Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: April 1997
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DOUG WRITES: The history and lineage of Sant Mat varies greatly, depending on who is talking about it. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the Radhasoami Beas group claims there was an unbroken line starting with Kabir, on to Guru Nanak, down through the nine remaining Sikh masters, then on to another master (I forget his name right now), on to Tulsi Saheb, then to Shiv Dayal Singh, who began the teachings of Radhasoami. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Sorry, Doug, but your information here is inaccurate. The Beas Satsang does not connect its lineage via the 10 Sikh Gurus back to Kabir. Indeed, the Beas Satsang is not certain who Tulsi Sahib's guru actually was (and says so--see Puri's book TULSI SAHIB). You have confused the Beas Satsang here with Ruhani Satsang, founded by Kirpal Singh. Kirpal Singh (not the Beas Satsang) argues in his book, A GREAT SAINT (which is the life story of Baba Jaimal Singh) that his lineage connects all the way back to Guru Nanak. This theory of Kirpal Singh's has been discounted by Agam Prasad Mathur (see Radhasoami Faith) and by the Beas Satsang itself. Kirpal Singh may believe the connection, but the Beas Satsang does not. Best not to confuse the two, since they are distinct entities. Read THE RADHASOAMI TRADITION (online) and Juergensmeyer's RADHASOAMI REALITY or Mathur's RADHASOAMI FAITH for more information. ------------------------------ DOUG WRITES: The problem here is that Tulsi Saheb was never Shiv Dayal Singh's master. Shiv Dayal Singh admits that he had no master, and his brother Pratap Singh, also known as Chachaji, also says this was true. Tulsi Saheb was indeed a Sant Mat teacher, who Shiv Dayal Singh quotes from time to time, but this unbroken line seems to break right there. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Doug, I think you should re-read RADHASOAMI REALITY by Mark Juergensmeyer, or better yet go to Tulsi Sahib's samadh in Hathras (I did), since there is still a hot debate over Shiv Dayal Singh's spiritual lineage. Let's spell it out for our readers: 1. The Tulsi Sahibis (a group which has itself splintered into several factions) argue that Shiv Dayal Singh was indeed initiated by Tulsi Sahib, but branched off and started his own group. This was personally told to me and Professor Juergensmeyer in 1978 by the then living Mahant in Hathras (see Radhasoami Reality). 2. Aaron Talsky (and Daniel Gold to some extent) have floated an interesting argument that Shiv Dayal Singh may have also had a spiritual allegiance with Girdhari Das (see Madhav Prasad Sinha's comment to this effect) and that when Girdhari died, Shiv Dayal Singh began his own lineage. 3. The Beas Satsang holds that Shiv Dayal Singh's guru was Tulsi Sahib. They are uncertain (at least in print) who Tulsi Sahib's guru may have been). 4. The Agra satsangs (I am talking about the three major ones: Dayal Bagh, Soami Bagh, and Peepal Mandi) argue that Tulsi Sahib was indeed the family guru to Shiv Dayal Singh's mother/father, etc., but that he was not the guru of Shiv Dayal himself. See Radhasoami Faith: history and tenets by S.D. Maheshwari for more on this. 5. My postion? I don't know, but I am leaning toward some sort of genealogical dissociation on the part of Shiv Dayal Singh (for whatever strange reasons) from his spiritual past. Chachaji's dumping of Shiv Dayal's documents suggests a movement to "rewrite" Shiv Dayal's history. My hunch is that it was much more human than present day hagiography wants to suggest. As for "broken" lineages, my argument has always been that the closer you look at guru succession the more human (and funky) it becomes. Radhasoami is a classic textbook case in the "politics" of guru successorship (the very point of my Ph.D.). ------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: To complicate things, Shiv Dayal Singh said, and rightly so, that the Sant Mat tradition only existed in the form of Radhasoami, once Radhasoami was introduced. Previous to the introduction of Radhasoami by Shiv Dayal Singh, the Sant Mat tradition only recognized the spiritual planes up to the Soul Plane, or Sat Lok. Shiv Dayal Singh introduced the planes above that for the first time, which included, Agam Lok, Alaya Lok, Anami Lok and Radhasoami Pad. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Naturally, we have to be careful about asserting what Shiv Dayal Singh said or didn't say. Why? Because his writings were compiled and published five or six years after his death. Moreover, there is a tendency in religion (and Radhasoami is no exception) to indulge in hagiography after a particular leader has died. Having said that, we know that there are multiple interpretations of what Shiv Dayal Singh taught (Sant Mat revived? Radhasoami incarnationalism? Dissociated Tulsi Sahibism? Etc.). As for the introduction of new spiritual planes and the rest, it is already known that Kabir (or pseudo-Kabir, since we are also not certain who he was and what he wrote) talked about several inner regions and the rest. The incarnational view of Radhasoami (primarily held by Rai Salig Ram, the most popular of Shiv Dayal's successors) holds that Shiv Dayal was unique in human history. The Beas Satsang and the Tarn Taran Satsang and the Manavata Mandir Satsang and the Sarai Rohilla Satsang hold that Shiv Dayal Singh was but another "Saint" in the tradition of Nanak and Kabir. His uniqueness was not spiritual, in this sense, but in the way he simplified the method. My sense of these things is that we are witnessing human posturings, whereby one guru or a group is trying to elevate its teachings above others..... a very typical ploy of religions when competing with other religions.... Another example of human egoism and human social grouping. --------------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: At this point I should mention that David Lane has been an initiate and student of the Radhasoami Beas group for many, many years. So, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that he would see things this way. But strangely enough, David does not mention that Sawan Singh's own master, Jaimal Singh, was also a "self appointed master", that the Radhasoami group in Beas, India, under Sawan Singh derived their teachings from the Radhasoami parent teaching in Agra, India, without giving proper credit, and that the Radhasoami Beas group's spiritual lineage is also a fabrication that contradicts the facts! Does this shock you? DAVID LANE WRITES: As Dick mentioned, you should read my RADHASOAMI TRADITION or my M.A. thesis where I go into some detail about guru successorship. This is a topic of endless fascination for me and I focused my Ph.D. on it. What you state here, however, is actually inaccurate and misleading. You should read more S.D. Maheshwari, Agam Prasad Mathur, Kirpal Singh, Lekh Raj Puri, and Juergensmeyer. What you will find is that Jaimal Singh was actually supported (personally and financially) in his satsang by Shiv Dayal Singh's brother, Partap Singh (who was the first President of the Central Administrative Council). Jaimal Singh was not viewed as an offshoot (indeed, the CAC gave him their permission to initiate new seekers in the Punjab); indeed, Sawan Singh (Jaimal's successor at Beas) was urged by the President of CAC to continue the ministry. Jaimal Singh and Sawan Singh even had an apartment built at Soami Bagh so they could go back and visit with Partap Singh. Now, it is certainly true that Jaimal Singh was a minor successor and did not attract anywhere near the following or the publicity of Rai Salig Ram. It is also untrue that Jaimal Singh didn't acknowledge his spiritual roots. Quite the opposite, since he was closely aligned with Agra (he used to send money to Partap Singh directly). The real controversy is not over acknowledgement but over who was the rightful successor of Shiv Dayal Singh. That's the controversy, not acknowledgements..... Twitchell didn't start Eckankar and then build an apartment at Sawan Ashram so he could hang out with Kirpal Singh. Twitchell didn't send his Eckankar money to Kirpal Singh. I am all for historical criticism of guru succession episodes, but your information here contradicts the President of C.A.C.'s letters (the very group that doesn't like Jaimal Singh). The issue is much more thorny, much more human than you are trying to portray. As for my views, I think you better read what I say about Perfect Masters and Perfect lineages; it point blank contradicts your implications........ But this is a good discussion, so keep it up..... thanks ---------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: and that the Radhasoami Beas group's spiritual lineage is also a fabrication that contradicts the facts! Does this shock you? DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, there is no "fabrication." It is true that Jaimal Singh was a follower of Shiv Dayal Singh and appointed Sawan Singh (and perhaps Bagga Singh as well) as his successor (then to Jagat Singh to Charan Singh to Gurinder Singh). The two major points of dispute in the Beas lineage (outside of whether Shiv Dayal Singh was a successor of Tulsi Sahib) are over the succession episode from Shiv Dayal to Jaimal and from Sawan to Jagat. In each case, we have rival claimants who argue that he or she was the "rightful" heir. In Jaimal's case, there is no doubt that he was authorized to initiate; the dispute is whether or not he was a genuine guru or not. In Jagat's case, there is no doubt that he was appointed via a will to be the head of the Dera, etc.; the dispute, which arises from the Kirpal camp, is whether he was a genuine guru or not. The issue of succession is indeed quite human and I think the more details the better. I have been to the places you mention (and once had a nice lunch with S.D. Maheshwari, among others), but I know that the details will enlighten us more, not less. ----------------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: There is no need to go into a lot of detail here, because it is all available in the published writings of Sant Das Maheshwari, the personal secretary of the last Sant Sat Guru in the Radhasoami parent faith. Sant Das supports everything he says in great detail, even showing the copies of records kept in the Agra files, to back up his claims. DAVID LANE REPLIES: I liked Maheshwari very much, but there are many different R.S. groups--each with their own in-house historian--so it is best cast a wide net. Yes, read Maheshwari, read Mathur, read Juergensmeyer, read Tessler, read Kirpal Singh, read Puri. I think the details, my friend, are very important. You will see that the succession episodes are much more complicated (and much more human) than you convey here. As you know, there are tens of different R.S. groups, each with their own interpretation of succession history. The more you study this stuff (and we are clearly talking about an area I feel most comfortable with), the more you will see how human it is. But there is no one R.S. group as the be-all and end-all. They may wish to convert you to that notion (from Beas to Agra), but there are many many competing groups. That's the underlying part that is quite intriguing and makes for a much more complicated tale. See my R.S. TRadition for more..... ---------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: Now the point of this is not in any way to deride Sawan Singh, who indeed was a very special man and spiritual teacher. But we certainly have to ask the question; What is David Lane's problem? Doesn't he see that the spiritual teachings don't belong to anyone? That every founder of every religion has always been accused of being self appointed? That spiritual authority comes from a higher authority, not from a will and testament? And that every spiritual teacher who has brought forth anything original, or changed the spiritual teachings in any significant way, has always been accused of fabrication and imaginary creations? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Doug, I don't know how much you have read of my writings, but I would suggest that you re-read what I say in my Guru has NO Turban series, or what I say in the conclusion to THE RADHASOAMI TRADITION, or what I say in my many articles on Faqir Chand. I particularly wish to point out my section on Shiv Dayal Singh--the founder of Radhasoami--who I compare to Paul Twitchell (see R.S. Tradition). No, Doug, I think you entirely misread me if you think that I hold that R.S. (Beas or any other ism) is somehow supreme..... I don't. Please see my article, RS,INC., is not Sant Mat. However, having said that, I most definitely do think we should doubt and rip into "self-appointed" gurus--whether they are R.S. or in Eckankar. And if they do in fact "fabricate" things, let's call them on the mat for it. This kind of silly defense (that all gurus do the same bullshit) is no defense. Yes, if you think Shiv Dayal Singh is a fraud, you should rip him. And I do think there is something amiss with Shiv Dayal's ministry if he could cause such immediate misinterpretations over who his guru was just a couple of years after his death. That's his problem and he should held accountable for causing his disciples to generate such contradictory views. I think we let our gurus (RS or Eckankar or any ism) off the hook way too easily. Twitchell needs to be held accountable for allowing his biographer to publish fabrications and then allowing Eckankar to keep the myth up. The same with any founder. Hey, in more blunt terms, these God-men are doing a very lousy job of demonstrating all-knowingness. Thus, it is not our fault that we doubt Fubbi, we doubt Gakko, we doubt the Incarnation of Radhasoami. I say, let's doubt some more. Truth should be able to survive our scrutiny...... -------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: Then why did Paul change the names of his masters? Well, first of all, only Paul can answer for himself. But from what I can see, Paul was trying to show that the teachings of ECKANKAR came through inner connections to the spiritual wisdom itself, and was not limited by any physical source, including himself. And yet, when ECKANKAR entered this world, it marked a new wave of conscious teachings being brought to this planet, and this new wave was as significant a leap as the teachings of Radhasoami had been when Shiv Dayal Singh had first brought them out, one hundred years before. Four hundred years prior to that, Kabir had brought about such a leap, which marked the beginning of the Sant Mat teachings. DAVID LANE REPLIES: I clearly disagree with you on this issue. I don't think having an official biographer lie for you (and then publish it worldwide) is a mark of a "new" and "greater" revelation. I don't think giving scanty (and contradictory) information about gurus and your past is a mark forward. I also don't think, to be fair, that Radhasoami is some leap forward either. It is simply another tradition among many. The greatest revelations I have seen in the past two centuries are: Darwin and Einstein. Now these two cats have really changed things...... R.S. is simply a popular form of what has been with us since we got a neocortex. As for Twitchell being a trailblazer, we can simply agree to disagree. I think Da Free John is much more original than Twitchell, for example, though I wouldn't want to follow Da in Fiji. If brilliance is a criteria, then I find Ramana to be on my all-star team (to cite Jim Godfrey's apt idea of an all-star guru team) along with Faqir and others..... The thing I most admire about Twitchell is his creative names for vairagi gurus.... I mean Gakko, Fubbi, Yaubl, etc., are too cool not to give Twitch some nod for...... --------------------------------------- DOUG WRITES: In the cases of Kabir and Shiv Dayal Singh, they both used stories and material from the teachers and teachings prior to them, but they also broke with those traditions, and made it clear that they were teaching something very new and very different. This is similar to Christianity, where Jesus' teachings refer to the Jewish traditions, yet mark a distinct change. Mohammed made a break with Christianity, with his teachings of Islam, and yet he still honors the prophets of the Christians and the Jews. When such a leap in the teaching takes place, how can it be said that those founders received that teaching from their physical teachers? DAVID LANE REPLIES: I again disagree with you. To the extent that any of these religious leaders were duplicitious or deceitful, they deserve our scrutiny and criticism. Indeed, I don't think any of these leaders came up with anything radically "new". And whatever "newness" we attribute to them comes, I would argue, from some very human causes. I don't think Rebazar Tarzs is an explanation for Twitchell's duplicity. ------------------------------ DOUG WRITES: Now it appears to me that you are physically centered. This would explain why you see "empirical" facts and "historicity" as so important, and the "mandalic" matters as untrustworthy and secondary. You made it quite clear that you think all inner experiences should be examined, doubted, and challenged, which shows your distrust and weakness in dealing with intuitive matters. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Oh the dangers of citing Jung! (just teasing). No, Doug, I think you are again misreading something here. To be doubtful of inner visions and the like doesn't mean that one has a "weakness" in dealing with intuitive matters. It could be--given your Jungian paradigm--quite the opposite. It could be that one has so much confidence in "Truth" (whatever that may be) that he or she knows that "doubting" won't make such a Reality disappear. I don't think you know my personal history or my meditational practices or my relationship with my guru, but I can say this: Doubting something "physical" doesn't mean that person is "weak" in terms of empiricism. Einstein did that, Feynman did that, Hawking does that..... No, doubting is simply a way of testing the reality of something. Or, if I could invoke Pascal: GREAT Doubt, great Faith; little doubt, little faith. I think you get my drift. In any case, "personality" types should go the way of astrology or palmistry. For every "hit" there will be a mistake. -------------- DOUG writes: I think this also explains why you have misunderstood Paul Twitchell, who is clearly an intuitively centered person. While Paul really cared very little about the consistency of his factual statements, you mistook this for intentional lying to gain converts. When Paul was trying to tell an historical story for the purpose of its intuitive meaning, you criticized his lack of historical factual accuracy. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Nice try, but no cigar. Hey, tell the Army about Twitchell being an intuitive type so that is why he had Brad Steiger make up a fib about his war records (see Harji's own comments). Tell Gail that Paul was an intuitive type--that's the ticket..... Hey, I am a decade younger than I really am (see Brad, see Jack, see Gail) because I am trying to convey the deeper meaning.... Tell that to the DMV. Tell Twitchell's High School that he was an "intuitive" type so that he had his official biographer lie about when he "really" graduated (sure, Paul, 16????--try 18 to 23--see Harji). Tell all those readers of Brad Steiger's biography that Twitchell was an "intuitive" type and everything I wrote about him should be taken with a huge dose of MethapHORS....... I don't need to belabor my point. Twitchell didn't tell the facts straight even when it had nothing to do with "myth" or "metaphors" or "teachings." Sorry, but I am from the school where bullshit is bullshit....... And I would apply this yardstick of mine, by the way, to my own guru and to R.S. I have already--see THE GURU HAS NO TURBAN..... -----------------------------------------
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I want to go back to the home base now.