Gurbani Word Of The Day: saňt

ਸੰਤ (saňt)

Meaning: noun: Thugs, in the forms of sants.

ਐਸੇ ਸੰਤ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਭਾਵਹਿ॥ ਡਾਲਾ ਸਿਉ ਪੇਡਾ ਗਟਕਾਵਹਿ॥
ਇਹੋ ਜਿਹੇ ਸੰਤ ਜਾਂ ਠੱਗ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਚੰਗੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਲਗਦੇ, ਜੋ ਪੇੜ ਨੂੰ ਡਾਲਾਂ ਸਮੇਤ ਸਾਬਤ ਨਿਗਲ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ।

aise saňt na mo kau bhaavahi. aalaa siu peaa gattkaavahi
 Such sants or thugs are not pleasing to me who gulp the tree along with its branches. -Bhagat Kabir, Guru Granth Sahib, 476

Message: Call them not sants but crooks!
Not all those who appear to be saintly in their outward show are saintly or good in actual life. Hence, sometimes, the word sant might be used satirically for such people, who call themselves sants or add it to their names as a title or desire to be called so by others but lead a life of hypocrites.

Gurbani critiques such people because it is discriminatory if someone assumes that he or she is higher than others. It is anti-thesis to the control of egoism and self-realisation. Hence, calling oneself higher than others is not spiritually wise or sanctioned.

Another example of sants in Gurbani, referring to hypocrites:
ਹਿਰਦੈ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਕਪਟੁ ਵਸੈ   ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਕਹਾਹਿ॥ 
ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਚੁਕਈ   ਅੰਤਿ ਗਏ ਪਛੁਤਾਹਿ॥
Those whose hearts are filled with hypocrisy and who call themselves sants outwardly – their material cravings are never satisfied, they depart regretting in the end. -Guru Amar Das, Guru Granth Sahib, 491

Notes: It may be worth noting that hundreds of outfits and their off-shoots exist in rural areas in Punjab and elsewhere in India who proclaim to be sants or babas.

Further, it might be of interest to note that hardly any Sikh used the word sant for himself before the beginning of the twentieth century. In the Gurus’ period and later on, the most revered term for males in Sikh tradition was “Bhai” (brother or colleague): Bhai Mardana, Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Maharaj Singh, etc.

In Gurbani, the word sant is used loosely to denote anyone who is close to the Divine and the teachings of the Guru. The Gurus were against new rituals and traditions springing and confusing people. Thus they never did sanction any tradition like sainthood, neither any initiation to be a sant. They knew such practices would delude the masses.

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