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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Radhasoamis (also known as Radha Soami and Radha Swami)

Time of origin: mid 1800s

In 1818, Shiv Dyal Singh was born to a Khatri Singh named Dalvali Singh and his wife Mahamai Kaur in the city of Agra. He grew up to marry Bibi Radha Bhai. Shiv Dyal Singh attained his spiritual wisdom from a Nirmala ‘Mahant’ (temple custodian) of Mai Than named Baba Daya Singh.

Swami Shiv Dyal Singh

Also known as 'Swamiji Maharaj', founder of the Radhasoamis

Baba Daya Singh’s ‘Guru’ (teacher) was Baba Mohr Singh Kati Yoga Raj Nirmala who resided in Bbecksar, Amritsar. Shiv Dyal, on studying with his Nirmala Guru came to love Adi Guru Durbar. Pundit Ganesha Singh Nirmala writes:

‘He began to spend all his time reading Guru Durbar. In his mind inclination towards detachment increased. Then from the Mahant he learned some ‘Surat Shabad Da Abihas’ (technique of meditation) and began to like sitting alone in his house. After this, for 17 years he in his own house - gathered people in holy congregation, started to teach ‘Sant Matt’ (teachings of Saints) the teachings of Radhasoami sect. First he only taught women then from 1861 he began to preach to everyone.’
‘Bharat Mat Darpan’, by Pandit Ganesha Singh Nirmala, 1926, Pa. 269

Another influence on Shiv Dyal was Baba Tulsi Sahib, a Hindu saint who introduced Shiv Dyal to the esoteric Yoga of ‘Shabad Surat’. Shiv Dyal Singh went on to author two texts - ‘Sarbachan Gadh’, and ‘Sarbachan Padh’. As Shiv Dyal’s followers increased, his sect of Sikhs came to be known as, ‘Radhasoami’. The literal translation of this name arises from ‘Soami’ (meaning master/husband) of ‘Radha Bhai’, the wife of Shiv Dyal.

Baba Tulsi Sahib
An early sketch of the Hindu saint who assisted Shiv Dyal on his spiritual quest, circa late 19th century

Over time, the followers of Shiv Dyal began to propagate another interpretation to the term ‘Radhasoami’. Quoting a line of Bhagat Kabir’s texts, translated ‘Radha’ as ‘Atma Dhara’ (flow of ‘Atma’ - spiritual power), the name of whose immortal place is ‘Swami’ (meaning highest God).

The great Hindu Muslim saint, who's works are found in Adi Guru Durbar, circa early 19th century

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