Where Is My Sangat?

Guest blogged by Jind Kaur

For my inaugural [guest] post on The Langar Hall, I wanted to discuss something that is often on my mind when I think about our faith and how to practice it: the concept of sangat (the congregation). The Guru Sahibaan often impressed upon us how we should not isolate ourselves from the world in order to find salvation. We are taught that we must live amongst the world, and it is from the sangat where we learn and practice the teachings the Gurus pass on to us. Satsangat Satgur Chattsaal Hai, Jit Har Gunh Sikha The Sat Sangat, the True Congregation of the True Guru, is the school of the soul, where the Glorious Virtues of the Lord are studied. Participation and engagement with the sangat is considered essential for a Sikhs spiritual progress. It is in the sangat that we worship and in the sangat where we are to receive training in our faith and its daily application. The sangat is our holy fellowship where we may become morally elevated.

But where is our sangat? Is our sangat in our Gurudwara, out in the world or some combination of both? Sometimes when I see the current state of our Gurudwaras, regardless of geography, it makes me want to stay home to pray quietly by myself and find other ways to do seva where it is needed. There is an epidemic of politics overtaking our Gurudwaras. However, this is enabled and encouraged by the absence of a true sangat.

When I was a teenager attending a particular Sikh camp, (I dont want to date myself), I attended a lecture/discussion that has permanently imprinted itself in my mind. The man who led the discussion taught us about the root of the word sangat this is sang (pronounced sung), which means together. Your sangat consists of those whom you walk with together in life. This led me to ask, not only where my sangat is, but who is in that sangat.

In that same lecture, the man leading the discussion told us one of the most empowering things I have ever heard. He said, You must know, that you can choose your own sangat. One of my favorite aspects of Sikhi is the idea of personal sovereignty and empowerment. Yet, until that day, I had never thought to apply this concept to the idea of the sangat. Many of us do not realize that we have this choice. We can choose our sangat; we can choose who we associate with, who we learn from and who we practice our faith with. This led me to an even bigger revelation. If we can choose our sangat, then it is our responsibility to choose the right sangat for ourselves, and our responsibility if we associate ourselves with those who pull us away from our faith. What we have to realize is that those people may come in many forms.

We as a people are not divided. Rather, we divide ourselves. We seclude ourselves, thinking that if we only associate with those we sit next to while eating langar, then we are in our sangat. We forget that Sri HarMandir Sahib has four doors with which to welcome all people of all faiths and from all walks of life. All those who are permitted to enter Sri HarMandir Sahib are permitted to enter our sangat. Who will you choose?


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2 Responses to “Where Is My Sangat?”

  1. "We can choose our sangat; we can choose who we associate with, who we learn from and who we practice our faith with. This led me to an even bigger revelation. If we can choose our sangat, then it is our responsibility to choose the right sangat for ourselves, and our responsibility if we associate ourselves with those who pull us away from our faith. What we have to realize is that those people may come in many forms."

    – Great post, and I totally agree. I think one of the difficult things about following the Sikh path is that you realise how few people want and are trying to achieve the same things as you are. Even friends that are outwardly spiritually motivated and loving can still have concealed materialistic values and buy into many of the pleasures that we consider Maya. Whilst I don't want to cut these people out of my life completely (it might be easy to become elitist in such selectivity and I can still learn from them) I am certainly limiting my time with them or explaining why I don't want to engage in some of the activities we used to.

  2. "We can choose our sangat; we can choose who we associate with, who we learn from and who we practice our faith with. This led me to an even bigger revelation. If we can choose our sangat, then it is our responsibility to choose the right sangat for ourselves, and our responsibility if we associate ourselves with those who pull us away from our faith. What we have to realize is that those people may come in many forms."

    – Great post, and I totally agree. I think one of the difficult things about following the Sikh path is that you realise how few people want and are trying to achieve the same things as you are. Even friends that are outwardly spiritually motivated and loving can still have concealed materialistic values and buy into many of the pleasures that we consider Maya. Whilst I don't want to cut these people out of my life completely (it might be easy to become elitist in such selectivity and I can still learn from them) I am certainly limiting my time with them or explaining why I don't want to engage in some of the activities we used to.