Books and Authors Cited
Adi Granth The scripture held sacred by the Sikhs, containing writings by various saints of the Indian subcontinent, who lived between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. The 1430-page book was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev at the end of the sixteenth century and includes the teachings of Guru Nanak and five of the nine Gurus who succeeded him. The common thread throughout the Adi Granth is the importance of the Word or Name and the need for a master on the spiritual path.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) Born in northern Greece, he was a philosopher, logician, and scientist whose works greatly influenced Western culture.
Aurelius, Marcus (121 AD – 180 AD) Born in Rome, he was both Roman emperor and an exemplar of Stoic philosophy.
Bahu (1629 – 1691) Hazrat Sultan Bahu was one of the best known poet saints of the Punjab. A contemporary of Saa’in Bulleh Shah, he wrote a great number of books in Arabic and Persian as well as one in Punjabi expounding mystic philosophy.
Bhagvad Gita Literally, ‘The Song of the Lord’, it embodies the teachings of Lord Krishna, given in the dialogue between Krishna and Arjun on the battlefield of Mahabharat, and is one of the most popular books of Hindu philosophy.
Bible The sacred scripture of Judaism and Christianity, written over the period of c.1000 BC to c.100 AD. Consisting of the Old and New Testaments (according to the Christian designation), only the Old Testament is recognized by Judaism. The Roman Catholic Bible also contains the books of the ‘official’ Apocrypha (e.g., Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon) which are absent from the Protestant Bible and not included in the Hebrew canon.
Bu Ali Qalandar (d. 1324) Hazrat Bu Ali Qalandar was born in Iraq. His family later settled in Panipat, India. He wrote mystical poetry in both Persian and Punjabi.
Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1758) Saa’in Bulleh Shah, a disciple of Inayat Shah, lived and taught chiefly at Lahore. He composed numerous songs of mystical love and longing in Punjabi.
Charan Singh (1916 – 1990) Master Charan Singh was the Master at Dera, Beas, from 1951 to 1990. A lawyer by profession, he travelled widely and carried the universal teachings of the saints, Sant Mat, throughout the world.
Cloud of Unknowing Devotional classic of the Protestant tradition, it sprang from an age when English mysticism was in full flower (1200 – 1300). The author is unknown but is thought to be an English priest who lived during the latter half of the fourteenth century.
Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) Born in China, he was China’s most famous teacher, philosopher, and political theorist.
Dadu or Dadu Dayal (1544 – 1603) Dadu Sahib, a saint of Rajasthan, was well known for his boldness in defying the orthodox priests and teaching the path of the Word. He was born in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, and taught chiefly in Jaipur and other centres in Rajasthan. It is said that Akbar, the Mughal emperor, invited him to Fatehpur Sikri in 1584 and listened to his discourses. He was often called Dadu Dayal, the compassionate one.
Dhammapada The primary book of Buddhist scripture, it includes 423 verses attributed to the Buddha regarding the “Way of Righteousness”.
Einstein, Albert (1879 – 1955) An American physicist born in Germany, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. He believed that religious experience is the driving force behind scientific research.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803 – 1882) American essayist, poet and philosopher.
Ethics of the Fathers Part of the Mishnah, it was composed by rabbis who lived during the first century BC through the second century AD. It is a collection of comments about life, submitted in the name of the great teachers of Judaism as fatherly advice to the people they sought to educate.
Farid (1181 – 1265) Sheikh Farid, a Muslim saint whose verses are preserved in the Adi Granth, was the earliest-known poet of the Punjabi language. Born near Multan (now in Pakistan), Farid undertook rigorous self-discipline and physically punishing methods to achieve his goal of God-realization. Eventually, he was advised to go to Qutub-ud-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki of Delhi, who revealed to him the path of the Word. He spent the later part of his life in Pakpattan, Punjab (now Pakistan).
Franklin, Benjamin (1706 – 1790) American statesman, writer and noteworthy inventor. He published many works on the subjects of economics, religion, philosophy and science.
Gracian, Baltasar (1601 – 1658) A Spanish mystic and clergyman, he authored many books, including El Comulgatario (On Holy Communion), his only religious work.
Guru Arjan (1563 – 1606) Fifth in the line of Guru Nanak Dev, his teachings are recorded in the Adi Granth. Through great effort Guru Arjan Dev collected, classified and compiled the writings of the Adi Granth, including saints of like minds to emphasize the oneness of God, the equality of all people and the pursuit of truth. He was supported by Emperor Akbar to help establish the unity of God and the brotherhood of men. Jahangir, Akbar’s successor, thought Arjan Dev a heretic and had him tortured to death.
Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539) Born at Talwandi, near Lahore, Guru Nanak Dev spent a large part of his life travelling to spread the teachings of the Word or Name. He was the first in the line of the ten Gurus whose teachings are recorded in the Adi Granth.
Heidegger, Martin (1889 – 1976) Born at Mess Kirch, Black Forest, Germany, his works gave rise to the modern philosophical movement called Existentialism.
Jagat Singh (1884 – 1951) Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh was a devoted disciple of Master Sawan Singh, who appointed him his successor in 1948. He was Master of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas from 1948 until his death in 1951.
Jaimal Singh (1839 – 1903) Baba Jaimal Singh was the founder of the Radha Soami colony near Beas in the Punjab. He was a disciple of Soami Ji Maharaj of Agra and was appointed by him to propagate the Sant Mat teachings in the Punjab. He appointed Master Sawan Singh as his successor.
Kabir (1398 – 1518) Born in Kashi (Banaras or Varanasi), Kabir Sahib travelled throughout India, teaching the practice of the Word. In Kashi, one of the main centres of Hindu orthodoxy, he earned a meagre living as a weaver and faced unrelenting opposition from the priestly class for teaching people of all castes how to worship God. He attracted a large following of disciples, Hindus as well as Muslims, and was outspoken in condemning ritualistic observances. The versatility and power of his poetry is still widely acknowledged and enjoyed.
Kempis, Thomas à (1379/8 – 1471) Born in Germany, he is renowned as the probable author of The Imitation of Christ, an important Christian inspirational work.
Krishna Much loved throughout India, he is believed by Hindus to be the incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver. The Bhagvad Gita (Song of the Lord) is a philosophical dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjun, held on the battlefield of the Mahabharat.
Mathnavi/Masnavi Form of Persian and Urdu poetry consisting of couplets corresponding in measure, each rhyming independently, interspersed with explanatory headings in prose. A masnavi is a narrative verse written in a specified metre running through the entire work, and would generally describe love stories or the deeds and exploits of kings and heroes. The Masnavi usually refers to the masnavi written by Jalaluddin Rumi, known also as Maulana Rum (1207 – 1277). It was a landmark epic of mystical poetry regarded by his followers as a veritable treasure house of esoteric knowledge.
Meister Eckhart (also Eckehart) (1260 – 1327/8) Born in Germany, he was a philosopher and mystic.
Naimy, Mikhail (1889 – 1970s) Born in Lebanon, he was educated as a professor of science in Palestine, a theologian in Russia and a lawyer in the United States. The Book of Mirdad, published in 1948, is a weave of legend, mysticism, philosophy and poetry, addressing the deep meaning of human existence.
Namdev (1270 – 1350) Born in Maharashtra, Baba Namdev was a tailor and calico printer by profession, and was initiated into the path of the Word by Visoba Khechar. Baba Namdev’s songs, known as abhangs or ‘songs eternal’, are preserved in the Gatha. He spent the later part of his life in Punjab and died in the village of Ghuman, the birthplace of Baba Jaimal Singh some five hundred years later.
Paine, Thomas (1737 – 1809) English-born American political philosopher and author best known for his pamphlet Common Sense in which he urged the North American colonies to declare their independence from Britain.
Paltu (1710 – 1780) Paltu Sahib, a grocer by profession, was a saint who preached the path of the Word and lived most of his life in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the birthplace of Lord Ramchandra and a centre of Hindu orthodoxy. Disciple and successor of Govind Sahib, Paltu Sahib asserted that people of any caste can worship God and strongly denounced ritualistic observances; ultimately he was burnt alive by the local priests.
Philokalia A collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by spiritual masters of the Orthodox Christian tradition.
Qur’an (Koran) The Islamic sacred book, believed to be the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Mohammad who was born approximately 570 AD. All memorized and written material that was available was gathered and compiled in the present authoritative version approximately twenty-five years after his death in 632 AD.
Ravidas Guru Ravidas was a well-known saint who lived in Kashi and travelled across Rajasthan and other parts of India. He was a contemporary of Kabir and is believed to be a disciple of Swami Ramanand. Born into a low-caste Hindu community, he supported himself by making and repairing shoes. In spite of this social handicap, he had a great impact on the many people who came to him for spiritual guidance, including Princess Mira Bai and Raja Pipa. Some of his writings are preserved in the Adi Granth.
Rumi (1207 – 1273) Jalal al-Din (Jalaluddin) Mohammad Rumi, the most famous of the Sufi saints, known also as Maulana Rum (our lord from Rum). He was born at Balkh (then Persia, now Afghanistan); from there the family migrated to Konya in Turkey, which was known as ‘Little Rome’ (Rum) at that time. Rumi was a renowned religious scholar. When he met his master, Shams Tabrizi, he achieved mystic realization.
Sarmad (1618 – 1661) Hazrat Sarmad was born in a Jewish family in Kashan, Persia. He lived in north India and taught the practice of the Word. As his name indicates, he remained in a state of God-intoxication (sar-mad). He was beheaded for heresy by Emperor Aurangzeb, and was thus known as Sarmad Shaheed (Sarmad, the martyr).
Sawan Singh (1858 – 1948) Known affectionately to his disciples as the ‘Great Master’, Master Sawan Singh was the successor of Baba Jaimal Singh and the Master of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas from 1903 to 1948.