Bhaja Govindam 14: Satsang is the only boat to cross ocean called samsara (Verse 13)

Kāte kāntā dhana gata cintā vātula kiṃ tava nāsti niyantā |

Trijagati sajjana sangatirekā bhavati bhavārṇava taraṇe naukā || 13 ||

Meaning – O whimsical mad man! Why are your thoughts and worries centered upon your wife and money? Is there none to advise you properly? Realize that the only thing in these three worlds that can save you from the repeated cycle of re-births is the boat called satsang.

It is human nature to eternally worry about this life and the wealth needed in life. To safeguard them, the person thinks from various angles and takes every precautionary measure. He displays great anxiety in procuring wealth. But, the truth is that all this is of absolutely no use! To emphasize this point, the term ‘vātula’ has been used. ‘Vātula’ means ‘insane foolish man’ and therefore we should realize that we are being rebuked and reprimanded!

Trapped in these senses (indriyas) and materialistic objects (vishya) the person whiles away all the time allotted to him. Even birds and animals are engaging themselves in these activities only. What then is the speciality of human birth?

A human being needs to focus and reflect on subjects relating to the supreme principles/ essence (tattva vichara drishti). Towards this, the phrase ‘tattva chintāya’ is often used. With this objective in mind, the person should follow a Sadguru. The Sadguru takes his disciple smoothly in this path of tattva chintana (analysis/ contemplation of the Supreme Essence).

These worldly bondages have been compared to an ocean in which the person is drowning. The waves called joys and sorrows submerge the person in this ocean, causing him to become breathless. The wise person therefore seeks to cross this ocean and reach the shore.

How to reach the shore? This verse explains the way out. It states that the association/ friendship (satsang) with satpurushas (holy beings) is the only way to cross this ocean called repeated re-births (samsāra). It is a boat that unfailing takes us through.

Only satpurushas are able to cultivate in their fellow-beings the trait of renunciation (tyaga buddhi). They teach the hard truths about creation; decisively segregate between that which is real and unreal (satya –asatya) and show it by way of experience to their devotees. They are able to inculcate feelings of detachment (vairagya) in people.

The benefits of healthy satsang with satpurushas are unimaginable! When Nahusha was thrown out of heaven and had to fall on earth, he begged that he should fall in a place that was inhabited by holy men (satpurusha). Such is the power of satsang!

It is for this reason that Shankaracharya Swami emphatically declares that satsang is the only boat that helps the being escape from this ocean called samsara. The depth of this ocean called samsara is unfathomable. When seated in a boat, however deep the ocean may be, it will not cause any fear within us. In a similar manner, the one who maintains satsang with holy persons, need not fear about the depth of this samsara. Satpurushas live an exemplary life, guide us in this path, teach us to contemplate upon Paramatma, show to us our own mistakes and help us rectify them and in this way they enable us to cross this ocean safely.

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