The Charan Connection: More on How Lane found Twitchell's Plagiarism

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: February 1997

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.


"Interesting.  As you know, Dr. David Christopher Lane, in November of
1978, after his visit to India, got accepted for  initiation by Maharaj
Charan Singh Ji of Radhasoami Satsang Beas (see     "The Great Sage of
Hoshiarpur"--where this information, albeit brief--is mentioned).  Maharaj
Charan Singh's book was published in 1974 which was 2-3 years after Paul's
death.  The question may have come from the 1966 -1971 time period since
the questioner speaks as if Paul is alive.  Thus, someone in Radha Soami
was aware of the similarities of the two paths well before Dr. Lane ever
considered the matter. I can't recall if Dr. Lane attributed his lead on
the matter to this publication, but I think it the likely source.


Nice try but actually incorrect.

I can well understand why you may think that THUS SAITH THE MASTER
was my lead on Twitchell's plagiarism or the similarity between
Shabd yoga and Eckankar, but in point of fact it was a Kirpal
Singh disciple.

Let me detail the story as it may clarify a few things:

I was going to school at CSUN and I had the chance to visit Del Mar
for the day (I had spent some summers there when I was a kid and
even then was enchanted). I was with Jim Herron if I remember

I noticed a health food store by the name of "Kirpal's." So knowing
of Kirpal already I was intrigued.

I met the owner and we talked about Kirpal Singh and related
subjects. I think I mentioned Eckankar and my class at CSUN.
He then told me that Paul Twitchell was an initiate of Kirpal Singh
and that much of his teachings were taken from shabd yoga.
Naturally, I was intrigued. He mentioned a book by Kirpal Singh
called HEART TO HEART TALKS, wherein the connection was mentioned.

That was my first Kirpal Singh-Paul Twitchell lead.

Then I decided to write a letter to T.S. Khanna (you know him, Dick)
and he wrote me back and mentioned that I contact Professor Sutphin
who used to be a member of Eckankar.

Dr. Sutphin and I corresponded for several months. He had done some
amazing research back then and it is to him I owe a great debt.

As for the "plagiarism" connection, I had found this on my own
after reading THE TIGER'S FANG at Bodhi Tree Bookstore.      

By the way, Charan Singh appears to be incorrect about the source of
Twitchell's plagiarism. It seems to me that THE PATH OF THE
was much more influential. I am not even certain if Twitchell
from MYSTICISM by Puri.

I eventually did read Charan Singh's comments about Twitchell but
this was after my Kirpal Singh lead in Del Mar (nice coincidence),
my letters to Khanna, Sutphin, and (very importantly) Reno Sirrine
of Ruhani Satsang.

The Kirpal Singh people were very helpful to me. They helped me    
tremendously in the early stages of my research.

Hope that clarifies things a bit, Dick.


Dick P. Writes:

Two questions:
1) Why does Dr. Lane differ from his guru on the treatment of ECKANKAR?
2) Why does Dr. Lane deny any interest in promoting Sant Mat over


1. I know what Charan Singh thought of my 1978 term paper (not to be
confused with the 1977 one nor the later versions; very important
caveat, by the way) since he read it himself.

2. Since this issue keeps cropping up, it is probably best to tell
some history about how Charan Singh came to read my 1978 term paper,

3. First, I want to thank Dick for bringing these kinds of questions
up since it provides me a wonderful opportunity to remember some
very sweet moments in my life.

INDIA (Summer 1978)

1978, as I mentioned in my preface to my MA thesis, was probably the
best year of my life. Lots of very intriguing things happened, not
the least of which was my first trip to North India as Professor
Mark Juergensmeyer's Research Assistant.

I first met Juergensmeyer because of Professor Robert S. Ellwood.
I had met with Ellwood about my research on Eckankar and he told me
about a Professor at GTU who was doing historical research on
Radhasoami. Juergensmeyer and I naturally got along well and he
invited to go to India as his Research assistant. He also encouraged
me to get my MA at GTU in Berkeley, which I eventually did.

Juergensmeyer is a very well-known scholar and his book, RADHASOAMI
REALITY (Princeton University Press), has emerged as the most cited
scholarly source on R.S. history. Juergensmeyer, by the way, is NOT
a follower of any Sant Mat group.

My job was to track down obscure gurus in the R.S. lineage. I had a
knack for this kind of work anyways (I had already been
corresponding with Faqir Chand by this time) and I very much wanted
to go to India.

So off I went in the summer and it was a major culture shock for me.
The very first ashram I stayed at for a week was Thakar Singh's!

Eventually after visiting with the Saint of Tarn Taran, Faqir Chand,
S.D. Maheshwari and others, I got to stay at the Dera where Charan
Singh stayed most of the time.

One day I had lunch with Janak Raj Puri, a well known Professor and
author of several books on the Mystics of India. I had one copy of
my term paper with me and I gave it to him, saying it may be of some

Little did I know then that he would personally give it to Charan
Singh and that Charan Singh would read it closely. He also gave it
to several of his staff members to read.

Charan Singh also wrote me an extensive letter about the term paper
as well.

It was a very nice letter indeed.

I also know of several letters that Charan Singh wrote about my
research on Eckankar. They too were also quite nice.

Charan Singh also had his Western Representatives read copies of the
1978 term paper.

Sidebar: The reason I am stressing the 1978 version is that it
contained a huge appendice with photocopies of most of the major
documents. It also had a different tone than my later editions
(for example, Chapter Ten was not put into the book until the mid to
later 1980s). 

Now, Dick, as to your second question:

As for "promoting" Sant Mat over Eckankar, let me say the following:

1. The single most devastating critique of formal Radhasoami that I
know of is THE UNKNOWING SAGE which contains the life and work of 
Baba Faqir Chand. It is an insider's critique and I have heard from
many "orthodox" believers that this text alone shook their faith to
its roots. Indeed, some even cried after reading it.

I came out with the manuscript version of this book in 1981.

I was asked by several people NOT to publish it. I have taken a lot
of heat for it from the very people you imply that I am intending to

I am belaboring this point about Faqir Chand since I was EXPRESSLY
asked by the Dera NOT to publish my book on him.

Indeed, I lost a lot of good will and some friends over this book.

I guess my promotion skills are pretty weak when you stop to
consider that the UNKNOWING SAGE point blank CONTRADICTS 
mainstream Radhasoami.

Even the RADHASOAMI TRADITION (see what I say about Shiv Dayal Singh
and see what I say in the conclusion) has pissed off a lot of my
associates in India.

Last year I got a letter from the Radha Swami Satsang at Tarn Taran
by a Chemistry Professor who literally "went off" about what damage
I was doing to the cause of Radhasoami by writing the book. I was
also asked NOT to publish that book either, Dick.

Oh well, I am just one lousy promoter, I guess.................

P.S. But do you think I might win and influence friends with


Dick P. Writes:

 Consider the following: "For instance, if spiritual seekers discover that
most of Eckankar's teachings were borrowed from Radhasoami and Ruhani
Satsang, they may, in turn, join those movements instead of Twitchell's,
especially when they consider that Eckankar charges a yearly membership
fee and the Indian groups do _not_." David Christopher Lane, "The
Radhasoami Tradition: A Critical history of Guru Successorship," (New
York: Garland Publishing Company, 1992) p.  48.  Suggestive, isn't it?
Also, it isn't entirely accurate.  The "yearly membership fee" can be
waived for economic reasons.  No one is turned away from ECANKAR because
they can't raise the $120 annual suggested donation.  In fact, I haven't
paid it in 15 years although I have contributed to the building fund,
etc..  Of course, one would tend to omit such information if one were
selling another path."


I didn't say people were turned away from Eckankar because they
didn't have the money. I said that they "may" join those movements
which do NOT have a yearly membership fee.

And I do know of a number of people who are "turned off" by the
money requirement--even if that requirement can be "waived" by
economic necessity. Certain college fees can also be waived by those
claiming economic hardship, but when "applying" to a college it so
happens that some prefer those schools with NO entrance fees
whatsoever. Moreover, a number of neophytes don't know that such
fees can be waived. 

Now I also fully realize that strict vegetarianism and 2 and 1/2
hours of meditation can also be a turn off. Certain clientele don't
like money obligations and certain clientele don't like restrictive
moral obligations. I think some of this is discussed in that Ph.D.
dissertation on Rife's website.

I have discussed Eckankar's money angle primarily because Twitchell
in the beginning was quite vocal (and I would suggest forthcoming)
about it. That tune slightly changed, of course, after Eckankar went
from a business to a religion.

As you must know, Twitchell likes Johnson's objective indices for
a Master (so much so that he plagiarizes sections of it without
credit), but he leaves off the very first one [and the one that
Johnnson--rightly or wrongly--thought was crucial].

What was that?

Johnson argued that a master never charges money.

Okay, so Twitchell has a different take on it. He wanted to make
some money for his efforts. Understandable, but contrarian to the
tradition from which he cribbed lots of his writings from.

As for your larger and more looming question about "selling another
path" (nice word play, by the way), I must confess that I am a
terrible businessman and haven't done very well selling anything,
much less "my" path.

Gosh, let me list the ways in which I sabotage such perceived

1. THE UNKNOWING SAGE (a primer in "heresy")
2. THE ENCHANTED LAND (how? read what I say about Faqir, read what I
say about Ramana, read what I say about "karma")
3. THE SOCRATIC UNIVERSE (read my editorial comments at the end of
the book; see what Churchland says about mysticism--this is the
highlight of the book)
4. WHY I DON'T EAT FACES (no..... yep, my argument for vegetarianism
has NOTHING to do with karma; rather focuses on a purely
neurophilosophical perspective which takes materialism (not
spiritualism) as its cue.
5. THE KIRPAL STATISTIC (self-evident)
6. MY M.A. THESIS (The Dera didn't like it because it raised
controversial issues dealing with succession history at Agra)
7. THE RADHASOAMI TRADITION (oh yea, that conclusion is a real
good ad...)

Quite frankly, Dick, I am not perceived by R.S. circles as a
promoter, but rather as a skeptic.

Now having said that, I do think certain gurus are better than
others and I don't have any hesitancy in saying this.

For example, I find Eckankar's modern gurus much preferable to
Thakar Singh (by a factor of ten plus some).

I find Paul Twitchell preferable to J.R.

I find Darwin Gross preferable to Thakar.

I find Harold Klemp preferable to DA (though not intellectually).


I clearly have preferences, but as you already know I cannot at this
stage absolutize such preferences and say ontologically that such
and such a path is the highest or the greatest.....

I simply don't know such things.

However, I am pretty sure that I don't dig a guru butt fucking me, or
a guru blindfolding my kid for five years, or a guru embezzling my
donated funds, or a guru beating me up physically.

Again, I have no path or guru to sell to you.

I am like Hafiz in this way:


"I will tell everyone I can of your wicked and cruel ways.
Because then I can have you all for myself."


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I want to go back to the home base now.