Bhagat Ravidaas jee mahaaraaj, poet and Divine mystic, was born on 24th February 1378CE to Bhai Maan Daas jee and Mata Dhurbinia jee. They lived near the city of Varanasi. Bhagat jee was born in a so-called low-caste family of "Chamaars", whose profession was making leather and shoes. Gradually he started spending most of his time in the sangat (company) of saints and Sadhus and built himself a thatched hut wherein he received and entertained wandering holy people. Many stories became current about Bhagat jee's simplicity and holy nature.
According to general belief, he was a follower of Bhagat Swami Ramanand jee sahib. In spite of his so-called low caste, Bhagat Ravidaas jee rose to a position of great honour through a life of simplicity and piety. He never felt ashamed of his birth (into a so-called low caste) and fearlessly faced the Panddits (Hindu scholars), who were proud of their high caste. He told them that spiritual greatness is achieved through a loving devotion to Waheguru and the attainment of Waheguru's grace. Bhagat jee says in Gurbani:
ਨਾਗਰ ਜਨਾਂ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਬਿਖਿਆਤ ਚੰਮਾਰੰ ॥
naagar janaaN meree jaat bikhi-aat chamaaraN.
O people of the town, I am obviously a 'Chamaar', a shoe-maker.
ਰਿਦੈ ਰਾਮ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗੁਨ ਸਾਰੰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ridai raam gobind gun saaraN. 1. rahaa-o.
Within my mind, I contemplate the Pervading Waheguru and meditate on virtues of the world-Lord. Pause.
In the course of his spiritual quest, he reached a stage when he discarded images and idols and turned to the worship of the One Supreme Being, Waheguru. He reached God-consciousness (Brahm-Gyaan) and experienced Waheguru. Through Bhagat jee Gurbani was revealed. Forty of Bhagat jee's shabads (hymns) have been incorporated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee by Guru Arjan Dev jee.
Bhagat Ravidaas jee travelled fairly widely and visited Rajastan, Gujrat, Andhdra Pradesh, Maharashtra besides a number of places in the northern India such as Prayab, Mathura, Brindavan Hardwar, Gurgaon and Multan. At most of these places, there are monuments honouring his memory. In his lifetime, he had thousands of followers, including members of high castes, among them being the Rajput princess called 'Mirabai'.
Bhagat Ravidaas jee acknowledged that Waheguru all-powerful and is all-pervading. According to Bhagat jee, the human soul is only a particle of the Divine; the difference between the two is like the difference between Gold and the ornament, the water and the wave:
ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥
tohee mohee, mohee tohee, antar kaisaa.
You are me, and I am You-what is the difference between us?
ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥
kanak katik, jal tarang jaisaa. 1.
We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves. 1.
Message from Teachings:
Bhagat jee rejects distinctions between man and man on the basis of caste or creed, for, as he says, in the world beyond no such differentiations will be acknowledged. Bhagat Jee illustrates in Gurbani that the ultimate end of human life is to become enlightend to realise Waheguru, therefore, one should live life meditating and remembering Waheguru, giving up blind ritualism and blind faith.
Birth in a so-called "low caste" or having low social status is no hindrance in the way to spiritual development. The only condition required in having the experiencing Waheguru is freedom from duality (i.e. giving up the distinction of "I" and "You", and instead realising that "I" is an illusion and that really it is all Waheguru).