It is not enough to say, ‘I believe’. Any fool can say that. But a man who says, ‘I believe such and such to be true’ and carries his life to that truth level has transformed his belief into truth. He possesses Shraddha. It is a capacity to convert belief into truth and conviction.
What does Shraddha mean in physical sciences? It means a faith in the meaningfulness of the universe. A scientist cannot investigate into the mysteries of nature unless he has a prior feeling that nature is worth investigating, that there is some meaning behind all the confusing mass of data before him.
Without that prior faith, he cannot get even the impulse to undertake his scientific inquiry.
That is why in another place Shankara defines Shraddha as astikya buddhih, which, precisely translated, will mean ‘the positive-attitude-oriented reason’. There is tremendous dynamism in such an attitude, which transforms itself into truth and conviction through direct experience.
Swami Ranganathananda was the 13th president of Sri Ramakrishna Mission