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Sangat - Sat Sangat
Sikh Missionary Society: Sikhism: Institutions: Sangat

One of the significant aspect of Sikhism is its group consciousness and its belief in the presence of the Guru in Sangat. Literally, Sangat means assembly of people who work or assemble together for social, moral or spiritual well being of the community. It is a company of like minded saintly people which purifies and uplifts the devotees.

Bhai Gurdas writes in Var 13-Pauri 19 that where there is one, he is called Sikh, where there are two, they are called Sadh Sangat and where there are five, God manifests in them.

ieku is@K duie swD sMgu pMjIN prmysru |
(vwr 13.19)
“It is a truthful congregation and companionship where people love God and hold communion with Him.”
imlu swDsMgiq Bju kyvl nwm |
(12)
Sat Sangat may be defined as  an assembly of truthful living persons where God Himself appears manifest. According to Guru Nanak Dev Ji,
“The holy congregation is a meeting where nothing but the Name of One God is uttered.”
sqsMgiq kYsI jwxIAY ]
ijQY eyko nwmu vKwxIAY ]
(72)
It is assembly of  holymen in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib where nothing but the Name of One God alone is recited. It is an assembly, where there are discourses of truthful people  on the name of God.  It is the company of saintly people who have an ennobling influence on the human mind. Whenever  persons of truthful living assemble, they constitute Sat Sangat. Remembering of Name in the company of saints is given significant place in Sikhism. 

Guru Nanak Dev laid foundation of saintly assemblies when he visited different places to propagate Sikh philosophy. 

Guru Nanak Dev says,

“Even if a man performs lakhs of deeds of wisdom and lives in  loving company of lakhs of people yet  without the company of saints there would be no satiation and without the Name of God,  there would be pain and suffering.” 
lK isAwxp jy krI lK isau pRIiq imlwpu ]
ibnu sMgiq swD n DRwpIAw ibnu nwvY dUK sMqwpu ]
(20)
Just as  the fire destroys the cold, similarly the company of saints vanishes the sins.

Sat Sangat is considered most important in the Sikh way of life. It is given special status among the Sikhs. Every Sikh is expected to attend Sangat in the Gurdwara where all devotees sit together on the carpeted floor irrespective of their social, political,  economical or religious position. This implies equality. They recite or listen to the praises of God. They learn from each other and in good company they shed off their amoral tendencies. It is strongly believed that the Guru is physically present where there is an assembly of five  holy persons.

Guru Ram Das says,

“Joining the society of saints, I inquire about the track to God. In the saints congregation, the Lord God abides.”
imil sqsMgiq Koju dsweI ivic sMgiq hir pRBu vsY jIau ]
(94)
The Sangat consists of minimum five Sikhs in whose lives the Sikh religion is transfigured. It is said that where there is one Sikh, there is one Sikh. Where there are two Sikhs, there is an assembly of saints. Where there are five Sikhs, there is God. 

Bhai Gurdas writes in Var 13-Pauri 19 that where there is one, he is called Sikh, where there are two, they are called Sadh Sangat and where there are five, God manifests in them.

ieku is@K duie swD sMgu pMjIN prmysru |
(vwr 13.19)
Sangat
Sangat is the training school where the devotees practice discipline of the Guru and acquire virtuous qualities. ( Var Kanra M-4, 1316 ) In addition to the ripening of the spiritual thought, Sangat creates social and organizational awareness also. Sangat helps in harmonizing the people who live in disunity and have diversity of faith. It serves as a link between common people and the Guru.

The decision of Sangat is considered to be as the decision of the Guru. It is worth mentioning here that the assembly of perverse or evil people is never a Sangat. Assembly of immoral or irreligious people would lead a person to disaster and sinful life.  (See Bhai Gurdas) 

“Since I attended the company of saints, all my illwill for others vanished. No one is my enemy  nor any one is stranger to me. Now every body is my  friend.”
ibsir geI sB qwiq prweI ]
jb qy swDsMgiq moih pweI ] rhwau ]
nw ko bYrI nhI ibgwnw sgl sMig hm kau bin AweI ]
(1299 ) 
“O’ my friends, hear the glory of  the company of saints. The dirt is washed away, millions of sins are banished and the soul becomes pure.”
mihmw swDU sMg kI sunhu myry mIqw ]
mYlu KoeI koit AG hry inrml Bey cIqw ] rhwau ]
(809)
Normally the congregation takes place at Gurdwara ( Sikh Temple ) in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The devotees sing hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, recite Name of God and pray  for universal peace and prosperity. The singing of Gurbani is called Kirtan. By listening and devotedly reciting the holy hymns one is inspired to put the precious teachings of Bani into actual practice in life. In the company of  such saints, one realizes Truth. His sins are washed away and he wins the grace of God ( 809 ).

Guru Nanak Dev started the concept of Sangat in Sikhism. Wherever he went during his travels, he asked the people to establish Dharmsala or a place of Sikh worship. He nominated devout Sikhs as Sangatias who used to officiate in the Sangat in place of the Guru. This system was followed by Manjis and Masands. The succeeding Gurus followed suit. Hari Ram Gupta writes at page 424 of History of the Sikhs, “Guru Hargobind introduced congregational prayers.” Mohsin Fani writes in his memoirs that when a Sikh desired for something, he would request the Sangat to pray for him. (Dabistan, Persian-239)

How one can get  company of Sangat ?

Guru Ram Das says,

“Without good fortune the guild of the righteous is not found. Without such an association, one is soiled with the filth of sins.”
ibnu Bwgw sqsMgu n lBY ibnu sMgiq mYlu BrIjY jIau ]
(95)
Merits of good company

Man is known by the company he keeps. Man is the result of environment. Company is a great force and it plays a big role in shaping a person. Those  who live in the company of thieves, robbers and evil persons, acquire evil ways of life. Those who keep the company of saintly persons are shaped in the saintly mold.

Guru Arjan Dev says,

“Very fortunate are they who get the society of saints.” 
swDsMgu ijn pwieAw syeI vfBwgy ]
(322)
Bhagat Kabir says,
“By the company one keeps, one gets due reward.”
jo jYsI sMgiq imlY so qYso Plu Kwie ]
(1369)
There may be people who live near good and saintly persons but they are so much over involved in their ego that they do not think of becoming good people. 

Bhagat Kabir says,

“Do not follow the example of Bamboo which is drowned in its ego. Bamboo dwells near the Sandal tree but it does not become fragrant like the Sandal.”
kbIr bWsu bfweI bUifAw ieau mq fUbhu koie ]
cMdn kY inkty bsY bWsu sugMDu n hoie ]
(1365) 
Sangat
Bhagat Kabir says,
“The Sandal tree is virtuous. It is surrounded by Dhak and Plas trees. Those which dwell near the Sandal tree become themselves Chandan (Sandal ) and they spread fragrance.”
kbIr cMdn kw ibrvw Blw byiV@E Fwk plws ]
Eie BI cMdnu hoie rhy bsy ju cMdn pwis ]
(1365)( Shalok Kabir )
Guru Arjan Dev says,
“O’ my revered Lord of mammon ! he who participates in Sangat (Holy society) is saved.”
myry mwDau jI sqsMgiq imly su qirAw ]
(10)
“The filth of ego of many births sticks to me and it is by meeting with the saints society that this filth can be washed off.”
jnm jnm kI haumY mlu lwgI imil sMgiq mlu lih jwvYgo ]
(1309)
Guru Arjan Dev says,
“By meeting saints society, acute wisdom is attained.”
swDsMgiq imil buiD ibbyk ]
(377)
Effects of Bad Company

Guru Nanak Dev says,

“Thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps keep company together, just like the irreligious who eat and drink out of the same bowl. They do not know the worth of God’s praises and Satan ever abides in them.”
corw jwrw rMfIAw kutxIAw dIbwxu ] vydInw kI dosqI vydInw kw Kwxu ]
isPqI swr n jwxnI sdw vsY sYqwnu ]
(790)
“He who associates himself with the evil-doers, is ruined. Being fed on poison, his life goes to waste.”
dustI sBw ivgucIAY ibKu vwqI jIvx bwid ]
(1343)
“Bad company effects just as a thorny Ber-tree near a banana tree. The one dangles about and the other is torn. Do not live in the company of bad persons.”
kbIr mwrI mrau kusMg kI kyly inkit ju byir ]
auh JUlY auh cIrIAY swkq sMgu n hyir ]
(1369) ( Salok Kabir )
According to Bible,
“Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man....... ‘Remove the wicked man from among yourselves’.”
(Cor:11-13;)
Sikhism lays emphasis on leaving the bad company, as it  ruins the mortal.
“In the company of saintly people, mind becomes pure.”
Cwif mn hir ibmuKn ko sMgu ]
(1253)
Guru Arjan Dev says,
“All jealousies have vanished in the company of the saints. All are my friends now, there being no enemy or stranger.”
Sagal Purkh mein Purkh Pardhan, Sadh sang jaka mitte Abhiman.
Effects of Good company

Bhagat Kabir says,

“Kabir, the divine discourse with the saints, even for a Ghari, half a Ghari, or half of that even; whatever is done, that is the net gain.”
kbIr eyk GVI AwDI GrI AwDI hUM qy AwD ]
Bgqn syqI gosty jo kIny so lwB ]
(1377)
According to Kabir,
“When the mind becomes pure like the water of Ganges river, the Lord is attracted towards it and follow it.”
kbIr mnu inrmlu BieAw jYsw gMgw nIru ]
pwCY lwgo hir iPrY khq kbIr kbIr ]
(1367 )
In all the Gurdwaras, there is almost daily assembly where people gather, meditate and sing hymns in praise of God. Their sins are washed and they follow the path of truth.

Guru Arjan says,

“By continuing in the Society of saints, the filth of mind is removed.”
mn kI ktIAY mYlu swDsMig vuiTAw ]
(520)
The Sikhs present a good example of selfless service and sacrifice in all  the Sikh Gurdwaras. They volunteer their time in Community kitchen. They acquire humility, contentment, detachment from the worldly illusions, temperance and true faith in God.

The Sikh Gurus laid great emphasis on attending the holy assembly. The congregation influences the personality and character of the devotees. Sat Sangat produces visual Divine harmony and internal bliss. It helps in the attainment of Truth but it becomes available with the blessing of God. The society of the truthful is not available without good fortune and His Grace.

“Without the society of the saintly persons, man lives in dirt.”
 (Guru Ram Das- Majh )
Sandal tree has fragrance. It distributes its fragrance to those who are near it, irrespective of their growth..The Simal tree becomes fragrant in the neighborhood of the Sandal tree. A devotee who remains in the company of holy persons and attends Sangat, relishes the fragrance of Gurbani and Kirtan without knowing the change. Guru is present in the company of the holy persons. 

Guru is ever present in  the holy congregations in Gurdwaras and other private and public assemblies where Guru Granth Sahib  is present. Attending the Sadh Sangat is regarded as coming in to the presence of the Guru. According to Bhai Gurdas, a Sikh who remains in the association of the Guru is blessed and benefited.

Awar kaaj tere kite nah kaam, mil sadh sang bhaj kewal naam.” 
Avir kwj qyrY ikqY n kwm ]
imlu swDsMgiq Bju kyvl nwm ]
(378)
Light which manifested in the ten Gurus continues to manifest in the Sangat and the Khalsa.

The Society of the good or Sadh Sangat gives birth to modesty, patience, tolerance, service, righteousness, simplicity, conscienceness, truth, love, justice, friendliness, mercy and contentment. Bhai Gurdas declared that the spiritual goal could be achieved through Sangat and Nam simran.

For more reading,

  • Sri Guru Granth Sahib pages 271-72.

 


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