Ramanandi Sampradaya
Portrait of a Ramanandi ascetic worshipping Sita Rama in Mandi (Himachal Pradesh, India), first half of the 19th century
Swami Ramanand
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Valmiki Ramayana, Adhyatma Ramayana, Ramcharitmanas, Vedas, Bhaktamal, Vaishnava Matabja Bhaskara, Vinaya Patrika, Ananda Bhashya (Brahma Sutra Upaniṣad Gita), Sri Ramarchan Paddati, Maithili Maha Upanishad, Valmiki Samhita, Hanuman Chalisa, Sita Upanishad

The Ramanandi (IAST Rāmānandī), also known as Ramavats (IAST Rāmāvat),[1][2] is one of the largest sect of Vaishnavas.[3] Out of 52 gates[clarification needed] of Vaishnavism divided into 4 Vaishnava Sampradayas, 36 are held by Ramanandi.[4] The sect mainly emphasizes the worship of Rama, Sita, and Hanuman and avatars of Vishnu. They consider Rama and Sita as Supreme Absolute who are non different from each other. It is considered to have been founded by Ramananda, a 14th-century Vaishnava saint.[5][6][7]

Lineage of Ramanandi Sampradaya

The lineage of Ramanandi Sampradaya is claimed to start from Rama,[8] The lineage as said by Anantanandacharya to Krishnadas Payahari is:


Main article: Bairagi Brahmin

People of this sect are known as Vaishnavite in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. At the beginning of the 20th century, this sect declared to be the descendants of Rāma's sons, Kusha and Lava.[12]


Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana cooking and eating in the Wilderness (picture).

The Ramanandi Sampradaya is one of the largest and most egalitarian Hindu sects India, around the Gangetic Plain, and Nepal today.[3] It mainly emphasises the worship of Rāma,[1] as well as Vishnu directly and other incarnations.[2][13][note 1] Rāmānandī ascetics rely upon meditation and strict ascetic practices, but also believe that the grace of god is required for them to achieve liberation. For that reason, the Tyāga section of the Rāmānandī ascetics, unlike some Śaiva ascetics, do not cut the sacred thread.[14] Their reasoning for this is that only Viṣṇu or Rāma can grant liberation.[15]

Most Ramanandis consider themselves to be the followers of Ramananda, a Vaishnava saint in medieval India.[16] Philosophically, they follow Vishishtadvaita (IAST Viśiṣṭādvaita) tradition.[17]

Its ascetic wing constitutes the largest Vaishnava monastic order and may possibly be the largest monastic order in all of India.[18] There are two major subgroups of Ramanandi ascetics: the Tyagi, who use ash for initiation, and the Naga, who are the militant wing.[19]


The Ramanandi Sampradaya originates from Rama, who initiated Sita with his six-letter mantra. Sita later initiated her beloved disciple Hanuman with the same mantra. According to Shanti Lala Nagar, quoting Valmiki Samhita says "The Supreme Being, Rama, always ready to protect his eternal servants and to assist those with meek hearts. This is well-known in the Vedas. He created this universe and, with the desire for the welfare of people, Rama imparted the transcendental mantra to Sita, the daughter of King Janaka than She revealed this to the glorious Hanuman, the repository of virtues. Hanuman then conveyed it to Brahma, who in turn passed it on to the sage Vasishtha. Thus, in this sequence, the divine mantra descended into this world."[20] It is claimed that this tradition has been established in all four Yugas and in Kaliyuga Rama himself appeared as Ramanandacharya at Prayagraj.[21]

Bhaktamal, a gigantic hagiographic work on Hindu saints and devotees written by Nabhadas in 1660,[22] was a core text for all Vaishnavas including Ramanandis.[23] Many localised commentaries of Bhaktamal were taught to young Vaishnavas across India. In the 19th century, proliferation of the printing press in the Gangetic plains of North India allowed various commentaries of the text to be widely distributed. Of these, Jankidas Sri Vaishnav's edition of Bhaktamal known as Bhaktamal Bhaskara is considered to be the most authoritative as He has used the most oldest handwritten manuscripts in this edition.[24] Ramananda's guru Raghavananda is described as an egalitarian guru who taught students of all castes. Ramananda himself is described as an avatar of Rama, a humble student with great yogic talents.

Munsi Ram Sharma says that more than 500 disciples of Ramananda who lives with him in Varanasi.[25] It is said that propagator of Ramanadi tradition is Sita. She first imparted teachings to Hanuman, through which the revelation of this secret occurred in the world. Due to this, the name of this tradition is Sri Sampradaya, and its main mantra is referred to as the 'Ram Tarak Mantra'.[26] The guru imparts initiation of sacred Ram mantra into the disciple's ear. They apply an upward-pointing tilak (urdhva pund) on the forehead. Complete devotion and immersion in devotional songs (bhajans) is the tradition's way of life. Most saints lead a life of renunciation (paramhansa) within this tradition.[27] Farquhar credits Ramananda[28] and his followers as the origin of the North Indian practice of using Ram to refer to the Absolute.[29] Farquhar finds no evidence to show that Ramananda endeavoured to "overturn caste as a social institution".[30] On the other hand, Sita Ram, author of the Vaishnava history of Ayodhya, and George Grierson, eminent linguist and Indologist, represent Ramananda as saint who tried to transcend caste divisions of medieval India through the message of love and equality. The scholars also disagree on Ramananda's connection with Ramanuja. While Farquhar finds them completely unconnected, Sita Ram and Grierson finds Ramananda connection with Ramanuja tradition.[31] But a historical debate held between Ramanuj and Ramanand tradition in Ujjain Kumbh 1921, ended up the issue of both the traditions being one; Ramanuja Ramprapannadas from Ramanuj tradition got defeated from Bhagvaddas of Ramanandi tradition.[32]

Up to the nineteenth century, many of the trade routes in northern India were guarded by groups of warrior-ascetics, including the Nāgā sections of the Rāmānandīs, who were feared because of their strength and fearlessness.[33] The British took steps to disarm these militant groups of ascetics, but even today the sects still retain their heroic traditions.[33]


Ramanandi live chiefly in the northern part of India.[2] Ramanandi monasteries are found throughout northern, western and central India, the Ganges basin, the Nepalese Terai, and the Himalayan foothills.[3] Ramanandis are spread across India, mainly in Jammu, Punjab,[34] Himachal, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Assam and West Bengal.[35] The majority of Hindu immigrants to Trinidad and Tobago as well as substantial section of Hindus in United Kingdom of Great Britain belong to Vaishnava sects such as the Ramanandi. Ramanandi has had a major influence on the mainstream Sanatani (orthodox) sect of Hinduism in Trinidad and Tobago.[36]


Saints Dhanna and Pipa were among the immediate disciples of Ramananda.[37] Hymns written by them find mention in the Adi Granth, holy scripture of the Sikhs.[38] Sects founded by saints Raidas, Sena and Maluk Das are also of a direct Ramanandi origin.[37]

The poet-saint Tulsidas, who composed the Ramcharitmanas, was a member of this sect.[1][2] His writings are regarded to have made Vishnu and Shiva devotees of each other and thereby bridged the gap between Vaishnavas and Shaivas. Because Tulsidas attempted to reconcile various theologies scholars like Ramchandra Shukla do not agree that he can considered to be a Ramanandi exclusively.[39]

Some sources say Jayadeva, who composed the Gita Govinda, was also a member of this sect.[2] Other sources classify Jayadeva simply as a Bengal Vaishnava.[1]

Kabir was also disciple of Ramananda and part of Ramanandi Sampradaya,[2] Kabir also founded a separate sect that is now known as the Kabirpanthi.[2]

Another bhakti saint, Ravidas, who was also a disciple of Ramananda, followed Ramanandi Sampradaya and also founded the Ravidassia sect.[40][41]

Bhaktamal, a poem written c. 1585 in Braj language, gives short biographies of more than 200 bhaktas. It was written by Nabha Dass, a saint belonging to the tradition of Ramananda.[42][40] It also extols the piety of Ramanandi saint Bhagwan and miraculous powers of his disciple Narain, who founded the Ramanandi Vaishnav temple named Thakurdwara Bhagwan Narainji in Pandori dham in Gurdaspur, Punjab.[43]

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See also


  1. ^ Michaels (2004, p. 255): "many groups that are considered Vaiṣṇava also worship Śiva. The largest ascetic groups that celebrate the Śivaratri festival with mortification of the flesh and pilgrimages are the Vaiṣṇava Rāmānandīs."


  1. ^ a b c d Michaels 2004, p. 254.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tattwananda 1984, p. 10.
  3. ^ a b c Burghart 1983, p. 362.
  4. ^ R. Pinch, William (1996). Peasants and Monks in British India. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520200616.
  5. ^ Schomer and McLeod (1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 9788120802773, pages 4-6
  6. ^ Selva Raj and William Harman (2007), Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791467084, pages 165-166
  7. ^ James G Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0823931804, pages 553-554
  8. ^ Mishra, Bhuvaneshwar (1957). Ram Bhakti Me Madhur Upasna (in Hindi). Bihar Rastrabhasha Parishad. p. 127.
  9. ^ Dagar, Mukesh Kumar (28 May 2012). "International Journal of Scientific Research in Science and Technology" (PDF). Vaishnava Sampradaya Dharma Shatra. IV (II): 419–436.
  10. ^ "Shri Anantanandacharyakritam Shriramamantrarajaparampara Stotram". sanskritdocuments.org. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  11. ^ Mitra, Ramkishore Das (1942). Guru Mahatmya (in Sanskrit and Hindi) (1st ed.). Lucknow: Bhagavati Prasad Press Lucknow. p. 17.
  12. ^ Jaffrelot 2003.
  13. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 255.
  14. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 316, "Wear a Sacred Thread" is noted as a distinctive mark of Rāmānandī ascetics in Table 33, "Groups and Sects of Ascetics"..
  15. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 256.
  16. ^ Raj & Harman 2007, p. 165.
  17. ^ Chadwick, James (1988). Indian Traditions & Philosophy (2nd ed.). p. 146.
  18. ^ Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia 1999.
  19. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 316.
  20. ^ Nagar, Shanti Lal (2004). Hanuman through the ages (in Sanskrit and English). Vol. 2 (1st ed.). B.R. Publishing Corporation. p. 403. ISBN 978-81-7646-461-1.
  21. ^ Tiwari, Nanad Kishore (1974). Madhyayuga ke bhaktikavya mei maya (in Hindi). Śodha Sāhitya Prakāśana. p. 151.((cite book)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  22. ^ Callewaert & Snell 1994, p. 95.
  23. ^ Pinch 1996, p. 55.
  24. ^ Nabhadas, Jankidas (1965). Bhaktamal (in Hindi and Braj) (1st ed.). Varanasi: Thākuraprasāda. p. 2.
  25. ^ Sharma, Munsi Ram (1979). Bhakti ka vikasa (in Hindi) (1st ed.). Varanasi: Caukhambā Vidyābhavana. p. 332.
  26. ^ Upadhyaya, Baldev (1953). Bhagavata sampradaya (1st ed.). Nagaripracarini Sabha. p. 274.
  27. ^ Sharma, Raghuvir Simha (1997). Vaishnava dharma evam darshana (in Hindi) (1st ed.). Abha Prakashana. p. 91.
  28. ^ Farquhar 1920, p. 323.
  29. ^ Farquhar 1920, pp. 323–324.
  30. ^ Farquhar 1920, pp. 324–325.
  31. ^ Pinch 1996, p. 61.
  32. ^ Pinch 1996.
  33. ^ a b Michaels 2004, p. 274.
  34. ^ Singh, K. S.; Bansal, I. J. S.; Singh, Swaran; India, Anthropological Survey of (2003). Punjab. Anthropological Survey of India. ISBN 978-81-7304-123-5. They are divided into several sections, among which may be mentioned the Ramanandi who worship Ram Chandra
  35. ^ Bairagi Brahmin (caste)
  36. ^ West 2001, p. 743.
  37. ^ a b Farquhar 1920, p. 328.
  38. ^ Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 5.
  39. ^ Shukla 2002, p. 44.
  40. ^ a b Pande 2010, p. 76–77.
  41. ^ Jha 2013, p. 12.
  42. ^ Lochtefeld 2001, p. 451.
  43. ^ Goswamy, B. N.; Grewal, J. S. (1969). The Mughal and Sikh Rulers and the Vaishnavas of Pindori: A Historical Interpretation of 52 Persian Documents. Indian Institute of Advanced Study.