What is satsang? Sanga means association and sat means good, noble. Thus, satsang implies association with goodness truth and reality. The best satsang is the company of a master. But if we are unable to find such an opportunity, reading literature on noble saints is also satsang. Living in the company of like-minded people is satsang. Watching and listening to video and audio recordings of great people, too, is satsang.
In Ramacharitamanas, Swami Tulsidas writes, “Binu satsang vivek na hoyi, ramkripa binu sulabha na sohi.” Without satsang, we do not get vivek — the ability to discriminate between right and wrong, and then take the correct path to know the truth. This is different from gathering information.
For example, if a person is well-versed in medical science, but cannot use his knowledge to diagnose the patient’s ailment, he does not possess vivek.
The result of satsang is vivek and the result of vivek is liberation — jeevan mukti.
But, Tulsidas adds, “Ramkripa binu sulabha na sohi,” i.e. without Ramkripa, this is not easy to get. In other words, satsang is the greatest blessing. Do not wait for any greater grace from the Lord. The Srimad Bhagvad Gita says that those who are viveki or wise, see God’s grace in each and everything. For instance, when something untoward happens, we call it a tragic event.
A wise man is able to see His grace even in such events. This ability comes from satsang. In our case, if we gain more prosperity, power and money, we say the Lord’s grace is with us. But when we suffer a tragedy, we say that God is angry with us.
Besides, other than satsang, there is no place where we get to listen to God’s story. Without listening, this delusion, infatuation and attraction for the world will not go away. Without clearing our minds of these negativities, pure love for God does not manifest in our hearts. Unlike great saints, we, who love God, also love other things and accord them greater priority. Every day, with a little puja or japa, we think we have fulfilled our religious and spiritual duties.
In satsang, all other infatuations go away and pure love manifests itself. When this happens, God comes running to us. In fact, he was already there, only now He manifests in our lives. Thus, satsang is the means to acquire right understanding and pure love for God. Anything that helps us gain these two is satsang.