An Indian spiritual movement, also known as Sat May (the way of the Saints), that emerged in the nineteenth century in northern India. It is one of the most important but least known of Indian religious movements, its teachers often being cited as either Hindus or Sikhs. The movement was founded in 1861 by Shiv Dayal Singh (1818-1878) of Agra, but had its base in the earlier teachings of Tulsi Singh who taught through the first four decades of the century. Known as "Soamiji Maharaj" by his disciples, he taught three basic principles of religious life: 1) Satguru, a term embracing the Absolute Lord and living human Master; 2) Shabd or sound current (spoken or written expression, and also inner spiritual sound); and 3) Satsang, association of devotees seeking spiritual truth.
Although drawing on Sikhism, Radhasoami had discarded the Sikh bible, the Adi Granth, in favor of a living Master Teacher (the Satguru). It has also elevated the yoga of the sound current to a preeminent position. The Satguru (or his appointed representative) initiates people into the practice. Members also gather in community, satsang, much as do Christians.
After Soamiji Maharaj passed away, he was succeeded by Rai Salig Ram, and in turn by Pandit Brahma Shankar Misra in 1907. After the passing of Brahma Shankar Misra, questions over the succession led to a division of the movement under two competing gurus: Sri Kamta Prasad Sinha (known as "Param Guru Sarkar Sahib") and Buaji Maharaj, sister of Brahma Shankar Misra. Further divisions occurred throughout the twentieth century as different rival leaders emerged claiming a succession. Among the different Stagurus who have appeared in America seeking followers are Kirpal Singh, Guru Maharaj Ji, and Ajaib Singh. ECKANKAR and the several groups that have developed from it are Westernized groups based on Radhasommi teachings but without the Punjabi appearance of its leaders.
The two groups within the larger movement became known as the Radhasoami Satsang, Beas, and the Ruhani Satsang, both descended from the founder Shiv Dayal Singh through Baba Jaimal Singh, whose satsang was based at Beas, Punjab.
Baba Jaimal Singh passed away in 1903 and was succeeded by his disciple Sawan Singh (1858-1948). Sawan Singh had a profound influence in the spread of teachings relating to Shabd-Yoga, the pathway of sacred sound current. On the passing of Sawan Singh, he was succeeded by his grandson Charan Singh (b. 1916). Some disciples challenged Charan Singh's leadership and began alternative movements. Amongst these was Kirpal Singh, who established the Ruhani Satsang in Delhi. Charan Singh initiated many thousands of people and the Beas groups expanded remarkably under his leadership. Kirpal Singh began the Ruhani Stasang in 1951 and in 1955 made the first of several trips to the west. An energetic leader, his movement spread around India, and because of his periodic present, his movement grew in North America. Paul Twitchell (founder of ECKANKAR) was disciple of Kirpal Singh and left to found a movement which kept all of the substance of the tradition but had a new terminology and a Western facade. From ECKANKAR came the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) founded by John-Roger Hinkins; MasterPath founded by Gary Olsen; and the Ancient Teachings of the masters founded by Darwin Gross. The Divine Light Mission (now known as Elan Vital), brought to the West by Guru Maharaj Ji in the early 1970s, represents a new infusion of an Indian-based Radhasoami lineage.
The teaching that a mystical sound current heard in meditation may bring about higher consciousness is central to Radhasoami beliefs and also had been an important part of the meditation techniques of traditional yoga practice, though it was a rare practice by the time of the career of Tulsi Singh. It was cited in such yoga manuals as the Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika of Svatmarama Svamin and the Siva Samhita. It is also loosely related to the special significance attached to the sacred trisyllable AUM in the Hindu Vedanta.
The main address of Radhasoami Satsang is: P.O. Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, Via Beas, Dist. Amritsar, India.
Cameron, David. Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? New York: Ballantine Books, 1973.
Fripp, Peter. The Mystic Philosophy of Sant Mat. London: Neville Spearman, 1964.
Lane, David Christopher. The Making of a Spiritual Movement. Del Mar, Calif.: Del Mar Press, 1983.
——. The Radhasoami Tradition: A Critical History of Guru Successorship. New York: Garland Publishing, 1992.
Radhasoami Satsang Beas and its Teachings. Beas, India: Radha Soami Satsang, n.d.
Singh, Charan. Light on San Mat. Beas, India: Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, 1958.
"Radhasoami Satsang." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radhasoami-satsang
"Radhasoami Satsang." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/radhasoami-satsang
"Rādhāsoāmī Satsȧg." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/radhasoami-satsag
"Rādhāsoāmī Satsȧg." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/radhasoami-satsag