III / (vi)

The Life within

The perfection of outer conduct was essential as it was only an indispensable means for reaching the Inner Goal. Love and faith for the Satguru, self-surrender and the ethically unimpeachable life, all converged on this center. Man’s Ultimate Goal was at-one-ment with the Absolute and if this was not achieved the rest was not of much benefit.

It was this question of actual Spiritual Ascension that was Baba Ji’s main concern as a teacher. He did not expend much time on matters of theory.

Why dispute? Why argue?

He would say.

Turn within, go inside and see for yourself.

His correspondence with Baba Sawan Singh Ji is one long exhortation to leave the outside world and to retreat to the world within, and each of His letters has something valuable to say on the actual practice of Spirituality.

Since the soul had fallen a victim to Maya through the Mind and the senses, the way of liberation for it lay through its withdrawal from them. The two sadhans that Baba Ji gave for practice, as His predecessors had done, were Simran and Bhajan. The first, involving the repetition of the Sacred Names of the Lord, was to be practised at all hours of the day.

Always keep the Simran in mind,

He enjoined,

even while moving or busy at work.

Constant thought of the Supreme One was the greatest security against worldly thoughts and desires. It helped the mind in keeping itself free from its usual preoccupations and when done with full attention at the time of abhyasa or meditation, it enabled a speedy collection of the currents of consciousness at the Spiritual Center between and behind the eyebrows.

Once such concentration or Dhyan had been attained, one could get in touch with the Sound Current, and Dhyan – resulting from Simran – led naturally to Bhajan or absorption into the Shabd Dhun:

When you are doing your Bhajan or Simran, do not have any worldly cares in your mind nor let yourself be distracted by any thoughts. First, do your Simran for a quarter of an hour, then, gradually, fix your attention in the music of the Shabd Dhun. Then give up Simran and anchor your mind and soul in the Shabd. You will then experience great bliss and supreme Grace will descend on you from the Highest Region.

Such was the general pattern. The details, of course, were adjustable. The time factor could vary, but daily abhyasa was to be maintained at all costs:

Listen to the Shabd Dhun, calling in your heart, every day with great Love and devotion, for fifteen minutes or ten minutes or five minutes or an hour or two, according to the time at your disposal. But you must listen to It every day for a while.1

There was great beauty in the Shabd. It had a music that was beyond any music created by man and which drew the soul towards itself. It was forever calling the spirit towards its Divine Home and though It was not heard by ordinary men, yet those who had developed, through abhyasa and the Grace of a Satguru, the capacity of Inner Hearing, could hear its melody every minute of the day, now growing stronger as the mind focused itself at one point, now dimming and fading away as one’s thoughts scattered in various directions and attention was dissipated.

It was Shabd that was the true anchor of the seeker. It was the conscious power that had brought everything into creation and It was also one’s real Master – the Shabd Guru – for the Satguru in His human form was its physical manifestation. 

Baba Ji once said:

Shabd Dhun – that is our real form. This physical body is only a garment. Nobody could keep it forever and nobody ever will […] Believe, oh devout ones, that the Shabd form of the Satguru, which has no beginning and no end, is within the body.

Once one had developed a constant link with this Inner Music, It worked as a shield against worldly afflictions and sorrows. Misfortunes visited everyone and one’s past karmas had to be paid for; but for the man who had rooted himself in the Shabd Dhun, they had lost their sting. Baba Ji, speaking mostly to simple villagers, drove home His teachings through examples and similes based on village life.

Thus, explaining the protective power of Shabd, He would say:

The body is like a village or city and the Shabd Dhun is our own house. When somebody dies or there is some great suffering in another house, everyone in that house is very unhappy but we, in our own house, are quite contented.

Again, clarifying the magnetic power and hold of the Inner Music, on another occasion He wrote:

[…] the Shabd Dhun will pull it (mind) and keep it in the same way as animals, like goats or cattle, are kept tied by means of a rope.

The greatest obstacles to the seeker were the mind and the senses. It was through their agency that the soul had been caught in the nets of Maya, and the soul had to disengage itself from them in order to be free.

Shutting out sense experience was not so difficult. Even when the gates of the senses had been shut, the mind continued to disturb and distract. It was the root of the ego-principle and, therefore, the chief cause of the jiva’s isolation from the Universal Lord. How was this restless dragon to be conquered? Baba Ji maintained that the chief remedy lay in meditation on the form of the True Master and absorption in Shabd:

You ask me how to hold your mind. It is held only through Shabd. Hear its music daily and meditate on the form of the Satguru. Then the mind shall cease to wander and one day, borne on the Shabd Dhun, the soul shall reach Daswan Dwar – the third Inner Plane and home of the Universal Mind. Thus, leaving the mental apparatus behind, the soul shall unite with the pure Shabd and through the Grace of the Satguru reach Sach Khand. Have no doubt, it shall reach there.

7 January 1901

Once the mind had been brought under control and it no longer doubted and wavered:

then the Radiant Form of the Master appears within. There is no difference between it and the physical form. It is like a reflection in a clear mirror. So long as the glass is not clear, nothing can be seen reflected.

The mind was indeed a glass, which, when sullied by the muck-flow of worldly attachments, blurred and hid everything; but the moment this film was cleansed, it imaged the Universal in itself. The surat – attention –, collected by Simran at the Tisra Til – the third or single eye –, shot through it with the aid of the magnetism of Shabd. As it entered the Inner Realms, it was met by the Radiant Form of the Master that welcomed it and thenceforward guided every step of its Inner Journey.

Once the soul had won access to the Master in His Radiant Form within, its major task was over. The rest was a matter of time. It could, of course, be taken directly to higher planes by the Satguru, but He worked out the progress gradually; for else, as was the case with an insistent pundit, the shock and strain of it would be too great.

The Sanchit Karmas – actions of past lives to fructify in future births – and the Kriyaman Karmas – actions in this life also to fructify in future ones – had, of course, been rendered ineffective the moment the Master had accepted one in His fold. But the Pralabdh Karmas on which the present life was based had to be worked out, else death would immediately ensue.

The Master sought to exhaust these as swiftly and as smoothly as possible. When Baba Sawan Singh Ji’s leg was fractured, Baba Ji revealed that it was the result of no mere accident but of past karmas whose fruit could not be avoided. But His suffering if not wholly canceled had been mitigated through His Satguru’s intercession.

Whatever suffering has come to you,

Baba Ji wrote,

is only a fifth part, four parts have been condoned,

and went on to add:

Suffering and troubles are blessings in disguise for they are ordained by the Lord. If our benefit lies in pain, He sends pain, if in pleasure He sends pleasure. Pleasures and pains are tests of our strength and if one does not waver or deflect, then the Almighty blesses such souls with Naam.

8 May 1897

Whatever troubles befell His disciples, Baba Ji told them to be of good cheer.

The sooner their accounts were cleared the better, and special Grace was theirs in the hour of trial:

Sickness and pleasures are the fruits of past actions. All those who are sick are extended special Grace. Let them, therefore, have no worry, but bear it with equanimity. During suffering, the mind wanders not and turns to Bhajan readily in sorrow. So blessed are the periods of sickness when the mind is turned towards Bhajan. This is a special gift to Satsangis. So whenever sickness and pain afflict you, accept them as the Lord’s will and devote yourself to your Spiritual Exercises. So long as the surat is absorbed in the Shabd Dhun, pain will not be felt … Has it not been said: Pleasure is the disease and pain is the remedy.

17 October 1902

Once one meets a Competent Satguru, one learns the complete Inner Way and launches on the Spiritual Journey,

Baba Ji would say,

there is then only the liquidation of give and take that limits the soul’s flight. The soul is then not pure enough to catch the Divine Shabd and must be first freed of all karmic reactions. The Satguru must free it from the chain of karmas in this life itself so as to safeguard against the necessity of taking further births for their repayment.

Hence the inevitability of suffering, but fortunately for Satsangis years of pain are liquidated in a matter of days. The Shabd Dhun was one’s guiding angel, one’s protecting charm. If one took refuge in its richness, one’s karmas were steadily burnt away in its purifying flame. As the mind grew calmer and the karmas got exhausted, the soul was progressively released from Maya and, guided by the Radiant Master within, penetrating to ever higher Inner Planes. The disciple had not to worry. His task was only to abide by his Guru’s commandments, and labour according to His will. It was for the Satguru to crown his efforts as He considered fit and appropriate, for He was the best judge and did what was best for the disciple:

What the Lord considers best, He is doing. Do not bring yourself into the picture. Live by the words of the Master and continue performing your earthly duties. When the fruit is ripe, it will fall of its own accord without injury to itself or the bearing branch, and the ripe fruit is held in great value. But if we pluck the unripe fruit forcibly from off the tree, the branch is injured and the raw fruit shrivels and is of little use. Meeting a Competent Master is the fulfilment of human birth: this is the fruit of life. To live by His commandments ensures its proper nurture. Daily Simran and Bhajan to the maximum possible are its best food and nourishment, and mergence with Shabd is its ripening and falling off.

3 March 1899

Such was the progress of the soul. Its ripening was a matter of steady growth. Supported by the words of the Master, nourished by Bhajan, and borne on the Shabd Dhun, it transcended realm after realm until it left all coverings of mind and matter behind and reached Sach Khand. This was its True Abode, the realm of pure spirit. From there, merging into the Divine, it receded progressively into the Formless, until, passing through the Alakh and Agam, it reached the Anami, the nameless and formless source of all that moves and has its being.

With some, as in the case of Baba Ji himself, the entire journey, owing to the Spiritual Proficiency they had gained in past lives, was accomplished at what seemed to their fellows a phenomenal and amazing speed. There were others who, through their intense devotion and abhyasa, reaped in a single life the fruits of many births. But the overwhelming majority consisted of those who took to Spirituality as a passing phase of idealism and who did not make Shabd the sheet-anchor of their lives, but turned to It only intermittently. For such people success in a single life was not assured.

But the seed once sown by a Master, could not go to waste, and that which had not sprouted in one birth could blossom forth in the next, under the guidance of the living human manifestation of the Shabd-Power working at that time. And even this was unnecessary if one had already, before death, contacted the Naam Current and washed away all earthly desires, for then, one could work out the rest of one’s salvation from supra-physical planes. Once a True Satguru had taken one into His fold, one was assured of deliverance and, sooner or later, would reach one’s Eternal Home. Even if He left His earthly frame His guidance and protection continued unaffected. There was no need for those who had been initiated by Him to seek initiation from any other; for if the Guru’s physical form was mortal, His Shabd form was eternal and ever-reverberating. One could, of course, seek elucidation on knotty points from the fellow disciple, Gurubhai, Who had been chosen by one’s Master to succeed Him. But as for Inner Guidance, that continued to remain the sole responsibility of one’s preceptor even if He was physically alive no longer. The disciple’s sole duty was to follow the practices enjoined by his Guru and it was for Him to crown them with success.

Had not Jesus said,

I shall never leave you nor forsake you till the end of the world.

St Matthew 28:20

And did not Swami Ji, on the last day of His mission on earth, assure His devotees:

Have no fear whatsoever. I am forever with each one of you and your protection and care shall be even greater than before?2


Explanation: 1) Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji also laid great stress on this:

[…] no matter in what circumstances one finds himself and what new problems one is facing, a devotee should not miss his Bhajan. He may give only fifteen minutes or even five minutes to it daily, but he should be on it without a break. (Spiritual Gems, p. 462)

2) Jeevan Charitrar Swamiji Maharaj, p. 112. It is relevant to point out here the controversy initiated by Shri S. D. Maheshwari in his 'Radhasoami Faith, History and Tenets' (Agra, 1954), Chapter 22, regarding paragraph 250 of Sar Bachan (prose). The volume was not written by Swami Ji himself, but was based on dictations and notes taken by disciples, and published several years after His death. When Baba Ji undertook to have it republished at Beas, He strictly adhered to the Agra text except for paragraph 250 which, He was convinced, gave an erroneous picture of Swami Ji’s teachings. Swami Ji had always said that once a True Master had taken a disciple under His wing, He would never forsake him whatever the matter. Even if He left the physical plane, His guidance continued; we have already quoted His last words on the subject. Nor should it be forgotten that when referring His disciples to Rai Saligram, He expressly stated that if they desired 'elucidation' (not initiation) on any point, they could consult 'Saligram' for it.

Keeping the above in mind, Baba Ji had paragraph 250 of the Agra edition, which stated that a disciple could make no progress after the death of his Guru until he sought out his successor (a point not always easy to settle), deleted, and substituted for it the following, to accord with Swami Ji’s original teachings:

If anyone is initiated by a Perfect Satguru, having Love and faith in Him, serving Him devotedly, and before he has advanced far the Guru should depart, he should continue to contemplate His form and perform all of the exercises prescribed by the Guru. The same Satguru, in the same Radiant Form, will continue to carry on the work as He had commenced it, and will carry it on to final success, as if He were still in the body.

Stated in this form, Bachan 250 fits in perfectly with Bachan 254 – which fails to harmonise with it in the Soamibagh version.