In today’s era of technology convergence a man has access to almost every nook and corner of the world, but what he commonly doesn’t have is the reach within his inner self. The dilemma seems common as most of us today – consciously or unconsciously – are striving for true soul mate or good companionship.
But, unfortunately the idea of companionship is disillusioning as eternal bliss lies in the spiritual effulgence and enlightenment of one’s conscience –here the concept of satsang comes in.
The term satsang is coined from Sanskrit language, with ‘sat’ meaning “the ideal; pure and true essence” and ‘sang’ meaning “association”. Hence satsangpromises association with one’s true essence.
How does Satsang help?
The idea of satsang is to bring positivism and awareness into one’s life.It is strongly believed that human mind is prone to evil and misdeeds. Hence those who do not associate themselves with good company i.e. satsang automatically get inclined to bad company which is kusang where ‘Ku’ defines evil.
On the other hand, continuous attendance atSatsanginculcates inherent love and obedience for the Almighty. Simultaneously, it moulds one’s attitude so as to become more bearable, patient and composed while dealing with everyday situations.
What happens when one is in good company?
The great saint AdiShankarasays in the BhajaGovindam
From good company or Satsang comes non attachment- that is a certain amount of dispassion for all things worldly. From non-attachment arises freedom from delusion. A person becomes dispassionate when he is free from moha. When there is freedom from delusion, his mind becomes still and from this state he can easily gain liberation. Such is the greatness of satsang.
AcharyaSankaraaddresses his devotees directly. He gives a simple ‘ladder of progress’ by carefully climbing which a seeker can comfortably arrive at the highest pinnacle of perfection- he can become a Jivanmukta, a liberated soul.
We live in a world that is full of temptations. It is possible to build up an intellectual barrier against passions and desires. But the objects of fascination are too many and their hold on us too powerful that it would be very difficult for any seeker to resist and win. Hence Sankara, aware of the futility of the exercise, advises the company of the good.
We know too well the consequences and pitfalls while moving in wrong company.
Dussangasarvathaivathyajya- forever avoid the company of bad people forewarns Narada in the Bhakti Sutra.
The great Sage Naradafurther stresses on the significance of Satsang
Who can overcome Maya, which is in reality cast by the lord himself?
When a person leaves bad company and associates himself with good men and is free from ahamkar the concept of ‘mine’ [ego], then he is sure to attain liberation.
How can we seek the company of the good?
Sage Narada says this is possible only by the sheer grace of the Lord. – “Labyateapithatrakrupaiva “
What do we mean by Company of the good? It could be living teachers, learned pundits, cultured men, sincere seekers and if none of these are available then indirectly through great books.
The influence of satsang is such that the person eventually breaks away from shallow worldly affairs and material pleasures which could only bring disappointments sooner or later in life. The illusion free mind can thereafter sift good from the bad easily striving towardsperfection for leading a fulfilling and contented life.
Importance of Guru in Satsang
Ideally, a satsang is performed in groups where people with shared interest congregate to gather knowledge on truth and wisdom as imparted by their Guru – the sage or saint.
One often confuses between the role of a Guru and God in his life. To cut clear of any such perplexity it is to be understood that the existence of God in one’s life is like the Sun. Since, it is very difficult for any being to look directly onto Sun’s direction, one has to get across to the Sun via the soothing light of moon here acting as the Guru.
With more and more people finding it difficult to cope up with increasing pressures of today’s fast growing life, numerous such welfare organizationshave cropped up with at least one in every locality.
It is not quite difficult to search a well know and trusted satsang organization in the vicinity. To again quote Naradafrom the Bhakti Sutras “The company of the great is very difficult, even inaccessible, but it is infallible.” Association with saints is infallible in its operation.”
What happens at a Satsang?
A conventional satsang starts off with a Prarthana (Prayer) following a Pravachan (spiritual discourse) and finally winding up with a kirtana (hymns or mantra). Pravachan i.e. the spiritual discourse is generally based on Bhagvad Gita or Guru vani (Speech of the Guru).
Since it is not possible to be in the company of saints and sages in daily life, a concentrated communion of likeminded people sit together and discuss topics from Vedic Scriptures or Guru vani. Thus the satsang takes its shape to help one attaining an eternal bliss. These Study Circles conducted by various spiritual organizations have helped many in seeking answers to the daily dilemmas of life.
Kirtana specifically strengthens the soul’s bond with God, so performing bhajan or kirtana after spiritual discourse is particularly important. As closer the soul gets to divinity, farther it gets from mayai.e universal cosmos. Music is a fantastic way to uplift oneself and bhajans are a popular means to attain god consciousness. Lord Hari says to Narada,
“I reside not in Vaikuntha or in the hearts of the great Yogis, but I am present where my devotees sing my name, O Narada. “Kirtan destroys sins, Vasanas and Samskaras, fills the heart with love and devotion and brings the devotee face to face with God. The glory of the Name of God cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can certainly be experienced or realised through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the name only. The power of the name is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable. The efficacy and inherent power of the name of God is unfathomable says Swami Sivananda.
Most importantly, the aspect of bhav (vibes) is often discussed in satsang. Satsang teaches one to understand the formulae of dealing with situations in everyday life. It tells us how vibes are ricocheted in nature and hence it’s important to throw positive and cheerful vibes to receive similar kind from others in the surroundings.
Holistic approach to Satsang
Satsang is the best source of overcoming mental distress as the model works as a holistic healing therapy as well. Thus it may fall into the alternative healing category as it helps rejuvenating mind, body and soul.
Loosing oneself completely into spiritual discourse or kirtana often results in deep meditation which is extremely important for revamping one’s mind and helping enter spiritual bliss into it for gaining wisdom and conscience.
Remember, after attaining a couple of satsang classes many amongst us would claim on having already known the principals of satang. But despite this feeling one needs to overcome his ego and continue visiting it as there lies a big difference in merely ‘knowing’ and indeed ‘practicing’ the lessons in day to day life. Regular Practice is the key.
Significance of Satsang in the 21st Century Information Era
Media convergence has turned the world into a Global Village with people today spending more time with theirtablets and smartphones rather than family and friends. On the face of it, the concept of being in satsang is often looked down upon by many.
But the fact is that satsang, i.e. the association with one’s true essence as described earlier,is extremely important to combat worldly maya(attraction) and convert it into spiritual energy to attain the supreme divinefor the realization of one’s supreme soul. One keeps hearing of even the educated and the experienced slipping into depression unable to bear the pressures of modern life. Satsangs help in elevating the mind and easing the pressure immensely.
Most recently, the concept of online and digital satsanghas cropped to facilitate today’s tech savvy audience. Many organizationsare now building up the satsang network via web forum, other social networking sites availingsoftware. So there is hope in this age for all those interested in connecting with the higher power.
Make Satsang your Habit and not Hobby
On a final note, the famous say – “As is the company, so is the color” fits quite well while defining the importance of satsang in life. As to attain God is the sole motive of each and every being on earth, but attaining such goal is not possible without the company of saints and likeminded people who can bring optimism and hope for attaining such eternal bliss.
No human being is infallible and hence it is in the very nature of man to commit errors time and again. Listening to satsang doesn’t promise any instant change in one’s innermost self yet it offers a holistic change which is slow yet progressive and irreversible in nature.
Satsang teaches us to adapt oneself to be a better person by the day. This means the soul get purified steadily while attaining deeper knowledge which is generally permanent in life.