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RADHASOAMI FAITH - A HISTORICAL STUDY

Prof. A.P. Mathur
M.A., PhD, F.I.H.S., F.R.A.S. (London)
Former Vice-Chancellor, Agra University, Agra, India


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Preface

The socio-religious revolution or renaissance which took place in India in the nineteenth century is generally known for its three facets: the change in Indian thought current under the hypnotic impact of the West; a positive leaning towards puritanic revivalism as a reaction to the influx of wester ideas; and a deliberate attempt at synthesis of the Oriental and the Occidental. But besides these currents, there was one more - a spontaneous outburst of an inner urge of the Spirit, which was far away from any external influence whatsoever.

The father of this spiritual renaissance was Soamiji Maharaj, the founder of the Radhasoami Faith, who started his teachings as early as the twenties of the nineteenth century. Whatever he said or wrote was the outcome of his intuitive realization and mystic revelations.

Under this spiritual impulse he could draw a super-sensitive and English educated disciple like Hazur Maharaj towards him. The devotion of the disciple for the Master was matchless in form and precedence. And it was on his repeated requests that Soamiji Maharaj founded this esoteric faith in 1861.

The chief characteristics of this faith are love and devotion. It revitalized the medieval Bhakti trends and revived the ancient Guru traditions.

The faith presents a new concept of the Supreme Being, a novel revelation of the name "Radhasoami" and introduces a well-defined and developed method of internal practice -- surat-shabd-yoga -- to the seekers after Truth.

Not only an ascetic but also a man living in family can practise this Yoga. The faith has many other spiritual observances and a well spelt code of moral conduct to be followed by devotees.

The faith owes its systematization to the second guru, Rai Saligram Bahadur (Hazur Maharaj), who was its real architect.

The Radhasoami Faith has made a remarkable contribution in the socio-religion field as well. The founder gurus of the faith made direct hit upon the prevalent malpractices and anomalies in the indigenous socio-religious beliefs. They advocated for steady and gradual reforms in Indian society and simplified religion so as to make it accessible to all who desire salvation from worldly bondage, without any distinction of caste, colour and nationality.

Whereas voluminous literature has been produced on all other modern socio-religious movements like Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Theosophical Society, Ramakrishna Mission, etc., no comprehensive study so far been attempted on this universal religion.

This book is the first attempt to write a critical history of the Radhasoami Faith from its origin to date. It is based on an exhaustive study of all available original sources and also later works in Hindi, Urdu, English and other languages. The writer has the unique advantage of inheriting a great deal of original material and also of having access to all important papers and documents relating to the subject in the possession of the descendants of the gurus in Agra, Varanasi, and elsewhere. It was an uphill task to have studied such diverse material and to utilize it in the preparation of this small work. The condensing of all this copious matter into nearly two hundred pages was as difficult a task as sifting evidence contained in many a religious treatise. A glossary of technical words used in the texts of the faith is included in the appendix for the use of the reader. The author has been discreet in following the spellings of technical words as used by the founders of the faith; for example, Radhasoami and not Radha-swami. He has endeavoured to make this work as scientific as it could be possible.

The work was submitted to and approved by the Agra University as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy(1972).

The author is grateful to all those who have generously permitted him to make use of valuable historical documents in their possession. He is grateful to the secretaries of the Radhasoami Satsang (Soami Bagh, Agra), Radhasoami Satsang Sabha(Dayal Bagh, Agra) and Radhasoami Satsang (Beas, Punjab) and S.D. Maheshwari, Agra. He is also beholded to the authorities of the National Archives, New Delhi, the National Library, Calcutta and to the office of Postmaster General, UP Circle, Lucknow for permission to make use of the material in their possession. He is equally thankful to the librarians of Agra college and the Agra University libraries, where he has worked for long in the preparation of this work.

The author also takes the opportunity of placing on record his gratitude for the help and guidance so kindly extended to him by his supervisor Dr. G.N. Dwivedi, Principal, Government College, Nainital. He is deeply indebted to his revered teacher, the late Dr. A.L.Srivastava, the eminent Indian historian, for his learned and affectionate guidance in the completion of this work. In spite of his heavy preoccupation with scholarly pursuits, he was kind and generous enough to go through this thesis and make valuable suggestions for its improvement.

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