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Stages and Varieties of Faith

Four Types of Motivated Worship

According to his condition man attempts to please the Lord for four reasons:

1) Bhaya - Out of fear.
2) Asha - For satisfying material aspirations.
3) Kartavya-buddhi - Out of a sense of duty.
4) Raga - Out of a genuine attraction to the Lord.

Persons who worship the Lord out of stimulation of fear, bhaya, include those who are afraid of hell, poverty, pain, and death.
Persons who worship the Lord to satisfy their material aspirations, asha, worship and pray with great intensity for material happiness and for the gain of greater material advancement. There is so much pure joy in the process of ishvara-sadhana, worship of the Lord, that although beginning their worship out of motivations of fear or desiring material aspirations, many eventually give up such motivated worship and become attached to shuddha-bhajana, pure worship of the Lord.
Then there are those who have begun to worship the Lord with feelings of gratitude arisen from conceiving of Him as God the creator. Their mode of worship is known as kartavya-buddhi.
Although not impelled by bhaya, asha or kartavya-buddhi, those who approach the Lord with natural affection begin to worship Him in raga. Simply by seeing a particular object, one's heart instinctively runs after it without any consideration. One in whose heart attraction spontaneously arises as soon as he thinks of the Lord is worshipping according to raga.
Those who take to worship of the Lord out of bhaya, asha or kartavya-buddhi are not on such a pure level. Those who worship the Lord according to raga are real worshippers.

The Purity of Raga Bhajana

The living entity and the Lord have a deep relationship. When raga appears, this relationship becomes visible. The relationship is eternal, no doubt, but for the materially bound-up jiva it remains hidden. Given the right opportunity, it appears. Just as fire appears when you strike a match or a flint, by sadhana, practice, this relationship makes its appearance. Many persons have even achieved this relationship through practice based on bhaya, asha and kartavya-buddhi. Dhruva first worshipped the Lord with a desire for a kingdom, but by sadhana there appeared in his heart attraction born of a pure relationship with the Lord. Thereafter he refused to accept the benediction of material happiness.

Regulated Worship Based on a Sense of Duty Compared to Worship Based on Other Than a Sense of Duty

Bhaya and asha are extremely low class. When a devotee's intelligence becomes clear, he gives up bhaya and asha, and kartavya-buddhi becomes his sole motive. As long as raga towards the Lord has not appeared, the devotee should not give up worship according to kartavya-buddhi. From this sense of duty, kartavya-buddhi, two considerations arise: vidhi-samana - respect for the rules, and avidhi-parityagya - avoiding those things contrary to the rules. These rules for worship of the Lord were established by great devotees long ago and recorded in the scriptures. The following of the scriptures and reverence for the rules arises from the sense of duty, kartavya-buddhi.

The Progression of Faith in and Worship of the Lord According to the Progression of Consciousness

If we examine the historical records of all types of people around the world we will find it obvious that faith in God is man's common and constant characteristic. Uncivilized forest tribals survive, like animals, on animal flesh, but they also worship the sun, the moon, huge mountains, large rivers and tall trees as their benefactors and controllers. Why do they do this? Though the jiva soul is extremely bound up, his faith in the Lord, which is the natural quality of the soul, will manifest to the degree that the material covering is weakened. When man becomes civilized and takes to various types of knowledge and education his faith becomes more covered due to materialistic logic, kutarka. Then atheism, or even worse, nirvanavada, voidism, takes hold of his mind. It is to be understood that all of these detestable types of faith are simply symptoms of weak and unhealthy consciousness.

Excerpts from Sri Caitanya-shikshamrita, chapter one.
First published in 1886, by
Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakur

India Divine/ Articles in Hinduism

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