|(Message of love and devotion by Dadaji Maharaj)|
In an age of ever growing materialism, and a distinct apathy towards the spirit and the spiritual the Radhasoami faith, founded in 1861 by Soamiji Maharaj, presents a bright and novel way of life to give spiritual solace to the suffering humanity by a rational, balanced and practical approach to intellectual doubts and queries on religion. The Radhasoami faith is essentially meant for such persons as are really aggrieved and agonised from the miseries, tensions and sufferings of this world and seek relief and solace and also for those who realizing the transitory nature of this world and its objects have a deep craving to get out of this miserable plight and attain the Supreme Bliss and realize the Truth of Truths.
The faith thus advocates a way of life which will not only lead to total redemption but also provide inner strength and spiritual bliss to bear with the pleasures and pains of this world with equanimity. The Radhasoami Faith gave a call that has been long ignored and forgotten. The faith may correctly be described as an incessant quest after spiritual truth and ultimate realization of the True Supreme Being whom the founders of the faith called Radhasoami.
The entire thought and practices of the faith centre round the name Radhasoami which is unique in form and content both. Some people have confused it with the first Guru’s name and that of his spouse while others have mixed it up with Radha Krishna. Both are wrong. A categoric assertion in Radhasoami faith is that this name is Dhunyatmak – ever reverberating sound. The name is not the creation of any man, but the Supreme Being first manifested Himself through this sound. It resounds in splendid refulgence in the highest sphere and can be heard within themselves by those who perform devotion as enjoined by the founders of this faith.
The faith is marked by a new concept of a Supreme Being and His Abode. The concept of the Supreme Being as enunciated in the faith has so far been unknown. The Supreme Being is called in the faith as Satpurush Radhasoami Dayal 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 known as Radhasoami Dham is also all pure and free from any admixture. The Brahm with both its aspects Vachya and Laksh is dependent on the Supreme Being Radhasoami for his own existence and creation. The Brahm of Hindu religion, the Allah of Islam and the God of Christianity are in varying degrees, the lords of the spiritual material region of the Second Grand Division of the Creation which is not free from mind and matter. Brahm is in fact Kal or the Universal mind with purest form of matter latent as seed in him. Brahm and his region cannot escape change, decay or dissolution.
A worshiper of Brahm will not attain true salvation because freedom from mind and matter will not be attained even after the attainment of Brahm. Therefore, those who seek true salvation must try to attain the highest abode Dayal Desh- The Region of Radhasoami Dayal. For achieving true salvation, the Radhasoami Faith enjoins upon the devotees to practise Surat Shabd Yoga which is the devotional mode of self realization. It is asserted that the Surat Shabd Yoga is an improvement upon the Sahaj Yoga of Medieval saints, the Shagle- Awaz of the Sufis and the Pranayam and Hath Yoga of the Hindus. The spiritual practice as propagated in the faith is based upon the theory of sound which is scientifically explained in the Radhasoami Faith. 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 sound resounding in the different regions of the creation. In the course of spiritual practice the spirit entity can catch the eternal sound current which is refulgently resonant in the highest region. Then alone it can attain the highest ecstasy and bliss leading to true salvation. The Radhasoami faith is actually a faith of actual practice.
The philosophical moorings and thought processes are subsidiary elements in it. An Abhyasi dies while living. He gets absorbed in the bliss and ecstasy of higher and spiritual life and attains the status of ‘Sthit-Pragya’. A true Abhyasi does not feel joys and sorrows of this world. The Surat Shabd Yoga is the easiest and the best of Yoga ever practised in the past or present. It can be practised by all alike, men and women, rich and poor. A person leading a family life with all his or her temporal preoccupations can practise it as effectively as a recluse, rather more efficaciously. Asceticism is not recommended in the faith. But the practice of Surat Shabd Yoga is dependent on the love generated in the devotee’s heart for Supreme Being Radhasoami Dayal.
The Radhasoami faith therefore advocates the blending of Yoga with Bhakti. The primary emphasis is on the Bhakti of the Guru. As a matter of fact the key to Surat Shabd Yoga lies with the Guru of the time. The Guru is the manifested Supreme Being and as such it is Guru Bhakti through which one would attain redemption . A total surrender of one’s self at the feet of the Guru is the most important factor in Bhakti. A practitioner must therefore practise Bhakti of the Guru as a prerequisite to successful performance of Surat Shabd Yoga.
Such an ideal devotion has been practised by Hazur Maharaj towards his Guru Soamiji Maharaj. When the practitioner serves the Guru with body, mind and soul in all humility and dissolves his ego, he himself witnesses a great transformation of his life, within and without, and achieves remarkable progress in spiritual pursuit. The source of eternal solace is thus the Guru of the time. The prime necessity of a devotee is to search out a true Guru and renounce the false ones. However the faith warns the followers against the danger of being led away by ignorance and compulsion at the time of selecting the Guru. It has been asserted that only when the essential form ‘The Shabd Rupa’ has been revealed to the follower through inner experience, he should adopt one as his Guru. Up to such time he should be treated as a guide or a preceptor. For a proper selection it is important on the part of the devotee to develop unflinching faith in the Holy Feet of the Supreme Being,The Radhasoami Dayal, and go on praying to Him to facilitate his reaching the perfect Guru. And once the devotee has the inner experience or is attracted towards his personality like a fish to the water, lotus to the sun or the iron to the magnet, he should have no hesitation in accepting the Guru, as the incarnation of Radhasoami Dayal. It should be an article of faith, not a matter of intellectual interpolation.
Faith is an important factor for both the performance of Bhakti and Seva as well as the practice of Surat Shabd Yoga. It is very clear that the entire teachings of the faith rotate around the personality of the Guru. Whether it is a conceptual belief or the devotional practice, the Guru is the pivot around which the devotee rotates. A devotee who receives His grace, mercy and blessings catches the inner sound and one day attains the Ultimate Reality.
The inherent faith in the Guru will generate a natural attraction towards him and then the gift of love would be bestowed upon the devotee by the true Master who as a matter of fact is Love Personified. Love for Guru is love for Radhasoami Dayal. The Radhasoami Faith delivers the message of love on practical grounds. It is affirmed time and again that the path of Love excels everything else. True and selfless love is itself the Yoga. Defining the true love, Hazur Maharaj says “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.” It is not necessary for such a devotee to renounce the world or become over absorbed in it. It is essentially a faith of detached participation in worldly activities. Thus a householder can fulfill worldly duties and still be a true ‘Virakta’.
The Radhasoami Faith thus lays stress on the midpath. The ‘Swarath and ‘Parmarath’ can go together, but the devotees in spite of their worldly obligations, should not attach themselves too much in the world. They should always fear the Supreme Father Radhasoami who is watching all that they do. Therefore, they should not do anything that displeases Him. The freedom granted the devotees, to carry on their material pursuits should never be meant that they have been given a free license to do as they please. If the faith of love proffers rights, it demands obligations also from the devotees. The rights and duties go together. A devotee is supposed to lead a conscientious life.
The Radhasoami faith has struck at the root of caste system, because the caste distinctions are unworthy in the faith of spiritual love and devotion.
The faith advocates sweeping changes in the deep rooted customs. It also advocates that all the devotees called Satsangis should act like members of one family. Within the meetings of the faith there is a good deal of freedom and equality. Men of all castes mix freely together, sit in satsang together, live together and dine together specially on annual Bhandaras of the past Gurus. There is a sort of free happy fellowship. The faith stands for humanitarianism and universal brotherhood. Caste, creed and nationality are no barriers for a seeker after truth. No human being is insignificant whether he is rich or poor, high or low. One who is superior in Bhakti and Abhyas excels. The more a devotee makes advances in his Parmarthi pursuits, the more humble he becomes. Humility is the most beautiful ornament which a devotee should crave to own and retain. A positive attempt with obviously good results has been made in doing away with the irrelevant customs and traditions of the society and the festivals like Holi and Diwali have been given a socio-religious colour while maintaining the revelry associated with them. Basant has a special attraction for the followers of this faith. It was on this day that the faith was established. As such it is a day of thanksgiving and prayer. Guru Purnima is another important day in Radhasoami satsang when the devotees make offerings to the Guru of the time and pray to him for their spiritual upliftment. Besides these, the birthdays of the founder Gurus Param Purush Puran Dhani Soamiji Maharaj and Param Purush Puran Dhani Hazur Maharaj and the Guru of the time, are observed with great enthusiasm and jubilation.
An attempt has been made at social integration by performing inter caste marriages among the satsangis. The age – long marriage rituals have been revolutionised. Marriages are performed in special satsang meetings presided over by the Guru of the time. After recitation from the holy scriptures, the bride and bridegroom exchange garlands and rings, do the ‘Pheras’ and take an oath before the Guru that they would adhere to the basic principles of the faith and lead a happy and prosperous married life, would ever be conscious of their duties not only towards each other but also towards the family, society and humanity at large.
The Guru in his exhortation, enjoins upon them to earn an honest livelihood, do good to others and adhere to the tenets of Radhasoami Faith, to give and receive love from all and everyone, adopt virtue and shun evil in their daily dispensation and remember that Hazur Radhasoami Dayal is ever watchful of all that they do. Service to the Supreme Being, the Guru and the mankind should be their motto. There should always be a built-in reminder for them that spiritualism reigns supreme over materialism. Their attitude towards life should never be narrow and parochial. It should be broad-based and humanitarian. The entire marriage ceremony is conducted with both dignity and festivity. All customary rituals have been set aside and the ceremony is over within two hours. Marriage is followed by the distribution of ‘Prasad’ and a modest feast which is not compulsory.
In their day to day life the satsangis normally act according to the advice given by the Guru. All customary rites in regard to birth, Mundan, Upnayan of a child have been dispensed with. A reference is made to the Guru in this regard and his orders are followed. It is categorically asserted in Radhasoami Faith that a person who adheres to the name Radhasoami and does his devotional practice regularly and generates love for the Guru and the Supreme father Radhasoami, is invariably protected from all the evil forces at the time of his death. It is generally seen that when a satsangi dies, there is spiritual refulgence vividly discernible on his face. Whereas a non-satsangi has to account for and undergo severe punishment for all his deeds at the time of his death, a satsangi is saved by the Guru who in his Nij Roop appears and takes away the spirit and places it in higher regions. As such the last rites of satsangis are performed without observance of the prevalent rituals. Stress is laid on charity and alms- giving to the poor. A Bhandara on behalf of the departed soul is usually held in obeisance to Hazur Radhasoami Dayal for His benign protection and grace.
It is pertinent to observe here that the day of departure of the Guru has great significance in Radhasoami Faith. It is believed that the Guru showers his mercy and grace in abundance on this auspicious day. Therefore on this day annual Bhandara is held and satsangis from far and wide assemble in very large numbers. Special Aarti satsang is organized and all the satsangis partake the Bhandara Prasad by dining together. They are recipients of Special Grace and Mercy. Such satsangis as are not able to attend the Bhandara should hold special satsang at home on that day.
One can therefore surmise that striking a balance between spiritualism and materialism, attachment and detachment, the Supreme Being and the world, the Radhasoami faith teaches the lesson of corporate life and better worldliness. It emphatically professes that one should adopt honest means to earn his livelihood. It is imperative upon the devotee not to hurt others, rather he should be a helping hand to a person in need without a show of obligation on others. Forbearance, forgiveness, tolerance, and fearlessness should be adhered to and jealousy, competitiveness, hatred, anger should be discarded. Satsangis are not supposed to talk irresponsibly and should avoid finding fault with others, using disparaging language and indulging in scandal-mongering.
The Guru and the Supreme Father Radhasoami are benevolent. They pardon offences. But a deliberate attempt at committing sins should never be made. A devotee is required to watch all his deeds and perform good acts which tend to raise his spirit upwards and should not do bad acts which tend to lower it down. A moral conduct has been envisaged in the scriptures of the faith and a satsangi is required to follow the instructions given.
The Radhasoami faith has gained popularity in modern India as a simple cult of love and devotion. It has made an impact on the people who are fed up with the materialistic trends of the age. It provides a solution to those who are eager to embrace a religion free from external ritualism but full of intuitive contemplation and devotionalism.
The faith is growing everyday. Millions of people have joined the faith at different centres It has been able to attract such people as are prudent,sensitive and desirous to see the efficacy of a true religion. People of the lower strata of society and the villagers have come to join in large numbers. From the exploitation of the priests, they have sought relief in the principle of spiritual equality. The faith also appears to interest those who believe in mystic revelations. Muslims belonging to Sufi order and other liberal schools of Islam have joined the faith in large numbers. A sizable number of Europeans and Americans are also drawn to the faith as materialism has failed to offer them real happiness. The elites also have joined the faith when they find that reason alone takes them nowhere.
There has been a split in the faith and many centres of Radhasoami satsang have sprung up in different parts of the country during the course of time. Some misinterpretation of the basic teachings of the faith have led to denominational differences. Probably this is much on account of lack of understanding of the faith. But the differences relate largely to emphasis rather than fundamentals. Irrespective of their belonging to different leaders and centres, they greet each other with the Holy name Radhasoami and this knits them in a common bond.
The daily routine of satsang and the congregational meets on special occasions, are by and large similar at different centres. The annual Bhandaras of the past Gurus are also observed with zeal and enthusiasm by all the centres. All the followers of the Radhasoami faith irrespective of their belonging to different branches are not only strict vegetarians but they also observe total abstention from liquor and intoxicants. No change is yet discernible with regard to the basic Do’s and Don’t’s. The practice of common spiritual and devotional exercise is followed by all branches which signifies their basic unity. Almost all the branches lay stress on fundamentals like Shabd and Guru of the time. All the followers have the 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. The message of Radhasoami faith is indeed the Message of True Love which leads to the ultimate realization of Truth of Truths. As long as the “Nij Dhar” of Sat Purush Radhasoami Dayal remains in this world in the form of True Guru of the faith would never degenerate. The Spiritual potentialities would be able to withstand then all the forces of Maya and Kal. The Surat-Shabd-Yoga would escape all decadence and as long as there is a single practitioner of this Yoga, the faith would be able to avoid degeneration. The spiritual potentialities would ever remain in this world to meet all challenges. Retaining its sublime message of love, devotion and faith and maintaining its flexible nature to move with times without losing its objectives, the Radhasoami faith will continue to serve the suffering humanity for ever and ever.
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