|Doctrines|| ||These are an eclectic blend of Sikhism, Hinduism - mainly Vaishnavism, Theosophy, Christianity, and even traces of Buddhism. Most concepts are derived from Hinduism.|
At the centre of the doctrine and of overall importance is the guru. Radhasoami is the Supreme Being who appeared in the world as Sant Satguru, the perfect saint and guru, who taught the practice of Surat Sabda Yoga, the yoga or union of the surat, soul, with the sabda, the spirit-current or word. The guru imparts in secret to individuals and small groups the religious exercises, sadhanani, which are occult, Theosophical, and Hindu Tantric in origin. Religious techniques are emphatically explained in a scientific way using modern technological terms. "Sound practice" finds the current of sound, sabda, and follows this to the Supreme source, Radhasoami. One meditation method is to concentrate on the third eye and to recite the name of god given by the guru. There is also meditation on the guru or his portrait as a form of the Supreme Being. Other forms of worship are Christian. Because the guru is the source of revelation and the means of salvation there must be an unbroken line of gurus. The second guru of the original Radhasoami group, Rai Saligram Sahib Bahadur, wrote Radha Soami Mat Prakash, Exposition of Radha Soami Doctrine.
Radhasoami presides over a three plane universe, like the Buddhist conception, and each plane is divided into six divisions. You can be a Hindu, Moslem, Christian or of any faith and still be a Radhasoami. All religions are true, however the Radhasoamis have something extra which complements other religions and is superior to them. Only Radhasoami practices can take the soul to the highest level after its release from imprisonment in matter. Acts which free the spirit from matter are good and those which degrade the spirit are bad. The soul comes from Radhasoami and tries to return to Him. When the devotee merges with the Supreme Being he can keep his individuality when needed and he is a Sant, a son of the Supreme Being.
Animal food is forbidden as it increases materiality, and alcohol and drugs are to be avoided. Prayer and work to help others is a necessary part of daily life.
|History|| ||The Radhasoami Satsang was founded in Agra in 1861 by a banker named Shiv Dayal Sahib (1818-1878) when he publicly proclaimed his doctrine. He was the first guru and was later known as Soamiji Maharaj. From a Vaishnava family, he studied under the guru Tulsi Sahib. He was said to be able to send people into samadhi, religious trance. His tomb is in the Radha Soami Garden in Agra.|
The second guru, Rai Saligram Mat Prakash, was deeply impressed by the horrors of the Mutiny and turned to the spiritual life. He was largely responsible for giving a permanent form to the movement and systematised its teachings. His title was Huzur Maharaj and he died in 1898. The third guru, a Bengali brahmin whose title was Maharaj Sahib, established the Central Administrative Council in 1902 and the Radhasoami Trust in 1904, but he died in 1907.
After Maharaj Sahib the succession was disputed and the movement split into the Radhasoami Satsang (Soamibagh) which was the original colony, and the Radhasoami Satsang (Dayalbagh), a new colony surrounding the Soamibagh colony on three sides. The Dayalbagh colony ran an extensive agricultural programme and set up a college there, and also worked in manufacturing, medicine, and social services. A third group under Baba Jaimal Singh from the Punjab broke with Maharaj and set up as the Radhasoami Satsang (Beas).
With more dynamic leadership the Beas group has attracted a large following and beteen 1903 and 1948 it spread rapidly under Huzur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj (1858-1948), who also inspired the first American group of Radhasoamis in 1911. His grandson, Maharaj Charan Singh is the present guru. He is a graduate in law and arts and his intelligence, good looks, and graciousness have since the 1970's brought many foreigners and upper-class Indians into the group.
The ashram of the Beas group is called the Dera. It has been described as a beautiful well-built university and is on the banks of the River Beas in the Punjab. Thousands come to the weekend satsang, religious gathering. At bhandaras, special gatherings, a quarter of a million satsangis, devotees, meet for satsang, to receive initiation, and have free meals called langur.
The Radhasoami movement has continued to splinter into more groups in India, Europe, and the U.S., and there are now many independent groups with their own gurus. The Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission (Science of Spirituality) is named after Hazur Baba Sawan Singh, first leader of the Beas group, and also Kirpal Singh, their guru. Kirpal Singh died in 1974 and his son, Sant Darshan Singh, is the present guru. Sant Bani Ashram in New Hampshire follows the teachings of Kirpal Singh's disciple, Ajaib Singh.
|Adherents|| ||Membership of the different groups is kept secret. The largest group, Radhasoami Satsang (Beas) has as we have seen a quarter of a million satsangis at its bhandaras.|
| ||Each group has its main centre. Radhasoami Satsang (Soamibagh) and Radhasoami Satsang (Dayalbagh) are in Agra. Radhasoami Satsang (Beas) is at the Dera Ashram, Beas, Punjab. In the U.S., Sant Bani Ashram is in New Hampshire.|