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Dr K K Aggarwal

Why is a group of people required for a wedding function or for a religious event like Satsang?

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A Satsang is a meeting of a group of people with the common objective of attaining inner happiness or peace through bhajans or devotional songs.

The Sanskrit word Satsang’ literally means gathering together for guidance, mutual support or in search of truth. It may involve talking , eating , working , listening  or praying together.

The word Sang’ means ‘to join’. Not just coming close, but to join. And how do you join? Only with love – this acts as glue. So Satsang is:  ‘Sat’—Divine and ‘Sang’—loving association.  It is one way of acquiring spiritual well-being In Satsang, people realize that it is the Self, communing with Self. Many scientific studies have shown that when meditation or chanting is done in groups it has greater benefit than when done individually. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said that if 1 per cent of the population meditates or chants together, it would have a positive influence on the entire society.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his teachings said “Pragyapradh or ‘mistake of the intellect’ occurs when the intellect, drawn towards and influenced by material consciousness, loses connection with the wholeness of consciousness. And this happens when we stop being centered within ourselves.”

Dr Deepak Chopra in Perfect Health wrote: “Aging is ‘a mistake of the intellect’. This mistake consists of identifying oneself solely with the physical body.”

Dr Ram Kant Mishra wrote: “The Ayurveda texts define the source of all disease and suffering as Pragyapradh. This occurs when individuals (or even single cells) ‘forget’ their connection with the wholeness of life and believe themselves to be isolated entities. Creating, and then eating, genetically engineered foods expose us to Pragyapradh”.

 In Ayurveda, the origin of all disease is traced to “Pragyapradh”, a term which means “mistake of the intellect”. This term comprises of two words i.e. “Pragya” meaning intellect and “parade” meaning crime, thus giving the complete meaning as ‘doing wrong things in spite of knowing about their negative side effects or consequences that will lead to a disease’.

In Ayurveda, it is said that Pragyapradh is the main cause of a disease, especially janpadodhwans (epidemic diseases).

 The various mistakes performed by the intellect can be classified into three groups:

  • Dhi (intellectual) or ‘due to lack of intellect or ignorance’. It refers to diseases occurring due to ignorance. For example a person not knowing the bad effects of alcohol indulges in it.
  • Dhriti (awareness) or ‘when one does wrong things in spite of the awareness’. For example, when a person knows that smoking is bad for health but is still addicted to it and is unable to leave it due to his craving or weak will power.
  • Smriti (memory) or ‘smrutivibhrast, which refers to the onset of ailment due to loss of memory. For example, a person who is aware of the bad effects of refined carbohydrates decides not to eat them in future but eats them forgetting his resolution not to eat.

 In all these situations, the body is controlled by the intellect and the ego and not by the soul and one is not taking decisions from the level of consciousness.

Mistake of the intellect involves disobeying the laws of nature. There are three common mistakes listed in the Vedantic literature, namely attachment (or addiction), desires (weak will power) and show off (ego).

The basic description of above comes from the Epic Ramayana where attachment is represented by Kaikeyi, desires or greed by the golden deer Marich, and the ego by Ravana. If any one of them would have been absent, Ramayana could not have taken place.

Today we know that addictions to refined carbohydrates, tobacco, drugs and alcohol are responsible for most lifestyle disorders. Desires and greed are responsible for our nibbling habit at functions. And showing-off in parties and marriage gatherings makes us choose costlier fruits and vegetables which are non-seasonal and not grown locally and, hence, unnatural.

When I joined my medical college at Sevagram, my first encounter with ‘silence’ was with Acharya Vinoba Bhave who was observing one year silence. During this period, he was participating in all activities but not speaking.

My second encounter was when I heard about Vipasana meditation where people are made to observe silence for ten days with no communication with the outer world. Same times of retreats I came across being organized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Dr. Deepak Chopra across the world.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi also used to go into silence for one month before his birthday. Now we have seen Anna Hazare going the Vinoba Bhave way and observing silence over a period of time for self purification.

In his Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Dr. Deepak Chopra also recommends observing a silence for ½ an hour every day.

There is a difference between observing silence and Vipasana Meditation. When you are observing silence but doing your usual activities like reading and watching TV, communicating in written language, you are not in meditation phase but still you follow the principles of Buddha’s laws of speech that is to speak only if it is necessary based on truthfulness and kindness.

There are two types of communications “Violent” and “Non-violent”. In meditative silence, you are in a phase of non-violence in your communication with the outer world. In non-meditative silence, you can still have violence in your facial expressions but when you communicate in writing, you invariably go from a violent to non-violent mode of communication. Your turmoil of thoughts is less; you shift from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode. It also shifts your stress levels.

In a normal conversation, the speech is from the mind but when you are communicating in writing, you think before you speak.

When you are not speaking but expressing through your emotions, your communication is violent; your respiratory rate will increase.

In both, when you observing silence over a period of time or when you are doing meditative silence, you go into the yogic state of Ritam Bhara and Pragya where you are in connection with the macrocosm. This increases your creativity and spiritual powers.

By observing silence, you have an appointment with your body in parasympathetic state and are able to take more conscious based decisions than impulsive ego based decisions.

In silence, you may be communicating to others but in meditative silence, your communication is with self.