Swami Shiv Dayal Singh, popularly known as Soamiji Maharaj, was somewhat of a mystic. He imagined the human soul to be Radha, whose goal is its merger with her Soami, the eternal reality, hence the name Radha Soami. This is somewhat in keeping with the Vaishnav tradition, which too lays emphasis on vegetarianism and refraining from alcohol.
Soamiji Maharaj was not much in favor of spreading his thoughts or woo disciples to his fold. In fact, he ruled out systematic advertisements for his newly founded satsang in Agra. He used to insist that anyone who chose to follow him must give up non-vegetarian food, abstain from alcohol, lead a high moral life and engage in over two hours of shabd yoga meditation.
In the mid 1850s, Soamiji Maharaj had a handful of followers in Agra. However, his teachings attracted disciples from across the country and at the time of his death in 1878, Soamiji already had several thousands of followers.
Despite having a strong following, Soamiji Maharaj did not appoint a successor, therefore following his demise commotion ruled the roost till sometime. Several disciples emerged as would-be successors, which led to a split in the group and six successors led the movement forward. Although this split remains till date, ironically, this is the very reason for the Radhasoami movement to move outside Agra and spread to the rest of the country.
Soamiji's wife Radhaji, Rai Salig Ram, Sanmukh Das, Gharib Das and Partap Singh, Soamiji's younger brother are some of his prominent followers who branched off, forming individual satsangs. This splintering off, led to the propagation of Radhasoami teachings to a wider audience although with slightly varied interpretations