What India meant by satsang corrupted by the interface
with the West : Shantam offers his view
Living in a small Indian town off the beaten track. Living modestly in a stable family, beautifully changing weather, starry nights and a cool breeze; therein comes the wow for all that it is.
In such places life is not isolated as in the big cities, people greet, meet and visit each other.
Once a week after the afternoon Siesta, by dint of ancient good habits, millions of moms and grand moms in thousands of small towns and villages gather around sensitive beings to listen to the deeper things of life, and share their daily life experience. Within a month or so, someone starts singing Bhajans to celebrate the atmosphere, and Satsang begins to happen.
These souls slowly gain recognition, they offer themselves to be present at times of grief in the neighbourhood and console people. Life feels meaningful in their presence, and such souls became known as signposts for existence itself.
For thousands of years this pattern has been going on, and preserving sanity in hard times. In psychological jargon, Satsangs were healing the wounds of collective pain, failure and depression.
No psychologists, no organised priesthood was there – and these sensitive souls served the people without hankering for any recognition.
But with the advent of traveling ease developed by the “restless west”, many western people started to find out these humble souls, and felt wonder, and also wondered about the source of their bliss.
It is like Horse goes to see Cows and feels wonder how peacefully they go on chewing grass day after day and no desire to run and jump and play Polo. Just happy to watch the shadow in the small pond and feeling like Basho. So beautiful and mesmerising! Such is the human nature, horse goes to the cow and want to learn the tricks of being here and now. And in this way, horse race shower the title of Enlightened beings to this saintly cows.
So “recognition” followed from those who came from outside India, and sadly from this flowed the first seeds of ego in these sensitive souls. They began to speak from the origins of Indian wisdom and life to people who have basically a different set of life problems, social environment and family norms, and to whom it was and is inappropriate and occasionally dangerous.
I have much admiration for those thousands and thousands of lay persons who chair small Satsang gatherings throughout India and serve their communities through their talks, gossips and simple presence.
But to see inflated Satsang givers, speaking about bloody ego and oneness and enlightenment, I have only one question, – do you know what it feels like to come from a broken family. Mom going for date with someone else other than dad. Then you have the children, and your own wife asks for divorce and the house, and than you get the news, your son is on drugs and your daughter is earning as a Page 3 girl.
That is the west, and also the India of 2030, and the modalities will have to change.