TRUE ASSOCIATION - SAADH-SANGAT

ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਕੈਸੀ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥
ਜਿਥੈ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥੫॥:
Satsangati kaisee jaaneeai. Jithai eko naamu vakhaaneeai.
Eko naamu hukamu hai Nanak satiguri deeaa bujhaai jeeou ||5|| (sggs 72).
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The value of sandalwood lies in its fragrance that spreads out far and wide. The aroma of sandalwood is so sublime that the lowly trees growing near sandalwood also become fragrant just like it. The philosopher’s touch stone (Paaras) has the same good quality any lowly metal that comes in contact with it is transformed into gold. Thus, in essence, whatever comes into contact with both sandalwood and Paaras is uplifted. For example, a piece of worthless iron is transformed into gold, and an ordinary wood becomes fragrant!

  • ਚੰਦਨ ਵਾਸੁ ਭੁਇਅੰਗਮ ਵੇੜੀ ਕਿਵ ਮਿਲੀਐ ਚੰਦਨੁ ਲੀਜੈ ॥ ਕਾਢਿ ਖੜਗੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਕਰਾਰਾ ਬਿਖੁ ਛੇਦਿ ਛੇਦਿ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਜੈ ॥੩॥: Chandhan vaas bhuiangam verree kiv mileeai chandhan leejai || Kaadhi kharrag gur giaan karaaraa bikh shedi shedi rasu peejai ||3||: The fragrant sandal tree is girdled by the snakes; how can anyone get to the sandal tree (i.e., the man is encircled by Bikaars and thus he cannot enjoy the Fraggrance of the Realization of the the Spiritual Essence)? Drawing out the Mighty Sword of the (ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ) Gur's Spiritual Wisdom, cut (ਵੱਢ ਵੱਢ ਕੇ) the poisonous (snake of Maya); and (thus one can) drink in the (Spiritual) Essence (ਆਤਮ ਰਸ, ਨਾਮ ਰਸ, ਗਿਆਨ ਰਸ ...). ||3|| (sggs 1324).

The Gurbani compare the nature of the Satsang or Saadh-Sangat with that of sandalwood and Paaras. In the Association with the Saadh-Sangat (within: the Mool...; and without: the Gurmukhs), a lowly conditioned being is transformed into Divine Consciousness! In such Holy Company, one finds the energy, integrity, understanding, and persistence to liberate himself from the false ego sense (Haume and its associated faults such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealously, stubborn mindedness, etc.).

  • ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਕਉ ਵਾਰਿਆ ਜੀਉ ਕੀਆ ਕੁਰਬਾਣੁ ॥ ਜਿਸ ਤੇ ਸੋਝੀ ਮਨਿ ਪਈ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਸੁਜਾਣੁ ॥: Saadhsangati kaou vaariaa jeeou keeaa kurabaanu. Jis te sojhee mani paee miliaa purakhu sujaanu: I am devoted (ਸਦਕੇ) unto the Saadhsangat, the Holy Company; I sacrifice my life to them. Through whom, Understanding (ਸੂਝ) has entered my mind, and I have met the All-knowing Lord (sggs 43).
All beings are in the influence of the three modes of material nature (Gunas or qualities) of Maya. As our mind is made of thoughts-stuff (Phurne), the thoughts that surge forth in the mind are due to the influence of these Gunas. For instance, when the mind is under the influence of Taamas Guna (ignorance) and experiences stone consciousness, one loses the faculty to cognize the nature of thoughts or rather thoughts themselves. When Raajas Guna predominantly prevails in the mind, one's consciousness turns opaque, resulting in undesirable thoughts carrying their impact straight into the Heart. Whereas when the Saatav Guna (or goodness) predominates the mind, awakened consciousness prevails, resulting in dispelling of undesirable thoughts.
  • ਕਈ ਕੋਟਿ ਰਾਜਸ ਤਾਮਸ ਸਾਤਕ ॥: Kayee koti raajas taamas saatak: Many millions abide in heated activity (Raajas), slothful darkness (Taamas) and peaceful light (Saatak) (sggs 276).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਸਭ ਵਰਤੈ ਆਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਤੁਰੀਆ ਗੁਣੁ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਦਰੀ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਾਰੀ ॥੨॥: Trai guna Maya moh pasaaraa sabh vartai aakaaree. Turiya Guna sat sangat paayeeai nadree paari utaaree ||2|| (sggs 1260).

Thus, the Gunas or material nature influence the mind with irretrievable wantonness. Therefore, in order to become Spiritually Wise (Giaanee, Gurmukh), one always need to watch the predominance of the Gunas prevalent in his mind. The subtle thoughts that persistently surge forth and create disturbances and make an indelible effect on the mind are imperceptible. However, the one who is Spiritually alert can perceive the predominance of such thoughts. Hence it seems imperative that the key to free ourselves from the effects of Maya (illusion) lies in attaining Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan).

To reclaim one's mind from convulsive effects and influence of the materiality (Maya), Satsang or Saadh-Sangat within is strongly recommended in the Gurbani. Of all external or worldly contacts, the company of the Gurmukh (True and the Spiritually Wise) is the most sublime.

  • ਨੀਕੀ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਗਾਨੀ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Neekee saadh sangaanee ||Rahaaou||: The company of he Holy, Saadh-Sangat, is exalted and sublime ||Pause|| (sggs 404).
  • ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਵਾਰੀ ॥: Vadabhaagee sangati mile gurmukhi savaaree: (sggs 651).
Saadh-Sangat Defined

Various expressions exist that are virtually synonymous to Saadh-Sangat. Such expressions include Good Friendship, Noble Friendship, Company of the True and the Wise, Inner Communion, Abidance in the Self, Satsang, Gurmukh Sang, Saadhoo Sang, Sant Sang, Satsangat, Sachee Sangat, Gur Sangat, Uttam Sangat, Saadh Sabhaa, Daivee Sangat, Sant Mandlee, True Association, Company of the Holy, Holy Association, Company of  the Truth, etc.

he Gurbani defines such True Association as follows:

  • ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਕੈਸੀ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਜਿਥੈ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥੫॥: How is the Satsangat to be known? There, only Naam is expounded. O Nanak! The Satigur has given this understanding that One Naam is the Hukam. ||5|| (sggs 72).

Here the Gurbani (sggs) provides us with a very clear definition of a True Association — it is that Company where only the Name (Giaan...) of the One Truth is remembered. Without meeting this definition, any company or congregation is nothing more than a gathering of materialistic beings (Mayadhaaree or Manmukhs).

Forms Of Satsang

By joining and engaging in Satsang, one becomes relieved of the influence of Maya and the resurgence of baneful thoughts arising from such influence. Eradication of the influence of Maya helps create a condition of "Pure mind" suitable for practicing devotion of God. The highest form of the Satsang is Soul's linking with the Shabad or Naam (Giaan) within. In summary, Satsang can be summed up as follows:

  • Internal Satsang (undivided association of ਸਤ, Truth, "Joti-Svaroopa", Pure Consciousness, Mool, etc.)
  • External Satsang (the Company of the Gurmukh).

External Satsang (the Company of the Gurmukh)

A True and Wise is a person (the Gurmukh) in God-consciousness — Brahm Giaanee and Self-realized. Such person may externally appear to be irreligious, not well cultured, or not learned. However, he is one hundred percent established in the highest plane of Consciousness. He has cleansed his heart and conquered his mind (Haume), so he is truthful in and out. Such great seeker helps recover other conditioned beings from their delusion. In fact, the Gurbani demands such Awakened and Enlightened beings to help other rid of ignorance and illusion.

  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਲਿਹਾਰਣੈ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਏ ॥੨॥ Jan Nanak tisu blihaaranai jo aapi japai awaraa Naamu japaavai ||2||: Servant Nanak is a sacrifice to one who himself Understands Naam (Giaan...), and inspires others to Understand it as well ||2|| (sggs 140).
  • ਆਪਿ ਜਪਹੁ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵਹੁ ॥ ਸੁਨਤ ਕਹਤ ਰਹਤ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਵਹੁ ॥: Aapi japahu awaraa Naamu jappaawahu. Sunat kahat rahat gati paawahu: Understand the Naam yourself, and make others Understand it. By hearing, uttering, and abiding by it, one attains emancipation (ਉੱਚੀ ਅਵਸਥਾ) (sggs 289).

The Sat (Truth) is within us; it is the Self. However, with the rise of false ego-sense (Haume), we begin to identify it with the external body and see the material world (Maya). In the process, the Self or the internal Sat becomes obscured. This confounding of the Self with the body is duality (Doojaa Bhaav), and non-confounding is identification with the Supreme (Divine Essence, the Homogeneous Oneness, etc.). Till the Self is not understood to be the Sat (Truth), we seek external association of those who thus have experienced and understood it. A blind person cannot show the path to others!

Therefore, the external Satsang involves joining the company of the Gurmukh - godly Beings. Generally, in the worldly sense, a godly person is often defined as one who may have renounced the family life, or someone who wears peculiar religious garbs, or maintains a peculiar outer looks, and so on. Such definition can only come from a deluded or ignorant mind. The Gurbani affirms that one does not become an Enlightened being (the Gurmukh) just by wearing religious robes, posing in meditation like a crane or heron waiting for fish, rising early in the morning for worship and then go about cheating people all day along — externally looking neat and clean or pious but inside full of filth of corruption, etc.

  • ਗਜ ਸਾਢੇ ਤੈ ਤੈ ਧੋਤੀਆ ਤਿਹਰੇ ਪਾਇਨਿ ਤਗ ॥ ... ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥: Gaj saadhe tai tai dhoteeaa tihare paain tag. Galee jinaa jap maaleeaa lote hath nibag. oi Hari ke sant n aakheeahi Baanaaras ke thug: (sggs 476).
  • ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਨਿਤ ਪਰ ਦਰਬੁ ਹਿਰਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਚੁਰਾਇਆ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਤਿਨ ਕੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਤ ਕਰਹੁ ਰਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇਆ ॥: Bhalake uthi nit par darab hirahi Hari Naam churaaiaa. Hari jiou tin kee sangat mat karhu rakh lehu Hari raya: (sggs 1244).
  • ਤਨਿ ਚੰਦਨੁ ਮਸਤਕਿ ਪਾਤੀ ॥ ਰਿਦ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਰ ਤਲ ਕਾਤੀ ॥...: Tani chandan masataki paatee. Rid antari kar tal kaatee ...: sggs 1351).
Meeting of people merely at physical plane, mental plane, emotional plane, material plane, or material-intelligence plane does not constitute Saadh-Sangat.
  • ਆਤਮੇ ਨੋ ਆਤਮੇ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਤੀਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਤਾ ਘਰ ਹੀ ਪਰਚਾ ਪਾਇ ॥: Aatame no aatame dee prateeti hoi taa ghar hee parachaa paai: If the individual soul has faith in the Supreme Soul, then it will obtain realization within its own Home, within (sggs 87).

What is the Gurmukh Lifestyle recommended in the Gurbani? As the Gurbani indicates: the Gurmukh is linked to his Mool within (ਮੂਲ, Source, Origin Truth...), and ever remains so; he is contented in all situations (Sach Santokhee); he is the follower of the Truth; his mind is linked to Antar-Aatmaa; his Akal (ਅਕਲ , wisdom, intellect, reason, etc.) follows the Gurbani; he restrains his mind instead of following his mind; his state is that of "ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਇਕ ਚਿਤਿ " - Ik Mani Ik Chiti; he is detached in the midst of Maya - ਮਾਇਆ ਵਿਚ ਉਦਾਸੀ; he is established in Viveka-budhi - ਜਿਸ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰਮਤ ਦੀ ਪੂਰੀ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੈ; he knows all the "Way of the soul" ("ਜਾਨੈ ਆਤਮ ਕੀ ਰਹਤ", ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ, ਅਮਲੀ ਜੀਵਨ, ਹੁਕਮੀ ਜੀਵਨ); he is Jeevan Mukat (living Liberated or Enlightened); he is Aatam or Brahm Giaanee...

  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸੀਅਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਰਹੈ ॥: Ihu manu nihachalu hiradai vaseeale gurmukhi moolu pachhaani rahai (sggs 945).
  • ਗੁਣ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਿਰਤਾਰਥੁ ਸੋਭਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਈ ॥: Gun giaanu padaarathu hari hari kirataarathu sobhaa gurmukhi hoee (sggs 445).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋਈ ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Gurmuki koee sachu kamaavai (sggs 1344).
  • ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋ ਹੋਈ ॥: Jeevan muktu gurmukhi ko hoee (sggs 232).
Thus, to become a Pure one is not a social status, it is a question of Self-realization, completely linking with the Mool (Source, Origin...) within. At the external level, we must keep the company of such Pure ones. Anybody who comes in contact with such Holy Company gets infected with "Hari Rang" or the Divine Love.

Unlike us, God remains unaffected by the three qualities of Maya. Similarly, the Gurmukh are also beyond the reach of Maya; for they are unaffected by any external environment. Contrary to this, every thing else is Maya-stricken, hence untruth. Accordingly, association with of the Gurmukh is referred to as external Satsang.

Internal Satsang

As stated earlier, the Sat is within us. Therefore, the internal Satsang is the most sublime and intimate, because we can never remain apart from it. It is only the Mool (ਮੂਲ-Source, Origin, Joti...) which is immanent in all beings. Thus, Realization of the Inner Satsang is the same as realization of the Mool, True Self (Soul-consciousness), "Satguru" or True Guru, "Saadhoo", "Sajjan Sant", "Shabad or Naam", Divinity, "Amrit Dhaaraa" (Immortality), "Anand" (Bliss), "Anhad Dhuni", "Anhad Naad", "Anhad Bani", "Anhat Shabad", "Panch Shabad", "Gur Charan", "Gur Moorati", "Sahaj Avasthaa", "Brahm Giaan", "Gobind Gajjiyaa", and so on.

The external Satsang helps the seeker to develop love for God (practice of Bhagti, Naam, Jap, etc.). Gradually, the mind attains Purity and Peace (Sahaj) needed to make the mind sink into the Heart within (becoming Saadh). Mind's sinking into the Heart means detachment from the material bondage (Maya). Thus, with the help of redemptive attributes attained from Company of the Gurmukh , the individual beings (Jeeva) begins an Upward journey.

With the aid of Aatam-Giaan, attained from the external Satsang, the seeker becomes fit to retrace his steps back to the True Source, the internal Satsang. Here, the seeker sinks deep in the cave of the Heart, and do "Ajappa Jaap". With the help of Inner Satsang, the taste of Intuitive Understanding of the Shabad (Aatam-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi...) is experienced. The seeker feels uplifted and inspired to become more and more engaged in the Shabad-Kamaaee or Spiritual practice. As the Spiritual Practice progresses upward, one becomes free of worries, tensions, doubts, ignorance of one's True Nature, mundane thoughts, material consciousness, false ego (Haume), tossing or restlessness of the mind, etc. As a result, one feels eternal Bliss (Peace, Joy and Love, etc.). Which, in turn, leads the seeker to become absorbed in the Shabad-Surti; the celestial Satsang.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਤੂੰ ਤੂੰ ਕਰਤਾ ਤੂ ਹੂਆ ਮੁਝ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਾ ਨ ਹੂੰ ॥ ਜਬ ਆਪਾ ਪਰ ਕਾ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਇਆ ਜਤ ਦੇਖਉ ਤਤ ਤੂ ॥੨੦੪॥: Kabeer toon toon karataa too hooaa mujh mahi rahaa n hoon. Jab aapaa par kaa mit gaiaa jat dekhaou tat too ||204||: Says Kabeer: O Lord, by repeating, "Your Name", I have become like You. Nothing of me (ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ, selfhodd...) remains in myself. When the difference between myself and others duality, etc.) is removed, then wherever I look, I see only You ||204|| (sggs 1375).
By becoming interiorized, we can churn ourself in order to seek, search, reach, and realize the Absolute Reality. Complete "Inner Purity" can be cultivated with the help of undivided devotion through the Satsang. As suggested in the scriptures, this can be accomplished by making mind the churning rod (Naam-Simran, contemplation or steady meditation), body the churning pot, by which the "lower-self" or the ego-attitude is uplifted to the glowing nature of the "Higher-Self" or the Shabad-Consciousness.

We can look at this process from an another angle. Butter permeates milk although it cannot be seen directly in the milk. The Supreme Absolute Truth likewise permeates everything although It can not be seen directly with our material senses. The technique used for extracting or separating butter from milk is called "churning". Likewise, the Aatmaan can also be separated from the world of names and forms by churning the Gurbani - intense Shabad-Vichaar. Once the Mool is realized, the world of names and forms is no more perceived as in butter there is no more any milk!

  • ਤਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਟੁਕੀ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਲੋਈ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਮਟੁਕੀ ਮਹਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਸੰਜੋਈ ॥੨॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਬਿਲੋਵਨਾ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਧਾਰਾ ॥੩॥: Tanu kari matakee man maahi biloee. Isu matakee mahi Sabadu sanjoee. ||2|| Hari kaa bilovanaa man kaa beechaaraa. Gur prasaadi paavai amrit dhaaraa ||3||: (sggs 478).

Upon attaining Shabad-Surti, the old material-being or Manmukh "dies", and gets "reborn" as a new Spiritual Being called Gurmukh. In other words, upon transcending the worldly-identity or body-consciousness, the mortal becomes living liberated or Jeevanmukta.

  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਮੂਏ ਕਿਉ ਪੂਰਾ ਹੋਇ ॥: Sabadi marai phir maranu na hoi. Bin mooae kiou pooraa hoi: One who dies in the Shabad, will never again have to die. Without such a death, how can one attain Perfection? (sggs 153).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜੀਵਤੁ ਮਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥੧॥: Gur kai Sabadi jeevatu marai Hari Naamu vasai mani aai ||1|| (sggs 33).
Abandon The False And Join The True

The Gurbani has laid down a very specific process for all beings, whereby one can transform his life from that of a Manmukh (material being) to a Gurmukh (a Spiritual Being). As outlined above, the process involves the Satsang.

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org