|October 09, 1998 |
Ratibhai asked, "What are the advantages of santa samaagama (association with a God-realized saint)?" Dinkar Uncle replied that logically people go where there is something to be gained. With satsanga, there is no cost in coming and yet, it is like winning the lottery! We usually consider the gross advantages of satsanga such as being cured of a disease or getting a better job. But just as only a tiny percent of an iceberg is actually visible, the real benefit of satsanga is much greater. The greatest advantage of santa samaagama is to beceome brahmaroopa. The examples of Naradji and Bhagatji Maharaj depict this.
In Swami Ni Vato 1/168, Gunatitanand Swami explains that for one who has taken the aasharo (shelter) of God, "Even if he has just come yesterday to the temple [i.e. he is new to satsanga], and becomes sick and remains sick for 20 years, then we have to serve him." Further, Gunatitanand Swami explains that just as a mother looks after her children, God takes care of those who have taken His shelter.
In Shikshapatri verse 36, Lord Swaminarayan has stated, "Nitya pratye saadhuno samaagama karavo" or "always keep the association of saints." Throughout Swami Ni Vato, Gunatitanand Swami emphasizes the importance of santa samaagama. For example, in Swami Ni Vato 2/1, Gunatitanand Swami explains, "Of all techniques, sanga (association) is the most powerful...Of the 8 factors of influence such as desha (place), kala (time), etc., association is considered the foremost. And of the nine types of bhakti, listening is considered foremost - which is gained from association." In Swami Ni Vato 2/178, 4/128, 4/144, and 5/41, Gunatitanand Swami explains the power of association: "If one were to become ekaantika after 100 lives, he will become [ekaantika] today [i.e. in this life due to santa samaagama]." On the other hand, with negative association, "He who is ekaantika this life would still have to take 100 lives (or births)."