Definition - What does Shraddha mean?
Shraddha is a Sanskrit word, referring to a concept similar to "faith,’""drive" or "purpose." Although it does not have a direct English translation, it describes a type of positive energy that comes from deep within a person, shaping their world and life. The term is derived from two Sanskrit roots: shrat meaning "truth," "heart" or "faithfulness," and dha, meaning "to direct one’s mind toward."
In Hinduism, shraddha is also a ceremony performed in honor of a deceased ancestor. It is considered to be the social and religious responsibility of all male Hindus and is one of the most important rites connected with ancestor worship. Offerings of food and drink are made to the deceased, alongside sacred rituals to nourish, protect and support their passage from lower to higher realms.
Yogapedia explains Shraddha
As a philosophical concept, shraddha differs from the Western idea of faith, in that it refers to a direct understanding of Divine truth, rather than belief through blind faith. This is reflected in the fourth chapter of the ancient Hindu text, The Bhagavad Gita, in which Sri Krishna says, “shraddhavan labhate jnanam,” meaning “one with shraddha gains knowledge”.
In yoga, understanding one’s individual shraddha can help to motivate practitioners on their path. The notion is referred to in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a classic yoga text outlining the eight limbed path of Hatha yoga.
Sutra 1.20 states that "the practice of yoga begins with faith". The term shraddha is used to refer to faith in this context, suggesting that connecting to shraddha helps to build faith in oneself and one’s decisions.
The Bhagavad Gita also says that a person is what their shraddha is, alluding to the notion that an individual's character or nature is what shapes their destiny. As such, shraddha can be understood to reflect the virtues, values and inner self of a person. It may also be interpreted as a firmly held conviction in the life path that an individual has chosen.
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