The power of faith over calculation.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Student: Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was an expert astrologer. He would calculate certain things and then present them to Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, but if Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur would say something that was contrary to his calculations, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur would follow Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s instructions.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. Our Guru Maharaj had sraddha [faith], and sraddha is more than calculative truth. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur followed the calculations of PM Bagchi’s panjika [almanac]. As an astrologer, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur helped to show that visuddha-siddhanta calculations may be true in the material sense, but still he did not observe them because Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur accepted PM Bagchi. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur followed the calculations of PM Bagchi for Ekadasi, Janmastami, and all other things. Sraddha is more true.

The practices (acharan) of mahajanas 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. Sraddhamayo ’yam 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.

Yudhisthir Maharaj also says,

tarko ’pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
(Mahabharata: 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.

‘Vaikuntha’ 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-karnadharam: 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.

svayam samuttirya sudustaram dyuman
bhavarnavam bhimam adabhra-sauhrdah
bhavat-padambhoruha-navam atra te
nidhaya yatah sad-anugraho bhavan
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 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 sadhus’ 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.


Faith. Sraddhamayo ‘yam loka: hope in the infinite—Vaikuntha. Vaikuntha means infinite, and sraddha means good faith. Vasco da Gama made his turn at the Cape of Good Hope. Sraddha means to be surcharged with good hope in the infinite. Vaikuntha is infinite, and if we wish to draw the attention of the infinite to us, the only way is sraddha. By sraddha, we can attract the infinite. Nothing else can. And when sraddha gets a definite form through bhava, 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 Vaikuntha, we may find the spiritual cosmos, and there sraddha is our light in the darkness. Only sraddha 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. Sraddha: hope.

‘sraddha’ sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha nischaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 22.62)

[“Sraddha means firm, confident faith that everything is attained serving Krishna.”]

No risk, no gain. Greatest risk, greatest gain.

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66 )

[Krishna 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.


Spoken on 27 August 1982.