Faith & Blind Faith

Excerpts from Satsang by His Holiness Pujya Sant Shri Asaramji Bapu

Lord Sri Krishna advocates, 'There is nothing as sanctifying as jnana in this world.'      (Gita 4.38).

The river Ganges, places of pilgrimage, and doing charitable activities, darshan and satsang of great souls sanctify us too. But all these sanctifying means have a source of their own sanctity in Divine jnana.

Who attains this jnana'

The Lord says, 'One who has faith attains the essential jnana of the Supreme Self.' That which was, which is and will remain forever '(the Supreme Consciousness) and that which did not exist in the beginning, which is non-existent at present and which will not remain forever ' (the temporal world), the esoteric knowledge of both is revealed in the heart of such an individual.

This body did not exist earlier, nor did happiness or sorrow, and for that matter worries did not exist in the past. But the knower of them all is ever present. The body was small in childhood, but is no longer the same. However, the knower of this was present before, is present now and will remain in the future as well. This jnana is acquired from Satsang. But one needs reverential faith to assimilate this jnana.

Some people say, 'What is the need for faith' We do not have faith. We do not believe in Vata-Savitri vrata, etc. We will first observe, have it scientifically proved, and then believe it.' But my dear brother! One does not need faith to believe in things that can be perceived, rather discrimination is required in such cases. Faith is required only for things that cannot be perceived.

Acharya Vinoba Bhave wondered, 'Why do people single out 'faith' as blind' The term 'blind-faith' itself emanates from the worst possible form of blind-faith'. Ask those who talk of blind-faith, if they have believed that their fathers are actually their fathers by faith, through observation or through scientific paternity test. Then how did you accept it' If the Vata-savitri vrata is based on blind-faith, calling your father as 'father' is also based on sheer blind-faith.

Were the alphabets taught at school accepted in faith or after the science had proved them so' Why should 'A' be so and 'B like that' What is the proof' It was a matter of simple acceptance. That's it.

In faith, first it is accepted, and then understood. While in case of reason it is first understood and then accepted. Whatever is observed needs to be analysed for its explanation. But faith alone can help one know the Absolute Existence that bestows the power to see, thus there is no alternative to faith.

In the Veda there is one 'Shraddhaasookta', which holds that one with faith is full of hope and inner strength. With faith in the Holy Scriptures and tutelary deity, one will acquire joy of the mind. Only those having faith can obtain education and engage in business for livelihood. When 1000 students appear for a school exam, only some 800 to 900 of them are successful. If you think, 'Why then should 1000 students take the exam in the first place' Let only those students appear who are sure to pass.' But it is not the case. All 1000 students appear in the faith that they will pass the exam. And when only 800 to 900 students are successful, the rest try and improve to be successful in the next exams. Here too, it is faith that works.

Those self-styled judges of 'faith' and 'blind-faith' should apply a little ghee to their forehead (hopefully their intellect will be enriched). It is chewing Pan masala in the hope of enjoyment, drinking for pleasure, siphoning public funds to increase one's bank balances abroad or amassing large amounts of wealth in the fervent hope of happiness, indulging in discos that constitutes blind faith. Whereas observing Vata-Savitri vrata, undertaking pilgrimages, paying obeisance to gods and goddesses represent faith in real terms.

Lord Krishna says, 'The righteous means of sadhana as illustrated by Me, is quite simple and imperishable. Those who lack faith in these words of Mine, fail to attain Me and wander forever in the vicious cycle of life and death.' (Geeta 9:3)

Those without faith try to derive pleasure from drinking liquor, disco dancing, etc. Instead praise be to those followers of Varakari sect who attain joy simply by chanting the Lord's name. When a doctor asks you to fast, it becomes a compulsion on you, but when you do it voluntarily on Vata-savitri vrata or Ekadasi, it becomes a means, not only to attain good health but also to progress on the spiritual path; besides it also provides a way to exercise self-restraint. It sanctifies and purifies the body, mind and intellect and paves the way for God-realization. Would you call this blind faith or real faith' 

There is no one who does not get benefit by observing a vrata. A vrata develops the conviction within us that we can stay without food and water. Fasting develops faith and with faith you can even attain the Truth.

One, having faith, attains the knowledge which eliminates all sorrows forever. Knowledge of the cause of creation, maintenance and destruction of the entire universe (Supreme Consciousness) can be attained before one's death. Jnaneshwara Maharaj and Tukarama Maharaj were veritable repositories of such jnana. If Samartha Ramdasji, Eknathji, and Jeejabai attained greatness, was it without faith' In the absence of faith they would have taken to drinking and dancing.

With the help of Kirilian photography one can capture the photograph of the body's aura. Those given to sins, debauchery, and anger have an inferior aura whereas faithful devotees engaged in spiritual practices and meditation emit a white, bright and lustrous aura. It is not without reason that a circular aura is shown behind the heads of gods, goddesses and holy men in pictures.

Some people claim they do not believe in the existence of gods and goddesses. But they do believe in their bosses. They believe that one action will bring happiness and another, misery. Thus, in one way or another people have to repose (their) faith in something or the other.

One has to take recourse to faith even in the course of one's day-to-day life. People have faith in the bus driver that he will take them safely to Badrinath; however a few drivers meet with fatal accidents on the way. Nevertheless you do have to keep faith on the bus driver.

It is the same with airplane pilots. He is not a devotee nor Sant Jnaneshwara or Sant Tukarama but a man who flirts with his girlfriends in public, and yet Saintly people like us have to keep faith in these pilots.

When we have to keep faith in pilots who fly us from one place to another, then why not have faith in vratas, fasts, spiritual practices that have the power to save us from this unending cycle of, birth and death, paving the way to Self-realization' People, taken in by those who term the faith of the masses in spiritual practices as blind faith, will become restless and atheists like their mentors.

I pray with folded hands to those denigrating pious faith to tell us how they have come to accept someone to be their father. Did they depend on their own sight or on blind faith' You belong to a particular caste; did you see it yourself, or have to accept it on the basis of faith' Or is it embossed on your forehead' It is only through hearsay that you have believed this. The same is true with your father, uncle, grandparents, and country...

Not only have great personages like Lokmanya Tilaka, Mahatma Gandhi and other Saints benefited from the Srimad Bhagwad Gita, but foreign philosophers also have benefited a great deal from its study. Thoreau, whom Emerson considered as his Guru, has stated, 'There is no antiquity as great as the Gita. When compared to the Gita, all the knowledge of the modern world appears miniscule to me. Every day in the morning I bathe my heart and intellect in the pious water of the Gita.'

I pray with folded hands to those decrying faith that faith is not blind as such. Do not commit the sin of calling believers as blind followers.

Dr. McNichol says, 'In the Indian religion, the Gita presents an excellent amalgam of sharpness of intellect, greatness of conduct and religious fervour. The Gita provides true peace and happiness.'

I would advise those people trying to formulate laws against blind faith to pay heed to Madan Mohan Malviya.

He put his hand on Nehru's shoulder and said, 'Nehru! India is predominantly a religious country. Just see how so many people are experiencing inner bliss by taking a dip in the Ganges here (at Allahabad). They are experiencing great peace and virtuous gaiety. Only those who respect the faith of the Indians will be able to rule over India. Those who try to uproot their faith will themselves be uprooted from their position by the people of India.'

I thank Pandit Nehru that no such canonical law (against the so called blind faith) was enacted during his rule.