Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) is a registered spiritual society. It is a non-profit and charitable society, and is an independent body which does not bear allegiance to any other Radha Soami or Sant Mat group (satsang). Radha means "Soul," Soami means "Lord," Satsang describes a group that seeks truth, and Beas refers to the town of Beās in Punjab State in North India.
It had its origins when the saint Bābā Jaimal Singh settled, in 1891, near the town of Beās at an isolated rural site, which later came to be called Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, on the west bank of the Beās River in the Punjab region of British India.
Baba Jaimal Singh Ji especially wanted a master who could explain the Guru Granth Sahib's reference to the Panch Shabd, the Five Sounds. In 1856, his travels culminated in Agra at the feet of his master "Soami" Shiv Dayal Singh who initiated him into the Practice of the Five Sounds. His guru, however, told him that the followers of the Sant tradition earned their own living. Jaimal, on the other hand, had no inclination to follow his family tradition of farming since it would entail taking a wife. Hence, Shiv Dayal advised the teenaged Jaimal to join the Army. The Dera is now located within Punjab State in the Republic of India.
Jaimal Singh ji was a disciple of Soāmi Shivdayal Singh, who taught Surat Shabd Yoga in Agra, Uttar pradesh. Today the spiritual master of Radha Soami Satsang Beas is Bābā Gurinder Singh who was officially appointed by Charan Singh.
There are a number of other contemporary movements that use the name ‘Radha Soami’ but Radha Soami Satsang Beas is not associated with any of them.
RSSB was established in India in 1891 and gradually began spreading to other countries. Today RSSB holds meetings in more than 90 countries worldwide. It is a registered non-profit society with no affiliation to any political or commercial organizations. The basis of every religion is spirituality. With the passage of time and changing social values, the basic spiritual teachings become embellished with extra rules and considerations, and eventually take the shape of a religion. RSSB is trying to maintain the core of spirituality without allowing it to take on a formal structure. The philosophy teaches a personal path of spiritual development which includes a vegetarian diet, abstinence from intoxicants, a moral way of life and the practice of daily meditation. There are no rituals, ceremonies, hierarchies, or mandatory contributions, nor are there compulsory gatherings. Members need not give up their cultural identity or religious preference to follow this path.
The teachings are often referred to as Sant Mat, "Teaching of the Saints." The Radha Soami teaching lays down a method for self-realization leading to realization of God through the means of Surat Shabd Yoga. Surat refers to the individual "Soul," Shabd refers to the "Divine Spirit," and Yoga means "Union." Hence, Surat Shabd Yoga can be translated as "merging of the Soul with the Lord". The technique of the yoga/meditation is imparted under the instructions of a Master, or his personally selected representatives. It is through this union of the Soul with the Audible Life Stream that gives this meditation practice its name – Surat Shabd Yoga.
To assist in the practice of Surat Shabd Yoga, one must be a lacto vegetarian (no eggs, shellfish, fish, fowl, meat, and products of these), abstain from recreational drugs and alcohol, and lead a moral life (among other things confining sexuality to a legal marriage). The vegetarian diet encourages respect and empathy for all life and acknowledges that there is a debt to be paid for taking any life. The required lifestyle aids concentration, calming and centring the mind.
Seekers are strongly advised by the master to first research other mystical teachings or yoga systems that may interest the seeker (not only Radha Soami Satsang Beas teachings). In this way, the seeker can be 100% intellectually satisfied first that Sant Mat is the right choice before deciding to adopt the Surat Shabd Yoga meditation.
People are able to practise the Surat Shabd Yoga meditation while remaining a part of their own religious community. It is a solitary practice that is done in the quiet of one's own home for at least 2½ hours each day. Members commit themselves to a way of life that supports spiritual growth while carrying out their responsibilities to family, friends, and society.
The Radha Soami Satsang Beas community and members are from diverse ethnic, social and religious backgrounds. The teachings are available to anyone interested and no fees are charged for imparting the philosophy or Surat Shabd Yoga system, i.e., "Bhajan Simran".
The Beas ashram, known simply as "Dera," (Satsang Ghar) maintains a free kitchen (langar), as well as canteens and snack bars at nominal rates.
Three charitable hospitals were built and are run by RSSB. The Beas Hospital, Sikanderpur Hospital and Bhota Hospital provide free medical care for the surrounding rural community and aid the needy. Services include free accommodation for relatives of patients. In the past, the Society also ran an annual eye surgery clinic at the Dera.
RSSB has also helped in relief efforts for victims of natural disasters.
RSSB has centers throughout the India, which are used for spiritual meeting and during natural calamities these centers are shelter for surrounding community.
A library of world religions and mysticism has been constructed, housing a collection of nearly half a million books. The library is open to all seekers, researchers and scholars.
Radha Soami Satsang Beas encourages voluntary service to the community and environmental awareness, planting thousands of trees yearly, applying organic farming methods, and encouraging social awareness within the community.
"The Dera" is a community with 6000 permanent residents forming a complex of over 48 acres (over 19 hectares). Special occasions and days of discourse by the master draw large crowds. These crowds can average more than 350,000 people daily. Visitors come from all over the world. It has a sheltered venue for these gatherings which can hold 275,000 people. The Dera is among the most well-planned of communities in India, with no air pollution as no private vehicles are allowed inside. It is a self-sustaining community.
At the Dera, the free kitchen operates all year, round-the-clock, the langar is capable of feeding up to 300,000 people per meal, 50,000 in a single sitting. Its staff is composed mostly of volunteer workers (sewadars). In 2007 the langar cooked over 200,000 kilos of rice and used as many kilos of wheat to prepare chapati (unleavened bread).
Any person of any religion or caste can go to the Dera. The sewadars of the Dera respect all, by the Master's order. The colony is visited by people from around the world and from all walks of life. Free temporary accommodation for visitors is available in hostels where separate rooms are available.
Radha Soami Satsang Beas has a Science of the Soul Research Centre in New Delhi. Its objective is to promote the betterment of humanity. The Science of the Soul Research Centre is a nonprofit charitable society, and also acts as a mail-order bookseller for Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
There are also Science of the Soul Spiritual Centres worldwide (also named Science of the Soul Study Centre). Meetings and gatherings take place in nearly 90 countries.
Soami Ji and Tulsi Ji were not first to practice surat shabad yog. All the saints mention word or shabad or kalma or naam. They may be of any caste or may come at any time. Radha Soami movement traces its origins to Soami Ji (Shiv Dayal Singh Ji Maharaj) from what is now in Uttar Pradesh State. There are a number of other contemporary movements that use the name "Radhasoami" but Radha Soami Satsang Beas is not associated with any of them. The Beas Satsang was founded by Shiv Dayal Singh's disciple Jaimal Singh. Soami Ji Maharaj ordered Baba Ji Maharaj (Hazur Jaimal Singh Ji Maharaj)to go to Beas and spread Radha Soami teachings in Punjab. The Beas lineage is: