Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj emphasises the power of faith over calculation.
Student: Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur was an expert astrologer. He would calculate certain things and then present them to Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur, but if Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur would say something that was contrary to his calculations, Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur would follow Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur’s instructions.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Yes. Our Guru Mahārāj had śraddhā [faith], and śraddhā is more than calculative truth. Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur followed the calculations of PM Bagchi’s pañjikā [almanac]. As an astrologer, Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur helped to show that viśuddha-siddhānta calculations may be true in the material sense, but still he did not observe them because Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur accepted PM Bagchi. Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur followed the calculations of PM Bagchi for Ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī, and all other things. Śraddhā is more true.
The practices (ācharaṇ) of mahajānas are more valuable than our human calculation. The physical truth, the material truth, does not have much value. After all, it is only based on a strong false attitude of mind. So, such ‘truth’ should not be given greater respect than the intuitive practices of the pure devotees. The intuition of a pure devotee should be given preference to the calculated truth of ordinary persons here. Faith has no connection with the so-called reality of this world. It is completely independent. Śraddhāmayo ’yaṁ loka: there is a world which is guided only by faith. Faith is everything, and it is of infinite nature; it is all-accommodating. The world of faith is all-accommodating: everything may be true there by the sweet will of the Lord. Faith is the air, the breath. Calculation has no actual value. It is inconclusive and destructive in its ultimate goal. So, it should be rejected. The knowledge of the materialists—the fallible calculations of the exploiting souls—has no value whatsoever.
In the world of the infinite, faith is the standard—the only standard—to move hither and thither, just as the compass is the only director in the ocean. When seamen cannot see anything, their compass is their only guide. In the world of infinite, faith is our compass.
The footsteps of the great personages that have travelled the way—the way marked by the holy footsteps of those that have gone to the highest quarter—should be our only guide.
Yudhiṣṭhir Mahārāj also says,
tarko ’pratiṣṭhaḥ śrutayo vibhinnā
nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ
mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ
(Mahābhārata: Vana-parva, 313.117)
The broad line chalked out by the tread marks of those that are going to the divine world is our surest guide. All else may be eliminated because calculation is fallible. Above all, justification comes from the Absolute Infinite: any form of justification can come anywhere at any time. We should have this broadest view.
‘Vaikuṇṭha’ means no limitation. We are in a boat: we are floating in a boat on the infinite ocean. Anything may come to help us or not help us. We shall proceed with good faith, optimistic good faith, in our leader, Gurudev. Guru-karṇadhāram: the Guru is the guide. In the infinite ocean, I have boarded my small boat and the destination is uncertain to me, inconceivable to me, but it is conceivable to my Gurudev. I will go on with that sincere faith within me.
svayaṁ samuttīrya sudustaraṁ dyuman
bhavārṇavaṁ bhīmam adabhra-sauhṛdāḥ
bhavat-padāmbhoruha-nāvam atra te
nidhāya yātāḥ sad-anugraho bhavān
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.2.31)
I am in midst of a horrible ocean with so many waves, sharks, whales and other things—a ocean filled with danger. The sādhus’ footsteps are my only hope. We are to depend on that. Their footprints are like lighthouses along the infinite ocean guiding us to the goal.
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa
Faith. Śraddhāmayo ‘yaṁ loka: hope in the infinite—Vaikuṇṭha. Vaikuṇṭha means infinite, and śraddhā means good faith. Vasco da Gama made his turn at the Cape of Good Hope. Śraddhā means to be surcharged with good hope in the infinite. Vaikuṇṭha is infinite, and if we wish to draw the attention of the infinite to us, the only way is śraddhā. By śraddhā, we can attract the infinite. Nothing else can. And when śraddhā gets a definite form through bhāva, it becomes prema, love divine.
Columbus set his ship afloat the ocean and gradually, somehow, came to America. He reached land. So, good hope. After crossing Vaikuṇṭha, we may find the spiritual cosmos, and there śraddhā is our light in the darkness. Only śraddhā can guide when we are a traveller in the infinite: “I have heard that this is the way to that place.” That will keep our heart enlivened. Śraddhā: hope.
‘śraddhā’ śabde viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niśchaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 22.62)
[“Śraddhā means firm, confident faith that everything is attained serving Kṛṣṇa.”]
No risk, no gain. Greatest risk, greatest gain.
sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 18.66 )
[Kṛṣṇa says:] “I am everywhere; there is no room to be afraid at all. Only to come to that plane where I am your friend: I am everywhere, I am all-in-all, and you are My own.”
This is our only fare for the journey.
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Gauraharibol Gauraharibol