Sar Bachan Poetry was written by Seth Shiv Dayal Singh or Soami Ji as he was known affectionately by his disciples. Born in August 1818 in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, Soami Ji began giving discourses on the mystic teachings of the Saints after many years of meditation. Saar Bachan Nazam yaani Chhand Band was published a few years after his death in 1878. One of his disciples, Rai Bahadur Saligram, prepared the text of Sar Bachan in two parts one prose and one poetry. Another disciple, Baba Jaimal Singh, was responsible for bringing Soami Ji's teachings to Punjab when he settled near Beas at the place where today the Radha Soami Satsang Beas has its headquarters.
Baba Jaimal Singh published the first gurmukhi edition of Sar Bachan in 1902, and for more than a hundred years now, Sar Bachan and the Adi Granth have been the two main sources quoted and used extensively as satsang texts by the Masters of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
The mystics' teachings come down to us in the language of their time and place. Thus the Gurus' shabds in the Adi Granth are mostly in the Punjabi of the twelfth to sixteenth centuries, whereas Soami ji's shabds are in a simple spoken Hindi that he felt would best communicate his message to his audience in Agra in the late nineteenth century.
As we begin the twenty-first century, there are many disciples and seekers living outside India-including a large number of people of Indian origin, born and educated in the West, who are familiar with spoken Hindi but do not read the traditional script. With this three-language edition of Sar Bachan Poetry, the present Master at Beas has responded to the needs of his multi-cultural followers around the world. Sar Bachan Poetry (Selections) consists of English translations of the original Saar Bachan Chhand Band, with the corresponding Hindi text given on the facing page in devanagari script as well as roman script. The romanized version of the Hindi has been kept as simple as possible, with ease of reading preferred over scholarly considerations.
The poems were selected to convey the teachings of Sant Mat, the mystic path taught by Soami Ji. As becomes clear from reading his poetry, Soami Ji found many ways to share the fundamentals of the mystic path-sometimes through poems of love and longing, faryaad aur pukaar, or prayers to the Master, binti aur praarthna, some- times through poetic dialogues, prashan-uttar, between disciple and Master or between mind and soul, sometimes through warnings and wake-up calls, chitaavani.
Whatever the mood of the text, Soami Ji typically refers to a whole spectrum of teachings in anyone poem. Most contain references to the practice of the Word, shabd, or Name, naam. Since the Name and the Guru are intrinsically linked, the poems mention both---coming in contact with a living perfect Master being the first step on the mystic path.
By implication or through an evolving discussion, the poems address the essential questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? Is there a rational explanation for the disparate events of our life? Where can we go to get guidance on our personal evolution? Is it possible to achieve our human potential and fully realize our life's purpose? If so, how?
Soami Ji's emphasis throughout is that now is the time to go into action to reach the level of consciousness where there are only answers, no questions-to go beyond mind, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond the endless circling of transmigration. “Let us turn home- wards, friend why linger in this alien land?” (dhaam apne chalo bhaa'i, paraa'e desh kyon rahana) is his entreaty to us all in the shabd taken by Maharaj Charan Singh at one of his last satsangs.
We are grateful to the present Master, Baba Gurinder Singh, for bringing to successful completion this new edition of Sar Bachan Poetry-a comprehensive collection of Soami Ji's poems in English.
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