This question itself is motivated from this other question: What are different types of sins?

Where the accepted answer cites some points from scriptures:

  1. Maha-pataka: Killing a Brahman, drinking liquor, theft, violation of the preceptor's bed.

  2. Jatibrhamsa-pataka: Beating a brahmana, smelling liquor or garlic, living through begging, etc.

That made me wonder why god or whoever created us would say something like that? I mean killing or beating any living being is a sin, then why is it written explicitly for Brahmins?

Sometimes I feel like all the scriptures written by Brahmins are biased toward Brahmins?

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    Forget about Jatis or Kulas or tribes or clans. Brahmins are persons who predominantly having SATVA GUNA. Satva Guna is best of all gunas. Satva guna is pure, helping, good and all positive traits. So, irrespective of country, race and religion, Killing or beating Satva Guna person is not a "Rational" act.
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 30, 2016 at 10:53
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    Of course killing anyone is a sin, it's just that killing Brahmins is a greater sin. And that's not "biased", it's just that Brahmins did extremely good actions in their past birth to deserve to be born into a Brahmana family. Mar 30, 2016 at 13:28
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    @Keshav I think you should stop saying the 'past birth good karma' thing. No offence, but what we do in our present birth is a lot more important than what we do in our past birth. And I am not bringing in the birth issue. I am just saying that Brahmanas are respected because of what they do in their present birth not because what they did in the past birth. So that is actually a moot point. (Admissable, but moot.) Oh, and also see Bhrgu Maharshi's words as quoted by Pradip.
    – Surya
    Mar 30, 2016 at 17:32
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    @Surya It's only because of our limitations that we consider our present brith more morally relevant than our past birth. The justice of the gods cares about the actions of the soul, whether the soul is in one body or it has moved to another body. And it's not a matter of what Brahmins have done in their current birth - even killing a Brahmana who has just gotten his Upanayana is a greater sin than killing a Kshatriya who has just gotten his Upanayana. Mar 30, 2016 at 17:37
  • This conversation has been moved to chat. Apr 2, 2016 at 22:23

6 Answers 6


Your confusion arises because you think that Hindu scripture supports the Hindu caste system as seen today. That is not the case. The term Brahmana in Hindu scripture has a different connotation from the Brahmana of Hindu caste system. Hindu scripture is talking of Varna which is dependent on conduct.

Bhrigu said, 'He is called a Brahmana in whom are truth, gifts, abstention from injury to others, compassion, shame, benevolence, and penance. He who is engaged in the profession of battle, who studies the Vedas, who makes gifts and takes wealth (from those he protects) is called a Kshatriya. He who earns fame from keep of cattle, who is employed in agriculture and the means of acquiring wealth, who is pure in behavior and attends to the study of Vedas, is called a Vaisya. He who takes pleasure in eating every kind of food, who is engaged in doing every kind of work, who is impure in behavior, who does not study the Vedas and whose conduct is unclean, is said to be a Sudra. If these characteristics be observable in a Sudra, and if they be not found in a Brahmana, then such a Sudra is no Sudra, and such a Brahmana is no Brahmana.'

Mahabharata, Santi parva, Section CLXXXIX

One can not be a Brahmana by simply being born in a Brahmana caste.

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    I would only add that scripture does not say it is okay to kill others. It may say that it is a greater sin to kill a brahmin (as defined in this answer). Apr 1, 2016 at 6:22
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    Actually what scripture is saying about killing is simply arthavad or praise for a Brahmana (varna). One should not literally read such statements. As Bhishma said, a scripture is no scripture if it can not survive the test of reason. Apr 1, 2016 at 6:34
  • The link that you have provided doesn't have the highlighted last sentence, which forms a key part of the answer. Such a verse is not present in the Sanskrit version as well.
    – SMJoe
    Apr 7, 2017 at 5:58
  • I found the highlighted last sentence quite easily. Apr 7, 2017 at 11:43
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    "As Bhishma said, a scripture is no scripture if it can not survive the test of reason" - that depends on the reasoning capacity of the reasoner. A thief might find a scriptural injunction to imprison theives as un-"reason"-able.
    – ram
    Mar 30, 2020 at 5:32

Why is killing a brahmin considered sin while killing other caste people is not?

It's a wrong notion that only killing Brahmins is a sin and killing persons belonging to other varnas isn't.

Penances are prescribed for killing persons of other varnas as well in various scriptures:

Manu 11.126. One fourth (of the penance) for the murder of a Brahmana is prescribed (as expiation) for (intentionally) killing a Kshatriya, one-eighth for killing a Vaisya; know that it is one-sixteenth for killing a virtuous Sudra.

In Hinduism, killing even insects is a sin what to say about killing larger animals and of course human beings.

Manu 11.70. Killing insects, small or large, or birds, eating anything kept close to spirituous liquors, stealing fruit, firewood, or flowers, (are offences) which make impure (Malavaha)

Manu 11.140. But for destroying one thousand (small) animals that have bones, or a whole cart-load of boneless (animals), he shall perform the penance (prescribed) for the murder of a Sudra.

11.141. But for killing (small) animals which have bones, he should give some trifle to a Brahmana; if he injures boneless (animals), he becomes pure by a suppressing his breath (pranayama)

11.142. For cutting fruit-trees, shrubs, creepers, lianas, or flowering plants, one hundred Rikas must be muttered

11.143. (For destroying) any kind of creature, bred in food, in condiments, in fruit, or in flowers, the expiation is to eat clarified butter.

11.144. If a man destroys for no good purpose plants produced by cultivation, or such as spontaneously spring up in the forest, he shall attend a cow during one day, subsisting on milk alone.

  • Just because you're told killing X is greatest sin doesn't implicitly implies that killing Y is not greatest sin, it's just not there in written form. God gave us minds to think rationally, and for me killing even an ant is sin which is equal to killing a cow. Any references you guys cite are proved written by god? or particular rishi? Mar 30, 2016 at 20:04
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    @AngelusMortis Though i see Rationality in Sanatana Dharma, we need to see two aspects. Scientific and Spiritual. Materialistic people only believe in Scientific logic and neglect Spiritual logics. But Orthodox people neglect scientific logics. Some people say Western Science is in premature stage to understand some rituals. What Rickross said is actually correct. I read a scientific explanation long back Yagna purifies Air (Vayu Deva). So, it must be true for all Gods. Indeed, yagnas provide energy to Devas. Or allegorically this could mean purification of nature.
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 31, 2016 at 6:45
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    @AngelusMortis On pretext of being Rational people are embracing many things against true Sastras or Scriptures. Rationality sometimes fail because this nature or cosmos deludes us so much and we go against Dharma and Satya. So, let's not term an action "Irrational or Illogical" unless you verify both Scientific and Spiritual aspects. Again, this approach may fail in few cases but in majority of cases this approach works. I follow this because some of Santana Dharma scriptures are subjected to interpolation and misinterpretations.
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 31, 2016 at 6:51

Why is killing a brahmin considered sin while killing other caste people is not?

This presupposition is wrong; killing people of other castes is also a sin:

Manusmriti 11.126: One fourth of the expiation for the killing of a Brāhmaṇa has been prescribed for the killing of a Kṣatriya, one eighth for that of a Vaiśya, and one sixteenth for that of a Śūdra,—each of these being one who is devoted to his duty.

Then you say,

Where the accepted answer cites some points from scriptures:

Maha-pataka: Killing a Brahman, drinking liquor, theft, violation of the preceptor's bed.

Jatibrhamsa-pataka: Beating a brahmana, smelling liquor or garlic, living through begging, etc.

This citation does not prove or show that killing people of other castes is not a sin. All it says is that killing a Brahmin is a mahapataka, or a heinous sin.


Nonviolence is an important duty for all humans in general of any caste:

"Nonviolence, truthfulness, honesty, desire for the happiness and welfare of all others and freedom from lust, anger and greed constitute duties for all members of society." (Bhagavata Purana, 11.17.21)

Killing anyone or anything is considered as sinful, in general.

However there are rare conditions where killing is ok:

"Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: O Arjuna, you should not show mercy by releasing this relative of a brāhmaṇa, for he has killed innocent boys in their sleep.

A person who knows the principles of dharma does not kill an enemy who is careless, intoxicated, insane, asleep, afraid or devoid of his chariot. Nor does he kill a boy, a woman, a foolish creature or a surrendered soul.

A cruel and wretched person who maintains his existence at the cost of others’ lives deserves to be killed for his own well-being, otherwise he will go down by his own actions." (Bhagavata Purana, 1.7.35-37)

ahiṁsā or nonviolence is an important principle in every form of Hinduism and mentioned over and over again in many scriptures.

"If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification." - Bhagavata Purana, 7.11.35

A brahmana is someone with brahminical qualities (likewise the same for the other castes).

Someone who kills innocent people becomes an outcaste.

Don't you know that Ravana was from a brahmin family by birth but became known as an Asura? Ram was not from a brahmin family.

Overtime in this Kali Yuga the caste system became abused, distorted, and polluted.

In general, violence does not bring people closer towards perfection or unity with God, it pushes people away from God.

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    Non violence is not important duty for all Varnas. " अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथीव च". Non-violence is the ultimate dharma. So too is violence in service of Dharma. However, Brahmins and saints are subjected to follow Ahimsa as their Dharma (duty) is to be Satvic.
    – The Destroyer
    Apr 1, 2016 at 5:55
  • Non-violence is described as the dharma for all. "Nonviolence, truthfulness, honesty, desire for the happiness and welfare of all others and freedom from lust, anger and greed constitute duties for all members of society." (Bhagavata Purana, 11.17.21) Violence only in special conditions can be considered as dharma like at war or in self-defense. "A person who knows the principles of dharma does not kill an enemy who is careless, intoxicated, insane, asleep, afraid or devoid of his chariot. Nor does he kill a boy, a woman, a foolish creature or a surrendered soul" (Bhagavata Purana, 1.7.36)
    – TheSage
    Apr 12, 2016 at 2:30
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    Our views are close but we said in different words. First we should use non violence and then if it doesn't work we should resort to violence. And also, with Yuga Dharma changes. So, in Kali Yuga we cannot win by using Ahimsa alone. However, those who wanted to maintain Satva alone should never use violence.
    – The Destroyer
    Apr 12, 2016 at 2:57
  • Well I don't exactly agree that if non-violence doesn't work we should resort to violence, but violence in accordance to dharma is only done to prevent more violence, at war, or in self-defense, not normally only in special conditions. Also from my personal experiences having entered higher states, I know that violence leads to lower worlds and away from perfection, which is why being secluded is best for those aspiring to achieve perfection. For the normal worldly people conditions where violence is necessary may be unavoidable.
    – TheSage
    Apr 12, 2016 at 3:13
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    I mean Violence in accordance with Dharma.
    – The Destroyer
    Apr 12, 2016 at 3:43

Indra Committed Sin of Killing Brahman Demon

A group of powerful (Rakshas) demons attacked Indralok, out of terror, Indra left his kingdom and went to Brahma for the advice.

Brahma showed him a Brahman Rakshas (demon) and asked him to make that Brahman Rakshas his guru. Indra followed the orders and helped the Rakshas in Vedic rituals and Hawans but at the end of the rituals, Indra wanted to retaliate the group of demons using the offerings instead the Rakshas gave all the food offerings to his mother who was also a Rakshasni. Indra was very angry so he killed that Rakshas (demon) and his vengeful Rakshasni mother started haunting Indra wherever he went. The sin of Brahman Hatya led to his exile. So to escape from her wrath, since she was enraged and Indra killing the Brahman had committed heinous sin, he finally decided to hide himself in a flower for 100,000 years and did penance remembering Bhagwan Vishnu.

Vishnu appeared and advised that killing a Brahman is irreversible sin and to dilute its impact on himself, he need to distribute sin among the pious creations of Vedic Gods.

So pious creations of Gods were –

Earth Ocean Trees Women As shown, one such pious creation of Vedic Gods were women too, so the women’s menstrual cycle was actually curse of Indra and since then they are forbidden from going to temples or holy pilgrimages. Indra passing portion of his sin to women made them impure during menstrual cycle. One more thing about women’s importance is that, there is a tradition to bow down inverted on ground in front of God but women are not allowed to do that. The reason is to offer dignity and respect: woman’s womb is considered to be very sacred and pious and by completely touching the ground even in front of God is an insult to that womb so women are not allowed to do so.

Eventually the absorption of partial Karmic reactions of Indra’s sin lead to

Cracks on Earth Waves in Ocean Waves Milk oozing out from Trees Menstrual Cycle in Women Any harm done to Indra would have led to series of drought and decimation of species, beings. As explained before, Indra was the God of wars, storms, and the heavens. So the distribution of sin among pious beings was done for the prosperity and continuum of the mankind and species.

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    You answer explicitly doesn't explain why Killing Brahmana is a Sin rather it says punishments for doing so.
    – The Destroyer
    Apr 1, 2016 at 7:17
  • Agree with Ravi, but this answer does add some valid educational points to the original question. It needs to be reformatted.
    – a20
    Apr 21, 2016 at 9:48

These books are written on a period of war and killing any men during war is not a sin. But Brahmins are not soldiers but people who pray to God and advices the Kings.

In the modern era, the Brahmins can be compared to Medics in war zone. They help both our troops and theirs and no soldier will hurt medics.

Killing medics is a big sin now. Killing Brahmins is a big sin then.

The Brahmins thing doesn’t apply now since everyone who can study well or who has lot of money can become doctors.

And there is no bias. It just mean do not hurt innocent people. Other castes go for war but Brahmins don’t go for war. They pray to God. And hurting women and children is not written because real men don’t hurt women and children.


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