Sankaracarya’s take on sat-sangh
Madan Manohar Das: Lord Siva kindly appeared as Sankaracarya, in kali-yuga, to fulfill the desire of the Supreme Lord to mislead the atheists by his mayavada philosophy. Lord Siva is the topmost vaisnava and so before his disappearance he managed to give some crucial instructions in the famous “Bhaja Govindam” verses.
One among them, stresses the need for sat-sangh (devotee-association).
” Sat-sanghatve nissangatvam
nischalatattve jivan mukti”
This verse says that through association of ‘sat’- the devotees of the Lord, one becomes free from the modes of material nature. Then ‘nir-mohatvam’ or the subsequent stoppage of illusion, because we are free from the association of material modes. Further there is ‘nischalatvam’. This means that the flickering mind becomes steady once the illusion is dispelled. A steady mind makes one ‘jivan-mukta’ or a liberated soul.
That is why all sastras say “sadhu-sangh, sadhu-sangh” – “associate with devotees, associate with devotees”. Such association, even if done for less than a second, will award all benefits.
Srila Prabhupada and all great acaryas have used this principle as the background for opening huge temples and encouraging devotees to start preaching centres all over the world. Even if a vaisnava ( Lord Siva ) is in disguise and preaching against the Lord, still his compassionate nature reveals itself through his instructions. Everyone should be encouraged to take devotee association and by this simple formula obtain liberation from material bondage. Such a liberated soul will then engage in his real activity on the spiritual platform,serving the Lord to his heart’s content in a relationship of his choice. Blessed are those who savour the association of devotees.
Madan Manohar Das