"It is not what you do that matters, but how you do it – with what attitude and aim. The spiritual effect that a seemingly spiritual activity brings, can also be had by the domestic pursuit, provided you preserve a spiritual attitude and dedication."

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Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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Association of Saints to Uproot Worldliness

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न रोधयति मां योगो न सांख्यं धर्म एव च ।
न स्वाध्यायस्तपस्त्यागो नेष्टापूर्तं न दक्षिणा ।।
व्रतानि यज्ञश्छन्दांसि तीर्थानि नियमा यमाः ।
यथावरुन्धे सत्सङ्गः सर्वसङ्गापहो हि माम् ।।
श्रीमद्भागवतम् ११.१२.१-२
Na rodhayati māṃ yogo na sāṅkhyaṃ dharma eva ca |
Na svādhyāyastapastyāgo neṣṭāpūrtaṃ na dakṣiṇā ||
Vratāni yajñaśchandāṃsi tīrthāni niyamā yamā: |  
Yathāvarundhe satsaṅga: sarvasaṅgāpaho hi mām ||
Srīmadbhāgavatam 11.12.1-2

Translation:

Yoga, sāṅkhya philosophy based on discrimination, the righteous path, self-study of scriptures, austerity, renunciation, pious acts of liberality, sacrifice and charity done for society, gifts, vows of different kinds, sacrificial rites, sacred Vedic hymns, holy places of pilgrimage, observances for the body, observances for the mind – none of these will be able to bind Me to the devotee so well as the association of Saints, which has the power of uprooting all worldly attachments.

Points for Introspection:

The mind, which runs behind perishable worldly affairs, must turn to God if one wants to attain unbroken peace in life. A person, who is devoted to God, wants to feel His presence every moment. But, unfortunately, he finds that although he worships God following the various injunctions of the scriptures, undergoes several austerities, he is not able to bind God to his heart wherefrom God will not be able to escape at all. He finds that his mind attains divinity during the moments of worship alone. Rest of the time it roams about in worldly matters, which bring in sorrow and agitation.

In order to attain purity and God-realization, a pious and noble person takes to various pursuits like Yoga, sāṅkhya (discrimination), yajña, etc. He undertakes serious study of scriptures, and observes various austerities and vows. He performs pious acts of sacrifice and charity for the benefit of the society. He gives gifts to the needy. He learns and recites the sacred Vedic hymns. He travels to many pilgrim spots undergoing austerities. He follows the observances for restraining the mind as well as the senses.

A pious noble person pursues all these in life to make his mind pure and holy. By performing such holy acts one expects that his mind would leave attachment to worldly varieties and would, instead, grow single minded devotion to God.

In this shloka, the Supreme Lord says that even if a person pursues all these observances very devotedly, the Lord does not get tied to the heart of the person. So, what is the way to bind God in our hearts?

All these observances do not remove the attachments and possessiveness the mind hosts. In fact, more often than not, these activities generate a sense of "ego" in the mind making the mind impure. The Lord says that for a devotee, Satsaṅga or fond association of the Saints, is the best method to tie the Lord to the heart. Because, Satsaṅga removes all worldly attachments from the mind and heart of the devotee, making it pure and holy. God reveals Himself in a pure mind alone.

Now, what is Satsaṅga? And how does it remove all kinds of attachments?

‘Satsaṅga’ means association with the 'Sat'. The 'Sat' is that which is real, eternal, imperishable and infinite. It is the Supreme reality, Brahman, or God. Satsa´ga is had when one dwells in the thought of God. For ordinary people, whose mind is restless and always runs behind the 'asat' (the unreal, perishable and the transitory), Satsaṅga is had when they are in the association of the holy and wise souls, who have realized the infinite, eternal Lord in their hearts, and have been able to bind the Lord there for ever.

A holy soul who has realized God or the Self, speaks always about the Self or God and nothing else. He always points to the transitoriness of the world and explains how by clinging to the transitory objects, mankind undergoes suffering after suffering in their lives. Through his thoughts, speech and action he incessantly spreads divinity and divinity alone. He tirelessly keeps on talking about the Self or God making it clear that in this life, in order to transcend fear and anxiety and to have unbroken peace and happiness, one must worship the Supreme Lord with one-pointed devotion.

So, when one is in 'satsaṅga', that is, in the association of a holy Saint, his mind effortlessly grows more and more love and devotion towards God. Understanding the transitoriness of the world, and continuously hearing about God, His glories and excellences, as devotion grows deeper in the mind of the devotee, dispassion towards the world also grows proportionately in his mind.

'Saṅga' also means attachment. As the ‘attachment’ to Sat grows, attachment towards worldly objects reduces. Sat-sa´ga thus removes attachment to everything else, and generates exclusive devotion to God in the heart of the devotee. God gets bound to the devotee's heart by the cord of one-pointed devotion.

Repeated chanting of this shloka generates in the mind a great yearning for satsaṅga – to be in the close association of a holy realized Mahatma, to be under his loving care and guidance, so that the mind becomes rid of all attachment, and becomes full with the presence of God.

Word Meaning:

न (na) = not; रोधयति (rodhayati) = control, bind; मां (māṃ) = Me; योगः (yoga:) = yoga; न (na) = not; सांख्यं (sāṅkhyaṃ) = sāṅkhya philosophy based on discrimination; धर्म (dharma) = righteous path; एव (eva) = indeed; च (ca) = and; न (na) = not; स्वाध्यायः (svādhyāya:) = self-study of scriptures; तपः (tapa:) = austerity; त्यागः (tyāga:) = sacrifice/renunciation; न (na) = not; इष्टापूर्तं (iṣṭāpūrtaṃ) = pious acts of liberality, sacrifice and charity done for society; न (na) = not; दक्षिणा (dakṣiṇā) = gifts; व्रतानि (vratāni) = vows of different kinds; यज्ञः (yajña:) = sacrificial rites; छन्दांसि (chandāṃsi) = sacred Vedic hymns; तीर्थानि (tīrthāni) = holy places of pilgrimage; नियमाः (niyamā:) = observances for the body; यमाः (yamā:) = observances for the mind; यथा (yathā) = as; अवरुन्धे (avarundhe) = binds; सत्सङ्गः (satsaṅga:) = association of the saints; सर्वसङ्गापहः (sarvasaṅgāpaha:) = remover of all attachments; हि (hi) = indeed; माम् (mām) = Me;

अन्वयः

न योगः न सांख्यं न च धर्म एव न स्वाध्यायः (न) तपः (न) त्यागः न इष्टापूर्तं न दक्षिणा (न) व्रतानि (न) यज्ञः (न) छन्दांसि (न) तीर्थानि (न) नियमाः यमाः मां न रोधयति । यथा सर्वसङ्गापहः सत्सङ्गः माम् अवरुन्धे हि ।

na yoga: na sāṅkhyaṃ na ca dharma eva na svādhyāya (na) tapa: (na) tyāga: na iṣṭāpūrtaṃ na dakṣiṇā (na) vratāni (na) yajña: (na) chandāṃsi (na) tīrthāni (na) niyamā yamā: māṃ na rodhayati. yathā sarvasaṅgāpaha: satsaṅga: mām āvarundhe hi.

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