[Advaita-l] Faith vs. Sraddha

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 5 09:58:02 CDT 2009

I've been thinking about the two terms for sometime now, and do not accept that "Faith" is a reasonable translation of "Sraddha" for the following reason.

The most critical distinction between the two words is:

  Faith: Does not require Effort.

  Sraddha: Requires Effort.

The above difference is not minor, and in fact leads to serious consequences in the way one understands a spiritual path.

Consider an example of a person X: He lies, steals, and lives a life full of sense-pleasures. But he "believes" in God and Scripture.

As anyone familiar with the English language (not only Christians) will tell you, X has faith because he "believes", but I think I can safely say that Sanskrit scholars (or Vedantins of any kind, whether Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Dvaita, or any other) will NOT accept that X has Sraddha.

Personally, I feel that Effort is so crucial to Sraddha that I have no tolerance for people who eat meat, drink wine, live as they please and claim that they're "Vedantins" because they "believe" in the dictum "Aham Brahmasmi". They may have faith, but they have no Sraddha!


PS: To quote the instance during which Ramana Maharshi narrated the story of Sraddha again-

"A devotee obtained a copy of Sri Bhagavan’s work
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty Verses on Reality) and began to
write out the entire work for himself. Seeing him doing this
writing with earnestness, though with a certain amount of
difficulty and strain, since the devotee was not accustomed
to squatting and doing continuous writing work, Bhagavan
told the story of a sannyasi and his disciples to illustrate
what is called sraddha – earnestness of purpose."

Honestly, does anyone think that Ramana Maharshi appreciated the devotee's "Belief" or his "Effort" as Sraddha? IMHO, it was the latter and not the former.


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