Kirpal Singh (6 February 1894 – 21 August 1974) was a spiritual master (satguru).
Singh was born in India, in a simple rural house, in the western part of Punjab which now belongs to Pakistan. He earned his living as a government officer until his retirement, then moved to Delhi where he founded his spiritual school, Ruhani Satsang, with its headquarters at Sawan Ashram.
He was the President of the World Fellowship of Religions, an organization recognized by UNESCO, which had representatives from all the main religions of the world. He wrote numerous books, many of which have been translated into numerous languages.
His basic teachings consist in establishing contact with God into expression power, called Word in the Bible, and Naam, Shabd, Om, Kalma, and other names in the other scriptures. Singh believed that the discipline of universal character (defined as the Path of the Masters (Sant Mat), Meditation on the Divine Word, or Yoga of the Sound Current (Surat Shabd Yoga) was at the spiritual base of all enduring religions.
From youth, Singh sought guidance from various sufis, yogis and mystics, but never accepted any of them as a master, and continued to pray to God to obtain a divine inner manifestation. In 1917, he felt that his prayers were answered. During meditations, he began to see the radiant form whom he believed was Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion. In 1924, he met Hazur Sawan Singh, the famous Saint of Beas, in his Ashram on the banks of the Beas River, and in him recognized the luminous form he had seen during the seven previous years. Hazur initiated him into the spiritual discipline, and from then on Singh dedicated his life to reaching the summits of spirituality.
From early the 1930s on, when Hazur was asked if he had a disciple who had made great progress, he cited Kirpal Singh. In the same years, on inspiration from his master, Kirpal began writing the "Gurmat Siddhant" (“The Philosophy of the Masters”), a two-volume spiritual work, in the Punjabi and Urdu languages. It was published, on Kirpal request, under the name of Hazur Sawan Singh, starting from 1935. In the 1960s, it was published in English in five volumes.
On the morning of 12 October 1947, Hazur Sawan Singh entrusted his disciple Kirpal Singh with the work of continuing his spiritual mission. The next month, Hazur approved the project of the “Ruhani Satsang” (School of Spirituality or Science of the Soul) Kirpal presented to him. Hazur Sawan Singh died on 2 April 1948, following a brief illness.
At the end of this period of intense meditation, Kirpal Singh received an inner command from his master: "Return to the world and bring my children back to me." He moved to Delhi, where people from Punjab were looking for refuge because of the division from Pakistan, and there began his spiritual and humanitarian mission.
Kirpal initiated over 80,000 followers
In Delhi, Kirpal Singh founded his new school of spiritual research and realization, called Ruhani Satsang (School of Spirituality or Science of the Soul), which would go on to have branches in many nations of the world. In 1951 he built the Sawan Ashram, in the neighborhood of Shakti Nagar on the outskirts of the city, where his spiritual talks (satsangs) were soon followed by thousands of people.
He began to have visits from western disciples. The first was Rusel Jacque, whose account of his six months at the ashram in 1959 (Gurudev: the Lord of Compassion) encouraged others to make the journey. At the beginning of the sixties, an average 40 to 50 disciples stayed at the ashram from three weeks to six months.
In 1957, Singh was elected the first president of the World Fellowship of Religions, an organization recognized by UNESCO, comprising representatives from all the major world religions. He held that position until 1971, and presided over four World Conferences.
In 1962, he became the first non-Christian to receive the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (Knights of Malta) for his spiritual and humanitarian work. On this occasion he received the congratulations of India's prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and established a spiritual tie with him that continued with prime ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi.
Singh's mission continued to grow rapidly. In 1955, he made his first trip abroad to spread his teachings, and spent months in the United States and Europe. It was the first time an Indian spiritual master had visited the West. In those years, Eastern spiritual practices were generally unfamiliar to the West. Singh had hundreds of Westerners initiated and placed on the path of meditation, which he claimed led to contact with the Divine Light and Harmony.
In 1963, Singh made his second world tour, this time as president of the World Fellowship of Religions. He met with political leaders and other religious leaders, including Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Churches Atenagora I, and facilitated reconciliation between these two leaders after centuries of separation and misunderstanding. At the same time, he continued to instruct new seekers on the path of the Way of the Masters (Sant Mat).
On 26 August 1972, Singh conducted his third and final tour of the West, where he received and instructed more than 2000 new disciples of the Path of Spirituality.
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In Delhi in February 1974, Singh organized the World Conference on Unity of Man. More than 2000 delegates attended, including religious and political leaders from India and around the world. Over 100,000 people attended the conference in total.
At the Kumba Mela (Festival of Religions) in Hardwar on 2 April of the same year, Singh gathered sadhus (itinerant monks) and "saintly men" in the Conference of National Unity, with the aims of promoting cooperation, eliminating religious barriers, and bettering the economic status of India's poor.
Kirpal Singh was the first Living Master of the Sant Mat/Surat Shabd Yoga Path of the Audible Lifestream lineage to visit the West (1955).
Kirpal Singh left his earthly form on 24 August 1974, at the age of eighty. His death caused an intense successional dispute amongst his followers.  In 1963, he had declared that he knew of no one competent to be his successor.[additional citation(s) needed]
One of the recognized successors was Darshan Singh. However, Russell Perkins, leader of the Sant Bani Ashram in the United States, which had been responsible for Singh's publishing, did not recognize Darshan, but instead supported Ajaib Singh. Arran Stevens also joined in supporting Ajaib, although he later rejected Ajaib and left the movement. Thakar Singh also claimed succession, as did Judith Lamblion. Reno Sirrine led the Ruhani Satsang organization in rejecting all successors.
These succession disputes ultimately led to the proliferation of satsangs without connection to any descendant of Singh's tradition. As of 2002, there were approximately 200,000 adherents of groups associated with Kirpal Singh.
In 1963, Singh issued this declaration regarding his successor: "At this time I know of nobody who is competent to take on this work; whether someone comes up in the future is in God's hands." He then stated, "Whoever may come up in the future, I tell you most definitely that he will NOT be a member of my family!" (The original document can be viewed at Sat Sandesh, the Magazine of the Master )
Kirpal Singh wrote an extensive collection of books on spirituality, including The Crown of Life (a comparative study of various religions and yogas); Prayer, Its Nature and Technique; Spirituality: What It Is; Godman (on finding a spiritual teacher or guru), and The Wheel of Life (on karma).
Books by Kirpal Singh
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