Dera Sach Khand (Punjabi Gurmukhi: ਡੇਰਾ ਸਚ ਖੰਡ ਬੱਲਾਂ, Shahmukhi: ڈیرہ پالیسیاں کان بالا) is a religious social organization based in the village of Ballan near Jalandhar, Punjab, India. It was founded by devotees of Guru Ravidass.
Dera Sach Khand 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 Guru Ravidass 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 Guru Ravidass at Seer Goverdhanpur Varanasi U.P. Now this Janam Asthan and as 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 Place of Worship with gold so that it acquires the status which the religious headquarters of any community deserves.
The Dera has also built many Darbars in the name of Guru Ravidass in other states of India such as Sirsgarh in Haryana and Katraj in Pune. The Dera has also managed to split the Ravidassia community with its disrespect and flagrant disregard of protocol of Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs.
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 Ravidass 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 Ravidass or bring out publications on related subjects. Thus far 22 scholars have been awarded gold medals for their contribution in this area.
Dera Sach Khand Ballan is a Ravidassia 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 Guru Ravidass temple in Vienna, Austria, seriously injuring the head of the Dera Sach Khand and killing another leader, Sant Rama Nand Ji.
News of the attack on the temple triggered riots in Punjab, and across northern India.
Sant Ramanand Dass Ji (From 1952 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 2 February 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 lifetimes 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.
Begumpura Shehr is a Punjabi-English-Hindi trilingual, when Sant Garib Dass Ji became Gaddi-Nashin (Leader) of Dera Sachkhand Ballan on 7 February 1982. The great Saint also understood the importance of having a newspaper, therefore Maharaj started a newspaper named "Begumpura Shaher" in 1991.
Sant Surinder Dass Bawa is the Chief Editor of Begumpura Shaher and had founder editor Shaheed Sant Ramanand Dass ji.
Some of the developments which took place during this period are as follows:-1. Laid the foundation stone of the Shri Guru Ravidass Janamsthan at Seer Goverdhanpur in Varanasi on 1972 under the stewardship of Sant Garib Dass Ji.
2. Laid the foundation stone of the Shri Guru Ravidass Gate at Varanasi on 25 May 1997 by the then National President of Bahujan Samaj Party Saheb Kanshi Ram.
3. The inauguration of the gate was done on 16 July 1998 by the then President of India Shri K. R. Narayanan.
4. Laid the foundation stone of the Sant Sarwan Dass Model School at Hadiabad, Phagwara on 16 April 2002 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
5. The inauguration of the school was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 5 April 2004.
6. Laid the foundation stone of the Shri Guru Ravidass Satsang Bhawan on 12 March 2000 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
7. Shri Guru Ravidass Satsang Bhawan Inaugurated on 15 February 2007 on the birthday celebration of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
8. Laid the foundation stone of the Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Eye Hospital at Dera Sachkhand Bal on 10 November 2004 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
9. Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Eye Hospital Inauguration on 15 February 2007 on the birthday celebration of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji.
10. The holy Swarn Palki (gold palanquin) was installed in Shri Guru Ravidass Satsang Bhawan on 15 February 2007 on the birthday celebration of Sant Sarwan Dass Ji by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
11. The holy Swarn Palki (gold palanquin) was installed in Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Mandir Varanasi on 21 February 2008 on the birthday celebration of Shri Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji.
12. Laid the foundation stone of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Sirsgarh Haryana on 31 July 2003 by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji.
13. The inauguration of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Sirsgarh Haryana was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 31 July 2005.
14. Laid the foundation stone of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Katraj Pune, Maharashtra was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 7 December 2003.
15. The inauguration of Shri Guru Ravidass Mandir, Katraj Pune, Maharashtra was done by Sant Niranjan Dass Ji on 7 December 2005
They were instrumental in bringing social consciousness among the Dalits of Punjab (Juergensmeyer,1988:84-85). Mangu Ram Mugowalia, the founder of the Ad-Dharmi movement, visited the Dera Ballan and sought its support in popularizing the image of Guru Ravidass among the Dalits of Punjab (Juergensmeyer, 1988:85). The association of the Dera with the Ad Dharm movement becomes further clear from the fact that Sant Sarwan Dass, the then head of the Dera Ballan (October 11, 1928 – June 11, 1972), offered juice to Mangoo Ram to open his fast-unto-death undertaken by him as a counter measure to that of Mahatama Gandhi‟s against the Communal Award in 1932 (Bawa, 2004:6). Although this movement petered out after the first general election in independent India, “…Deras such as that of Sarwan Das remain popular destinations for pilgrimage in the Punjab” (Juergensmeyer, 1988:85). Dera Ballan also hosted the mammoth Dalit conference (13 December 1970) organised by Mangu Ram Jaspal, namesake of the famous Mangoo Ram, to revive the Ad-Dharmi movement.32 It was during this conference that the legendary Mangoo Ram and many other prominent leaders of the Ad-Dharmi movement commended the contribution of Sants of Dera Ballan towards the emancipation and empowerment of Dalits. Sant Sarwan Dass also met Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1948 in Delhi at his residence and encouraged him to fight continuously for the emancipation of the downtrodden. During Dr. Ambedkar‟s visit to Punjab in 1951, Sant Sarwan Dass sent a message wishing him success in his struggle for the emancipation of the Dalits (Bawa, 2004:6).
Originally, the holy book Granth Sahib was recited in Ravidassia gurudwaras. However, after the Vienna attack, Sant Samaj and Ravidassia Community and Dera Sach Khand at Ballan did away with the tradition, and started reading Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji that contains 240 hymns by Guru Ravidass from the teachings of Guru Ravidass, and some of which can also be found in the Granth Sahib.
In 2010 the Dera formally proclaimed their religion as Ravidassia Religion at Seer Govardhanpur in Varanasi, the birthplace of Guru Ravidass. The holy book Amritbani Sri Guru Ravidass Ji was also introduced and Ravidassia religion has the Har symbol and greeting as Jai Gurudev.