That is why it is said that if you put śruti… śruti means a revelation in regard to that which cannot be easily seen by physical eyes, if śruti is given to an individual and the individual is of the right kind of seeker, then he cannot rest until śruti becomes pratyakṣāvagamaṁ, unless it becomes a direct perception, direct knowledge. So, from śruti to sākṣātkāra, this is the step which is proposed in Indian thought. You start with śruti, and Sri Krishna says: ‘I am telling you what is the highest knowledge and you are allowed to ask questions, but ask questions with a sincerity. Now, that sincerity is also called in Indian terminology śraddhā ; this word śraddhā is very often misunderstood; śraddhā very often means acceptance without questioning. When we say: ‘I have śraddhā in what he says therefore I don’t question’; śraddhā also means to rest in the belief without question; that is also another meaning. To accept without questioning is one; second is to rest in that belief without questioning. It is one thing to accept when somebody says such and such is a reality, for the time being you don’t raise any question, that is one state; another is a farther state in which you say: ‘I will never raise a question, I accept it for ever’: to rest without questioning. That is also how śraddhā is meant; this is also a meaning of śraddhā .
Now, this is not the sense in which the Bhagavad Gita uses śraddhā . What is śraddhā? Because the third verse speaks of śraddhā . And it says:
aśraddhadhānāḥ purṣā dharmasyāsya parantapa |
aprāpya māṁ nivartante mṛtyusaṁsāravartmani ||3|| (IX)
“Those who are aśraddhadhānāḥ, those who do not have the faith, they once again return to mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani; vartmani means to pass, they arrive at the path of mṛtyu-saṁsāra, of the death and of the wheel of the cycle of the world; aprāpya māṁ, they never reach Me; nivartante, without reaching Me, they come back.”
Why is this statement made here? Immediately after saying pratyakṣāvagamaṁ; what I am telling you can be realised directly by your experience; but at the moment this statement will be only intellectual statement; therefore there is process between present intellectual statement and the pratyakṣā; in the middle there is a process of śraddhā , and if you don’t have the śraddhā at all, then forget about it, you are sure that you will never reach Me. Between the intellectual statement and the direct experience, the middle path consists of śraddhā , and if you do not take on the path of śraddhā , then you will remain where you are and you will return again to where you are. But by śraddhā is not meant ‘acceptance without questioning’ or ‘to rest in the acceptance without questioning’, because Sri Krishna has already spoken of paripraśnena sevaya. Already He has spoken of it. He does not say that you should not question.
What is ‘this’ śraddhā ? What is śraddhā is of course explained by Sri Krishna towards the end of the whole book and as I have said often the Bhagavad Gita is to be read as a whole. It is a very holistic teaching. Therefore we can anticipate of what is said of śraddhā later on, and we can supply the meaning of śraddhā over here. By śraddhā is meant “a living perception” of a truth, to perceive a truth, as truth, therefore there is an element of belief: perception of truth as truth means belief. But the word belief I don’t normally use because belief normally means belief without questioning or belief for the sake of belief. So to make a distinction between belief and what I mean I use the word perception. A truth which is perceived as truth, but not yet realised as truth. There is a distinction between ‘perceiving a truth as truth’ and ‘not yet realised as truth’: śraddhā is a stage in which you perceive a truth, but you have as yet no ground to perceive it and yet you perceive it. This is the state to which Sri Krishna makes a reference: you perceive as a truth as yet not realised and yet you perceive it; there is a perception.
It is a kind of intuition, but there are many kinds of intuitions, but this is one kind of intuition. There is intuition also in which…realisation is also intuition. This is an intuition which is not yet arrived at a stage of realisation. There are many levels of intuition, for example ‘instinct’ is also an intuition. When you see instinctively you feel: ‘Oh! Something is wrong’, instinctively and ultimately you find yes, there was a reason why you felt it was wrong. So even instinctively also you feel that there is something which you believe in, you act on it and ultimately you find that your action was on the right lines.
Like, you want to ride on the horse; you mount on the horse, you spur the horse, the horse does not move. You spur again and the horse rears up, but does not move forward. It is said in the villages which are very acquainted with the movement of the horses: ‘do not force the horse any further; the horse instinctively feels that this is not the moment to run’ and there are many examples to show that when this has happen there was a storm ahead which the horse feels here and therefore refuses to run. It is both a protection for yourself and for the horse itself.
So, this happens by instinct; the horse instinctively feels that there is a danger and therefore it does not move forward. This is a stage…you cannot say the horse has an intuition, it is instinctively felt. You are hungry: how do you know that food only can satisfy you? It is instinctive knowledge that only food can satisfy you. If you are very hungry and you go to a place of a lecture or something which is very nice lecture going on, but you are very hungry, you will first go to the kitchen, if you are very hungry, instinctively you will rush to that. So there is an instinctive knowledge and what I need now is not the lecture but the food; after the food comes everything else. Now, who tells you this? It is instinct.