At times, we see a proliferation of religious activity in society. There are congregations held, and the attendance is large. Places of worship attract devotees in large crowds, and there are long queues. However, the burst of religious fervour is not reflected in the daily actions of a seemingly religious society. While the loudspeakers quote scriptures, there is crime, lies, and deception amongst the people. With all this exhibition of religious fervour, where has spirituality gone? When Guru nanak was asked this question by the sidhas at Gorakh Math, he explained:
In this darkness of untruth, the saviours are butchers; righteousness has sprouted wings and flown away.
In this dark night of falsehood, the moon of Truth is not visible anywhere.
In this age of mass religious congregations, and 24 by 7 religious TV channels, the absence of truth is surprising. It is therefore important for the devotee to know the true congregation, and the touch stone prescribed is indeed revealing in its simplicity:
How is the True Congregation to be known?
There, only He is talked of.
True Congregations talk only of Him, with a focus on the advancement of the devotee, not on the building-up of the teacher. There is no politics, no us versus them hatred, and no calls for fund collections. The scriptures also have some serious advice for those who want to lead such congregations:
He alone is learned and wise, and he alone is a scholar, who practices the Name.
First, the tree puts down its roots, and then it spreads out its shade above.
Adept in the quality of their faith, teachers first master themselves; rid of any desire for power and pelf, such teachers have learnt the art of righteous living, and of graceful merger with Him, when it is time to leave this mortal frame. Like the tree that delves deeps for sustenance, and becomes strong and abundant in its trunk and branches, such teachers develop deep roots of humility and spirituality, and provide the protective shade of dharma to their followers.