Effect of Association with Saints
A pedlar vending medicinal herbs and roots carries a peculiar bolus which can absorb poison or toxins when placed over the spot of a venomous sting or a festering wound. When washed, the special property of the bolus is restored. In the same way, our sins are drained away in the company of a saint, while the saint himself remains pure and holy as before. Association with a holy man can, perhaps, be secured, but it is very difficult to maintain it. Generally, we seek the company of what we like; and because we are impure at heart we seek the company of sensuous persons. Sense-objects may not be harmful in themselves, but it is the company of sensuous persons that is debasing. Company affects us for evil or for good. A saint is a person who does not help us in the gratification of worldly pleasures but, on the contrary, weans us away from them. A saint is one who kindles love for God in our hearts. We should have an earnest longing to meet such a saint. Sense-pleasures are very enticing; but when we feel that we should free ourselves from their clutches we should resort to the company of the devout. When evil thoughts beset the mind, take recourse to nama.
Those who see everything as the manifestation of God, and the universe as His pleasurable amusement, alone find true and lasting joy. That is why the saints always talk of God. Saint Tukaram used only to utter the name of the Lord, 'Vitthal', 'Vitthal', but its sweetness far surpassed that of the best of our music.
Saints feel deep and sincere compassion for us; we cannot even gauge its depth; because our mind is steeped in sense- pleasures, we take their advice lightly, though it is in our interest. When we are ill we take the prescribed medicine even if it is unpleasant to taste and smell; then why should we not attend to the benevolent advice of the saints as an antidote to miseries of worldly life? Even the apparently harsh words of a saint do not hurt, because he is constantly in communion with God.
Absolute fearlessness is the chief mark of a saint; there is no cause for fear when one feels that he himself pervades the universe.
* * * * *