- Singh, Kirpal Maharaj
- (1894–1974)teacher of Sant Mat and RadhasoamiKirpal Maharaj Singh was a dynamic and influen-tial reformer and international champion of inter-faith cooperation. He helped disseminate the Sant Mat teachings in India and around the world.Kirpal Singh was born on Februrary 6, 1894, in Sayyad Kasran in the Rawalpindi District of the Punjab in what is now Pakistan. He was educated at the Edwards Church Mission High School in Peshawar. In January 1912 he signed up for government service in the Military Accounts Department, an occupation that he pursued until retirement in 1947 as deputy assistant control-ler of military accounts. Throughout his early life he studied the basic scriptures of the Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Zoroastri-ans and began to believe that various religious philosophies communicate the same basic truth, which is the need for each person to attain both self-knowledge and God-knowledge.In 1917 he first had contact with his teacher, Baba Sawan Singh of the Beas lineage of RADHA-SOAMI teachers. He was later married and became the father of two sons. In February 1924 he was formally initiated by Baba Sawan Singh and given the name Naam, “the word.” It is said that his teacher Sawan Singh passed all his spiritual knowledge onto his disciple through one look in the eyes. In 1935 he began writing and composing his text, Gurmat Sidhant. On April 2, 1948, after the death of his teacher, he began his ministry in the Radhasoami lineage. At the end of that year he started his mission and began giving regular initiations.In June of 1951 he founded the Sawan Ashram in Shakti Nagar, Delhi. Four years later he went on his first world tour. In 1956 in Delhi, he gave the inaugural address to the Ninth General Ses-sion of UNESCO. In 1957 he became the founding president of the World Fellowship of Religions; he later presided over four World Religious Confer-ences over a period of 14 years. In 1962 he was the first non-Christian to be honored with the Singh, Kirpal Maharaj 417 JOrder of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta. His interfaith efforts reached a climax when he convened the first World Conference on Unity of Man in Delhi in February 1974, which inspired the Unity of Man movement.His extensive knowledge of major religious faiths along with his dedication to teaching led to Kirpal Singh’s wide acceptance in the West. He popularized Sant Mat teachings in India and the West and became one of the most well known teachers of Radhasoami. He died on August 21, 1974.See also Sant Mat movement.Further reading: David Christopher Lane, The Radhaso-ami Tradition: A Critical History of the Guru Successorship (New York: Garland, 1992); Bhadra Sena, ed., Ocean of Grace Divine (Bowling Green, Va.: Sawan Kirpal, 1976); Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life (Delhi: Ruhani Satsang, 1967); ———, Surat Shabd Yoga: The Yoga of the Celes-tial Sound (Berkeley: Images Press, 1975).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.