All our lives we wonder about who we are, where we come from, where are we suppose to go, what is our purpose here? These & many such questions crop up in our minds & we wonder whether there is any answer to these fundamental questions of human existence. Fortunately for us there has been a path, secret, hidden in the mysteries of myths & legends, unknown to many but kept alive by those who venture into the depths of eternity & come back to deliver us. With the advancement of internet & the human consciousness one hit on google can bring us millions of results about what this path is, what its inner workings are, many claim the divine order of imparting this message to others & most are charlatans who deceive humanity & lead us astray. Yet there are few true masters who carry the message of truth & power, who show us the path which is as ancient as the creation itself. One may read about this path, discuss with its practitioners, listen to skeptics with their limited mental capacity to comprehend which is beyond the mind & intellect, analyse in their brains as much as they want, but they can never know how deep the rabbit hole goes.
The origins of the path cannot be told, its mysteries cannot be understood by reading alone, its depths cannot be reached by mental gymnastics & its power cannot be revealed unless the soul embarks on the most amazing journey & beholds its glory. During the years as the path surfaced from time to time during many yugas, its been called by various names. Some call it Santmat, others call it Gurumat, Surat Shabd yoga, Path of the Masters, Way of Mystics, Path of Divine light & sound, Naam Marg, Shabd marg etc. & most recently it has also been called Radhasoami Mat (Radha referring to the soul & Soami referring to the Lord) thus Lord of the Soul.
The teachings of Santmat are very simple yet very difficult to bring into practice. It’s a life long struggle & such heights of spirituality are not to be gained so easily. The basic pillars of Santmat are, the One supreme power which we call by many names as God, Allah, Bhagwan, Waheguru etc.
The Master, who is the manifestation of shabd, one who, with the practice of shabd yoga has become the shabd incarnate, who is one with the supreme & yet is with us on this level of creation, such concepts are difficult to comprehend but is the truth known to every advanced soul.
Finally the shabd, the divine melody within, the music of the spheres, the celestial life force energy which is the direct manifestation of the supreme personality of Godhead, Satpurush or the One, the only, THE TRUTH which is beyond all forms & illusions, all concepts & analogies.
Surat Shabd Yoga:
There are many systems of yoga in this world but the path of the Saints is different from all & unique. The yoga of saints is called Surat Shabd Yoga. Within its name itself we get hints of what this yoga is all about. Surat means the soul or the individual consciousness, Shabd means the divine melody, music of cosmos, voice of God, gurbani, akash bani, voice from heaven, Kalma etc. called my by names, which resounds within every human being & whole of the creation & finally yoga means union or union of the soul with the divine melody within. Mostly every yoga system believes in the 7 chakras within the body, many are designed to take the individual from the first charka called Muladhar (root chakra) to the higher chakras from Swadhisthan (sex chakra), Mani Purak (navel chakra), Hirday (heart chakra), Kanth (throat chakra), Do dal kamal (third eye) & finally reaching Sahansrar (crown chakra). Every system of yoga uses some form of energy to travel within.
Near the sacral plexus and associated with the function of elimination is the ‘Nadi’ called ‘Kundalini’ which lies coiled like a serpent. This is the root of all the nadis. From it twenty four smaller nadis spring forth, which support the body. Out of these ten carry the pranas to different parts of the body. Among these, Ida, Pingla & Shushmana are the major nadis, which control the breath. They reach only as far as the Third eye. Those who practice pranayam end their journey at the Tisra Til (third eye) where the nadis end & pranas merge in Chidakash the place of their origin. Kundalini ends its journey at the crown chakra which is its origin. But Saints start their journey where others end. The Sahansrar chakra is the first stage of the path of the masters which is the terminating point of mostly all the yoga systems. How do Saints achieve this? Well they travel through a power called shabd or naam or divine melody within. This force originates from the highest realm of consciousness & descends till our eye centre. When the meditator ventures within & brings his consciousness to the third eye they catch this melody & travel to higher realms. Since its originating point is beyond all the lower realms it takes the practitioner directly to the realm of Anami or the Supreme abode of the Nameless One.
Saints give us an example of how the path of the masters covers all other forms of yoga. We all know of many types of yogas & masters explain that when the disciple lives in the will of the lord, accepts his karmas joyfully & takes full responsibilities for his actions & faces the consequences, what better Hatha yoga can one perform? When the disciple keeps his master’s form within his heart at all time what better Bhakti yoga can one perform? When the disciple is doing simran of the holy words given to him by the master all day long what better Japa Yoga can one do? When the disciple listens to the divine melody within 24 hours a day what better kirtan or spiritual chant or prayer can one perform? When by tasting the sweet ambrosia of the shabd & naam one is totally detached by the worldly objects what better vairag or detached state of mind one can achieve? When according to the teachings of the saints one performs his duties with zeal & yet remain aloof what better Karma Yoga can one perform? When the disciple attains supreme transcendental knowledge by traveling within & achieving amazing heights of inner travel & wisdom what better Gyan yogi can one become? Thus the path of the masters integrates all the yogas & more.
Inner mansions & the divine melody:
This Shabd or Naam is the creative power of the Lord & manifests itself as the divine light & sound. When God Almighty manifests himself as the power which brought everything into existence, that power, that manifestation is called Naam or Shabd. Saints explain to us that there are 12 mansions within or major chakras. The higher stages after Sahansrar are Trikuti, Daswan Dwar, Maha sunn, Bhanwar Gupha & Sachkhand. These make up the 12 grand charkas of the cosmos. However when subdivided the total centres of consciousness according to the saints comes up to 22 which are also described by Sant Kabir in his amazing poem “Kar Naino deedar mahal mein pyara hai” “Behold within this body resides your beloved”. Below is the road map to the nameless realm which shows the various divisions of the inner cosmos.
Need for a Master:
In Santmat the masters teach us that it is with this current of light, sound & energy that we can travel back to the supreme abode since it comes from the highest realm. Now the first thing which bothers the new age mind is why we need a master? Although it’s a common question among seekers but it’s the most stupid of all questions that the mind designs to deceive us. Since childhood we need a master for each & every skill we learn. We cannot even learn the skills of this world without someone teaching us, our mother is our first teacher, we need someone to teach us how to walk, speak, read, write etc. we go to schools, colleges & get educated & yet we need a teacher who can teach us these subjects, yet when it comes to the most complex of all sciences we say why we need a master……..its due to the ego of the self that we find it hard to bow our heads to the master & ask for guidance. Some say our holy scriptures are the words of our past masters & so we need no living master, they should ask themselves that although there are millions of books available in the world today yet we need our teachers to explain to us their true meaning, similarly we need the one who has experienced himself the depths of the teachings of the past mystics & then teach us how to achieve those heights ourselves. That is why every past mystic has given so much stress on the fact that one needs a perfect master to walk the path.
But on my own I would have still been lost, O Bahu,
Were it not for my Master showing me the way.
It is the Guru who shows the way
To reach the compassionate Lord.
He has the key to open all locks.
O Nanak without the Guru
The mind’s door is not opened,
For none else has the key.
‐‐‐Guru Ram Das
Shabd, Naam or Sound Current:
Now let us see what the mystics tell us about this mysterious power called shabd or naam. In this world there are many types of names given to God such as Almighty, Waheguru, Allah, Hari, Narayan, Swami etc. All the names of God which exist are attributive & descriptive names of God, which tell us about his qualities & powers. But the Naam or Shabd power which the saints talk about is something which cannot come in the written or spoken language. Thus saints tell us that they do not refer to any word or mantra as God or that creative power, but it’s the divine music within which is the real shabd or naam. It’s the creative power which brings this creation into being which the saints call as shabd power or naam.
Sultan bahu says:
One who has obtained the true name of God
Will discard the names that simply describe him.
Dadu Dayal says:
Pundits got tired of reading it,
None could fathom the Name.
Tired were munis discoursing on it,
But infinite, O Dadu, is the Name.
Kabir Sahib says:
The fifty two letters can describe
The three worlds and more.
These letters will disintegrate;
That letter is not in them.
Sultan Bahu says:
Within me resounds the melody of Kalma
The melody that love has taught me to hear.
Kabir Sahib says:
The lord’s light shines day and night;
Gazing raptly I merge in it.
From the substantive Name a music comes;
Rare is he who hears it.
The formless Lord meets his servant Kabir;
In devotion he gets absorbed in his feet.
Guru Nanak says:
When the light within becomes manifest
Through the divine melody,
The Satguru emancipates us from all suffering.
Where does this power dwell within the human frame:
After understanding the secrets of this enigmatic power called shabd the next question arises, where can we find this power. That’s where the master’s immense grace & mercy comes to our rescue. When a master initiates a disciple into the mystic path he or she attaches our soul currents to shabd or naam & turns our soul currents from their usual tendencies of outwards & downwards to inwards & upwards. During initiation the master teaches us how to meditate on the sound current which comes from the very being of God. Our body has nine openings or gates i.e. the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth & two lower openings. When we withdraw our consciousness from all these gates our soul which resides at the eye centre collects its currents & then the tenth hidden door, known as third eye or divine eye etc. is opened through which we begin our journey.
Sultan Bahu says:
The path of the Masters is the highest of all;
It is beyond all comprehension!
Kabir sahib says:
Between the two eyes is the master The messenger of the lord. Between the black and the white moles Is the shinning star, and within the star dwells That unknown and unseen lord. Between the eyes is the master, the messenger of God. Between the eyes shines a tiny petal And within the petal is the hidden door On that door adjust your telescope Thus with ease go across the world’s deadly sea. Between the eyes is the master, the messenger of God. In the city of sunn I reside o friend Where resounds the melody in its all pervading force. Now the master and Kabir are eternal companions, And he leads Kabir within to the mansion of shabd. Between the eyes is the master, the messenger of God.
Guru Nanak says:
He who serves the true Guru attains his object
And is liberated through the practice of the Word.
Tulsi sahib says:
Why waste time looking for the lord elsewhere?
The path to beloved lies through the Royal Vein.
(Royal vein, the central current in the subtle body, starting from the eye centre & leading up to the highest spiritual region. The mystics call it sukhmana. It is not to be confused with the sushmana nadi of yogis, which is a vein running up the spinal column.)
The light of the body is the eye;
If therefore thine eye be single
Thy whole body shall be full of light.
Through the practice of meditation on this divine holy spirit, the sound current the masters tell us that we can travel back our eternal home. They also tell us about the path of 5 melodies, keeping in mind the 5 grand divisions of the inner cosmos i.e. Sahasrar, Trikuti, Daswan Dwar, Bhanwar gupha & Sachkhand. They also talk about the fact that the master & shabd are one. Soami ji says:
The master is the word personified
He ever abides in regions above.
With devotion towards the master the disciple can attain the unspoken word as Guru Nanak says:
If one merges into the true Guru,
The unutterable word is experienced.
Describing about the divine melody within mystics like Jagjivan Sahib says:
The unstruck sound of the drums is heard,
And the soul into it is entranced.
How shall I describe the indescribable?
His beauty pervades everything.
Guru Ramdas says:
The unstruck sound rings within me
when I practice the word of the master.
The lord has blessed me with his bounty;
My light is merged in his light.
Talking about the five higher regions many mystics tell us about them in their vanis.
Guru Nanak says:
Noble is the city of the body;
In it are five resplendent regions;
At the summit is the supreme Lord,
Absorbed in eternal bliss.
Khwaja Hafiz says:
In silence listen to the five melodies coming from the firmament,
The firmament that transcends the six directions and the seventh heaven.
Maulana Rum says:
You will hear the five melodies over the seventh heaven,
When you will uproot your tent from the six directions.
Kabir sahib says:
The five unstruck melodies reverberate,
And I am in the company of the Lord.
In adoration Kabir worships you,
O formless & immortal One!
1. Who are the Saints and what do they teach us?
Saints are those who have attained the highest stage & have become one with the Lord.
Saints alone are truly humble.
Their teachings are:
The universe is not without a creator, the Lord Supreme.
The soul is in essence a drop from the ocean of the Lord, but through long separation has completely forgotten its origin. This is the cause of all its misery & pain, which will end only when the drop again merges in the ocean.
God resides within & can be realized only in the human form.
In the body, he is to be sought only above the eyes.
None can realize God without the help of a perfect adept.
Saints prescribe Surat Shabd Yoga wherein the attention, after being withdrawn from the body & concentrated at the eye centre, contacts the Divine Melody.
They also enjoin, ‘Live in the world but be not of the world’.
Everything in the phenomenal world is unreal. He alone is Real & everlasting. Go within, connect your consciousness with naam & be liberated from the eternal wheel.
2. What is Guru Mat or the way of the Masters?
The first need in Guru mat is a perfect Guru.
From him we learn the way to enter the tenth door of our body, the temple of God.
We should make our entry through that gate which may take us direct to the throne of the Lord, by the safest, shortest, easiest & most convenient way.
People who have not found a proper guide, have entered the wrong gate & wasted their lives in the labyrinth of the lower charkas.
Even the conquest of these charkas does not take us to the highest lord. Our birth & deaths do not come to an end & we find ourselves still in the maze of chaurasi (the wheel of eighty four).
We should make our ideal that region which is permanent & eternal, whence we do not have to return to be born in this world. In pralaya (dissolution) all the regions up to brahm are destroyed. In maha pralaya (grand dissolution) everything up to the gate of Sat lok i.e. all the regions below Sach Khand, come to an end. We should make Sat Lok our ideal, on reaching which we need never come down again.
Only the practice of shabd, the true Naam, the Word, can take us to that eternal region.
All the pleasures of the world, the attachment to body & senses, the I‐ness & duality have to be discarded before the soul can become fit to partake of the sweetness of Naam. Only the attachment to shabd will detach us from the world and its objects.
3. The Wonderful House in which we live
The human body is a store house of treasures & the temple of the living God.
This mansion has twelve stories which can be divided in two parts, six of which are Pind & extend up to the eyes & the remaining six lie above the eyes in ‘And’ & ‘Brahmand’.
During dissolution, eight of these stories up to Brahm are destroyed. In grand dissolution eleven of them are effaced. The lowest six (ganglia) are presided over by deities who depart before man’s actual death.
Only Sach Khand or Satlok is permanent & eternal & fit for our abode. All efforts should be directed to attaining this region.
The safest, shortest & easiest path is that of Surat Shabd Yoga & this can be learnt only from a perfect Adept.
The prerequisite is to give two to three hours daily to spiritual practices with love, faith & devotion. Thus we hear the voice of God, which alone can lead us to deliverance.
4. Naam (The name or word) what it is & what is it not?
No one is happy in this world of phenomena.
True happiness will come only when we give up attachment for this world, concentrate our attention at the eye centre according to the direction of the Guru & return to our original home where prevail perfect Peace & Bliss. This is possible only in the human form.
God realization, that is, return to our original home, is not possible without Naam.
Naam can be obtained only from a true Master.
This naam is unspoken & unwritten & cannot be perceived by the senses.
It is within our body, where it rings constantly as a sweet melody, but can be perceived by the soul alone.
Even in the body it can be realized only when we concentrate the attention at the eye centre.
Our aim is to reach that region of bliss which is beyond birth & death & is eternal.
Austerities, charities, pilgrimages & other similar acts, though they may be good & virtuous, do not take us out of the cycle of transmigration. We have to be reborn again into this world to enjoy the fruits of these actions.
Only the naam, the shabd, the sweet celestial melody that issues forth from the feet of the lord’s throne can take us to the place whence it comes & that too only if we follow the instructions of the perfect Master.
This can be done only in human form. If we miss the opportunity, we go down into an abysmal dungeon of births & deaths.
5. Downfall of the Soul & how it can return home
Soul, essence of the Supreme Being, has lost its way to its true home.
During its descent from the purely Spiritual Realm to the physical one, it got three coverings, the casual, astral & physical bodies & completely forgot its Royal origin.
In association with the mind & the senses, it chained itself firmly to the wheel of birth & death & thus suffered untold misery & privations in different lives & species.
It did not avail itself of the human form given by the Creator to effect its release. It was dissipated in sensuous pursuits.
The merciful Lord, seeing its miserable plight, came into Master’s garb to awaken it from deep slumber.
The need is to come in contact with such a Master, learn the technique from Him, carry out spiritual practices with ceaseless persistence & unshakable faith & thus return Home & merge into the ocean of which the soul is a drop.
This, however, happens only when He so wills it.
6. In the universe is utter darkness
This world is full of gloom & misery. None here is happy.
The only escape lies in the human body.
Recitals, penances & pilgrimages are utterly futile & may be likened to churning water.
It is only with the grace of a living Satguru that we can close the nine doors, still the mind, enter the Tenth one & contact naam which constantly resounds there.
This is the only way. No other exists.