From Sanskrit origin, the term “Saadhoo” (also spelt Sadhu – ਸਾਧੂ), there are several possible interpretations: Holy, good, right, virtuous, unerring…
The term Sant (ਸੰਤ) is derived from the Sanskrit sat (ਸਤ) and has several possible interpretations: Holy, true, real, pure. This word appears to have been used in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) in both “singular” and “plural” form.
Generally, this term indicates our “Bhartaa” within (i.e., Mool, Parmaatam, Hari, Gobind, Raam, Prabh, Allah...) in the SGGS.
- ਹਮਰੋ ਭਰਤਾ ਬਡੋ ਬਿਬੇਕੀ ਆਪੇ ਸੰਤੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥: My Husband (i.e., the Lord, Parmeshar) is the Great One of discerning intellect; He alone is called the Sant (sggs 476).
- ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਹਾਗਣੀ ਜਿਸੁ ਅਵਿਨਾਸੀ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਭਰਤਾਰੁ ॥੧॥: O Nanak! The soul-bride who has become the Gurmukh, (that soul-bride) is forever with the Imperishable Lord as her Husband. ||1|| (sggs 786).
- ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਤੇਰਾ ਰੂਪੁ ॥: Whatever is seen is Your form (sggs724).
- ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Thus says Nanak – O mind! You are “Joti Saroop(u)” (Pure Light or Consciousness, Pure Nature, Original or Real Nature …)! Recognize your Mool (Source, Origin, Base, Reality, Divine Nature…) ||5|| (sggs 441).
Since the ONE “Bhartaa” is the Mool of all beings, a Sant can also be outside. Hence, particularly, this term also appears to be used for those who have become ONE with their Mool within, or who are Connected with their Mool within — who have become Bhartaa-like, God-like, Hari-like, Gobind-like, Prabh-like, Raam-like, Allah-like, etc. Call them Sant, Saadhoo, Brahm-Giaanee, Gurmukh, Holy, etc., apparently this term is not used for a specific person wearing a specific robes and/or exhibiting a specific external appearance or specific outward signs, etc.
In other words, whose mind has abided in his Mool within; whose mind has become tranquil (serene, silent…); whose Mann and Chit (ਮੰਨ ਅਤੇ ਚਿੱਤ) has become ONE — Divine Beings (e.g., Gur-Sahibaan or Bhagat etc., although they never called themselves “Sant“). Simply put, such Divine Being is the one who has become the Whole (One, Saabat, Pooraa or PooranBrahm), who has realized the Truth, or who has experienced the Ultimate Reality. Such a being does not exist as himself but he exists as the entire Creation or the Universe, as the Whole.
- ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: The Gur-Sevaa is Shabad-Vichaar (Reflection on the Shabad). (sggs 223).
- ਕਿਸੁ ਸੇਵੀ ਤੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਸਾਲਾਹੀ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੀ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਾਲਾਹੀ ॥: Whom should I serve, and whom should I (take as my) counselor? I serve the “Satiguru” by the Shabad-Counselor (Shabad-Advisor). (sggs 1048).
Such Divine Being has only Sach (ਸਚ) or Naam, or “Brahm Beechaaru”, and he can give only Sach (ਸਚ) or Naam, or “Brahm Beechaaru”.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੪॥੪॥: There is only Naam in Nanak’s Home (inner Home, Heart) ||4||4|| (sggs 1136).
- ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥੨॥੧੧॥: Nanak speaks the “Brahm Beechaaru” (sggs 1138).
In nutshell, the Gurbani’s Sant is at the level of Aatmaa (Soul), not at the level of physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), etc. In other words, one cannot become a Sant by wearing a peculiar robe (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), or by calling himself a Sant, or having his deluded or stupid followers calling him a Sant!
- ਸੰਤ ਰਹਿਤ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਉਆ ਕੀ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਕਥਨੁ ਨ ਜਾ ਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਵਰਤਣਿ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ ॥ ਅਨਦ ਰੂਪ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮ ॥ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਸਤ੍ਰ੍ਰੁ ਜਾਕੈ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਅਪਨੇ ਬਿਨ ਅਵਰ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ॥੨॥: O brother! Listen, to the Way of life of the saintly Beings. Their greatness cannot be described. ||1||Pause||. Their conduct is only Naam (Brahm-Giaan, Aatam-Giaan, Wisdom…). Kirtan (to honor or celebrate the Divine Virtues, Shabad-Vichaar…) the embodiment of Bliss, is their Rest. Friends and foes are alike to them. They see (within all beings) no one other than the “Prabh” (Mool…). ||2|| (sggs 392).
- ਸੋਈ ਸੰਤੁ ਜਿ ਭਾਵੈ ਰਾਮ ॥ ਸੰਤ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕੈ ਏਕੈ ਕਾਮ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: He alone is a Sant, who is pleasing to Raam (Mool). The work of the Sant and Gobind (Mool) is one and the same ||1||Pause|| (sggs 867).
- ਜਿਨਾ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਨ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾਂ ਮਨਿ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਸਿ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਪੂਰਨੁ ਸੋਈ ਸੰਤੁ ॥: Those who do not forget the Divine Naam (Braham Giaan, Wisdom…) even for the duration of a breath and eating a morsel, are praiseworthy. Says Nanak! He is the perfect Sant (sggs 319).
- Also, see pages 271-274 of SGGS wherein the qualities of a Brahm Giaanee are elaborately described.
Thus, to be Divine Being is to be living a Divine Life. No easy at all — it’s like walking on a two-edged sword!
- ਸੰਤ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਧਰਮ ਕੀ ਪਉੜੀ ਕੋ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਪਾਏ ॥: The Way of the Sant is the ladder of Dharma (by which one can reach his Mool…), but only a fortunate obtains (this ladder). (sggs 622).
- ਹੈਨਿ ਵਿਰਲੇ ਨਾਹੀ ਘਣੇ ਫੈਲ ਫਕੜੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥੧੨॥: (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat, Jan…) are few and far between; everything else is but a pompous show and wrangling in this world ||12|| (sggs 1411).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਕਾਇਆ ਕਜਲੀ ਬਨੁ ਭਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਕੁੰਚਰੁ ਮਯ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਅੰਕਸੁ ਗ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ਰਤਨੁ ਹੈ ਖੇਵਟੁ ਬਿਰਲਾ ਸੰਤੁ ॥੨੨੪॥: O Kabeer! The body is (like) a banana forest, and the mind is (like) an intoxicated elephant (wandering in it). The jewel of spiritual Knowledge is the prod, (but only) a rare Sant (i.e., Gurmukh…) can be the rider (to ride this mind-elephant with the prod of the spiritual Knowledge). ||224|| (sggs 1376).
- ਖਟ ਲਖ੍ਹਣ ਪੂਰਨੰ ਪੁਰਖਹ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਸਾਧ ਸ੍ਵਜਨਹ ॥੪੦॥: Khat lakhan…(sggs 1357).
But still there is a huge crowd of self-proclaimed Sant (fraud, thugs) in the Sikh community now-a-days! Not only in India, they are also pullulating Gurdawaras all over the world, specially in the West. It is easy money, tax free! Additionally, when western currency is converted to Indian, it multiplies! Also, when one is presented as a Sant in the media, one’s nefarious activities become obscured. They are Sant at the physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ) only, not at the level of the Aatmaa (Soul…) — acting without Being! The Gurbani calls them “Thugs of Baanaaras”:
- ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥: They are not called Hari’s Saints — they are the Baanaarasi-thugs (robbers, cheats). (sggs 476).
As Sikhism is a way of life, Sikhs are to remember and emphasize three practices in their individual and corporate life: (1) Kirat Karnee, (2) Vand Shaknaa, and (3) Naam Japnaa. First, “Kirat Karnee” is the righteous way of thinking, which includes honest or truthful way of work (to righteously work for what you eat) side by side with the search of the Truth (Sach). Second, “Vand Shaknaa” is giving or sharing. And third is “Naam Japnaa“, which is to engage in serious Reflections ( or Understanding the Gur-Giaan, Gurmat, Gurbani…).
If one so lives a Spiritual Life (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ), Baabaa Nanak says, “he knows the path”.
Now let’s pause for a moment and analyze. If a so-called Sant (or Sadh) does not engage in earning honest living, he is simply a freeloader, a thief (i.e., a fake or fraud Sant). Furthermore, if he does not truthfully work to earn his living then their is no question of him sharing with others!!! In other words, if one is devoid of “Kirat Kamaaee”, he will remain devoid of the practice of “Vand Shaknaa”! In turn, in the absence of both “Kirat Kamaaee” and “Vand Shaknaa“, he cannot honestly practice “Naam Japnaa“! Now perhaps we can appreciate as to why Baabaa Nanak thunders forth the following declaration:
- ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣਾ ਗਾਵੈ ਗੀਤ ॥ ਭੁਖੇ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਘਰੇ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥ ਮਖਟੂ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਕੰਨ ਪੜਾਏ ॥ ਫਕਰੁ ਕਰੇ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਾਤਿ ਗਵਾਏ ॥ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੀਰੁ ਸਦਾਏ ਮੰਗਣ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਲਗੀਐ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥: The one who lacks spiritual wisdom sings religious songs (for the sake of earning bread). The hungry Mullah turns his home into a mosque (or he also goes to mosque for the sake of bread!). The lazy bum has his ears pierced to look like a Yogi. Someone else becomes a panhandler, and thus loses his self-respect. Someone calls himself a guru or a spiritual teacher, while he goes around begging for bread – don’t ever touch their feet. One who truthfully works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has – O Nanak, he knows the path ||1|| (sggs 1245).
This is where the Indian word of “Sant” differs from the western word of “saint”. The western word “saint” comes from the root “sanctus”, meaning sanctioned by the church (Pope!). To put it mildly, this is not only ridiculous but also meaningless. How anybody can sanction or certify a saint? Nobody can issue certificates for saints. Either one has become a saint or he has not. So the word “Sant” or “Sadh” does not mean a saint in that way — the western way.
A Sant or Sadh is not certified by any government or an institution. He is a person who has lost himself in the Whole (Saabat…). According to the Gurbani, His Glory cannot be fully described.
In addition, there is also seen this term called “Asant” in the Gurbani.
Essentially, the mind connected to Maya and disconnected from its Mool is Asant.