The Taj Express is on time, and I jump into the first
class section. As we are pulling out of the station, the conductor rushes up
to me saying all seats are full.
I explain that I have a confirmed reservation, and
take out the lovely sheets of beautifully printed proof.
Yes — he is saying, checking — but for
12th January, today is the 11th!
I am so stunned, dazed, that he lets me sit on his
wooden seat in the passage-way. It appears one can still be hopelessly untravel-worthy
even with the most professionally prepared itinerary. An extra day in Vrindavan
would have allowed me to finish all my work, but — oh, horror! —
I am beginning to realize I shall be arriving one day too soon in Agra and I
will not be able to contact my friend, Pritam Singh Nagpal, for 24 hours!
I am saying to myself: there must be a purpose behind
all this - there must be - I am not to be confused or anxious, I am to flow
with all currents, under all circumstances, through whatever is awaiting me.
And yes, yes, I know there’s a benevolent hand over my head guiding me,
so to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, must have some meaning.
We are pulling into Agra. The tourists are being directed
to the waiting de luxe coaches off to see the Taj Mahal. The porters are barging
through the rush of passenger activity. They kick the stray dogs out of the
way. They walk round the noble cows. I stand still on the platform surrounded
by my sad luggage; we are waiting for the excitement to simmer down.
But who is this running towards me, laughing, shouting? Pritam Singh Nagpal
— my friend — here? He embraces me with rib-crushing zeal while
I am asking: Is it the 11th or the 12th?
Yes, yes, yes — he laughs — your paper
is telling 12th and you are coming too soon!
As we pour out of the station he starts telling me how he comes to be here although
I am totally, irrevocably, ridiculously in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When we get to his house, I ask him to write the whole incident down. I am reproducing
it here as it came out in his own words:
Pritam Singh Nagpal
Belaganj, Agra-4 13th Jan. 81
When I met you in Delhi you had shown me your program of reaching (here) on
the 12th by Taj. We were all looking forward to your visit and had told many
brothers and sisters about your programme. I invited them to meet you on the
12th evening at my place.
On the 11th morning, I was still lying in bed fully awake, when I saw my Master,
Kirpal Singhji, with you smiling a little behind
Him. And my Master told me, pointing towards you that, “He is coming today
— receive him at the station”. And slowly the light was withdrawn.
I was expecting you on the 12th and here was a positive and clear direction
to me to go to meet you. On the one hand I was overjoyed but found it difficult
to tell my family.
As we were to go to the Sunday Satsang,
I made up my mind to leave my wife there and then go to the station. I had to
rush and found the Taj had steamed in. It took a couple of minutes to leave
my scooter and purchase a platform ticket. I knew you had a first class Indrail
Pass, and as the first class compartments are towards the engine side, I made
my way there. You were there looking towards me. I was happy I had received
the right direction from my Master — that he chose me for this small service
to my brother and in His Grace to save you from any inconvenience.
Perhaps I am not able to express myself fully, but brother, on your journey
now and hereafter on this earth plane, you are fully protected by our Great
Master – this proves so much. And for myself, I am also under His benign
Grace. I have recorded this in my own limited manner, but the whole thing can
be felt rather than explained.
With my best regard,
From this moment, how can I ever feel confusion, doubt,
anxiety? Everything I am trying to do on this sadhana/journey
is controlled. Everything is as it should be. Everything that has to be accomplished
will surely be accomplished.
In November 2005 the following message arrived from Pritam Singh Nagpal
by email dictated to another dear gurubhai, Prof. Vinod Sena. I knew he
had moved from Agra to live in Delhi and had given up working as a naturopath
doctor, but little more:
Today I am visiting Vinodji who has been asking about my health
and that you have also been enquiring about me. I must confess I could
not contact you earlier although last year I received your book “New
Lives” from the publisher…it was a year of bad health (I must
now use a Walker) and also of bereavements, including that of my eldest
I am in better health now but not very active…as it should be at
my age (80). I have managed to come to see our dear brother so that he
can send you this message and the photo he has just taken.
I remember you so well and delight to recall old times at the Ashram when
the Beloved Master Kirpal was physically there. There are many happy memories
which I can’t forget.
Yours in Him,
Pritam Singh Nagpal at 80
I spend my first night in Agra in blissful peace.
To be at peace with the world and oneself is the height of luxury: millionaires
can rarely buy that.
The next morning I am taken to the historic house of
Rai Saligram, popularly known as Hazur Maharaj, a 19th century saint and the
second guru of the Radha Soami Faith. This Movement
was founded by Shiv Dayal Singh who was born here in Agra in 1818. Since those
days, there have been many splits, and the Movement has spread all over Northern
India. There are now many thriving centres in the West.
Dr. Agam Prasad Mathur, who is head of the History
Department at Agra College, is a direct descendent of Rai Saligram, is about
50, and is the living guru of that Radha Soami branch.
In Agra alone there are three non-communicating branches:
the teachings are very much the same, the gurus different. Although I had asked
to see the Dutch boy who is Dr. Mathur’s only Western disciple and who
lives with him, I am shown into the guru’s presence instead. He is
sitting on an elaborate bed chewing beetle nut. He appears to misunderstand
the purpose of my visit for he starts an uninterruptible discourse:
Yes, yes, a good idea, but the book should open with a historical survey of
the bhakti movement as it started in medieval
India leading up to its modern flowering last century…and…
After ten minutes of invaluable but unusable advice,
the learned Doctor pauses to spit out the red matter he has been chewing; I
take courage, point to a fair-haired boy who has just prostrated at the feet
of the guru and crept to the back of the room.
I say: Forgive me, it is this young man I have come to Interview.
Dr. Mathur recovers quickly: Yes, yes, of course…Paul…take
him to your room…give him a copy of my book and show him round the samadhi…so
kind of you to come, goodbye!
I am Dutch by birth. Although I am now 26, by the
time I was 16 I had done everything that was good and bad — busy peeping
my nose in all fields, always liking to be first. It had been predicted by a
lady who could see the future — my worried mother went to see her —
By his 16th birthday he will change, you will be proud of him.
Since 14 I had lived away from my parents in Amsterdam.
I became part of the drug culture: fast cars, fast company, girls. And whatever
there was to do I did even at that age. It was hard living — many times
I was moneyless; but there were many experiences. So by the time I was 16 I
was feeling: All this is no use to me, I will go home. I phoned my parents.
They said: Let’s try again.
I went back one day after my 16th birthday. There
was a talk: Are you willing to go back to school? — Do you want to work?
— Please think about it. But I became privacy conscious; I demanded my
own room; I wanted to think. The body was 16; the mind was already far away
from things with which my parents were concerned. There was pressure. I must
do something, must! But I couldn’t accept anything. Daily talks about
schooling, daily paper searches for jobs, all of which the mind rejected. Internally
I knew I was searching for something else.
Four months passed. My mother came up with a suggestion:
Take a job in a nearby hotel. I started working as a cook. I developed an interest
in cooking, so I went one day a week to school. Then my father who is a businessman
with enough money, began talking about opening a restaurant: You learn to be
a chef in Switzerland, learn all the nice preparations…By the time I was
17½ I had worked in several good hotels, but I happened to pick up two
books by Paul Brunton.(1)
The moment I put my nose into them there was a transformation
in my brain. It was telling me: Your life is for this, get hold of it! I’m
a fast reader. I finished the two books in one day and started searching for
others like them. The fantasy in my mind was: You’ve had a past life as
a yogi — you have come back to go
on. At last I knew what I had been searching for. But my parents didn’t
welcome the news: What’s this new nonsense?
My interest in cooking dropped; I studied spiritual
books. I couldn’t stop reading. One day I saw that Mahesh Yogi was in Holland, so I went to see
him as I knew I had to do something practical. I never liked organizations,
but I wanted to learn a meditation technique. I even took initiation, started
practicing, got interesting results, but couldn’t give myself. I went
back to reading…all the Theosophical books and so many others.
One day at a Transcendental Meditation meeting, I
saw a lady; my mind said: Make friends with her, she has much to teach you.
She was about 40. I was then an ascetic fanatic unable to accept Mahesh Yogi but knowing the real guru is waiting for me somewhere. I spoke
to that lady and we became fast friends. She was a vegetarian, she was pure.
She had a lot of knowledge, but she was still searching. We played the I Ching,
the tarot cards, I read her books, met her friends. We went to different groups,
to Switzerland to see Krishnamurti. We meditated together, and we dug out a
lot of things.
But the day came when my mind said: She had given
you all you need, she has done her job. At that moment something came between
us…she saw it; I said: I am meant to go on alone. I told you I was a fanatic.
Had I met my guru then and had he asked for my life,
I would have given it. My ideal was the Himalayan yogis. I knew I had to go there. She
didn’t like that – neither did my parents.
How old were you then?
17 and half to18. Once I started, development went fast. I was on a staircase
— I had to go up. I went to forests to meditate. The inner experiences
were good. At the transcendental meditations, the checker-uppers — poor
fellows — were surprised. It was arranged that I could attend a teachers’
course free if I would cook the meals. I never wanted to be a teacher, but I
wanted the knowledge. And here I met a boy who had been to India. When he mentioned
the word India, such an energy force entered me. I knew my time to go was near.
But how did you manage
to come here?
I had bought my ruck-sack and clothes. I should tell you that for two long years
at every meal there were fights with my family, there were long faces and tears.
Was that because you
wouldn’t eat meat?
I left off meat, fish and eggs. It was weeping on my part as well as theirs.
My father said I was mad. I would pray to God — I didn’t have at
that time a particular God: Why is it like this? Why can’t my family understand?
Why can’t I find my guru? Why is everyone pestering me? I
sold everything I had to prepare for the journey. But a month before I was to
go, I was called for an Interview to join the army. It was another puzzlement.
But somehow I was the only one to be rejected, surely the working of a super-power.
I was free to leave.
How did you travel?
Have you heard about the Magic Bus? Lots of hippies from all countries going
to India on a German Bus with French papers and an English driver! Interesting.
It was to leave on 31st August 1974. I sat in my seat detached. My mother had
taken pills to calm herself. My father was asking me to get out. I was already
like a free bird. The staircase was beckoning. If the Queen of Holland had asked
me to stop, I could not. Now a funny thing happened; my father has a big car
business, and when the bus was to start, the engine failed — we all had
to get out and push. The face of my father! He pushed an extra 200 guilders
in my hand saying: Just in case…at least take a train. But we were off,
and the six weeks to India were wonderful, no breakdowns but many stops to enjoy
the countries through which we passed.
I saw a Dutch boy in the bus; my mind said: Listen
to him…he has something for you. He sat in front of me. I had given myself
the idea that I would no longer speak nor smoke. Up till Switzerland I never
spoke, but I handed round some toffees. That boy took one, contact was made.
He asked: Are you going to India to smoke or for a spiritual purpose? I told
him. He said: I am a follower of the Radha Soami Faith; I have been initiated
for six years but not allowed to see my guru, so as I am on my way to Australia
I will go to Beas to see him. He then gave me a full account of the teachings.
When I heard them, I thought: Yes, I know all this — this is right. So
I then told him if he didn’t mind I would also like to see his guru. I later fell asleep and saw a face;
up till now I think it was Swami
Shiv Dyal Singh, the Radha Soami founder. I had been planning where to go, what
to do, but all this went, even my idea of becoming the disciple of a naked yogi living in a hole in a wall. I wanted
nothing but contact with this Surat Shabd Yoga as explained by this boy.
We left the bus at Amritsar — bye-bye —
took a train to Beas, then a tonga to the Dera. I was nervous…here I am
seeing the first guru. We went inside, and the problems
started. That boy was not having a letter giving him permission to see his guru. The secretary said; No permission.
No place to stay! We couldn’t even stay the night. I was more upset for
that boy. This is an organization so they have to behave like that.
It was dark outside but we saw a tea shop; the owner
heard our story and said: You stay with me — many foreigners have that
problem. It was a gift from heaven: the secretary had rejected us, not the guru! Next day we peeped inside the gate,
hiding our faces from the secretary. When I saw the guru — at the first glance —
I knew he was not for me. I attended his satsang
in the second row, and at one moment our eyes met. Such an explosion came in
my mind…all the accumulated dirty thoughts burst. I couldn’t look
at him any more; he had sent a cleansing current into my little head. Then his
face became bigger and bigger like the sun filled with light. I couldn’t
look any more. At the end of the satsang
I knew I had experienced some of his power, but the mind said: No, he is not
for you. I took a bus to Rishikesh, having said bye-bye to that boy and the
secretary, the headache-man.
All my thoughts about yogis and asceticism were finished, but
I had to try again. I spent 24 hours in a second-class train — bad experience;
I was still only 19. At last I bundled myself into a bus, and in Rishikesh I
went to the Sivananda Ashram. But because I had not written a letter I was not
allowed to stay…thank you, I am beginning to expect this, good bye! I
stayed nearby in another Ashram. Here I saw a lot of nonsense going on; I couldn’t
get the Radha Soami teachings out of my head.
I looked at everything under a big light, going from
Ashram to Ashram, but I rejected everything. I went up in the hills but I saw
even with great austerities, yogis are proud, jealous and not necessarily
spiritual at all. All thoughts about asceticism were now finished. But although
I wanted to follow the Radha Soamis and couldn’t accept the Beas guru, I was not knowing that there were
other branches in India with other gurus. It was a puzzlement. What to do?
Then I thought I would continue travelling, looking at gurus, but if I didn’t find anyone
better, I would return to Beas.
I don’t know how many places I saw: Benares,
Allahabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bangalore — all the time asking for enlightened
beings. The final result: they were all negative, they were all talking, they
hadn’t gone inside.
I became ill with dysentery and malaria, and the
doctor gave me thirteen different pills; I wouldn’t touch them. I was
so tired of travelling after six months, I went to lie in the Goa sun. Soon
I got back into meditation. I swam, relaxed, made my own food — had a
holiday. In my heart there was a seed of bhakti; I knew that I had to give that
love to a guru.
But also in my heart there was much weeping because
if my guru was calling me, why was he giving
me such a hard time? Why was he kicking me around? If I can’t find him,
I will not live, bas — finished. Then one day I passed a bookshop. I went
in; the first book to catch my eye was Radha Soami Faith, A Historical Study.
My mind was telling: That book is standing there for you, buy it. Without looking
through it, I paid and left. My mind was blank, but I felt happiness inside.
I started reading; first I was puzzled as I knew the Beas books are not sold
in shops. But it explained itself. Do you know the book?
Yes, I actually have
You know it gives the background, the teachings, but most important, all the
different splinter groups which I didn’t know about. I read it three times.
Although it lists so many groups, I knew for the Radha Soamis there can only
be one santsatguru
— the perfect one. This was clearly explained by the author, Agam Prasad
Mathur. I accepted everything, but it didn’t help me find the correct
guru. As everything started in Agra,
I decided I must go there. I must look for my diamond.
After a long journey I arrived. I prayed: If this
city has anything for me, guide me, I’m too tired. The first night was
spent in a hotel near this very house. The next day I took a rickshaw to Soamibagh.(2)
It is a private colony. I went in with my long hair,
looking like a hippy, carrying my rucksack and sitar. In those days I didn’t
care what I looked like: that was the outside. Someone came up and said: This
is a sacred place — the place of Soamiji, the place of the Radha Soamis. I
told him I knew all that, so he called another man and we talked. He was the
eldest son of the fifth guru,
BabajiMaharaj, who had departed in 1949. He
became critical of Beas when I said I had been there; there are all these groups
and all the quarrels about the true succession. When I told him I wanted to
stay, he was happy and it was arranged. Foreigners are not usually attracted
At 5 the next morning I was woken to attend satsang;
people were meditating, the atmosphere was good. There were four life-size paintings
of the gurus; I liked the first two, but the
others didn’t appeal to me. I could accept Soamiji, the first guru, and Hazur Maharaj, the second; the others, no.
After two days I met a man there — an old satsangi. His external eyes
were blind, but the inner one was open. He could tell if a man was before him
or if it was a woman; he could see their astral forms. He said: You had to come
here but you will not stay — mark my words. He had a large library of
Radha Soami books in English which I went through in two weeks. I was more than
ever certain these were the teachings for me.
Did you receive their
The eldest son gave it, but when he told me for my meditations I was to contemplate
on the image of the last guru — his father — I said
I would not do that; I could only meditate on Soamiji. From that moment the contact broke;
they wanted to get rid of me.
Where you given the full
Full from their point of view, yes — I am not allowed to reveal the details.
But were you initiated
into the Sound Current?
No. Just the contemplation. That caused enough trouble. I could not accept what
they wanted me to do. I went to the samadhi
of Soamiji, bowed my head and prayed for help.
Then the strange thing comes: I had found the book Radha Soami Faith but it
never occurred to me to meet the author who was also living in Agra. In Soamibagh
they have been building a great marble samadhi
for the last 70 years; I was given work polishing marble slabs, sitting in the
sun getting 4 rupees a day. It was the only way I could stay. Thousands come
to see the temple, so I too became a tourist attraction.
I spent my nights weeping, praying: You have brought
me here, why don’t you show yourself? I contemplated suicide. One night
I was half asleep; there was a flash of light and a face I couldn’t recognize
— very fast. And I was hearing a voice: Why are you worried; come to me,
I will help you! I was filled with bliss; who was the man?
Now another strange thing: in the book Radha Soami
Faith, there’s a picture of the author, Dr. Mathur and, by then I had
read it ten times, yet I never recognized the face. It was still not time to
meet him. Three months went by. One day I was buying food. A man came towards
me. Without thinking I said: Please listen to me, and I poured out my whole
story to him. He said: there’s only one man who can help you — it’s
Dr. Mathur. Even then, my mind could not accept it was the author of that book.
Perhaps a shadow was kept over my consciousness.
We arrived at this house at 6. Dr. Mathur’s wife received us. We had tea,
we talked, and I was struck by the warmth. After a time, Dr. Mathur came - it
was that face! When he spoke - it was that voice! Now the Radha Soami Faith
is a hidden faith, and it appeared that Dr. Mathur could not say: I have called
you at last. I also recognized this, so a sort of play went on: How are you
— what is your name? And so on. Finally, he said: If you want to stay
here, I can give you a room. The next day I received initiation…
The next day? But was
it different from the Soamibagh initiation?
There was something new. The initiation that Dadaji gave me — Dadaji is the name of my guru — meant I could contemplate
on the guru I was attracted to, otherwise there
was no difference.
Were you given the initiation
into the Sound Current?
That came four months later; I requested it myself. I am convinced my Dadaji is the living santsatguru
of the Radha Soami Faith. I meditated, served my guru as best I could… this is the
path of bhakti, so one must serve and attend
Dadaji gives satsang
According to his pleasure — sometimes he comes, sometimes not. We know
he’s always there.
How long is it since
you first arrived here at Dadaji’s?
Five years. I can say that within six months I had full understanding of this
How much time do you
spend in meditation?
A minimum of three hours. At the beginning I continued with my hatha yoga, I played my sitar, but slowly
these things went — a lot of things went. But as you see, I still smoke.
Dr. Prasad is still teaching
at Agra University?
Yes. He follows closely the traditions of the Radha Soami Faith which puts emphasis
on asceticism but while remaining a house-holder and having a job. One can also
marry and go on with one’s sex life. But one must become a vegetarian.
I suppose that means
sex life within marriage, and for the means of procreation only?
In this place one can do as one likes, even go to cinemas and eat in hotels,
but be detached. Sitting in the company of the santsatguru
cleans one. Dadaji never says to leave off sleeping with
women; after all, a man must have a sex life…
But when you say a sex
life, you mean within marriage?
You are free to have girlfriends. The Indian lady who just brought the tea,
I have been having for two years. She has been given to me by my guru, but not only to satisfy my sex
life — we are all full of lower qualities…
Are you married to that
I am not married, thank you! She very much belongs to me; we are happy together.
She is a satsangi for fifteen years. So because she has been given by Dadaji, it’s a pure arrangement.
I see. Does Dr. Prasad
give initiations regularly?
He never indulges in propaganda; it’s prohibited. Why? It is meant only
for those fit. If many came through propaganda, most would be unfit.
How does your guru choose who is ready?
is charged with the highest spiritual currents; he has a direct line with the
highest spiritual consciousness…he is the embodiment of that consciousness.
Yes, that is common to
the teachings in all branches of this faith; and surely you must know the disciples
within each of these branches take their own guru as the santsatguru.
The true santsatguru
has created ministers with limited spiritual power to serve him — yes,
these are the other gurus of this line. Seekers who are ready,
come directly here; let’s say they are the select souls…others go
to the branches. All are growing, we are learning, being cleaned. When we are
ready, we get drawn to the right place. This is my realization.
Do you mean the inner
realization? Are you in contact with the inner guru in meditation?
Sometimes these things are there — we are not allowed to tell —
there are a lot of things.
Well, can you talk about
the goal of your sadhana?
First of all, man must realize he is spirit not the body, mind or senses. When
the body dies there will be spirit only. It is because of the illusion of the
world that man thinks he is the body. We have to contact the spirit within the
body at meditation; that’s what the santsatguru
gives. There are so many layers of consciousness. Without the proper santsatguru,
you cannot meditate.
But in all branches of
Radha Soami the disciples meditate, and I know of some who get very high experiences.
If you go to a third class shop for a cake, you will get a third class cake.
If you go to a five star hotel for a cake, you will get something better. Yes,
they are getting something. But just look at some of the gurus who have gone to the West with
their spiritual tricks. I am asking you, are they not cheap?
It’s not my purpose
while compiling this book to make such assessments. Anyway, I believe we are
drawn to the guru who is right for us. I am not concerned.
If you have realized, you would be concerned.
Are you saying you are
I have realized they are giving a cheap thing.
As far as I understand
it, the goal of the Radha Soami Faith is to become one with the santsatguru
— that is realization. Have you become one with your guru?
That’s not an easy thing.
True. How far are you
First a man has to realize he is spirit…The rest is the guru’s grace. There’s nothing
we can do on our own. It’s even grace to come here. But we have to work
to get grace. In the West, yoga is very cheap. They have made it
cheap. They offer instant realization. It is not…it’s like walking
on a razor’s edge. You have to fight the influence of anger, sex, jealousy,
ego…thousands of things.
That fight is common
to all paths. How far have you been able to conquer these influences since coming
What is required is humility. Without that, we cannot get anywhere. But our
progress is kept hidden. Maybe you are a high soul, but the santsatguru,
to avoid pride, will keep this hidden from you. You are looking at me, yes,
I’m suffering from all sorts of things, but maybe I’m nearly free.
The goal of Radha Soami is not a small one…it is Sat Lok, the region of
pure spirit, the ocean of love, the ocean of bliss.
Can I ask about Dadaji’s followers? Does he have any
other Western disciples?
There are a few.
He has never travelled
No. He has been invited, but as a historian — he is one of India’s
eight great historians. An American university requested him, but he not will
to go. Let me put it very straight: Dadaji is the distributor, the other gurus who have gone to the West are the
workers — they are doing the beginning work. Let these people clean up.
When they are clean, he will go, bas!
Do you have a job here?
My job is to attend satsang,
and as my seva,
I write letters to foreigners for Dadaji.
How do you support yourself?
That’s a tricky question. For the first year I lived here without money.
Sometimes Dadaji gave me spending money as well as
food and clothing. Then the contact with my family grew better, and although
I never asked, they send money monthly, which is enough.
Do you see yourself living
here for the rest of your life?
I hope so. There’s nothing in the West for me. I am trying to get a job
in the Dutch Embassy, even as a clerk or gardener. This would enable me to stand
on my own legs. And I would like to become an Indian citizen. I know in my past
life I was here…I have been called back, bas! [enough!]
Paul Ivan Hogguer stayed on in India and
was recently sighted in the Rishikesh area a few years ago.
My work in Agra finished,
I now have a whole day free to enjoy my cold. The Nagpals are spoiling me with
attention. Their friend, a disciple of Swami
Muktananda, is writing a letter to his Ashram about my intended visit to Bombay;
you will get beautiful Interviews there — he is assuring me. Let’s