By Swami Harshananda
Raidās literally means 15th century A. D. Neither God nor his devotees recognize caste based on birth as an important factor in social hierarchy. Many great leaders of the Bhakti Movement in the Middle Ages belonged to the lower strata of the society. One such was Raidās who was also called Ravidās and Rohidāsa who lived in Kāśī or Vārāṇasī.
Though born in a family of the cāmār or cobbler caste, Raidās was deeply devoted towards God and tried to lead a pure life. Driven out of the house by an enraged father who could hardly understand his spiritual aspirations, he set up his own home and business along with his equally pious wife. Hard-working and honest, he spent much of his time in singing the names and glories of God. He was one of the disciples of Svāmi Rāmānanda then famous saint of Kāśī and was a friend of Kabīr, another disciple of the same teacher.
Mīrābāī, according to some sources, was his disciple. Even the queen of Kāśī was one of his followers. Mīrābāī however is unlikely if she were a disciple of Svāmi Rāmānanda. Some of his compositions like ‘prabhujī turn candana ham pāni' are popular even today. He is said to have lived for 120 years.
- He lived in 14th century A. D.
- He lived in A. D. 1440-1518.
- He lived in A. D. 1547-1614.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore