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” form (i.e., Guru, Giaan, Hukam, Prabh, Mool, Hari, Gobind, Raam, Allah, Bhartaa…), and “plural” form (Satsangi – Virtues, senses of Knowledge or ਗਿਆਨ ਇੰਦਰੇ…). In other words, all these terms are woven through and through (“ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ“).
- ਹਮਰੋ ਭਰਤਾ ਬਡੋ ਬਿਬੇਕੀ ਆਪੇ ਸੰਤੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥: My Husband (i.e., Parmeshar…) is the Great One of discerning intellect; He alone is called Guru (Giaan, Hukam, Law of Nature…). (sggs 476).
- ਭਾਗੁ ਹੋਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਸੰਤੁ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: It’s my fortune, by the Giaan-Guru I have met the (Prabh-) Sant. I have met (understood, realized) the Immortal Prabh within the mind. (sggs 97).
The Way of the Gurbani is the Way of understanding. In nutshell, from Gur-Giaan we understand Virtues; from Gur-Giaan we understand Hukam or the Law of Nature; from Gur-Giaan we understand our Jot-Saroop (Mool, True Nature, Prabh…); from-Gur-Giaan we understand how our mind can become Gurmukh; from Gur-Giaan we understand how our mind can become free of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.); and so on. The Giaan-Guru thus makes us understand this real Sant.
Apparently this term Sant is not used for a specific person wearing a specific robes and/or exhibiting a specific external appearance or specific outward signs or symbols, etc. Such Enlightened mind can be of anybody — a doctor, an engineer, a farmer, a home-maker, a businessmen, a laborer, a teacher, and so on.
In other words, this term indicates a MIND (ਬਿਰਤੀ) which is attuned to the Gur-Giaan (Gur-Wisdom), Virtues, Hukam (Law of Nature), Mool within, etc. Hence, it’s not at the level of physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), etc. In other words, one cannot become a santly being by wearing a peculiar robe (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), or by calling himself a Sant, or having his deluded or stupid followers calling him a Sant!
- 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).
- ਹੋਲੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਸੰਤ ਸੇਵ ॥ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਅਤਿ ਲਾਲ ਦੇਵ ॥੨॥: Celebrate Holi by serving Virtues (i.e., living Virtues in daily life). (As a result the mind becomes) imbued with the Divine color of Virtues. ||2|| (sggs 1180).
- Also, see pages 271-274 of SGGS wherein the qualities of a Brahm Giaanee are elaborately described.
However, living a Divine Life (of Virtues, Giaan, Hukam or the Law of Nature…) is not 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 Gur-Giaan (Gur-Wisdom) is the ladder of Dharma (by which one can reach his Mool…), but only a fortunate obtains (this ladder). (sggs 622).
- ਕਹੈ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਰੇ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਮੇਰੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਝੂਠੀ ॥: Says Kabeer! Llisten, O saints (Satsangi – Virtues, senses of Knowledge or ਗਿਆਨ ਇੰਦਰੇ…), it is false to call out, “Mine, mine”. (sggs 640).
- ਖਟ ਲਖ੍ਹਣ ਪੂਰਨੰ ਪੁਰਖਹ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਸਾਧ ਸ੍ਵਜਨਹ ॥੪੦॥: Khat lakhan…(sggs 1357).
But still there is a huge crowd of self-proclaimed Sant-Saadh-Baabaa (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 person who is called a 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 somebody else as a saint? Nobody can issue certificates for saints.
A mind that has become Sant or Sadh is not certified by any government or an institution. That is the mind who has lost itself 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 Virtues, Giaan, its Mool, etc., is Asant.