kshaNArdhenApi tulye na svargam nApunarbhavam |
bhagavat sangi sangasya martyAnAm kimutAshiSha: ||
Sri Rudra says, “The value of a moment’s association with the devotee of the Lord cannot be compared to the heavens or even Liberation, and so what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity which humans seek?”
Such is the greatness of sat-sanga (association with a Mahatma), as explained in Srimad Bhagavatam, which is the quintessence of all scriptures. The Bhagavatam reiterates time and again that satsang is the easiest way to attain the Lord.
Especially, in this age of Kali, such association is given by those who continuously engage in nama sankirtan and katha shravanam (singing and listening to the glories of the Lord). Once we associate with such sadhus, and ourselves indulge in celebrating the Lord thus, it takes us to the next level of satsang, which is association with a Mahatma. Now the Mahatma in turn, guides us back into shravanam and kirtanam, to make it evident that the means (sadhana) and the end (saadhya) are one and the same.
It is said that any person’s mental attitude is the median of the attitudes of the top five people that he interacts with. It is not surprising that for us to have a positive outlook on life, we need to associate with those who are positive by nature. Likewise even in the path of spirituality, what best way other than to associate with others on the same path?
One need not have any doubt that satsang is truly the win-win deal. For starters, it passes the vital ‘rarity’ test. For us commoners, prized possessions need to be rare. If it is very commonly available it just can’t be too valuable, can it? While satsang is seemingly available widely and easily, it is rare because the common mindset is to not want it.
Next on our series of ‘value’ tests is the price of the product. How much does this satsang cost? Association with a true sadhu, or an Utthama Guru, does not require us to spend a dime. It is absolutely free, and available to all without any disparity. But why free? It is so because one cannot put a value to it. Satsang is so ‘invaluable’ that any amount we put on the label will fall short by infinity. That’s what Sri Rudra Himself says in the sloka, “na svargam, nApunarbhavam”, implying even the heavens, or better yet, even Liberation, is a far cry to the value of satsang.
So what effort does one need to put in satsang? In satsang with a Guru, our presence alone is sufficient. One does not need to practice any austerities or elaborate processes. It would just suffice to be seated in the presence of a Mahan, for that alone is the sadhana. “DarshanAd eva sAdhava:,” says Srimad Bhagavatam. Merely being in the company of a Mahatma for even half a second (kshanArdenApi) is a blessing, says Sri Rudra.
This ‘satsang’, therefore, is rare, free, requires no effort and gives only benefits with no iota of sorrow or side effects. While it appears to be a perfect match for our present day life style, why is it not more common? Is there is a catch? The catch is that for one to get satsang, the grace of a Mahatma is a pre-requisite. So if satsang is obtained through the Guru’s grace, and Guru’s grace is obtained through satsang, is it a closed society? Certainly not!
God (or His manifestations as Sadhus/Mahatmas) intends for all of us to experience His love, grace and happiness. While it is undoubtedly true that one begets the other, yet, the Lord wants us to take the first step.
How? By having an earnest desire for Satsang.
For us to want it is indeed the greatest decision we have to make in our lives.
Sriram Ramanujam, Houston, TX