In the company of the Holy
Sant Baba Nand Singh Ji
mahimaa saaDhoo sang kee sunhu mayray meetaa.
This is the Glory of the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy; listen, O my friends.
 
sant ka maragh dharam ki paudi, koe wadh-bhagi pai
The place of a holy person is the first step of Dharam, only those who are blessed can achieve this.

 

The Sant tradition of north India puts stress on the formless quality of God (nirguna) and a doctrine of deliverance that attached no significance to caste or creed. This is the tradition that evokes such names as Bhagat Namdev (1270 – 1350), Bhagat Ravidas (c1500 – 1550) and of course Bhagat Kabir Ji (c1440 – 1518). The Sant tradition of north India can be viewed as both a method of spiritual liberation and a form of social protest, both elements are linked. Most of the leading Bhagats of the movement were from lower castes and the theory of spiritual release that they state in their shabads is one which rejects the relevance of caste status. The Sants laid firm and unqualified emphasis on the interior nature of spiritual understanding and on the discipline required in order to secure freedom from the suffering of death and rebirth. Their ultimate goal remained the same, that of mukhti, liberation from the transmigration cycle and the suffering that it brings. There is no denying the reality of Karma, nor the consequences that follow the actions which each individual performs, the Sants offered mukhti to all through devotional discipline.

Says the Guru, hear thou the nature of the Sant (Saint). The Saint is like God, compassionate and merciful, and the support of the Earth. The Saint is like a tree which gets cleaved into two by a sharp weapon but grumbles not and serves even him who harms him, and blames him not at all. The Saint sees God in all, acts with all in a spirit of reverence and affection, and in joyful patience endures all that comes.

 

The boat suffers being trampled upon but gives comfort to the passenger, taking him to the yonder shore without letting the tumultuous sea of existence effect him. Similarly, the Saint helps all those who come to his refuge, extricating them out of worldliness and uniting them with the Lord. Like the Earth loves neither the fragrant sandalwood nor camphor-paste nor hates him who digs it up or dumps his waste upon its breast, the Saint is beyond likes and dislikes; virtuous and kind, he hates none. The Saint is like the sky that stretches its canopy evenly over high and low, good and bad; he discriminates not between friend and foe and looks upon all, alike (Dae_al dayv kirpal gobind sun santan ki reet. p 1017).

In the company of the Sadhu, one comprehends the incomprehensible and ones inside blossoms. The five passions come under control, the Vedas know not the glories of the Sadhu. They tell only what their composers have heard. The glory of the Sadhu is beyond the three strands of Maya. The glory of the Sahdu is all-pervasive. There is no end to the glory of the Sadhu; it is beyond limits. The glory of the Sadhu is the highest of the high; it is most magnificent. The praise of the Sadhu is inexpressible; it fits the Sadhu alone (Sun mita nanak binvanta. Sadh jana ki achraj katha. p 271).

   
Baba Puran Singh Kerichowale   Baba Sohan Singh   Baba Joginder Singh

Today the Sant/Bhagati tradition is carried on by numerous Sants who offer guidance to all who seek it. Sants who travel from their deras (homes) in India to all parts of the world to offer spiritual knowledge and understanding to all who have the spiritual inclination to listen. Sants are the purveyors of the path of God, spreading his word to all who will listen.

So why are so many Sant Mahapursh despised and ignored in modern times ?

In all walks of life there are those who will exploit and mislead, and the Sant tradition is no different. But why are all Sants tainted with the same brush? Let us take an analogy, doctors are always in the news for behaving in an unprofessional manner with their patients. Do we stop going to the doctor when we require medical attention, no we do not.

Our physical body needs attention and we rush to the doctor, but when our spiritual body, our soul, cries out we say that all Sants are the same, that they are after money or self glory. We deny our soul the nourishment it requires.

Guru Granth Sahib Ji refers to Sants many time and explains the virtue of the sangat of a Saddhu.
It is suggested by some learned people that all the references to ‘Sant’ in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji refers to the Guru or Akal Purkh himself. That the shabads do not refer to earthly Sants at all, that they are words used to describe the True Guru. This is true in many cases, but not all. The distinction between Akal Purkh the Sant and the saddhu sant is definite and precise.

 
  Baba Khem Singh   Baba Maan Singh
 

kabeer sayvaa ka-o du-ay bhalay ayk sant ik raam raam. Jo daataa mukat ko sant japaavai naam. ||164||

  Kabeer, it is good to perform selfless service for two - the Saints and the Lord. The Lord is the Giver of liberation, and the Saint inspires us to chant His Naam. ||164|| p.1373

Here in the bani of Bhagat Kabir Ji there is a precise distinction between Akal Purkh Sant and a Saddhu Sant. Akal Purkh is the giver of mukhti or liberation and the saddhu sant is the one who shows you the way to meditate on Gods name. The word Sant here cannot refer to Akal Purkh because Kabir Ji has already addressed Akal Purkh as 'dataa'.

It is said by some learned people that in Gurbani the singular word of 'sant' refers to God and the plural 'sant' refers to all people. Again this argument does not hold true in the above shabad by Kabir Sahib. Also if one looks at Guru Arjan Dev Ji's Sukhmani Sahib there is a whole astpadhi (section) devoted to the tormentors of Sadhu Sant - Sant ka dhokhi.... Surely 'Sant' here cannot be referring to Akal Purkh as that would suggest tormentors of Akal Purkh, but who can torment Akal Purkh ? In the Sukhmani Sahib Guru Arjun Dev Ji are referring to the holy sadhus and Sants and what will happen to those who torment them.

 

Let us look at a shabad by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

 

The Supreme Guru has sent me for the protection of Righteousness:
I shall propagate righteousness everywhere, seize and destroy the sinful and the wicked.
I have taken birth for this purpose.
Let all holy men understand this in their minds.
I have come for spreading Divine religion and to protect the Saints, and for annihilating all tyrants.

(Bachittar Natak )

 

Can the saints referred to by Guru Sahib Ji here be any other then the Saddhu sants?

It is the duty of a Sant to show people the way of the True Guru, they will guide you and tell you of the pitfalls to avoid. One can understand the thought process of many learned people who may feel that by going to a Sant one is some how betraying our Gurus by deviating from the right path. This is not the case, rather then deviating from the path we are actually reinforcing the path.

If you have a query about a shabad of a line from a shabad then a Sant Mahapursh will spend maybe an hour explaining just the one line, this is the depth of their knowledge of gurbani and they will stay true to the Guru without any hidden agendas. We can go straight to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, but who has the depth to understand this ocean knowledge ? Guru Sahib Ji has said that his Sikh must not drink alcohol, eat meat or cut his hair and must become an amritdhari, this is the precise line a Sant will take and he will repeat these hukams even if he is barred from getting up on stage at the Gurdwaras because this kind of language may hurt the sensibilities of the congregation or of the committee members, most of whom will not be amritdhari’s themselves.

At the times of the Gurus there were maha –atmas (great souls) like Baba Buddha Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Dhya Singh, none have the prefix of Sant so why call someone a Sant at all, I hear you say ?
Times change, traditions change, all the above could be called Sant, for they were great souls, but the terms Sant/Bhai/Baba are interchangeable. I think no one would argue that Kelerawale Sant were truly a great soul, they were addressed as Baba Nand Singh Ji or Sant Baba Nand Singh Ji. In the end titles are just titles and most Sant Mahapursh would shun titles anyway but if they have reached a spiritual stage then they are entitled to be called Sant. The stage of a Sant is a most elevated one in spiritual terms.

 

There are seven Chakras (circles of energy) in the body that rule our desires and activity that most yogis will tell you about , but there are many types of Chakaras (circles). There is the family and relation chakaras , friends chakaras, ones work chakaras. There are chakaras that lead a person round and round in his life that he does not know what is happening to him. This leads us to our Karma chakars that govern every aspect of our life.

Inside our body we have numerous chakaras that control our surti and birti and our naam simran. One chakar is where we can repeat the name of God Waheguru with our lips moving, higher still is one where we can sit and repeat the naam of waheguru with our thought process – surt . Going higher, we start to repeat Waheguru while we are going about in our everyday life. Higher still is the chakar of simran where one can hold a conversation with someone, but inside the chakar of naam simran is going round and round, the name of the Lord is being repeated and the sins that tarnish our soul are being washed away. In a Sant Mahapursh, they can have many chakars of naam simran going at the same time, 24/7, this is the stage of a Sant, and we foolish people knock them.

Baba Manjit Singh    

The distinction of terms is one of Varnatmak & Dhunatmak. The former is given by Sants & the latter resides within us. Varnatmak literally means pertaining to the alphabet. It is spoken, written & audible to the human hear. It is the first rung of the ladder in the Soul’s spiritual journey. Dhunatmak has none of these attributes. It is Anaahad Bani it is un-struck celestial sound and can only be perceived by the Soul and is the final rung of that spiritual journey.

  tah baajay sabad anaahad banee.
(The unstruck sound current of the Shabad vibrates there. p974)
It is unfathomable, invisible & hidden. It is beyond all sensory knowledge. It emanates from the Lord & indeed, is His manifestation.


panch sabad Dhunikaar Dhun tah baajai sabad neesaan.
The Panch Shabad, the Five Primal Sounds, resonates and resounds within; the insignia of the Shabad is revealed there, vibrating gloriously.(p1291)

deep lo-a paataal tah khand mandal hairaan.
Worlds and realms, nether regions, solar systems and galaxies are wondrously revealed.

taar ghor baajintar tah saach takhat sultaan.
The strings and the harps vibrate and resound; the true throne of the Lord is there.

sukhman kai ghar raag sun sunn mandal liv laa-ay.
Listen to the music of the home of the heart - Sukhmani, peace of mind. Lovingly tune in to His state of celestial ecstasy.

akath kathaa beechaaree-ai mansaa maneh samaa-ay.
Contemplate the Unspoken Speech, and the desires of the mind are dissolved.

ulat kamal amrit bhari-aa ih man katahu na jaa-ay
The heart-lotus is turned upside-down, and is filled with Ambrosial Nectar. This mind does not go out; it does not get distracted.

ajpaa jaap na veesrai aad jugaad samaa-ay.
It does not forget the Chant, which is chanted without chanting ; it is immersed in the Primal Lord God of the ages.

  Now, how the soul achieves this is the methodology realised & learnt at the feet of a Puran Sant.  


santaa kee ho-ay daasree ayhu achaaraa sikh ree. sagal gunaa gun ootmo bhartaa door na pikh ree. ||1||
Become the servant of the Saints, and learn this way of life. Of all virtues, the most sublime virtue is to see your Husband Lord near at hand. ||1||


mahimaa saaDhoo sang kee sunhu mayray meetaa. mail kho-ee kot agh haray nirmal bha-ay cheetaa. ||1|| rahaa-o.
This is the Glory of the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy; listen, O my friends. Filth is washed away, millions of sins are dispelled, and the consciousness becomes immaculate and pure. ||1||Pause|| (p809)


 
So Gurubani directs us to go to the Sant to learn from them and to have our sins in the millions washed away. In other words the baggage accumulated over life spans will be cleared because it is extremely good fortune to find the company of a Sant. Again one can understand the reluctance of a Sikh to go to a Sant because he/she may feel that one is turning away from the Guru, but if you look within gurbani it the Guru who instructs us to seek out a Sant for he will attach you to the Guru’s feet, in effect the Sant is a bechola or go-between.

Why would God have a go-between ? This is true, why would God have a go-between for he doesn’t need one. The answer lies deeper in the relationship between a God and his Sants. For the relationship between a Sant and God is a very close one, how close us mere mortals will never know. It is through this close relationship that God has granted the Sants this honour, for it is truly a great honour bestowed by God for the sants to become the becholay.

If you look at the lives and teachings of some of the Sants – Baba Nand Singh Ji, Baba Attar Singh Ji, Baba Puran Singh Ji they have spent their whole lives in the service of the panth, putting people on the right path, performing Amrit sanchars and creating new members of the Khalsa panth, taking people by the hand and attaching them to the Gurus feet, how can we not be truly greatfull to such great souls?

Guru Arjun Dev Ji has written about Sants in the masterpiece Sukhmani Sahib.
Sukhmani Sahib
 
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