Satsang is a common household word and is often held many residential colonies. Traditionally, Satsang meant the regular meeting of a group of elderly or women of an area with a common intention of attaining inner happiness or peace through Bhajans or devotional songs for a particular God or Gods. In Satsang, people realize that it is the Self, communing with Self.
The Sanskrit word ‘Satsang’ literally means gathering together for guidance, mutual support or in search of truth. It may involve talking together, eating together, working together, listening together or praying together.
Most scriptures describe Sat and asat. They discriminate that this world is maya (asat) and God is Divine. Furthermore, they state that maya is not yours; Divine is yours.
Sang means to join, not just coming close, but to join. And how do you join? Only with love, which acts as glue. So Satsang is: Sat—Divine. Sang—loving association. In non-traditional Satsang, people verbally express themselves to others in an uninhibited way. Here, each participant talks free of judgment of others, and self. In this way, each person is able to see many viewpoints, which may serve to diminish the rigidity of their own.
Satsang is one way of acquiring spiritual well being. Many scientific studies have shown that when mediation or chanting is done in groups it has more benefits than when done individually. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said that if 1% of the population meditates or chants together it will have a positive influence on the entire society.
Satsang also helps in creating a network of people with different unique talents. Satsangi groups are often considered in a very deep-rooted friendship.
Adi Shankaracharya in his book Bhaja Govindam also talks about satsang in combination with sewa and simran and says that together the three can make one acquire spiritual well- being. Nirankaris and Sikhs also give importance to satsang and in fact every true Sikh is supposed to participate in the Gurudwara on a regular basis.
Chanting of mantra or listening to discourses in a satsang helps to understand spirituality through gyan marga. Group chanting continued on a regular basis is one of the ways of meditation mentioned in the shastras. It shifts consciousness from sympathetic to the parasympathetic mode.
The medical educational programs of doctors of today can be called medical satsangs as whatever is discussed is for the welfare of the society. However terrorism meetings held to discuss implanting a blast couldn’t be called a satsang.
Satsang also inculcates in us, one of the laws of Ganesha, the law of big ears, which teaches everyone to have the patience to listen to the others.
In satsang, nobody is small or big, everybody has a right to discuss or give his or her views. Over a period of time, most people who regularly attend satsang, start working from the level of their spirit and not the ego.