In Punjabi, the word satsangat is an amalgam of two words. Sat means truth, and sangat means a gathering of people. The amalgam signifies a congregation of truth. The scriptures consider the seeking such company as essential to movement and progress on the voyage of self discovery. It is well known that the company we keep influences us. In school, the groups of good performers and laggards are separate, and the latter are usually involved in some mischief. A student’s performance is at times easily discernible from the company they frequent. However, every child has immense potential, and a change of company will unleash those positive forces, whereas negative company will reverse the process. Guru Granth Sahib mentions it so: Without good fortune, the Sat Sangat is not found;/Without the Sangat, the mind is stained (with greed and anger).
The satsangat has many adept travellers, who will guide the devotee. At times, our faith is under stress, as we face some hardship, but our company holds us steady. But the search for the true congregation has become confusing. Walk out of the house, and there are many brick and mortar structures, belting out devotional songs and worship calls. The shops on the footpath sell hundreds of cassettes, CDs and DVDs, and they are fairly inexpensive too. Switch on the television, and a multitude of channels talk of God. Want to find a spiritual teacher? Just open the newspaper — there are many who promise complete redemption, with followings in millions, and heading spiritual centres, flush with funds. To the bewildered devotee, the Guru Granth Sahib gives a simple touchstone to find the congregation: Know that you have found satsangat/Where only, and only, His name is the focus.
In the true congregation, there is no greed, no politics, and respect for all. Instead, if there are calls for money and political support, and disrespect for women, just run.