Ravidassia or the Ravidas Panth[1] is a religion based on the teachings of Guru Ravidas. It was considered a sect within Sikhism until 2009.[2][3][4][1] However, some Ravidassias continue to maintain Sikh religious practices, including the reverence of the Guru Granth Sahib as their focal religious text, wearing Sikh articles of faith (5Ks), and appending Singh or Kaur to their names.[5]

Historically, Ravidassia represented a range of beliefs in the Indian subcontinent, with some devotees of Ravidass counting themselves as Ravidassia, but first formed in the early 20th-century in colonial British India.[3] The Ravidassia tradition began to take on more cohesion following 1947, and the establishment of successful Ravidassia tradition in the diaspora.[6] Estimates range between two and five million for the total number of Ravidassias.[7][8]

Ravidassias Sikhs believe that Ravidas is their Guru (saint) whereas the Khalsa Sikhs have traditionally considered him one of many bhagats (holy person), a lower position to Guru in Sikhism.[9] Further, Ravidassias Sikhs accept living sants of Ravidass Deras as Guru.[10] A new Ravidassia religion was launched following an assassination attack on their visiting living Guru Niranjan Dass and his deputy Ramanand Dass in 2009 in Vienna by Sikh militants.[1][11] Ramanand Dass died from the attack, Niranjan Dass survived his injuries, while over a dozen attendees at the temple were also injured.[11] This triggered a decisive break of the Ravidassia group from the orthodox Sikh structure.[10][1]

Prior to their break from Khalsa Sikhism, the Dera Bhallan revered and recited the Guru Granth Sahib of Sikhism in Dera Bhallan.[12] However, following their split from mainstream Sikhism, the Dera Bhallan compiled their own holy book based exclusively on Ravidas's teachings, the Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji, and these Dera Bhallan Ravidassia temples now use this book in place of the Guru Granth Sahib.[12][4][13]


Main article: Ravidas

Procession of Ravidassias in Bedford
Guru Ravidas

Guru Ravidas was born on 15 January 1377 CE (Indian calendar Sunday Sukhal Falgin Parvithta 1433) to the Chamar community.[14] [15] His birthplace was a locality known as Seer Govardhan in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state, India. The birthplace is now marked by the Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan (Begampura), and is a major place of pilgrimage for the followers of Guru Ravidas today. Ravidassias Sikhs believe that Ravidas died in Benares at the age of 151.[16][17][18]


Ravidas taught the following principles:[19]

Places of worship

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the sanctum of Shri Guru Ravidas Janmsthan Mandir in Varanasi.

A Ravidassia place of worship is called a dera, sabha, mandir, gurudwara, or bhawan, sometimes translated as temple.[21][22]

Outside the sabha there is always a flag upon which is written the Nishaan, and above it the "Harr" symbol which symbolising enlightenment from Guru Ravidas' teachings. But Guru Ravidass Sabhas in Derby, Walsall, Gravesend, Montreal and Papakura are exceptions, as these Sabhas' official title boards display Ek Onkar and Khanda emblems alongside Harr. The title boards of these sabhas clearly mark the buildings as both Sikh Gurdwaras and Ravidass Temples.[23] Moreover, Derby Sabha's display board mentions it as a Sikh temple.[24]


Ravidassia places of worship contain the holy book Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji which contains all the hymns by Guru Ravidas. This book contains the following hymns: Raga – Siri (1), Gauri (5), Asa (6), Gujari (1), Sorath (7), Dhanasari (3), Jaitsari (1), Suhi (3), Bilaval (2), Gaund (2), Ramkali (1), Maru (2), Kedara (1), Bhairau (1), Basant (1), and Malhar (3). The book contains 140 shabads, 40 pade, and 231 salok.[25] There are 177 pages in all of the book.

A version of the holy book Amrit Bani containing 240 hymns of Guru Ravidas was installed at the Guru Ravidas temple in Jalandhar, Punjab, on 1 February 2012 on the occasion of birth anniversary of Guru Ravidass. The Dera Sach Khand Ballan religious community had announced the formation of the new Ravidassia religion and separation from Sikhism at Varanasi. The split from Sikhism was triggered after the killing of its deputy head Ramanand Dass in May 2009 at a temple in Vienna by some Sikh radicals. President of newly formed Begumpura Lok Party and a supporter of the new religion, Satish Bharti, said that the copies of the new Bani were put on display during the religious processions in order to assert that the community members are firm believers of the new religion.[26][27]

Ravidassia in the UK census

In the United Kingdom, during the 2011 census, the Office for National Statistics counted Ravidassia as a separate religion from Sikhism. There were 11058 individuals[28][29] who described themselves as Ravidassia in the census. Data shows that around 10% of members of Ravidassias community cited their religion as ’Ravidassia’ – empathically distinct from Sikhs and Hindus. During the census, not even a single Guru Ravidass Gurdwara came into direct support of this separate identity, and till date, all Guru Ravidass Gurdwaras in Britain are practising Sikhism and they do pray and perform all rituals in the presence of Shri Guru Granth Sahib.[23]

Unlike the UK Office for National Statistics, the Indian government and its census department have not accepted the Ravidassias community as a religion. During the 2011 census, the Ravidassia community was counted alongside other groups such as Ramdasia Sikh and Jatav under the title of chamar caste.[30][31]

Mauritian Ravidassias

In Mauritius, for Ravidassias, a different terminology is in use called Ravived.[32] During the initial stage of migration in Mauritius, significant numbers of Chamar people joined the Arya Samaj in the hope that it would help them to be free from the curse of casteism, as it was claimed by the leaders of the Arya Samaj.[33] But later, Upper Caste Arya Samajis started building separate halls for themselves and chamars for prayer within the same shrine to avoid Arya Samaj being labelled as a Chamar religion, which led to the establishment of Arya Ravived Pracharini Sabha in 1935.[34]


The Ravidassia employ the greeting "ਜੈ ਗੁਰੂਦੇਵ" (Jai Gurdev, जय गुरुदेव), meaning “hail the god-like teacher”, the motto of the religion.[35]


Nishan Sahib

The Ravidassia religious symbol is the Khanda, Harr Nishaan and Ik Onkar. The Gurmukhi transliteration of the name Harr is the main symbol of the Ravidassia religion.[12] It is also called as Koumi Nishan.[36]

The religion is also represented by a flag, with the insignia "Har" which, states Ronki Ram, includes:[36]

The insignia Har, states Ram, represents the "very being of Ravidass and his teachings".[36]

Ravidassia/ Ramdasia and Ad-Dharmi Sects of Punjabi Chamar Community

"Ramdasia is a term used in general for Sikhs whose ancestors belonged Chamar caste. Originally they are followers of Guru Ravidass ji who belongs to Chamar community ".[37] Both the words Ramdasia and Ravidasia are also used inter changeably while these also have regional context. In Puadh and Malwa, largely Ramdasia in used while Ravidasia is predominantly used in Doaba.[38]

Ramdasia Sikhs are enlisted as scheduled caste by Department of Social justice, Empowerment and Minorities- Government of Punjab. On Department's list of Scheduled Caste, this caste is listed on serial number 9 along with other Chamar caste synonymous such as Ravidasia, Ramdasia and so on.[39]

Ad-Dharmis of Chamar sect are followers of Guru Ravidas ,[40] and incorporate elements of Sikhism[41] as they regard Shri Guru Granth Sahib as their religious text.[42]


Devotees at 635th Anniversary of Guru Ravidas at Sri Guru Ravidass Janamsthan Gurdwara, Varanasi

The birthday of Ravidas is celebrated every year at the Seer Gowardhanpur village temple in Varanasi the state of Uttar Pradesh in January or February and the government of India has declared it a gazetted holiday.[43][dead link] Other important festivals the Ravidasia community celebrates are Bandi Chhor Divas, Guru Gobind Singh's birthday and Guru Nanak's birthday.[citation needed]

Causes for splitting from Sikhism and the announcement of Ravidassia's identity

Before the 2009 armed attack on Guru Ravidass Temple in Vienna, the majority of Ravidassias were followers of Sikhism. On May 24, 2009, six Khalistani militants attacked Sant Ramanand and Sant Niranjan Das in the mentioned shrine. All six attackers were asylum seekers living in Austria and have been identified as Satwinder Singh (28), Jaspal Singh (34), Tasum Singh (45), and Sukhwinder Singh (28). The other two attackers, Hardeep Singh (33) and Charnjit Singh (24), entered Austria illegally.[44]

In this terrorist attack, Sant Ramanand, 57, was shot dead and more than a dozen others wounded, including another preacher. This attack led to violent protests in the state of Punjab in India and peaceful protest in London.[45][46] Later, the Austrian court sentenced Jaspal Singh, 35, to life in prison for murder, and the other four terrorists received 17 to 18 year prison sentences. The sixth terrorist got six months in prison for attempted coercion.[47][48]

On the occasion of the 633rd birth anniversary of Ravidass in 2010, Dera Sachkahnd Ballan announced a new religion called Ravidassia.Dera also announced that the community would have its own separate religious book called Amritbani, a separate symbol 'Har' and a separate motto, 'Jai Gurudev. The move triggered debate among the religious, social, and political circles of Punjab, and Shiromani Akali Dal and the SGPC tried to convince Dera Ballan Head Sant Niranjan Dass to reverse the decision. Akal Takhat also took an unprecedented step and organized Akand Path in the memory of murdered Sant Ramanand. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar visited Dera Ballan to meet Sant Niranjan Dass, but he was not allowed to meet him.[49]  

Ravidasia Diaspora

Ravidasia Sikh diaspora emigrated from India and Pakistan is significant. There are Ravidasia Sikh settlers in Europe, as well as a sizable Ravidasia Sikh population in North America, primarily in the United States and Canada. Mahiya Ram Mehmi and Mahey were the very first people who landed in British Columbia in 1906.[50] They were both also involved in the foundation of the first Canadian Gurdwara, the Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver. There is a sizeable population of Ravidasia Sikhs in Oceania too. Ravidassias from Doaba established the second gurdwara in the Oceania region in Nasinu on Fiji Island in 1939.[51] A Classical Study by W.H. Briggs in his book Punjabis in New Zealand, Briggs penned down the precise number of Ravidassias in New Zealand during the very first wave of immigration.[52]

Ravidassia community started immigrating from Punjab to Britain in 1950, and according to a book named 'Sikhs in Britain: An Annotated Bibliography' published in 1987, the population of the Ravidassia community in the West Midlands was around 30,000 during that period.[53] As of 2021, it is estimated that the Ravidasia population in Britain is around 70,000.[54]

Gurdwara Guru Ravidass, Nasinu, Fiji Established in 1939
Gurdwara Guru Ravidass Bhavan, Birmingham
Gurdwara Guru Ravidass Sabha, Southall
Gurdwara Guru Ravidass Temple, Auckland
Shri Guru Ravidass Temple in the UK
Gurdwara Guru Ravidass Temple, Pittsburg, California
Gurdwara Guru Ravidass Sabha, Oostende


State, U.T Population Population % Notes
Bihar[55] 4,900,048 4.7% Counted along Rabidas, Rohidas, Chamar, Charamakar
Chandigarh[56] 59,957 5.68% Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Chamars, Ramdasi, Ravidasi, Raigar and Jatia
Chhattisgarh[57] 2,318,964 9.07% Counted as Chamar, Satnami, Ahirwar, Raidas, Rohidas, Jatav, Bhambi and Surjyabanshi
NCT of Delhi[58] 1,075,569 6.4 % Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Jatav, Chamars, Ramdasia, Ravidasi, Raigar and Jatia
Gujarat[59] 1,032,128 1.7% Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Chamar, Bhambi, Asadaru, Chambhar, Haralaya, Rohidas, Rohit, Samgar
Haryana[60] 2,429,137 9.58% Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Jatav, Chamars, Ramdasia, Ravidasi, Raigar and Jatia
Himachal Pradesh[61] 458,838 6.68% Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Chamars, Ramdasia, Raigar and Jatia
Jammu and Kashmir[62] 212,032 1.72% Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Chamars, Ramdasia, Rohidas
Jharkhand[63] 1,008,507 3.05% Counted as Chamar, Mochi
Karnataka[64] 605,486 1% Counted as Rohidas, Rohit, Samgar, Haralaya, Chambhar, Chamar, Bhambi
Madhya Pradesh[65] 5,368,217 7.39% Counted as Chamar, Jatav, Bairwa, Bhambi, Rohidas, Raidas, Ahirwar,Satnami, Ramnami, Surjyabanshi
Maharashtra[66] 1,411,072 1.25% Counted as Rohidas, Chamar, Chambhar, Bhambi, Satnami, Ramnami, Haralaya, Rohit, Samagar, Bhambi
Punjab[67] 3,095,324 11.15% During the 2011 census in Punjab, 1017192 people were counted as addharmi in a separate caste cluster, which is another term for Ravidassias.[68][69]

In the same census, the Ravidassias cluster population was 2078132, and both clusters together made a population of 3095324 in Punjab, which is an 11.15% population of Punjab.

Rajasthan[70] 2,491,551 3.63% Counted along with other caste synonyms such as Chamars, Bhambi, Ramdasia, Ravidasi, Raigar, Haralaya, Chambhar and Jatia
Uttarakhand[71] 548,813 5.44% Counted as Chamar, Jatava, Dhusia, Jhusia
Uttar Pradesh[72] 22,496,047 11.25% Counted as Chamar, Jatava, Dhusia, Jhusia
West Bengal[73] 1,039,591 1.13% Counted as Chamar, Rabidas, Charamakar, Rishi

Notable Ravidassia

Religious figures



Punjab State

Art and Literature

See also


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