Satsanga & Bhajan By - SriSri Vinod Bihari Das Baba Ji Maharaj
"Binu satsang na hari katha, teha bin moha na bhaag,
Moha gaye bina raam pada hoye na dhrir anurag"
Meaning:- Without the association of enlightened sadhus and the discussion with them about Hari and his pastimes, the delusions engulfing a sadhak will not leave him, and without the absence of delusions, one cannot achieve the love for the lotus feet of Rama.
Here, the association of devotees is given importance. It doesn't mean that associate with any and every devotee you find. The devotee should be a real sadhu with the following qualities of a sadhu: shanta, snigdha, mahattar and aninduk.
Shanta means undriven by causes of happiness and sadness, praise and criticism, winter and summer, etc. That is one who has sacrificed his ego at the lotus feet of Krishna and accepts everything happening around as the sole will of Krishna. Such a person is calm and unmoved from his bhagvat chintan by any external circumstances.
Snigdha means one who respects each and everyone's views and opinions and tries to present his opinion basing it on the scriptures without unnecessary disagreements. If there is a disagreement, then he accepts it as different ways to reach the same Supreme power and is himself dedicated to the path and teachings of his own guru. Such sadhus have a lovely way of interacting with those who inquire about bhajan and pastimes of Krishna. They will seldom be seen quarrelling with anyone over scriptural misunderstandings.
Mahattar means someone who is spiritually at a stage higher than yourself. Since we are trying to advance in our spiritual path of love, association with someone who can show us how the next stage looks like will help. Here it is important that the mahattar sadhak is also Acharansheel, i.e., exercises the ways and conduct of a Vaishnav visibly. If a sadhu is of very high stage but conducts in a way not acceptable by Vaishnavas to conceal his love for Yugal Kishore and thus, save himself from praise and worship which such sadhus dislike, then it is better not to associate too much with them but respect them at the same time. This is because we might easily misunderstand them and fall in Vaishnav Aparadh or follow their conduct in vain and create a barrier for ourselves in our advancement towards spiritual love.
Aninduk means one who never criticizes others whatsoever. Such a sadhak respects others as Vaishnavas and subjects of Krishna and sees Krishna in everyone. Whatever is happening is will of Krishna and is for overall wellness. If someone seems to be the cause of my sadness or any kind of disadvantage, there is a reason behind it and Krishna is making that person behave like that for some future advancement in my spiritual path. Association with such a sadhu ensures that we do not develop any disrespect towards anyone in our conversation about bhakti and Krishna. All paths described in our scriptures are respectable and have their own values and reasons to exist. Suppose someone has lots of material desires and worships gods and goddesses to fulfil his desires. Such a person cannot abandon all his desires and jump to selfless love of Radha Krishna, however much explain to him the importance of selfless spiritual love and the drastic results of material desires. Such a person will slowly advance from such bhakti full of material desires to selfless bhakti through the refinement process of bhakti itself and when more and more enlightened sadhus will shower mercy on them they too will reach the incomparable and beautiful stage of prema bhakti but gradually.
There are so many scriptures and there is everything present there which you need to know for your spiritual advancement. It is also given importance that the sadhus you associate with bases his opinions and views on the scriptures. Then why is it necessary that you associate with the sadhus rather than simply read the scriptures and follow their teachings hassle free? But actually it is very important. The sadhus who are experienced in this path of spiritual love speak from their very heart. And they know every detail of this path. There is power in their speech which touches your heart and attacks the deep ignorance occupying your heart. That is why whenever possible one must try to associate with such sadhus and listen to their hari katha abandoning all other work.
Shrimad Bhagvat Gita says:
Anityam asukham lokam imam prapya bhajasva mam
Shri Krishna is saying to Arjuna that this world is not eternal (anityam) and there is no pleasure here (asukham). If you want perpetual pleasure worship me.
This is the essence of Gita. Every creature here wants pleasure. From an amoeba to the Brahma, everyone wants pleasure. Pleasure is the core cause of everything we do. But the problem is that we do not know where pleasure is. The reservoir of all pleasures is Yugal Kishore. But we don't look there for pleasure. We look for pleasure where it is the reservoir of all displeasures! This world can provide us only turmoil and displeasures. But we are disillusioned and we run after things where we will never find any satisfaction and pleasure. It is just like the desert deer's pleasure on the disillusion of water at the horizon. He runs miles after miles, never to reach the cool water he aspires to drink and at last, the thirst kills him burning amidst the hot desert. Similarly, this jeevatma runs after the myriad of desires thinking he will find pleasure now, after this and that and ohh, it is coming...but it never comes and the state in which he dies defines his next birth.
The reservoir of all pleasures, Krishna is not residing in some far off Golok Dham, unknown place we will seemingly never reach. He is residing in our very hearts. Shrimad Bhagvat Gita says:
Mamaivamsho jeevaloke jeevabhuto sanatano,
manah shashthanindriyani prakritisthani karshati
Jeevatma is an infinitely small part of me and it gets attracted to prakriti, takes shelter in a material body and gets disillusioned and lost in this material world. He has lost the natural pleasureful state he was eternally in, the eternal calm state undisturbed by anything.
What is maya? This body itself is maya. Some say women are maya, some say money is maya and some say this visible world is maya. If women are maya, then the person who has never seen or associated with a woman is free from maya? No. If money is maya then the poor who hasn't a single paisa is free from maya? No. If the visible world is maya, then the person who is blind from birth is free from maya? No. It is not like that. This body itself is the cause of all disillusions. We have forgotten our real form, we think we are this body. This is the root of all disillusions. And to compensate the lost eternal bliss, we try to give this body pleasures by different means. Running after these pleasures we have wasted so many births after births but the search for pleasure never ends. This body formed inside the womb of a mother and will end in the graveyard. So did we not exist before this body formed in the womb of our mothers? No, we existed. Will we end with the end of this body in the graveyard? No, we will still exist. Then why do we have so much 'I' for this body? (Even those who firmly believe in repeated births of jeevatma are well attached to this body and its pleasures.) But this disillusion maya compels us to forget our true swarupa, the ever eternal, pure and blissful soul and play with this material world immersed in material desires and pleasures. This body is full of dirty things. If a single component of our body comes out we will have to wash that part of the body and purify ourselves. Suppose if you get wounded and blood comes out then you will have to immediately wash that part of the body. If it spills to your clothes and stains them then perhaps you wouldn't wear them again! From every outlet in our body only impure and dirty things come out. Such is our body, full of nasty things. And still we are so attached to this body. This was the problem of 'I'. Now the problem of 'mine'. It is the possessiveness for things that will give this body pleasure. For example, if you see a wall of your house stained somehow, you will get angry and inquire about who had done it. But sell off the house and then someone stains the wall, you wouldn't be angry since it no more belongs to you and will not give you any pleasure. This 'I' and 'mine' attach us to materialism and the realization of our true swarupa and belonging frees us from all attachments and result in achievement of the lotus feet of Radha Krishna.
We need to think about this and contemplate our true swarupa. Only then this disillusions will leave us. This realization is actual bhajan. Bhajan is not just chanting some definite number of rounds and preforming pooja and reading some scriptures. They are the means of helping you realize this truth by gradually purifying your heart. But bhajan is just realising two things: we have estranged Him who belongs to us and we have accepted those who never belonged to us. We need to rectify this mistake.