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Shraddha and it's importance

Question: Swamiji, please explain shraddha (faith) and its importance.

Answer: First, let us see the difference between shraddha and andha-vishwasa or blind faith. The great acharyas (teachers) of the Hindu tradition never demanded that their students should blindly believe or “swallow” anything. In fact, they didn’t want their students to believe; they wanted their students to understand. A teacher wants students to understand, to know, unlike a preacher who wants listeners to believe. A physics professor doesn’t want his students to believe in atoms; he wants them to understand. In the same way, Hindu teachers and spiritual texts do not command you to believe; they lead you to understand.

The goal, as understood by the ancient rishis, is not to merely believe in God, but to know God directly. Shraddha is the first step in one’s search for God. In the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says, “shraddhavan labhate jnanam, one with shraddha gains knowledge. Thus shraddha is like a stepping stone; with the help of a teacher, believe in God eventually leads to direct knowledge. Shraddha is indispensable, because without it, knowledge of the Lord will forever be beyond ones grasp.