The Company of a Saint
For one who has bathed in the cooling and purifying water of the Ganga of a Saint’s company, of what use are austerities like charity, pilgrimage, penance or sacrifice?
Points for Introspection:
All our scriptures say unanimously that in order to realize the Self or God, one must have a supremely pure mind. Desires, gross and subtle, are the root cause of impurity in anybody’s mind. Desires cause agitations in the mind and one is not able to contemplate on the Self one-pointedly. So, he is not able to realize the Self. For a seeker, practice of desirelessness is indispensable.
How will the desires be removed? How will the mind attain purity? Our scriptures say that when a seeker/devotee keeps the thought of Self/God within the heart unbrokenly, with Supreme love and one-pointed devotion, to the exclusion of every other thought, his mind becomes calm and tranquil. All evil tendencies get sublimated and corresponding agitations in the mind die down making the mind absolutely pure.
The question now is how to keep the thought of the Lord unbrokenly in the heart? How is it possible? Throughout the day, through all our sense organs, the mind runs after various worldly objects and gets engaged in unnecessary, useless and mundane matters.
All our scriptures, thus advise us to go to the holy people, the Saints, and bathe in their holy association. The holy people have realized the Self or God; their mind constantly and unbrokenly revels in the Self and Brahman. They are the Knowers of the Supreme Truth: that Self alone is permanent, eternal and imperishable. Everything else including our body-mind-intelligence is transitory and perishable.
Being well-seated in the Knowledge of the supreme Reality, having known and experienced the eternal Bliss which follows this knowledge, the Knower always talks about that Supreme state and the methods to attain that goal. When anybody comes to him, most naturally and spontaneously he highlights the fact that the world is ephemeral and perishable, not to speak of the body and anything related to it. He harps again and again on the fact that man undergoes immense suffering in the world because he holds on to the unreal and perishable objects that he very proudly possesses.
The Seer again and again points out that though man expects to attain happiness from all worldly objects, the happiness so gained is hollow and perishable. Thus, when a seeker is in the close association of a Saint, he keeps on hearing about the transitory, impermanent nature of all possessions and achievements that he has been giving so much importance in his life. Dispassion for the worldly possessions and achievements starts growing in the seeker’s mind and he develops a yearning for the Soul, the infinite, eternal Soul which is birthless and deathless, attaining which one gets supreme felicity.
So, for a spiritual seeker, in order to purify the mind, acts like charity, pilgrimage, austerities and sacrifices are not necessary. These acts do give temporary delight to the mind, and makes the mind to some extent selfless. They also help in acquiring values. But permanent bliss and purity is acquired when the seeker bathes in the holy Ganges of association with the Knower who has himself realized Self and experienced the supreme Bliss; who tirelessly helps mankind to progress in the path of the ultimate auspicious goal.
This shloka from Yogavaasishtha Ramayana points out this great truth: that whoever has taken bath in the holy Ganges of the association of a Mahatma does not need other virtuous acts like charity, pilgrimage, austerity or sacrifice.
The constant association of a holy person is thus absolutely essential for a spiritual seeker. Only when such a contact is consistently maintained a seeker’s mind remains focused on the Self. Any other association tends to divert the mind to unnecessary and perishable items, giving indulgence to the mind to dwell on thoughts far far away from the Self – the ever-blissful, the ever present.
Chanting this shloka brings to the mind the awareness of the great value of the association of a holy Mahatma. The mind gets filled with blessedness and gratitude, if one has got such an opportunity. If not, the mind becomes prayerful to have such an association.
यः (yaḥ) = who; स्नातः (snātaḥ) = one who is bathed, purified; शीतसितया (śītasitayā) = by cool and pure; साधुसङ्गतिगङ्गया (sādhusaṅgatigaṅgayā) = by the water of the Ganga of Saint’s association; किम् (kim) = wherefore; तस्य (tasya) = his; दानैः (dānaiḥ) = by daana, charity; किम् (kim) = wherefore; तीर्थैः (tīrthaiḥ) = by pilgrimages or sacred waters; किम् (kim) = wherefore; तपोभिः (tapobhiḥ) = by austerities; किम् (kim) = wherefore; अध्वरैः (adhvaraiḥ) = by sacrifices.
यः शीतसितया साधुसङ्गतिगङ्गया स्नातः, तस्य किं दानैः, किं तीर्थैः, किं तपोभिः, किं अध्वरैः ।
yaḥ śītasitayā sādhusaṅgatigaṅgayā snātaḥ, tasya kiṁ dānaiḥ, kiṁ tīrthaiḥ, kiṁ tapobhiḥ, kiṁ adhvaraiḥ.
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