Doubtlessly, he had an immense power to postmortem the present not only for the contemporary requirements but to ensure the glorious future for the generations to come. That is why, I observe that Guru Ravidas has been and still is a victim of mistaken identity by both of his well wishers, admirers and his opponents as well.
I passed through some articles in different English and Hindi journals recently and found the same old wine in new bottles with a little change in flavor. I must say that Guru Ji has never been in support of temple profession and its culture. Still we are adorning him in temples following the same pattern of Manuvadies. Such actions simply indicate that we are heading to the same old beaten track of spiritualism and Bhakti which is the root cause of our miseries. Here man can do nothing by his own efforts and every thing is done either by fate or by gods and goddesses. Simply the difference is that we are heading the same way with our different deity i.e. Guru Ravidas.
If we do not learn the lesson from our saints, we will disown ourselves from the glorious past of Aajivakas the followers of Charvaks/Lokayats philosophy and Buddha as well. The chain does not end here; we will disown ourselves from the right of being Adi-dharmi and moolniwasi. The need of today is to make these philosophies as a part of our day to day life to face the contemporary challenges. Dr. Ambedkar had done the same by breaking the shackles of blind follower ship that enabled him to think freely and independently to postmortem everything to channelise his actions in appropriate direction. Undoubtedly, this all made him Baba Saheb whose guidance inspires us to sharpen our individuality for the unity of world citizenship.
The need of today is to know the real sprit of our heroes so that we may follow them in appropriate perspective and save our energies not to go wasted in wrong direction. In this series, the first food of my thought is to share what I understand Guru Ravidas. As far as the question of Bhakti is concerned, it seems to me unfair to coin the term Bhakt (devotee) for him because he did not practice/follow any traditional rituals set by the religious masters for Bhakti through different religious literatures of their own. On the contrary, Guru Ji condemned the traditional concept of Bhakti as Chakh vihin kar taari chaltu hai, tinhi na us bhuj deeje. He compares Bhakts with the blind persons who are bound to follow the beaten track by making a chain of their hands to make their way. The same is done by Bhakts blindly in following their predecessors of Bhakti including their deities to escape from the worldly activities and challenges as well. They do not have any thing of their own to pave the way for the development and emancipation of the society and mankind.
Secondly, his Bhakti is not a Bhakti at all but worldly activities to channelise his internal and external resources to the existing social, political, economic and intellectual requirements. It is very close to the philosophy of Aajivakas, the follower of Charvaks/Lokayats philosophy that is presently assimilated in Buddhist philosophy to a remarkable extent. It (Bhakti) is totally free from the escapist approach of traditional Bhakti of any religions and keeps the common folk in the centre of the worldly activities to face the contemporary challenges, make the ways of their own and to contribute to the peace, progress and prosperity process of the other individuals, the society and ultimately the humanity where there is no space for selfishness.
Guru Ji’s like Aajivakas gives priority to the dignity of labour which is contrary to Parjivi Sanskriti (the culture that survives on others’ labour and earnings). We find absolutely a new dimension to Bhakti as Saram ko EEsar jani ke, jau poojhin din rain, Raidas timahin sansar mein, sada milihin such chain.’ It clears the mist squarely and makes every thing crystal clear. He condemns all traditional concept of Bhakti where a person surrenders himself to the mercy or slavery of his deity for the sake of salvation (Moksha), the ultimate goal of being a human being to avoid the rebirth on the earth where the birth of human being is supposed to be full of sorrows and sufferings. In Bhakti, the main enterprise of a person is only prayer with no output but Guru Ji gives top priority to the work that is essential for the survival of the individual, family and society.
The question of our saints’ (as Guru Ravidas) deity being formless gives great strength and liberty for the scientific and progressive thoughts not only to the saints but the common masses as well. To illustrate the fact, his verse Paradheen pap hai jan lehu re meet, ‘Raidas’ das pradheen so kaun kare hai preet’ reflects his philosophy of freedom that saves us from the mental and physical slavery of any thought/ person/ book/ deity etc. and everybody has ample scope to use his brain freely to find amicable solutions of even complicated issues of today’s world which is not possible to find always in any of the traditional religious literatures or rituals.
Guru Ji bluntly condemns the existing deities and sees the whole world in global perspective. He signifies that there is no Ram as God in our beliefs and civilization as is worshiped by Hindus. His concept of Ram is unique; it is not the son of king Dashartha. He proclaims it in his verse as ‘Raidas hamaro Ram ji, Dasharath kari sut naahi, Ram hamaoo rami, vishva kutumbh maahi’ which brings the world into a bigger unity of global village where the whole earth and universe is the sole concern of all the world citizens irrespective of race, caste, religion and the political boundaries of different countries.
In a single stroke Guru Ji ensures protection for the Shambhukas of today who dare to choose the profession of their choice and no Maryada-puroshottam (a man of principles and discipline as Ram is falsely advertised) has any privilege of killing such innocents who go beyond the Brahminical social order that is based on Verna and rigid caste system. It would be free from error if I claim that the saints could not have touched those heights of thoughts and intellectuality what they did, if they had their rein of thought in the hands of traditional deities in different forms with rigid and high chambers to enslave the human minds.
I strongly disagree with the view that Guru Ji imitated the so called high caste Hindus/priests about wearing Dhoti (a long cloth wrapped round the waist as substitute of pant), Kurta (a long shirt reaching almost to the knees), Janeue (sacred thread) and Tilak (smear of red substance in the centre of forehead as a mark of sanctity). He clearly calls the costume and other symbols of priesthood as Pakhand (hypocrisy) as Mathe tilak haath jap mala, Jag Thagne koon swang banaya. In the eyes of Guru Ji, this all is nothing but a strategically adopted tool to cheat/befool the masses to satisfy the selfish ends of the so called representatives of God.
We must not forget that Guru Ji was a social revolutionary and his wearing of certain type of clothes/dress might be a symbol of his challenge to the dress monopoly of caste Hindus of that period. It had nothing to do with imitation to have the feeling of superiority by Guru Ji. In support of the fact, let us have a look on some illustrations of 21st century. In spite of being citizen of independent India, in some parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, the people of oppressed classes still have restrictions in wearing good clothes; living in brick houses and not allowing the bridegrooms to sit on the mare to carry on the marriage procession.
Another issue of discussion is that these days some terms are used mindlessly even by some of our scholars. Sanskritisation is one of them. Generally, for the sake of civilized language, parliamentary language is expected. But today, the standard of language and activities of the parliament and state assemblies declined to such a degree that there is no such demand made these days. Now the question arises when Guru Ji condemns and calls the costumes of the priest class as Pakhand (hypocrisy) in his verses, how can he adopt that kind of dress for Sanskritisation? How can he be a victim of double standard and consider it a symbol of Sanskritisation? We need to consider a little over such issues before reaching any conclusion. If we are not conscious to such miner issues, we will not only harm the image of our heroes but also give wrong message to the common man unknowingly.
Secondly, we find no lust of upward mobility in Guru Ji’s philosophy through Sanskritisation. He was well aware of the caste prejudices and the damages that it was causing to the Indian society. His verse is clear witness of the fact as ‘Jat-jat mein jat hai, jyon kelan mein pat, Raidas na manushaya jud sakhen jyon lo jat mein jat’ but decisively he calls himself as ‘Khalas Chamara’. Needless to say that he could have quit his work of shoe making if he was lured by Sanskritisation. He was born; it seems to condemn the corrupt practice of caste and its culture bluntly. He never considers the so called Sanskritized society as superior to the oppressed (moolniwasies/Aajivakas) of this land. So the question of imitating does not arise for any kind of Sanskritisation. If we have a glance over it logically through the eyes of Guru Ji, it can be undoubtedly a downward mobility or De- Sanskritisation and nothing else.
Indeed this era (Bhakti Kal) was of blindness of thought, insight and helplessness where Islam was in a dominating state and Hinduism on its back foot was seeking shelter for its defense. As we know well, the wind can blow no where from the North Pole if not to the south. The same was the state of affair in era of prayer (Bhakti) and they were finding consolation in surrender to their deity. Remarkably, the saints like Guru Ji, and Kabir were comfortable as they did not have much to loss but had plenteous to achieve. That is why, Guru Ji, a great pioneer of this social renaissance succeeded in giving a logical and scientific beam to the dark era of helplessness.
Conclusively, it can be said that Guru Ji was not a Bhakt and whatever he did was for the social, political, economical and religious inclusion of the oppressed and to intimidate the monopoly of the haves against the have-nots. The elements as Guru Ji took out the sacred thread by piercing his chest and the river Ganga appeared in human form to return golden bangles and so on are nothing but the vicious intrusion of thought and a part of a planned conspiracy to dump Guru Ji’s revolutionary elements of his philosophy. Guru Ji’s philosophy is not confined to the oppressed but has a universal concern as Aisa chaaho raj mein, jahan milen saban ko ann, Chot- bado sab sam basai, Raidas rahe prasann. Let’s bring guru ji out of the conspiracy of Bhakti and pay true tribute to the great visionary for his service to humanity.

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