Faith

9th Nov 2003
Kalacakra Krsna das

Dear Vaishnavas
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

I was reading the 4th chapter in Gita and the last 4 verses (4.39-42) attracted my attention. Krishna basically talks in those verses about the "doubt and faith" and explains how to drive away doubts by the sword of transcendental knowledge - jñāna-sañchinna-saṁśayam).

"A faithful man who is absorbed in transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace. But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God-consciousness. For the doubting soul, there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next. Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the self, is not bound by works, O conqueror of riches. Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight."

Looking at the word "faith" a few thoughts came to me. It is a very interesting word which is so frequently used, hence I thought if we understand it will be very helpful. First, let us see what Prabhupada says in the purport for Bhagavad-Gita verse 2.41:- "Faith means unflinching trust in something sublime.

If we ask people what they have faith on, they may say so many different things. If we ask them, "Do you have faith in God?", most of them will say "yes". But if we ask them the next question, "Do you know who is God?", then they will go blank or say some weird things. This is because their faith is not based on the authentic revealed scriptures. Krishna says this  in Bhagavad Gita 16.23 very clearly:

yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya vartate kāma-kārataḥ
na sa siddhim avāpnoti na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim

He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.

Following this, in the beginning of the 17th chapter, Arjuna asks a question to Krishna as to what happens to those who do not follow the scriptures and Krishna dedicates the entire chapter to explain the three divisions of faith based on the modes of the material nature.

The shastras are the sublime source of knowledge and by keeping faith in them, we can attain unflinching devotion to Krishna. A sign of faith in something is that there is a constant increase in our interest to acquire more and more of it. To understand this, we can consider this point. Deep in every one of our hearts, we all have strong faith in some of our own attributes, characters, etc. Someone may think that he/she is very intelligent. That person will be happy to hear anything that aligns to this belief. If somebody praises, "Oh you are very intelligent?", he is very pleased to hear that. And he wants to hear more and more of such praises. Whereas if someone tells him, "You are fool number one", then he finds it hard to accept it, because it goes against his internal belief system. This happens to all of us in different ways for our different beliefs. 

We don't like to hear anything bad/negative about ourselves because we don't think we are bad. To understand the relation between 'faith' and 'eagerness to hear more', Krishna revealed to me two interesting verses in the Bhagavatam just while I am writing this mail. Two verses SB 1.2.12 ("tac chraddadhānā munayo...") and 1.2.16 ("śuśrūṣoḥ śraddadhānasya...") uses the word "śraddadhānasya". In the first one, Prabhupada gives the word-word equivalent "seriously inquisitive" and in the second one, he uses the word "with care and attention". We know that the word "śraddha" means faith. And "śraddadhānasya" is derived from it. Hence, unless we are faithful about something, we are not attentive to it or inquisitive to know more about it.

If we understand this point, and if we are willing to turn that same "faith" towards Krishna and His names, attributes, pastimes, etc, then we should study shastras like Bhagavad-gita / Bhagavatam regularly (nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā). The result of it is that loving service unto Krishna is established as an irrevocable fact (bhaktir bhagavati naiṣṭhikī).

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Kalacakra Krsna das.