Sant Ravidas and Goddess Ganga: A Tale of true Devotion and Enlightenment

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Away from the bustle of the world, Ravidas found peace in the quiet village that lay close to Varanasi. Placed on the dusty road that led to the holy River Ganga, he stood resolutely waiting for the people to arrive. Though he had great respect for Mother Ganga, he was afraid to get near her holy waters. Having been raised as a cobbler, he was burdened with the social mark of untouchability and a ban on touching the river’s sacred currents. So, he used to fill his heart with devotion by worshipping Ganga Maiya from a distance.

A learned Brahman once walked the Ganga route on a day. As soon as he started his journey he slippers broke up. Gazing along the side of the road, he caught sight of Ravidas, a cobbler who exuded a serene dignity. He knelt down to him and asked him to repair his shattered slippers. Ravidas nodded without hesitation, and demonstrated his art with care and accuracy. The Brahman, full of gratitude, held out a coin as an appreciation.

However, he humbly turned down the offer. He said, “I ask for no payment. It’s enough that I can help someone as wise and devoted as you.”

The Brahman was not deterred and continued to insist on giving what was required. He yielded to the Brahman, “Please, on my behalf, present this coin to Ganga Maiya. I, however, might not go right up to her. Please do me this favor. The Brahman nodded and left.

Following ablutions and devotions, the Brahman recalled the coin bestowed by Ravidas. With reverence, he cast the coin into the waters, whispering, “Mother, this coin is from the cobbler.”

Suddenly from the depths emerged two ethereal hands, adorned with bangles, extending in reverence to receive the coin. In return, a resplendent bracelet materialized, bestowed upon the Brahman. Amidst the shimmering waters, a voice of a lady resounded, “I accept this offering from my devotee Ravidas. Bestow upon him this bracelet, a token of my grace.” Dumbfounded, the Brahman beheld the radiant adornment within his grasp.

Though the Brahman harbored no malice, temptation seized his heart. How would Ravidas discern the gift bestowed by Ganga Maiya? What use had he for such finery? Thus, he resolved to bestow the bracelet upon his wife. On reaching home he gifted it to his wife. Her eyes alight with delight, she coveted the bracelet’s splendor. Yet, shrouded in doubt, she surmised its provenance and fearing the accusations of theft she urged her husband to present the bracelet to the king.

Upon making this decision, he proceeded to the palace and presented it to the monarch. After accepting the offering with grace, the king bestowed money and favor onto the Brahman. He later gave it to the queen. She craved for its equivalent after realizing how beautiful the bracelet was. “One more,” she said, “I desire the matching adornment for my other wrist.” When faced with a difficult situation, the Brahman knelt before Ravidas in desperation. Ignorant of the plea, Ravidas picked him up off the ground.

With a voice full of desperation, the Brahman opened up. “Forgive me, Ravidas; the threads of my existence are unraveling.” A deep sense of impending tragedy overcame him because the matching bracelet was missing. His urgent plea was heard, and he acknowledged that the one person who could save him was Ravidas. He pleaded with him, “Retrieve the precious jewelry from the embrace of Maiya Ganga; only you can avert the impending catastrophe that looms over my life.”

Ravidas and GangaJi

In reverent supplication, Ravidas closed his eyes, beseeching the divine. Peering into the murky waters of a humble basin, he prayed, “Mother, grant the other bracelet and spare this Brahman.” Miraculously, within the sullied waters, a glimmering bracelet surfaced. The manifestation of Ganga Maiya’s grace, bestowed upon Ravidas for the Brahman.

Yet, witnessing this spectacle, the Brahman underwent metamorphosis. Enthralled by Ravidas’s unwavering devotion, enlightenment dawned upon him. Ravidas, possessed the power to beckon the divine with but a whisper, yet remained tethered to simplicity, cognizant of the ephemeral nature of earthly treasures. Cleansed of impurities, the Brahman pledged fealty, a devotee reborn.

Humbled, he sought Ravidas’s tutelage, embracing a life of servitude. News of this divine encounter echoed far and wide. Ravidas, hailed as a saint, welcomed seekers with open arms, guiding souls toward enlightenment.

The divine tale of Ravidas epitomizes the transformative power of devotion, humility, and grace. By the banks of the sacred River Ganga, his journey unfolds as a beacon of hope and inspiration, resonating across time and space, guiding souls towards enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment.

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