Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What exactly is meant by sin (paap)?

I was recently sent this quote by Swami Tejomayananda, the  Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide, apparently from its news bulletin of March 2016.
"Today there is so much talk of atmosphere pollution, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution. But very rarely do we speak of mind pollution. External pollution is nothing but the result of polluted mind. So papam is to be understood as what which pollutes the mind and result in suffering."

In this context I would like to share what Sri Koorathazhvan has stated in Varadarajastavam. This appears to be a more appropriate as it also includes the definition of punya.

Swami Koorathazhvan, says, "An act of ours that pleases Lord Varadan results in Pnnya. An act of ours that displeases Lord Varadan results in Papam." Therefore in each of our action, we need to check whether Lord Varadan will be pleased. Obviously, Lord Varadan will not be pleased with acts that cause harm to His property - all things in the world, including every living being.

Eloborating this further, poorvacharyas have come to an understanding that acts based on Dharma shastras only please Lord Varadan. That is because, in the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord says, "shrutis smritir mamaiva agnja" i.e "That which is stated in the Shrutis and Smritis is my commandment."
Based on this pramanam, one may come to the conclusion that following the Do's and refraining from the Don't's as stated in the Vedas, and Smriti's such as Manu Smriti et al. should be one's way of life.
The dictum of the Shruti and Smriti are very complex for the modern mind which tries to interpret them liberally. That is why our ancestors have tried to understand, codify, and created a way of life that includes the dictum of the Shrutis and Smritis. For further clarification one need to consult appropriate elders in the family. In addition, certain external practices have been put in place that cleanse the mind off the mind pollution, resulting in positive thinking, and therefore good conduct. Achamanam, for example, is deha, manas, and atma shuddi. One has to do achamanam several times a day - after ablution, after wearing clothes, after eating, etc. And, washing of hands, feet and mouth is described as a pre-requisite to performing achamanam. We have forgotten a lot of these practices that were mandated by our ancestors - because of what we call "progress"? Really? 

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