The term Sant (ਸੰਤ) is derived from the Sanskrit sat (ਸਤ) and seen to have several literal interpretations in English: sage, holy person, true, hermit, pure, Mahatma, etc.
Derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Saadh’ (ਸਾਧ), the term ‘Saadhoo‘ (also spelt Sadhu – ਸਾਧੂ) is seen having several literal interpretations in English as well: straight, right, goal oriented, holy person, good, virtuous, unerring, sage, ascetic, etc.
However, these terms (along with many more) have been used in the Gurbani as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).
Sant and Saadhoo
These terms appear to have been used in the SGGS in both ‘singular’ form (i.e., Guru, Giaan or Wisdom, Hukam, Rabb or Universal Energy…), and ‘plural’ form (Satsangi – seekers or learners of Truth, Virtues…). The Gurbani also refers to a class of Sants (those who call themselves sants) are termed in the Gurbani ‘ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ’ (Benares Kay Thugg, meaning ‘fraudulent or conmen posing as sants or spiritual persons’).
- 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).
Similarly, a ‘Saadhoo’ or ‘Saadh’ is who has perfect control on his mind in daily life (ਸਾਧਿਆ ਜਾਂ ਸੁਧਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਮਨ/ਜੀਵਨ) — purified mind, Gurmukh mind or Gurmukh-hood.
- ਮਨੁ ਅਸਾਧੁ ਸਾਧੈ ਜਨੁ ਕੋਈ ॥: The mind is undisciplined (uncontrollable); only a rare ‘Jan’ (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat…) can discipline or control it. (sggs 665).
- ਜਾ ਡਿਠਾ ਪੂਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਤਾਂ ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਸਾਧਾਰਿਆ ॥: When I saw the Perfect Satiguru (upon living the true Wisdom-ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), stability came into my mind. (sggs 310).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਧੂ ਸਰਣਿ ਤੁਮਾਰੀ ॥: Those who become the Gurmukh, take refuge in You (i.e., Mool) are the Saadhoo (purify their mind or restrain it from Bikaar). (sggs 1028).
- ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਇ ਸੁਨਾਯੰ ॥ ਸੰਸੈ ਭਰਮੁ ਨਹੀ ਕਛੁ ਬਿਆਪਤ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਪ੍ਰਤਾਪੁ ਤਾਹੂ ਕੋ ਜਾਪਤ ॥ ਸੋ ਸਾਧੂ ਇਹ ਪਹੁਚਨਹਾਰਾ ॥: Remembering the divine Virtues, (he) lives with Virtues and preach others to do the same. No fear, no doubt can influence that man. He sees (the Rabb‘s) glory everywhere. The person who reaches this spiritual state is known as a Saadhoo. (sggs 423).
- ਸਾਧੂ ਸਤਗੁਰੁ ਜੇ ਮਿਲੈ ਤਾ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਣੀ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: If (a foolish and greedy mind) meets with the ‘Saadhoo Satguru’ (Guru Satguru: true Wisdom-ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) finds the Treasure of Virtues. ||1|| (sggs 21).
- ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਆਨਿ ਮਿਲਾਵਹੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਸਾਧੂ ਘਸਿ ਗਰੁੜੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੀਠਾ ॥: O ‘Hari Prabh’ (Mool), unite me with the ‘Guru Saadhoo’ (Giaan or Wisdom), so that I may taste the ‘Garoorh Shabad‘ (i.e. Wisdom or Upadesh so I may remove the poison of Bikaar or Maya from me). (sggs 171).
- ਗੁਰ ਸਾਧੂ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਗਿਆਨ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਇਣੁ ॥: Bathe in the Amrit Giaan (Wisdom) of the ‘Gur Saadhoo’. (sggs 1134).
In other words, these terms are woven through and through (‘ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ’).
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਸੰਤੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਾਧੂ ਲੈ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਧੂਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਈ ॥੩॥: Meeting with the Hari’s Sant (that is) the Gur-Sadhoo, apply the Giaan or Wisdom to (my) mind (i.e., Dhoorh). ||3|| (sggs 1263).
- ਭੇਟਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਤਨ ਕੈ ਸਦਾ ਜਪਉ ਦਇਆਲਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੨॥: Joining the ‘Saadh Santan’, I always engage in understanding (the Naam) of the Merciful divine. ||2|| (sggs 104).
- ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਸਭ ਚੂਕੀ ਕਾਣਿ ਜਮਾਣੀ ॥: By listening to the Upadesh (Wisdom) of the ‘Saadh Santan’, all fear of death ends. (sggs 608).
- ਸੇਵਉ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਤ ਚਰਨੇਰੈ ॥: I serve the feet of the ‘Saadh Sants’ (i.e., I live daily life by the Gur Wisdom) . (sggs 1304).
The Gurmat’s Sant or Sadhoo is not a specific person…
The Way of the Gurbani (Gur Shabad) is the Way of understanding. It helps us understand Virtues, Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature, Kudrat), our mind’s Jot-Saroop or True Nature (Mool …), how our mind can become Gurmukh, how our mind can become free of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), and so on.
In short, the Giaan-Guru makes us understand the real Sant within.
Apparently this term Sant used in the SGGS is not for a specific person wearing a specific robes, exhibiting a specific external appearance, displaying 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, a cobbler, a weaver, a barber, a tailor, an educated or uneducated person, a person of so called high or low status, a rich or poor, wife, husband, a child, and so on.
Here is the Gurbani’s 6-point formula to elevate one’s consciousness to a Spiritual State (Gurmukh, Saadh, Sant, Bhagat, Daas or Jan):
- ਮੰਤ੍ਰੰ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੰ ਧ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੰ ਸਰਬਤ੍ਰ ਪੂਰਨਹ ॥ ਗ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੰ ਸਮ ਦੁਖ ਸੁਖੰ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਨਿਰਵੈਰਣਹ ॥ ਦਯਾਲੰ ਸਰਬਤ੍ਰ ਜੀਆ ਪੰਚ ਦੋਖ ਬਿਵਰਜਿਤਹ ॥ ਭੋਜਨੰ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਕੀਰਤਨੰ ਅਲਪ ਮਾਯਾ ਜਲ ਕਮਲ ਰਹਤਹ ॥ ਉਪਦੇਸੰ ਸਮ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਸਤ੍ਰਹ ਭਗਵੰਤ ਭਗਤਿ ਭਾਵਨੀ ॥ ਪਰ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਨਹ ਸ੍ਰੋਤਿ ਸ੍ਰਵਣੰ ਆਪੁ ਤ੍ਯ੍ਯਿਾਗਿ ਸਗਲ ਰੇਣੁਕਹ ॥ ਖਟ ਲਖ੍ਹਣ ਪੂਰਨੰ ਪੁਰਖਹ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਸਾਧ ਸ੍ਵਜਨਹ ॥੪੦॥: Whosoever understands Naam and focuses Consciousness on the All-pervading; considers pleasures and pains as one and lives a holy and enmity-free life; kind to all the beings and overcomes his five deadly Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.); Making Kirtan or the divinre praise (i.e., celebrate or propagate the Wisdom of the Gurbani and live it in daily life) the support of life and staying detached from Maya like a lotus flower from water; impart Wisdom to friend and foe alike and to love the Divine Bhagti; don’t listen to another’s slander with your own ears and become humble by giving up selfishness; O Nanak! perfect persons have these SIX characteristics, they are called Saadh or Gurmukhs. (sggs 1357).
Clearly, the Gurbani treats the entire human kind as equal — ‘Bhai Bhai’.
- ਞਾਣਤ ਸੋਈ ਸੰਤੁ ਸੁਇ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਤੇ ਕੀਚਿਤ ਭਿੰਨ ॥: He alone knows, and he alone is a Sant, who is free of doubt. (sggs255).
Hence, a sant is not at the level of physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ). In other words, one cannot become a saintly 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 ॥: That person alone is a Sant, who has realized All-pervading Raam within (Mool, Jot, Truth, Virtues…). 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 (Virtues, Wisdom…) even for the duration of a breath and eating a morsel, are blessed, in whose mind lives the Naam Mantra; O Nanak! He is the perfect Sant (sggs 319).
- ਹੋਲੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਸੰਤ ਸੇਵ ॥ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਅਤਿ ਲਾਲ ਦੇਵ ॥੨॥: Celebrate Holi with Sant (persons who are Virtuous, disciplined, improved, ਸਾਧੇ ਹੋਏ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਾਲੇ: living daily life with Virtues, Wisdom, Truth, etc.). (As a result of the good company, my mind is) imbued with the deep (spiritual) divine color (of Virtues). ||2|| (sggs 1180).
However, living a Divine Life (of Virtues, Giaan, Hukam…) is not easy at all — it’s like walking on a two-edged sword!
- ਸੰਤ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਧਰਮ ਕੀ ਪਉੜੀ ਕੋ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਪਾਏ ॥: For saintly beings, the Way of the Guru (Giaan, or Wisdom) is the ladder of Dharma (by which one can reach his Mool…), but only a fortunate obtains (this ladder). (sggs 622).
Thugs of Baanaaras
But still there is a huge crowd of self-proclaimed Sant-Saadh-Baabaa (fraud, thuggs) 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!
In short, it’s a business of no investment and no loss but all gain!
Also, when one is presented as a Sant in the media, one’s criminal record and nefarious activities become obscured. They are Sant at the physical body-frame or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ) only, not at the level of the mind or Aatmaa — acting without Being! In short, they look Mahatma outside but are fraud inside!
In fact, according to Mahala 3, individuals who call themselves ‘Sant’ are filled with craftiness!
- ਹਿਰਦੈ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਕੈ ਕਪਟੁ ਵਸੈ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਕਹਾਹਿ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਚੁਕਈ ਅੰਤਿ ਗਏ ਪਛੁਤਾਹਿ ॥੨॥: Those whose hearts are filled with craftiness (guile, fraud, ਠੱਗੀ…), call themselves ‘Sant’ only for their outward show (religious robes, paraphernalia…). Their desires (cravings for Maya) are never satisfied, in the end they have nothing to show for except grief (Dukh). ||2|| (sggs 491).
The Gurbani calls such crafty sants ‘the Thugs of Baanaaras‘:
- ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥: Who have rosaries around their necks, and glittering jugs in their hands, (just because of such religious paraphernalia) they should not be called the Divine’s Sant — they are thugs of Banaras (i.e., religious conmen, robbers, cheats…). (sggs 476).
The question one may ask is why does the Gurbani dare call them ‘the Thugs of Baanaaras‘?
Perhaps the reason is that the so called sants are dishonest and crafty individuals who misguide and swindle people, specifically the simpletons and unsuspecting people.
On account of greed and ignorance of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, their main goal is to keep people mentally slave, fearful, and greedy. This helps them maintain their luxurious lifestyle of ‘freeloaders’ (ਮੁਫਤ ਦੀ ਰੋਟੀਆਂ, ਵੇਹਲੜ ਅਤੇ ਐਸ਼ਪਰਸਤੀ ਦਾ ਜੀਵਨ…).
Sikhi — a way of life
As Sikhi 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 Understanding of the Gurbani through earnest Shabad Vichaar or churning the Gurbani.
If one so lives a life of practical spirituality (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ), Baabaa Nanak says, he knows ‘the true Way of life’.
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 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, while he goes around begging for bread – don’t ever touch their feet. Do (the honest) work, and then help the needy. O Nanak! Such people know the true Way of life. ||1|| (sggs 1245).
The Gurbani (Gur Shabad) does NOT call those ‘lazy bums’ and freeloaders who sit in their ‘Deraas‘ in luxury (ਐਸ਼-ਪਰਸਤੀ) and pray on unsuspecting and gullible people. These con men always misinterpret the following verse to justify their lifestyle of luxury (ਐਸ਼-ਪਰਸਤੀ).
- ਮੇਰੇ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਇ ਤੂੰ ਸੰਤਾ ਕਾ ਸੰਤ ਤੇਰੇ ॥: (Those who have the Giaan-Wisdom-Knowledge in their brain) they understand Raam (the Hukam or System-Rule-Law of Nature, ਕੁਦਰਤ ਦਾ ਬਿਧਾਨ). These are your Sants (who in turn use that brain filled with your Giaan-Wisdom-Knowledge to improve people’s life). (Sggs 749).
- ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਬੂਝੀਐ ਹੁਕਮੇ ਮੇਲਿ ਮਿਲਾਈ ਰਾਮ ॥: Hukam can be understood only by walking on the Gurmat (Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh, Way of the SGGS) and only by understanding the Hukam is Raam realized (i.e., Raam = Universal Energy, Hukam…). (sggs 569).
In short, the Gurmat’s Sants are those who — with Giaan or Knowledge — have done good for people and continue to do so. In other words, Sants are those who have made people’s life easier and comfortable by removing hunger, diseases, ignorance, injustice, etc., from the human society through their selfless work and research. They are the Gurbani’s Sooraa.
This is where the Gurmat’s definition of the term ‘Sant’ differs from that of Brahmins, Qazi, Yogi, Jain, etc.
Also, this is where the Gurmat’s definition of ‘Sant’ differs from the western word ‘saint’. The western word ‘saint’ comes from the root ‘sanctus’, meaning sanctioned by the church. To put it mildly, this is not only ridiculous but also meaningless.
A mind that has become Sant or Saadh is not certified by any government or an institution. How anybody can sanction or certify somebody else as a saint?
In short, Sant is that mind which has become Peaceful (calm, stable, ‘ਸਾਂਤਿ’, ਅਡੋਲ, etc.), and has lost itself in the Whole (Totality, Saabat…). Glory of such person is beyond description.