Asees Singh: “Today, we are going to continue on our topic of Sadh Sangat. So, what is Sadh Sangat? Gurbani says
In essence, the Sadh Sangat is a congregation of people aspiring to inculcate the love of God and his virtues. We know that God is the embodiment of all virtues such as love, joy, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, humility, honesty etc. So, Sadh Sangat is the place where people are concerned about inculcating these virtues in their lives. Sadh Sangat is a place where people want to connect with their divnity, where people want to cultivate love of Guru Sahib and the entire humanity. Sadh Sangat is a place where the focus of any activity is to evolve spiritually and in character. Sadh Sangat is a place where the focus of every activity is to grow love for God. As the love for God grows, all the virtues start making their way into our character. Also, as we focus on inculcating virtues, our ability to inculcate love for God increases in the same proportion. So, inculcating virtues and inculcating love of God are not entirely different objectives; they are not only complementary but in essence, quite the same.
Sadh Sangat is not the place
- where politics prevails,
- where negativity reigns,
- where people talk about materialistic goals and achievements,
- where people are discriminated on the basis of their castes or economic status,
- where people are not even striving to control their vices of anger, lust, greed, vengeance etc,
- where people seek God not as an end in itself but as a means to fulfill materialistic goals
- where love of each other and humanity is absent
- where there is lack of service attitude
One can gauge whether a congregation of people can be called Sadh Sangat or not from the behavior of people, how they talk, what they talk about, and which things are appreciated (money or love of God) and, if one is perceptive, from the energy of the atmosphere.
Generally, we call congregations in all Gurudwaras as Sadh Sangat. But you can apply the above criteria to figure out if it can be called Sadh Sangat as per Gurbani. In today’s times, it is extremely difficult to find Sadh Sangat i.e. true Sadh Sangat. While Gurudwaras are filled with people, it is difficult to find genuine seekers. People who don’t concentrate on Kirtan or Gurbani, who go to Gurudwara for materialistic gains or avoid suffering, who get angry with people even inside Gurudwaras are not genuine seekers. They are the people we should avoid.
I have been going to Gurudwara for a long time now. However, when you talk to people in Sangat, many of them are only concerned about your pay package or the job you are doing or finding a match for you or discussing about the world affairs or talking uselessly. Association of these people cannot be called Sadh Sangat. Rather, any activity that does not make you grow spiritually is not Sadh Sangat. Therefore, Gurbani says, in the first line quoted above, Sadh Sangat is only concerned with the Name of the Lord. Name of the Lord stands for his identity or for all of his virtues. Therefore, any association or any activity in an association that is not associated with spiritual growth or inculcation of virtues or inculcation of love of God, is not Sadh Sangat.
Many people are going to Gurudwaras and spending time there with other people under the illusion that they are doing Sadh Sangat as prescribed in Gurbani. However, even after years of doing such Sangat, they do not realize or even question why there is no increased joy and peace in their lives. They don’t question that if they are actually following Gurbani, why aren’t problems going away from their lives? Why are their lives still filled with suffering and misery? Why isn’t there any love for God in their hearts? People don’t realize this or question this, and just continue on their old path mindlessly. They listen to Gurbani, but just don’t pay attention, satisfied in their egos that they are doing the most that can be done. Many of them are filled with religious pride and arrogance and don’t mind expressing their disgust at other people who are not spending time in Sangat. They also feel themselves to be capable of preaching to others. They are like a person who is suffering from a disease but does not know about his suffering. There is just no scope for that person to get well. A person needs to first accept his disease before he finds a cure for it. But if a person doesn’t even know about his diseases, how will he find a cure for it? It’s like saying: you can wake up a slept person, but you can’t wake up a person who claims to be already awoke.
In these times, many a time, congregations in Gurudwaras are no better than any other congregation. The element of spirituality is entirely absent from the lives of many of the people in these congregations.
Given this situation, it is recommended that a person keep his interactions with others in the Gurudwara to a minimum, and should just focus on listening to Kirtan, meditation, and performing service. However, one should look out for genuine seekers or aspirants. If one finds a genuine seeker, then one can interact openly with that person. Besides, one should keep praying to Guru Sahib to give him the company of a true Sadh Sangat. If the prayers are genuine, and the person is genuine in his efforts, the person will find true Sadh Sangat, which is full of genuine seekers, although at different stages of evolution. And once one finds a true Sadh Sangat i.e. when one meets so many genuine seekers, it will become a lot easier to walk on the path of Gurbani or spirituality.
A true Sadh Sangat will satisfy all of the criteria as we talked about. However, till one finds a true Sadh Sangat, one should still regularly go to Gurudwara and listen to Kirtan, Naam, and perform service. The only thing is till one finds genuine spiritual seekers, one should keep interactions with others to a minimum. Talking about useless things or materialistic achievements inside the Gurudwara not only is harmful to the people involved but also negatively impacts the overall atmosphere of the Gurudwara. Gurbani says:
Let’s continue tomorrow.”