Radha Soami sect is basically a religious satsang group which was started by Shiv Dayal Singh on the auspicious day of Basant Panchami in the year 1861. The famous American scholar in sociology, Mark Juergensmeyer has stated in his book called ‘Radha Soami Reality: The logic of a modern faith’, that the Radha Soami group and teachings can be considered a mixture of both Hinduism and Sikhism but still this sect is yet so different from every other cultural group.
The name, Radha Soami was given to the nameless God who is beyond all Gods and is given a name called Radha Soami, chanting the name(s) gives the person praying the power to lift their internal energy to reach the level of God consciousness. Juergensmeyer has also stated in his book that the conception of the interior realm was suggested by the sants and this realm has various tiers and discovering them is a journey of different levels of consciousness.
The Radha Soami movement started in Agra and it is coexistent with its headquarters based in Beas, which has the highest number of followers, more than 2 million. There are more than 30 branches of the Radhasoami group across the world. But the competing groups of Radha Soami sect have their headquarters based in Dayalbagh, Agra.
Teachings of Radha Soami
The Radha Soami Satsang Group preaches three main teachings. These are:
- Belief in the Merciful Radhasoami, that he is the Supreme Being and is omnipotent and is present within every individual.
- The soul or ansa/wave of the true Supreme Being is the same as the ray (ansa) of the sun.
- The third teaching says that there is no way of except practicing Surat Shabad Yoga in order to lead oneself to the Original Abode without any barrier. Any other superior path except this has not been discovered as yet.
Beliefs and Practices among Radha Soami Group
The faith of the RadhaSoami sect revolves around the six elements which are given as follows:
- Bhajan i.e. taking the name of ‘Sat Nam’
- Dera i.e. a community organization or shrine
- A living guru i.e. someone who can be trusted
- Satsang i.e. fellow community
- Bhandara i.e. a large community gathering where food is served
- Seva i.e. serve other people without any expectations from them
The Radhasoamis follow veganism and they are very strict about it and they do not keep the Guru Granth Sahib in their sanctum instead the guru is made to sit in the sanctum and do satsang by listening and singing hymns from the Adi Granth. They also believe in doing charitable work for the society, preaching social equality and forget about all the caste distinctions. Radhasoamis believe in covering one’s head or removing shoes while going inside a temple and they also distribute ‘Karah Prashad’ after the prayers.
List of Radha Soami Gurus
The Gurus of the Radha Soami group are given as follows:
- Shiv Dayal Singh – master, till 1878
- Jaimal Singh – Master, 1884-1903
- Baba Sawan Singh Ji MaharajMaster, 1903-1948
- Jagat Singh – Master, 1948-1951
- Charan Singh (guru) – Master, 1951-1990
- Gurinder Singh – Master, 1990 – present
Radha Soami Satsang Beas Lineage
The Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) lineage is given as follows in the chronological order:
Radha Soami Shiv Dayal Singh (Master Till 1878)
- Birth: 24th August, 1818 at Panni Gali, Agra
- Title given: Param Sant Sat Guru
- Work and Teachings: Shiv Dayal Singh Ji was an ardent follower of Sant Tulsi Das Ji and he gave up his job to follow religious pursuits. Sant Dayal Singh ji started religious practices at the age of 6. For 15 long years, he practised Surat Shabad Yoga and on the spring festival he started doing Satsang. He had a deep impact on many of his followers because of his high learning and religious teachings. His most beloved disciple, Rai Saligram requested him to start doing satsang and preach his valuable words in the society, post which Shiv Dayal Singh ji started the Radhasoami Satsang on the auspicious day of Basant Panchami in January 1861.
- Books: Revealer of the Raadhasoami Faith, Prose: Translation with Commentary of the Discourses of Sri Shiv Dayal Singh alias “Soamiji Maharaj”, The Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sir Bachan Radhasoami
- Death: He died on 15th June, 1878 at Panni Gali, Agra at the age of 59.
Radha Soami Jaimal Singh (Master from 1884 – 1903)
- Birth: July 1839 at Ghuman, Punjab
- Title given: Jaimal Singh is popularly called as Babaji Maharaj by his disciples.
- Work: Jaimal Singh had served as a sepoy in the British Indian Army and later on was accorded the rank of a havildar/sergeant. He settled in an isolated, barren place outside Beas town after he got retired from the army. That isolated place slowly and steadily became a colony which came to be known as the ‘Dera Baba Jaimal Singh’ and this place is now famous around the world as the Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization. Shiv Dayal Singh ji initiated Jaimal Singh ji into practicing of the five sounds which made Jaimal Singh ji a sadhu and he became dedicated towards spiritual practice.
- Teachings: Jaimal Singh most prominent teachings were: the need to have a living spiritual guide and being proficient in practice of Nam (Inner Sound). Since Jaimal Singh could describe the advantages and disadvantages of the yogic methods in relation to Surat Shabad Yoga.
- Death: He died on 29th December, 1903 in Punjab Province, British India at the age of 64.
Radha Soami Sawan Singh (Master from 1903 – 1948)
- Birth: 19th or 27th July, 1858at Jatala, Ludhiana, Punjab, British India
- Title given: Bade Maharaj Ji aka The Great Master
- Early life, work and teachings: Sawan Singh Grewal was born in a Jat Sikh family to a Subedar father. He studied engineering from Thomason College of Civil Engineering, Roorkee and then joined the Military Engineering Service. He got married to Kishan Kaur and they had three children. Sawan Singh Ji used to study scriptures of different religions but he connected very strongly with Gurbani of the Sikh Gurus. He had a contact with an enigmatic Baba Kahan of Peshawar from whom Sawan Singh ji thought to seek initiation but he refused to do so for him. Later on, Sawan Singh Ji was at Murree where got to meet Jaimal Singh Ji and from 15th October, 1894, Sawan Singh Ji started receiving his initiation from Baba Jaimal Singh Ji. Sawan Singh Ji retired in 1911 on government pension and started developing the Dera Baba Jaimal Singh at Beas. He would help in sheltering the people who suffered in the Partition of India. His followers came from every religion and from abroad as well.
- Death: 2nd April, 1948 in Punjab, Dominion of India
Radha Soami Jagat Singh (Master from 1948 – 1951)
- Birth: July 1884 at Nussi, Punjab
- Early life and teachings: Jagat Singh, also called Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh used to be a chemistry professor and an ardent disciple of Hazur Maharaj Sawn Singh Ji. Jagat Singh Ji was the third Master of Radha Soami Satsang Beas Dera. He was known as the perfect disciple as he was very quiet, discreet, self – effacing and humble. As an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Punjab Agricultural College, Lyallpur, he also went on to become the Vice Principal of the same college and was later on awarded with the title of ‘Sardar Bahadur’ for his excellent services. In 1910, he got his initiation in the enigmatic practicing of Surat Shabad Yoga under Hazur Maharaj Sawan Singh Ji. He retired in 1943 from the Lyallpur College and spent his time meditating and in doing Shabad Abhyas.
- Death: He died on 23rd October, 1951 at the age of 67 at Beas, Punjab
Charan Singh (Master from 1951 – 1990)
- Birth: 12th December, 1916 at Sikanderapur, Sirsa, Punjab, British India
- Early life and work: After Jagat Singh, Charan Singh became the Satguru and headed the Radhasoami Satsang Beas dera, starting from 1951 and served till 1990. For around 4 decades, Charan Singh Ji served the Beas sangat. He was the grandson of Sawan Singh Ji who got him into initiation. Charan Singh Ji followed and preached all the spiritual teachings of Radha Soami gurus of Beas including meditation, spiritual philosophy of right living and the realization of God. All these teachings are based on Sant Mat, taken from all the religions.
- Death: He died on 1st June, 1990 at the age of 73 at Beas, Punjab
Gurinder Singh (Master from 1990 – present)
- Birth: 1st August, 1954 at Moga, Punjab
- Early life/background: Gurinder Singh was born into a Dhillon family who were already the followers of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas Dera. He studied from the Lawrence School, Sanawar (H.P.) and then did his bachelor’s from Panjab University, Chandigarh. He was nominated as the next head of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas Dera in the year 1990.
- Gurinder Singh Ji is now the current head of the RSSB where lessons of spiritual development take place such as following a lacto – vegetarian diet, parting away from alcohol, tobacco, drugs and leading a moral way of life meditating and remembering God. Huge number of people visit RSSB on some special designated weekends to hear spiritual discourses of the Baba Ji. All major RSSB’s centers in India hold a satsang which is givenby the present Guru, Gurinder Singh Ji. Abroad tours are also organized where Baba ji goes during April – August to preach the teachings of Radha Soami sect to the people abroad who cannot come to India to listen them otherwise.