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The Healing Touch of Faith


As a child when you snuggled into your mother's lap, even the fever seemed a blessing -- an enjoyable experience where love and care was lavished on you. As you grew older, you tended to go to one single physician and, in fact, after the visit and even before you began your medication, you started feeling better. Much older when the dentures chattered with cold, the touch of your children, their love and care sent the blood gushing through your body, quickening the metabolic rate.

Do all these have something in common between them? Perhaps they do. They just tell you that there is no doctor better than Dr.Faith. What faith can do, nothing else can.

Remember the lines of Tennyson where he said more is wrought by prayer than the world dreams of. We all live because we have faith: either in an ideal, a deity or even ourselves. In daily life, we manifest our faith in many ways. We trust our driver to navigate wisely through the traffic. We trust the cook in the posh hotel to use clean and safe cooking ingredients. We even trust the sun and the moon to rise every morning and take our lives and aspirations ahead. Indeed like William Blake wrote:

If the sun and moon should doubt

They'd immediately go out.

But then they do not go out because they have faith. And they in turn inspire us to have faith. Faith is multidimensional. It gives hope and so is even equated to a divine touch. The Sanskrit word sraddha means all of these things at the same time. According to Apte's dictionary it means Trust, faith, belief, confidence, divine revelation, religious faith, sedateness, composure of mind, intimacy, familiarity, respect and reverence.

A young lady, beautiful and full of energy and life was charmed by Upagupta, the disciple of the Buddha. With great difficulty Upagupta extricated himself but not before promising that he will come again another time to fulfill the wishes of the amorous lady. Time went past and our heroine went through a lot of pleasures and pains that her body could bring to her. There came a time when wishing to hide even from herself she sat in desolation feeling quite ugly and despicable. Then she felt a touch -- the touch of Upagupta. He smiled at her. "When I was beautiful I called you, you did not come. Now when I am so despicable, why do you come?" Upagupta replied that he saw her inner self -- that he saw more than the vain body. Upagupta reposed faith in her and revived her faith in herself and soon she joined the fold and spent the rest of her life as a disciple.

Faith then seems so much larger than the simple idea of religion. Religious beliefs may be a part of faith, but a person with intense faith may still not be religious. No wonder then that the word Vishwas means both hope and faith, just as nambikkai is Tamil too means both hope and faith.

Says Acharya Mahapragya that an old man was lying in bed complaining of many aches and pains. One day he heard that his spiritual guru was coming to his village. No sooner did he catch sight of his entourage, he sat up straight and for three days walked up and down in the service of his guru.

A small story, more practical, maybe less philosophical or even ethical adds a touch of humour to the need for intense faith.

It is said that one Dr.Cabarus was summoned by a fashionable lady soon after she had lunched. She believed she had swallowed a live frog and that it was giving her hell inside. Dr.Cabarus bought a frog and after administering enema, slipped the frog into the basin. But the lady believed the frog had left its young ones behind. Dr.Cabarus assured her that it was impossible for the frog was a male one. Dr.Cabarus's roaring practice that followed, is one part of the story. The other is the relief in pain wrought by faith -- albeit a wee bit manipulated by the doctor!