Nishan Sahib
of Ravidassia Dharam

Speech for House of Lords 2008, England

Jai Gurdev

His Holiness Shri 108 Sant Niranjan Dass Ji,

Hon’ble Members of Parliament, Members of Shri Guru Ravidass International Organisation for Human Rights, Members of Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Trust UK, distinguished guests, ladies & gentlemen, it gives me immense pleasure on being present in this august gathering which has assembled here to celebrate six hundred and thirty first birthday of our revered Guru Shri Guru Ravidass Ji. It is a matter of great pleasure for the followers of Guru Ji all over the world that these celebrations are being held in the parliament building of this great nation & world’s oldest democracy. I thank the members of the International Organisation for Human Rights that they have given us the opportunity to be amongst you on this historic occasion.

The Bani of Guru Ravidass Ji is a vast ocean on spiritual, ethical and social philosophy. Time does not permit me to go in for a detailed discourse, but I will touch briefly about what he has said about God. He believed that God can be achieved only though “Naam” i.e. a practice of meditation through recitation of His Name. Major portion of his teachings is devoted to the importance of “Naam” in our lives.

His famous composition is known as Aarti:-

Naam(u) tero aarti majan(u) muraare. Har(i) ke naam bin jhoothe sagal paasaare (Rahaao).
Naam tero aasno naam tero ursaa Naam(u) teraa kesro le chhitkaare. Naam(u) teraa ambula Naam(u) tero chandno Ghs(i) jape Naam(u) le tujhie kao chaare.
Naam(u) tero deeva Naam(u) tero baati Naam(u) tero tel(u) le maah(i) pasaare. Naam(u) tere kee jot(i) lagaaie Bhaeo ujhiaaro bhawan saglaare.
Naam(u) tero taagaa Naam(u) phool maalaa Bhaar athaarah sagal joothare. Tero kia tojhh(i) kia arpo(u) Naam(u) tera tujhie chawar dhoolaare.
Das athaa athsathe chaare khaanee Iihai vartan(i) hai sagal sansare. Keh Ravidass Naam(u) tero Aarti, Satnaam(u) hai har(i) bhog tuhaare.

In this Aarti Shri Guru Ravidass Ji lays the stress on the name of God. He visulises God in all the articles meant for prayer when he says that “Your Name is my prayer mat, and Your Name is the stone to grind the sandalwood. Your Name is the saffron which I sprinkle in offering to You. Your Name is the water, and Your Name is the sandalwood. The chanting of Your Name is the grinding of the sandalwood which I offer to You. Your Name is the lamp, and Your Name is the wick. Your Name is the oil I pour into it. Your Name is the light applied to this lamp, which enlightens and illuminates the entire world. Your Name is the thread, and Your Name is the garland of flowers. The eighteen types of vegetation from which people offer flowers are all too impure as compared to your Name. Why should I offer to You, that which You Yourself created? Your Name is the Chaur, which I wave over You. The whole world is engrossed in the eighteen Puraanas, the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, and the four sources of creation. Says Ravi Daas, Your Name is my Aartee, my lamp-lit worship-service. The True Name, Sat Naam, is the purest kind of food which I offer to You.

During the times of Guru Ji that is fourteenth Century, worship of God was considered the right of only higher caste Hindus and the Shudras who belonged to the fourth caste as per Varna system, were denied this right. But Guru Ravidass showed that God can be realised by anybody irrespective of his/her caste.

Nagar Jna Meri Jati Bikhyaat Chamar |
Ridhey Ram Gobind Gun Saar ||

He addresses the people of the town and tells them “Oh the people of this town-it is a well known fact that I belong to the Chamar caste, which is considered very low, but I always sing the praise of God in my heart (Therefore I no longer remain of low caste)
He further says :-

Meri Jaat Kut Bandla Dhor Dhowanta Nithi Banaras Aas Passa |
Ab Biper Pradhan Tihi Karhe Dhandout Teri Naam Sarnai Ravidass Dassa ||

The people of my caste are all leather-workers. They still go around Benares removing the dead cattle. But now Ravidass has taken shelter in Your Name, therefore the ritualistic Brahmins bow in reverence before Your son. He explains the importance of “Har” as simply as:-

Har Har Har Har Har Har Harey |
Har Simrat Jan Gaye Nistar Tarey ||

that is by reciting Har Har Har Har Har Har Harey while meditating on God the saints & sinners achieve salvation. Finally he spells out the way for the realisation of God

Milat Pyaro Praan Naath Kavan Bhagat Te |
Sadh Sangat Pai Param Gatey || Rahao ||

He asks what sort of devotional worship will lead me to meet my Beloved, the Lord of my breath of life? And the reply is that “it is through the Saadh Sangat that is the Company of the Holy men, I have obtained the supreme status.

He stresses the importance of keeping company with good and holy people when he says:-

Saadh Sangat Mil Rahiye Madho Jaisey Madhup Makhira

That is I seek to live in the Company of the Saints, like the bee with its honey.

Shri Guru Ravidass Ji proved during his lifetime itself that worship & realization of God is not limited only to the high caste people-a belief sanctified by the religious code given at that time by the Hindu scriptures. He had to fight against all odds to emphasise the equality of mankind. To perpetuate the memory of such a great saint whose birthday we are celebrating today, Swami Sarwan Dass Ji Maharaj undertook the onerous and arduous task of building a temple at his birthplace at Seer Govardhanpur Varanasi. His successor saints of Dera Sachkhand Bal, Distt. Jalandhar continued this task with a sense of commitment and complete dedication. Due to these efforts, today this temple has developed into a magnificent temple and the followers of Guru Ravidass Ji from all over the world consider it a privilege if they can undertake a pilgrimage to this temple in their lifetime. This temple has become the “Ultimate Place of Pilgrimage” for them. Being the religious headquarter of our community, they aspire to bring it to the same status as the Golden Temple of Sikh Religion or for that matter headquarter of any other religion. I am sure, because of the love of all the followers of Guru Ji from all over the world, one day this temple will also get bedecked with gold so that it attainsthe glory it deserves. It is not a very big task if all organisations running in the name of Guru Ravidass Ji unite in this effort. But it is imperative that all such organisations complement each other’s efforts in this direction.