[Advaita-l] Sraddha and Chitta-shuddhi

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 1 15:37:42 CDT 2009

Below is a Vedic scholar's reply to a simple question of mine: "What is Sraddha?" Even without my asking, he has linked it to Chitta-shuddhi. If one is under the misapprehension that Sraddha is merely translated as "faith", read on!


Dear Jayanarayanan,

...Please carry on and propagate our Vedic culture to as many as possible.

	Regarding your question about Sraddha, I have to say that the word has been translated incorrectly and insufficiently as “faith” (nambike in Kannada or nambikkai in Tamil). No doubt Sraddha also means “faith” but it is a very constricted meaning of that word...

	Otherwise the word Sraddha means a lot more. There is a Sukta on Sraddha itself consisting of six mantras and in the Kathaka, Sraddha is imagined as a deity and an Ishti is performed to her with two mantras. In all theses, Sraddha means the way in which you do a work, whether religious or wordly.

	One must do a work with involvement, dedication, participation and identification. All the indriyas (eye, ears, nose, mouth, hands, mind and the whole body) must get involved in the work that he does. This is more so when one is doing Vedokta karmas for Chitta suddhi. That is why in almost all of our Vedokta karmas the rituals are so performed that all the indriyas get engaged in the work being done and co-operate with the mind which is contemplating the meaning of the mantra. When one is performing a puja or a homa, his mind must be contemplating on the mantrartha or the stotrartha that he is reciting, the eyes are engaged in enjoying the sight of the deity (an idol, or a photograph or Agni), the ears are engaged in listening to the stotra of the deity, the nose is enjoying the fragrance of the flowers or the fragrance of the Homa smoke, the mouth is engaged in the recitation, the hands are busy with performance of the Puja or the Homa and the whole
 body is still in a posture convenient for the ritual. Thus all the Indriyas are involved in co-operating with the mind thinking of the deity. Then the pleasure is complete and one feels a sense of fulfillment or Dhanyata. The absence of even one factor reduces the pleasure which is nothing but Chittasuddhi.

	That is why Sankara in his Bhashya said “viveka vignanavato hi kartavyeshu artheshu prathamaha shraddha utpadyate” (it is only in people with power of  discrimination and complete Vedantha Jnana that Sraddha can be seen). One must get a taste (ruchi) in what he is doing, that is Sraddha. No doubt, as a first step, we do obey the orders of elders in doing certain things. Later as Viveka starts setting in one must understand the intrinsic worth of what he is doing and do it with a taste for it. Sraddha is involved even in Vedic recitation, first of all I taught you some Veda mantras and you just repeated them without thinking much about it. Now that you are at a stage when you can discriminate you must understand what you have learned and enjoy the recitation... Once you start understanding the meaning behind the Mantras and their purpose Sraddha can be seen and felt even in the tone and way of recitation. When the whole body with all the Indriyas and
 the mind is fully involved the face of the doer exudes a sanctified glow indicating Sraddha.

	This, we can find in many of our worldly activities. We watch a cricket match on TV and get so involved in it that we do not know what is happening around us. We listen to good music and get completely lost. We sit before the computer trying to solve a complicated problem and we get to involved that we do not know even if our boss is coming and standing behind us. That is Sraddha Jayanarayanan, it is not just faith.

	When we invite somebody (in whom we have a lot of respect) to our house, and when we do know previously his likes and dislikes we must make sincere efforts to procure things which he likes. That is Sraddha. The other day (recently), my book on “Samsakaras and human values” was released. Without my telling anybody, all of my sishyas and friends had assembled there with our traditional dhoti and angavastram. It was a sight to look at so many people in traditional attire and it resembled a rishyasrama. All of them knew my mind and acted accordingly. That is Sraddha. On my mothers ceremony day, it was quite cold in Bangalore (early Feb) and we arragned for warm water for the Brahmanas to wash their hands. After a heavy meal the pleasure of washing hands in warm water in a cold climate must only be experienced! One of them (Brahmanas) exclaimed “Ah!, this is Sraddha!!”.

	Jayanarayanan! There are several aspects of this Sraddha and it cannot be translated into English by one word. Maintaining punctuality is Sraddha. Replying without fail to someone who writes to you is Sraddha. The list goes on. Let me stop.




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