Sraddha (Faith): The Foundation of Spiritual Progress
¤raddha (Faith) is the strongest and highest power in moulding one's life in a specific direction. The essence of ¤raddha is r unshakable belief in noble ideals. When this belief in high principles goes up to the level of making it a practice, a part of life, it is called devotion; and when this matured belief enters the field of realization of Self and that of God, it is called Siddhi.
It has been observed that in spite of taking recourse to the same mantra, same method of Sadhana
and the guidance of the same Guru
(spiritual guide), the spiritual unfoldment of different Sadhaks progresses at different paces. Some Sadhaks climb up quickly the steps of selfrrealization while others appear to crawl slowly. What is the reason for this anomaly? Learned persons have answered this question like this: In the field of spirituality, the power of ¤raddha (faith) is supreme. As it is possible to undertake heavy physical activities with strong muscle power and accomplish difficult tasks; so also it is possible to produce miracles in the field of Sadhana
on the basis of one's ¤raddha. Rituals of worship
without ¤raddha are lifeless and the effort done in that direction also goes waste. Explaining the importance of ¤raddha, in Srimad Bhagwad Gita, Lord Sri Krishna says:
Satvanurupa sarvasya sraddha bhavati Bharat,
¤raddhamanoayam puruso yo yachraddhaí sa aiva sah.
That is r O Arjun! The faith of each man takes the shape given to it by his staff of being r his soul. This soul is made up of faith; and whatever is that faith in him, he is that and that is he.
It is faith that transforms lifeless stones into living symbols of Divinity
capable of showing supernatural powers. Meera, with the aid of the force of her faith made the idol of Lord Krishna so intensely instinct with divine love that it appeared more powerful than the real Krishna. In the context of faith, one beautiful episode is encountered in Epic Ramayana. At the time of making the bridge over the sea, Reechha and Vanar (creatures of the class of bear and monkey) with deep devotion towards Lord Rama, made the stones float on water, but the stones that were thrown by Rama himself didn't float. It is faith that produces supernatural powers. Great seer Patanjali has expounded the achievement of siddhi
of Asamprajnat Samadhi, even by the devotees of normal cadre on the basis of ¤raddha r
¤raddha virya smriti samadhi prajnapurvakam itaresam.
That is r Strength, memory and Samadhi may be achieved (by even ordinary people) with the aid of ¤raddha (faith) and wisdom.
If it is observed minutely, it will be clear that the entire flow of life and its achievements are, in fact, the result of faith alone. The mother carries the child in her womb and nourishes him/her with her blood and flesh for nine months. After birth too she provides selfless protection for the child. This is an excellent example of faith. If one starts considering this act a load or trouble, it will not be possible to give birth to any child. It is the faith due to which the child remains tucked in the lap of his mother and get her love and affection. The faith of a voiceless newborn remains only on his mother. Mother too with a pure heart makes an allrout effort to nurture the child. The reasoning tests everything on the basis of its utility. If the reasoning is applied in childrmother relationship, the very existence of child will become doubtful. If the utilitarian viewpoint becomes a tradition in all spheres of life, then the families and the society will be shattered; the civilization cannot be kept alive for long.
It is faith that creates the bonds of love among the members of family and inspires them to cooperate and sacrifice their interests for others. The lack of faith alone is responsible for the disintegration of families. The illrfeeling between husband and wife and the rift among the family members are due only to distrust or faithlessness. From the utilitarian point of view, it will be difficult to understand the importance of old parents. They seem only to be unnecessary burdens. But the faithful view knows how much we owe to them. The desire of getting their blessings remains throughout the life.
¤raddha (Faith) is the strongest and highest power in moulding one's life in a specific direction. The essence of faith is r unshakable belief in noble ideals. When this belief in high principles goes up to the level of making it a practice, a part of life, it is called devotion; and when this matured belief enters the field of realization of Self and that of God, it is called Siddhi. That is why the seerrpoet Tulsidasji has emphasized the necessity of ¤raddha (faith) and Viswas (belief) in spiritual endeavors:
Bhavani sankarau vande sraddha viswas rupinau|
Yabhyam bina na pasyanti siddhaí swantaí sthamiswaram ||
Meaning: We first salute Bhavani and Shankar, Nature and God in the form of sraddha and viswas, without which realization of Self and that of God is not possible.
Physical strength is increased through exercises, knowledge is acquired through proper education and prosperity is attained through appropriate business/profession. In the same way sraddha and viswas are augmented through the media of idols of deities, holy places, symbols of worship, etc. Eklavya could take so much benefit from an earthen idol of Guru
Dronacharya that Pandavas could not take from the real Dronacharya. This was the miracle of the power of sraddha. God does not reside in metal or stone idols. Bhavo hi vidyate dev tasmat bhavo hi karnam r that is, God resides in faith.
In augmenting sraddha and viswas, one crucial element that proves to be very helpful is r Guru. In the field of spirituality, the importance of Guru
has been stressed greatly. In the prayer couplets r"Gururbrahma gururvisnu", "Akhand mandlakaram tasmai sri gurave namaí", etc Guru
has been considered at par with God. If a knowledgeable, virtuous Guru, rich in spiritual experience, is made available for a sadhak, then it should be considered that half the success has been achieved right in the beginning. If a selfless bond between Guru
and sisya (disciple) is established, this union becomes comparable to a fragrant gold. We will elaborate, in the next issue, on the need of Guru
and his role in the holistic development of individuals, family and the society at large.