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RADHASOAMI FAITH - A HISTORICAL STUDY: The Second Guru - His Life and Work

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


Hazur Maharaj

Glimpses of His Life and Miracles Associated with His Name

The second guru of the Radhasoami Faith, Rai Saligram Bahadur, popularly known as Hazur Maharaj, was born in a kayastha family of Peepal Mandi, Agra, on 14 march 1829. His father, Bahadur Singh, a lawyer of repute, was a highly religious and generous man. He died early leaving behind his widow, two sons and a daughter. At that time, Rai Saligram was only four years old. His mother, a talented lady, had therefore to struggle hard against heavy odds to provide her sons with the best possible education.

Throughout his academic career, Rai Saligram was a brilliant student. After completing his primary education in a maktab [Urdu school], he went to Agra College for higher studies. He passed the Senior Cambridge examination from this college in 1847 with distinction in Theology, English, Mathematics and Urdu. Subsequently he devoted himself to higher studies in Persian and Arabic. He also studied advanced books on religion, philosophy and astrology. He took great interest in learning Hindi and Sanskrit and within a short time acquired high proficiency in these languages. His ever-increasing thirst for knowledge knew no bounds.

He really desired to reveal unto himself the secrets of absolute Truth. Driven by an inner urge to seek a perfect guru, he visited many holy places in the country where he met many religious teachers and saints. He came to the conclusion that many reputed religious leaders were themselves labouring under delusion, and that they were deluding their disciples. Nevertheless, on the insistence of his mother, he agreed to receive initiation from the family priest on the clear understanding that he would discard the priest and his teachings as soon as he had found a true and perfect guru. His first marriage was short lived and his wife died after giving birth to a female child. He married again in 1852. His second wife was a talented lady and devoted to her husband. She gave birth to two daughters and three sons out of whom only one survived.

He was appointed as a second clerk in the office of Postmaster General, North Western Provinces soon after he had finished his studies. since he proved to be an honest and efficient in the department, he got rapid promotions. First he was promoted to the office of inspector of post offices, and then head assistant and later personal assistant to the Postmaster General. In 1871, he was appointed chief inspector of post offices in India, and in 1881 as the Postmaster General of the North Western Provinces with headquarters at Allahabad. He was the first Indian to hold this coveted post.

Being an administrator of outstanding ability, Rai Saligram introduced a number of new practices in the postal department, namely, land revenue money order scheme, insurance of parcels, value payable parcel [VPP], procedures regarding bearing letters, under stamped articles and telegrams and the total amalgamation of the district postal arrangements for official letters with general postal department. He toned up the services in the department during the difficult period of its growth and development. By his extraordinary grasp of departmental working, he successfully dealt with complicated pending cases. He removed confusion and redtapism prevalent in the department. These schemes proved very useful and convenient for departmental work and immensely benefited the people. He also recommended the issue of one-price post-card for the benefit of poor people. Further, he himself translated the rules and regulations of the postal department in the North Western Provinces and Punjab, into vernacular to acquaint the educated few with them. The government honoured him with the award of the title of Rai Bahadur in 1871, in appreciation of his meritorious services.

For enforcing honesty and efficiency in the rank and file of the department, he strictly dealt with persons found guilty of embezzlement. He had become so indispensable to the postal department that no scheme would go on paper without his prior consultation. The British authorities felt so much beholden to him for his outstanding contributions that they did not want him to retire early when he expressed such a desire in 1884. The Director-General personally requested him in a letter not to press for his retirement. However, when he insisted he was relieved of his duties in 1887. In a personal letter, the Director-General paid glowing tributes to him for his efficient work.

Worldly achievements, howsoever great, had no significance for Hazur Maharaj. What really mattered to him was the guidance of a true preceptor who would satisfy his spiritual thirst. His long - cherished ambition was realised when he met Soamiji Maharaj in 1858; in whom he could discern a real guide in flesh and blood. For twenty long years (1858-1878), he served the guru in manner unparalleled in the annals of bhakti.

When in 1878, Soamiji departed for his heavenly abode, Rai Saligram Bahadur succeeded him as the guru and inaugurated an era of consolidation in the history of Radhasoami Satsang. After his retirement from official duties, he finally settled at Agra and devoted his entire time to religious duties. For twenty years (1878-1898) he served humanity at large and spread the divine light of love which he had received from his master. He took very little food and slept less than four hours a day. Excessive work weakened him physically. He left for his heavenly abode on 6 December 1898 after a brief illness. Thousands of his followers rushed to Agra for his last darshan and paid homage to their benevolent guru. His samadhi was built by his son Rai Ajudhya Prasad at the very place where satsang was held. Paying a tribute to him, the Indian Mirror observed : " The death of Rai Saligram Saheb Bahadur of Agra will be sincerely regretted by the people of the North-west Provinces. The deceased gentleman occupied a high position in the Postal Department and enjoyed the confidence and respect of both the Government and the public. But we notice Rai Saligram death not so much because of his official position as because of the hold he had over the hearts of his countrymen. Indian official, who are in anyway in the service are apt to become some time denationalized. Rai Saligram, on the contrary, was a Hindu of Hindus, and the leader of a recognized Hindu association. He was a very charitable man, and his death is a distinct loss to the community."

Miracles beyond the reach of human reason have been generally associated with mystic saints of India and Saligram was no exception to it. Many stories about his occult are current at different centres of Radhasoami Satsang. A few miracles are mentioned below to illustrate the tremendous faith his followers had in him.

It is said that when he was about to be born, the gestation period of his mother extended eighteen instead of the normal nine month and his mother experienced no trouble on that account and the delivery was normal. When he was only a few month old, a cobra would come to his bed-room every night and to his mother's horror the child would catch hold of the cobra by the neck and with it. The poisonous creature did not harm to him.

Another story relate to an accident in which the boy Saligram fell down in the flooded Jamuna. Just when he was about to drown, some unseen hand caught hold of him and put him back into the boat.

Many of his followers experienced his miraculous power when he became the Santsatguru. Max Mueller, his contemporary, writes "the people are convinced that he can miracles, but he himself regards such thing as unbecoming and below his dignity." It is said that he granted vision and initiation in dreams to persons who were keen on initiation into the Radhasoami faith by Hazur himself but could not personally approach him. Many proof are available about his capacity to cure patients merely by his personal touch or a glance. Dr. Mukund Lall, the then assistant surgeon to the viceroy, often sent patients of chronic hysteria to Hazur Maharaj and all of them were fully cured.

It is said that many a foreigner came to his satsang after knowing his supernatural talents. A German theosophist and an American lady felt an inner call impelling them to seek spiritual guidance from Hazur Maharaj after having seen him in their dreams. The sanctity and spiritual impact of his residence are revealed by the belief that anyone who walked under the lamp-post in his lane, was sure to be attracted to the Radhasoami faith. People also thought that there was some magic in his eyes; even his casual glance would draw them towards him. Devotees who came to attend his satsang at Agra got so absorbed in the spiritual ecstasy of the saint's company that they would forget to attend to their official duties at the prescribed hour. To their surprise, they would find on reaching their office that the work allotted to them had been duly completed and they were marked present in the attendance register. Many of his followers recorded their experiences acknowledging Hazur Maharaj's grace and mercy in every walk of life. He granted them strength against evil forces. A compilation of these records would be sufficient material for an interesting book on mystic revelations.

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