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Guru Ravidas: a man of God

Guru Ravidas lived a very simple life as a cobbler, which he termed the seva God had assigned to him.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2007 19:11 IST

Guru Ravidas was one of the greatest spiritual masters to have blessed India. He lived a very simple life as a maker and mender of shoes, which he termed the seva God had assigned to him. Not surprisingly, he was very good at his work.

Legend has it that one day it was a very auspicious date for bathing in the holy Ganga at Varanasi. Droves of people came to the ghats. A panditji walked past Ravidas, flaunting two huge bangles of gold. They were oversized, as he had insisted on extracting his price from a landowner, to reserve a place in Swarga for his departed father.

He warned Guru Ravidas that the most auspicious time for bathing would be over in the next two hours and so Ravidas should close his business for the day to avail of the opportunity.

Guru Ravidas smiled. “I cannot stop my work today. There are so many devotees passing by and many may need their footwear repaired. I have decided to do all work free today, as a service to devotees, who have shown so much faith and walked miles and miles”. The pandit laughed and went off. The shadows lengthened and suddenly Ravidas heard a wailing and saw the same Panditji weeping and carried prostrate on a cot. His heavy bangles had slipped off into the Ganga and he was made ill with grief. ‘Is that all the reason for this wailing?’, the Guru asked , ‘Two trinkets of metal?’ The Guru dipped his hand in the wooden bowl (kathauta) containing the water that he used to soften up leather, and lo, produced the two lost bangles!

As the import of the miracle sank into the minds and hearts of people, the panditji realised that here was a true man of God, whose touch had made the water of the kathauta into Gangajal. From that day we have the saying “Man changa to kathaut mein Ganga”. (If the mind/heart is good, then it effects transformative magic, or, the humblest are the highest, if pure-hearted).

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