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Book Review: The Sar Bachan of Soami Ji Maharaj
by James Bean
Copyright September 2005

The Sar Bachan of Soami Ji Maharaj in three volumes:
Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Prose;
Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume I;
Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume II;
Translations into Contemporary English, Commentary and Footnotes, by M.G. Gupta

Genres: Sat Mat, Radhasoami, Surat Shabd Yoga, Spiritual Poetry, Gnosticism, Indian Mysticism

     About the Translator: "M. G. Gupta was a prolific writer on mysticism, spirituality, religion and the great mahatamas. From Sarmad to Hafiz, from Rumi to Soamiji Maharaj, little did he leave untranslated from the other world. His works don't just change lives, they build lives."


The spiritual classics, Sar Bachan Radhasoami Nazm yaani Chhand bandh (Poetry), and, Sar Bachan Radhasoami Bartik (Prose) by Soami Ji Maharaj are very complex books even in Hindi, and all-the-more-so if the attempt is made to translate them into English, especially the mystical poetry. Swami Ji himself says, "How shall I openly speak of its process (the process of creation in Pinda: the material universes, And: the astral dimensions, and Brahmand: Universal Mind realms -- this best remains confidential), for none can comprehend its secrets and idioms which I will have to have to employ to reveal them."

     Swami Ji's mystic-verses are quite intricate with layers of meaning, and contain countless terms for various heavenly regions, states of consciousness, visionary and auditory experiences he encountered as he was in communion with his Beloved Radhasoami (Soul-Lord, Lord of the Soul). The Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry is a most other-worldly, heavenly document, based upon Swami Ji's own inner travels, attainments and spiritual realizations. "For about fifteen years, Soami Ji Maharaj used to shut Himself up in a room which is within another room [a meditation room within a room of his home in Agra]. He was all the time absorbed in the bliss of Surat Shabd Yoga." (Huzur Maharaj) After this period of deep exploration of the inner regions and union with his Beloved Radhasoami in Sach Khand, Swami Ji emerged and began his Mission of public satsang.

     "In January 1861, Soami Ji started publicly explaining the method of Saints (Sant Mat) to a few people who gathered at his home. This satsang (true association, association with Eternal Truth) continued for nearly seventeen years, during which period about four thousand persons -- men and women -- Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sravagis, and a few Christians were initiated by him into Sant Mat (the Path of the Saints), i.e. Radhasoami path (the Path of the Supreme Being). Most of these were householders; but some (about three hundred) were Sadhus also." (Encyclopaedia of Saints of India, Volume Nineteen: Radhasoami, Criterion Publications, New Delhi)

     Soami Ji even makes use of some Persian or Sufi mystical terminology at times, and composed some ghazals in Persian. "Soami Ji's father and grand-father were Persian scholars." (The Biography of Soami Ji Maharaj) Soami Ji "acquired a working knowledge of Arabic and Sanskrit", earlier in his life for a time taught Persian, and even "wrote a book in Persian." (Radhasoami Faith -- a Historical Study) It seems rather appropriate then for someone who has translated all six volumes of the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi, the poetry of Sarmad, and the Diwan-i Hafiz to produce this most excellent translation of the Sar Bachan Poetry and Prose in English - all three volumes: The Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami -- Sar Bachan Radhasoami Prose, The Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami -- Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume One, and The Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami -- Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume Two, Translation and Commentary, M.G. Gupta, MG Publishers, Agra.

    If any group loses the ethical principals of the Masters such as truthfulness, vegetarianism, and ahimsa (non-violence), or removes -- takes away -- the God-Bhakti aspect, that changes the path (for them) into something else -- something lesser or lower, and would make it an incomplete version of Surat Shabd Yoga. One key teaching often not comprehended by some in the West is the centrality of Bhakti: love, devotion -- direct communion with God (Radhasoami) as the quintessential or foundational experience of Sant Mat mysticism. Some may 'soul travel' and find dim or faint astral light and sound experiences in lower realms, but without love for the Beloved, that too remains merely an illusion of spiritual progress and enlightenment, an imitation of Divine Light and Sound. Kal-worlds of duality have many lights and sounds too, and those do not lead the soul Above. As it says in the Anurag Sagar:

"A moth loves the lamp. It becomes happy on seeing the lamp burning. It goes near the lamp and dances around it. It then tries to catch the light of the lamp and in this attempt burns itself. Kaal Niranjan (Universal Mind-illusion) is like that light. He has entangled the creatures in the net of illusive worldly things. It is very difficult to come out of this net."

"When we collect the scattered thought and focus it behind the eyes, we first see a light called "Sakha Jot" and then at that very place appears 'Jhilmil Jyoti': Showing these lights, Kaal arrests the souls (Jeevas) there. The third 'Jagmag Jyoti' or the Twinkling Light is in the Thousand Petal Lotus region. Only the saints see this Light. This is above the eyes and below the 'Turiya Pad.' This real Light is known only to the saints." (Anurag Sagar, Tarn Tarn version)

     For Swami Ji, love for the Beloved Radhasoami, the Lord of All Souls, is central to traveling upon the right Light and Sound Currents of Divine Love within. This Bhakti spirit is the right-foundation and the Positive Power to base one's spiritual practice upon.

"Always remember the Lord,
and, knowing that He is always with you,
imbue yourself with His love."
(Soami Ji, in a letter to Huzur Maharaj)

     In the Sar Bachan are hymns of praise, conversational prayers directed towards the Friend, the Beloved, the Object of his Communion, the Lover of his soul: the Merciful Lord of the Soul: Radhasoami Dayal. In this loving context of devotional Bhakti, mystical experiences (Surat Shabd Yoga, Divine Light and Sound of God) take the devotee-soul upon an interior journey beyond illusion, beyond time and duality, to an Ultimate Reality, the Ocean of Love, Swami Ji Maharaj describes as "Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent with attributes of Grace, Mercy, Love, Bliss and Peace." Swami Ji Maharaj says, "From one step to another the soul beholds strange things which cannot be described in human language. Every region and everything is utterly beyond words. What beauty and glory! How can I describe them? There is nothing here to convey the idea. I am helpless...Love plays the supreme part. It is all love. So says RADHASOAMI." (Sant Radhasoami Sahab)

     Radhasoami is the name for the Soundless One and Soundless State, Anadi, the Highest Region. As one Master said, "The individual soul has descended....from the Soundless State to the essence of Sound, from Sound to Light, and finally from the realm of Light to the realm of Darkness.....[In Surat Shabd Yoga meditation practice] we travel back from the realm of Darkness to the realm of Light, from the Light to Divine Sound, and from the realm of Sound to the Soundless State." (Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj)

MYSTIC POETRY OF SWAMI JI MAHARAJ in The Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami - Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry:

     "O Lord! Tell me as to how shall I reach there and fill my mind with zest, enthusiasm, courage and drive. My guru has revealed to me the path of Surat Shabd Yoga; without his grace and charity (daya), none can treat it and make it to His Abode."

     "If you are a lamp (deepak -- lamp of earthen vessel with wick and oil), I am turned into a moth (patanga) which in the company of the lamp reduces itself to ashes. If you are a black bee I am turned into a small worm (keet which thinks constantly of the bee and eventually becomes it); in my case, I think only of the most perfect, sagacious, skillful, shrewd and wise Radhasoami who has graciously met me. If you are the Sandalwood (tree) I am a serpent intertwined with it; by the touch of your feet, I have become serene, tranquil and calm (sheetal bhayee). If you are an ocean, I am like a surge; I rise from you and I retire and return unto you. If you are a pearl, I am the thread (round which the pearl is woven); I, like the thread, never let go and forsake you (who is like a pearl to me)."

     "Lord Radhasoami! Do shower mercy and grace on me now, for you are seated inside each and everyone as the knower of all inner secrets (antaryami). If you are the moon, I am like its phases -- rotation and revolution causing its phases, new moon and full moon -- so that I depend on you and I am conditioned I by you both in my waning and waxing. I am like a small girl while you are both my father and mother; day and night I play in your lap."

     "I hear the sonorous sounds of bell and conch-shell which resonate and reverberate (in Sahasdal Kanwal), and I hear the melodious and wondrous sounds of been (harp in Sat Lok) and flute (or bansuri in Bhanwar Gupha). The tune and rhythm of drums (mridang) and fiddle, reverberations and the sound of kettledrum and tabor resonates every moment. The ambrosial rain falls in a thousand currents and the heavenly sphere (gagan mandal) revolves like a wheel. I go round and round (ghoomland), losing all my strength and ego and becoming utterly humble and dependent upon the Lord, so that the sheen of my doxology becomes intense and scintillating. The atmosphere that is created beggars description, and all the satsangis (initiates, gathering of devotees) join together in singing the doxology. Diamonds and rubies are being showered all around as propitiatory offering; the strings of pearls and quartz are being interwoven."

     "I behold Radhasoami every moment. I have now completed this doxology! 0 Lord! Confer upon me your grace (prasad) which basically is ambrosia (and which will immortalize me, putting me beyond the ken of decay, decline and death). I am now unfurling the banner (flag) of love in the Heavenly Spheres of Three Prominences (Trikuli or Gagan) where the resonance of anhad shabd emanates from the Inaccessible Sphere."

     "In those islands, the lakes of ambrosia are full to the brim and the hamsas there have the glimpses of Sat Purush for their nourishment (substance that nourishes; food, nutrient). There every time, there is a new sport (lila); how shall I speak of the majesty and grandeur thereof? Beyond that, the Alakh (Invisible) Sphere has been carved out, and there the surat goes, abandoning the non-Self ('I-ness' or ego or aapaa)."

     "How shall I admire the splendour and lustre of Alakh Purush? Billions and trillions of moons and suns feel humble and humiliated and are put to shame for they are all surpassed by the glory of Alakh Purush and feel disgraced. The surat acquires such a brilliant form there that crores of suns cannot do justice to its mien and beautiful aspect (chhabi)."

     "Then the surat steps forward and goes to perceive the Agam Lok (the Inaccessible Sphere). The sheen and lustre (shobha) of the Inaccessible Purush is peculiar, wholly distinct, for His brilliance and shine excels the light of trillions of suns?"

     "Beyond that is the Nameless One (Purush Anami), who is called as indescribable and Infinite (akeh and apaar). None can go there save the saints, who have termed it their own, original, eternal abode. 0 Lord (Soami)!"

     "Radhasoami, I adore and adulate you, for you have revealed to me the Mystery."

Prose: 81-85532-33-8
Poetry Volume One: 81-85532-34-6
Poetry Volume Two: 81-85532-35-4
The M.G. Gupta translations of Sar Bachan Poetry and Prose (and other M.G. Gupta books) can be ordered from MGPublishers@Gmail.com HERE

Some Related Webpages:

E-Book Online: Sar Bachan Poetry, Book One, at Archive.org: HERE
E-Book Online: Sar Bachan Poetry, Book One, at Scribd:

E-Book Online: Sar Bachan Poetry, Book Two, at Scribd: HERE

Web Page Dedicated to Swami Ji Maharaj, the Great Saint of Agra: The Teachings of Soami Ji: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Part's One and Two (Sar Bachan Radhasoami Nazm yaani Chhand bandh), Sar Bachan Radhasoami Prose (Sar Bachan Radhasoami Bartik), Soami Ji Maharaj's Letters to Huzur Maharaj, Swami Ji's Commentary on the Jap Ji of Guru Nanak, and, Last Words of Soami Ji Maharaj: Soami Ji Maharaj Web Page

Online Library of Agra Radhasoami Spiritual Classics: Sar Bachan Poetry and Prose, Prem Patra, Radhasoami Mat Prakash, Teachings of Huzur Maharaj, Maharaj Saheb, Buaji Saheba, Babuji Maharaj, and Many Others: Radhasoami, Soami Bagh, E-Library

Soami Bagh (S.D. Maheshwari), Dayal Bagh, and Radha Soami Satsang Beas all publish the Sar Bachan Prose in English. Soami Bagh (S.D. Maheshwari), and Radha Soami Satsang Beas both publish the Sar Bachan Poetry. And, as I mentioned above, M.G. Gupta has translated all three volumes of Sar Bachan (Poetry and Prose) in English.

To order copies of Sar Bachan Poetry, Prose, and other Sant Mat books from India, contact Nataraj Books of Virgina: HERE

Copies of the Sar Bachan Poetry and Prose volumes can also be ordered from Banyen Books of Vancouver: HERE