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Why Shraddha Is Of Prime Importance In Hinduism?

Etymologically, the word Shraddha is derived from shrat, a root noun probably cognate with the English word ‘heart’, and dha to place; it would thus mean: “to put one’s heart on something”.’  Though generally the English word ‘faith’ is used to translate ‘shraddha’, it does not convey the same meaning. Here is a look at why Shraddha is of prime importance in Hinduism.

Shraddha brings out all the powers lying dormant in an individual. Swami Vivekananda says: ‘All progress and power are already in every man … only it is barred in and prevented from taking its proper course. If anyone can take the bar off, in rushes nature. Then the man attains the powers which are his already.’ Therefore, everything consists in taking the bar off, in connecting with God.

Faith is but the wire that connects the lamp of consciousness in us to the central power station that is God. The light that burns in our lamp derives its energy from the central house. If we are able to excel in any field of endeavor, it is only because we have knowingly or unknowingly connected ourselves to the Infinite Excellence that is the Supreme. When Bhagavan Sri Krishna says in the Gita that the doubter perishes, it is this that he means. The doubter who lacks faith omits to connect himself to the central source of power. And then he complains that his tiny light does not burn. The stronger our faith in the Divine, the easier becomes the solution to all problems. (Faith in the Divine, Vedanta Kesari, 69/9 (September 1982), 342.)

Shraddha becomes the breeding ground of all virtues: In the beginning comes shraddha, which leads to association with the holy, and then to acts of worship, which results in destruction of sins, leading to steadfastness, and then interest (in the ways of bhakti). Next comes attachment (to bhajana), which results in deep spiritual moods, culminating in the appearance of pure love. This is the sequence for the awakening of pure love in sadhakas. (Bhaktirasamritasindhu, 1.4.15–16).

Shraddha makes all practices bear fruit. Many people practice spiritual discipline but all do not reap the results. The reason is that one must have faith in the efficacy of spiritual practices.

‘God can be realized by true faith alone. And the realization is hastened if you believe everything about God. The cow that picks and chooses its food gives milk only in driblets, but if she eats all kinds of plants, then her milk flows in torrents.’ The Gita also states: one who has faith gains knowledge.’ (Gita, 4.39.)

Shraddha removes the doubting tendency of the mind. One’s spiritual progress continues well as long as one’s shraddha is intact. As soon as doubt arises, progress stops.

Shraddha alone keeps one’s spiritual practices going during the so-called dry spiritual periods. During such periods, though the intellect understands its weakness, the heart cannot give up hope, and this occurs thanks to shraddha.

Shraddha makes one fearless and helps to overcome temptations.

Shraddha alone can take one to God-realization even if one does not possess any other virtue. Intense shraddha is sufficient to achieve the highest realization.

Source – excerpts from article titled ‘Shraddha’ by Swami Utsargananda published in Prabuddha Bharata January 2010 issue.