The Two Essentials
A perusal of Soamiji's religious thought shows that the
two essentials emphasized by him are guru-bhakti (devotion to the
master), and surat-shabd-yoga (inner spiritual practice).
According to Soamiji, the spiritual current emanating
from the Supreme Being has appeared in human form on this earth and it
would ever remain here until all jivas have been redeemed . The
continuous process of the manifestation of the spiritual current in the
human form necessitates the extraordinary status and value of the guru
of the time. Soamiji , therefore,exhorts jivas to search for
the living adept and when he found , to serve him in all sincerity with
body , mind and soul . He further asserts that those who desire redemption
, should have singular devotion to and love for the holy feet of the
Santsatguru. He alone can reveal unto the inner self of the jivas
the holy name in order to set them free from the cycle of chaurasi.
Soamiji's writings are full of directions which the
jivas should earnestly follow in order to find a living adept . He
has also described the mode of performing ideal guru-bhakti in the
satsang . According to him satsang would generate love and
devotion and would purify his mind . He defines satsang as the company
of Santsatguru or the Sadhguru at a place where people assemble
to pray to the Supreme Being and to listen to discourses of the Santsatguru.
It is only through satsang that jivas would ultimately come
to recognize the difficulties and doubts removed , and receive instructions
to improve their difficulties and doubts removed , and receive instructions
to improve their conduct in the world . Regular participation in satsang
would enable devotes to perform spiritual practice successfully.
(B) Shabd-Bhakti or Surat-Shabd-Yoga
Surat-Shabd-Yoga is the inner spiritual practice
preached by Soamiji. It literally means the union of surat (spirit
entity) with shabd (the holy resonance of the sound current). According
to him, guru-bhakti would facilitate the shabd-bhakti. Soamiji
revealed to the world the resonant sounds of the different higher regions
and described thoroughly the dhun (sound), dham (region)
and dhani (master) of all the higher divisions of creation. He asserts
that one who is initiated into Radhasoami faith and performs ideal guru-bhakti,
can practise surat-shabd-yoga easily and perfectly. This spiritual
exercise can be practised by one and all, and without denouncing their
worldly duties. He further asserts that Surat-Shabd-Yoga is the
easiest and best spiritual practice.
His Views on Prevalent Religious Practices
(A) On Atheism and Religious Malpractices
Soamiji expressed his disappointment at the indifference
of people towards spiritual pursuits and warned them about the transitory
nature of the world and its objects. He is critical of persons who deny
the existence of supreme power and refuse to see the all -pervading truth.
He deplores the people who profess to be followers of Hinduism or Islam
but in reality do not correctly follow the precepts of religion. The prevailing
malpractices in Hinduism attracted his attention and he criticized the
worship of man-made idols, rivers, trees, and plants. He also put forward
arguments against various rituals declaring that no one could attain salvation
by their practice.
(B) On Idol-Worship
Turning to idol worship, Soamiji argued that the worship
of illusory inanimate objects can never bring spiritual progress. According
to him, the human form with all its supreme physical, mental and spiritual
capabilities is much superior to inanimate objects carved in stone or bronze
and in pictures drawn by men themselves. He deplored the colossal ignorance
shown by devotees in wasting their spiritual energies in the worshiping
of such deities. In this respect, Soamiji may be compared to Swami Dayanand,
another stalwart of Indian renaissance and the founder of Arya Samaj. Swami
Dayanand called idol worship a pakhand which was not upheld by
the Vedas. According to him, it is degrading to limit and confine
the Infinite Almighty and the formless God within the carvings in stones,
metal wood and other inert objects. Soamiji's approach is different from
that of Swami Dayananda. According to him, the fault does not lie with
the images/ as means of inner contemplation. The human mind is ever restless
in the manifold business of the world and psychologically it is sound to
provide some attraction to divert the attention from matter to spirit.
He holds that in the early days, idol worship was taken in this context,
and hence was a means for achieving the desired goal. As the time rolled
on, the purpose came to be neglected and idol worship became an end in
itself and led people to darkness. Taking a realistic view of human nature,
Soamiji replaces the worship of lifeless symbols with that of a living
being - the guru of the time - who is adept at the science and technique
of shabd and its abhyas.
(C) On Pilgrimage and Fasts
Soamiji also criticized pilgrimages/ and fasts which according
to Bhagwat dharma had become part and parcel of Hindu way of life.
He considered pilgrimages/ as useless externalia. The places hallowed by
great saints, he held, once served as centres of spiritual pursuit, but
after their departure form this world the sanctity and the impact of spiritual
life completely disappeared. Instead, these places have been converted
into centres of mela and colourful festivities by priests for their
own material gains.
Discarding fasts he asserted that originally its object
was the purification of mind and control of senses but in course of time
the purpose became infructuous, and fasting degenerated into festivals
celebrated with plenty of dainty dishes.
(D) On Vedas
Unlike the exponents of the Brahmo Samaj, Soamiji did
not deny the existence of the Vedas as storehouses of divine knowledge.
But, according to him, they did not contain absolute knowledge. The origin
of the Vedas can be traced only to the third grand region of creation.
The fourth region - Nirmal Chaitanya Desh - could not be conceived
by its authors. As the Vedas express limited knowledge, they cannot
be regarded as infalliable. Their limitations have been explored by sants
alone. Soamiji further contended that the secret of true Supreme Being
is not disclosed in the Vedas, he asserted, cannot be attained without
the help of a living adept - a fact that has been forgotten by the exponents.
(E) On Sant Traditions
Soamiji did not spare the followers of earlier sant
traditions who had given up spiritual practice and raised a faith that
they could attain salvation by worshipping Granth or the forms of
the past gurus. He warned them repeatedly to give up all such useless
externalia. Soamiji reminded them of the definite instructions given in
the Granths for seeking the perfect living guru in order
to attain salvation under his guidance. He also enjoined them to practise
such ideals as were originally preached and propagated by earlier sants.
(F) On Other Religious Sects
Soamiji pointed out the inherent defects, which he thought
were present in Islam, Jainism and Christianity. For example, he was critical
of the multifarious extant observances such as roza, namaz and the
like, prevalent in Islam. He did not find any sense in too much of self-denial
practised by the Jains. He admitted the principle of equality and love
of God as practised by Christians, but refused to recognize Christianity
as a perfect religion because it originated from the region of kal
and maya. In fact Soamiji did not favour any religious sect which
did not affirm the necessity of a living adept. He emphasized the fact
that real redemption could not be attained until the spirit entity reached
its real source (region of Satpurush Radhasoami). According to him,
these religions entangled the surat in kal and maya and
thus failed to provide real salvation.
(G) On Bachak Gyan (Sophistry)
He is most trenchant in his writings about the sophists.
He exposes their inherent weakness in posing to know too much when in fact
they know very little or not at all, about the true religion. According
to him they are merely bachak gyanis who memorize texts of religious
books and recite them in order to befool the ignorant masses. Religion
for them is only a means to achieve their own selfish ends. As they themselves
fail to achieve spiritual height, Soamiji holds, they can never show the
path of salvation to the jivas; they would rather entangle them in
the cycle of chaurasi. Beside, the prevalent knowledge, according
to him, did not conform to the Vedanta or Upanishads.