His Preparation for the Role of a Religious Teacher and Work as Santsatguru
Hazur Maharaj studied the Hindu scriptures and probed
deep into the six systems of Indian philosophy. He studied the Bible, the
Quran and the holy books of Jainism and Buddhism. As already stated, he
had traveled far and wide in search of a perfect guru. He met many
sadhus, sufis and Christian missionaries and held discussions with
them on a variety of religious topics, but did not get the desired light.
He was ever restless to meet the true guru and to know from him
the secrets of spiritual realization and solace. The horrors and aftermath
of the freedom movement in 1857 left a sad mark on his impressionable mind,
and increased his desire for meeting of a true guide.
While on an official tour of Meerut, Hazur Maharaj met
Pratap Singh Seth, who was then the camp clerk to the Postmaster General.
In his leisure Seth used to recite hymns from guru banis which so
much appealed to Hazur Maharaj that he asked him to explain their significance
and meaning. Pratap Singh expressed his inability to interpret the hymns
and advised Hazur Maharaj to meet his elder brother, Soamiji Maharaj, who
alone could bring out spiritual secrets latent in those devotional hymns.
Pratap Singh arranged their meeting in November 1858. The interview lasted
for nearly seven hours. Soamiji's replies to Hazur Maharaj's searching
questions were convincing and introduced him to a well-defined method for
the attainment of the highest reality through the practice of surat-shabd-yoga.
He exhorted him to practise it and arrive at the consequential results
himself. The Hazur left the small room in which Soamiji was seated, entirely
contented and enamoured. In profound gratitude he exclaimed ''I have found
the one [Guru] I was seeking.''
Since then Hazur Maharaj kept himself in constant touch
with Soamiji Maharaj whom he accepted as his guru and his love and
devotion for him increased day by day. Soamiji preached the gospel of
bhakti to Hazur Maharaj, and he started its practice in all earnestness
and sincerity. He served the Master with body, mind, wealth and soul. He
rubbed the furniture, swept the floor and cleaned the bathroom and the
drains. He brought ration and other necessities of life for Soamiji's house;
cooked his food; brought water from a well; helped him in taking bath,
combed his hair and dressed him with robes of his choice. Sometimes he
would carry his guru on his shoulders to nearby places outside the
city. He obeyed the commands of the Master ungrudgingly and presented an
ideal to the world. On two occasions, he refused promotions to higher posts
in postal department, because they meant his transfer from Agra and hence
separation from the guru. Hazur Maharaj used to offer his entire
monthly salary to him; his household expenses were met from the money which
Soamiji gave him for the purpose. He never lagged behind in spending on
the celebration of a religious function of the satsang; if he had no money
at the moment, he never hesitated to borrow. Hazur's total surrender to
the Master reached its climax when he remained ever-absorbed inwardly in
the contemplation of the form of his guru.
In a society in which caste-prejudices were dominant,
Hazur Maharaj had to face bitter criticism from his fellow caste men for
services to a Khatri guru. The Kayasthas tried hard to excommunicate
him, but their attempts failed. Hazur Maharaj remained firm as a rock and
made no deviation in his service to his guru. A high civil officer
though he was, he would run barefooted on the dusty streets of Agra with
a pitcher of water for the guru on his head.
The singular devotion of the disciple overwhelmed the
Master who, it looks, was anxiously awaiting his predestined arrival to
the satsang. Soamiji recognised in Hazur Maharaj his own spiritual counterpart
and in all eternal radiance, bestowed upon him the most precious and sacred
gift - the revelation of the name "Radhasoami". The object of Hazur's life
had been achieved, and he felt contented as never before. As the pillar
of Soamiji's satsang and the gurumukh - (chief disciple), he shouldered
his responsibilities in a splendid manner and proved his worth. Many true
seekers realised the spiritual powers of the Master through the Hazur.
Soamiji found in him his worthy successor who would take up his unfinished
task and spread his teachings far and wide. In 1878 when the Master departed
from the physical world, Hazur Maharaj succeeded to the Gaddi to
work for the expansion of Radhasoami Satsang.
In the beginning, Hazur Maharaj held the satsang at Panni
Gali, Agra - the residence of his guru. When in 1881, he was posted
at Allahabad, he held regular satsang meetings there in spite of his heavy
engagements in official duties as Postmaster General. He used to deliver
interesting discourses on spiritual topics and initiated men and women
into the faith. His vivid exposition of the tenets of the faith attracted
attention of a large number of intelligentsia and many of them joined the
faith. some of his European colleagues also attended his satsang and held
discussions with him on religion. By his sound knowledge and rational arguments,
Hazur Maharaj convinced them of the truth of the teachings of his faith.
One of the European officers once got so struck by his magnetic personality
that he burst forth "I feel as if the Supreme Being is present right here
and is talking to me."
From 1887 onwards, when Hazur Maharaj finally settled
at Agra, the satsang made rapid progress. Thousands of people from different
parts of the country started to pour in. He held four regular meetings
of satsang daily at his residence, Hazuri Bhawan in Peepal Mandi. On special
occasions, he conducted satsang at Panni gali and Soamibagh also. Hazur's
satsang presented a magnificent spectacle. He delivered discourses, composed
hymns and looked after the spiritual progress of his followers. He provided
easy solutions to difficult problems arising in the practice of yoga.
He dictated notes on different aspects of Radhasoami faith which were regularly
published in his fortnightly journal Prem Patra. Sometimes leaders
of other religious orders came to discuss with him the basic principles
of the faith. Some of them felt so satisfied with his clear expositions
that they ultimately offered themselves to be his followers.
Love, devotion and faith were the chief characteristics
of his satsang. He in his grace showered all love and mercy upon the devotees.
They in turn worshipped him with added fervour and found themselves knitted
together in a bond of mutual love and universal brotherhood. People of
different castes, colours, languages and provinces gathered round Hazur's
refulgent personality to derive solace and relief from the worldly sorrow,
sin and suffering. During his regime, the Faith assumed the form of a fully
developed organization and it emerged as one of the important religious
movements of modern India.
His Philanthropic Activities
Benevolence and charity were prominent characteristics
of Hazur's life; he readily helped the poor and needy. Daily alms were
distributed at his house to faqirs and beggars. He offered financial assistance
to a number of deserving orphans and widows. He provided poor students
with shelter, books, food and money He was generous in giving financial
help to poor parents for the marriages of their daughters. He never made
a show of his charity to others; rather he quietly donated large sums of
money to orphanages and leprosy centres. Many educated and uneducated people
who were unemployed could secure jobs with his help. In short, he was a
friend of the needy, and the patron of the poor.
Hazur Maharaj was equally interested in the promotion
of higher learning in the country. He encouraged and patronized many schools
in Agra. Mufid-i-Am School received his special care and attention since
his very inception. Hazur's services to Agra College, his alma mater, were
unique. When the college faced a crisis and was almost at the point of
extinction, he along with some other prominent citizens of Agra left no
stone unturned to place it on sound footing. On account of his merit as
an able administrator, his opinion on any matter whatsoever was given due
consideration by the Government. Therefore when he made a fervent appeal
to the Government not to close Agra College, his words carried weight and
the college was handed over to a Board of trustees consisting of some prominent
citizens of Agra. He presented a scheme for the management of the college
and collected large funds, himself paying a handsome amount, for its maintenance.
When the administration of the college was transferred to a board of trustees,
he readily agreed to serve on the Board in spite of his many preoccupations
with official and religious duties.