Sangat or sanggat refers to association and may mean assembly, collection, company, fellowship, congregation, meeting, meeting place, union, or marital union. Sangat is derived from the root word sang meaning association, or to accompany travelers on pilgrimage. The word sangat refers only to fellowship, but does not necessarily refer to the merits or traits of associates. A prefix defines the traits of sangat:
Sadh Sangat is association with religious companions and refers to the company of those who are good, holy, religious, righteous, saintly, and virtuous. Sat Sangat is association with righteous companions and refers to the genuine society or guild of true fellowship with good people, sages, or saints.
Sangat in Sikhism
In Sikhism, sangat generally refers to companions or the collective body of Sikhs who are the members of a congregation. Sangat may also mean fellowship, the gathering of spiritual companions in an assembly with associates of like minded souls, essentially the company one keeps. Sangat can also refer to a meeting place such as the gurdwara, the Sikhs place of worship, to hear divine hymns of kirtan sung, and gur ka langar, the guru's dining facility, or other spiritual setting etc.
In Sikhism, the moral traits of sangat are very important and are mentioned in both scripture of Guru Granth Sahib and the code of conduct. The Sikh Gurus formulated a social code which prohibits association with the undesirable society of daughter killers, drunkards, gamblers, thieves, thugs, tobacco smokers. Willful engagement in immoral activities, or breach of conduct may subject the perpetrator to boycott, or excommunication and shunning. The Gurus wrote scripture extolling the virtues of pious sangat:
"Mil sangat man naam vasaaee ||
Joining the holy congregation, the Name comes to dwell in the mind." 4th SGGS||95
Guru Raam Das
"Sadhsangat man nirmal hoo-aa ||
With religious companions, the the mind becomes immaculate." 5th Guru Arjun Dev SGGS||51
"Jis no aapae rangae su rapsee satsangat milaae ||
Only those whom the Lord imbues are so imbued, they join the True Congregation.
Poorae gur tae satsangat oopjai sehjae sach subhaa-e ||5||
From the perfect Enlightener, the guild of saintly companions emanates, and one easily embraces Love of the True One’s glory."
Bin sangatee sabh aisae reheh jaisae pas ddhor ||
Without the association of righteous society, all remain like beastly animals.
Jinh keetae tisai na jaananhee bin naavai sabh chor ||6||
They know not the One who created them; without the Name, they are all thieves." ||6|| 3rd Guru Amar Das SGGS||427
"Sant janaa mil sangatee gurmukh teerath hoe ||
Meeting with Saintly society one faces toward the enlightener as though making pilgrimage to a sacred shrine." 1st Guru Nanak Dev SGGS||597
"Satsangatee sang har dhan khatteeai hor thai horat oupaa-e har dhan kithai na paaee ||Associating with the True Congregation, the Lords wealth is earned; the Lord’s wealth is unattainable elsewhere by any other means whatsoever." 4th Guru Raam Das