04.04 – The call to faith is for focusing, not forsaking, of intelligence

by March 11, 2013

Today’s ethos often treats the word ‘faith’ negatively, as if those who choose faith reject intelligence. Actually however, the call to faith, as given by Gita wisdom, is for focusing the intelligence.

This symbiotic relationship of faith and reason is illustrated in the flow of the Gita itself. The Bhagavad-gita calls for faith in two successive verses in its third and fourth chapters (3.31-32 & 4.39-40). These verse-pairs share the pattern of instructing by contrasting: the first verse lauds the fortune of those who have faith and the second laments the misfortune of those who don’t.

Yet sandwiched between these two verses is a bold question by Arjuna. On hearing Krishna claim (4.1) to have given Gita wisdom to the sun-god many millennia ago, Arjuna asks (4.4) a pertinent doubt: “The sun-god Vivasvan is senior by birth to you. How am I to understand that in the beginning you instructed this science to him?” Krishna responds (4.5) that both of them have had many past lives, implying thereby that he had given the knowledge in a previous life.

The point here is that Krishna’s call for faith just a few verses earlier doesn’t deter Arjuna from asking a valid question. And Krishna far from disapproving Arjuna’s question as a sign of lack of faith answers it coherently.

This illustrates the Gita’s use of faith as a tool for focusing our thought seriously on transcendental subject matters. The more we put faith in Gita wisdom, that is seriously ponder and systematically explore the non-material level of reality, the more its logicality, reality and beauty become evident to us. This in turn experientially verifies our faith.

Thus the call for faith is the call to simply give ourselves a fair chance to experience the joy of transcendence.


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