Shraddha is a Sanskrit word with no exact English equivalent. In the Wikipedia article, the word Shraddha is explained as “faith with love and reverence”.[Source]
In Bhagavad Gita, 4:39, Krishna told “Shraddhavan labhate jnanam” (one who has “Shraddha” obtains Knowledge/Jnana)
In this article we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comments on Shraddha.
- Be possessed of Shraddha (faith), of Virya (courage), attain to the knowledge of the Atman, and sacrifice your life for the good of others — this is my wish and blessing.[Source]
- Be strong and have this Shraddha, and everything else is bound to follow.[Source]
- Every boy should be trained to practice absolute Brahmacharya, and then, and then only, faith —Shraddha—will come. Otherwise, why will not one who has no Shraddha speak an untruth? In our country, the imparting of knowledge has always been through men of renunciation. Later, the Pandits, by monopolising all knowledge and restricting it to the tols, have only brought the country to the brink of ruin. India had all good prospects so long as Tyâgis (men of renunciation) used to impart knowledge.[Source]
- I remember that grand word of the Katha Upanishad — Shraddhâ or marvellous faith. An instance of Shraddha can be found in the life of Nachiketâ. To preach the doctrine of Shraddha or genuine faith is the mission of my life.[Source]
- My son, you have no Shraddha — no faith in yourselves. What will you achieve?[Source]
- The schoolboy learns nothing, but has everything of his own broken down — want of Shraddhâ is the result.[Source]
- The Shraddha which is the keynote of the Veda and the Vedanta — the Shraddha which emboldened Nachiketâ to face Yama and question him, through which Shraddha this world moves the annihilation of that Shraddha!अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति— “The ignorant, the man devoid of Shraddha, the doubting self runs to ruin.” Therefore are we so near destruction.[Source]
- We want Shraddhâ, we want faith in our own selves. Strength is life, weakness is death. ‘We are the Âtman, deathless and free; pure, pure by nature. Can we ever commit any sin? Impossible!’—such a faith is needed. Such a faith makes men of us, makes gods of us. It is by losing this idea of Shraddha that the country has gone to ruin.[Source]
- What I mean to say is that want of Shraddha has brought in all the evils among us, and is bringing in more and more.[Source]
The loss of Shraddha in India and need of its revival
From Surendra Nath Sen’s private diary, dated Saturday, 22 June 1898—[Source]
Question: How did we come to lose this Shraddha?
Vivekananda: We have had a negative education all along from our boyhood. We have only learnt that we are nobodies. Seldom are we given to understand that great men were ever born in our country. Nothing positive has been taught to us. We do not even know how to use our hands and feet! We master all the facts and figures concerning the ancestors of the English, but we are sadly unmindful about our own. We have learnt only weakness. Being a conquered race, we have brought ourselves to believe that we are weak and have no independence in anything. So, how can it be but that the Shraddha is lost? The idea of true Shraddha must be brought back once more to us, the faith in our own selves must be reawakened, and, then only, all the problems which face our country will gradually be solved by ourselves.
Question: How can that ever be? How will Shraddha alone remedy the innumerable evils with which our society is beset? Besides, there are so many crying evils in the country, to remove which the Indian National Congress and other patriotic associations are carrying on a strenuous agitation and petitioning the British government. How better can their wants be made known? What has Shraddha to do with the matter?
Vivekananda: Tell me, whose wants are those—yours or the ruler’s? If yours, will the ruler supply them for you, or will you have to do that for yourselves?
Question: But it is the ruler’s duty to see to the wants of the subject people. Whom should we look up to for everything, if not to the king?
Vivekananda: Never are the wants of a beggar fulfilled. Suppose the government give you all you need, where are the men who are able to keep up the things demanded? So make men first. Men we want, and how can men be made unless Shraddha is there?
Shraddha —a step to realisation
From a class-lecture delivered in America—[Source]
The next qualification required is Shraddhâ, faith. One must have tremendous faith in religion and God. Until one has it, one cannot aspire to be a Jnâni. A great sage once told me that not one in twenty millions in this world believed in God. I asked him why, and he told me, “Suppose there is a thief in this room, and he gets to know that there is a mass of gold in the next room, and only a very thin partition between the two rooms; what will be the condition of that thief?” I answered, “He will not be able to sleep at all; his brain will be actively thinking of some means of getting at the gold, and he will think of nothing else.” Then he replied, “Do you believe that a man could believe in God and not go mad to get him? If a man sincerely believes that there is that immense, infinite mine of Bliss, and that It can be reached, would not that man go mad in his struggle to reach it ?” Strong faith in God and the consequent eagerness to reach Him constitute Shraddha.