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Importance Of Satsang In Hinduism – Company Of Good

Satsang is of great importance in Hinduism and it literally means the company of the good. Satsanga implies association with the good and it sustains spiritual life. It is far superior to ascetic practices and is the only effective method of crossing the sea of delusion in the Kali Yuga (the dark present age), according to Hindu scriptures. Association with ‘Truth’, the eternal and abiding ‘Reality’, is possible only by taking recourse to spiritual means, reading the knowledge texts which contain the elixir of spiritual wisdom, and by being in the company of saintly men who embody truth.

By the law of association, the company of the wise, truthful and evolved beings leads one to the path of virtue, and the company of the unholy drags one to the path of evil. Through contact with the wind, dust rises in the air; if it joins low-flowing water, it becomes mud and stinks, says Ramacharitamanasa (Bala Khanda). That is why the wise shun the company of the vile (budha nahin karahin adhama kara sanga – “Uttara Khanda”). But satsanga is possible only by the grace of God (binu hari kripa milahin nahin santa – Sundara Khanda).

The spiritual vibrations emanating from realized beings (satpurushas), as also their discourses, create a positive force-field of energy which kindles divine light and consumes the lower propensities in a person. A religious congregation addressed by the Guru (satsanga, in common parlance) at the proper sandhyas – meeting point of two periods of time in the morning and in the evening – is specially useful for a spiritual metamorphosis, as there is a subtle manifestation of natural force at the time of sunrise and sunset. It is believed that each step one takes towards the saint’s abode is equal to the performance of yajna. Even when one does not become spiritually elevated after attending a satsanga, one at least becomes a little more balance in life.

Satsanga purifies the mind by burning up the vicious sanskaras (impressions) of present and past lives, brings about an attitudinal change in a person, sublimates passion, helps one to practice virtue in life, awakens the power of discrimination (viveka) to separate right from wrong, strengthens one’s faith in the Supreme Reality, keeps one in harmony with oneself and the world around, and satisfies the natural longing of the human being for a higher and more perfect life by relieving it of its three-fold bondages (pashas). Paramatma says in the Srimad Bhagavata (discourse XIII) – neither Yoga nor Samkhya, nor righteousness, austerity, study of Vedas and renunciation, nor pouring oblations into the sacred fire and works of public utility, nor gifts, fasts, worship of Gods, muttering secret spells, resorting to holy waters and places of pilgrimage, sacred observances and the (five) forms of self abnegation gain me over as does satsanga capture me.”

External satsanga made possible by spiritual discourses, chanting of bhajanas or sacred syllables and different techniques of meditation prepares one for the Supreme Path. True satsanga happens only when one realizes the truth within.

Source – Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX page 324-25 - IHRF