What exactly is sin in Hinduism? How do you define sin? What all acts comprise sin? Every religion in the world has developed a set of rules that tell us what is good and what is sinful. Then they ask you to stay away from sin so that you don’t end up in hell after your life ends. When you deviate from those rules, you are supposedly committing a sin. Does anything like sin really exist? Check out the concept of sin in Hinduism.
The concept of SIN has always been a debatable topic in Hinduism (let’s see it separate for a while, from the Sanathan Dharma being practiced in the Hindu religion). I am not saying sin doesn’t exist. I have my own reservations that I present in this post. As always, the topic – SIN in HINDUISM – is open to debate and you can debate it here in the comments or via my Twitter link below the post.
In the formative years of Bharatvarsha (India), when the learned wanted to bring in a peaceful social structure in place, they brought in the concept of sin in Hinduism. There is no exact definition of sin but if you listen to Mahatma Gandhi, sin is an act that makes you feel guilty. But then, if you feel guilty after eating a pizza, did you sin? Some people feel guilty after a sex act. Are they sinners? Isn’t it a natural process required to keep the species alive? One might bring in the scenario of adultery into this so I will say a line about it as well… later, below.
Before that, I should say – before Indus valley civilization was actually civilized- the nomads and cavemen committed way too many sins if you go by the current religious books. When I say, ‘current religious books’, I mean the distorted versions of original books written by the learned. Often, things are lost in translation …but in almost all religions, this distortion is deliberate …to have a better command over people and their acts (as well as thoughts).
You probably know most governments are controlled by the Vatican. You might also have seen the Muslim uprising as a direct result of the US’ greed for oil. Not to mention the Hindus who are hell scared that they are going extinct. Where do these theories fit in? As long as people believe they are sinners, they carry a broken image of theirs with them everywhere. To get help, they’ll go to priests and god-men who take advantage of their guilt. It is easy to control a broken person as he or she would be listening and adhering to it pretty sincerely.
One particular religion advocates that people are born sinners. That the sins of their ancestors is their own sin. Once they start believing it, they look for redemption. The power centers utilize this weakness of common people without any mercy. They have books, for example, the Garuda Purana which is supposedly written by Lord Vishnu to explain the types of punishments one must undergo for each sin mentioned there. The punishments are in place to tame people so that the social balance always remains there… in the favor of religious gurus who work for governments directly or indirectly, in implementing its decisions. But they also help in containing crime and things like that because there is a punishment already there, waiting to catch them as soon as they commit a supposed sinister act.
Coming back to ancient India, various acts that prevented peace and harmony among people and other inhabitants of the planet, were first identified and then categorized as sins. This was done so that people do not go about killing and harming other people or animals. That doesn’t mean if you are a butcher, you are incurring sin on a daily basis. You are just following your dharma, which in this case, is to sell animal meat. In some cultures, the thought of hurting cows is a sin. This came into place because the ancient sages wanted to preserve cows because of the different benefits one avail from these animals.
So? Don’t hurt cows. It is a sin. It will give you bad karma if you sell the cow for its meat. The topic is under debate… many states in India have banned cow meat and yet India is one of the largest exporters of cow meat. I do not know where the balance hangs in this case. Are they the governments sinning or are they the people into meat export? I’ll leave this example here at this so you may deduce on your own about the sin incurred, whether it is a sin in Hinduism, and also, who is the sinner in this case.
Taking up the issue adultery is defined as the infidelity of a partner in a relationship toward the other partner. The concept of sin here in Hinduism is to keep both partners faithful to each other so that they and their offspring live in peace. In such cases, if one commits adultery, it certainly is considered a sin…in almost all religions. But then again, some cultures allow polygamy.
For example, if a religious book says a man can have four wives, then he is sleeping with four wives and it is okay with God. If the female sleeps with someone else, it is a grave sin… whose punishment is, in most cases, death or at least ouster from mainstream society.
Mahabharata cites Draupadi has five husbands. So according to religion A, it is a sin and according to religion B, it is not a sin. There is much folklore here and I guess I am not the right person to comment on that so I leave out this example too, again, so you may deduce the sin and sinner. I must add that while Draupadi had five husbands, each of the husbands had more than one wife.
But Mahabharata is again a saga that may or may not be just a myth. It doesn’t make much difference though. Sin is sin and if you bathe in the river Ganges after committing sin, all your sins go *poof* (vanish/forgiven).
The idea of sin in Hinduism is to tame people who would otherwise be barbaric like demons. With the fear of God instilled in their brains, they prevent incidents (sins) that often create chaos. With that in mind, the learned of yester-ages created the concept of sin – not only in Hinduism but in other religions also. The acts of sin and the extent of punishment vary in different religions. Also, what is sin in some religions may be perfectly okay in some other religions.
I read a comment somewhere on a YouTube video. I am reproducing it here as it adds to the above argument… Here it goes
“Rightness” or “Wrongness” is not an intrinsic condition. It is a subjective judgment in a personal value system. A thing is only right or wrong because you say it is. An item is not right or wrong intrinsically. The first thing to understand about the universe is that no condition is “good” or “bad”. You cannot know and become that which you are, in the absence of that which you are not. What would happen if everything I thought was “wrong” was actually right”? Evil is that which you call Evil. Yet even that I love; for it is only through that which you call evil that you know good”. ~ Vinod P.
With that, I conclude my argument about the concept of SIN in Hinduism. Please comment with your own views. I am more than willing to know what people think about this.
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