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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

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His Views on Social Problems of the Day

In the social sphere, Soamiji touched upon to inter-related evil - the rigid caste system and the supremacy of the priests. His writings clearly mention that all the four castes had forgotten their duties especially Brahamans and the kshatriyas who claim superiority over other sections of society and that they were more concerned about their status than their virtues and even stooped to any low means to attain selfish ends. He held the priestly class responsible for all the anomalies prevalent in Hinduism. He criticised the school of renunciation and held that people renounced the world because of their inability to overcome their passion and desires.

Appraisal

Soamiji delivered to the suffering humanity the message of spiritual solace at a most appropriate time. The ignorant and illiterate masses, socially held in low esteem by the priestly classes, had to take shelter under other religion. Not one religious them could save them from conversion and infuse in them the spirit of self confidence. It was at such a period of crisis that Soamiji came to their rescue.

He revived the tradition of guru-bhakti. The guru of the time (living adept) was the pivot round whom religious teachings revolved. He put forward convincing arguments against ritualism in the prevailing religious beliefs. He delivered the message of true salvation for the mortals and emphasized a synthesis of karma, gyana and bhakti. He revealed a Supreme Being who is all - pure and all - spiritual, and His region - the fourth grand division of creation - as free from kal and maya and the real abode of surat.

Soamiji's most important contribution to religion is the practice of surat-shabd-yoga. He first explained the Supreme Energy, the sound - current, the all - spiritual nature both of the ultimate reality and the spirit entity and the holy name so resonant in the creation. Then he prescribed a set spiritual exercises by which, the spirit entity could transferred through various higher regions of creation and finally reach its original abode and enjoy everlasting bliss peace. His surat-shabd-yoga is easier than pranayam and hath-yoga. The devotee practicing this exercise does not have to abandon his normal worldly duties. According to Soamiji the only pre-requisite to his yoga is true and sincere devotion to the Santsatguru.

Soamiji's books clearly reveal the might of his pen and force of his argument. His verse composition is known as Sar Bachan Chhand-band. His poems are replete with emotional appeal - a successful blending of popular poetic expressions from different languages of north India such as, Khari-Boli, Awadhi, Brijbhasha, Rajasthani and Gurumukhi. Many words from Urdu, Persian, Bengali and Sanskrit add to the cultural synthesis already discernible in Hindi literature ever since the Bhakti period. His Hindi prose book Sar Bachan Bartik is a valuable contribution to the development of the Hindi prose just before the advent of Bharatendu Harishchandra. Brevity, straight forward expressions and emphasis on beliefs are some of the rare qualities of his prose. For a devotee, His books are the edicts of the Supreme Being.

Among the nineteenth century religious leaders, Soamiji occupies an important place. He preached the gospel of love and devotion even earlier than Ramakrishna. However, one has to admit that his teachings are confined to spiritualism alone. He has not touched national problems anywhere in his writings and is indifferent to other social problems except the caste system and dominance of priests. A few women who participated in the daily satsang at his residence discarded purdah and learnt some Hindi to recite from holy books. Yet nowhere has Soamiji pleaded for women's emancipation. It seems as if he was only an advocate of the emancipation of the inner self - the Soul - and as such he did not think it necessary to divert his attention to socio-political problems. He was a param sant, ever absorbed in the mysteries of spiritual life.

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