I'm just about done with the new Guruji book. What an amazing compilation of stories and dialogues. There were numerous instances where I felt resonance with the practitioners/teachers interviewed. Their experiences touched, and reaffirmed many of the insights that come about through sustained practice. To feel a kinship to those in the book, that in turn, spread to all who devote themselves to this practice, is a special thing. I know I tend to repeat myself, but once again, to feel the deep sense of gratitude towards Sri K. Pattabhi's for his tireless love and devotion toward his students is beyond inspiring. The power of one person is immense. Truly.

As I continued to read the book, in Sharath's chapter he mentioned, shraddha. The word sprang out at me like a jack in the box. Right away, it held meaning. As I read on, Sharath went on to say:

"Shraddha is more than faith. It is also surrendering your sense organs, your body, your everything, surrendering to the practice. "

Most people know the story of Guruji starting his study with Krishnamacharya with 100 students, to then, end up with only three. As students were jumping ship, Pattabhi Jois continued on. Why? What force led him there and what made him stay? Those who left, must thought it madness. What allowed him to steadily move forward on the path, with joy, through hardship and uncertainty? Shraddha.

Through his example, he was more than a yoga teacher, a guru - yoga embedded his being and lead his life. It was one and the same. What really struck me was not only his vast dedication to his students and their progress, but also how with money, without it, with one student, or many - none of it changed him - he had the same fervor and passion for teaching without the fame with only making 17 rupees a month. That takes more than a leap of faith, it's in joining what you love and do, and living it as one.

With shraddha being more than faith, it's funny how when something strikes, it comes at you again, and again. As I flipped through a copy of The Bhagavad Gita I came right to a page mentioning shraddha. Okay. I get it. I need to look deeper. So I did, and it has stayed with me ever since. Here is some of what I found. 

"That concept is shraddha, and its nearest English equivalent is faith. I have translated it as such, but shraddha means much more. It is literally "that which is placed in the heart": all the beliefs we hold so deeply that we never think to question them. It is the set of values, axioms, prejudices, and prepossessions that colors our perceptions, governs our thinking, dictates our responses, and shapes our lives, generally without our even being aware of its presence and power.
This may sound philosophical, but shraddha is not an intellectual abstraction. It is our very substance. The Gita says, "A person is what his shraddha is" (17.3). The Bible uses almost the same words: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," Sharaddha reflects everything that we have made ourselves and points to what we have become. But there is nothing passive about shraddha. It is full of potency, for it prompts action, conditions behavior, and determines how we see and therefore respond to the world around us."
- The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

Sounds powerful. Yet, we don't do it for power, we do it for the love. We do it when we are moved beyond rational thinking. We do it because we have to. We do it because it is who we are.

"Yet shraddha is not brute determination or wishful thinking. When St. John of the Cross says "We live in what we love," he is explaining shraddha. This is our world. Our lives are an eloquent expression of our belief: what we deem worth having, doing, attaining, being,. What we strive for shows what we value; we back our shraddha with our time, our energy, our very lives."
- The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

It reminds me of a student, who later became a friend and mentor of mine. A woman of over 60 years and still as young and vivacious as ever, told me, "Laruga, it almost doesn't matter what you surrender to, as long as you do." Letting go to it all, and riding the wave of devotion brings with it unexpected, luminous gifts. To this day, I still contemplate all that it means. To allow the movement of my heart to lead the way no matter what the external world says, is a dynamic that requires trust, that where I stand, and where I'm going, and what moves me to my very core, should, and will, define my life. I need only listen and be aware of my internal light. A light I have one too many times ignored, and in the end always return to. Nothing else has given me comfort in this knowing. And, when I let go, and allow the knowing and living to join, not much gets better than that. Not much at all.

"Like our thinking, therefore - like we ourselves - shraddha evolves. The purpose of karma is to teach the consequences of shraddha, so that by trial and error, life after life, the individual soul acquires the kind of faith that lead to fulfillment of life's supreme goal. Krishna explains the dynamics:
When a person is devoted to something with complete faith, I unify his faith in that. Then, when faith is completely unified, one gains the object of devotion. In this way, every desire is fulfilled by me. (7:21-22)
- The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran


3 Insightful Comments:

StEvE said...

Hey thanks for posting this Laruga. Of all of the prolific Indian texts, 'The Baghavad Gita' was always the one that I felt I would have to 'wait for the movie' for but, this translation looks to be just what I'm looking for. Something I can get my tiny mind around, and also dip into and get an instant benefit from.

Boodiba said...

It's funny that you've singled out a word from the book to focus on. I just finished it today and I picked a word too! Isvarapranidhana.

It struck me that this word would make a good mantra for me, in and of itself. I'm going to stick it at the top of my own blog so I remember!

peaceloveyoga said...

@ Steve - Thanks for visiting. I really enjoyed The Baghavad Gita translation I quoted in the blog post. There are so many to choose from and this one really spoke to me.

@ Boodiba - Isvarapranidhana! Wonderful. Sounds good to me. Do you ever practice with Guy or Eddie?


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