Place of ‘Reason’ and ‘Faith’ in Vedas

By: Y. K. Wadhwa

Broadly speaking, Shraddha (faith) is described as performance of anything with love and respect.  Sanskrit Grammar book ‘Nighantu’ describes the etymological formation of Shraddha as being made-up of two roots: ‘shra’ (= truth) and ‘dha’ (= adoption).    Thus, the two roots in ‘Shradha’ (or, faith) imply adoption and preservation of Truth.

In view of this, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), while commenting upon Rig Veda, has described  ‘Shraddha’ as ‘Love for Truth’.

It is thus obvious that there exists a clear link between ‘shraddha’ and ‘satya’ (= Truth) which leaves no scope for any superstitious belief or belief in any irrational idea.

The word ‘Shraddha’ has been repeatedly used in the ‘Shraddha sukta’ of Rig Veda in Mandala 10. The mantra 10-151-1 therein states that it is with ‘Shraddha’ that the fire of knowledge is kindled and the charity is given. The (Sanskrit sloka runs thus: Sraddhayagnihsamidhyate sraddhaya huyate havih.  Sraddham bhagasya murdhani vacasa vedayamasi).

The full meaning of above Rig Veda mantra is “Agni is kindled with Shraddha, faith in truth pursued with commitment in thought, word and deed.  Oblations into fire are offered with complete faith and commitment to truth and sincerity of conviction.  And we, on top of life’s highest glory, celebrate and exalt with the sacred Word of the Veda and declare it as commitment to truth and reason.” (Source: English translation of four Vedas by Dr.Tulsi Ram pub.by Arsh Sahitya Prachar Trust, Delhi. Ed.2013).

According to Sri Krishna (in Gita), a person full of ‘Shraddha’  acquires knowledge — Sanskrit sloka of Gita runs: Shradhavan labhate gyanam, tatpar syantendriya (Gita 4-39).

While commenting upon ‘Yog Darshan’ (= roughly translated as Yoga Philosophy. Note: ‘Darshan’ is Non-translatable and not a philosophy but ‘viewing something in inner consciousness), Maharishi Ved Vyasa observes: Shradha Chetas Samprasada, Sa hi janneev kalyani yogin paati  i.e., Faith (Shraddha) protects  the Yogi like a mother.

It is said that through ‘Shraddha’,  ‘Dharma’ (= Dharma is again ‘Non-translatable term and does not mean ‘religion’ as traditionally translated) is achieved and not through accumulation of wealth.  Thus many ‘Muni Sadhakas’ even in the complete absence of riches attained ‘Moksha’ (= Moksha is also Non-translatable term and is not ‘salvation’ as traditionally translated).

It is interesting to note that, while ‘Shradha’ is accorded a high place of importance in Vedas, along side this ‘Shraddha’, another thing called ‘Medha’ (‘Medha’ means pure reason) has been given equal importance there. The fact that in Vedas ‘Medha’ (= pure reason) is given an importance equal to ‘Shradha’ is evident from the  ‘Medha Sukta’.

Atharva Veda 10-2-26 suggests to stitch mind and heart (heart representing Shraddha or faith and mind represents Medha or reason) together so that they act in harmony with each other.

In the book “Solutions to Modern Problem in Vedas” by Acharya Pt.Dharmadeva Vidyamartand (English translation by Bharat Bhooshan,  published by Sri Ghudmal Prahlad Kumar Arya Dharmarth Nyas, Hindaun City, Ed.2008), it is beautifully concluded thus,  “The Vedas visualized that mere faith may lead to superstition and mere reason to atheism and, therefore, presented a fusion of the two  as an ideal before the mankind to follow.”

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