Do classical Indian thinkers distinguish between faith and knowledge? Is there a precinct for knowledge only and one for faith? Or are religious notions just like any other notions, and hence liable to be true or false?
The question has been raised by a comment of Aśvamitra to this post, where he upholds the view that "Hindus" do not distinguish between these two approaches and rather believe in the Mahābhārata war, in the earthly life of Kṛṣṇa, in Hanuman's army, etc., in the same way in which they believe in the existence of Napoleon, in the World War 2, in C. Julius Caesar's campaigns against the Germans, etc. (the inverted commas and all examples are mine). The opposite (i.e., the distinction between knowledge and faith) depends on a Christian approach (Tertullian's Credo quia absurdum) and is alien to the Indian thought.
I tend not to agree, but I must admit that the "Hindus" and Christians I know are chiefly Indian and Christian philosophers and might, therefore, not represent the majority of believers.
For instance, Mīmāṃsā authors seem to be quite clear about the fact that the Veda only applies where sense-perception cannot apply. In other words, the Veda cannot say anything regarding whatever is knowable. By contrast, the Veda is an absolute authority in the precinct of what ought to be done, since in that regard nothing can be known through the human instruments of knowledge, which are all ultimately based on sense-perception.
Buddhist Theravādin authors also seem to stress the importance of śraddhā (see Giustarini 2005, AION) as an element of one's religious path. And so do Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who discuss śraddhā.
What do readers think about this topic? I would be glad to read other opinions. Hindu readers are especially welcomed!
Heuer from Leeds to UCL
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