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Faith in Hinduism

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Śraddhā (Sanskrit: श्रद्धा) is a Sanskrit term often glossed in English as faith. The term figures importantly in the literature, teachings, and discourse of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Sri Aurobindo describes śraddhā as "the soul's belief in the Divine's existence, wisdom, power, love, and grace".[1] Without diacritical marks, it is usually written as shraddha.

Faith plays a crucial role within Hinduism, underpinning all assumptions, beliefs, and inferences. Within Hinduism, having faith means one maintains trust in god, scriptures, dharma, and the path of liberation (moksha).[2] The Brihadranyaka Upanishad (3.9.21) states that "the resting ground of faith is the heart", emphasising that to have faith is to follow ones heart and intuition.[3]

Within Hinduism, a key understanding of faith is maintaining trust in the scriptures. Hindus believe that it is not possible to understand or experience god directly with human senses, and so god's presence is inferred through descriptions in the scriptures.[3]

An example of this can be seen in Bruhadaranyak Upanishad 3.8.9:

O Gargi, the sun and moon are held in their positions; under the mighty rule of this Immutable; O Gargi, heaven and earth maintain their positions; under the mighty rule of this immutable.[3]

Śraddhã can be associated with faith, trust, confidence, and loyalty. The teacher Ammachi describes it as the "constant alertness arising from Love", and when choosing a single word to translate it into English, has used "awareness".[4] Other writers have also described the concept with emphasis on the intersection of faith and mindfulness, and it has been translated in this vein with words such as "diligence".[5]

One of the key pillars which supports faith in hinduism is bhakti. Bhakti means intense and devotional love towards god, and together with faith, supports the path towards moksha, the ultimate goal of life within the hindu belief system.[6]

Śraddhā in the Bhagavad Gita[edit]

In Bhagavad Gita, the term śraddhã is mentioned 17 times across eight chapters, emphasizing its significance. in verse 3.31, Krishna tells Arjuna that those who faithfully adhere to his teachings, have śraddhã (faith or trust) in him and are not jealous, attain liberation from the bondage of karma. This contrasts śraddhã with asuya (envy or jealousy), indicating that when one has śraddhã, they do not find fault with or envy others. This suggests that spiritual practitioners should cultivate śraddhã and avoid jealousy, ultimately bridging the gap between self and others.[7]

Verse 4.39 emphasizes śraddhã as crucial for acquiring jnana (knowledge). In verses 6.39-6.47, Krishna underscores the interconnectedness of śraddhã, jnana, and abhyasa (diligent effort) in the journey toward self-realization. Krishna assures Arjuna that with śraddhã and sincere effort, one will attain spiritual success despite setbacks.[7] Verse 9.22 signifies the role of śraddhã in bhakti yoga, stressing unwavering faith and single-minded focus on the divine.[8] In verse 9.23, Krishna emphasizes his acceptance of various forms of worship offered with genuine faith and devotion:[8]

Those who are devoted to other gods and worship them with faith actually worship me alone, Kaunteya, but not in the manner that is properly ordained.

— Bhagavad Gita, Verse 9.23

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sri Aurobindo (2013). "Faith". Letters on Yoga II. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. Vol. 29. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press. p. 88.
  2. ^ Lipner, Julius (2019). The Truth of Dharma and the Dharma of Truth: Reflections on Hinduism as a Dharmic Faith. Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Media. pp. 213–237.
  3. ^ a b c "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Chapter Three". Kenneth Jaques Advaita Vedanta Philosophy Ashram. Archived from the original on 2023-03-14. Retrieved 2023-03-14.
  4. ^ "Awaken Children (112)—Sraddha—Alertness". Gospel of AMMA. 2005-05-03. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  5. ^ "Sraddha — Diligence Cookbook". www.vikramsurya.net. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  6. ^ Warrier, Maya (2006). Faith Guides for Higher Education A Guide to Hinduism. Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies. ISBN 0-9544524-8-8.
  7. ^ a b Bhawuk, Dharm P. S. (2020). "Śraddhā : Construct Definition from the Bhagavad-Gītā". Psychology and Developing Societies. 32 (1): 122–137. doi:10.1177/0971333620906758. ISSN 0971-3336.
  8. ^ a b Sutton, Nicholas (2017-03-13). Bhagavad Gita: The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies Guide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-5030-5291-8.