Dera Sach Khand
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The Ravidassia Religion
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Dera Sant Sarwan Dass Ji Sachkhand Ballan is a world renowned religious place devoted to the cause of leading common masses to the spiritual path. The spiritual heads of the Dera have initiated millions of people and bestowed them with "Naamdaan". They have also adopted the mission of spreading the teachings and "Bani" (sacred writings) of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji throughout India as well as in foreign countries.
The unique contribution of the Dera is that it has built a magnificent temple at the birthplace of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji at Seer Goverdhanpur Varanasi U.P. Now this Janam Asthan Mandir has acquired the status of Ultimate Place of Pilgrimage for the Ravidassia community. Every year they gather in Lakhs on the occasion of Guruji's birthday. Now it is a desire of the whole Ravidassia community to bedeck this Mandir with gold so that it acquires the status which the religious headquarters of any community deserves.
The Dera has also built Mandirs in the name of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji in other states of India such as Sirsgarh in Haryana and Katraj in Pune.
The Dera has built charitable hospitals and a school for providing health and education for the poor and needy. The Dera spreads the philosophy of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji through the publication of various books, periodicals as well as visual media such as CD's, DVD's and tapes. The Dera encourages scholars who either carry out research on Guru Ravidass Ji or bring out publications on related subjects. Thus far 22 scholars have been awarded gold medals for their contribution in this area.
About Leaders & Successors
Brahmleen Baba Pipal Dass Ji (From 1895 to 1928)
Sant Sarwan Dass Ji (From 1928 to 1972)
Sant Sarwan Dass Ji preached the philosophy and teachings of Guru Ravidass Ji among the socially backward and downtrodden throughout his life. He remained very distressed by the fact that there was no memorial to Guru Ravidass Ji in the city of Varanasi, though many Kings and Queens were his disciples. Sant Sarwan Dass Ji, being a great spiritual, visionary and revolutionary saint, undertook the task of perpetuating the memory of Guru Ji at Varanasi and giving a befitting memorial in his name. He assigned the task of tracing the birth place of Guru Ji in the city of Varanasi to a select group of people. 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 Banaras Hindu University, as the birthplace of Guru Ravidass Ji. A plot of land was purchased and no time was lost to start the construction of an impressive temple. Sant Sarwan Dass Ji deputed his first disciple Sant Hari Dass Ji along with a large number of devotees of Dera Bal to start the construction of the Mandir. Sant Hari Dass Ji laid the foundation stone of the Mandir on Monday the 14th June, 1965 on Ashad Sankranti. As soon as the foundation stone was laid no time was lost in starting the construction of the Mandir in full swing. Sant Sarwan Dass Ji assigned the duty of construction work to his second disciple Sant Garib Dass Ji, who along with large "Jathas" (groups of people) of Dera "Sewadars" (Stewards) worked in the most difficult and unfavorable conditions to complete the construction of the first phase of the Mandir in the year 1970. In this endeavor help came from the public at large from within as well as from outside the country. The Guru Ji's devotees residing in U.K. and other foreign countries were also keen to see the project completed and they contributed according to their respective capacities.
In December 1970 a huge conference of prominent leaders such as Shri Mangoo Ram Mugowalia, Shri Dilip Singh, Shri Kulwant Singh from Himachal Pradesh, Captain Bhagu Ram Ji and many others from the Dalit community and a very large number of people from another states of India like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, J & K and Haryana was held at Dera Sachkhand Ballan. Many resolutions concerning the community were passed. Through one of the resolutions passed in this conference all the delegates expressed gratitude to Sant Sarwan Dass Ji for building a Mandir at the birthplace of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji and at the same time nominated him to be the chairman of the committee formed for the continued construction as well as for managing the affairs of the Mandir.
All the followers of Guru Ravidass Ji throughout the world they will remain indebted to Sant Sarwan Dass Ji for giving them this place of pilgrimage, where people gather in large number to pay their obeisance throughout the year as well as on Jayanti (birthday) celebration of Guru Ji.
Sant Sarwan Dass Ji left for his heavenly abode on 11th June, 1972 leaving behind a rich legacy. During his life time itself Dera Sachkhand Bal had acquired a prominent status among a large number of followers of Guru Ravidass Ji from within India as well as abroad. These followers draw their inspiration and seek spiritual guidance from the Dera. Recognizing the services being rendered by the Dera the public is contributing generously for the construction and running of hospitals and schools devoted to the memory of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
Sant Hari Dass Ji (From 1972 to 1982)
Shri 108 Sant Hari Dass Ji Maharaj was the third Gaddi-Nashin (spiritual leader) of Dera Sachkhand, Ballan. Sant Hari Dass Ji was born in 1895 at village Garha in Jalandhar district. His father was Shri Hukum Chand Ji and his mother was Shrimati Taabi Ji. He used to take interest in religious matters since his childhood.
Sant Hari Dass Ji had heard about Baba Pipal Dass Ji from the followers of Baba Ji. He showed keen interest to meet Baba Ji. After meeting with Baba Pipal Dass Ji Maharaj, Sant Hari Dass Ji requested Baba Ji to give him the gift of “Naam”. Baba Pipal Dass Ji Maharaj accepted his request and initiated him. After receiving "Naam", Sant Hari Dass Ji devoted his entire life to serving Baba Ji & later his son Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
Sant Sarwan Dass Ji always kept Sant Hari Dass Ji with him, showed great affection for him and deputed him for important religious duties. He was specially assigned the task of laying the foundation stone of Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Mandir at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi. This was done by him on 14th June, 1965 along with the followers of Dera Sachkhand Bal.
After Sant Sarwan Dass Ji left for his heavenly abode on 11th June, 1972, Sant Hari Dass Ji was installed as Gaddi-Nashin (spiritual leader) of Dera Sachkhand, Bal.
Sant Hari Dass Ji started the construction of the temple at Dera Bal on 10th Aug, 1972 in the memory of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji Maharaj. Within one year the construction of the temple was completed and it was inaugurated on 11th June, 1973 on the first Barsi Samagam (anniversary celebration) of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji. The murti marble sculpture of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji Maharaj was placed in the temple. This temple is famously known as “Dera Sachkhand Bal”.
He also constructed a hall for the devotees. This hall is known as the “Sant Hari Dass Satsang Hall”.
He was against child marriage. He bestowed “Naamdaan” on thousands of disciples. Throughout the life, his disciple Sant Garib Dass Ji had been serving the people by providing Ayurvedic Medicines.
Sant Hari Dass Ji left for his heavenly abode on 6th Feb, 1982. In the memory of Sant Hari Dass Ji Maharaj, every year on the 7th of February, Hari Manav Unity saint conference is celebrated in Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Hospital at Kathar district Jalanadhar.
Sant Garib Dass Ji (From 1982 to 1994)
Sant Garib Dass Ji was born in the year 1925 in a village called Jalbhe which is in Jalandhar district. His father was Shri Nanak Chand and mother was Shrimati Har Kaur Ji. When he was only six months old his father expired. After this tragic incident his mother took care of the little child. He was the youngest of five brothers.
He used to visit Dera Sachkhand Ballan occasionally. The teaching and ideology of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji impressed him greatly. So he started coming to the Dera more often. Within a short period he won the heart of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
Shri Kartar Chand took the 13 year old Garib Dass Ji to Ludhiana for helping him in the business of silk weaving. There he received a letter from Sant Sarwan Dass Ji asking him to come to the Dera immediately for some urgent work. Without wasting any time he reached the Dera. There he was instructed to remain in the Dera from that point onwards. He followed the instructions of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji politely and humbly.
One day Sant Sarwan Dass Ji told him, “Garib Dass, detach yourself from the materialistic world and serve the Almighty God.” “Har ke naam bin jhuthe sakal pasare”. Garib Dass Ji very obediently prostrated at the feet of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji and vowed to devote his whole life to the service of Almighty God and Humanity. Apart from delving into the fathoms of Gurbani, he learned to prepare Ayurvedic medicines and treated many patients who came to the Dera with various ailments. The young boy had now grown in wisdom and stature under the patronage of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji and in the company of Sant Hari Dass Ji. Therefore Swami Sarwan Dass Ji used to entrust him with many jobs of responsibility. It is a well known fact that the birth place of Sri Guru Ravidass Ji at Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi was traced thanks to Swami Sarwan Dass Ji. He deputed Sant Hari Dass Ji to lay the foundation stone of the temple to be constructed there. But it was Sant Garib Dass Ji, who was entrusted with the responsibility to develop and complete the construction of the temple. He used to lead a team of sewadars (stewards) to Varanasi for this purpose. Construction of the temple was completed by him in the most difficult weather conditions & challenging circumstances.
When Sant Garib Dass Ji became the Gaddi-Nashin (spiritual leader) of Dera Sachkhand Bal on 7th February, 1982 he wanted to construct a hospital in the memory of his Guru, for giving medical aid to poor people. A milestone in the history of the Dera Sachkhand Bal was created on 22nd October, 1982 when Sant Garib Dass Ji laid the foundation stone for Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Hospital at village Dheypur-Koopur, Adda Kathar. This hospital made a humble beginning with it’s inauguration on 1st January, 1984. Today it is a 150 bed hospital providing quality service in eight specialties at very nominal rates to the people who cannot afford costly medical aid. For those people who cannot meet even the nominal rates, the expenditure is met by Dera Sachkhand Bal. Additionally all expenditure of a capital nature such as machinery or building extensions is met by the Dera.
He was a great Saint who also understood the importance of having a newspaper, which would serve the cause of the community. So he started a weekly named ‘Begumpura Shehar’, thus giving a voice to the poor people.
During his lifetime the Sachkhand temple, Sant Hari Dass Bhavan, Langer Hall and major portion of Yatri Niwas at the Dera were built.
He laid the foundation stone of Sant Sarwan Dass Teaching Block in the I.T.I (Industrial Training Institute) at Phagwara and got a spacious hall built there. He has also constructed many ‘Guru-Ghars’ (temples) in various cities in India and abroad.
During his lifetime, he wanted to see the Janam Asthan Mandir at Varanasi in full glow. He got “Swarn Kalash” (gold minarets) installed at the Mandir in the presence of Babu Kashi Ram Ji (President of the Bahujan Samaj Party). He paid a historic visit to the mandir along with a number of Dera followers from 16th June to 23rd June 1994 as if he had a premonition that he will be leaving this world very soon.
Sant Niranjan Dass Ji (From 1994 to Current)
Sant Niranjan Dass Ji was born on 5th January, 1942 at village Ramdass Pur near Allawalpur in district Jalandhar. His father’s name was Shri Sadhu Ram Ji and mother’s name was Shrimati Rukmani Ji. His father and mother were devotees of Shri 108 Sant Baba Pipal Dass Ji and Shri 108 Sant Sarwan Dass Ji. Whenever they were free from home chores they used to visit Dera Ballan and listen to the holy words and do seva at the Dera. He was always accompanied by their loving son Niranjan Dass. Sant Sarwan Dass Ji was very happy to see the child and used to listen the sweet words from the child (Sant Niranjan Dass Ji).
Shri Sadhu Ram Ji, father of Sant Niranjan Dass Ji decided to offer his son at the holy feet of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji. From that point onwards Sant Niranjan Dass remained at the Dera and started doing Sewa at the Dera-attending to miscellaneous jobs which he used to do running about. Seeing the speed at which he used to perform his tasks, Sant Sarwan Dass Ji named him "Hawaigar" ("speedy one"). He grew up doing service at the feet of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji and later with Sant Hari Dass Ji and Sant Garib Dass Ji. After Sant Garib Dass Ji left for his heavenly abode on 23rd July 1994, Sant Niranjan Dass Ji was installed as Gaddi-Nashin (spiritual leader) of Dera Sachkhand Bal on 9th August, 1994. He started with the development of all projects devoted to the service of humankind in right earnest and the Dera has made tremendous progress under his guidance.
Dera Sach Khand Ballan is a Ravidasi organization. Many followers of the Dera Sach Khand are former lower caste Hindus and Sikhs. It was founded by devotees of Shri Guru Ravidas. In May 2009 armed assailants were reported to have attacked Sri Guru Ravidass temple in Vienna, Austria, seriously injuring the head of the Dera Sach Khand and killing another leader, Sant Rama Nand Ji.  
Shaheed Sant Ramanand Dass Ji (From 1980 to 2009)
Some unique personalities take birth in this wonderful world who become immortal through their great deeds in service of society. However true saints are beacon of enlightenment for entire humanity. Divisions based on country borders, colour, caste and creed are meaningless for them. Saints are like dense shade of banyan providing shelter and solace through cool westerly breeze against extreme heat generated by misdeeds of human beings.
Sant Rama Nand Ji’s father Shri Mehnga Ram Ji and other ancestors, who were devotees of Dera Sachkhand Ballan, migrated from village Ballan during 1910-15 to settle down at village Alawalpur, district Jalandhar. Nature finds unique ways to create new historic events. Something similar happened in the lives of this family. Leading a normal married life, Shri Mehnga Ram Ji and Bibi Jeet Kaur Ji never thought that they would be blessed with a son who would unite the entire depressed community like beads of a rossary and play a marvelous role in bringing all round glory to a place of worship Dera Sachkhand Ballan known to the whole world which future generations shall always be really proud of. Because of untiring efforts of Sat Guru Swami Niranjan Dass Ji and Sant Rama Nand Ji, now Dera Sachkhand Ballan is known as Mecca for all humanity and especially for dalits. It has always been the motto of present spiritual leaders to understand and appreciated the great legacy of past spiritual leaders and move forwards on the foot prints left by them.
Shri 108 Sant Rama Nand Ji was born on February 2, 1952 in the house of blessed parents Shri Mehnga Ram Ji and Shrimati Jeet Kaur Ji. He was of saintly nature from the very birth. His charming looks created a captivating spell on the people of the locality. He completed his graduation from Doaba College, Jalandhar. He invariably used to be in deep thoughts as a student. He liked company of saints from his childhood which had to lead him to divine enlightenment because of his devotion. Some members of the family started strong opposition demanding that Rama Nand should be kept away from the company of saints. There were frequent religious discourse in the house. Sant Rama Nand Ji used to pray to God every moment in meditation even while carrying out domestic work. Ultimately, Rama Nand Ji was at service of the sacred feet of Shri 108 Sant Hari Dass Ji, Dera Sachkhand, Ballan. He was blessed with ‘Naamdaan’ by Shri 108 Sant Hari Dass Ji. Sant Rama Nand Ji continued meditation of God while staying in the beautiful temple built in memory of Baba Pipal Dass Ji at village Ballan from 1973 onwards. Sant Rama Nand Ji remained in service of the devotees and conducted religious discourses singing devotional hymns daily during the life times of Brahamlin Shri 108 Sant Hari Dass Ji and Shri 108 Sant Garib Dass Ji.
It is worth elaboration here that Sant Rama Nand Ji received ‘Naamdaan’ from Shri 108 Sant Hari Dass Ji and he was initiated as a saint by Shri 108 Sant Garib Dass Ji. He also had the good fortune of travelling with the latter to several countries for preaching and spread of teaching of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji. Latter he visited several countries under the directions of present spiritual head Shri 108 Sant Niranjan Dass Ji and helped construction of many temples and linking devotees in foreign countries with the preaching of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji. He endeared himself amongst all foreign devotees. Devotees were left spell bound after listening to the sweet melodies of his spiritual discourses.
He was an able administrator who managed the affairs of Dera in an elegant manner. While preaching and spreading the teachings of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji through congregation of saints throughout the world, he always played leading role in carrying out the various tasks in the service of humanity under many charitable projects run by Dera Sachkhand Ballan. He provided praise-worthy services as Editor of ‘Begampura Shaher’ published by Dera Sachkhand Ballan for which he was honored by Dalit Literary Academy with a prestigious award. It was for the first time when he created history delivering his speech about Shri Guru Ravidass Ji at the House of Commons in United Kingdom. He was a great scholar of Gurbani and expert in explaining complicated details of same through extremely simple examples. Whenever he rendered hymns accompanied by spiritual music, all devotees present at the site remained spell bound.
Not only he established Shri Guru Ravidass Sangeet Academy at Dera Sachkhand Ballan but his visionary instincts could identified many talented missionary singers, poets and writers who were honored with gold medals. Jalandhar Doordarshan telecasts programmes named “Amritbani Shri Guru Ravidass Ji” and “Begampura Shahar Ka Nao” rendered in his captivating voice.
Sant Rama Nand Ji made very special contribution to the construction of buildings of various institutions being run by Dera Sachkhand Ballan.
Social Responsibility & Development
Some of the developments which took place during this period are as follows:-
- 1. Laid the foundation stone of the Shri Guru Ravidass Gate at Varanasi on 25th May, 1997 by the then President of Bahujan Samaj Party Shri Kanshi Ram Ji.
- 2. The inauguration of the gate was done on 16th July, 1998 by the then President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan.
- 3. Laid the foundation stone of the Sant Sarwan Dass Model School at Hadiabad, Phagwara on 16th April, 2002 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
- 4. The inauguration of the school was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 5th April, 2004.
- 5. Laid the foundation stone of the Shri Guru Ravidass Satsang Bhawan on 12th March, 2000 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
- 6. Shri Guru Ravidass Satsang Bhawan Inaugurated on 15th February, 2007 on the birthday celebration of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
- 7. Laid the foundation stone of the Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Eye Hospital at Dera Sachkhand Bal on 10th November, 2004 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
- 8. Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Eye Hospital Inauguration on 15th February, 2007 on the birthday celebration of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
- 9. The holy Swarn Palki (gold palanquin) was installed in Shri Guru Ravidass Satsang Bhawan on 15th February, 2007 on the birthday celebration of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
- 10. The holy Swarn Palki (gold palanquin) was installed in Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Mandir Varanasi on 21st February, 2008 on the birthday celebration of Shri Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji.
- 11. Laid the foundation stone of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Sirsgarh Haryana on 31st July, 2003 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
- 12. The inauguration of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Sirsgarh Haryana was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 31st July, 2005.
- 13. Laid the foundation stone of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Katraj Pune, Maharashtra was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 7th December, 2003.
- 14. The inauguration of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Katraj Pune, Maharashtra was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 7th December, 2005
Declaration of a new Religion
Originally, the holy book Guru Granth Sahib was recited in Ravidasi gurudwaras. However, after the Vienna attack, Dera Sach Khand at Ballan did away with the tradition, and started reading Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji that has more material from Guru Ravidass than is found in the Granth Sahib.
In 2010 the Dera formally proclaimed their religion as Ravidasia Dharam, at Seer Govardhanpur (in Varanasi, the birthplace of Ravidas. Holy book Amritbani Sri Guru Ravidass Ji Ki was also introduced and ravidassia religion has Har symbol and greeting as Jai Gurudev.
- ^ Preacher dies after Vienna clash
- ^ Heavy security after Punjab riots
- ^ Preacher dies after Vienna clash
- ^ a b "Sikh man dies after Vienna clash". BBC News. 2009-05-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8066005.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- ^ "Punjab riots after Vienna killing". BBC News. 2009-05-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8066783.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- ^ a b Singh, IP (1 February 2010). "Punjab sect declares new religion". The Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Punjab-sect-declares-new-religion/articleshow/5521656.cms. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
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