Shiv Dayal Singh, affectionately called by the honorific "Param Purush Puran Dhani Huzur Soami Ji Maharaj" by his disciples and devotees, was born on 25 August 1818 in Agra in the colonial era British India (present-day Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India). His parents were followers of a spiritual guru Tulsi Saheb. Shiv Dayal Singh was the founder and first spiritual leader of Radha Soami a 19th-century spiritual sect..
The parents of Shiv Dayal Singh were residents of Punjab, but moved to Agra before his birth at the behest of the colonial British government who had set up a major military center there and relied heavily on Sikhs from the Punjab region to staff the base. At the age of five, Shiv Dayal Singh was sent to school where he learnt Hindi, Urdu, Persian and Gurumukhi, Arabic and Sanskrit. His father, Seth Dilwali Singh was a Sahejdhari Khatri. His mother's name was Mata Maha Maya. He had two brothers named Seth Partap Singh (alias Chachaji Saheb) and Seth Rai Bindraban. His marriage to Mata Naraini Devi (later called "Radha Ji" by followers and devotees), daughter of Lala Izzat Rai of Faridabad was arranged at an early age. He had no children. His family including his father, mother, mother-in-law, sister and his wife were followers of Guru Nanak, and Sant Tulsi Saheb of Hathras. During Shiv Dayal Singh's childhood, the family also sought the spiritual tutelage of a living guru from Sant Tulsi Saheb. But, he didn't take initiation from him.
Shiv Dayal Singh Seth was an Indian spiritual master who is widely known as Soamiji Maharaj. In the 19th-century, he founded the RadhaSoami Faith. Soamiji Maharaj was respectfully named as “Param Purush Puran Dhani Huzur Soamiji Maharaj” by his devotees.
Soamiji’s father and grandfather were both Persian scholars. Initially, his family followed Sikh Guru Nanak and Guru Granth Sahib. Later, they also attended the sermons of spiritual Guru Tulsi Saheb at Hathras, Uttar Pradesh (India). Soamiji’s father belonged to the Sahejdhari Khatri community.
Soamiji got mattried to Naraini Devi at an early age. Soamiji’s wife was also his follower, and alter she was also considered a spirital guru by her devotees. She was addressed by the name “Radha Ji” by her followers. She was the daughter of Izzat Rai of Faridabad.
The grandparents and parents of Soamiji Maharaj were from Punjab. In the 1800s, the colonial British Government was setting up a major military center at Agra, UP and were recruiting the Sikhs personnel from the Punjab region. Hence, after his birth, the family of Soamji Maharaj shifted to Agra from Punjab. He was sent to a local school at the age of five to learn Hindi, Urdu, Persian and Gurumukhi, Arabic and Sanskrit languages and spiritual practices.
Soamiji Maharaj began working as a Persian language translator to a government officer soon after finishing his studies at a very young age. Shortly afterwards, he also started giving personal tuitions to the Raja of Ballabhgarh as a Persian language tutor. however, he quit tutoring soon after the demise of his father to join his family business. On the other side. during the same time, his brother also got a government job in postal services. Soamiji abandoned his family business considering his brother to be the alternate earner for the family. In addition to this, Soamiji was also not able to take off the time for any spiritual practices and meditation while working at the business.
Soon after abandoning his family business, he solely focused on meditation and spiritual practices. On the basis of Sikh scriptures and the teachings of Tulsi Sahib and his predecessors, Soamiji Maharaj began delivering spiritual discourses or sermons at his residence at Agra. With the passage of time, he raised his personal followings. Surat Shabd Yoga practice was the process followed by Soamiji Maharaj to initiate his followers. He spent his whole life in Agra while initiating his devotees, meditating, and teaching Sant Mat (THOUGHTS OF A GURU).
Soamiji Maharaj’s guru Tulsi Saheb died in 1843. Soon after Tusli Saheb’s demise, Soamji Maharaj locked himself in a room within a room at his residence for fifteen years. He kept meditating and absorbing himself within while concentrating on Surat Shabd Yoga. His diet was meagre – He did not consume more than 2 oz. a day for straight 20 years. It was also said that while sitting the meditation, he used to tie his long hair to the wall at his back so that if by chance he fell asleep the pain of his falling head kept him awake.
Vasant Panchami is considered as an auspicious day in Radasoami Faith because after fifteen years of rigorous meditation, in 1861, on Vasant Panchami (a spring festival), Soamiji Maharaj publicly delivered a spiritual discourse (Satsang) in Agra. Almost all of his discourses included the Abhyas (Spiritual Practices) by his followers. Followers would seek help from him for the hurdles they faced during concentrating their minds and soul behind their closed eyes. In his spiritual discourses, he focused on the immense grace of the Supreme Lord, the original abode of the soul, love, true Guru, Satsang and the enchantment of the five words i.e NAAM. To attain salvation and redemption, he used to focus on the ethics of human life. For further instructions in this Abhyas (Meditation Practice), followers having turst, earnest and faith in their spiritual guru often visited his place to seek further advice in spiritual progress while asking the hurdles encountered during meditation and understanding its secret and mysteries, and to have his Darshan (to see him physical self).
Reportedly, after attaining the initiation from Soamiji Maharaj and practicing the meditation behind the eyes, devotees experienced and realized the internal grace, immense powers, glory and mercy of the Lord within them. Soamiji Maharaj spent seventeen years of his life delivering the Satsangs while narrating the secrets of the Original Abode of human lives, giving initiation to the Paramarthism and the procedure to reach that Abode through Surat Shabd Marga. They were delivered day and night. The Satsangs that began in the evening often continued till midnight or the next morning.
The main influence behind Soamiji Maharaj’s teachings was Tulsi Sahib’s Surat Shabd Yoga ( the union of the soul with the divine power while listening to the inner sounds), Guru Bhakti (a complete devotion to the master) and high character with a moral living with a strict lacto-vegetarian diet and abstinence from meat, drugs, alcohol and sex outside marriage. He did not ensorse celibacy. It explained that even while living in a family one could follow the spiritual path. It was an easy meditating procedure taught by Soamiji that any man, woman, young, old could perform. This reunion of the Soul with the Lord behind the closed eyes under the guidance of Soamiji gave birth to the Radhasomi Faith.
According to Soamiji, his beliefs and teachings include following a Living Guru – who lives a simple life and lives on his own earnings, Remembering the Sat Naam (Bhajan – Simran), Listening to the Spiritual Discourses by the Guru, Seva – serving the needy, Kendra visiting the Guru or community organisation, Bhandara – attending the large gathering of the followers to seek blessings of the present guru along with the spiritual discourses.
One of the Soamiji Maharaj’s beloved disciples was Rai Salig Ram Saheb Bahadur who served his master with all his riches, mind and body for twenty years. He used to live with Soamiji Maharaj and was in the habit of bringing water to Soamiji Maharaj from a well that was a mile away. Shibboji and Bukkiji were the two beloved female disciples of Soamiji Maharaj. Soamiji’s youngest brother Partap Singh’ was his follower from the age of ten or twelve, and later, his son Sudarshan Singh Seth was also started following him. Vishnoji was
Soamiji’s kitchen attendant and was his adored follower.
The two books were written by Soamiji based on his inner spiritual experiences titled Sar Bachan (Poetry)` – Volume 1 and 2.
|Soamiji Maharaj departed the physical world to merge with the One on 15 June 1878 (aged 59) Panni Gali, Agra, North-Western Provinces, British India.
After Soamiji Maharaj demise, his selective followers such as his wife Naraini Devi, his brother Partap Singh (“Chachaji), Sanmukh Das, Jaimal Singh Maharaj (an army soldier), Gharib Das of Delhi, and Rai Salig Ram Saheb Bahadur started claiming to be his legal heirs. However, they all failed to claim their legal rights amid this battle. Later, they established their own separate Radhasoami centres for the spiritual discourses and led to the multiplication of several Masters and their teachings all over India. They all followed the teachings and the discourses according to the Sant Mat Path elucidated by Soamiji Maharaj.