“The importance of the ‘Association of the Devotees / Saadhu Sanga’ is narrated in the following illustration from the Shaastra.
Once the great sage Narada was intrigued by a doubt. He was sure that Lord Vishnu would clear it for him. He proceeded to the Ocean of Milk and found his Lord reclining on the giant hooded serpent-bed Shankarshana, His beautiful consort, Lakshmi devi beside Him.
Sage Narada offered his obeisance to Lord Vishnu and put his question to Him. “Oh Lord, what is the value of Vaishnava Satsang, the Association of Vaishnava Devotees?” Lord Vishnu smiled charmingly and said, “I will answer your question. But first you must do something for me. Look at that village on planet Earth. Can you see a small worm crawling on the ground over there?”With his yogic vision, Sage Narada perceived it and nodded.
“Go over there and ask your question to that worm. I’m sure you’ll get your answer.”
Sage Narada was puzzled, but he nevertheless did as instructed. In response, the worm looked up at him, promptly rolled over and died.Sage Narada was shocked. He hurried back to Lord Vishnu and told Him what had
happened. Lord Vishnu merely smiled and told him, “Oh, is that so? Never mind. Now do one more thing. Go over to that cow-shed you see over there, in that town. A calf was born there a while ago. Please ask the same question to that calf.”
Sage Narada was still recovering from what had happened earlier.”Oh no, my Lord! What if that calf dies as well? I cannot risk committing the unforgivable crime of `go-hatya’!” Lord Vishnu however, was able to persuade him and sage Narada left on his new mission. Warily, he made his way into the cow-shed. It was in the middle of the night and he approached the calf unnoticed. He put the same question to the calf. In response, the calf looked at him with its large brown eyes. And then rolled over and died! Sage Narada was horrified. Using all the yogic powers at his disposal, he fled the scene and arrived at the abode of Lord Vishnu, shaking with fear.
“Oh my Lord! What have I done! The worst sin expected of anyone; the killing of the animal most dear to you!”
Lord Vishnu pacified the trembling sage and assured him that no sin would accrue to him. “And in the bargain, my Lord, I haven’t even got the answer to my question?!” sage Narada complained.
Lord Vishnu smiled and told him that he would have to do just one last thing for Him. “You see that vast kingdom over there? The Queen has just given birth to her first child. All you have to do is ask that child your question and you will get your answer.” “No, my Lord! Please don’t ask me to go there. I have no doubt that some harm will befall that child as well. I simply cannot take that chance.” But Lord Vishnu remained adamant. What could the sage do? Nervously, he set forth towards planet Earth. Arriving on the balcony where the young prince was lying unattended, sage Narada cautiously approached him. The baby looked at him and gurgled with joy.
Hesitatingly, the great sage asked the child, “What is the value of Vaishnava Satsang?’ The child looked at sage Narada, and to his surprise, began to speak. “O great Sage. Your question has already been answered. When you, the greatest of Vaishnavas, had first granted me your association, I was an insignificant worm. As a result of my contact with you, I left that body and was awarded the body of the most pious animal, the calf.
You graced me with your association once more, and I left that body to gain the birth of the prince and heir of this vast kingdom. And by your causeless mercy, you have granted me your exalted association yet again.
Now I have no doubt that this is my last birth on this Earth. Your association will help me attain that Supreme Destination; the abode of Lord Hari Himself!”