Santmat: An Introduction
Santmat, the Way of Sages, is also referred to as the path of saints, the teachings of saints, and as the conviction of saints and sages. It is neither a new religion nor a new sect of an existing religion. Santmat is not a new philosophical conviction, or even a new interpretation of a religious tradition. Santmat was not founded by any particular sage or saint, although it respects all equally. Further, Santmat represents the eternal and eternal wisdom and method and is in accordance with the ancient Vedas.
Santmat is a pure spiritual tradition. The teachings of Santmat integrate devotion of God with inner subtle knowledge and yoga disciplines. It has been spoken about by many of the saints.
Sant Tulsidas Ji sings in praise of Santmat:
I don’t mean any preference here as I praise Santmat as it is spoken about in the Vedas and the Puranas.
Sant Tulsi Sahab of Hatharas states:
I don’t know any other saint, guru or path. Only the path of saints I consider gratifying.
He further says:
Santmat is the quintessence. The rest is the net of illusion (maya).
Maharishi Mehi Paramhans Ji Maharaj praises the path of the saints:
Without the teachings of saints there is no liberation. I ask that you listen to this carefully. If you desire ultimate freedom then become the children of saints. By this is meant that freedom and liberation can only be attained by one who follows the path of saints with great devotion.
People who are ignorant of the knowledge of saints say that the teachings of saints are contrary to the Vedas. Also, those who are not fully conversant with the mystical teachings of the Vedas say the Vedas are devoid of the teachings of saints. However, Santmat refutes these erroneous claims, which are simply rooted in ignorance, and then brings understanding and harmony to these two incorrect perspectives. Santmat proclaims that the teachings of saints and the essential knowledge expounded by the Vedas are identical. As well, the sages and great saints of ancient times taught the same message about the Divine as the saints of today. These teachings of the saints are the same as the knowledge found in the Vedas. The present need is to examine these statements closely and to experience the Truth within.
As Kabir Sahab says:
The only people who find this [wisdom or Truth] are those who delve deep into the waters [of knowledge]. Those who are afraid of drowning in the water [of knowledge] only sit by its banks [and simply talk about the waters of knowledge].
If one studies deeply the words of the rishis (the Seers of the Vedas) and sages, then one will recognize the supreme harmony and corresponding agreement in the ideas.
Sant Dadu says:
Those who have reached the supreme destiny [understanding of Truth] all speak a single language. The wise are of one thought and they all belong to one caste [one mind set]
The Importance of Santmat
People everywhere in the world desire happiness, and none want suffering or pain. Of all living beings, human life is the most advanced. Humans not only desire happiness, they also make many kinds of efforts to achieve peace and happiness on the basis of their knowledge. But the result is apparent: in the effort to find satisfaction people only find unhappiness; in an effort to find peace, even more anxiety often results. It is difficult to find a person in this world who does not have concerns and worries. It is equally difficult to find one who has found peace and happiness and is free of suffering. Each human being is in the grip of physical, mental, or natural suffering. Even those who are wealthy, strong, gifted, beautiful, and bountiful, seem to be unhappy, and have to experience some form of suffering in their lives.
What is the cause of this unhappiness? Unless we are able to know the cause of a sickness, it will be impossible to find a cure for it.
Sant Kabir Sahab asks:
You have lost an object in one place and you are looking for it in an entirely different place. How could you possibly find it?
Let us consider this dilemma in view of the way people usually attempt to find peace, joy and contentment. People wander ceaselessly through life, always seeking to acquire material resources, thinking they will thus achieve their goal of happiness. However, as the saints tell us, even if we acquire all these physical possessions—status, fame, or wealth—we are still unable to attain true peace, joy and happiness. The peace we seek is not found in the outer material world but only in the inner world of the soul. The outer manifest world is merely sensory. It is transitory and ever fleeting. But within us lives the Supreme Being whose true form is peace and bliss. The Divine is unmanifest (without physical form), eternal, and beyond the senses. Only by turning inward and ceasing the outward wandering, will we be able to attain lasting joy and eternal peace.
We can understand this through an analogy: If we throw a rock towards the sky, we find that the rock must return to the earth. And, even though the rock is flying and tumbling through the air as though it is part of the air, it will, nevertheless, soon return to the earth, since it is part of the earth. It is as though the rock, which is a part of the earth, strains to come back to earth, and finds stillness in reuniting with the earth. In the same way, we can think of the human soul, as it wanders through multiple life forms: the Hindu scriptures speak of 84 hundred thousand life forms.1 The soul will experience suffering in the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara)—reincarnation after reincarnation—until it merges into the Supreme Soul (Divine), which is inseparable from the soul. The Divine exists in the soundless state, but the living soul has descended into this realm of darkness.
Maharishi Mehi Paramhans advises to begin the journey:
You have descended into this darkness from the soundless state. You are now far from your home in the soundless Divine. You are caught here in this dark realm. Therefore, at this very moment, begin your journey homeward toward that soundless state.
Through inner meditation the jivatman (individual soul) begins its ascent toward the soundless state where it will eventually merge with the Divine. When the soul thus experiences oneness with the Divine, it will attain ultimate peace and supreme joy.
Santmat teaches a path to the attainment of this joy and peace. This is the significance of the way of saints and the importance of Santmat.