Biographies > Kirpal Singh - Beloved Master


By Peter Holleran


   Sant Kirpal Singh (1894-1974), was a Master of Surat Shabd Yoga, or the yoga of absorption of the Soul in the inner Light and Sound, the creative vibratory Life-Current or Word said to be emanating from God. From my humble experience in his company, he was a true Sat Guru, grounded in a realization of non-dualism as well as a perfected adept in the celestial yoga he publicly taught.

   To write the story of a great saint, especially when one has not spent many years in his company, is difficult if not impossible. Even then one will never truly penetrate and understand the inner life and character, the sacrifices, struggles, and trials spanning many lifetimes that go into producing such a personage. It has been said, moreover, that the only way to truly write such a story is to embody it in one's own life. I regret that I can only do small justice to the life of such a great soul. I wish that I could have spent much more time with him, knowing Him, serving Him, loving Him, and imbibing his life impulse and wisdom. Much of the following material is readily available in other sources, I can only hope to summarize this and perhaps add a few reflections not found elsewhere.

   Kirpal Singh began meditating at the age of four, and was gifted with transvision, or clairvoyance, and could see things happening in other places and also in the future. He later joked, telling us, “I had background, you see.” In his twenties, however, he prayed to God that this power be taken away so that he might lead a more natural life, and not be distracted with such things in his search for God. He also prayed that if any good ever came out of him for others that he would know nothing about it. Kirpal was a vegetarian from boyhood, although his family ate meat, and when he was five years old he told them that he would not eat meat because he didn’t want to make a graveyard of his body. He became a voracious reader of books and had an intense desire for knowledge. In his ninth class he went through all the books in the school library. Sawan Singh, his master, also was an avid reader, with thousands of books in his personal library, many with copious notes in his own handwriting. Kirpal also said that he read all the books of a college library during the two years of his study there. His sole purpose was for the sake of knowledge and not the pursuit of a worldly career. Nevertheless he was at the top of his class, and he impressed his teachers with the depth and thoroughness of his study. For instance, he would not just read the assignment at hand, but also the contrasting opinons of other writers on the subject.

   He was an open-hearted personality who cared for the sick and poor. A true Aquarian soul, to Kirpal Singh humanitarianism was never an empty abstraction. As a young man he helped to organize a service league to aid victims of the influenza epidemic of 1919, taking dead bodies to the cremation grounds that even the relatives were afraid to touch. After work he would visit hospitals to comfort and give assistance to people, many of whom he had never met. Later on when his daytime hours were taken up with work and service, he did his meditations (up to eight hours a day) in the hours after midnight, resting very little. Later, when others mentioned to him that his son Darshan Singh was sleeping only an hour and a half a night, Kirpal remarked, “An hour! Fifteen minutes should be enough!” - this being an example of the profound energization these masters receive through deep communion with the spirit-current.

   When he was seventeen Kirpal went through an intense heart-searching for days on end to determine his course in life. He arrived at the firm decision, “God first, world second,” and actually made a pact with his brothers that if any of them found a spiritual Master they would share their discovery with each other.

   ”I was so anxious to meet God, I used to weep from morning til night. Even while working in my office, tears would involuntarily flow from my eyes and my office papers were spoiled by tears. I could not sleep at night. I would ask, “O God, what is happening?” At home, my family could not understand what was happening - I had recently been transferred from the place of my parents and everyone thought the tears were due to this. What can other people know of the condition of one’s heart? Once the enigma of the mystery of life enters the heart, a person knows no peace until it has been solved.” (1)

   Kirpal had a strong desire to study medicine, particularly homeopathy, but it was financially difficult for his family, so he went into government service, eventually rising to be Deputy Assistant Controller of Military Accounts, in charge of hundreds of people. He retired after thirty-five years of service, with his supervisor announcing that he had to hire three men to take his place. During his career years he was a stickler for honesty and once refused bribe money offered him for favors expected of him at his office. When he was encouraged to take the payment, being reminded that it was common practice there, he again refused, and forcefully threw the coins after those who had left them on his desk, thus alerting the entire office to the questionable ethical behavior they condoned. He believed strongly on standing on one’s own two legs, and once went so far as to say that a man capable of supporting himself yet living off of others might as well be dead.

   On many occasions Kirpal stood up for employees with families who were let go for various reasons, advocating their case before his supervisors, reminding them that to err is human, to forgive divine, and that it would be a great hardship for all concerned if they should lose their jobs. He then guided persons to improve themselves and their performance. He once coaxed an opium addict off of his habit by convincing him to hand over his opium, and then let him give him some of it every day, a little less each time, until he could do without it. His way was never an extreme, ascetic demand, but, rather, he tried to win over people with compassionate love. He was not sparing with himself, however. His personal discipline was exacting and almost superhuman. Even his grade school notebooks show a daily study schedule broken down into specific timed segments from morning to late at night. He slept very little, as previously mentioned, and meditated many hours nightly, even before meeting his master, Baba Sawan Singh. He engaged strenuous yogic practices as well, including at one period, meditating in chest-deep waters in a flowing stream. Of this period he later commented that “the water helped cool the fire of the kundalini!” It was as if he was stretching the ‘muscle’ of his body so that it would later become a clear channel or vehicle for the spirit-current, which, in my opinion, is just what it became after he adopted the superior method, as considered by the Sants, of Surat Shabd Yoga under Sawan Singh. During this period of initial search, Kirpal spent some time frequenting a reclusive sadhu named Baba Kahan who lived in a forest and would throw stones at those who came near him. Kirpal saw something of value in the holy man, however, and exhorted his brother to go see him “even if he kills you!” Overall, Kirpal's personal discipline (tapas) was great, and he even later said with a smile, that during his married life he “had his own room.” He believed strongly in the traditional view in the power of ojas (continence), although he did lead a normal householder life, having two sons and a daughter, Darshan, Jaswant, and Harwant, the latter who unfortunately died at three years of age.

   The short book, "The Beloved Master," gives many details of Kirpal's early life. Even before he met his master, while yet in his early twenties, he had the capability of "opening the sluicegates" of inner experience for people. One such time a man became so attached to his ecstasies that Kirpal told him that that was enough for now, as he was not able to fulfill his worldly obligations, and the experiences were withdrawn.

   Kirpal was fond of telling a story of the devotion his mother had for him. One time he was returning after a long absence and she was so excited on hearing his voice that she absent-mindedly ran and fell off the balcony of her house into his waiting arms. He would say to us, "That's what love is all about."

   When he was in his twenties his father had a debilitating stroke, and Kirpal nursed him back to health. This required the pain-staking task of teaching him to walk and talk again, saying, “this is a fork, this is a spoon, etc.” After recovering, the grateful father told his son to ask for anything he wanted. Kirpal replied that, as his father knew, his only wish was to commune with God. His father thought for a while and then said, “If a father’s blessing has any effect (and in Indian culture such blessings are considered to be very auspicious), you shall certainly meet God.” Kirpal confessed that from that very day onwards he began to have the daily vision (or inner darshan) of his future Master’s radiant subtle form (gurudev), who took him to higher regions within, which at first he took to be Guru Nanak. It was not until seven years later, however, that he met Sawan Singh in the flesh, and he was surprised to find the same saint he had been seeing in meditation. To the question of why it had taken so long to meet him, Hazur Sawan Singh simply replied that this was the most opportune time. Then followed twenty-four years of service to his Master, including the holding of public satsang and even actual initiations in Sawan’s presence on numerous occasions, and the transcribing of the Philosophy of the Masters series, received from Sawan Singh by inner dictation. Many disciples testified to his intercession and aid on their behalf on the inner and outer dimensions (including bi-location) even throughout the years of his own discipleship.

   Upon contemplating just these few stories, one gets a feeling for what Paul Brunton meant when he said that for the sage, spirituality is "in his blood." It is not a matter of a few years work, but of many lifetimes.

   Just as he was as a child, firm in his resolve, Kirpal recounts how as a disciple he also faced opposition:

   "In my village, I tell you, I was the only man who was a disciple of Master. All the village was against, after me, but they would not, could not convince me. Sometimes up to two, three thousand people asked me what is this? [about the Path] I explained to them. "All right, you want to discuss these things, just choose somebody out of you, some spokesman. Two, four, six or more learned people, we'll talk it over and come to some conclusion. They agreed and fixed the time at night. It was dark night at ten. Villages, you know, are very dark. No lights. So one man swore, "I will kill him tonight." I went through some dark places, nobody killed me, but he did make some attempt. I went to the meeting and we talked. When I talked to one man, who was a spokesman, he was convinced and those people were after him too. So when that man came to Lahore, and met me in the street, I greeted him and asked him to my house. I put food before him and he cried, "I am the one who had sworn to kill you." People were against him...there was great opposition everywhere. So the path of the disciple is very delicate." (Sat Sandesh, Dec. 1975, p. 28-29)

   As a disciple under Hazur, Kirpal gave his entire salary to his Master, who in turn dispensed to him whatever he needed for his personal and family needs. When his own mission expanded worldwide, such a traditional practice was unworkable, and Kirpal encouraged his followers to be responsible for the right management of their own affairs. A formal tithe was never asked for, nor was I, or anyone else that I am aware of, ever charged a cent for educational or spiritual services, or even for room and board while on spiritual retreat at any ashram connected with his name. In Sant Mat, God is the giver, and all the Master's live off their own earnings. One couple tried to give him some money for their stay and he refused, saying, "Do you think I am running a hotel?!" I spent three months at Sawan Ashram in Delhi, India, in 1973, without once being asked for a donation, and, remarkably, one of the last things Kirpal Singh said to me, on the eve of my departure for the United States, was, “Do you need any money?” (I actually didn’t need any, but I feel now that it would have been a big mistake to refuse his offer if I had. A friend of mine counts one of the most poverty-stricken times of his life as a period following the refusal of an offer of money from Kirpal, when he was, in fact, in desperate financial straits). Initiated disciples were asked as part of their sadhana or spiritual practice to donate some of their earnings (but not necessarily a tithe) to charitable causes, or to the Master’s work, but it was up to them to decide where the funds would go.

   For many years leading up to Sawan Singh’s death, many people attested to Kirpal Singh’s inner help and intercesson on their behalf, including petitioning Yama, the Lord of death, for a reprieve of their fate (death, or time of death)!. Thus it was no surprise to many when Kirpal Singh claimed to have been given the mantle of successorship when Sawan passed on. However, the Radhasoami group at Beas claimed that there had been a legal document drafted by Sawan Singh assigning the power of guruship and the administration of the ashram to Jagat Singh, who only lived a short time before then transferring it to Charan Singh, Sawan Singh’s grandson. I don’t want to get into that controversy here. Some have claimed that Charan Singh confessed he was inadequate for the task. But then, after Kirpal Singh's passing, his son Darshan Singh also said the same thing. This could all just be the humility of the Masters, for who would want such a thankless job? Kirpal Singh once said to us with a world-weary look on his face, "he who wants to be a guru, I feel sorry for that man." At any rate, he confessed:

   ”On the morning of 12th October, 1947, at seven o’clock he called me. When I was in his august presence, he said: ‘Kirpal Singh! I have allotted all other work but have not yet entrusted my task of Naam-initiation (connnection to the inner light and sound current) and spiritual work to anyone. That I confer on you today so that this holy and sacred science may flourish.’ Hearing this my eyes were filled with tears, and afflicted as I was, I beseeched: ‘Hazur! The peace and security that I have in sitting at thy feet here cannot be had in higher planes...’ My heart was filled with anguish; I could not speak anymore and sat staring - Hazur encouraging and caressing me all the time.” (2)

And of the moments before Sawan Singh’s death, on April 2, 1948, he adds:

   ”Hazur’s forehead was shining resplendently. He opened his mercy-showering lovely eyes intoxicated by God’s divine love and cast a glance at my humble self - both eyes gleaming with a radiance like a lion’s eyes. I bowed my head in solemn and silent adoration and said, ‘It is all Hazurs’s own benignity.” Hazur steadily kept gazing for three or four minutes into my eyes, and I, in silent wonderment, experienced an indescribable delight which infused a beverage-like intoxication down to the remotest corners of my entire body - such as was never before experienced in my whole life. Then those mercy-showering eyes closed not to open again...Thus, in his ninetieth year, on the morning of April 2, 1948, at 8:30 a.m. this brilliant sun of spirituality, after diffusing his light in the hearts of millions, disappeared to rest below the horizen at Dera Baba Jaimal Singh.” (3)

   Kirpal Singh’s grief was heightened by the fact that many years before he had a pre-cognitive vision of his Master’s death. He confessed that from that time onwards he had not had a moment’s peace, as he was constantly in touch with the pain of being parted from the human form of his guru. One would think, since he was spiritually advanced, and able to have regular contact with the subtle radiant form of his Master within, and himself helped many people in such a capacity himself, as stated above, that he would have been somewhat philosophical about his guru’s eventual death, or about life and death in general, having himself died daily and transcended to higher planes. Yet this was not so, and it remains a spiritual mystery, or rahasya, why and how he felt as he did, and why he had told his Master that the peace that could be had sitting in his physical company could not be had in the higher planes. [I now feel that the answer simply lies in the fact that such Masters are cosmic, yet multidimensional beings, and, seeing the divine everywhere, find it no less in the human dimension, and are not devoid of human love and needs even while in touch with a transcendent plane]. Sawan Singh had expressed a similar sentiment, as Kirpal relates:

   "When Baba Sawan Singh once wrote that he did not even yearn for Sach Khand (literally “True Region,” or the home of the Soul, a division of Sat Lok) but only prayed that he had “Love and faith at the Satguru’s holy feet,” Baba Ji was extremely pleased and replied that such self-surrender was “indeed the highest karni” (discipline) and assured him that “he who had such a love for the Master would certainly reach Sach Khand, and passing through Alakh, Agam, and Anami-Radhasoami, get merged in the Wonder Region.” (4)

   This last remark probably contains the heart and supreme, but as yet unexplained, secret in all of Sant Mat. Sant Mat teaches an emanationist philosophy/theology in which the fallen soul must retrace its journey back from realms of varying densities of matter to those of pure spirit. The technique, considered superior to other paths and unique to itself alone, is to concentrate at the ajna chakra (third eye) and withdraw the attention from the body, catch the inner light and sound current, and ride that upwards to the fifth and, by their system, first divine and indestructible, plane, Sach Khand. Param Sants go further, to three more planes, Alakh, Agam, and Anami, where there is less and less light and sound until merger into Anami, which is defined as being nameless and formless, God-Realization. Some schools of Sant Mat, particularly that descending from Rai Salig Ram through Dadaji (Agam Prasad Mathur) teach that 'Radhasoami' or "Dayal Desh" is a stage beyond Anami, but it is not well defined metaphysically or ontologically in the literature. The suggestion, through use of the terms "wonder region," or by saying that it is not a region per se, but the "source and reality of All", etc., is that it may refer to a non-dual realization, but it is not made clear, and is therefore difficult to compare to the teachings of other paths. Exactly WHAT is this “Wonder Region”? Is it the “Dharmakaya” of the Buddhists”, the “One” of Plotinus, or the “Emptiness” of the philosophers? Is the “Wonder region” a region at all, is it the achievement of further inversion beyond Anami, or perhaps the Void-Mind opening or awakening to its true intrinsic nature? In Sufism theory speak of the station of Divine-Union or Oneness, then Void or Nothingness (anami?), followed by the unspeakable, positive, God Absolute, beyond Oneness and Nothingness: Khidr, the Verdant One. Might this final stage be the 'Wonder Region' ?

   After the death of Sawan Singh, Kirpal retired for six months to the Himalayan foothills where he meditated up to eighteen hours a day (“in two sittings”, he humorously recounted). After this he returned and, due to the controversy over successorship, left the colony at Beas (and a house which he had paid for with his own money) and moved to Delhi to begin his own spiritual work, with the formation of the organization known as Ruhani Satsang. Over the course of the next twenty-five years he initiated over one hundred thousand souls into the practice of surat shabd yoga, wrote over a dozen books (all of which he insisted and he would jokingly remind us contain “no rights reserved”), and went on three world tours, in 1955, 1963, and 1972. He was not one to make access to himself difficult or to seclude himself behind a coterie of "buffers". He was the first spiritual leader to be given the honor of addressing the members of the Indian Parliament, and was friends with Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, several Presidents of India, including philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and many other government leaders. At one point King Hussein of Jordan asked him to be his minister of state, but Kirpal politely refused, saying that his disciples were his primary responsibility.

   He was also friends with many religious leaders and spiritual teachers. Among the latter whom he was in communication with or either visited or were guests at his ashram were Yogi Bhajan, Swami Sivananda, Anandamayi Ma, Pir Vilayat Khan, Meher Baba, Sri Daya Mata of SRF, the Shankaracharya, H.H. Nichidatsu Fuji, and many Jain, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian leaders, including Pope John Paul VI. Pir Vilayat Khan, a spiritual leader himself, considered Kirpal Singh to be the highest being he had ever met, and even requested initiation from him. Kirpal said no, that that was not necessary, as Pir Vilayat had already been initiated by his father, the eminent Hazrat Inayat Khan. Paul Repps, author of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, also sought initiation from Kirpal Singh. Yogi Bhajan, founder of 3HO and a friend of Kirpal, asked to be initiated as well, but was told, "All right, but first you must give up your own disciples." He declined the offer. This was surely unfortunate, for one thinks it should have been understood that this was a first test, a first hurdle for such a person to overcome, for no man can serve two masters. I myself was young and naive, but came to Kirpal with much philosophy under my belt and a host of questions and doubts, and at one point he said to me, with a hint of a smile, "You want to be my master. You don't want to be a disciple. You want to be my boss. That's the worst sin!" I didn't know at the time what he was talking about, but fortunately for me my oddysey at his feet came to a fruitful conclusion.

   Kirpal's position on all of this was refreshing, clearly stated, and a warning to those engaged in cultic spirituality everywhere:

   "The first condition I would say, of a Master, when he meets another Master, is that he will embrace him; he will rejoice. There's no question of high and low...Why should not those who are on the way embrace? Why should they not feel joy? The very fact that they do not want to meet together shows that they are blowing their own pipes - they have not seen God, I tell you." (5)

   It is little known, but even after reaching the highest plane of consciousness on the Sant Mat path, and becomiing the Master also, Kirpal still had questions and sought confirmation of his state. He asked gurus from other Sant Mat lineages if, in fact, Anami Lok, was indeed the highest attainment. He also visited many teachers, and, along with the steady stream of spiritual figures to this own ashram, I am sure over the years he "exchanged notes" and shared insight.

   It is my humble opinion, then, that Kirpal kept growing even after his realisation. An example which convinced me was the following. A friend of mine, a lady named Judith from Salt Lake City, with the master's permission and in the company of a number of dignitaries and a few westerners, myself included, while in his living room, was asked to give an account of her initiation experience. She told me that the day before she had been refused initiation, and went out into the garden and cried bitterly, "why don't you want me?" and so forth. An old friend of Kirpal's, Gyaniji, came over to her and said, "now, now,my dear, those who cry for the master get the master." So then she told her story, which was basically that during her initiation she was taken up by Kirpal through the first five inner planes all the way to Sat Lok (as she put it, "into his lap"), the first eternal or transcendental region, what in Sant Mat is considered to be the true home of the Soul. I tell you, mine wasn't the only jaw to drop in the audience. She had seemed so ordinary to me. Anyway, here is the clincher. Even after this spectacular experience, she still asked Kirpal, in wonder, "Master, who am I?" to which he replied, "Who is asking?"That really rang a bell for me. After all, wasn't that what Ramana Maharshi had said? After this I looked at him with a new sense of respect, and a deepened feeling of divine mystery.

   In all humilty he would always pass on all praise to his own master, and say that, “I am “Mr. Zero; I am a empty pipe, unless my Master sends his Grace, I am nothing.” He once ecstatically told me , “God is nothing!”

   Kirpal's disposition during initiations into the practice of the light and sound was interesting. Hundreds might be earnestly meditating, while he would sit there, eyes open, fidgeting with pieces of paper, burping, drinking coke, and hacking loudly into a spittoon; yet when the initiation was over and he asked people their experiences, while the westerners would do okay, the majority of the Indians would report seeing the Radiant form of the Master inside, or the Big Star, the inner Sun or Moon, or crossing them, and a number of lucky ones were drawn completely up and out of the body, sometimes for hours. In 1972 when he came to Virginia, some friends of mine from Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies in upstate New York came with me to meet Him. One of them, who was not an initiate, said that he went into nirvikalpa samadhi in Kirpal's presence. Another - maybe the same, I don't remember - when asked by Kirpal why he had come, said, "For your grace." His reply was, "You're drowning in it already!" Just imagine; the saint could tell who was drawn to Advaita without even asking him.

   Days before his death, he kept hinting of his leaving. He would say, “Please ask any questions you like now, who knows what tomorrow may bring.” And, “the sun is about to set.” Kirpal left his mortal coil on August 21, 1974, ten to fifteen years earlier than had been expected. In 1972, while visiting Boston, he was examined by macrobiotic healer Mishio Kushi, who remarked that he had the constitution of seven men. In later years he suffered constantly (often with deep, racking coughs, the result of an injury suffered while working in the medical corps in World War I), yet would be remarkably transformed and radiant in the course of a few minutes. I witnessed this personally on numerous occasions, once when I was alone with him in his bedroom. One must assume that his whirlwind pace and sympathetic acceptance of devotee’s karma on his own body led to his early demise (he had been expected to live well into his nineties). He often mentioned that he had “broken the laws of nature”, but such was the compassionate impulse of the Saints, working as they do ceaselessly for the liberation of all beings.

   Upon his deathbed, just before closing his eyes for the last time, an attendant asked him how he was. His last words were, “bot acha.” (“very good!”)

   Kirpal would always say that in Sant Mat the Master takes charge from Dharmaraja, or Yama, the angel of death, the karmas of the disciple, literally erasing what is in the “official record.” He said that the law of Grace overrules the law of karma. This sometimes extended to altering the date of ones ordained death. An example of this is that of his mother. She was dying of cancer, and one day said to him that she was ready to go. He replied, “well, today is inconvenient; how about the day after tomorrow, say about 1 P.M.?” When her time came, she became radiant and burst out into peals of laughter, saying that she saw the Masters inside and outside. [This is similar to Robert Adams, who when dying said “They’ve all come. Ramana is here, Ramakrishna is here.”] Whereupon Kirpal told her to close her eyes and concentrate within. He went to another room, and in a few minutes she was gone. He commented, “She is more alive now than ever.” Kirpal’s son, Darshan, through his death demonstrated a similar disposition. He excused himself, went alone into an adjacent room, then laughter was heard coming from inside. When the door was opened, he had entered mahasamadhi.

   Although Kirpal Singh was extremely well-read in comparative religions and spiritual traditions, and was the person Sawan Singh would send people to if they wanted an intellectual understanding of Sant Mat, he was first and foremost a practical man. His frequent recommendation was for seekers to study the lives of great men, and not just philosophy. As a young man he read over three hundred biographies of spiritual figures, and admitted that he had read only two novels in his entire life: Ivanhoe, and Pilgrim’s Progress.

   Kirpal Singh started two traditions in his lineage within Sant Mat: one, that an experience of inner light and sound was to be granted at the time of initiation, both as proof of the Master’s competency and as a boost on the Way, and, two, that the Master was pledged to come in his radiant form for the soul of the disciple at the time of death, neither of which were previously promised by the Radhasoami group at Beas. In former times it was explained that the disciple must be adequately prepared, physically, emotionally, mentally, and morally, before he received initiation from a spirtual master. The Shiva-Samhita, Hathayoga Pradipika, Bhagavad-Gita, Vedanta-Sara, and other texts describe long lists of qualifications an aspirant must have to be considered worthy of acquiring the Master’s spiritual help and regard. Ramana Maharshi commented on this himself, saying that there may not be even one disciple on earth anymore who lives up to such qualifications. Therefore, the modern “dispensation” in this dark age or Kali Yuga, according to Sant Mat, was essentially to be “initiation first, purification later.” It is also promised that once initiated by the Master, it will take a maximum of four lifetimes for the disciple to reach Sach Khand. This has a parallel in the Buddha's teaching of four stages: stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and arhat.

   Of course, the requirement of ego-transcendance cannot be bypassed indefinitely, for without that the “dream of life” continues, and experience, the Guru, and God are known only through the filter of “self”. The teacher makes the student face himself, and persists until that one knows himself and surrenders. What makes Sant Mat successful, in any particular case, is not fundamentally its meditation technique per se, in my opinion, but the sacred relationship between the Master and disciple, in those lineages where the masters are genuine.

   While Kirpal Singh gave more or less standard talks at public events, His real work, like most masters, went on in private with small groups, and in day to day contact with those close to Him. He often said, "it is difficult to become a man, but easy to become God." Of Sawan Ashram itself it has been said, “that is the place where men were made.” Many great sinners were redeemed and transformed through the power of his love. One incident stands out in mind. While still in the military service, he had a small house provided for his use by the army. One day he came home (the doors were never locked) and found a tall, fierce-looking, strong man sweeping and cleaning the inside of the house. When Kirpal asked him what he was doing there, he replied, "Sahib, I saw you walking the other day, and when I looked into your eyes all of my sins confronted me at once and I became afraid. I have killed over seven hundred men." Kirpal told him to sin no more, and he eventually became a stalwart disciple. On another occasion, he gave an example of the need for preparation before being graced with access to the higher regions. When Bhadra Sena, long-time manager of the printing affairs of the ashram, finally after many years asked Kirpal if he would give him an experience of the inner planes, Kirpal calmly replied, "Well, that sort of thing could be done, but in your present condition I am afraid you would not be able to carry on here when you came back."

   Like all such masters, besides one on one he also worked universally through spiritual transmission and by inner communion with devotees. Once he came out of samadhi and proclaimed to his son Darshan that he had just been giving initiation to souls on the inner planes. This suggests that in Sant Mat, souls who have not yet undergone the "second death" (whereby the subtle and causal bodies disintegrate into their constituent elements and the being with a new personality reincarnates) may do spiritual sadhana after death through the help of a Master-Soul, and the question of their need to eventually incarnate again might vary from individual to individual. Kirpal Singh affirmed that in fact is the case:

   "The initiates have a great concession: at the time of death, your Master will come to receive you, and not the angel of death. He usually appears several days or weeks before death to advise you of your coming departure from this world. I'm talking about those who keep the precepts! For those who do nothing with the gift of Naam, he may or may not appear before they leave the body...In your final moments, and much beforehand if you have gained proficiency in meditation, Master's radiant form will take you to a higher stage where you can make further progress. At the time of death the initiate will be as happy as a bride on her day of marriage! He may then place you in the first, second or third stage, or he may take you direct to Sach Khand. In some cases, where worldly desires and attachments are predominant, he will allow rebirth, but in circumstances more congenial for spiritual growth." (5)

   When asked about other teachers, Kirpal Singh's usual response was often, “gold is gold.” Before initiations he would weed out those who were disciples of other teachers, only accepting them when they had made an honorable separation in the interests of pursuing something they felt was higher. While wearing a mantle of supreme tolerance and uniting all under one fold, however, on rare occasions He was not averse to privately commenting on other teachers. Kirpal's successor, Darshan Singh, was also reticent to criticize, but did, for instance, upon surveying the rise of many contemporary , especially so-called non-dual, western teachers, simply and directly stated, “they’re NOT sages.” He also remarked, "Is it such an easy thing to take a soul to Sach Khand?"

   Despite his often awe-inspiring presence and regal bearing, Kirpal had a fathomless depth of humility. When some devotees asked if they were being too much of a burden on him he replied, “no, you are my solace.” For me, such a statement inspires thoughts too deep for words. Sometimes I think its mere contemplation would be a complete spiritual practice in itself. Sitting at his feet and looking into the eyes of Kirpal Singh was like gazing at ones dearest heart-companion, ones own deepest self, and into the soul of a being a million years old. The effect was at the same time spiritually uplifting as well as sobering, as exemplified in the description given by Alcibiades about the company of his master Socrates:

   "At the words of Socrates my heart leaps within me and my eyes rain tears when I hear them. And I observe that many others are affected in the same manner. I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I thought that they spoke well, but I never had any similar feeling; my soul was not stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of my own slavish state. But this Marsyas [Socrates] has often brought me to such a pass that I have felt as if I could hardly endure the life that I am leading; and I am conscious that if I did not shut my ears against him and fly as from the voice of the siren, my fate would be like that of others - he would transfix me and I would grow old sitting at his feet. For he makes me confess that I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the wants of my soul, and busying myself with the concerns of the Athenians; therefore, I hold my ears, and tear myself away from him. And he is the only person who ever made me feel ashamed, and there is no one else who does the same. For I know that I cannot answer him or say that I ought not do as he bids, but when I leave his presence the love of popularity gets the better of me. And therefore I run away and fly from him, and when I see him I am ashamed." (from Plato's Symposium)


(1) Portrait of Perfection (Bowling Green, Virginia: Sawan Kirpal Publications, 1981), p. 1
(2) Kirpal Singh, The Way of the Saints (Sanborton, N.H.: Sant Bani Ashram, 1976), p. 27
(3) Portrait of Perfection, op. cit., p. 44-45
(4) Kirpal Singh, A Great Saint: Baba Jaimal Singh (Delhi, India: Ruhani Satsang, 1968), p. 79
(5) Arran Stephens, Journey to the Luminous (Seattle, Washington: Elton-Wolf Publications, 1999), p. 41


   The following on-line book contains many accounts of devotees' experiences with Sant Kirpal Singh.

       Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj: The Ocean of Grace Divine (1)
       Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj: The Ocean of Grace Divine (2)
       Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj: The Ocean of Grace Divine (3)
       Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj: The Ocean of Grace Divine (4)

   Visual Biography of Kirpal Singh

   YouTube pictorial of Sant Kirpal Singh and Baba Sawan Singh

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Appendix: two stories:


from “The Homegoing of the Master”, a talk by Arran Stephens (Sat Sandesh, October 1974, p. 25)

   At the time of Master's passing - the evening of the 21st of August - one initiate was sitting in meditation in Delhi. This initiate saw the Master's body in meditation lying down as though it were dead. And he said these powers began coming out of the Master, out the top of His head, and they were in the form of Light. One after the other came out, great powers, each one with different intensity, different luminosity, a different shade-coming out of the Master. And he thought that these were the five elements that were leaving the Master's body. But he said that a hundred and twenty powers came out of the Master, and finally He withdrew completely from the body. And on the higher spiritual planes this disciple saw the Master walking towards a great congregation of Saints; and Swami Ji Maharaj, the fourth Master back, came forward to greet the Master and put His hand on His head and said, "What you have done, no one else has accomplished so far. So much work has been achieved through you." And Baba Sawan Singh came from above the Master, and this Great Light was shining out of Sawan Singh, from His feet, from His whole body, and streaming down on to His Beloved Son, Kirpal. Baba Jaimal Singh was there, Guru Nanak was there...all the Saints were there. They had come to greet the Master. Baba Sawan Singh came to Master and He went and touched Master's legs; He said, "You had pain here?" He touched His thighs: "You had pain here?” And He touched His chest and His back and His neck and head: "You had pain here? I gave you so much pain, but you bore it as a gift! You have freed multitudes of souls. So much grace of the Sat Purusha has been achieved through you, as was achieved through none other." And there was a great chorus of acclamation from all the Saints to the Master. And throughout it all Master's Face was very serene and very sober. And all mingled together their rays of Grace and Light in the Master. This was Master's triumphant Homegoing.


MAHARAJ JI The Superior One
   A remembrance by Kira Redeen (Sat Sandesh, December 1971, p. 17-20)

   Morning and evening are darshan times at Sawan Ashram. The crowd starts collecting in advance. They meditate and wait in front of the house of Master Kirpal Singh Ji. When the Satguru comes out everyone's expression changes. You can see that these are the loving children who once again are sitting together with their beloved Father. The Indian disciples come to talk to our Master in family groups, in pairs, or just by themselves. Each one brings his problem, be it mundane or spiritual, to the feet of the Master.

   When everyone has been taken care of, Master goes to the portico of His house, often inviting the visiting disciples from the West to join Him there. The Indians remain outside and you can hear them talking in a melodious foreign language which you do not understand. But one word chimes and rings without letup as a thrilling undertone: "Maharaj Ji, Maharaj ii, Maharaj Ji," and you understand Whom they are talking about.

   We heard that shortly before our arrival a little old woman who lives at the Ashram had approached Master at one of the darshans saying that she didn't see anything inside. Asking if she had kept her diary, Master was informed she couldn't read or write but that she did have a candle. Master reportedly asked, "Why do you people need all these outward symbols, candles, flowers? Just go within and then see for yourself." However, His comment apparently made little impression or was misinterpreted because a few days later at darshan she said that she had seen Master inside in all His glory. Pleased, her Satguru inquired what she had done. "I put candles and flowers around the diary form and you appeared to me," she said.

   Later, Master told us, "The simple folk get there so much faster than the pundits, the learned men, the intellectuals. You ask me, 'Why do some disciples see much light and others very little?' Ego is in the way, I tell you, and not before you become a conscious coworker of the divine plan will the ego completely disappear. One pundit," continued our Satguru Ji, "figures out this and that and works out a plan how to do it. But when it comes to really doing it, he comes running to me to find out whether it is really safe. He does not know. So learning does not help you, you see."

   Pundits, architects, magistrates, millionaires and paupers, a commodore, a princess from the Punjab, and the sister of the late Prime Minister Nehru, Madame Pandit, all were there paying their respects to the Master. "They alI come for one thing," explained our Guru, "for the bread of life and the water of life."

   And to everyone of them, including the Western disciples, Master gave His love in equal measure as there is only one measure of love for everyone - the utmost. It is there without letup all the time. Love flows from Master in an endless stream. And no matter when you come for it or what condition you are in "be rest assured" the flow is constant. No matter how Master feels physically, whether He is busy or not, the fountain of divine love is so big there is enough for everyone.

   "You cannot drain the Master," said Gianiji.

   Sometimes Gianiji would come to our room at the Ashram after the evening darshan to find out if we had understood everything Master had told us. And we would sit there on a red flowery rug in a circle, the fan going overhead mixing up the heat, the moon looking in through the opened window, the water from Master's well dripping peacefully in the bathroom, a pink lizard motionless on the white wall and a gray frog hopping undisturbed in the middle of the rug. We sat there talking over what Master had said at the darshan:

   "If you love someone, the time - you do not notice it. So in meditation sit there with the one you love. At attention! Alone! You want someone else there? No? And what do you do? Your body sits and you, you are not there. God alone should be enthroned in your heart. In meditation you find out how many other people and things you have put on the throne, too.

   "You will have to leave everyone and everything behind you at the moment of death. I'm the only one that will be your companion till the very end. I'm already within you. Where love is, you are drawn this way. You think you love me, but the truth is I loved you first. Your love is a reflection of my love. So love God alone and for His sake love everyone else.

   “Love knows service and sacrifice," our Satguru said to us.

   He amply proved this to us during our visit at Manav Kendra. We stayed to begin with in Master's guesthouse on Rajpur Road and Master Himself had moved to Manav Kendra, fourteen miles away. So in our loneliness we asked His permission to join Him. We did not know at the time that our beloved Master planned to be with us that very evening at His home on Rajpur Road.

   "Is that what you want?" He asked us lovingly. "All right, then, move immediately. A car will come for you."

   Master remained at Manav Kendra and we proceeded to move out there. Rooms were assigned to us in the still uncompleted hospital. By Master's orders the following was done for us:

   Since there was no electricity in the hospital as yet, an electrician stretched a wire from the main cable to our rooms. The building debris was cleaned out; a plumber was summoned to make the bathroom and sink workable and to open the main waterline. Our cook Ramji was moved to Manav Kendra, his wife and baby also; the refrigerator was moved from Dehra Dun; the stove moved; a carload of food came in; four wooden beds arrived; spreads, pillows, blankets, quilts, all were moved to Manav Kendra. Rugs were brought in, a couch, two club chairs came via truck, an air conditioner, a fan, a dining room set appeared from somewhere, even a Western-type top was immediately created by the carpenter and put above the Indian bathroom's opening in the floor.

   And the next morning as we were blissfully meditating, we heard Master's footsteps and cane on the cement sidewalk of our portico. Out we rushed and there He was, radiant and smiling. "I came here for your darshan," He said.

   Later, we sat at Master's feet at His bungalow in Manav Kendra forming part of a half-circle around Him. Bending a little forward in His chair, He looked at us lovingly. "Sir," someone asked Him, "'How do you manage to love us? We are so imperfect." “You are like a stone," replied Maharaj Ji, "and I am chiseling out of it the precious thing that is within it."

   "Be in life like a compass. Always point to the north. In the world you vacillate here and there, no aim. Point to God at all times. Watch your thoughts. Check your dreams. Do you see Master there?"

   As the talk continued, the sun fell on one side of Master's forehead and for the first time I suddenly saw the mark in God's own handwriting there - the sign of Om.
[see link above] It was so prominent, so outstanding, so thick, that a shadow from it fell on the other side of the forehead. I looked at it and could not take my eyes away. It is one thing to talk about the physical signs that every Saint possesses but it is quite another thing to see them for oneself. Going back to our hospital headquarters, I peered at every forehead I saw and each one of them, compared with Master's resembled a flat Indian chapatti.

   Back at the hospital we found our dinner waiting for us. A noble-looking Sikh in a maroon turban joined us. He was on his way to Kashmir and had stopped over at Manav Kendra for a few days to pay his respects to the Satguru. He stayed in the room next to ours with David Teed, the Dallas group leader, and Ed Handley from Toronto. This gentleman told us the story of his brother who had three sons and one daughter. The daughter died and the grief-stricken parents begged Master Kirpal Singh to come immediately.

   "Please," pleaded the bereaved father when Master arrived, "please, Maharaj Ji, take the life of any one of my sons, but give me back my daughter."

   Master, however, did not do it, and got in His car for the trip to Delhi. Halfway down the road Master ordered His driver to take Him back to the saddened family. On His return, Maharaj Ji put His fingers on the forehead of the dead girl, pressed both of her eyes, and lo and behold, she was alive once again. And Master did not take the life of any of the three sons either. The Sikh gentleman had ended his story. Master holds the power over life and death in His hands, we observed. And securely in His hands is our fate and salvation.

   " 'I want to talk to the Saint,' a man once accosted me," Maharaj Ji told us. "I asked him, 'What do you want to talk about with the Saint?' The man exclaimed in surprise, 'Are you the Saint? But you look like a man.' 'A Saint is a man first,' I explained to him."

   Our Master has a lot of human touches. He likes to laugh although it is almost a soundless laugh which you see more than hear. At times, moved by our human wretchedness, Master is so compassionate that His eyes fill with tears that trickle slowly down His cheeks.

   When Taiji insists that Master change His clothes because they are crumpled and have spots on them, He will say, "The people do not come to see my clothes. They come to see me." And he does not change them.

   Master's sense of humor is very gentle. We bought a small toy for Ramji's little daughter. We gave the present to our Master to give in turn to Ramji with His blessing. Master asked, "Is that for me?" "No, Sir, it is for Ramji." Master looked at the toy rubber dog, squeezed it slightly so that it whistled, and said, "I want a toy, too. I am also a child - of God," He added smilingly.

   Once a very dear soul, Guru Parshad, the head of the Radhasoami group in Agra, came to Delhi to pay his respects to our Master. The Guru had walked ten miles and came in covered with dust. He is a little man. An ancient yellow turban adorned his head. His sweet. old face with its loving eyes had humility written in every wrinkle. Half sitting, half slipping off the couch next to Master, he related that once before he had returned to his congregation in Agra bringing them some sweet parshad from Maharaj Ji. They ate it with gratitude and asked him, "Now that we've eaten the sweet parshad, could we eat you, too, Guru Parshad?" Master was pleased with the story and even took the pains to translate it to us.

   A final personal darshan is given to each departing disciple. It was our turn now Master's silvery blue eyes rested on us with such love and compassionate understanding we were bathed in bliss. "Maharaj Ji. what if a disciple wants to remain a disciple forever so He could stay in the Holy Presence of his Beloved, safe, secure and happy forever?" "You become a Master," replied Meharaj Ji, "as soon as you becorne a true Gurmukh as at that time you will realize that you and the Master are one."

   The words of an Indian disciple who lives in Rajpur came immediately to mind: "When vou go up there," he said, '"you wiill see the Master’s body made out of light. You will see yourself coming out of His body as light. You and your Master are one, you know."

   We left in the dark of evening. As we sat in the back seat of a car waiting to go, Maharaj Ji stepped up to the window, looked at us once again, eyes to eyes, touched our hands with both of His Holy Hands and said warmly, "God bless you."