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RADHASOAMI FAITH - A HISTORICAL STUDY: The First Guru - Establishment of the Faith

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


The Two Essentials

A perusal of Soamiji's religious thought shows that the two essentials emphasized by him are guru-bhakti (devotion to the master), and surat-shabd-yoga (inner spiritual practice).

(A) Guru-Bhakti

According to Soamiji, the spiritual current emanating from the Supreme Being has appeared in human form on this earth and it would ever remain here until all jivas have been redeemed . The continuous process of the manifestation of the spiritual current in the human form necessitates the extraordinary status and value of the guru of the time. Soamiji , therefore,exhorts jivas to search for the living adept and when he found , to serve him in all sincerity with body , mind and soul . He further asserts that those who desire redemption , should have singular devotion to and love for the holy feet of the Santsatguru. He alone can reveal unto the inner self of the jivas the holy name in order to set them free from the cycle of chaurasi.

Soamiji's writings are full of directions which the jivas should earnestly follow in order to find a living adept . He has also described the mode of performing ideal guru-bhakti in the satsang . According to him satsang would generate love and devotion and would purify his mind . He defines satsang as the company of Santsatguru or the Sadhguru at a place where people assemble to pray to the Supreme Being and to listen to discourses of the Santsatguru. It is only through satsang that jivas would ultimately come to recognize the difficulties and doubts removed , and receive instructions to improve their difficulties and doubts removed , and receive instructions to improve their conduct in the world . Regular participation in satsang would enable devotes to perform spiritual practice successfully.

(B) Shabd-Bhakti or Surat-Shabd-Yoga

Surat-Shabd-Yoga is the inner spiritual practice preached by Soamiji. It literally means the union of surat (spirit entity) with shabd (the holy resonance of the sound current). According to him, guru-bhakti would facilitate the shabd-bhakti. Soamiji revealed to the world the resonant sounds of the different higher regions and described thoroughly the dhun (sound), dham (region) and dhani (master) of all the higher divisions of creation. He asserts that one who is initiated into Radhasoami faith and performs ideal guru-bhakti, can practise surat-shabd-yoga easily and perfectly. This spiritual exercise can be practised by one and all, and without denouncing their worldly duties. He further asserts that Surat-Shabd-Yoga is the easiest and best spiritual practice.

His Views on Prevalent Religious Practices

(A) On Atheism and Religious Malpractices

Soamiji expressed his disappointment at the indifference of people towards spiritual pursuits and warned them about the transitory nature of the world and its objects. He is critical of persons who deny the existence of supreme power and refuse to see the all -pervading truth. He deplores the people who profess to be followers of Hinduism or Islam but in reality do not correctly follow the precepts of religion. The prevailing malpractices in Hinduism attracted his attention and he criticized the worship of man-made idols, rivers, trees, and plants. He also put forward arguments against various rituals declaring that no one could attain salvation by their practice.

(B) On Idol-Worship

Turning to idol worship, Soamiji argued that the worship of illusory inanimate objects can never bring spiritual progress. According to him, the human form with all its supreme physical, mental and spiritual capabilities is much superior to inanimate objects carved in stone or bronze and in pictures drawn by men themselves. He deplored the colossal ignorance shown by devotees in wasting their spiritual energies in the worshiping of such deities. In this respect, Soamiji may be compared to Swami Dayanand, another stalwart of Indian renaissance and the founder of Arya Samaj. Swami Dayanand called idol worship a pakhand which was not upheld by the Vedas. According to him, it is degrading to limit and confine the Infinite Almighty and the formless God within the carvings in stones, metal wood and other inert objects. Soamiji's approach is different from that of Swami Dayananda. According to him, the fault does not lie with the images/ as means of inner contemplation. The human mind is ever restless in the manifold business of the world and psychologically it is sound to provide some attraction to divert the attention from matter to spirit. He holds that in the early days, idol worship was taken in this context, and hence was a means for achieving the desired goal. As the time rolled on, the purpose came to be neglected and idol worship became an end in itself and led people to darkness. Taking a realistic view of human nature, Soamiji replaces the worship of lifeless symbols with that of a living being - the guru of the time - who is adept at the science and technique of shabd and its abhyas.

(C) On Pilgrimage and Fasts

Soamiji also criticized pilgrimages/ and fasts which according to Bhagwat dharma had become part and parcel of Hindu way of life. He considered pilgrimages/ as useless externalia. The places hallowed by great saints, he held, once served as centres of spiritual pursuit, but after their departure form this world the sanctity and the impact of spiritual life completely disappeared. Instead, these places have been converted into centres of mela and colourful festivities by priests for their own material gains.

Discarding fasts he asserted that originally its object was the purification of mind and control of senses but in course of time the purpose became infructuous, and fasting degenerated into festivals celebrated with plenty of dainty dishes.

(D) On Vedas

Unlike the exponents of the Brahmo Samaj, Soamiji did not deny the existence of the Vedas as storehouses of divine knowledge. But, according to him, they did not contain absolute knowledge. The origin of the Vedas can be traced only to the third grand region of creation. The fourth region - Nirmal Chaitanya Desh - could not be conceived by its authors. As the Vedas express limited knowledge, they cannot be regarded as infalliable. Their limitations have been explored by sants alone. Soamiji further contended that the secret of true Supreme Being is not disclosed in the Vedas, he asserted, cannot be attained without the help of a living adept - a fact that has been forgotten by the exponents.

(E) On Sant Traditions

Soamiji did not spare the followers of earlier sant traditions who had given up spiritual practice and raised a faith that they could attain salvation by worshipping Granth or the forms of the past gurus. He warned them repeatedly to give up all such useless externalia. Soamiji reminded them of the definite instructions given in the Granths for seeking the perfect living guru in order to attain salvation under his guidance. He also enjoined them to practise such ideals as were originally preached and propagated by earlier sants.

(F) On Other Religious Sects

Soamiji pointed out the inherent defects, which he thought were present in Islam, Jainism and Christianity. For example, he was critical of the multifarious extant observances such as roza, namaz and the like, prevalent in Islam. He did not find any sense in too much of self-denial practised by the Jains. He admitted the principle of equality and love of God as practised by Christians, but refused to recognize Christianity as a perfect religion because it originated from the region of kal and maya. In fact Soamiji did not favour any religious sect which did not affirm the necessity of a living adept. He emphasized the fact that real redemption could not be attained until the spirit entity reached its real source (region of Satpurush Radhasoami). According to him, these religions entangled the surat in kal and maya and thus failed to provide real salvation.

(G) On Bachak Gyan (Sophistry)

He is most trenchant in his writings about the sophists. He exposes their inherent weakness in posing to know too much when in fact they know very little or not at all, about the true religion. According to him they are merely bachak gyanis who memorize texts of religious books and recite them in order to befool the ignorant masses. Religion for them is only a means to achieve their own selfish ends. As they themselves fail to achieve spiritual height, Soamiji holds, they can never show the path of salvation to the jivas; they would rather entangle them in the cycle of chaurasi. Beside, the prevalent knowledge, according to him, did not conform to the Vedanta or Upanishads.

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Soamiji Maharaj Hazur Maharaj Lalaji Maharaj Kunwarji Maharaj Dadaji Maharaj