For the past few months I have stopped killing any type of insects as killing it will cause bad karma but during the course of time I have accidentally killed few insects when I had no intentions of harming them like
1) While using touchscreen a tiny insect of few millimeters in length came between my screen & finger.
2) Accidental killing mosquito in sleep as they bite us.
3) Ants come under my feet whenever I am busy going from A to B (Here I mean totally immersed in work mode where you don't have time to think of anything else.

So is Karma different for such types of incidents because I never intent to harm such beings, forget about killing them or will I get the same punishment for intentional killing?

  • No need to worry if you kill small insects. You can even kill mosquito intentionally as it harms you (as it damages your HUMAN BODY which is most evolved form of life.)
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 16, 2016 at 4:51
  • @TheDestroyer I disagree with the intentional part. It's like saying if some human being harms us a little, then we have the right to kill that human.
    – Pinakin
    Oct 16, 2016 at 9:58
  • 1
    @ChinmaySarupria I think you read Autobiography of a Yogi. Yukteswara Giri supports killing Mosquitoes intentionally if they are harming you. Swadharma is more important than Paradharma. Self defense is not wrong.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 16, 2016 at 9:59
  • @TheDestroyer Yeah I have read it but we humans also harm other beings sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, doesn't the other being gets the right to kill us then?
    – Pinakin
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:31
  • @ChinmaySarupria for unintentionally, we can't do anything (may be part of Karma) but we can kill insects or mosquitoes which harm us. Our survival is our greatest Dharma. Even Human body is obtained after many good virtues. We can't make it weak by allowing them to infect us with diseases.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:39

3 Answers 3


The act of determining the exact ratio viz: "Bad Karma created by accidental killing":"The same created by intentional killing" will require me to thoroughly study all Scriptures ,which ,unfortunately,i have not done.

However,accidental/unintentional killing is also a bad Karma.

For example:

Manu Smriti chapter 3,sloka 68 says:

A householder has 5 slaughter houses viz the hearth,the grinding stone,the broom,the pestle ,mortar & the water vessel,by using which he is bound.And in order to expiate these sins the sages recommended the 5 sacrifices(Pancha yajnas) for the householders.

In all these above mentioned 5 "slaughter houses" accidental or unintentional killing of several insects and microscopic beings are done on a regular basis.As an expiation(prayaschitta) for those sins,the householders are thus required to perform the 5 sacrifices daily(the Pancha Yajnas).

Similarly,Parashara Smriti,Chapter 2,Sloka 8 says:

What a sin a fisherman incurs in the course of one year is incurred by the ploughman with a iron plough within just one day.

So,the act of accidental killing is also bad Karma .In fact, if we go by the above Parashara Smriti verse, then the karma(of accidental killing)can sometimes be much worse than intentional killing(viz-fisherman killing fishes,which is intentional,but a plough man tilling soil and thereby killing several insects/microbes in it is unintentional or accidental).

The dire consequence of unintentional killings(of as "insignificant" as "mere" eggs of insects!) is well reflected in the following story of Kaurava mother Gandhari:

At the end of the war of Kurukshetra, she is supposed to have asked Lord Krishna, whom she(Queen Gandhari) blamed for the war and the death of her hundred sons, especially Duryodhan, as to what had been the reason for such a tragic life.

According to Lord Krishna, long back, while cooking rice, she had poured hot water of the boiled rice on the ground outside her kitchen. This hot water killed all the hundred eggs laid by an insect. This act of hers had earned the wrath of the mother insect who is supposed to have cursed her that she too would have to endure the deaths of her sons, as she had.

Now,the act of killing of the eggs was completely accidental yet the consequences were severe as far as Gandhari was concerned.

And,regarding intentional killing of harmful insects- What can be done?These are unavoidable acts.If a mosquito comes & sucks my blood can i sit back and enjoy?Of course not.

Even the Scriptures declare that Dharma Palana is to be postponed in situations when one's life is endangered.So,i see the cases of (intentional)killing of harmful insects as such unavoidable acts.


Karma only affects if you attach yourself to a particular action. If you attach yourself to a good action, you'll get good results and if you attach yourself to a bad action, you'll have to face bad results.

You have 2 choices - either you don't do any killing or you remain non-attached to everything, this is what Krishna preached in Gita and it is the true solution.

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 1/Karma Yoga/Non-Attachment:

It is the theory of nonattachment, to be attached to nothing while doing our work of life. Know that you are separated entirely from the world, though you are in the world, and that whatever you may be doing in it, you are not doing that for your own sake. Any action that you do for yourself will bring its effect to bear upon you. If it is a good action, you will have to take the good effect, and if bad, you will have to take the bad effect; but any action that is not done for your own sake, whatever it be, will have no effect on you. There is to be found a very expressive sentence in our scriptures embodying this idea: "Even if he kill the whole universe (or be himself killed), he is neither the killer nor the killed, when he knows that he is not acting for himself at all." Therefore Karma-Yoga teaches, "Do not give up the world; live in the world, imbibe its influences as much as you can; but if it be for your own enjoyment's sake, work not at all."

  • @UdayKrishna Nope, if you read more of Swami ji's works, you'll realize that whatever he has said is applicable to all people, in fact, he has quoted from many scriptures including Gita which doesn't point out that a particular action is only for yogis and the other is for someone else etc.. Also, we are living in Dwapara Yuga not Kali Yuga so that point doesn't arise at all.
    – Pinakin
    Oct 16, 2016 at 10:46
  • @UdayKrishna Well Swami Vivekananda said Kshatriyas have given knowledge, they have given it to everyone and for everyone. He specifically mentioned everything in Gita is for everyone.
    – Pinakin
    Oct 17, 2016 at 14:40

First of all, it is very satvik guna that you decided to stop killing insects, so keep it up.

Next, Dharma Shastras are aware of all possible sins (intentional or unintentional), and they prescribe prayaschittam (atonement) for both.

In daily life, small insects & microbes are killed in five places - under knife (when cutting vegetables), in pestle (when grinding spices), in fire (when cooking), under broom (when sweeping), and in water pot (drowning).

To counter this daily sin, we are asked to do sandhya-vandanam (where previous day/night sins are absolved by chanting mantras), and ijya (offering food as neivedyam to lord to forgive transgressions). When Lord Krishna says in Gita :

यज्ञशिष्टाशिन: सन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषै:
भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात्

"Those who eat food without offering in sacrifice first eat only sin"

You might ask, what about non-brahmins who do not know about rituals/sacrifice etc. for them their duty is the sacrifice, as in, eating after earning. But everyone has to offer the food to God mentally.. simply saying 'Govinda' once before eating is good.

There are stages of ahimsa for everyone. The utmost ones - Aja-gara vriddhi sanyasis, do not even move from a place. Whatever food happens to fall in their mouth they eat. Us normal folks can try to minimize harm as best according to our line of work and conscience.

  • 1
    Offering the food to GOD is no use in this answer. OP wants to know what karma will he get if he kills insects unintentionally. And, also you should cite sources.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 16, 2016 at 4:55
  • OP asked about unintentional killing in daily-life and gave some examples, I mentioned additional examples where it happens (while cooking, sweeping etc.). When somebody asks about what punishment/karma they'll get, they are also indirectly asking how to avoid that punishment, so I mentioned prayaschittam (neivedyam). Finally, I'm currently unable to find source for the 5 places where insects are killed unintentionally and associated punishment. I'd be happy if someone find/could link to it.
    – ram
    Oct 16, 2016 at 5:00

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