Not everyone enters, but for those who are in it, it’s a whole different ball game. It is free, yet we can’t easily get it. It may be available right in our town, our neighborhood, our street, even our own home… yet it is near impossible to find. Some talk about wanting it, yet they can’t seem to pull the trigger and get into one. It is one that truly feeds the body, the mind and the soul, but somehow always remains elusive.
– Satsang, where true happiness resides, is the rarest of the rare; but remains hidden openly in plain daylight.
Even half a second of satsang (association with true devotees of Lord Hari), is incomparable to the pleasures of heaven and even immortality, declares Sri Rudra in Srimad Bhagavatam.
Kulasekara Azhwar, one of the 12 great Azhwars (devotees of Narayana) says that the entire world thinks he’s insane (because of his bhakti), but he on the other hand feels the whole world is insane. He says that being in the minority cannot automatically make him wrong; and that even if the entire world is against him, he is still the only sane one, and that the rest of the world is still mired up in the nastiness of the world.
People in true satsang are different. By the Lord’s grace, they are in the world, but they are not either. His Holiness Sri Muralidhara Swamiji says they are like lotuses on water – ‘in the water, but not wet’. Their purpose is different, their approach is different, their priorities are different, as everything about them is oriented around pleasing their Lord.
The rest of the world, even if it is their own parents, kids, spouses, best friends or neighbors – if they have not tasted the nectarine reality of association with genuine devotees – cannot see eye to eye with them, as the two factions see through two different lenses. To devotees, satsang is the highest priority. Everything else is secondary. To the world, ‘me and mine’ is the highest priority. How can the two mingle?
The world cannot understand why satsangis want to be in satsang every day, every minute. They say, “How can you just sit in the same place and just be looking at the altar or the Guru all the time? Why do you have to chant continuously? How many times can you listen to the same stories?” They cannot get it. But it’s no fault of the world, for, like Sri Andal says “yArukkum innoi ariyalAgAdu” – The world cannot understand this feeling, for they have never experienced it.
But no one is to blame. As the Lord Himself says ‘mama mAya duratyayA’ – my mAya is very hard to overcome.
So how do true devotees alone overcome Maya – the deluding power of the Lord? In the 11th canto in Srimad Bhagavatam, one of the nine yogis, Sri Prabuddha explains:
tasmAd gurum prapadyeta jignyAsu: shreya uTTamam
shAbde parecha nishnAtam brahmaNyupasamAshrayam
tatra bhAgavatAn dharmAn sikshet gururAtma daivata:
amAyayAnuvrityA yaistushyedAtmaAtmano harih:
Only though the grace of a Guru can one overcome the Lord’s Maya, and be focused on the path to attaining the Lord. And such a true Guru would walk their devotees through the path of Bhagavata Dharma.
Only when a Guru’s grace falls on us, can we understand the greatness of Satsang. Our life changes and it is no imagination. It is palpable. Our desires change, our affiliations change, our purpose changes and this without a single conversation or expressed intent from the Master or the devotee. The change is like magic as even the disciple does not know how it all happened.
The world may criticize – perhaps because they don’t get it, perhaps because they can’t handle it, perhaps even because they are jealous, or because it is non-conforming to the world or their mistaken ideologies. The truth, however, is that the Guru’s Grace has not fallen on them yet.
With Guru’s Grace, the highest hurdle in existence, Maya, can be crossed – easily. Without it, even comprehending the hurdle’s existence is not possible, let alone desiring or achieving happiness.
Sriram Ramanujam, Houston TX