Articles: Essays on Sikh
Sat Sangat - Holy Congregation
ibnu Bwgw sqsMgu n lBY ibnu
sMgiq mYlu BrIjY jIau ]3]
ibnu Bwgw sqsMgu n lBY ibnu
sMgiq mYlu BrIjY jIau ]3]
Bin bhagaa satsangu naa labhaae binu sangat.e maaelu
Without good destiny we can’t have the holy congregation,
and without it we gather filth.
With good luck we get good parents and family, good teachers
and guides, good friends, and the company of God-oriented people. These
mold our lives to happiness, peace of mind, and success.
By our misfortunes, we get deprived of good opportunities
and our lives get lost - the drug-sharks, aids-alligators, and crime-demons
pin us down for our disgrace, suffering, destruction, and lingering painful
death. Good company is the keyword to attain happiness. The Gurus - Sikh
Prophets, blessed the world with the superior true company - Sat-Sangat:
the holy congregation. The Sikh faith lays great stress on Sat-Sangat:
the company of ethical, and God fearing people. This is needed to establish
the kingdom of happiness and peace in the individual minds and in the world.
In the Sikh world, Sangat has great significance. It provides a role model
for evolution of the people.
is Sangat, Sat-Sangat or Sadh-Sangat
Sangat is congregation. Sadh is saint. Sat is true.
All these mean gathering of God-oriented people. They
may get-together for their praying to God in the Gurdwaras - place of Sikh
worship, or at homes, or anywhere else. Mostly they gather in the presence
of Guru Granth Sahib - the Holy Book. Wherever the people get-together
to sing the praise of the Lord, or to talk about Him, is Sat-Sangat - holy
gathering. Sangat is any gathering, but within the field of a faith it
means a true gathering. According to the Sikh faith, Sangat is the holy
get- together, and herein God manifests -
swDsMgiq pRiB kIE invws
A Sikh is one who embraces the Sikh faith - believes in God
only and nothing else, has faith in the ten Sikh Gurus - Prophets, and
follows dictates of the Sikh Holy Book called Guru Granth Sahib (Prophet
the Holy Book). For the Sikhs, their Holy Book is a living being i.e. the
soul (teachings - the Word) of the ten Sikh Prophets.
swDsMgiq pRiB kIAwy invws ]
Saadh:e sangat.e Prabhe keeou nivaas
Holy congregation is the place of the Lord.
The Holy Book is enshrined in a separate room in homes,
or in the Gurdwara. Gur is Guru the Prophet, and Dwara is an abode - house,
the Guru’s place. In a Gurdwara or anywhere else, the people gather in
the presence of the Holy Book, for collective worship of God. This gathering
here, is Sangat, Sat-Sangat, or Sadh-Sangat. Guru Nanak - the First Sikh
Guru, asks the question and he himself replies -
sqsMgiq kYsI jwxIAY
How to Attain Sat-Sangat
ijQY eyko nwmu vKwxIAY ]
sqsMgiq kYsI jwxIEY ]
ijQY eyko nwmu vKwxIEY ]
Sat.t.-sangat. kaaesee jaan.ee-aae
Jithaaw eko Naam vakhaan.ee-aae
What is Satt-Sangat?
A place where only
the name of God is recited.
The holy congregation is attained (One attends Gurdwara,
or goes to the holy gathering) through good deeds, and good destiny i.e.
the will of God. One gets the company of saints when the Lord is kind.
In this company, a fellow keeps evolving by imbibing virtues, and eliminating
the vile traits -
krmu hovY sqsMig imlwey
krmu hovY sqsMig imlwE ]
Karam hovaae sat.t.sang milaa-ae
We get true-company with good destiny (God’s mercy).
Sikhs gathered in a Gurdwara or anywhere else, say a short
Ardas (invocation prayer), and then open the Holy Book, and read at random
a Hymn from it. This is called Hukam, His order - edict (inspiration) for
the day. Bhai ji (brother: care-taker of the Gurdwara), or anyone from
Sangat may recite Jappu ji Sahib (Morning Prayer), may be Sukhmani Sahib
(Psalm of Peace) too. Ragis (singers of the Holy Hymns) may sing Asa Dee
Vaar (A ballad to sing in the morning), do Kirtan - sing the praise of
God, and as well do Naam-Jaap, mostly for an hour. This is followed by
full Ardas - invocation (supplication, humble prayer), and Hukam is taken
again (As a routine the same Hymn, as recited earlier, is repeated). After
this, Karah-Parshad - sanctified pudding is distributed. With this, the
prayer-session concludes. A Katha - sermon, or a talk, or the both may
be delivered now, or even earlier, before Ardas. The management may share
some information with the Sangat.
After the session is over, Guru Granth Sahib is closed,
a short prayer of thanks is said, and the Holy Book is taken away from
the hall, to the place of its rest. Now, Langar (free community food),
may be distributed, or it might already have been distributed all along
the session in a separate place. This is the worship-session of the faith.
Getting free, it may become a social gathering for a while but not in the
- In the Gurdwara
Sangat is a valuable brotherhood. Everyone, Hindu, Muslim,
Christian, and anyone from any other faith or country is most welcome to
it. There is no discrimination of sex, caste, country, color, faith,
age, rich or poor etc. Devoted Hindus, particularly Sehjdhari Sikhs,
take part in the activities of the Sikh faith. Many of them regularly attend
the Gurdwara. As well, they recite the prayers (Scriptures) composed
by the Sikh Gurus. Jappu ji Sahib and Sukhmani sahib are particularly popular
with them. Dedicated Hindus may take part in the Gurdwara management.
One has to enter the Sangat with clean, bare feet, covered
head, and clean hands. At places water and soap are provided for this purpose.
Cleaning the hands and feet has to be real and not merely a ritual. None
should enter the Sangat carrying or after using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol
etc. This is imperative whether Guru Granth Sahib is there or not, open
or closed. Everyone has to sit at the same level i.e. on the (carpeted)
floor unless one is handicapped, or has a special need.
Particularly in the presence of the Holy Book, no one
is supposed to question a speaker in the Sangat, and none can start a discussion.
A speaker is presumed not to be interrupted, and is supposed to observe
the restriction of the time allowed. Questions may be asked if allowed,
or with permission.
Everyone has to sit calmly and quietly without disturbing
others. Patience is also a requirement when getting Parshad - the holy
pudding distributed at the end of the prayer-session. The same discipline
has to be maintained for eating Langar - community food, sitting on the
floor in an organized way - in rows. At some places, a few tables and chairs
are provided in or outside the Langar Hall for the needy and the handicapped.
Patience, humility, politeness and order has to be observed in the Sangat.
Sangat is the
Abode of God
Sometimes, we get annoyed due to one or the other thing,
and avoid attending the Gurdwara i.e. going to the Sangat, without realizing
that by this we miss presenting ourselves to the Lord. The Guru says, God
is there in the Sangat.
We go to the Gurdwara for our own selves and not for the
Guru or God. We go to the Sangat to obtain His blessings. Even an individual
Ardas in the Sangat may be more effective than praying alone at home or
elsewhere. When whole of the Sangat joins in and prays for someone, it
is said that it becomes much more effective.
The Purpose Served
Sat-Sangat serves its purpose quietly, imperceptibly.
Role model - Just like parents working as role
models at home, the Sangat asserts its influence in the field of faith.
If we have sincerity of purpose in attending the Gurdwara, we will seriously
attend to all that is going on there. We often observe, children go to
the Sikh youth camps, come back with the conviction not to cut their hair,
and they put in an effort to do Paath (recitation of prayer) etc. The company
there effects them. Environment in the Gurdwara - presence of the Sangat,
inculcates eagerness to attend it more frequently, or not to miss it. It
encourages them to maintain the external form of the faithful - unshorn
hair etc. The Sangat - company, has great influence. If good, it leads
to goodness and if bad, it drenches the person in evil, and destroys him
or her. The human nature is such that it takes time for the goodness to
permeate into it, but the effect of evil is almost instant -
sqsMgiq siqgur ctswl
hY ijqu hir gux isKw ]
sqsMgiq siqgur ctswl hY ijqu
hir gux isKw ]
Sat.sangat.e Satgur chatsaal haay jitu Har-e gun.
The Guru’s blessed congregation is a school for learning
kwm kroD qrsnw Aiq
An occasion for Service - In the Sikh way, “Sewa and
Simran” - selfless-service and remembering God, are intricately intertwined.
Remembering God has its value only if we selflessly serve others. Selfless
service is the mainstay of worship by many saints (Sewa Panthee), and with
them they may take some Sangat for this purpose.
swDsMgiq kbhU nhI krY ]
kwm k®oD qrsnw Aiq jrY
swDsMgiq kbhU nhI krY ]
Kaam krodh: t.r;isnaa at.t.e jaraae
Saadh: sangat.e kab-hoo nahee karaae
Sex, anger and desires burn,
But shuns the congregation.
The Sangat itself provides the occasion for doing service.
Wherever there is no facility of electricity, people fan Sangat. They
serve water or tea to the Sangat and people. Many serve at water-stands.
When Sangat is resting, some Gurmukhs - God-oriented persons - may press
their legs and feet. Another way of serving is cleaning and may be polishing
as well the shoes of the Sangat. Mostly the Sangat gets together to wash
and clean the Gurdwara, its floor. The people yearn to clean the floors
of the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar. Many serve
disabled and the sick.
Sangat and Pangat
Sangat and Pangat is another discipline of Sewa - selfless
service. Sangat, after completing the worship-session, sits down
in rows on the floor at the same level, and takes food together without
any discrimination of class, color, sex, or faith etc.
Some, serve by cooking food. Cleaning the used utensils
is a cherished Sewa. The people individually or together, may distribute
food, clothes, or other articles to the needy. In Sangat one learns humility,
indiscrimination (not to discriminate), and equality.
Another important Sewa - service, is landscaping
of the Gurdwara and yard work: maintaining the yard. Usually, the yard
is big, and it needs collective effort. One should participate in it eagerly
with no hesitation, without anyone asking for it.
Bhagat Pooran Singh started serving by taking care of
one handicapped child. He became a living example of Sewa - selfless service,
and established Pingalwara - home for the handicapped, at Amritsar. He
died as a well-known Bhagat - a saint.
The Sikh faith has Three-Pillars - honest earning, sharing
with the needy, and remembering God. Sangat shows the way for this discipline,
and as well provides an occasion for these.
Presence of Guru Granth Sahib, Gurbani, Kirtan, and subtle
(magnetic) effect of the Sangat gives peace. The environment of Gurdwara
calms the mind, and makes it sensitive to receive the Guru’s Word - his
teachings, essential to realize God. Every particle of the Gurdwara
has the spiritual field to emanate His bliss due to the presence of the
Guru, Kirtan, and Gurbani.
Kirtan - Devotional singing relaxes the mind, and
is an effective tool to deeply influence it for its evolution. In Kirtan,
Gurbani (Hymns - what the Guru says) is sung, and the voice, its inflections,
and meter take the Bani (Hymns) and the Name of God deep into the mind.
This becomes a medium to mold the man, and he or she becomes more and more
ethical. Lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego - causes of all human
ills and misery start losing their grips. Kirtan is the means to effortlessly
take the mind to the higher spiritual levels -
hir kIriq swDsMgiq
hY isir krmn kY krmw ]
hir kIriq swDsMgiq hY isir
krmn kY krmw ]
Har-e keerat.e saadh: sangat.e haae sir karmann kae
Singing God’s praise in the congregation is a great deed!
swDsMig durmiq mlu
Going to the holy congregation is great -
swDsMig durmiq mlu ihirAw ]
Saadh: sange d.urmat.e mallu hiriaa
Company of the holy person destroys evil in the mind.
pwrsu Byit kMcnu Dwqu
hoeI sqsMgiq kI vifAweI ]
A place for Ardas: supplication - It is not a plain belief,
but is a fact that the Guru and God hear a collective Ardas by the Sangat.
Everyday, we come across such incidences. Many saints and even Gurus instructed
the Sangat to pray together for another person -
pwrsu Byit kMcnu Dwqu hoe sqsMgiq
kI vifAwe ]
Paras bhaete kanchanu dh:aat.u hoee sat.t.sangat.e
The effect of Sangat is like philosopher’s stone, touching
a metal it turns it into gold!
krau bynqI swDsMgiq
hir Bgiq vCl suix AwieE ]
Humility - Humility is total eradication of ego. When
Kaam - lust; Krodh - anger; Lobh - greed; Moh - attachment; and Hankaar
- ego, die away, the man is left with humility. We learn it in the Sangat
- congregation, and Pangat (Langar) by sitting at the same level on the
floor, and without any discrimination of any sort. Except for the handicapped,
no one is given a special seat. By this we learn that all the human beings
are equal - one and the same.
Recite the Name of God
krau bynqI swDsMgiq hir Bgiq
vCl suix AwEAo ]
Karou baenat.ee sadh:sangat.e Har-e bhagat.e vachhal
On hearing the collective prayer of the congregation,
the “Lover of Saints” (God) comes for help.
In the Gurdwara, the Sangat conducts its worship, and
as well it holds its Naam-Jaap sessions (sessions of reciting the Name
of God). We may do so by participating in Kirtan (holy singing), collectively,
by loudly repeating Waheguru, Waheguru (O God, my Lord. Waheguru is the
Name of God for the Sikhs), or silently. It is said that the magnetic waves
(vibrations) emitted by the each practitioner of the Naam, influence the
others to take them deep into the name of God - Naam. Sangat is the place
for recitation of His name -
iqqu jwey bhhu sqsMgqI
ijQY hir kw hir nwmu ibloeIAY]
Sitting together imparts incentive to do the Naam-Jaap (recitation
of the God’s-Name), encourages to keep sitting for a longer time, helps
to enhance concentration, and does not permit boredom to come into the
iqqu jwE bhhu sqsMgqI ijQY
hir kw hir nwmu ibloeEY ]
T.it.u jaa-ae bahuhu sat.sangat.e jithae Har-e kaa
Go to the place of true congregation,
where the Name of God is recited.
Loud singing of the Naam is a quick and an easy way to
make the mind to soar high, and leave the mundane (worldly things) behind.
It may not achieve a very deep attachment to the Naam, as it is by remembering
the Lord silently i.e. with the mind tuned to the Naam.
Bhai Harbans Singh from Jagadhri, often told that Sant
Nand Singh used to say, “How much recitation of the Name of God you can
do sitting alone? In the Sangat, the value of your recitation will become
equal to this multiplied by the number of people in the gathering.” It
seems to be true - more the Sangat, more the mutual magnetic influence,
deeper the concentration, and greater the outcome of reciting the Naam-Jaap.
Evidently, the right place for the recitation of His Name is Sat-Sangat.,
although every place is fit for this virtuous purpose.
is the Source of Happiness
Sat-Sangat. is a valuable moral and spiritual support
to the Naam-Abheaasee (one who recites the Naam), and to everyone else,
too. It keeps evolving the people by virtue of the Naam-Jaap and by promoting
goodness. It helps to achieve the ultimate - liberation. On the earth,
such a person passes his or her life successfully -
pwrbRhmu ijsu ikrpw
God-oriented fellow becomes detached from the worldly bindings,
unconditionally surrenders to God, and thus becomes Jiwan-Mukat - liberated
while still alive. According to the Sikh philosophy, in the end - after
death, the soul of such an elevated person totally bereft of evils and
filled with virtues, unites with the Super-Soul - God, and his transmigration
as well as reincarnation stops -
swDsMig so Bvjlu qrY ]3]
pwrbRhmu ijsu ikrpw krY ]
swDsMig so Bvjlu qrY ]3]
Paarbr;ahmu jisu kirpaa karaae |
Saadh:sange so bhavjalu t.araae
When God is kind by virtue of the saint’s company,
The man successfully crosses this fearful world-ocean.
Bju swDsMgy imly rMgy
bhuiV join n DweIAY]
Bju swDsMgy imly rMgy bhuiV
join n DweEY ]
Bhaju saadh:sange milae rangae
bahur.e jon-e naa dh:aaee-aae
Attain the love of God by reciting His Name in the saint’s
company, and then your transmigration will stop.
swDsMig jnm mrx invwrI
swDsMig jnm mrx invwrI ]
Saadh;sange janam maran. nivaaree
Saintly company destroys cycle of the birth and death.
khu nwnk jau swDsMgu
pwieE qau iPir jnim n Awvau ]
khu nwnk jau swDsMgu pwEAo
qau iPir jnim n Awva ]
Kahu Nanak jaou saadh:sangu paa-aeou t.ou Phir-e janam-e
Says Nanak, by the grace of the saint’s
company, one no more gets born again.