The Definition or Explanation of Sant Mat

1. Stillness or steadiness is the essence of Shanti.(A)

2. He who has attained Shanti is a saint.(B)

3. Sant Mat encompasses the thoughts and teachings of the saints and sages.

4. It is natural for human beings to desire Shanti. Inspired by this inherent desire, seers of ancient times searched for the inner peace and found the path to attain this inner peace, and expounded this way in the ancient teachings of the Upanishads.(C) Similar views have been expressed by saints in more recent times such as Guru Nanak and Kabir Sahib. They expressed their teaching in the Punjabi and Hindi vernaculars, respectively,(D) for the inspiration and edification for the common masses. The teachings of these latter saints are referred to as Sant Mat.

However, the Upanishads are considered to be the foundation of Santmat, because they uniquely and abundantly describe the means for attaining Shanti, and contain a comprehensive explanation of the Divine Word-Sound which leads to the Highest Wisdom. The Upanishads explain the yogic techniques and present a systematic path for transcending thought in order to attain the Absolute through the use of sound (the Yoga of Surat Shabda).(E) Santmat follows the yogic path prescribed in the Upanishads and specifically, employs Surat Shabad Yoga in its practices. [Therefore, it is to be understood that the teaching of the saints is a later expression and development of the teaching within the Upanishads.]

When viewed on the surface, the teachings of various saints sometimes seem to contradict one another [or even to contradict the principles of the Upanishads]. But upon deeper analysis, it becomes apparent that there is an unbreakable unity in the spiritual views of all saints. Saints have appeared in different times and in different places, and their followers name their tradition in respect to the particular saint [for example, Kabir Panth and Dadu Panth]. The apparent differences can be attributed to variations in time, place, language, and labels given to the views, but in reality, they are the same. It also happens that excessively zealous followers tend to accentuate these seeming differences. When sectarianism and the forms of the particular time or place of the teachings of a saint are removed, the basic principles of Santmat are in unity.


(A) Shanti is a Sanskrit word which can be understood in English as peace, tranquility, and bliss. It is the peace which results from participation in some degree of Divine communion.

(B) The term “Sant” is derived from the Sanskrit Sat (truth, reality). Thus the “one who knows the Truth,” and who has experienced Ultimate Reality. Even though the word sant does not cognate with “Saint” it is often translated in English “Saint.” In this book, for the sake of convenience, we use the words ‘sant’ and ‘saint’ interchangeably. A saint in the Santmat tradition is one who experiences the mystical state; it is a title conferred because of yogic achievements. This is different from the way this word is commonly understood in Western traditions, where a saint is considered to be morally correct and is only canonized as a saint after death on the basis of some form of miracle that he/she had performed during their life times. In the Sant Mat tradition, a saint is a living person who leads a moral life and has achieved realization of the Divine. Clearly, many of those who are considered to be saints in the Western view would also be included in the Santmat definition of saint.

(C) The Upanishads are ancient Vedic texts that define and categorize the mystical teachings and the philosophy of Yoga. In the chapter on the Vedanta, we have dealt with these teaching in great detail.

(D) The seers of the Upanishads composed in the Sanskrit language. This was not a language of the common people. Guru Nanak and Kabir Sahab describe the same Upanishadic views in languages understood by the common man.

(E) Surat Shabad Yoga is the practice of transcending the mind in order to enter the level beyond the mind. This is the level of ultimate unity. The vehicle for this inward journey is sound.  

— Maharshi Mehi, quoted in the book, Harmony Of All Religions, and, Philosophy Of Liberation:


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