Agyashchaashradyadhaanashcha sanshayaatmaa vinashyati
Naayam loko-asti na paro na sukham sanshayaatmanah
— Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 40
One who lacks discernment and is devoid of faith as also is filled with doubt, that soul is lost to spiritual path. For the doubting soul there is neither this world, nor the world beyond, or happiness, says Lord Krishna to Arjun. Krishna advises Arjun to annihilate the doubt arising out of ignorance through the sword of gyan. He asks Arjun to keep faith because a single doubt is enough to keep you off the path. Let us delve on this with the help of a conversation between Adi Shankaracharya and Bhattacharya.
Adi Shankaracharya was once looking for someone to do a commentary on his work, Saundarya Lahiri. He decided to approach the learned Vedic scholar Bhattacharya, for the purpose. When he went to meet him, he found Bhattacharya immolating himself; one of his eyes was badly injured. Shankaracharya asked him the reason for putting his body through all this, and also how he injured his eye. Bhattacharya explained that when Buddhism started going against Vedic teachings, he decided to learn Buddhist teachings under a Buddhist guru incognito, and debate with the followers upon the authority of Vedas. When his guru got to know of his lie, he ordered the rest of the monks to throw him off the cliff. As he was being thrown down, Bhattacharya said, “If the Vedas are true, then nothing will happen to me.” While he was saved, he lost an eye. Had he said, “Vedas are there, nothing will happen to me, throw me,” he would not have injured himself. Regarding why he was immolating himself, Bhattacharya replied that he was doing penance for Guru Droh. Even though he did what he did for the Vedas, in the process he went against the one whom he looked upon as his guru.
The practice of yog calls for 100 per cent faith in the guru, practice without faith leads to nowhere. And this faith is based on the experiences you have had. One should wait for their experience before calling someone a guru, but once you’ve had it, follow the path with complete faith and surrender. A single “if” cost Bhattacharya an eye. Just one doubt is enough to reduce years of sadhna to a point zero.