DR G. V. L. N. SARMA, M. A., Ph. D.
Regional Engineering College, Warangal
Dayalbagh has completed sixty years of its distinctive existence on Basant Day–16th February, 1975. During this long period it has received high praise for various accomplishments which are regarded as miracles. For example, it has converted “an ugly stretch of sandy waste where nothing but scrub and low vegetation could grow into a modern colony provided with all necessary public institutions and comforts and conveniences of life” such as piped water, good roads, a telephone system, banking, insurance and medical services, first-rate educational institutions and ‘green belt.’ It now produces almost all the vegetables, rice and wheat, that the colonists need. Major Yeats-Brown called it a colony of work-a-day mystics because work and worship go there together, and work with worship is capable of perpetual invigoration. It was considered to be the precursor of a new civilization, God-centred, industrious, educative, egalitarian and socialist. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was thrilled with the socialist pattern of life in it. As His Holiness Mehtaji Maharaj the present Leader, has pointed out, “Neither does wealth flow here, nor does anybody starve here; neither are there big palaces and mansions, nor are there any dilapidated huts here; neither is anyone great or big here, nor anyone small or insignificant; and if anybody here is honoured more than others, it is he who works better or more than others. Dayalbagh belongs to every resident, while no resident has any kind of property in anything here ... This small place, where there is almost no illiterate person and where nobody leads a life of laziness and indolence, is neither a village nor a town and both a village and town.” It is this glowing picture of peaceful and serene corporate life as lived in Dayalbagh which inspired Panditji to exclaim, “As a matter of fact countries advance not on account of their size but by the manner its people lead their lives and by the character they posses and by the skill of their hands and intelligence to do things. If India would make progress, it would do so because such people live here (in Dayalbagh) and not because thirty-six crores of people live in this country.” No less eloquent and striking were the tributes of homage paid by eminent persons like Paul Brunton, Sarojini Naidu and D. S. Senanayake, and yet, it appears that the chorus of praise by distinguished visitors usually touches the fringe of life there and seldom penetrates to its heart which is free universal and full of the divine light, the divine power and the divine love.
Dayalbagh is a multi-dimensional, dynamic colony of industrious cultivated seekers of truth imbued with a sense of social purpose. Established in 1915 with a meagre sum of Rs. 5,000 and with the planting of five trees in the vicinity of Agra city, it has an amazing record of growth. It is a living example of what the redemptive power of religion could achieve in transforming this dismal world into the wonderful place it ought to be. Dayalbagh teaches, to repeat an oft-quoted phrase of its august Founder, neither world-lines nor otherworldliness, but better-worldliness. His Holiness Sababji Maharaj, the Founder of Dayalbagh, explained once what He was aiming at: “We wish to bring into existence a community, every member of which shall know his duty and do his duty. We propose to raise a structure that will draw and give shelter under its spacious roof to men and women willing to live a life of dedication, a life of service to God and men.”
Plato laid down four important principles which are found among members of a healthy community: Wisdom, temperance, courage and justice. It seems to me that these are found, by and large, among the residents of Dayalbagh, who breathe the atmosphere of an ennobling and unifying religious culture, and they possess in addition another sterling quality–loyalty. It is desirable to evolve supermen who try to combine in them the salient features of the four fundamental classes of humanity: Irresistible yearning for God-realisation found in a true Brahmin, readiness to sacrifice one’s life for one’s country found in a true Kshatriya, tendency to spend one’s wealth for common weal found in a Vaisya and passion for rendering ungrudging service to fellowmen manifest in a Sudra. Dayalbagh is striving to realise this ideal. It has stood for “the unity of India discouraging the diversities that exist in our country.” This is proper because, as Devarshi Narada puts it, “There is no distinction due to caste, complexion, learning, affluence, occupation, etc., among devotees of God” (Bhakti Sutra 72). The social structure of this colony may be summed up by the simple formula, Aris-Demo, aristocracy of the Spirit and democracy of individuals.
There exists here a remarkable esprit de corps which stems from an unwavering adherence to Sahabji Maharaj’s precept:
Let us work like humble servants of the Supreme Father,
Let us live like dutiful children of the Supreme Father,
Let us love each other like earnest devotees of the Supreme Father.
The precept emphasises the ethics of hard and honest work, co-operative and peaceful living and devotion to God. The Ashramites believe that anyone who does not earn his daily bread cannot have the beatific vision of the Supreme Lord. One of the dearly cherished messages of Mehtaji Maharaj is this: “If you want to eat, you must sweat first; if you want self-government, you must learn to govern yourself; If you want to deserve anything, you must learn to serve others.”
Mehtaji Maharaj pointed out that ananya bhakti is not in-compatible with service to fellowmen:
“We think of all members as one great family, for that is how all should learn to live. We all belong to each other and we all need each other. It is in serving each other and sacrificing for the common good that we can find out true life and in that spirit alone can we win the war against the forces of evil and secure for the world true and lasting peace. Religion has been judged not only by its attitude towards God but by what it achieves for the service of man. We here, while seeking to be one with God, have therefore a belief that we cannot fail in our quest by devoting our lives to the welfare of humanity.”
Dayalbagh is the headquarters of Radhasoami Faith and Satsang, which has branches throughout India as well as in some places in Great Britain and the United States. Soamiji Maharaj founded Radhasoami Faith in 1861 for the benefit or Adhikaris with this proclamation, “On observing that the Jivas have been undergoing extreme suffering and have been subjected to delusion, the Supreme Being Almighty Lord Radhasoami has assumed the form of the Sant Satguru and manifested Himself on this earth for their redemption, and through Supreme Grace He explains the secret of the Original Abode and teaches the method of attaining the Abode by means of the Surat Shabda Yoga.” The Faith thus rounded grew steadily and has now over a million followers.
The uniqueness of one of the other aspect of Dayalbagh ethos overcomes every open mind. The believer is impressed by the tranquillizing atmosphere of a Tapovana or forest sanctuary pervading there. Every Ashramite seems to aver. “I am here, not like the moth of the moment to feed and perish, but like a drop of eternity to merge with the Ocean of Immortality, Love and Bliss”.* The theist is intrigued by the unostentatious practice of Yoga and the Gita ideal of consecrated work. All endeavour is intended to be the surrender of one’s ego to Divine Will. The social worker is happy to find the principle of equality vigorously followed here. It is noteworthy that the principle is not a gloss or a superimposition on the community’s creed. It emerges logically from the basic tenet of the faith: Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. Dayalbagh encourages wholesome traditions and discourages wasteful and barren practices. Marriages are celebrated in a simple way, free of pomp and extravagance. Not more than twenty-five guests are normally invited to a marriage dinner. The rich follow this convention as rigidly as the not-so-rich. Nothing is wasted, not even a withered leaf. Withered leaves are swept into compost pits. The drainage system in Dayalbagh is so designed that water never collects at any place even on the rainiest day and is channelled into farms. “Waste nothing,” is one of the messages of the Guru Maharaj. The educationist who asks with the poet T. S. Eliot, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” is happy to find that Intellect sharpens and wisdom blooms in the portals of Dayalbagh colleges, which are well-known for their quality of teaching, character building and capacity to instil Love of God which is the beginning of wisdom.
The lay-out of Dayalbagh is superb. As one enters the Colony through the red-brick gateway near its Town Hall, one notices a marble plaque with the inscription ‘Radhasoami Central Satsang.’ As one proceeds along the neat, well-swept tarred road lined with tall neem and other trees, one’s attention is drawn to the stately red and white building of R. E. I. College to his right, the administrative building of Women’s Training College in front and the spires of Technical College across play fields and tennis courts, to his left. Nearby stands the Prayer Hall. This seems to be the focus of the Colony. Here pre-dawn and post-sunset congregational prayers are offered daily right through the year. Who is not stirred by the strains of Mangalacharan (Radhasoami nom jo gave so yee tare...) floating melodiously from a thousand mouths before day-break? The Mangalacharan is followed by hymns in praise of the power and glory of Merciful Radhasoami, His infinite grace in assuming Human Form and the heroism associated with the soul’s ascent to His Abode of Bliss. The evening prayer goes more or less on the same lines, and both are presided over by the Guru Maharaj. What really happens in Satsang is naturally beyond the comprehension of even an astute Yeats-Brown. Saints tell us that ambrosia rains there. In philosophical terms Satsang is synonymous with the projection of the Satguru’s personality which is Satchidananda-Prakasa into the expectant Sadhak’s earth-nature so that the latter is liberated out of ego and lifted up slowly and steadily into Infinity and Universality. Around the Satsang Hall is a ring of well-planned mohallas or wards–Swetnagar, Vidyutnagar, Karyaviranagar, Premnagar, Dayalnagar and Sominagar. There are green fields surrounding the mohallas, where the colonists toil every morning. It may be relevant to reproduce here the brief description of the daily round of agricultural activities in Dayalbagh from Alumni Journal of the Roorkee University:
“The morning of Shri Mehtaji begins at 3-30 a. m. when he goes to the Satsang where all the residents congregate for their morning religious service. After the service all able-bodied persons reach the fields before dawn and work there till it is time to go to their offices or workshops. Nowhere in the world can one see a light like this where community work is done in the real sense of social service. One can see a vice-chancellor, a high court judge, a chief engineer, a professor, a doctor, a lawyer, an accounts officer, a business executive, a factory worker, a peon, a sweeper and others of all ages working shoulder to shoulder for the common good. Likewise women also take full part in the field work daily. This agricultural activity has let an example of how a community competently led can to a large extent solve its food problem.”
As Dayalbagh is energized by the aura of the living Satguru,** who acts spontaneously under the impulse of the Supreme Father, it is proper to know His identity. Just as a high tension cable is not an ordinary copper wire, the Satguru is no ordinary human being. He appears to be human but anyone whose ‘third eye’ (diya chokshu, chashme baatin) is open or anyone who possesses intuitive vision, finds Him to be God incarnate. His eyes and forehead are illumined with the light of Truth. In the literature of Saints, Satguru is described as the most precious, peerless jewel in the entire creation. His long protecting hand can reach any point in the space-time continuum or the intangible regions beyond it. He protects His followers from Hell fires and leads them away from delusions and temptations of Kal and Karma. He is the Ocean of Mercy without any motive (ahetuka daya sindhuhu). The creator is pleased when the Guru is pleased. (Guru raaji tho Kartaraaji) If one keeps company with the Satguru, one tends to become perfect as the latter is perfect. The Satguru is the true friend of man for whose redemption He assumes Human Form out of sheer compassion. The Free Spirit outside the cosmic prison deliberately enters the prison to liberate souls shackled to mind and matter since the dawn of creation. If one surrenders to the Satguru, one’s redemption is assured, for, as Sri Guru Nanak Dev stated:
Poora Satguru payiya, aur poori payi jukt
Hasondiya, khilandiya, khavandiya, pivandiya biche paree mukt.
(Meaning: I found my perfect Master and I learnt the perfect, method and I attained salvation easily and without any suffering. The Master made me laugh, eat and drink and incidentally freed my soul.)
The devotee has to surrender his will and his judgment absolutely to the Satguru, and the degree of surrender to His will is the true measure of one’s perfection. When the soul conforms, Satguru’s or God’s command “gives to everything a supernatural and divine value; all that it decrees, all that it includes, all the objects to which it extends become holiness and perfection; for its power is limitless, it makes everything it touches divine” (From Surrender to God’s Love by FR. J. P. DR. CUSADE).
However as Devarshi Narada points out, contact with a Mahapurusha or Satguru becomes possible only through God’s grace.
Dayalbagh has been a pioneer and pace-setter in many important fields. The man in the street now talks of rapid Industrialisation and of the significance of small-scale industries to remove unemployment and to increase the per capita income of our countrymen. Dayalbagh started model industries, purely swadeshi Industries, as early as 1917 with the same objectives. Everybody now expatiates on the need for properly trained engineers to process new Industries and to expand the existing ones. Technical College in Dayalbagh has been one of the very few institutions set up in the twenties to train our young men for setting up and running industries. The Education Commission headed by Dr Kothari stated in their report in 1968 that “the destiny of India is being shaped in her classrooms.” Dayalbagh gave this message fifty years ago placing proper accent on vocational training and women’s education. Mr. E. Molony, Commissioner of Agra, recorded on October 27, 1917, “The three points which struck me as distinctive and praiseworthy were (a) the attempt to educate girls, (b) the attempt to keep education in touch with realities of life by the workshop and (c) the absence of caste difficulties.” There are three excellent colleges in Dayalbagh: R. E. I. Degree College, imparting instruction with field experience in the Faculties of Science, Agriculture and Commerce, Women’s Training College providing graduate and post-graduate courses in arts and education introducing work experience and vocational training as integral parts of curricula and Engineering College offering courses in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the Degree level. Recently the Government of Uttar Pradesh awarded a trophy to Women’s Training College recognising it as a centre of excellence. Learning is the way of civilised living and W. T. C. initiated a number of programmes in continuing education to meet the needs of married women in Agra. There is a school of comparative religion here. The credit for drafting and vigorously implementing the first Five-Year Plan of economic development in India goes to Dayalbagh. Radhasoami Satsang Sabha launched in 1937 a Five-Year Plan with the purpose of raising the annual outturn of Dayalbagh manufactures from 7½ lakhs to a crore of rupees. The target was achieved slightly ahead of schedule. The fulfilment of the Sabha’s Plan was a saga of unusual distinction as it enlisted the services of almost all members of the community in what was regarded by them as a rare yagna. R. E. I. Dairy was perhaps the first dairy in Asia to have been equipped with modern scientific appliances.
Mr. R. A. Pepperall, Milk Marketing Adviser to the Government of India, remarked during his visit to the dairy in 1945: “India indeed is a land of surprises. Possibly the greatest surprise which I personally have experienced is to find myself in such a fine and well-equipped dairy which is comparable in technique with any in the world, whilst as regards its surroundings, it surpasses any that I have seen in a professional career which included the whole of England and Australia. He added, “With such an example, surely it is within the capacity of India to follow it and so far as the dairy industry is concerned to lift itself from the present slough of despond.” Further, our country has been trying hard to attain self-sufficiency in foodgrains. Having anticipated food scarcity and having decided to attain self-sufficiency in foodgrains in 1941, Dayalbagh workers, acting on the guidelines of self-help and self-reliance, levelled the mounds around Dayalbagh, weeded kans, dug out sarkandas (deep-rooted scrub) and brought more than a thousand acres of stubborn glebe under the plough. Their objective was achieved within two decades. It thus appears that Dayalbagh does the right thing at the right time exercising forethought and India trudges behind.
Bharata Ratna V. V. Giri wrote in 1965, “Dayalbagh can, on any day, be converted into a university and I hope that the Government of India would create a university in Dayalbagh. It would not be too much to say that the Dayalbagh University, when formed, will produce disciplined and enlightened citizens who shall know their duties and do their duties, for Dayalbagh tradition is love-inspired and service-oriented. The prayer that Dayalbagh lifts for all mankind is this: Beloved Lord, Pour Your Grace and Mercy upon one and all.”
* “The religion of saints teaches us that the highest attribute of the Supreme Being is Love, and as such the Supreme Being is regarded as the Unbounded Ocean of Love and the spirit-entity, which is an emanation from Him, is said to be a drop of Love. On reaching the Abode of Merciful Radhasoami, the drop of Love, i.e., the spirit, merges into the Unbounded Ocean of Love and enjoys everlasting and eternal bliss.”
–Sahabji Maharaj in Yathartha Prakasa
** Merciful Radhasoami, being omnipotent and perfect, is bound to complete the mission which He initiated in 1861, i.e., the emancipation of Jivas. He is therefore nitya avatar in the sense that He will continue to manifest Himself in Human Form under the title of Satguru or Param Guru until the entire universe is redeemed. For details about the Faith the reader is advised to study the voluminous literature published by Radhasoami Satsang Sabha, Dayalbagh. Agra-5. The English-knowing reader will find Radhasoami Mat Prakash by H.H. Huzur Maharaj, Discourses by H. H. Maharaj Sahab and Yathartha Prakash, Pt. I by H. H. Sahabji Maharaj rewarding.