The Ramnamis are a sect from Chhattisgarh who believe in chanting the name of Ram as the sole means of devotion and worship. They belong to the Panth communities from this region who are mostly from the so called lower caste, reject bramhanical practices and the caste system, and are followers of bhakti marg. The Ramnamis, the Satnamis and the Kabirpanthis are the main Panth communities from this region.
The Ramnami community was formed in the late 19th century when a group moved away from the Satnami community in Chhattisgarh. It is believed that two individuals, Parsuram and Lahari, were responsible for the forging of this new community. The Ramnamis were able to arrive at core set of beliefs which set them apart from other Panth communities. These include belief in the name of Ram as the only means of salvation, of devotion and object of worship. They are not followers of any Guru or Sant, and reject any form of rituals or institutionalized practices. They believe that name of Ram is the sole means of self awareness and bhakti. The Ram they believe in is present only in the name, and not in any embodied form. In that sense they are not followers of the personage of Ram who born to Dasarath, the king of Ayodhya. They believe that the name of Ram preceded him, and represents the Universal being.
The Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas in many ways forms a core text for the Ramnamis. They recite sections of the text and sing them. In addition, they also sing and recite a floating corpus of verses from other Bhakti poets, particularly Kabir, Ravidas and Raskhan. These verses are sung and recited sometimes as part of themes that relate to bhakti thought, and at times as points of entry into discussion and debate on core principles of bhakti beliefs. Bhakti poetry is part of their living faith constantly explicated, negotiated and configured. This module presents this very deep and lived engagement with bhakti poetry and thought in the life of the Ramnami community.
This content is created as part of a project commissioned by the Directorate of Culture and Archaeology, Government of Chhattisgarh, to document the cultural and natural heritage of the state of Chhattisgarh.