Sin begins in the realm of consciousness. When we are young we are taught by our
guardians that which is “right” from that which is “wrong”. We grow up with the understanding
that stealing our playmate’s toys or hitting our grandparents is wrong and therefore, a sin. As we
mature the concept of sin begins to change; it is no longer quite so easy to define or to explain
and its repercussions become much more severe than a grounding. Sin is a malicious act,
intent-full, deliberate and harmful. An act is considered sinful when, though the perpetrator may
gain some form of momentary satisfaction, the action inflicts harm to someone or something else.
In reference to Hinduism, a sin is an immoral act; It is ungodly or unethical. The concept
of ahimsa (to do or cause no harm) to a Hindu is very sacred and from childhood he is taught to
respect and abide by this ideal. Therefore, any step towards dishonoring this paragon is a sin.
The story of Svetaketu Aruneya offers a subtle definition of sin. The boy was so proud of himself
for having learned the Vedas that his high opinion’s of himself stood in the way of his most
important lesson and understanding; that of faith. Here, Svetaketu’s ego served as a maya and
kept him from realizing moksha. Since it is the Hindu’s ultimate goal to achieve moksha, all
In a Hindu’s life there are different stages which he must pass through before he reaches
the end of his life. Each stage is representative of different levels of learning, understanding and
growth. Though sin (or rather its potential) is prevalent throughout the four stages, forgiveness
becomes an extremely important factor towards reaching moksha. Forgiveness, for the Hindus,
begins with self realization that one has sinned. Without this
realization, forgiveness cannot begin. The moment this realization is reached the sinner begins
his process of forgiveness through growing from his mistakes. Much like the Western traditional
views of sin and forgiveness, a Hindu is bound to the same principles; he must consciously realize
his sin and with a sincere heart, ask for forgiveness, both to the person he has sinned against and
then to God. Shiva, the God of rebirth and destruction is revered by devout Hindu’s as a God
with a very hot and unpredictable temper, but also as a very forgiving and just God. The Gods of
Hinduism hold no grudges against repenting sinners and thus, good Hindu’s must not either.
At the source of Hinduism lies transcendence. Not to forgive is a sin in itself for it
furthers one from complete liberation. It is understood that in order to achieve peace within
oneself, forgiveness is inevitable. Karma, often misunderstood or improperly used in the Western
culture, can best be described as the proverbial “to each his own”. Therefore, it is not for the
independent individual to judge whether forgiveness is merited or not. Forgiveness offers relief:
relief from pending tensions, ill-feeling and mounting egoism. Forgiveness saves one form
becoming selfish and egotistical. Physical exercise, meditation through different forms of yoga,
devotion, spiritual cleansing through prayer and “public chanting”(Sharma, 40), all of these
exercises are performed in order to achieve a heightened sense of consciousness.
It is through consciousness that one may avoid that which is bad, harmful and evil, both
to oneself and to others. This is the achievement of egolessness (24). The more one learns to
forgive the happier and more peaceful they will feel. The obtainment of moksha, cannot be
realized through the containment of negative energy which is associated with animosity, ill
thoughts or malevolence. Rather, Hinduism teaches that it is better to forgive, to receive
freedom and gain liberation for oneself, this is fulfillment, this is moksha.