Ultimate Place of Pilgrimage

Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Mandir Varanasi

It has become a cherished dream of followers of Guru Ravidass Ji from the world over to pay their obeisance at Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Mandir at Seer Goverdhanpur Varanasi at least once in their life. They now view this Mandir as their religious headquarters. Although Guru Ravidass Ji lived in the city of Varanasi for more than 151 years, there did not exist any place devoted to his memory untill the sixties of the twentieth century. The reasons were more of a social nature than the historical or religious ones.

An overwhelming majority of the people throughout the world believe in God and as a corollary follow one religion or another. Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion in India. It has a rich tradition of great philosophical thought. Unfortunately the Chaturavarna-system in Hindu religion is also almost as old as the religion itself. It is supposed to be based on one Shloka known as “Purush Sukta” in the Rig Veda-the oldest scripture of the Hindu religion. According to this system the Hindu society was divided in four castes. In the initial stages it was divided according to one's profession, but later the division became rigid based on birth alone, mainly because of the laws given by Manu for the governance of society. The people belonging to four castes were, as per Dr. Ambedkar, like people living in four vertical rooms one above the other, not connected by any stairs. The caste system suffered some setback with the emergence of Buddhism in India, but Buddhism faded from India with the resurgence of Hinduism as a result Shankracharya’s efforts. Therefore the caste system became deeply rooted again. According to this system, the people of the top Varna i.e. the Brahmins alone were having worship rights. People of the fourth Varna i.e. Shudras were strictly prohibited from performing any kind of worship. It was under such prevailing circumstances that some great saints belonging to the fourth Varna revolted against the prevailing system. They proved with their devotion that God is pleased with those who have true faith in Him & worship Him from their hearts. Saints of this era such as Satgur Namdev, Satgur Kabir Sahib and Guru Ravidass all had to face the ire of higher caste Brahmins for their devotion to God, but all of them not only overcame this opposition, but they also became famous during their lifetime itself.

Varanasi is known to be the city of Lord Shiva. It was this city where two great saints of Bhakti Movement i.e. Satguru Kabir & Shri Guru Ravidass Ji were born. Shri Guru Ravidass Ji was born in the year 1377 AD i.e. Bikrami Samvat 1433 (widely accepted by most scholars & institutions) to father Shri Santokh Dass Ji and Mother Kalsa Devi Ji in a humble family. Guru Ravidass Ji exhibited spiritual traits from childhood itself. His father married him at any early age. He started doing his ancestral profession i.e. making leather shoes.

He started propagating these spiritual ideas among the people. His popularity increased day by day. Soon Kings and Queens of different princely states became his disciples. Raja Nagar Mal of Banaras (Varanasi), Rani Jhalanbai and Miranbai of Chittaur were some of the well-known disciples of Guru Ji. Guru Ravidass Ji devoted his attention to preaching equality and brotherhood of humankind. His efforts were coupled by his contemporary saint in Banaras (Varanasi) Satguru Kabir Ji.

There is a detailed account of the kind of beautiful palaces in which Shri Guru Ravidass Ji used to live in the book “Anant Dass ki Parchayan” when Rani Jhalanbai came to meet Guru Ji. But after the life of Guru Ji no trace of any place accredited to the memory of Guru Ji was found in Varanasi where he is believed to have lived for about 151 years. This remains a mystery of history.

The sacred task of perpetuating the memory of Guru Ji at Varanasi and giving a befitting memorial in his name was undertaken by the spiritual, visionary & revolutionary saint Shri 108 Sant Sarwan Dass Ji of Dera Sachkhand Ballan. He made strenuous efforts to make Bani (sacred writings) of Guru Ravidass Ji popular among the socially backward and downtrodden people. He thought his job to be incomplete until the place where Guru Ravidass Ji gave the sermon of Begumpura was traced out and a suitable monument built there. Swami Sarwan Dass Ji assigned this task to a selected group of people under the guidance of Sant Hari Dass Ji. The group went to Varanasi and surveyed the area near the Banaras Hindu University. The imlee tree and other indicators confirmed a location in village Seer Goverdhanpur, in the outskirts of Varanasi near BHU (Banaras Hindu University), as the birthplace of Guru Ravidass Ji. The plot of land was purchased and no time was lost to start construction of an impressive temple. The foundation stone of this Mandir was laid on Monday the 14th June 1965 on Ashad Sankranti day by Sant Hari Dass Ji, along with a large number of devotees of Dera Bal, specially deputed by Sant Sarwan Dass Ji for the purpose.

Once the foundation stone was laid, there was no looking back. A large number of sewadars were sent to Varanasi under the stewardship of Sant Garib Dass Ji to undertake and complete the construction. The place was undeveloped, without an approach passage and it was a Herculean task to manually carry construction material to the site from a considerable distance. Notwithstanding the adverse conditions, the Sewadars devotion to the Guru, dedication, the cause and their aspirations surmounted all this. In this endeavor, help came from public at large from within as well as from outside the country. The Guru’s devotees residing in U.K. and other foreign countries were also keen to see the project completed and contributed according to their respective individual capacities. The first phase of the temple was completed in 1972. Many Saints representing the Shri Guru Ravidass Sadhu Sampardai Society of Punjab accompanied Sant Garib Dass Ji to Varanasi for the inauguration ceremony. A Murti of Guru Ravidass Ji was installed in the Mandir on this occasion. Simultaneously a Murti of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji was installed in the Mandir as a token of recognition of his contribution in giving our community an elegant Mandir at the birthplace of Guru Ravidass Ji.

In order to manage the multifarious affairs of this Mandir a Trust by the name “Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Public Charitable Trust” was constituted with the Head Office at Dera Sant Sarwan Dass Ji, Vill. & P.O. Bal, Distt. Jalandhar and Branch Office at Janam Asthan Mandir, Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi UP. Till date the Trust is managing the affairs of the Mandir and its associated activities. It has become a mission for the saints of Dera Sachkhand Ballan to develop in every possible way this Janam Asthan Mandir so that it acquires the status and magnificence which a Mandir at the birthplace of Guru Ravidass Ji deserves. The Trust undertook additional construction work at the Mandir in the year 1993 and the completion of second phase of the Mandir culminated in the installation of a golden Kalash, atop the Mandir dome on 7th April, 1994 by Babu Kanshi Ram Ji (President of Bhajun Samaj Party), in the presence of Sant Garib Dass Ji and a large number of devotees.

Shri 108 Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Trust (Regd.) U.K. expressed the desire of having a monumental Gate in the memory of Guru Ravidass Ji in Varanasi City at some prominent road leading to the Mandir so as to perpetuate the memory of Guru Ji. This project was again undertaken by Mandir Trust under the Chairmanship of Sant Niranjan Dass Ji. A huge Gate at Lanka Crossing was built in a very short period. It is a matter of great pride for our community that the gate was inaugurated by the then Honourable President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan on 16th July, 1998. A large number of Guru Ji’s devotees and saints from Punjab and other states were present on the occasion along with Sant Niranjan Dass Ji, Sant Rama Nand Ji and Sant Surinder Dass Ji.

In order to cater to the convenience of pilgrims to the Mandir, the Trust has acquired an Ashram for their stay. Now a new four-storey building has been constructed in this complex-each storey having 11 rooms with attached bathrooms. The Trust has also built a huge Langar hall, for serving free food to visitors to the Mandir.

With the growing popularity of this Mandir and also keeping in view the increasing number of pilgrims, the U.P. Government also thought of raising suitable memorials for Guru Ravidass Ji in the city of Banaras. It has built a beautiful Shri Guru Ravidass park and stone sculpture of Guru Ravidass Ji at a prominent place at the river “Ganga”. A large Guru Ravidass Ghat has also been built at this place. The new bridge over Ganga near the Mandir has been named Shri Guru Ravidass Setu.

All the followers of Guru Ravidass Ji throughout the world will remain indebted to Sant Sarwan Dass Ji and his successor Saints of Dera Sachkhand Ballan for giving them this place of pilgrimage. People visit this temple throughout the year, but they consider it a privilege if they can make this pilgrimage on the occasion of Birthday celebrations of Guru Ji. People in very large number from all states of India as well as from many foreign countries assemble on this occasion to pay their obeisance. A special train is run from Jalandhar to Varanasi on the occasion.

The Janam Asthan Mandir of Guru Ji at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi has now acquired the status of Begumpura (serenity) for Guru Ji’s followers and has become an Ultimate Place of Pilgrimage for them.