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


Future of Radhasoami Faith

The Radhasoami faith has gained popularity in modern India as a simple cult of love and devotion. It has made an impact on people who are fed up with materialistic trends of present age both within country and abroad. It provides a solution to those who are eager to embrace a religion which is free from external ritualism but full of intuitive contemplation and devotionalism. The search for truth of truth and philosophy of love propagated and practiced by founders gurus is very unique and appealing.

The faith is growing everyday. A survey of various centres of the faith indicates that the number of followers is steadily increasing. It has been able to attract seekers of Truth as also those who are prudent, sensitive and able to see efficacy of true religion through practice. People of lower strata of society, primarily villagers have come to join the faith in large numbers. They have sought relief from exploitations of priest in the principles of spiritual equality observed Radhasoami faith. The faith also appears to interest those who believe in mystic revelation. Some Muslims belonging to sufis and other liberal schools of Islam have joined it as they see a resemblance between their shagal-i-awaz and its surat-shabd-yoga.

The founders of faith have clearly spoken against proselytization and have introduced it primarily for genuine seekers or samskaris. After the founders of faith, however, often lack of spiritual experiences of followers and preachers led to decentralisation and split. Some of the centres did not adhere to pristine teachings of the founder gurus and most of them started indulging in propaganda against the very essentials of faith. As founder gurus did not create any organisation, many individuals opened centres to start teachings on their own perception, understanding and experiences. They gathered followers and were declared Guru. Till heavenly abode of Hazur Maharaj in December 1898, there was no other Guru except Hazur Maharaj and there was no gaddi(seat) in the Faith. It all proliferated with the Mauj (divine will) of Radhasoami Dayal so that Radhasoami (Shabd) and Surat-shabd-yoga could reach and spread in the vast humanity as a Goal and Path to salvation.

The split within the faith has resulted in its disintegration in the same way as with many past religious sects after their founder's death. If this happens, the teachings of the founders may be lost and the faith may adopt the very rituals and ceremonies against which it had revolted. It may also become stagnant and rigid by its tendency to ignore bhakti and yoga, and , by laying greater emphasis on material objectives. Such a diversion from pure spiritualism to selfish materialism followed at some centres is, indeed, a bad omen. The responsibility for the shift in emphasis lies with the self-styled gurus of different centres or so called branches.

However, it is not always necessary for divisive tendencies to create an unhealthy spirit or distort the pristine teachings of the faith. Apart from the tendency of religious groups to split into sects, men of intellectual vitality and independent judgment will always differ and wish to find new paths of adventure and experiment. In Radhasoami faith, the differences should be viewed in this light. It is evident, therefore, that differences relate largely to emphasis rather than fundamentals.

Besides, even after the split, there are strong integrating elements in their norms of life and principles of moral conduct. The leaders of Radhasoami faith have come to evolve a common social and religious outlook. Irrespective of belonging to different leaders and different satsang centres, they greet each other with the holy name of Radhasoami. This salutation is not only unique among the followers of faith but it also knits them in common bond. Another affinity in various groups is the daily routine of satsang or holy service whose programme is largely the same. The special meetings of satsang are held on special occasions when followers assemble in large numbers to pay homage to their guru. The special features of such congregations are also similar at the different centres.

The annual bhandara of the past guru is observed with zeal and enthusiasm in all centres and groups. The basic spirit of the bhandara is maintained by all leaders and no satsang centre has yet stopped it. The annual meet and community dinner present an ideal of the essential unity of the faith. The followers of the faith are not only strict vegetarians, but they also observe total abstention from liquor and intoxicants. No change is yet discernible in different centres with regards to the "dos" and "don't's".

The practice of a common devotional and spiritual exercise - surat-shabd-yoga - is followed by all branches and groups and groups. It signifies their basic unity. Leaders of almost all groups lay primary emphasis on the fundamental importance of shabd and guru of the time. All of them strictly believe that the secrets of shabd would be revealed through the aegis of Satguru. They grant initiation by explaining to the initiatee the fixed point of concentration and a definite posture for Yoga. They provide almost identical information regarding the performance of inner practice. The Radhasoami's have a common basic idea of self-help and the community is very active and enterprising in this regard. With self-help they march forward to mutual help.

Finally, the faith is stronger than the split. The message of true and selfless love is so poignantly preached and practised in the faith that it could never be distinguished. The surat-shabd-yog would escape all decadence and as long as there is a single practitioner of this yoga, the founders assert, the faith would be able to avoid degeneration. The spiritual potentialities would potentialities would ever remain in the world to meet all such challenges. The true seekers are bound to find truth of truth as long as sincere efforts are made for the search of eternal love. Retaining its sublime message of love and faith and maintaining its flexible nature to move with times without losing its original objective, the Radhasoami faith has a bright future to serve humanity.

Radhasoami Faith
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