Satsang is a lively, ancient spiritual practice from India. People gather with a teacher and engage in a relaxed, “anything goes” conversation about the nature of reality, self-realization, spiritual life, and all aspects of human experience from the most ordinary to the most cosmic. Satsang always includes kirtan. Shambhavi holds satsang every week.
Exactly what happens at satsang?
We chant some chants. Then Shambhavi leads a free-flowing conversation during which people ask questions about anything. Sometimes we do a short, guided practice such as mantra chanting, kriya yoga, or a meditation. The conversation is followed by open-mic, community kirtan. Tea is always served.
HOW CAN I ATTEND SATSANG?
During the current shelter-in-place, Shambhavi is livestreaming satsang and kirtan three times a week. Request to join our Facebook Group: Jaya Kula News, or sign up for our email newsletter in order to get information about how to join in.
Live satsang with Shambhavi will be held every Sunday and Wednesday in Berkeley, California. Sunday Satsang will be livestreamed to current students, subscribers to our newsletter, and members of our Jaya Kula News Facebook Group.
Wanna host a satsang + Kirtan with Shambhavi?
Do you live anywhere from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa, from the coast to Contra Costa? Shambhavi would be happy to show up and offer a pop up satsang + kirtan at your house, apartment, yoga studio, shack, winnebago, yurt, cafe, store, clinic, or co-housing project. Contact Shambhavi’s assistant, Nirmana, if interested: nirmana [at] jayakula.org.
What is community kirtan?
Kirtan is call and response singing accompanied by harmonium, drums, bells and any other instruments people bring!
Jaya Kula kirtans are not professional performances or concerts. Anyone can lead the singing or play an instrument.
We have a harmonium and loads of percussion instruments available. Our kirtans range from the most traditional to improvised kirtan to original kirtans composed by community members to more modern interpretations.
MORE For you satsang geeks
Attending satsang is a fundamental practice within many Indian traditions. Satsang was the primary way in which teachers interacted with groups of people before Westerners invented “the workshop.”
Shambhavi’s root teacher, Anandamayi Ma, only taught in satsang. Here’s what she has to say:
By listening repeatedly to discussions and discourses on [spiritual] topics, the path to first-hand knowledge of what has been heard gradually opens out. You know, it is as when water uninterruptedly dripping on a stone finally makes a hole in it, and then a flood may suddenly surge through. ~Anandamayi Ma
Being in Reality together
Satsang is usually translated as “in the company of the wise.” Shambhavi prefers to translate it as “being in Reality together.” “Sat” means reality or existence. “Sang” is a root that indicates coming or being together.
Satsang is like taking a gentle, or sometimes not so gentle, bath in an enlarged experience of your own essence nature. Satsang is transmission. This is why Anandamayi Ma says that the path to first-hand knowledge of what is being said can open out as a result of attending satsang. For a time, people are relieved of maintaining a defensive posture toward life. Even when satsang is over, we retain some of this experience, and slowly, slowly, the rock of our defensiveness is worn away.
Sat-sanga means association with Sat or Reality. One who knows or has realized Sat is also regarded as Sat. Such association with Sat or with one who knows Sat is absolutely necessary for all. Shankara has said that in all the three worlds there is no boat like Sat-sanga to carry one safely across the ocean of births and deaths…. Sat is only the Self. Since the Self is not now understood to be Sat, the company of the sage who has thus understood it is sought. ~Ramana Maharshi
Want even more? Listen to Shambhavi talk about what happens in satsang!
About the teacher
Shambhavi Sarasvati is the spiritual director of Jaya Kula. Her principle training is in the View and practices of Trika Shaivism, the Tantrik tradition of Kashmir, and the Dzogchen tradition of Tibet.
“Spiritual practice is a way to find out who you really are and to live in the fullness of Reality. This is Self-realization. Nothing more or less.” —Shambhavi
You can read more about Shambhavi’s background, training and publications here.