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We encounter many statements in scriptures as below

Statement one from Bhagavata Puranam

SB 10.66.43: Any mortal who recounts this heroic pastime of Lord Uttamaḥ-śloka's, or who simply hears it attentively, will become freed from all sins.

Statement two from Mahabharata

When thou art also, O monarch, mixing daily with blessed Brahmanas versed in the Vedas and their branches, thou hast little cause for sorrow. This history, besides, of the Naga Karkotaka, of Damayanti, of Nala and of that royal sage Rituparna, is destructive of evil. And, O thou of unfading glory, this history, destructive of the influence of Kali, is capable, O king, of comforting persons like thee when they listen to it. And reflecting upon the uncertainty (of success) of human exertion, it behoveth thee not to joy or grieve at prosperity or adversity. Having listened to this history, be comforted, O king, and yield not to grief. It behoveth thee not, O great king, to pine under calamity. Indeed, men of self-possession, reflecting upon the caprice of destiny and the fruitlessness of exertion, never suffer themselves to be depressed. They that will repeatedly recite this noble history of Nala, and that will hear it recited, will never be touched by adversity. He that listeneth to this old and excellent history hath all his purposes crowned with success and, without doubt, obtaineth fame, besides sons and grandsons and animals, a high position among men, and health, and joy.

These type of statements exist several times in Mahabharata and other scriptures.

My doubt is whether they are true or not (in literal sense). I mean whether the mortal man really become free from all sins just by listening such stories or any hidden intention behind this slokas such as to spread such stories etc.,.

  • This type of statement is called Arthavad. It is not to be taken literally. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Jul 29 '18 at 12:02
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    @PradipGangopadhyay Any scriptural proof saying that it should not be taken literally. God's verses, stotras should not be interpolated by own whims and fancies. – Ram Jul 29 '18 at 14:41
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    Yes, those statements are true, but it depends how much their effect will be to purify you from sins. The verse says "recounts" or "who simply hears it attentively". And the purifying effect will depend on whether you believe those stories or not, and also depends on whether you listen to attentively or not. If you don't believe those stories or if you don't listen to attentively then the purifying effect will not be great. – brahma jijnasa Jul 30 '18 at 11:08
  • @Ram, why is there a need for scriptural proof for everything? If listening to the scriptures or recounting them is enough then there would be no need to meditate or do yoga. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Jul 31 '18 at 7:13
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    @PradipGangopadhyay As we have limited senses, scriptures are needed and scriptures are written by self realised persons. Also to get sin free from yoga and meditation is very tough and it is almost impossible for kaliyug people – Ram Jul 31 '18 at 9:31
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Can the mortal man really become free from all his sins just by listening to such stories?

No, he cannot be free from his sins just like that. The following from Manu-smṛti is what one needs to do. Rinse and repeat for each of their sins. There is no magic formula to absolve oneself of all their sins in one go.

Section XXX - Confession and Repentance

By confession, by repentance, by austerity and by study is the sinner freed from sin; as also by gifts in cases of difficulty. — (11.227)

‘Repentance’— dejection of mind, finding expression in some such feeling as—‘Woe to me that I committed such a misdeed! Useless has been my sinner’s life’! and so forth.

As a man, having committed a misdeed, goes on proclaiming it himself, so does he become freed from that sin, as a snake from its slough. — (11.228)

As his mind goes on loathing the evil deed, so is his body freed from that sin. — (11.229)

After having committed, a sin, if one repents, he becomes freed from that sin; he becomes purified by the renunciation—‘I shall not do so again.’ — (11.230)

Thus then the sense [of repentance] is—‘Like the expiation, the sinner should also do (a) the confession, (b) the repentance and the renunciation.

Having thus considered in his mind the results arising after death from his deeds, he should perform good acts, by his thought, speech and body. — (11.231)

Either intentionally or unintentionally, if one has done a reprehensible act, he must not do it a second time, if he seeks absolution from the former. — (11.232)

Hence if one seeks absolution from the sin involved in the first transgression, he should not repeat the act. Thus what is meant is that merely by performing the expiation, one does not become freed from a sin, if he commits the same act again.

(Manusmṛti with the Commentary of Medhātithi translated by Ganganath Jha)

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    By study of scriptures one can get rid of sin as Manu Smriti says too.. so there's no reason why hearing such recitals from scriptures can not have the same effect.. also here it's not about hearing stories but hearing stories from the scriptures.. – Rickross Sep 9 '18 at 6:15
  • See Medhātithi's commentary: "Like the expiation, the sinner should also do (a) the confession, (b) the repentance and the renunciation." so, without confession and repentance, no amount of reading scriptures will help. – sv. Sep 9 '18 at 18:53
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    That is IMO Medhatithi's opinion... Reading scriptures or hearing them being recited is a standalone remedy IMO.. those who are not employing that remedy can get rid of their sins by repentance alone or by confession alone.. – Rickross Sep 10 '18 at 6:27

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