Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Faith or shraddha
Shraddha is the very basis for self-enquiry.
Sefenquiry and scientific enquiry differ because the
means employed are different.
Any knowledge (pramaa) needs a valid means of
knowledge. You are surely more wellversed than me with
the six accepted pramanas - Pratyaksha (perception),
Anumana (inference), Upamana (comparison), Arthapatti
(assumed postulated inference), Anupalabdhi
(non-apprehension), and Sabda (authoritative word).
Of them anupalabdhi and upamana, of course, do not
apply to knowledge of something that is existence
itself, and, nondual respectively.
Similairly arthapatti and anumana(which of course
includes invariable concomitance) would also not be
valid means of universal knowledge of the vastu for
That leaves pratyaksha and sabda.
Cognition of Brahman as an object is of course never
possible (and without sabda cognizing it as our own
self is similairly not possible.)
That leaves sabda or agama - the authoritative word -
which word - of Ma shruti alone. Without shraddha in
the shruti as a valid independent and indeed
benevolent means of knowledge one cannot attain
If i have shraddha in my eyes as a pramana, and see a
flower in my hands, I "know" it is a flower, even if a
hundred others tell me i picked up a fruit not a
flower. That is shraddha in the pramana.
For a student of physics to understand e=mc2 requires
him to make his intellect fully available for the
enquiry, but he can choose to fully keep his ego
safely intact, raise all manners of objections, and if
possible, try his hardest to disprove the teaching
based on accepted rules and laws of mathematics and
Not so with an enquiry into the self. The foremost
requirement of shraddha is sharanaagati or surrender -
my Ego(or ahankara) is surrendered at the doorstep of
the Guru - I come to Guru and shruti with a complete
acknowledgement of my helplessness in having any other
valid means of knowledge and hence a full and
resounding "faith" in the teachings that will ensure
forth. I may leave ego at the doorstep but certainly
need to bring my intellect to the table and hear the
teachings in a logical framework. I still should issue
forth doubts and counterquestions - but - the
difference is - these are in no way intended to
disprove the teachings themselves or question their
validity - but these are to help me gain clarity about
the teaching - the validity of which i have already
My only reassurance, if you will, is my Guru (and
other realized Seers both present and in the past)
whom this teaching has, as surely as the Sun shines,
blessed and continues to bless. "If it worked for
them, it will work for me"
So doubt I must, and frequently, but within the
overall construct of faith, so the very clearing of
the doubts serves to enhance the clarity of what my
faith knows to be true. Your doubt isn't the opposite
of your faith; it is an element of faith. As Gibran
puts it -
"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his
Is shraddha ever tested? Only in the sense that no
person without this key ingredient has ever attained
selfknowledge "shraddhavaan labhate jnanam - the man
of faith attains knowledge" and the doubter never
attains peace, neither here nor in the hereafter.
Reasoning, without shraddha is philosophy, and will
ever be at best a wonderful passtime with no end in
Shraddha, without reasoning is blind faith, with no
possibility of transformation into understanding and
Reasoning and shradhha without devotion is dry enquiry
and will not transform understanding into realization.