Why Do People Turn To God And Religion?

Worship Bhakti

by Jayaram V

Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V

Why do people turn to God and religion? In the seventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita (7:16) we find an answer to this question. According to the scripture, you cannot cultivate faith in God just by accident. It has to be a consequence of your past actions (purvajanma sukritam). Faith (sraddha) and devotion (bhakti) come from sattva (purity), and purity develops only after prolonged spiritual practice.

Hence, only people of virtuous actions (sukritanah) turn to God. It means that faith is an inborn trait, and unless you are a good soul with a meritorious past you cannot become a devotee of God. You faith has to arise from your self-effort and previous actions. If you performed virtuous actions in your past lives, you will have faith in God and worship Him. If you have faith in God, it is an indication that you are a good soul, even if your faith is weak.

Since people worship God according to their good karma, their faith is not equal. The scripture identifies four kinds of virtuous people who worship God: those who are in pain and suffering (arta), those who are inquisitive and driven by curiosity (jijnasu), those who desire wealth (artharthi), and those who are endowed with knowledge and wisdom (jnani).

Lord Krishna says that of them, the knowledgeable ones (jnanis) are dearer to him, like his very Self, and they only attain liberation. Such people are rare as they are born at the end of many births, after realizing that God is all.

Apart from good karma (sukritam), another distinguishing quality of the faithful mentioned by Lord Krishna is Good nature (udara svabhabam). Good nature means generosity, gentleness, kindness, and friendliness. It also arises from sattva because of your past lives. If you have it, it means that you have progressed on the spiritual path.

The moral of this is that to become a true devotee of God you must perform good actions. Through good actions you earn the right to true knowledge (jnana), From true knowledge you progress to true devotion of the highest kind in which you sacrifice your desires rather than seek their fulfillment. From karma yoga you progress to jnana yoga. From jnana yoga you turn to devotion, and through devotion you become the dearest devotee of God.

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