How does Sraddha (Faith) develop? Muslims/Jews/Christians, do not perform Sat-Karma, so how can they be eligible for Bhakti?
If sraddha develops from virtuous deeds, then the argument that sraddha cannot arise without properly performing the, sat-karma (pious deeds recommended in the karma-kanda section of the Vedas), and svadharma of varnasrama (the temporary duties prescribed in accordance with one’s social caste).
It is a fact that sraddha arises from pious deeds. It is stated in the Brhan-Naradiya-Purana (4.33):
“The inclination for bhakti is awakened by association with Bhagavan’s devotees. The jiva obtains the association of pure devotees by the accumulated effect of spiritually pious activities performed over many lifetimes.”
There are two types of sukrti (piety, virtue; pious activity):
- nitya (eternal
- naimittika (circumstantial and temporary).
The sukrti by which one obtains association of saintly people, the devotees of the Lord, and therefore learns the science of loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord is nitya-sukrti (pious deeds that are eternal).
The sukrti by which one obtains material enjoyment and impersonal liberation is naimittika-sukrti (pious deeds that are circumstantial and temporary).
Sukrit, which bears eternal fruit, is nitya-sukrti.
Sukrti which bears temporary results, which are dependent upon some cause, is naimittika-sukrti.
All types of material enjoyment are non-eternal because they clearly depend on some cause. Many people think that mukti (liberation) is eternal, but this is only because they do not know the actual nature of liberation. The individual soul is pure, eternal, and primeval. The cause of the soul’s bondage is association with the material nature, and liberation is the complete dissolution of this bondage.
The act of deliverance or release from bondage is accomplished in a single moment, so the act of release is not in itself an eternal action. All consideration of liberation ends as soon as emancipation is attained, so liberation is nothing more than the destruction of a material cause. Therefore, since liberation is only the negation of a temporary material cause, it is also causal and temporary.
On the other hand, rati, or attachment, for the feet of Sri Hari (Krishna), never ends once it is established in the heart of the jiva. Therefore, this rati or bhakti is nitya-dharma, and if we analyze its practices correctly, none of them can be said to be naimittika.
The type of bhakti that terminates at the point that it bestows mukti is only a type of naimittika-karma, while bhakti that is present before, during and after mukti is a distinct and eternal truth, and it is the nitya-dharma of the jivas.
Mukti is but an irrelevant, secondary result of bhakti. It is said in the Mundaka Upanisad (1.2.12):
“A Brahmana who has exhaustively studied the scriptures will become disinterested in the performance of karma by carefully examining the temporary, impure and miserable nature of Svarga-loka and the other celestial planets which are attainable by performing material pious deeds. This is because the nitya-vastu, Bhagavan, cannot be obtained by worldly karma, for He is beyond the reach of karma.”
To gain factual knowledge and realization of that eternal supreme Person, one should find a qualified guru who is learned in the Vedas, who is firmly established in the service of Bhagavan, and who knows the Absolute Truth. One should then approach that guru and should surrender body, mind, and words to him with faith and humility.
Karma, yoga, and jnana all produce naimittika-sukrti. The association of devotees, and contact with acts of devotion, produces nitya-sukrti (eternal pious activities). Only one who has accumulated nitya-sukrti over many lifetimes will develop sraddha (faith). Naimittika-sukrti produces many different results, but it will not lead to the development of faith in unalloyed bhakti.