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Guru Ghasidas | Biography & Life History Of GHASIDAS | Dalit History

Guru Ghasidas

Guru Ghasidas | Biography & Life History Of GHASIDAS | Dalit History

Guru Ghasidas was born on 18 December 1756 and died at the age of eighty in 1836. He was born in village Girodhpuri 130 kms from Raipur of Chhattisgarh in an untouchable family. Ghasidas was born in a socio-political milieu of misrule, loot and plunder.

The Marath the local had started behaving as Kings. Ghasidas underwent the exploitative bitter experiences specific to untouchable communities in the hindu caste-ridden society. From an early age, he started rejecting social inequity and to understand the problems faced by his community and to find solutions, he traveled extensively in that part of India which presently Chhattisgarh state of India.

He advocated equal rights for all the untouchable communities. Ghasidas was unlettered like his fellow untouchables. He deeply resented the harsh treatment to his brotherhood, and continued searching for solutions but was unable to find the right answer. In search of the right path he decided to go to Jaganath Puri and on his way at Sarangarh (presently in Chhattisgarh) he attained true knowledge.

It is said that he announced Satnam and returned to Giordh.On his return, he stopped working as a farm worker and became engrossed in meditation. After spending six months in Sonakhan forests doing meditation, Ghasidas returned and formulated path-breading principles of a new egalitarian social order.

The Satnam Panth (sect) is said to be based on these principles formulated by Ghasidas. They were honest, industrious and have formed a brotherhood calling themselves Satnamis. Satnam means good name by good work Guru Ghasidas through Satnamin principles initiated a socio-religious order, which rejected the premier position of Brahmins and completely demolished the exploitative and hierarchical caste system.

This new order was a challenge to the brahminical social order and it treated all human beings as socially equal. According to Satnam Panth, truth is God and there is only one God, which is Nirgun (formless) and Anant (infinite). Ghasidas realised the link between dominance of Brahmins and idol worship and therefore Satnam rejects any form of idol worship. Interestingly, Ghasidas had a holistic vision and felt that systemic reforms to remove social injustice and inequality would remain inadequate and incomplete without reforming the individuals.

This underlying principle led to prohibition of liquor for the followers of Satnam Panth. Guru Ghasidas also formulated some principles, which clearly reflect his love for animals and his desire to put an end to cruelty towards animals. It is against the principles of Satnam to use cows for agriculture, to plough the fields after midday and consume non-vegetarian food. Several myths have been built around the legend of Guru Ghasidas in Chhattisgarh.

These myths and beliefs attribute supernatural powers to him and stories like his ability to revive the dead, as he did with his wife and son after their death, are widely heard. However the key point is that Guru Ghasidas has been accepted as a visionary social reformer and the high number of Satnam followers is a testimony to this fact.

According to the 1901 census there were around 4,00,000 people adhering to the principles of Satnam Panth. The first martyr from Chhattisgarh in the Indian war of Independence of 1857. Veer Narayan Singh, was also deeply influenced by the teachings of Guru Ghasidas. The satnami tradition also lives on in the form of a vast collection of panthi songs, commonly sung by groups during street procession. Many panthi songs vividly described Guru Ghasidas' life.

Guru Ghasidas University is a Central University in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh that was inaugurated on 16 June 1983.  A reserve forest named as ‘Sanjay Reserve’ was in undivided Madhya Pradesh. After Madhya Pradesh was divided in 2000, a large part of the then Sanjay National Park went to Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh government renamed this forest area, with an area of 1440 km2 falling under its jurisdiction, as Guru Ghasidas National Park in Koirya and Surguja districts

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