Radha Soami

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Shiv Dayal Singh founded the Radhasoami movement.[1]

Radha Soami is a spiritual and non profit organization founded by Shiv Dayal Singh in 1861 on Basant Panchami Day in Agra, India.[1][2][3] As per some sects, it derives its name from the word Radha Soami means Lord of the Soul .

Radha Soami Satsang Beas based out of Beas is the largest group.


According to Mark Juergensmeyer, the term Radhasoami literally refers to Radha as The Soul and Soami (swami, lord).[4] According to Saligram, quotes Juergensmeyer, these terms are symbolic and mean "master of energy", derived from the Vaishnava understanding of "Radha as the power of energy of God" (Shakti). It is a referent to the consciousness in a person and the cosmic energy source, states Juergensmeyer.[4]

The writings of Swami Dayal use the term Sat Nam, rather than Radhasoami. The gurus and the tradition that followed him used the term Radhasoami during the initiation rites, meditation practices and as mutual greeting. This has led to the fellowship being commonly called Radha Soami.[4] In some subtraditions of Radhasoami, states Lucy DuPertuis, the guru's charisma is considered as the "formless absolute", being in his presence is equivalent to experiencing the incarnation of the Satguru, the guru is identified as the Radhasoami.[5]


Radhasoami movement was founded by Shiv Dayal Singh in Agra. His parents were followers of Guru Nanak of Sikhism and a local spiritual guru Tulsi Saheb.[6] After completing his education, Singh gained employment as a Persian language translator, left that role and spent increasing amount of his time to religious pursuits. His discourses attracted followers and thus the Radhasoami movement was founded when Swami ji gave initiation to Baba Jaimal Singh ji who practised Surat shabad yoga on the bank of river Beas and the Radha soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) or Dera Beas was Created.[7]

The Radhasoami tradition can be traced back to the spiritual master Shiv Dayal Singh (honorifically titled Soamiji Maharaj) who was born on August 24, 1818, in the north Indian city of Agra. He was influenced by the teachings of Tulsi Sahib of Hathras, who taught surat shabd yoga (which is defined by Radhasoami teachers as “union of the soul with the divine, inner sound”); guru bhakti (“devotion to the master”); and high moral living, including a strict lacto-vegetarian diet. The movement does not promote celibacy, however, and most of the masters in its various lineages have been married. The teachings seem to be related to forms of 18th- and 19th-century esoteric mysticism that were circulating at the time in northern India. The founding date of the movement is considered to be 1861 when Shiv Dayal Singh began publicly to give discourses.[8]

After Shiv Dayal Singh’s death in 1878 he was succeeded by several disciples, including his wife Narayan Dei (“Radhaji”); his brother Partap Singh (“Chachaji”); Sanmukh Das (appointed head of the sadhus); the army soldier Jaimal Singh, Gharib Das of Delhi; and the postmaster general of the Northwest provinces, Rai Salig Ram, each of whom started their own distinct centers. After their deaths, multiple followers were claimed to be the rightful heirs, and this eventually led to a large proliferation of various masters and satsangs (“fellowships”) throughout India that were regarded by their followers to be the true manifestations of Shiv Dayal Singh and his teachings, described as Sant Mat (“the path of the saints”). The largest branch of the movement is the one at Beas, established by one of Shiv Dayal Singh’s disciples, Jaimal Singh, in the North Indian state of Punjab in the 1890s, and which has grown enormously over the decades under the guiding hands of each subsequent successor (from Sawan Singh to Jagat Singh and Charan Singh to the current master, Gurinder Singh). There are estimated to be two million initiates of the Beas masters worldwide. In Agra, the birthplace of the movement, there are three main satsang centers: Soami Bagh, where a large memorial tomb is being built to honor the founder; Peepal Mandi, which was founded by Rai Salig Ram who was then succeeded by his son, grandson, and currently his great-grandson, Agam Prasad Mathur; and the largest of the Agra-based centers, Dayalbagh, which is located across the street from Soami Bagh, and has flourished under the leadership of Kamta Prasad Sinha, Anand Sarup, Gurcharandas Mehta, Dr. M.B. Lal Sahab, and most recently as of this date Professor Prem Saran Satsangi. Other Radhasoami-related groups that have garnered a significant following include Ruhani Satsang in Delhi, founded by Kirpal Singh (b. 1894–d. 1974), a disciple of the Beas master, Sawan Singh; Manavta Mandir, established by Faqir Chand (b. 1886–d. 1981) in 1962 in Hoshiarpur in the Punjab; the Tarn Taran satsang founded by Bagga Singh; Radha Swami Satsang Dinod, founded by Param Sant Tarachand Ji Maharaj (Bade Maharaj Ji), current master Param Sant Huzur Kanwar Saheb Ji Maharaj and several others scattered through North and South India.[8]

Beliefs and practices[edit]

Radha Soami fellowships and sects have featured gurus from many parts of the world.

To the Radhsoamis, six elements form the framework of their faith:[9]

  • a living guru (someone as locus of trust and truth),
  • bhajan (remembering Sat Nam, other practices believed to be transformative),
  • satsang (fellowship, community),
  • seva (serve others without expecting anything in return),
  • kendra (community organization, shrine), and
  • bhandara (large community gathering).

The Radha Soami Satsang believes that living gurus are necessary for a guided spiritual life.[1] They do not install the Guru Granth Sahib or any other scriptures in their sanctum, as they consider it ritualistic. Instead, the guru sits in the sanctum with the satsang (group of Sikh faithfuls) and they listen to preachings from the Adi Granth and sing hymns together.[1] They believe in social equality, forbid caste distinctions and have also attracted Dalits to their tradition. They are active outside India too.[1]

Radha Swami Dinod Lineage
Radha Swami Satsang Dinod, Lineage.

The Radhasoami are strict vegetarians. They are active in charitable work such as providing free medical services and help to the needy. They do not believe in orthodox Sikh ritual practices such as covering one's head inside the temple or removing shoes, nor do they serve karah prasad (offering) at the end of prayers.[1] Their basic practices include Surat Shabd Yoga (meditation on inner light and sound), initiation of disciple into the path by a living guru, obedience to the guru, a moral life that is defined by abstinence from meat, drugs, alcohol and sex outside marriage. They also believe that jivanmukti or inner liberation is possible during one's lifetime with guidance of the living guru.[10] However, some of these practices vary depending on the sect of the Radhasoami faith (Dinod, Beas, Dayalbagh)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Kristen Haar; Sewa Singh Kalsi (2009). Sikhism. Infobase Publishing. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-1-4381-0647-2.
  2. ^ Mark Juergensmeyer (1995). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton University Press. p. 90 note 5. ISBN 0-691-01092-7., Quote: "The date of Swami Shiv Dayal's first public discourse is Basant Panchami Day, February 15, 1861"
  3. ^ David N. Lorenzen (1995). Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action. State University of New York Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7914-2025-6., Quote: "The movement traces its origins to Swami Shiv Dayal Singh, who began his public ministry in Agra in 1861."
  4. ^ a b c Mark Juergensmeyer (1995). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton University Press. pp. 41–42 with footnotes. ISBN 0-691-01092-7., Quote: "The word Radhasoami literally refers to lord (swami) of his Souls., Radha" (p. 41); "The Beas group translates Radhasoami as 'lord of the soul' (p. 42).
  5. ^ DuPertuis, Lucy (1986). "How People Recognize Charisma: The Case of Darshan in Radhasoami and Divine Light Mission". Sociological Analysis. Oxford University Press. 47 (2): 111–124. doi:10.2307/3711456. JSTOR 3711456., Quote: "Various branches of Radhasoami have argued about the incarnationalism of Satguru (Lane, 1981). Guru Maharaj Ji has accepted it and identifies with Krishna and other incarnations of Vishnu."
  6. ^ Mark Juergensmeyer (1991). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton University Press. pp. 15–19, 38–42 with footnotes. ISBN 0-691-01092-7.
  7. ^ Mark Juergensmeyer (1991). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton University Press. pp. 16–17 with footnotes. ISBN 0-691-01092-7.
  8. ^ a b https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195399318/obo-9780195399318-0203.xml
  9. ^ Mark Juergensmeyer (1995). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton University Press. pp. 11–12, 40–42. ISBN 0-691-01092-7.
  10. ^ James R. Lewis (2002). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Prometheus. pp. 590–592. ISBN 978-1-61592-738-8.
  • ^ Larson, Gerald J. India's Agony Over Religion (1995). p. 136. SUNY Press (State University of New York) ISBN 0-7914-2411-1

Further reading[edit]

  • Juergensmeyer, Mark (1991). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07378-3
  • Lane, David C (1992). The Radhasoami Tradition, New York. Garland Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8240-5247-8
  • Schomer, Karine & William Hewat McLeod, eds (1987).The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987. Academic papers from a 1978 Berkeley conference on the Sants organised by the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California Center for South Asia Studies. ISBN 81-208-0277-2