How do we find a Sant? We must remember this: A Sant is carefree, most humble, imbued with Divine love and in tune with the will of Waheguru (711:12). A Sant would never make public claims to visions, spiritual experiences, or some supernatural powers, etc. If someone does so, just steer clear of that person.
The characteristics of a Sant are described in Gurbani. But the public is critically deficient in this knowledge, because, any reference to this word is regarded with great suspicion. This facilitates only a widespread ignorance to flourish unimpeded, and the Sikh masses remains confused about the significance of meeting genuine Gursikhs or a genuine Sant.
Nevertheless, this topic will continue to emerge, because Gurbani stresses upon company of a Sant as being indispensable. Since the establishment of Sat Sangat, we no longer wander in search of such an individual and we no longer follow someone who claims to be a Sant. Sadh Sangat is the place to be. Nevertheless, we must have a burning desire to be uplifted through company of such Gursikhs (1424:6-10) then Guru takes care of the rest. This is Guru’s promise (e.g. page 204).
Unfortunately, as they say, “When someone talks to God, we call it a prayer; but when God talks to someone, we call it schizophrenia.” People may sing the Shabads idolizing the Sant and Sangat with utmost reverence, but they do not hesitate to denounce every Sant they will ever hear of. Something is seriously wrong here. As Guru Ji says, “Reach first for the root cause of disease” (450:14), before we can solve our internal problems, we need to remedy our lack of faith in the Panth, its garden, Sat Sangat, and its fruit, the Sant.
Forgive me for repeating something we already know: without Gurbani there can be no Sat Sangat or Sadh Sangat (731:9, 160:6, 427:5). Shabad-Avatar, Gurbani, the living Guru, is an expression of God’s love and it represents God Himself (1226:3, 515:17). Gurbani instructs us, so that we are honest with ourselves, with others, and with God. Gurbani implants the spiritual truth in our heart, often during those rare moments when we are absorbed in Kirtan, especially in Sadh Sangat (642:7).
Someone may ask, “But, don’t we know this already?” Let us see. We say Sangat represents the Guru, but our conduct shows that we do not really believe in it. Even those, who come to Gurudwara with a sincere desire to connect with Gurbani, sit with an inner disregard for the Sangat when, in fact, Sangat is the catalyst to connect us with the Guru. Most Sikhs today read the Gurbani verses regarding Sant with a resigned apathy. This is a testament of serious deficiency in our faith, akin to someone coming to an orchard but without an anticipation to find any fruit in there. In other words, we bow to the Guru but do not really believe in what the Guru says. A deficiency of this magnitude bears equally grave results.
It should be no surprise to us that our problems continue. We lack direction, and quibble like children lacking adult supervision. Granted that, Bani with its Divine radiance continues to keep us spiritually intrigued. Kirtan of Gurbani in Sadh Sangat is meant to convert indolent masses into spiritual giants. However, it cannot do much for those who, implicitly, have no faith in its outcome, that Sant is a real person. We may sing and read Gurbani all our life, but without faith, our inner progress remains stunted.
We know that Guru’s Darshan is in Gurbani and it is revealed through Sangat. However, Gurbani can be only as good to us as our own faith in its teaching. As a first step, we must help each other in the Sangat by being absorbed in Gurbani with a sincere desire to be uplifted by the Sangat around us. Perhaps, this phenomenon of mutual spiritual support in Sangat needs to be studied further. Additionally, Sadh Sangat or company of perfect Sikhs is essential to learning the proper inner spiritual conduct. Gurbani stresses upon Sangat as an important step towards inner perfection, just as, one lamp lights another.
We say Shabad is the Guru and that we receive everything from Gurbani. But, let us not forget that this is so only if we also obey, what Gurbani commands (982:10-11). Worshipping Gurbani but not doing what it says is just like someone worshipping a prescription but not taking the medicine prescribed therein. That would be just another form of idolatry. Rather, to feel satisfied with mere recitation of Gurbani and the rituals, without closeness to some perfect Gursikh some time in our life, is contrary to what Gurbani exhorts (e.g., 905:12, 204:5-8, 271:5-272:10).
Gurbani also teaches us that there is no need to worship such Sikhs. The mere sight of a Sant is uplifting. Our eyes will betray the peace and dispassionate contentment that our soul regains in their company. Singing Gurbani with them is the way to liberation (1208:13-15, 898:8-13).
But first, through God’s mercy, we need that burning desire to see them. Only then, can we benefit from their company or recognize them. To a Sant, Gurbani is alive, and the Sant has fallen in love with it. This rubs off on us. Gurbani, then, takes a bright new meaning. This is the sign of true Sadh Sangat. Then we realize how, contact with Gurbani emancipates us (612:10). This changes everything.