Satsang literally means Association with Truth, also association with the saint and in common parlance it also means spiritual discourse by a Perfect Master. A Satsangi is the one who has been initiated into the manner of getting into contact with the inner audible sound current, Surat Shabd, by a Perfect Master and one who meticulously follows the Master’s instructions in that regard to experience the Lord within.
Satsangis, and those waiting for initiation, are forbidden from drinking alcohol and eating meat, including eggs. They are to abstain from covetousness, either of other’s wealth or opposite sex.
Everyday, there are two sessions of satsang in the Ashram, one in the morning at 6 AM and the second in the evening of longer duration at around 7 PM.
On Sundays, there is one more satsang at mid-day: Hundreds of seekers participate beneficially in these satsangs from Bangalore city and neighbouring places and during Bhandaras this number would rise to about three thousand and more.
Satsangs are spiritual discourses given by the Guru-in-Peeta. The topics selected for satsang are spiritual messages imparted by previous saints such as Kabir, Guru Nanak, Swamiji Maharaj, Paltu Sahib, Tulsi Sahib, Charandasji, Ravidasji, Garibdasji, Sahajobai, Meerabai etc. Usually a hymn is sung from the text (Bani) by Pathi(s) and the inner spiritual meanings of it is explained in a simple understandable way by the Master, sometimes with the aid of anecdotes, parables etc.
Sri. Venkatesh Shanbhag was the “Paatee” (the person who sings the Bani) since 1940s for Baba Somanathji. He mainly sang “bani” at Mumbai and other centres in Maharashtra. Smt. Pushpamma was the ‘Paatee’ since 1950s in Sawan Durbar Ashram and other centres in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Sri. Gurumurthy who used to sing bhajans during Baba Somanathji’s days became a regular ‘Paatee’ since 1997. The melodious tone filled with devotion of the ‘Paatee’ provides for a serene atmosphere at the satsangs.
Sincere Seva through mind, body and wealth is the means to cleanse the mind of the disciple, eliminate his ego, vanity and greed. All those who come to Ashram are encouraged to perform Seva, in a sphere of activity chosen or allotted by the Guru-in-Peeta. Farming, cleaning, construction etc., are different spheres of Seva activity in the Ashram. Babaji had said that worldly posts are unnecessary in the sphere of Paramartha, and following this tenet, since its inception, there have been no posts of any kind in the Ashram, and all sevadars are equal.
Nam or initiation, is conferred by the Master and every satsangi is enjoined to perform Simran/Smaran i.e. repetition of the holy names given by the Master at the time of initiation, all through the day, to the extent practicable. The best time prescribed for meditation is during the early hours of the morning between 3 AM and 6 AM, for which, a bell in the Ashram is rung at 3AM.
In compliance with this instruction, all the satsangis in the Ashram wake up and engage themselves in the said meditation for an experience of the inner Shabd / sound current / Audible life stream, which is the supreme creative power that is eternally vibrating within all souls. It is to this life stream that the perfect Master connects every individual soul, leading the seeker to be released from the cycle of birth and death, that is, salvation.
Every year two Bhandaras/Punya Aradhanas are observed in the Ashram: They mark the death anniversaries of Param Sant Sadguru Huzur Sawan Singhji Maharaj, in the month of April/May and of Baba Somanathji Maharaj and Baba Premanathji Maharaj in the month of November/December. The purpose of these Bhandaras is twofold:
1) It brings the Sangat (disciples) together and provides an occasion for them to participate in Seva, Satsang and Bhajan/Abhyas.
2) It provides a break in the daily routine of worldly life and affords an opportunity for the disciple to spiritually recharge himself towards self-realization.
On these occasions, thousands of satsangis congregate in the Ashram to participate in these functions from places far and near. They are all provided with food and accommodation during their stay in the Ashram. Bhandaras are also celebrated at least once a year in all the affiliated centres.
Residents in the Ashram hail from all walks of life without any distinction of religion, caste, creed or race, including seekers from foreign countries such as Germany, Switzerland, England and America who stayed in the Ashram and got initiated after a course of Seva and Satsang, whereafter took to Abhyas i.e., meditation for self-realization and God realization. All of them have one and the same food – exclusively vegetarian, prepared in the lungar. All their needs including healthcare are met by the Guru-in-Peeta. All of them take part in the Seva activities and attend the Satsangs. These satsangis, as well as those in waiting for initiation, are forbidden from alcohol and meat, including eggs and fish. They are to abstain from covetousness, of other’s wealth and carnal pleasures.
When any satsangi who is closely associated with the Ashram dies, and if the family wishes, the body is buried at a convenient place in the Ashram fields. The burial is carried out with all the due respects and human considerations. No religious rituals are allowed to be carried out or observed and no memorial or samadhi is allowed to be built at the spot.