The varied facets of Faith

Faith is one of the important factors and is a necessity in our lives. Life is impossible without it. Faith is the confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity or in the doctrines or teaching of a religion or view. Faith means to perceive certainty, to have belief or hope.

Faith is also an instinct for it is said to precede all instructions for e.g. thought, will or duty. Count Tolstoy has said: “If a man lives, he believes in something. If he did not believe that there is something to live for, he could not live. If he does not see and understand the unreality of the finite, he believes in the finite. If he sees the unreality, he must believe in the infinite. Without faith there is no life.”

Faith can also be belief that is not based on proof. In religion faith often involves accepting claims about the character of a deity, nature or the universe. While some have argued that faith is opposed to reason, proponents of faith argue that the proper domain of faith concerns questions which cannot be settled by evidence.  For example, faith can be applied to predictions of the future which has not yet occurred.

In Hinduism Shraddha is translated as faith in Sanskrit. All schools of philosophy posit that consciousness (atman) is distinct and independent from mind and matter (prakrti). Therefore, Hindu faith is based on the premise that logic and reason are not conclusive methods of epistemic knowing. Spiritual practice (sadhana) is performed with the faith that knowledge beyond the mind and sense perception will be revealed to the practitioner.

The schools of Hindu Philosophy differ in their recommended methods to cultivate faith, including selfless action (Karma Yoga), renunciation (Jnana Yoga) and devotion (Bhakti Yoga). In chapter 17 of the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna describes how faith, influenced by the three modes (gunas) lead to different approaches in worship, diet, sacrifice, austerity and charity.

The Bhagvad Gita divides human activities, desires, and, indeed everything into three classes; the first wherein the spirit of truth and harmony dominates is Sattvik; the second where in the urge to action, the passion nature, dominates is Rajasik; the third is the Tamasik wherein inertia dominates. In the chapter 18 Bhagvad Gita has emphasized on our complete surrender to God and dependence on His Grace.

It says “Put your trust in Him and have no other thought; by His Grace you will attain supreme peace and the everlasting abode.” Again says “Give all your thoughts, your worship, your sacrifice and your salutations to Me, and you shall certainly come to Me; I pledge my troth to you who are dear to Me.”

In Islam, faith is complete submission to the will of God, which includes belief profession and the body’s performance of deeds, all according to God’s will. One of the two aspects of Iman is recognising and affirming that there is one Creator of the Universe and only to this Creator is worship due. According to Islamic thought, this comes naturally because faith is an instinct of the human soul.

A verse from Isaiah says: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee” Jesus says: “Peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your hear be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Again he says: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” From “Lead, Kindly Light” we have “So long Thy power hath kept me, sure it still will lead me on.”

We have many saints and sages who due to their unflinching faith in the Almighty  had performed miracles. Ramakrishna Paramhans was a very popular saint who had strong faith in his Goddess Kali. He is well known for his teachings and parables. We are told once Sri Krishna while going in a chariot with Arjuna looked up to the sky and said: “Behold! What a nice flight of pigeons there!” Arjuna at once looked up and consented. But the very next moment Sri Krishna denies that they were pigeons. Arjuna too sees again and agrees with Him. It was not flattering Sri Krishna but Arjuna’s intense faith in Sri Krishna made him say that.

Raman Maharshi said: “Have faith in God and in yourself that will cure all. Hope for the best, expect the best. Toil for the best and everything will become right.” Again he preached: “Possessing an absolute faith is a must to calm the mind, faith in the approach, faith in the teacher and faith in oneself.” To Shirdi Saibaba, ‘Shraddha’ and ‘Saburi’ were the two golden words for faith.

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