Vishvamitra Rishi and Sage Vasishtha once had an argument. Vishvamitra Rishi said to Sage Vasishtha that tapas, or intense meditation on the Supreme Truth is greater than anything else in this world. Vasishta did not agree and said that that Satsanga – the company of truth (in the company of those who have realized truth) – was superior to Tapas.
The argument continued for a while and finally they decided to approach to Brahma to decide which was great Tapas or Satsang. Brahma directed them to Shiva as he was not able to give them a proper answer. Shiva directed them to Vishnu as he was not interested in this argument. Vishnu too found no interest in the argument and directed them to Adi Sesha. Adi Sesha, the thousand-headed snake on whom Srihari Vishnu reclines, was ready to settle the argument.
As per Hindu tradition it is believed that Adi Sesha holds the weight of the earth on his thousand heads. So before settling the dispute, He asked Vishvamitra Rishi and Sage Vasishtha to help in removing the burden of the earth from his heads.
Vishvamitra Rishi and Sage Vasishtha then inquired how they can help in removing the weight of the earth from his head. Adi Sesha asked them to give them the piousness they achieved through their Tapas and Satsang and it will help in relieving the weight.
Vishvamitra immediately gave the piousness that he achieved from 100 years of his Tapas but Sesha was not relieved of the weight. Then he gave the piousness that he achieved from 1000 years but with no result. The he gave the piousness that he achieved during his entire life and still the burden was not relieved.
Sage Vasishtha then gave a second of the piousness that he had achieved. Immediately, Adi Sesha was relieved of the burden.
Vishvamitra Rishi understood the importance of Satsang and left the place.
All Hindu scriptures give importance to Satsang or the friendship and company of those who have realized the Supreme Truth (Brahman).
The problem with Tapas is that quite often the person performing it fails to overcome the ego.
The burden of earth here symbolically indicates the burden of desire and the burden of sensuous pleasures on earth. The best way to overcome this is to be in the company of people who have realized Truth.
It is said that Satsanga, Shanti, Santosha and Vichara are the doors to Moksha. The most important door is Satsanga and if you open it, then the other doors will open automatically and you will attain Moksha or bliss on earth.