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RADHASOAMI FAITH - A HISTORICAL STUDY: The Second Guru - His Life and Work

Prof. A.P. Mathur
M.A., PhD, F.I.H.S., F.R.A.S. (London)
Former Vice-Chancellor, Agra University, Agra, India


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.

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