Sin, Crime and Law

by PR Sarkar Icon

“Papa” is the general term for both sin (against religion or God) and crime (against a social code).

Papa is sometimes defined as Pátaka.

Pátaka also means sin against religion or God.

Pátaka is divided into 2 categories:

  1. Papa or sin – this is something which should not be done

  2. Pratyaváya – this is which is not done but should be done

Papa and Pratyaváya are both undesirable things.

  • But according to the ancient saints and sages, Pratyaváya was more abominable than Papa.

According to the degree of severity of Pátaka, sin is divided into 3 stages:

  1. Pátaka or ordinary sin;
  2. Atipátaka or serious sin
  3. Mahapátaka or extremely serious sin

If the reactions of a sin can be quickly exhausted by atonement through a certain amount of active endeavour or sacrifice, then the sin that caused those reactions is termed Pátaka or ordinary sin.

Suppose someone stole Rs 200 from a person, but some time after they returned the amount to the owner with interest or with an amount more than the stipulated interest with an apology, then such type of ordinary sin or Pátaka can be absolved.

To wound someone’s sentiment by using offensive language or by doing something similar is also an ordinary sin like this.

Suppose someone’s sentiments are injured, but later on if he is repeatedly offered an apology, and if the offended person forgives the misdeed from the core of his heart, then it is assumed that this sin is absolved.

Atipátaka or sin of a serious nature requires a severe penance for expiation.

For instance, if someone through omission or commission permanently injures the future of a person, that is considered Atipátaka or sin of a serious nature. To state it plainly, this sort of serious sin has no atonement.

But if you dedicate yourself wholeheartedly throughout your life to make good the amount of damage done to the person, and if that person forgives you from the core of his or her heart, then that sin can be considered absolved. But actually this rarely happens, because how can a person who has been permanently damaged by you forgive you from the core or his or her heart.

There are many examples of extremely sinful deeds throughout history:

  • King Ajátashatru (King of Magadha) killed his father who was a disciple of Buddha
  • King Shasháuṋka (King of Rávha) invited King Rájyavardhana (King of Sthániishvara) to attend a peace talk and then killed him.
  • The way King Harśavardhana (brother of King Rájyavardhana) killed Queen Jayashauṋkarii (wife of King Shasháuṋka) and her minor son.

The worst type of sin is called Mahapátaka.

The basic difference between Mahapátaka and Atipátaka is this. The example of an Atipátaka does not have a recurring sinful effect on humanity, and that incident may be forgotten by people.

But Mahapátaka has a recurring negative influence on humanity.

An example of Atipátaka is Ravana, one of the mythological characters of the Ramayana, abducting Sita directly.

An example of Mahapataka is Ravana appearing before Sita in the disguise of a sannyasin, then kidnapping Sita. Even today a housewife might suspect an innocent sannyasin of being a thief like Ravana.

Another branch of Pátaka is Pratyáváya, which literally means not to do what should be done.

For instance, responsible parents should arrange proper education for their children, and see to it that the children become capable of maintaining themselves.

They should also arrange the marriages of their marriageable daughters. (If their well-educated and self-reliant daughters are reluctant, then this is not the responsibility of the parents.)

Throughout life, people should gratefully remember the help of their benefactors and move along the path of righteousness.

If people do not do the things which they should do by thought or deed, and engage in activities opposite to this, they are committing Pratyáváya.

Going against a recognized legal code is called crime.

A particular community or particular state rests on certain fundamental laws and regulations. When these rules and regulations are concerned with the laws of the state, they are called the constitution. When these rules and regulations are concerned with the administration of justice, they are called social law. Any action which is ultravires to the constitution or the social law is considered a crime.

That is why in different countries there are differences of opinion about many things except a few cardinal human principles. With different peoples and states, the constitution, legal code, administration and judiciary are bound to vary.

For this reason, people, when they remain in a particular country, are required to follow the constitution, law, judicial codes and executive decisions of the country concerned.

Otherwise they will be charged with crimes. If we try to expand the scope of the few fundamental cardinal human principles and draft the constitution, legal code, administrative and judicial systems in adjustment with the expanded scope of those cardinal principles, that will pave the way for the greater unity of human society.

Humanity or Neohumanism will thereby acquire accelerated speed, which is one of the essential factors for the path of proper movement. If the fundamental unity of human society increases more and more, and divisive differences steadily decrease, then universal humanity is bound to be united under a common ideology. This should not remain a utopian dream.

It should be the first expression of the practical wisdom of humanity.

Any action that creates a very unwholesome reaction in one’s own body and mind, and provides a lesson and momentum to that person to steer clear of such a thought or action, creates a reactive mentality against that type of action. That sort of reactive mentality is called Ghrńańá or hatred. Hatred is an imposed fetter on the mind.

So it is included in the list of eight Páshas or fetters of the mind. That which is inherent or intrinsic in the mind and expresses itself in the external world is called Ripu or enemy.

6 Ripus

There are 6 Ripus:

  1. lust
  2. anger
  3. avarice
  4. blind attachment
  5. vanity
  6. jealousy

“Pasha” is that which originates in the external world and influences the mind. Thus:

  • ripu is intro-external
  • pasha is extro-internal.

An intelligent or wise person should keep the Ripus under control and resist the Pashas.

The ancient saints and sages did not prescribe any method to resist the Ripus because the Ripus should be regulated.

  • If a Ripu is resisted or suppressed, then the suppressed Ripus finds expression through another Ripu.

Suppose in a person the instinct of greed is very strong.

He is compelled to keep this instinct under control, under pressure of poverty. If a person who habitually takes bribes is found not taking bribes due to the enforcement department, then that suppressed instinct of greed will manifest itself through anger or any other Ripu.

That is, he will burst into violent anger.

So, the psychological approach to the Ripus is to keep them under control and not allow them under any circumstances to go against a recognized code of social conduct.

Some persons may be very greedy for food.

  • They may die prematurely due to over-eating or indulging in prohibited foods.

Intelligent people will keep the instinct of greed under control in such a way that they avoid getting any disease.

Take the case of an alcoholic.

  • Under the spell of liquor people become helpless victims to their habit.
  • If their channelize their addiction into the ardent love of music, painting or any of the fine arts, the instinct of addiction will be gratified to some extent
  • They will prevent any further harm to themselves.


Elevated sages in the past thought that Pashas had to be resisted.

To successfully combat the fear instinct, one has to march with rapid steps towards the source of fear and, if necessary, with the requisite physical and psychic weapons.

If one hides inside behind locked doors, then the fear will become so entrenched in your mind that you will not be able to get it out of your mind.


  • the Ripus must be controlled
  • the Pashas must be resisted

Pashas can be removed by expanding the mind – by elevating human potentialities.

23 March 1986, Calcutta


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