Emphasis on Love and Devotion. Reviving the bhakti traditions of Medieval India, the founders of Radhasoami faith emphasize the devotional aspect of religion. According to them bhakti alone would bring salvation to the suffering humanity. One should engender true love for the formless Supreme Being and take shelter (saran) in his divine will (mauj). Hazur Maharaj says that “a heart devoid of love or affection is as hard as stone and does not form a suitable receptacle for the light of Heavenly Grace and Mercy…The Supreme Being loves and takes special care of those who love Him with all their heart and soul and gradually draws them towards Himself – the Centre of Pure Light and Attraction.” Love, therefore, is the keynote of Radhasoami faith.
Advocacy of Guru-Bhakti. The tradition of guru-bhakti (devotion to the guru) has been revived by the exponents of the Radhasoami faith. The guru, they believe, is the manifested Supreme Being and as such it is guru-bhakti through which one would attain redemption from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. A total surrender of body, mind and soul at the feet of the guru is a pre-requisite of bhakti. Such an ideal devotion had been practised by Hazur Maharaj towards his guru. The source of eternal solace is, thus, the guru of the time. The founders assert the necessity of choosing the right guru and renouncing the false one. They have warned followers against the dangers of being led away by ignorance and compulsion at the time of selecting the guru. They further assert that only when the essential form (shabd-rupa) of the guru has been revealed to the follower through inner experience, he should adopt one as his guru; otherwise the guru should be treater as “elder brother or friend or a sadhguru.”
The idea of dependence on a guru in matters of religion does not seem to be injurious or invalid. Dependence on human factors has not been ignored in any religion. The divine light was revealed to Buddha and mahavira. The Bible and Quran were revealed to Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad. Even the Vedas bear testimony to the ancient rishis, expressing their inner realizations and intuitive experiences in literature. The medieval sufis and saints revealed unto themselves the formless Supreme Being and lit up the lamp of love to enlighten others. Dependence on human factor is, therefore, the normal attribute of human nature. The history of various religious sects bear testimony to the fact that decadence resulted from lack of able religious leaders to carry on the mission further.
But over-emphasis on the guru of the time in the tenets of the faith led to its ultimate split. In course of time, numerous branches and numerous gurus sprang up to distort the original teachings of the faith. Originally a faith of love and unity, it has been tending to degenerate into externalis and blind worship. A true speaker is baffled at the multiplicity of gurus which the faith present today and finds it difficult to find a true guru among them. The mandates of the founders regarding the selection of a read adept have been lost sight of in personal competition and selfish rivalries. Pure spiritualism propagated by the faith decayed fast because of mercenaries who allowed fissiparous tendencies to grow and strike at the roots of the faith.
A practical Religion – Blending of Bhakti and Yoga. The founders of the faith have essentially made it a faith of actual practice and behaviour. The philosophical moorings and thought-processes are subsidiary elements in it. It is through practice alone that teachings would prove efficacious. The founders of the faith set the motto: “Practice and observe the results yourself.” They introduces a mode of spiritual exercise – surat-shabd-yoga – and claimed to have based it on scientific lines. The practitioner of this yoga would derive practical benefits in the world and feel no pain at the time of death. An abhyasi dies while living. He gets absorbed in the bliss and ecstasy of higher and spiritual life and attains the status of a sthitpragya. Hardly does he feel the joys and sorrows of the world. The founders assert that surat-shabd-yoga is the easiest and best of all modes of yoga ever practiced in the country in the past or present. It can be practiced by all alike – men, women, old, young, rich and poor. A person leading a family life with all his temporal preoccupation can practise it as effectively as a recluse.
The faith also presents a harmonious blending of yoga and bhakti. The key to surat-shabd-yoga lies with the guru of the time. A practitioner must, therefore, practise bhakti of the guru as a prerequisite to successful performance of yoga. When the practitioner serves the guru with body, mind and soul and with all love and humanity dissolves his ego, he himself witnesses a transformation of his life within and without, and achieves remarkable progress in spiritual pursuit. The founders have, thus, delivered the message of love on practical grounds. They have affirmed that the path of love excels everything. True and selfless love is itself the yoga. Surat-shabd-yoga is the devotional mode of self-realization.
The Theory of Spiritual Sound is Scientifically Explained. The founders assert that surat-shabd-yoga is an improvement upon sahaj yoga of the medieval saints – shagal-i-awaz of sufis, pranayam and hathyoga of Hinduism. They base their spiritual practice upon the theory of sound. According to the founders, sound is the real guide of the spirit-entity. As in a dark and dense forest, one can find out the way to destination by catching the sound coming from a certain direction, so a practitioner of surat-shabd-yoga listens intuitively to the spiritual sounds resounding in the different regions of creation. In the course of spiritual practice, the spirit-entity can catch the eternal sound-current which is refulgently resonant in the highest person. Then alone it can attain the highest ecstasy and bliss leading to true salvation. The founders give a scientific explanation of the theory of the spiritual sound-current. Describing the economy of creation in detail, they hold that the theory of “spiritual sound” has been testified in many religions of the world.
A New Concept of the Supreme Being and His Abode. The founders claim that the concept of the Supreme Being as enunciated by them had so far been unknown. They call Him as Sat Purush Radhasoami Dayal. The Brahman with both His aspects, vachya and laksh,is dependent upon the Supreme Being Radhasoami for His own existence and creation. The founders assert that the Brahman of Hinduism, Allah of Islam and God of Christianity are the Lords of the spiritual-material region or the second grand division of creation which is not free from mind and matter. Brahman is in fact kal or the universal mind with purest form of matter latent as seed in Him. Brahman is in fact kal or the universal mind with purest form of matter latent as seed in Him. Brahman and His region cannot escape change, decay or dissolution. The founders envisage a new concept of the Supreme Being who is absolutely free from mind and matter and is the ocean of love, peace, intelligence, bliss, mercy, light and spirit. He is all-pure and all-spiritual and His abode knows as Radhasoami Dham or Dayal Desh is also all-pure and free from any admixture. The spirit entities are the particles of the true Supreme Being and as such their original abode is Dayal Desh. A worshiper of Brahman, will not attain true salvation because freedom from mind and matter will not be attained even after the attainment of Brahman. Those strive for total redemption from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth must, therefore, try the attainment of Dayal Desh – the region of Radhasoami Dayal.
A Synthetical Movement – It provides a Midpath. As would appear from a study of the philosophy of the faith, the founders made it a synthetical movement. Some of its teachings are inspired by original Hindu thought whereas others can be traced to medieval saints and sufis. Farquhar tries to trace the influence of the Buddhist scheme on its cosmogony. The emphasis upon love appears to be the continuation of Vaishnavite traditions and the idea of congregational prayer is taken, perhaps, from the Sikh order. Farquahar, who attempted to trace Christian influence in all the religious movements of the nineteenth century, says with regard to Radhasoami faith: “The unknown Supreme is constantly called the Heavenly Father; His Will is frequently emphasized…Works of faith and charity, the spirit of service and prayer…the forms of worship in regular services apart from the adoration of the guru are Christian.” But in fact the Radhasoami faith is purely and India faith. Neither Christianity, nor western impact could leave any imprint upon it. Many other thoughts and practices are derived from the mystic traditions of medieval India. However, the faith presents a message of unity, assimilation and synthesis, adorned with the luster of pure love.
The teachings of the Radhasoami faith lay stress on a midpath. One should neither renounce the world, nor become over-absorbed in it. It is essentially a faith of detached participation in worldly activities. The founders of the faith assert that true love and devotion at the holy feet of Radhasoami Dayal will generate detachment from the world. Thus as a grihastha (householder) one can fulfill worldly duties and still be a true virakta (unattached being). It is in fact a unique message.