Sunday, 30 April 2017


Sri Adi Sankara declares in Bhaja Govindam (verse 9):
सत्सङ्गत्वे निस्सङ्गत्वं  (satsangatve nissangatvam)
निस्सङ्गत्वे निर्मोहत्वम् (nissangatve nirmohatvam.)
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं  (nirmohatve nishchalatattvam)
निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः   (nishcalatattve jiivanmuktihi)

Association with the good people leads to non-attachment, non-attachment heralds freedom from delusion, freedom from delusion brings steadfastness, from steadfastness comes jivanmukti (liberation in life).  

Sri Sankara has in the previous verse asked the serious sadhaka to contemplate on  “Who is your wife? Who is your son?-------- Of whom are you? From where have you come? Brother, ponder over these truths here ” (kate kanta kaste putraḥ --------- kasya tvam kaḥ kuta ayataḥ tattvam chintaya thadiha bhrataḥa).  So Swami Chinmayananda commenting on this sloka states that in this sloka Adi Sankara has given a ladder of progress in the spiritual field to beginners in devotion.   For spiritually interested devout neophytes, keeping Satsangh is very important as it gives them an opportunity to keep themselves engaged in divine centred thoughts and actions and remain focussed in spiritual path.  Further the powerful, cleansing thought vibrations generated in the Satsangh can be uplifting to the earnst participants. So Sri Sankara has put Satsangh as the first step of the ladder of spiritual progress. 

Satsangh literally means "being with the Truth."  Truth is what is Real, what exists. So all there is, is Truth only.  In common usage Satsangh means "being in good/righteous company."  So it refers to an assembly of religious or spiritual people who gather to listen to a spiritual discourse or a meeting with a Guru as in a retreat or to participate in some religious or spiritual activity like chanting scriptures, singing devotional songs or meditation etc.  Philosopher J.Krishnamurthy calls Satsangh “association with the good”.  The conduct of Satsangh is popular among devout Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. The significance of Satsangh can be seen from the following statement of Mata Amritanandamayi:” though the breeze blows everywhere, coolness will be felt more if we sit in the shade of a tree. In the same way, although God is all-pervading, this presence will clearly shine in certain places more than others. That is the greatness of Satsangh. Satsangh is the best thing for spiritual advancement.”  Thinking of God, study of scriptures, reading spiritually inspiring books, going to a temple or on a pilgrimage are also other forms of Satsangh

So the ladder of progress shown by Sri Sankara in this verse can be spelt us:

1.     Keep the company of “good”, the divine centred people who are seeking and spreading the knowledge of “Truth”, as proper environment and company is necessary to start the process of detachment. .. (satsangatve)
2.     Through that knowledge and in the company of good try to renounce the sensual and worldly pleasures. (nissangatvam)
3.     With the growing knowledge and detachment, gradually remove the delusion that the worldly objects and associations provide happiness. (nirmohatvam)
4.     With the delusion gone, one can develop the firm understanding of one’s true Self  as Sat-Chit-Ananda Athma that is Brahman (nishcalatattve)
5.     Established in Self Realization get liberated-in-life (jiivanmuktihi)

On a much deeper level Satsang means to be associated with the inner quality of  Satva that manifests in human beings as knowledge and contemplativeness.  Satva dominant people are usually drawn towards devotional and spiritual way of living and they lead God-centered lives with Moksha as their goal.  Such a person whether he is alone or in company he is in Satsangh only.  For people with either Rajas or Tamas dominant, we can say that by by mixing with Satvic people in a Satsangh they can increase Satva and reduce Rajas and Tamas.  And Satsangh can help in stabilizing their minds in divine thoughts while developing Satva, thereby helping them achieve inner growth, that is emotional cum intellectual cum spiritual growth which distinguishes human beings from rest of the living beings.

Swami Paramarthananda classifies Satsangh into three levels depending on the meaning of the word Sat.  At the first level of Satsangh, the word Sat means a person who has got noble values. He is a Dharma Purusha or man of values who does not compromise with values.  Jnanam is not emphasized; only adherence to Dharmic values is necessary. And by sheer association with such a Dharmic person one will effortlessly imbibe these values. But a Dharmic person has not grown up fully. He is nobly ignorant with regard to the Self. And when ignorance is there one has not reached the fullest growth.  So though this Satsangh at the first level will help one gain values in life, one’s inner growth is not complete as values by themselves alone are not enough to gain Moksha.  Therefore, one must go the next level of Satsangh.  In the second level of Satsangh, the word Sat means Jnana Purusha or Jnani.  As every Jnani has values, the association with a Jnani has two fold benefits. The first benefit is one will imbibe values and the second benefit is one will get an opportunity to imbibe knowledge also.  It is not enough to do just pada puja or garlanding or some seva to the Jnani, but the association has to be in the form of learning. Learning the scriptures from a Jnani sat purusha is the second level of Satsangh.  In the third stage of Satsangh, the word Sat means Brahman itself.  Association with Brahman itself means removal of ignorance that I am away from Brahman, through the knowledge gained from scriptural study that I am Brahman, “Aham Brahmasmi”, i.e. Brahma Prappti or Brahma Ikyam.  As philosopher Mooji says “Satsangh is the invitation to step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you, it will burn only what you are not.” 





1 comment:

  1. Great!Nice writ up on Sankara' s words of wisdom on Ssatsangh". Thanks.