Faith of Various Modes

After a public lecture, a guest asks the question: “How can we distinguish between different religious practices and traditions, and determine their respective merits?”

sattvanurupa sarvasya
sraddha bhavati bharata
sraddha-mayo ‘yam puruso
yo yac-chraddhah sa eva sah

“O son of Bharata, according to one’s existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.”

Every living entity is eternally part and parcel of Krishna. Having come into contact with the material world our consciousness is contaminated with a material conception. mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah. This material contamination has three aspects: namely goodness, passion and ignorance. Our faith, although originally coming from the mode of goodness, can be influenced by passion and ignorance and will determine the type of association we will seek out.

Krishna states in chapter four of Bhagavad-Gita, that whenever there is a decline in religious practices and a predominant rise in irreligion, He descends Himself. It can also be understood that He can also send His representative in such circumstances in order to teach people what can be understood by them in regards to time, place and circumstance. Thus there are different religious traditions and practices throughout the world according to the faith of the people as influenced by the modes of material nature.

Our actual position is transcendental to these material influences. If we are endeavoring to reestablish our relationship with Krishna, He cleanses our heart of the contamination of passion and ignorance. Passion prevents us from becoming detached from material hankering. One who is in ignorance cannot know what he is or what the Lord is. Thus when we are influenced by passion and ignorance, we are checked from actual self-realization despite any external show of religion. For one devoted to serving Krishna, the modes of passion and ignorance are removed by the grace of the Lord.

bhaktya mam abhijanati
yavan yas casmi tattvatah
tato mam tattvato jnatva
visate tad-anantaram

The Lord states that as soon as one reaches Him by devotional service one attains complete freedom from the bondage of birth and death. In other words, the path of salvation from the material clutches fully depends on the principles of knowledge and detachment gained from serving the Lord. As stated above, the materially influenced religionists have neither knowledge nor detachment from material affairs, for most of them want to live in the golden shackles of material bondage under the shadow of philanthropic activities disguised as religious principles. By a false display of religious sentiments, they present a show of devotional service while indulging in all sorts of immoral activities. In this way they pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God.

It is sometimes said that one result is obtained by worshiping the supreme cause of all causes, and that another result is obtained by worshiping that which is not supreme. The true spiritual preceptor cannot say that all paths lead to the same goal and that anyone can attain this goal by his own mode of worship of the demigods or of the Supreme or whatever. A person can reach his destination only when he has purchased a ticket for that destination. A person who has purchased a ticket for London can only reach London, not New York.

Ultimately, Krishna advises that one give up all other ways and modes of worship and fully surrender unto Him alone (Bg. 18.66). Only those who are cleansed of all sinful reactions, by the grace of the Supreme Lord, can have such unflinching faith in Him. Others will continue hovering on the material platform with their paltry ways of worship and thus will be misled from the real path under the false impression that all paths lead to the same goal.

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References:

Bhagavad-gita 17.3
Bhagavad-gita 15.7
Sri Isopanisad Mantra 13
Bhagavad-gita 18.55
Sri Isopanisad Mantra 12
Sri Isopanisad Mantra 13
Sri Isopanisad Mantra 13


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