A New Religion Based on Sant Traditions
The founders of Radhasoami faith, in keeping with the
spirit of the age, established such principles and practices as might suit
the requirements of the common man and also might guide the true seekers
after the highest truth. The birth of the faith in 1861, appears to be
the final stage in the development of Sant traditions. The founders
have claimed through their writings that the original books of all the
inspired religions bear testimony to the superiority and efficacy of the
surat shabd yoga and that their faith is not based on any other
religion. The second guru writes:"The Supreme Being, Himself, who
appeared on this earth in human form and graciously performed the functions
of a Santsatguru for the benefit of degraded humanity." and
that the Radhasoami faith is based upon the direct precepts of the Supreme
In fact, the first guru propounded- a thought and philosophy
entirely novel and hitherto unrevealed to the world. His concept of the
Supreme Being, Creation, Salvation, Karma and finally Guru-Bhakti
and Surat Shabd Yoga may sound similar to many a prevalent theory
in various religious cults in the country ; but after a careful study of
the tenets and essentials of the faith, one comes to the conclusions that
in the originality of their interpretations and in the essence of their
practice, they bear no lineage to any of the other past or present religions.
The first guru adopted no one as his guru and guide. His writings appear
to be casual outbursts of divine voice, emphatic and straight, entering
deep into the reader's heart. He conveyed the message of the highest reality
in such manner as if himself had perfect and eternal communion with the
highest and sublimest. He revealed the secrets of his faith through the
most beloved of his disciple and his true successor, Hazur Maharaj.
Thus the bhakti of the guru of the time and surat
shabd yoga are, in their essence the original contribution of the Radhasoami
faith, introduced in conformity with the spirit of rational research within
one's own self. The Radhasoami faith gave a call that had long been ignored
and forgotten. The faith may correctly be described as an incessant quest
after the spiritual truth and ultimate realization of the true Supreme
Being. whom the founders gave an extraordinary name- Radhasoami.
The Meaning of The Name Radhasoami
The entire thought and practices of the Radhasoami faith,
centre round the name Radhasoami which seems to be unique in the
Sant traditions. A curious reader finds it strange as to why a faith
which rejects the whole Hindu pantheon has a name - Radhasoami.
A.L. Srivastava observes : "Probably the designation of the founder
Swami and that of his wife Radha suggested this name. To distinguish the
nomenclature of the new sect from Hinduism, it was named Radhasoami."
But, I do not agree with this contention as the wife of the first guru
had no role to play in the satsang. If at all she were called Radha it
was an adoration of the disciples for their guru's spouse. They regarded
Soamiji Maharaj as Supreme Father and his wife as Supreme Mother. However,
it seems to be necessary to explain the real meaning and significance of
the name as held by the founders of the faith.
Name of The True Supreme Being
In the Radhasoami faith, the ultimate reality is Radhasoami.
In Hinduism and its branches the ultimate reality is Brahman and
Isvara. Brahman is considered to be the highest reality in
Vedanta. The founders of Radhasoami faith, however, came forward
with a new concept. According to them, The Brahman of Vedanta
is limited to the second grand division of the creation whom they call
"spiritual-material region". They hold that the Brahman
is not the true Supreme Being or the highest reality because he is not
perfectly free from mind and matter. They assert that though spiritual
components predominate in Brahman, there is Maya latent in
the seed form and a Supreme Reality having the least admixture of Maya
cannot be styled as the highest truth. They envisaged the highest and the
first grand division of creation as the region of the true Supreme Being
who is absolutely spiritual and totally free from mind and matter. Such
a Supreme Being they have named as Radhasoami. In view of the said
difference between Radhasoami and Brahman, the meaning of
the word is not Krishna or the Lord of Radha. A casual observer
however gets confused and straightway starts interpreting it for Krishna
as Farquhar did when he observed : "It is necessary also to realize
that the real meaning of Radhasoami is Krishna as Lord of Radha (His cowherd
mistress in the latest cycle of myth) that Soami is only a curious phonetic
misspell of Swami.
A careful study of the beliefs and practices of the faith
shows that symbolic worship is totally rejected in it. The founders have
openly criticized the traditionalism and ritualism of symbolism. As such
their Supreme Being cannot belong to that category. Besides, the name of
Lord Krishna occurs in the writings of the first guru who designates Krishna
as the incarnation of a lower region who can never grant salvation to the
The True Shabd and Dhunyatmak Name
The founders assert that Radhasoami is a Dhunyatmak
name because it is the true shabd. Shabd is energy and sound
both. When there was no creation, pure and absolute spiritual energy rested
in ellipsoid. Through divine will, creation started and the Supreme Being
first manifested himself as shabd. The creativity in the pure spiritual
energy led to a commotion which was accompanied by a pure spiritual resonance
or a holy sound. The founders of the faith assert that Radhasoami is
the all-pervading sound force in creation and a devotee can listen to this
resonance within himself during the spiritual practice.
Soami is Ocean and Radha its First Wave
The founders of the faith have a few allegorical interpretations
to put forward to explain the two components of the word - Radha
and Soami. The second guru says that the Supreme Being may be compared
to an ocean. A creative ocean cannot be perceived without commotion. The
first wave of the endless ocean is Radha. The original current is
not different from but is identical with the ocean itself and as it comes
out so it is ever drawn towards it. The creative ocean, therefore, is Soami
and the first original wave just identical to the ocean is Radha.
The two together from the supreme ocean full of spiritual bliss and truth.
A Scientific Explanation
Brahma Shankar Misra, in his writings
tried to explain the name on scientific grounds. According to him, the
components of Radha and Soami represent in their letter form
and in articulate speech the sound accompanying the spirit current and
its focus. Comparing the action of the spirit force to that of a magnetic
force he says : "The ions of Ether observed in a magnetic field are
subject to two forces (given out by the two poles of magnet). At one pole,
it is storage of energy and at the other it is its depletion. The ions
are subjected to tremors. This is the first effect in the sphere of the
attractive force. Similarly, prevailing attraction in spirit force can
resolve into attraction currents which are made up of a series of attractive
impulses. The letter sound Radha is accordingly the nearest approach
in articulate speech of the subtle sound accompanying the action of the
spiritual current. Soami is the prime source of the currents".
Thus Radhasoami is the source of all creation.
It Denotes Two Spiritual Components : The Lover and The Beloved
Radhasoami faith is the religion of pure and spiritual
love. Love denotes two components, the beloved and the lover. The prime
source of all love and spiritual energy is the beloved and is therefore
known as Soami. The first wave of love and spiritual energy arising
from its source and then being attracted towards it again, is the lover
and therefore is known as Radha. The Supreme Love is Radhasoami
identifying both the components and fusing them into one.
Radha is Adi-Surat And Soami is Adi-Shabd
As already explained, Radhasoami is the spiritual
resonance reverberating incessantly in the highest region of creation where
no mind and matter exist. The original resonance of adi-shabd (first
sound) is Soami. Radha is the creative force which emanated
from adi-shabd. In other words, Soami is the storehouse of
the shabd and so it is called adi-shabd. Radha, being the first
creative force, having its source in adi-shabd, and completely identical
to it, is known as adi surat. Radhasoami together signify
the storehouse of shabd which is sound and energy both.
Radhasoami is Soamiji Maharaj
The second guru used to address his guru as "Radhasoami
Saheb". When Hazur Maharaj practised the spiritual exercises of surat
shabd yoga and attained the highest spiritual truth, he listened internally
the refulgent resonance of Radhasoami incessantly resounding in
the first and highest region of Creation and found his guru identical with
the Highest Spiritual Being. He was then filled with divine grace and holy
light of love. As such, he addressed him as "Radhasoami Saheb"
and considered him to be the incarnation of the Supreme Being.
Radhasoami is Santsatguru
Maintaining the revelations of the second guru, the followers
of the faith designate the living Satguru as "Radhasoami".
In fact, a devotee who practises surat shabd yoga and attains such
spiritual heights as to identify the Satguru with the Supreme Being
can alone reveal the secrets of this name. But as the Satguru is
the human manifestation of the Supreme Being and is known as His son or
representative in the world, he is generally addressed as "Radhasoami".
Such a one possesses all the attributes of the Supreme Being and like the
tidal wave of the ocean, remains in constant union with Him.
It is Also the Name of The Sect
Followers of the faith are knitted in one organization
known as "Radhasoami Satsang". It was named thus when the first
guru established the organization in 1861. The reason, evidently, is that
devotees are required to keep the name of the Satguru constantly
in their heart; by giving this name to the organization the first guru
perhaps also meant to provide a built-in reminder to them about the holy
name. It is, therefore, logically correct to name the sect as "Radhasoami