For the past 45 years I have been researching the history of Radhasoami, as founded by Shiv Dayal Singh in Agra, India, back in the mid part of the 19th century. I am particularly fascinated by the early days of the movement and how it evolved from a relatively small and obscure satsang to a world-wide faith with millions of adherents.
I fondly remember my first book contract with Garland Publishers in New York and London in 1979 when Professor J. Gordon Melton asked me to produce an annotated bibliography on Radhasoami. I would spend hours at the University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Los Angeles libraries trying my best to track down each and every book that mentioned Sant Mat, shabd yoga, or Radhasoami. In those pre-Internet days it was a romantic adventure, since one was never quite sure what one would discover.
I was lucky to find texts that were hard to find and seldom read. Ironically, most of the earliest works, outside of the group’s own publications, were written by Christian missionaries who were not always objective or impartial. There are very few writings concerning Radhasoami from the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Although the information they contain is sketchy and oftentimes inaccurate, they do provide an important historical glimpse into the early days of the movement.
In this collection, I have included the writings of Max Müller, Hervey De Witt Griswold, John Nicol Farquhar, James Bissett Pratt, and J. Kennedy. Each author has provided us with an early interpretation of how Radhasoami developed and has also given us a summation of the group’s theology.
This volume is the first in a series that the MSAC Philosophy Group plans to publish. Our hope is to make early Radhasoami literature – from books to articles to ephemera – more widely available for future scholarship and those interested in understanding more about the life and work of varying gurus in this ever-growing tradition.