What is Real Satsang

In Communion with Brahman

The word Satsanga is derived from two words, ‘Sat’ meaning the absolute i.e. ‘Brahman’ while ‘Sanga’ means ‘company’ or ‘union’. Thus, Satsanga refers to ‘being in the company of Brahman’. Brahman is the only one who is permanent; the one who is omnipresent, omniscience, and omnipotent. He is Isvara or Paramatman. Here Brahman and Isvara both are considered one and the same. Thus the literal meaning of Satsanga is to be always in the company of the Lord.

It is only when ignorance or Avidya is destroyed by wisdom and enlightenment; the highest form of Satsanga is achieved. Again, one can only reach this state through his unflinching devotion towards the Lord. The way the Lord appeared Himself in front of the Gopis for their selfless love and emotions towards Him; the same way our bhakti (devotion) should also be such that it pleases the Lord and He remains in union (Satsanga) with us.

In Communion with the Satpurusha

The means is no less important than the end. It is in the context that the company of the wise (here Satpurusha) also leads to realization of Brahman.

How to define a Satpurusha?

Satpurushas are those who have either acquired the truth or who are striving to achieve it. A Satpurusha possesses the following attributes.

  • He is one who has renounced egoism, lust, greed, etc.
  • He is one who has attained unflinching devotion to the Lord, balanced mind, and equal vision, etc.
  • He is one who is endowed with simplicity, contentment, bliss, fearlessness, humility, peace, powerful voice, etc.

How communion with a Satpurusha is achieved?

Communion with a Satpurusha is achieved only with the divine blessings of the Lord. Unvarying devotion for the Lord gives one a spiritual vision to differentiate between a visionary (Satpurusha) and a common man. A man who is engrossed in performing worldly Samskaras always fails to capture the saintliness of a sage.

However, in his Bhakti Sutras, Sage Narada is quoted as saying, “The company of the great is very difficult, inaccessible, but infallible.” This means once communion with a Satpurusha is achieved, it is infallible and destined to bear divine results. Thus, one may infer that there is possibly no difference between Him and His man.

A Satpurusha emanates divine glow and compassion which is no less eternal than that of Brahman. As mentioned in the Upanishads, “He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman.”

Light on One’s Spiritual Equation with the Lord

As quoted by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, “The same am I to all beings: to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion are in Me and I am also in them.”

Though God manifests in the heart of all, He manifests more vividly in the heart of a sage/saint which is filled with spiritual vision, wisdom, compassion and self-discipline. There are three different ways to define the relationship between God and His devotee (saint).

  • Both are non-different – Both the saint and the Lord share the same existence.
  • Lord’s will is the will of the saint – Jiva has merged in the Lord. In the absence of egoism, the Lord and the saint become one and the same.
  • Lord’s power is greater than that of the saint – A saint leads us towards the spiritual path of God realization.

Why a Commoner Fails to Realise Saintly Powers?

A person who is engrossed in worldly affairs often fails to realise the consciousness of the sage which is non-different from that of the Lord. Saints are better known as the living manifestations of the Lord on the earth.

Thus it can be said the communion with the saint or guru is extremely important to attain salvation.

In Communion with the Sacred Books

Any path that leads towards the spiritual progress via purity of one’s heart and soul should be considered Satsanga. If communion with a saint is not possible one should start reading good spiritual books for God realization. Ancient Hindu scriptures are perfect companions for those in search of Satsanga. These scriptures include the Bhagavad-Gita, the Ramayana, the Bhagavata, the Upanishads, the Yoga-Vasishtha, etc. Reading scriptures also helps one in understanding the significance of various spiritual and religious places spread in every nook and corner of India.

Satsanga Mentioned in Hindu Scriptures

  1. satsamgatve nihsamgatvam

nihsamgatve nirmohatvam |

nirmohatve niscalatattvam

niscalatatve jivanmuktih ||

The communion with Mahatmas helps one achieve Vairagya, i.e. dispassion, non-attachment that is free from all desires. He doesn’t like being in the company of worldly men. Gradually, he develops the state of Nirmohatva. His mind starts understanding the delusion and infatuations. Hence, he starts craving for Svarupa or Essence by keeping his mind firm and focused. The ultimate liberation is thus achieved.

  • From the Bhaja Govinda Stotram of Sri Adi Sankaracharya
  1. kastarati kastarati màyàm? yaþ samgam tyajati yo

mahànubhàvam sevate, nirmamo bhavati ||

Who can overcome Maya (worldly attachments)? Only the one who disassociates himself from the company of the evil and gets into communion with the right people; the one who abandons ego and mine-ness.

  1. mahatsangastu durlabho.agamyo.amoghasca ||

It is difficult to attain companionship of the great ones, but once a person enters into the society of the great, his association with great ones is bound to happen.

  1. labhyate.api tatkrpayaiva ||

Communion with the great one is only achievable through His Divine Grace

  • From the Bhakti Sutras of Maharshi Narada
  1. binu satsamga viveka na hoi |

ràma krpà binu sulabha na soi ||

Wisdom, intuition and power of discrimination all are achievable only with Satsanga which is attainable only by those upon whom Lord Rama bestows His Divine Grace.

  1. satasamgata muda mamgala mulà |

satha sudharahim satasamgati pài ||

In the company of the great seers and sages, even the worst rogues can be changed into virtuous men, as Satsanga is the ultimate provider of bliss above which no attachments really attract anyone.

  • From Sri Ramacharitamanas of Goswami Tulasidasji