Monday, August 27, 2007

Book Review: Sar Bachan Radhaswami Poetry

Book Review: Sar Bachan Radhaswami Poetry

Sant Mat Fellowship:
Radhasoami Reality:
{Radhaswami Dayal ki Daya Radhaswami Sahai:
"Grant Merciful Radhasoami Thy Grace and Protection"}

Mixed Media: Book Reviews, Website Reviews, Music Reviews

By James Bean
Copyright August 2007

Sar Bachan Radhaswami Poetry

The Author: Swami Ji Maharaj

The Sar Bachan of Soami Ji Maharaj in three new volumes, Translation into Contemporary English, Commentary and Footnotes, by M.G. Gupta, Published by MG Publishers, Agra, India

Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Prose
ISBN: 81-85532-33-8

Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume I
ISBN: 81-85532-34-6

Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami: Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume II
ISBN: 81-85532-35-4

North American Importer of Indian Spiritual Books including Agra and Beas RS Books: Nataraj Books:

Another translation of the poetry published in English is: Sar Bachan Poetry (Selections), also the volume, Sar Bachan Prose, from the RS Book Department (RSSB):

For other translations into English of Sar Bachan Poetry -- Volumes I and II, the Prose, plus: The Last Discourse of Soami Ji Maharaj (along with, The Letters of Soami Ji Maharaj and Huzur Maharaj), as well as another book by Swami Ji titled, Elucidation of Jap Ji, see the website of Rita Maheshwari, Agra:

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 a mystery), for none can really comprehend its secrets and idioms which I will have to have to employ to reveal them."

Often resembling Near-Death Experiences or OOBE's, 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 was within another room [a meditation room within a room of his home in Agra]. He was all the time absorbed in the bliss of Divine Light and Sound meditation." (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 and teaching. "In January 1861, Soami Ji started publicly explaining the methods of the Saints 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 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 [monks] also." (Encyclopaedia of Saints of India, Volume Nineteen: Radhasoami, Criterion Publications, New Delhi)

Soami Ji even made 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 like M.G. Gupta, who has translated all six volumes of the Masnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi, the poetry of Sarmad, and the Diwan-i Hafiz, to produce this most excellent new translation of the Sar Bachan Poetry and Prose in English -- all three volumes.

For Swami Ji, love for the Beloved Radhasoami, the Lord of All Souls, is central to traveling upon the right Currents of Sound, Light, and 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, meditation practices 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 Nameless One (Anami), the Soundless One (Anadi), in the Highest Region. As Swami Sant Sevi Ji Maharaj once 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 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."

Mystic Poetry of Swami Ji Maharaj in, The Quintessential Discourse Radhasoami

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 wave; 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 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.

Selections from the Hidayat Namah (Book of Esoteric Instructions) of Swami Ji

When your eye, turning inward into your brain, pierces the sky within and your spirit leaving your body, flies upward, you will sight the heaven which is the location of the post of Sahasdal Kanwal (One Thousand-Petalled Lotus). A thousand petals of this lotus are performing the work relating to all the three loks [worlds]. By sauntering around this sphere, you will be immensely delighted and you will sight Niranjan (the Spotless), the lord of the three worlds.......

......Via the heavenly route, the surat [soul] keeps on soaring and flying and from afar, whiffs of fragrances of sandal from Malyagir, and other sweet scents of diverse varieties keep on gently blowing and the seeker then hears the innumerable sounds of flutes. Smelling these fragrances and hearing these sounds, the surat continues to soar and move forward.

When it traverses this plane (of the Rotating Cave), it attains to the outpost (naaka) of Sattlok, whence flows the sound Satt Satt and Haq Haq, emanating from the harp. Hearing this sound, the spirit getting ecstatic goes on piercing and penetrating into the higher sphere and from there the view of golden and silvery streams and rivulets, full of the limpid water of life (aab-i-zulal) and huge gardens of which every tree seems 10,000,000 jojans high, and where instead of fruits and flowers, millions and billions of suns and moons hang from their branches. Innumerable spirits and hamsas sing and blissfully warble on these trees, instead of birds. The spectacle and sight of this sphere is marvellous and indeed ineffable. Seeing this spectacle, the spirit or surat enters the Sattlok and catches the sight of Satt Purush.......

.........Thence the surat [soul] moved upward and made it to the Inaccessible Sphere (Agam Lok) whose stretch is quintillion palang (mahashankh) and the body of the Agam Purush is as vast as a quintillion quintillion palang. The hamsas [heavenly beings] dwelling there have a marvellous and unique form, and bliss and beatitude of that sphere is overwhelmingly wonderful. My spirit (says Soamiji Maharaj) stayed and rested there for a very long period.

Beyond this, the spirit got the glimpses of Radhasoami, that is Anami Purush and merged into Him. That Abode is Infinite, Incalculable and Endless and it is the Real, Eternal Abode of faqirs (Saints). Having attained to this, all the Saints fell into silence; as it is, I also now take to silence.