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Sin City

Much is said about sin in the various religious books. Doing bad, it is prophesied, will send one to hell, and doing good will roll out a red carpet to heaven.

The question arises thus – “What constitutes sin?”. Is killing a mosquito a sin? Maybe? Is killing a mosquito – to save your child’s life because she now does not contract dengue – also a sin? Maybe not?

The Gita for one never says what is right or wrong. It only states unequivocally that the consequences of our actions must be borne by us. However it does acknowledge that sins exist (at least in our living world). If what is dharmic is that which is done in the interest of the greatest good, then actions intended at harming even a minority would be adharmic. In chapter 18, Krishna says that if one surrenders entirely to Him, then he would wash away all of that person’s sins. Isn’t that amazing?

To understand the enormity of Krishna’s magnanimity, one must only think of the various rituals that exist – such as homas / havans / pujas / sacrificial fire offerings. When performed comprehensively, each block of 4-5 verses is always followed by verses that explicitly seek forgiveness. Forgiveness that the ritual was performed correctly, that the ladle was held correctly, the mantra was pronounced correctly, that the mind was not wavering and so on and so forth. All this for a 30 minute ritual? Imagine the amount of forgiveness we have to seek then for committing a lifetime of sins! Despite this, Krishna offers a quick-but-permanent-fix to get rid of all sins forever. We just need to surrender entirely to Him. Would it not be worth the effort?

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