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Pataka (Samskrit : पातकम्), loosely equated to Sin, is a unique term of dharmik significance in the present days. Many people, both in the East and the West, question the very existence of papa. In a general way it is said to be an act of willful rebellion against or disobedience of some law given in the authoritative texts (the Vedas and Smrtis); an act of opposition or at least failure to abide by the regulations contained therein.
The Article on sin in Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (vol 11) will clearly show how the idea of sin varies from religion to religion, from age to age and from country to country. We are concerned here with the growth and development of the doctrine of Pataka in India from Vedic times to the medieval digests and commentaries on Dharmasastra.
The followers of Charvaka (atheistic and materialistic philosophy) encourage that "man should live among pleasures as long as life lasts, he should feed himself sumptuously (lit. should drink ghee) even by borrowing money from others. There is no coming again into the world after the body is reduced to ashes by cremation".
Dismissing the Charvaka theory, the concept of Papam (पापम्) or Pataka forms the very foundation of moral guidance that directed the mindset of the people of the ancient civilization of Bharatavarsha. Rig veda abounds with instances of Papam and the ways to overcome them called as Prayaschitta (प्रायश्चित्तम्).
पूर्वजन्म कृतं पापं व्याधि रूपेण बाधते । तत शांतिरोषधेदानें मन्त्र जप होम सुरारचनें ।।
The Rgveda is full of fervent and heart-felt expressions of the sense of papa.
In Hindu mythology, Anrita is falsehood, son of Adharma (unrighteousness or vice), married to Nikriti (immorality). They had two sons, Bhaya (fear) and Naraka (hell), and twin daughters, Máya (deceit) and Vedanú (torture), who became their brothers' wives.
Anrita is also the name of one of the mystical weapons delivered to Ráma by Viswámitra, as mentioned in the Rámáyana.
Pataka in Rig Veda
Rigveda describes the idea papa in connection with the concept of Rta(ऋतम्). Rta is defined as the general order in the cosmos, a course of nature.
The seers of Rgveda were acutely conscious of papa or guilt and pray to the devatas, particularly to Varuna and the Adityas, for forgiveness and for being freed from the consequences of anrta. In this connection they employ numerous words such as aghas, enas, anrta, durta, dushta, drugdha, canhas. A few examples of the employment of these words may be cited here.
The most frequent words are aghas and enas, both of which appear to import sin in its deepest and most ethical sense. Rg. VII 86 is a hymn to Varuna in which there are several verses that breathe a deep and heart-felt consciousness of guilt.
The sage begins in verse 3 by saying that all wise men of whom he inquired told him the same thing viz. "Varuna is angry with you'. Then the sage proceeds 'O Varunal what is that great guilt (agas) (of mine) whereby you desire to injure your worshipper and a friend ? Declare that to me, then I shall quickly approach thee with an obeisance and be free from sin (enas). Cast away from us the transgressions (ch ugdha) of our father and those that we committed in our own person;...free Vasistha (from guilt) like a calf from the rope (that binds t)'. In Rg. VII, 89,5 (almost equal to Atharva-veda VI. 51.3) the sage says 'whatever transgressions (abhidroha) we who are mere men have praotised as against the divine hosts and whatever dhar mas laid down by you we may have confounded through our ignorance (or heedlessness) do not destroy us on account of that guilt (enas).' It will be noticed that in these verses the words āgas, abludi oha and ens are employed in the same verses and therefore practically mean the same thing.
In Rg. II. 27.14 the sage prays 'O Aditi O Mitral O Varunal take pity on us though we may have committed some offence against you'. In Rg. II, 28 5 Varuna is implored to loosen sin (āgas) from the devotee just like a girdle. Rg. VIII, 45,34 states: 'O Indral do not kill us for one sin, for two sins or three sins or for many (agas).' In Rg II. 29.1 the Adityas are implored Coast away from me sin (āgas) as a woman who gives birth to a child in secret'. For some other passages 6. YARET BTICETTE SI T TI II. 29.1.
in which āyas or its opposite unūgus occurs, vide Rg 1162.22, I. 185 8, 11,29.5, 1V. 12.4, 1V 543, VII. 511, VII, 57 4, V. 85.7, VII, 877, VII. 93 7, X 36 12, X. 377 and 9. Āgas and enas are omployed in the same verse, Rs. 1V.12.4 'O Agpil Whatever sin (agay) we may have committed through heedlessness mako us free from it before Aditi and loosen from us our sins (enus) from all sides'. Some more passages about enas are Rg VI 51 7 'May we not have to enjoy (1 suffer for the enas committed by another and Rg VI, 51 8 'Whatever sin be committed by me I shall removo it by obeisance', Rg VI. 743 'O Soma and Rudra! Loosen from us and cast away from us whatever sin attaches to our person'; Rg Vil 201 'Indra is our saviour even from a great sin'; vide also Rg I 189 1, 1, 287, VIL 52 2 The word 'aglia', also seems to mean sin 'Apa nah sogucad-agham (may our sins perish) is the refrain of Rg. 197.1-8. 'O gods! May your fetters and may sins (aghān) be far away from us' (II 29 5, in which verse in the first half 'āgah' occurs), X 117 6 (kevalagho blavatı kevaladi) 'one who simply eats food alone (without offering to others) reaps only sin. Another word is amhas. The following passages may bo cited. In Re II, 28 6 Varuna is implored 'remove amlıcs (sin ) as one removes the rope from the (neck) of the calf; one has not the power even to wink without you ( your favour)'? It should be noted that in the preceding verse (II 28 5) already quoted the similo of the girdle is employed with regard to ūgas. 'May Indra take us away from anhas as persons on both sides of a Tyver) call one who is going in a boat' (Rg III, 32 14 ), 'No evil causod by the gods or by ten reaches him from any side who worships Agni with fuel, oblation or sacrifices' Rg VIII, 19, 6, 'May Aditi, the mother of the affluent Mitra and Varuna, save us from all sin' (Rg. X. 36. 3) Rg. X. 36. 2 also preys Heaven and Earth, the upholders of rta, to protect the sage from 'ambas'. Vide also Rg X 126. %. Another important word is urgina which is often placed in opposition to sādhu or ju. The Adityas are said to 'see insido 7 yara Verigh I WENT paraqet I II, 286, compare 11 28 5 P ure PIATT A HÉTV 8 w erd H er ETI. VIII, 196 9 f ait arat TOTEHT AT PASTU TU torer. 1 . X, 363
Rgvedic words for 'sin' (the hearts of men) sins as well as good (thoughts and actions) 10 and it is added that everything though far-off is near to them who are kings. In Rg. II. 27. 2 the Adityas are called 'avrināh' (free from vrjina). The Sun is said to maik among men their right and sinful deeds (Rg. IV 1 17). The same words (rju martesu vrjină ca pasyan) occur in Rg VI. 51, 2 and VII. 60.2 about the Sun. The word 'anrla' is often used in the Rgveda. It has already been shown how Varuna is said to mark the satya and anrla of men In Rg. VII 60 5 it is said 'these gods, Mitra, Aryaman and Varuna mark (or know) many sins; they flourish in the abode of rta' Rg. VII 66 13 Calling Mitra, Varuna and Aryaman haters of anrta has already been quoted (in n. 4). The word 'durita' is sometimes used in the sense of sin In Rg I 23 22 the waters are invoked as follows:11 "O waters 1 carry away from me whatever sin may exist in me, whatever transgressions I may have been guilty of as regards my sensual appetite or whatever falsehood I may have uttered'. Here all three words 'durita, droha and anrtid' are brought together and convey almost the same idea, viz, sin or guilt against the law of the Gods.
In Rg I. 185 10 Heaven and Earth are called father and mother and are invoked to save the worshipper from durta (sin) which involves blame (pātām-avadyād-duritad) 'Avadya' means 'garhya' acc. to Pān. II. 1. 101. Rg. VII, 82, 7 states 'Him neither anhas (sin) nor durita nor worry reaches from anywhere to whose sacrifice you go, O Mitra and Varuna!". In Re. X, 126, 1 'amhas' and 'durita' are brought together (na tam-amho na duritam devāso asta martyam) In Rg VIIT 67 21 the words amhati and rapas 12 seem to be employed in the sense of sin. "Duskrta' (evil deed) is used in the sense of sin in Rg. VIIT. 47. 13 and in Rg X 164, 3 Agni is implored to keep far away from the worshipper all sins 13. The word 'papa' generally14 10 sa sarwa grotta
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[Vol. occurs in the Rg. in the sense of 'sinner' (Rg. VIII, 61, 11, X. 10 12, IV. 5. 5) or 'sinful' or 'evil' (Rg X 108 6, X, 164 5, I. 129. 11) In Rg VII. 32. 18, VII. 94 3, VIII. 19 26 'papatva occurs and appears to mean 'sinfulness' In the Brahmanas 'papam' (neuter) occurs in the sense of 'sin' as in Sat Br. XI. 2 7. 19; vide also 15 Ait Br 33.5 In the Upanisads pāpam' means 'sin' ( eg in Tai Up II 9, Chandogya IY 14, 3). Certain important modifications of the doctrine about papa and Karma were introduced in the Upanisads and the Bhagavadgita, which will be discussed later on, In spite of the voluminous references to the oonsciousness of guilt and sin in the Rgveda and to the transgression of divine laws briefly indicated above, European scholars were not want ing who boldly affirmed that the idea of sin was altogether unknown to the Rgvedic sages. Vide S B E vol IP XXII where Mar-Muller replies 'the gradual growth of the concept of guilt is one of the most interesting lessons which certain passages of these ancient hymns can teach us How sin arises in the individual mind has been a diffioult problem at all times16 Men are conscious of the sins they commit, though they may have no definite conolusions or theories about the origin of papa In the Re VII. 86 6 a sago" pleads with Varuna that sin is not due to a man's own power, but it is rather due to fate, to sura (intoxicants). to angor, dice or heedlessness and even dream state leads one to commit what is not right in the Kausitakı-brahmanopanigad (III 9) it is stated. 'the Lord of all makes that man performn good works whom He desires to raise to higher wor]ds | 15 सहौवाचाजीगर्तः सौययसिस्तदै मा तात तपाति पाप कर्म मया कृतम् । ऐ मा 33 5 ( VII 17.) 16. Christianty seems to have solved it by stating that the source of actual sin is the Devil (Matthew 13 39) and by the legend of Adam's Fall (vide Romans 5. 12 'as by one man sin entered to the world and death by sun') at affirmed that there was a dose of original sin in all men in modern times many people don't accept the idea of original sın', for example, Sir Oliver Lodge says (in his article on Christian Doctrine') in Hibbert Journal for 1903-4 at p. 466 "As for original sin' or 'birth in or other notion of that Lind that sits absolutely lightly on him (the man of to-day) As a matter of fact it is non-existent, and none but a monk could have Invented it | 17, न वो दो वरुण धति सा होरा मन्यार्बभीदको आचात्तः । अस्त व्यायान्कनीषस Vi ertagaret . VII 86 6
Hot sin arises in men's minds than these and He makes that man commit bad deeds whom He wishes to drag down'.18 Here it appears to be suggested that some men are chosen by God for being saved and some are chosen for being damned. This sounds like the Calvinistic doctrine of pre-destination. In the Bhagavadgita (III, 36) Arjuna questions Srikrsns as follows: 'impelled by whom does a man commit papa as if constrained thereto by force, even though he does not desire to do so'? The angwer given is (III. 37) 'it is just and anger springing from the element (muna) of rajas (passion) that are the enemies of man in this world. In another place the Bhagavadgita (XVI. 21 ) says 'this is the three-fold door or entrance to Hell that is ruinous to the self viz. lust, anger and greed; therefore & man must shun these three.' But it must be said that this doos not go to the real root of the matter. The question is why should carnal lust, anger or greed themselves arise in the mind of man. The only answer that is indicated is in accordance with the tenets of the Sārkhya philosophy viz. that there are three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas which combine in various proportions in different men and that it is rajoguna that is the cause of man's sinfulness In the Santiparya, chap. 163, it is stated that there are thirteen very powerful enemies of men beginning with anger (kr odha) and Kama (lust) and it is said that krodha springs from lobha (covetousness), which latter arises from ignorance (verses 7 and 11). But there is no satisfactory discussion of the origin of ignorance in that chapter. Gautama 19.2 observe 20 that 'man in this world is polluted by & vile action such as sacrificing for a man unworthy to offer & sacrifice, eating forbidden food, speaking what ought not to be spoken, neglecting what is prescribed and practising that 18 forbidden'. Yajfiavalkya III, 219 proscribes: 'by | 18. एष व साधु कर्म कारयति त यमेन्यो लोकेम्पो एक्षिनषते एष उ एषासाधु कर्म HIS YET I A LT 34. II. 9. This is the basis of Brahmasūtra II. 1.34 and II. 3.41. 19. विविधं नरकस्येवं द्वारं नाशनमात्मनः । कामः क्रोधस्तथा लोभस्तस्मादेतत्वयं त्यजेत्॥ maçta XVI. 21 = fegua 33.6. | 40. विहितत्याननुष्ठानान्निन्दितस्य च सेवनात् । अनिग्रहाचेन्द्रियाणां नरः पतनमृति ।। या III 219, अर्वन् विहितं कर्म प्रतिषिद्धानि चाचरन् । प्रायश्चित्तीयते ये जरो THEUT T u tfak 34 2 appears to mention the two causes of the rise of sin stated by Yaj in the first half of III 219 910 9641 कुर्मणा लिप्यते यथैतदयाज्ययाज्ञभमभक्ष्यभक्षणमबद्यचर्न शिष्टस्याक्रिया प्रतिषिद्धसेवनामति । ग. 192 शजर on जै, XII, 3 16 schoes the very words of गो. v12 शिष्टस्याकिया अतिपिसेवनामेति !, B. D. 2
omitting to do what is ordained, by resorting to what is condemned (prohibited) and by not controlling the senses, man incurs fall (i e papa) Manu XI 44 and Santiparva 34 2 are similar verses The Mitaksară explains that matters ordained are such as performing Sandhya (morning and evening adorations) and Agnihotra and what are condemned are such actions as drinking liquor Vośvarūpa explains that patana (fall or sinfulness) in Ya) . 219 is not used in the technical sepse attached to that word by Gautama 21 4 viz 'to be a pahla means to be doprived of the right to follow the lawful occupations of twiceborn men, but it is used only in the sense that the man 80 acting (as mentioned in Ya, III, 219) becomes liable to undergo prāyascitts and that the words of Gautama (21,4) are restricted only to what are called mahāpātakas The word pälaha is derived from the causal of the root 'pat' Vide Medhatithi on Manu XI 54 'pātakaśabdah patayatiti vyutpattyä sarva-vyatikramesu valtate' and Madanapārijāta p 786 In ancient works the word palaniya (meaning the cause of patana) has been employed as in Āp Dh S. 1.7217 The Pr V (p 35) paraphrases patantyini by patakani' and derives it from the root 'paty (palatyanena at pataniyam) with the addition of the termination 'aniya' according to Pán III 3113 The word occurs also in Ya) II. 210, II, 297, Sankha quoted by Visvarūpa on Yay. II 237 (in prose) and other smrtis The enumeration of papa karma and the classifications of sins into several degrees or grades has gone on from very anciont times in the Rg X 5 6 it is said21 the wise made (lit chiselled) seven limits, the man who goes against even one of them becomes sinful' The Nirukta (VL 27 ) explains that the seven sins indicated in this verse are theft, violating the bed (of the GNTIL), murder of a brāhmana, murder of a bhruins, drinking of liquor, continual performance of the same sinful act, telling a lie as to a sinful matter'. Rg VII. 86 6 quoted above (in n 17) makes it clear that drinking surā and playing with dice were regarded as sinfu). From the Tai. S. II 5 1, 2, V 3 12 1-2, Sat Br XIII.3 11 and other Brahmana texts it appears that the murder of a brähmana was generally regarded in early vedic times as the gravest of all sins, though in the Kathaka sambita (31. 7) it is stated that there is no sin as
21. aniq e rig TEIX 56, 44 फवय । तासामकामपि अधिगच्छकंहस्वान् भवति । स्तेय तल्पारोहणं गरिया भणपा रापानं दुतस्य कर्मण पुन पुन सेश पातके अनूतोद्यानति । निश्क vi 47,
- Kane, Pandurang Vaman. (1953) History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India), Volume 4. Poona : Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
- Singh, N.K. (1999), Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, p. 973, ISBN 978-81-7488-168-7, retrieved 2010-08-23