In our studio-home in Sunnyside, Pretoria there had been no displays or arrangements of photos of our family members, living or passed. There was only one photo on display. Alone among all the paintings hung a large black and white photo of Maharaj Charan Singh, my parents' guru.
Charan Singh became the fifth Satguru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas in 1951. The philosophy based on the teachings of mystics from all religions, has had its headquarters at Dera Baba Singh near the river Beas in northern India since 1891. Radha Soami means lord of the soul and satsang describes truth seekers. The teachings of Sant Mat is that, because of our attachment to the mind and body, we have lost sight of our true selves. By using the ancient mystical practises of Sant Mat and Surat Shabd Yoga we could be aligned with our higher selves.
By the late 1950s, my father had developed a more relaxed mode, even more relaxed than portrait painting. My parents' diets had changed; they experimented with fasting, juicing raw fruits and vegetables, they also became vegetarians. Yoga was introduced to the household, and it wasn't uncommon to find my father in a headstand in his studio instead of painting. He had also took more time meditating, sitting in the lotus potion on the coach dressed in only a speedo bathing suit. Around this time my brother and I stopped inviting friends over.
In 1963, after long meditations, my father booked a flight to India and travelled to Dera Baba Singh near the river Beas . He was seeking a higher spiritual level, and after a few months at the Dera, he was accepted into the Radha Soami faith by Charan Singh himself. My father remained a vegetarian and lived his beliefs until the end.
Sikh and ye shall find.