Lord Sri Krishna says, “There is nothing so sanctifying as jñāna in this world” (The Gita 4.38). Who attains this jñāna? The Lord says, “One who has faith attains the essential knowledge (jñāna) of the Supreme Self. That which was, which is and will remain forever –(the Supreme Consciousness) and that which did not exist in the beginning, which is non-existent at present and which will not remain forever–(the temporal world), the esoteric knowledge of both is revealed in the heart of such an individual.
Some people say, “What is the need for faith? We do not have faith. We will first see; and believe anything only after it has been scientifically proven.” But then my dear brother! One does not need faith to believe in things that can be perceived; rather discrimination is required in such cases. Faith is required only for things that cannot be perceived. Acharya Vinoba Bhave used to say, “Why do people single out „faith‟ as blind? The term „blind-faith‟ itself emanates from the worst possible form of blind-faith.” Ask those who talk of blind-faith, if they have believed that their fathers are actually their fathers by faith, by seeing or through scientific paternity test? Were the alphabets taught at school accepted in faith or after they were scientifically proved? It was a matter of simple acceptance. That‟s it. If religious practices such as vratas are based on blind faith, calling your father as „father‟ is also based on sheer blind-faith. Lord Sri Krishna says, “O Scorcherer of foes! (The righteous means of sÍdhanÍ as illustrated by Me, is quite simple and imperishable). Those who lack faith (in these words of Mine) fail to attain Me and wander forever in the vicious cycle of life and death.” (The Gita 9.3) Those without faith try to derive pleasure from drinking liquor, disco dancing, etc. Instead praise be to those followers of VÍrakari sect who attain joy simply by chanting the Lord‟s name. When a doctor asks you to fast, it becomes a compulsion on you, but when you do it voluntarily on Vata SÍvitri Vrata or EkÍdasi, it becomes a means, not only to attain good health but also to progress on the spiritual path; besides it also provides a way to exercise self-restraint. It purifies the body, mind and intellect and paves the way for God-realization. Would you call this blind faith or real faith? Jnaneshwara Maharaj and Tukarama Maharaj were veritable repositories of jñāna. If Samarth Ramdas, Eknath Maharaj, Jijabai and other attained greatness, was it without faith? Even in one‟s day to day life, one has to have faith like in a bus-driver or a pilot. When we have to keep faith in pilots who fly us from one place to another, then why not have faith in vratas, fasts and spiritual practices that have the power to save us from this unending cycle of birth and death, paving the way to Self-realization?