Shootout at Ravidassia temple in Vienna
On 24th May 2009, our dear Sant Ramanandji was brutely assassinated in the Shri Guru Ravidass Temple on the Pelzgasse in Vienna, Austria.
Ramanand was initiated as a Sant (Saint) by Sant Garib Dass of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan.
He was seen and known as the most prominent leader of the Ravidassia religion and promoted equality and education throughout his life across India and abroad.
Born into a Shudar family on the 2nd of February 1952 in Punjab to Parents Mengha Ram and Jeet Kaur, he completed his education and set out to help mankind with the help of the Dera (a religious community in Bhallan, Punjab). His main mission was to help the less fortunate and abolish the indifference of the caste system which is made of four pillars (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra) with Shudar being at the bottom of the system a low caste category.
During the 1980s and 90s, Sant Ramanandji began visiting the United Kingdom, USA, Canada and later on to Europe where he enlighted many people who began following the Ravidassia principles and questioning the so-called caste system. He encouraged peace and harmony and stimulated meditation in order to obtain closeness with God which he viewed as the basis for a rewarding life. He believed in Guru Ravidassji and preached from the Guru Granth Sahib (which is the holy book of the Sikh community). This holy book also includes the holy scriptures of Guru Ravidassji as well as the 10 Gurus of the Sikh community. Due to this Sant Ramanandji and the Ravidassia (shudar), the community identified themselves as Sikhs but did not strictly believe in the principles of the religion such as the 5 K's or the wearing of a turban.
As a result of the Ravidassia community searching for their own identity and challenging the caste system, Sant Ramanandji was assassinated during a sermon on the 25th of May in Vienna by 6 Sikh extremists armed with a gun and daggers. During this unfortunate incident, the accompanying spiritual leader Sant Niranjan Dassji and members of the congregation were also injured. Sant Ramanandji was shot at close range and died later on in hospital due to his injuries.
This sent shockwaves to the Ravidassia community which led to a formation of the new Ravidassia religion which does not identify in any shape or form with the Sikh religion.