The Origins of Radhasoami: a reply to TESSLER's Study, PART TWO, section 2

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: March 1998

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     "Our Hazur was an adept in the theory and practice of Surat Shabd
Yoga.  In this modern age this divine science .. came to Tulsi Saheb and on
to Soami ji..."
           - Kirpal Singh from a discourse given in 1964 (Sat Sandesh
April 1978)

     Soami Ji mentioned in his last hours that he had been practicing the
inner science since the age of six.14 [Biography of Soami ji Maharaj . Lala
Pratap Singh Seth (Chachaji Saheb), Radhasoami Satsang, Soami Bagh, Agra,
1968,  p.193.  (Originally written, in Hindi, in 1902)] A little
subtraction tells us that Soami Ji would have been  practicing Surat Shabd
Yoga since 1824, eighteen years before the death of Tulsi Saheb of Hathras.
Soami Ji's parents were disciples of Tulsi Saheb and his early life was
closely linked to this teacher of Surat Shabd Yoga and to his sangat.
Soami Ji referred very frequently to Tulsi Saheb in his talks and
discourses and their recorded teaching are essentially indistinguishable.
It is said that Tulsi did not pass away before Munshi Ji (as Tulsi referred
to Soami Ji) had come from Agra to receive a last glance from the great

"It is said that"? By whom, Neil? When, where, and in what context?
This kind of quoting doesn't pass the muster for the simple reason
that is conjecture done on "behalf" of a lineage that believes in
the Tulsi/Shiv connection.

This cite isn't history, it is genealogical rhetoric.

Let us contrast it with the successors of Tulsi Sahib AT Hathras.

Let us see what they say about Shiv Dayal Singh.

We already know what the former mahant said:

Shiv was an OFFSHOOT.......

In any case, you are simply stating Kirpal's (and to some degree
Beas') VERSION of what they believe happened....



  Soami Ji referred to God as Satguru Saheb or Soami Saheb, terms
used to address Tulsi Saheb.  In the light of these facts it is difficult
to understand a statement such as that by Mark Juergensmeyer when he says,
"there is no indication that Tulsi Saheb had actually initiated Soami
Ji."15 [The Sants. The Radhasoami Revival, p. 351, Mark Juergensmeyer.  He
also notes that "The teachings of Tulsi Sahib are remarkably similar to
those of Shiv Dayal." Why is this so remarkable?



"Actually initiated" is the key phrase here. Do we really have the
evidence? I too think that Shiv Dayal Singh was aligned to Tulsi,
but I don't have the evidence. I have the "theory" that he was....

We simply need more evidence.

That's all.


TESSLER writes:

     David Lane describes with some enthusiasm Talsky and Gold's
commentaries on a possible initiatory connection between Girdhari Lal, a
disciple of Tulsi Saheb, and Soami Ji.  I find this a fatuous line of
discussion.  The actual references to Girdhari Lal by Chacha Pratap Singh
provide quite contrary evidence.  Soami Ji as the child of disciples, as a
practitioner since the age of six, and as a contemporary of Tulsi Saheb for
almost two decades, (a period twice as long as Sawan Singh's physical
relationship with Baba Jaimal Singh) could hardly have been a disciple of
Girdhari Lal.  In any event, there is not the least evidence (at least in
English) to suggest that Girdhari Lal ever functioned as a guru.  Rather
Chacha Ji's references suggests that Girdhari Lal, a brother disciple of
Tulsi Saheb, looked upon Soami Ji as his guide, as would any disciple look
upon his Master's successor.  Indeed, Girdhari Lal lost the inner contact
with the Sound Current in his last days, which was restored to him by Soami
Ji, who had travelled to Lucknow to help him at his end.  This certainly
indicates that he was a less than perfected practitioner, still subject, as
Pratap Singh states, to the laws of karma.  The discussion of Girdhari Lal
is a blind alley as far as I can discern.]



Better go do some more research. Shiv Dayal Singh's nephew and the
last guru at Soami Bagh (himself an initiate of Shiv Dayal Singh),
Madhav Prasad Sinha states quite clearly that Shiv Dayal Singh
treated Girdhar more or less as a "Guru" (his words, not mine). 

This is rather odd, especially when we consider that Madhav Prasad
Sinha felt that Shiv Dayal NEVER had a guru.

I say this because it was clearly a "perception" that Shiv Dayal
treated Girdhari as a guru--even if there wasn't a spiritual

Moreover, the whole story of Chachaji's as written should be viewed
in a much larger context, right?

If not, then why doesn't he mention Jaimal Singh and why does he 
singularly praise Rai Salig Ram?

My point is that every piece of writing should be placed in the
context of what it is attempting to convey.

Personally, the whole story seems to me to be a way to buttress Shiv
Dayal and put down Girdhari....

Why would Chachaji retell such a thing?

I have a hint: it was perceived that Girdhari was Shiv Dayal's guru,
and Chachaji recounts the story to put it in reverse.

However, to be fair, this is merely speculation at this time.

We do know what Madhav Prasad Sinha said......


TESSLER writes:

     The pertinent question is not whether Soami Ji was initiated by Tulsi
Saheb, which though inferential is still based on compelling evidence, but
why this is not explicitly stated in his recorded words, and why it was
actively disavowed by Rai Saligram.  Lane has discussed this latter
question in some detail, elucidating the incarnationalism of Rai Saligram
as an outcome of both Hindu and Christian influences.16 [Rai Saligram
taught that Soami Ji did not have a Master, a belief not supported by later
Sant Mat Masters.] Due to Saligram's teaching, the belief that Soami Ji had
no guru became a basic article of faith with the Agra Radhasoami branches
and may have led to the suppression of any contrary evidence.


Are we certain that Salig Ram is the "only" on who had such
incarnational views?

Look at what Chachaji writes in his biography of his brother.

Where is the mention of Tulsi Sahib AS Shiv's guru?

Doesn't appear does it?

Why not?

Moreover, why does Chachaji allow (indeed certify) the publication
of Sar Bachan with a Preface THAT says Shiv Dayal had NO Guru?

Salig Ram, yes, he does certainly have incarnational views.

Was he the only one?

Most likely not.

In any case, the early history of R.S. is already filled with
hagiography and we are not very certain of much.....


TESSLER writes:

     Kirpal Singh, on the other hand, free of the constraints felt by the
relationships between these various institutions, was unambiguous in his
assertion that Soami Ji did in fact have a Guru and it was Tulsi Saheb.
Kirpal Singh in his biography of Baba Jaimal Singh develops a history of
Soami Ji's predecessors that links the present line of Masters to the
earlier line of Sikh Gurus through a member of Tulsi Saheb's family, thence
on to Tulsi Saheb.  In doing so he was indicating that, in his view, Soami
Ji was a successor to the great Masters of the past, and not a unique
incarnation, as claimed at Agra.



Yes, I quite agree that Kirpal was quite clear about his belief that
Shiv Dayal was connected to Tulsi.

Yet, how well documented is his case about who Tulsi Sahib's guru
might be?

Furthermore, just because Kirpal Singh believes that Tulsi Sahib was
Shiv Dayal's guru (I even think so too, though I have a
suspicion--mark the words here, they are a caveat--that Shiv later
showed some sort of allegiance to one of Tulsi's successors in Agra,
oh the infamous Girdhari!) does not then mean that he is correct.

You seem to be under the impression that if Kirpal Singh says
something about history it must by definition be true.

Again, this is your theological imperative, but not necessarily a
historical one.


TESSLER writes:

      On the day of Soami Ji's passing he made a number of statements
regarding arrangements for the future care of the Agra sangat that are very
relevant to our overall themes:
     1) In three places he specifically elevates his wife's spiritual
stature.  To all the assembled disciples including Saligram he says, "You
should, henceforth, respect Radhaji as you have respected me."  When he is
asked by a female disciple "Whom have you appointed to look after and guide
us?" Soami Ji replies, "Radhaji for ladies and Sanmukh Das for Sadhus."
Again speaking to the female devotees he says, "They should all worship
Radhaji and have Her Darshan."18 [Biography of Soamiji Maharaj. Ibid.  pp.
191-200] A little earlier he specified Sanmukh Das's role as that of a
manager and administrator for the Sadhus.
       2) He does not name Rai Saligram as his spiritual successor, yet he
does direct people to Rai Saligram to have questions answered on spiritual
matters.  This is notable given that some of the answers are going to
differ markedly from those that Soami Ji himself might have given.
     3) While drawing a clear line between his path ("Sat Naam and Anaami")
and that of his disciple Rai Saligram ("Radhasoami faith") he yet tolerates
its continuation.  This is of very great importance as it displays an
attitude of tolerance and equanimity towards peculiar developments within
his satsang.



Yes, provided that we accept the last words of Shiv Dayal
(apparently recorded by his brother) to be correct and true and not
the result of some kind of twisted hagiography.

But more importantly, if we accept these words it shows then Shiv
Dayal Singh allowed not merely for "tolerance" but a slew of ugly
lawsuits, general animosity, and massive confusion for future
followers in his lineage. You imply that such is a Divine ordinance.
I see it as human folly and shortsightedness.


TESSLER writes:

     Though select individuals were told by Soami Ji that Baba Jaimal Singh
would carry on the work in the Punjab, there is no documented evidence,
such as a will, that he was named as Soami Ji's Gurumukh successor.  Baba
Jaimal Singh's last hours in the company of Soami Ji occurred many months
before his Guru's passing in 1878.  Baba Jaimal Singh's duties in the
military carried him far from Agra and for long periods.  His spiritual
stature and close relationship with Soami Ji may not have been general



"May not have been general knowledge" is another way of saying Beas'
evidence for Jaimal Singh is weak and they have to come up with some
way to explain it.



  He was recognized as a legitimate heir of Soami Ji by Radha Ji,
Chacha Pratap Singh Ji (Soami Ji's wife and younger brother respectively),
Rai Saligram, as well as Baba Gharib Das, a disciple of Tulsi Saheb.



Here you are jumbling history and not giving us any support for your
rather grandiose statement. Who says Salig Ram backed Jaimal Singh
as a "legitimate" heir?

If anything, it appears that Salig Ram and Jaimal Singh had quite
contrarian views.        

If you are looking for Chachaji supporting a guru, then look at his
own biography of his brother (if we accept such words as genuine),
wherein he praises RAI SALIG RAM but NEVER mentions Jaimal Singh.

What I am getting at here is that you tend not to be very clear on
who is saying what.

You tend to simply accept what Kirpal Singh says about the matter
and gloss over it.

Be specific, Neil, be substantiated.

Otherwise, what you are saying here can be point by point
contradicted by the Agra literature.


TESSLER writes:

Jaimal Singh returned to Agra after his retirement in 1889 and his reunion
with these advanced disciples of Soami Ji was a time of rejoicing.19 [See
"The Torch Bearer" in A Great Saint Baba Jaimal Singh.  Ruhani Satsang,
Sawan Ashram, Delhi, India, 1960.]



Great rejoicing? According to WHOM?

That's the question you keep forgetting.

Yea, according to Kirpal Singh who has a vested interest in Jaimal's

Do we have neutral parties in Agra (not affiliated with Beas or
Kirpal) talking about such "rejoicing" when Jaimal came back to

Do tell, Neil.

Otherwise, you seem intent on buying hook, line, and sinker anything
your guru says, but tending to dismiss those statements which POINT
BLANK contradict it.

If anything, Agra disdained Jaimal Singh and did not apparently hold
him in the high regard you claim.

Just think of the C.A.C.'s vote AGAINST him as just one indication.

My point again is that you are relying on "rhetorical"
devices--dressed up as "objective" history--to support your version
of events--a version that is simply your Guru's narrative.

Again, not history but theology.


TESSLER writes:

    The peculiarity of these facts cannot be missed. 



"these FACTS"????

Oh, Neil, you must know better than to pass off one source (which
has a vested interest) as "facts."

Versions? Yes. 



Give us the Agra versions and let us see what they say about Jaimal
and what they say about Salig Ram.

As for "peculiarlityness" you are certainly right.

Peculiar in the sense that they are not substantiated.


TESSLER writes:

 Baba Jaimal Singh's
satsang, though far from Agra, grew to be the most significant of Soami
Ji's succession lines.  Not one of the other Gurus after Soami Ji appointed
a successor and the succession after Rai Saligram had nothing to do with
any formal designation or commission on his part.
     It becomes clear that the forces and principles that govern succession
in Sant Mat are uncommon and defy the usual logic of succession in
religion, politics, monarchies, etc.  Soami Ji had tolerance for Rai
Saligram even though he had a heterodox interpretation of Soami Ji's
teaching in his lifetime.  Clearly, by the time of Soami Ji's death, Rai
Saligram was already advancing well along toward a distinctive teaching.
Although Rai Saligram did not begin functioning as a guru for some years
after the death of Soami Ji, his personal influence must have been very
great, for his satsang made rapid growth, and his own theological
interpretations quickly superceded those of his predecessor at Agra.
     When Soami Ji allows for Saligram's heterodoxy, it indicates a
tolerance for those who create divisions and bring varied interpretations
into being.  The Satguru's approach to existing social structures and those
who lead and inhabit them does not appear to be a divisive one,  rather it
is characterized by toleration to the web that nature spins unceasingly.
Their own spiritual work unfolds down through time and in various
incarnations as a kind of dance with the ever changing conditions of the
world, seeking opportunities for the fullest extension of their message
within existing circumstances.



You say "tolerance" yet the fact remains that Agra developed into a
huge legal mess with Dayal Bagh and Soami Bagh suing each other for
DECADES over property rights. In addition, these parking lot fights
(oops, Temple right fights) are anything BUT tolerant.

Where you see "divine" toleration, I see human confusion and
unnecessary messes.

In other words, I think there was a CONFUSION after Shiv Dayal's
death, not a UNIFICATION.

Clearly, much of that could have been avoided but it wasn't.

In contrast, think of Darshan's appointment of his son, Rajinder.

Very smooth, very clear.

And very NON-Shiv Dayal like.

Who is better served: those who can see a CLEAR appointment or those
who have to SUE other in COURT to determine who is legitimate?

My point once again is an obvious one:

Where you see the Divine Hand (and try to legitimize it), I see
humanness and the ugly pettiness that goes with it.


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