I'm well aware that everyone's driven by the 3 modes of material nature! Reading of ways to get rid of sin is very different from LIVING and DOING the ways to get rid of sin. For instance, if I'm a power-hungry, leperous cheater, there's very little probability that I am of the nature of someone that recites "Hare Krishna" every day. But there have been some interesting instances!

Practical observance:

  1. Kamsa killed 7 children, lived like a King nonetheless until his days became numbered.

  2. Ravana kidnapped Ram's wife, lived like a King nonetheless, an ardent devotee of Shiva, lots of boons, would only die to an avatar of Vishnu.

  3. Kauravas being blessed in many areas but eventually dying a painful death! Being blessed in some areas nonetheless! Duryodhana being blessed by his mother to be untouchable except around the groin (Basically everyone is undone by Krishna).

  4. Corrupt but god-fearing politicians who live a comfy life with 0 worries.

Need scriptural evidence from Puranas/Vedas/Upanishads where it is said that you can indeed subtract sin from virtue or evidence where there are singular statements that they say doing a certain activity would rid you of your sins or give you moksha. (There are probably countless of them, but feel free to quote the most famous ones)


"And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature." - Krishna


By Garuda Purana's measure, everyone in Kali Yuga is doomed (Read the consequences of every-day action). At the same time, there are places, like in the Gita: "And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature." Need to live practically!

  • 1
    Don't use bad words on this site.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 10:44
  • 1
    "And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature." - Krishna - Regarding this, I heard a view that only those people who lived virtuous lives will remember bhagavAn in their final moments. So this is not an easy recipe for moksha.
    – user16581
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 11:17
  • @LazyLubber According to Vadakalai Sri Vaishnavas, this only applies to bhakti yogins, since they're capable of that.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 12:44
  • 1
    @Ikshvaku I'm sorry! Won't happen again Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 16:19

3 Answers 3



In the mythology of the Puranas and the epics, the picture of sins (pāpa ) and virtue (pūnya) that emerges is mostly based on the superstitions and is not comprehensive to present a unequivocal, logical, argumentative answer to your question. However, Vedas presents an answer that appeals to logic and legal philosophies.

Before dealing with the question of pāpa or pūnya it is pertinent to deal with the motivation behind the karma. Because without knowing what the type of karmas are, what the cause of karmas is, it is not possible to establish the link between the karma and the restrain required on the karma.

There are two theories regarding the karma that can be delineated 1) free-will or 2) lack thereof.

2) In Ṛg Veda Vasiṣṭha is praying to Varuṇa (7.86.6)

न स स्वो दक्षो वरुण ध्रुतिः सा सुरा मन्युर्विभीदको अचित्तिः । अस्ति ज्यायान्कनीयस उपारे स्वप्नश्चनेदनृतस्य प्रयोता ॥६॥

na sa svo dakṣo varuṇa dhrutiḥ sā surā manyurvibhīdakoacittiḥ asti jyāyān kanīyasa upāre svapnaścanedanṛtasya prayotā

The sin does not happen because of the defects of the doer. It happens due to illusion, anger, and ignorance, the impetus coming from the Devas. Even in the dreams it is impetus from the gods that sin is committed.

Śāyana comments (paraphrased above) to this verse in original are:

हे वरुण सः स्वोदक्षः पुरुषस्य स्वरूपवद्बलं पापपवृत्तौ कारणं न भवति किं तर्हि श्रुतिः स्थिरा उत्पत्तिसमय एव निर्मिता दैवगतिः कारणम् …एवं च सति स्वप्नश्चन स्वप्नोपि अनृतस्य पापस्य प्रयोता प्रकर्षेण मिश्रयिता भवति इदिति पूरकः स्वप्ने कृतैरपि कर्मभिर्बहूनि पापानि जायन्ते किमु वक्तव्यं जाग्रतिकृतैः कर्मग्निः पापान्युत्पद्यन्त इति ।

That is to say, it is the God who provides the impetus to the human to commit sin.

Durgācharya also commenting on the Nirūktā (1.4) holds a similar opinion.

1) The free-will is best expressed in the Aṣṭādhyāyī of the celebrated grammarian Pāṇini (1.4.54)

स्वतन्त्रः कर्ता ,

which means that human is free to choose what karmas he should perform.

Now coming back to your question.

The Vedas clearly prescribe that the results of the sins must be borne. There is a story in the Ṛg Veda (1.35.9)

हिरण्यपाणिः सविता विचर्षणिरुभे द्यावापृथिवी अन्तरीयते । अपामीवां बाधते वेति सूर्यमभि कृष्णेन रजसा द्यामृणोति ॥९॥

hiraṇyapāṇiḥ savitā vicarṣaṇir ubhe dyāvāpṛthivī antar īyate | apāmīvām bādhate veti sūryam abhi kṛṣṇena rajasā dyām ṛṇoti ||

This a story which illustrates that even gods must bear the results of their sins. Once the gods performed a fire ceremony. There are many oblations to be performed in the fire ceremony. Savitṛ did not recite the required chants before raising the pot in the hand and as a result, the hand of Savitṛ fell. Adhvaryū was scared to see this and made a hand of the gold for Savitṛ A similar fate awaits Bhaga who ate from the offering pot without properly inspecting the contents and as a result, lost his eyesight. Pushan had to pay the price of tasting the contents by losing his teeth.

This story is also mentioned in Kaushitaki Brahmana (6.13)

अथ यत्र ह तद् देवा यज्ञम् अतन्वत । तत् सवित्रे प्राशित्रम् परिजह्रुः । तस्य पाणी प्रचिच्छेद । तस्मै हिरण्मयौ प्रतिदधुः । तस्माद्द् हिरण्य पाणिर् इति स्तुतः

Yāska, the commentator of the Nighantu (Vedanga) also alludes to this story (3.11, 6.11).

The moral of the story is that it does not matter what your position is the punishment for the sins must be borne.

Vasiṣṭha says in his Dharma sutras (6.3) that Vedas cannot purify the person who is not mindful of his actions.

Adityās are implored in the Ṛg Veda (8.18.10) to keep the supplicant away from the sins

अपामीवामप स्रिधमप सेधत दुर्मतिम् । आदित्यासो युयोतना नो अंहसः ॥१०॥

From the viewpoint of the Veda, it is to be understood that there is no pardon for the sinner.

Through the mantras स नः पितेव (1.1.9), यो नः पिता जनिता (10.82.3) God has been remembered as mother or father but justice and mercy should not be considered as pitted against each other in the teachings of Veda. On the contrary, justice and mercy go together in the Vedas.


It is a myth that anyone can indeed subtract sin from virtue or doing a certain activity would rid one of one's sins or give moksha!

The Law of Karma is very complex as well as subtle.

According to Ramayana, the fruits of Dharma as well as Adharma have to be borne by the individual concerned separately.

न तु धर्मोपसंहारमधर्मफलसंहितम्।।5.51.28।।

तदेव फलमन्वेति धर्मश्चाधर्मनाशन:।

"The fruit of dharma does not accrue to one who has reached the culmination of adharma. Unrighteousness will destroy the fruits of righteousness.

प्राप्तं धर्मफलं तावद्भवता नात्र संशयः।

फलमस्याप्यधर्मस्य क्षिप्रमेव प्रपत्स्यसे।।5.51.29।।

"There is no doubt you have earned merit through righteousness . But now you will quickly reap the result of your unrighteousness also.

  • Mahabharata in it's Anushasana Parva is also discussing Dharma/Adharmas very complex natuture /subtle nature in detail. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 6:32
  • @SwiftPushkar: Can you provide the link to Anushasana Parva episode, where it was discussed so? I will supplement it in my answer. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 6:53
  • For e.g.look at this verse from A.P.- As filth is washed away from the body with water, as darkness is dispelled by the splendour of fire even so is sin washed off by gifts and penances. It says sins can be washed away by means of charity and tapas - sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13b087.htm P.253 Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:09
  • I think the topic subtle and complex nature of Dharma is discussed in some other pravas ,let me take a look i will give you more ref. in time. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:15

Mahabharata gives a list of methods to get rid of the effect of sin.

Yudhisthira says,’…a perpetrated sin is expiated by auspicious acts, by publishing it wildly, by repentance, by alms-giving, by penances, by trips to tirthas after renunciation of everything, by constant meditation on the scriptures. Of all these, he that has practiced renunciation is believed to be incapable of committing sins anew. ‘

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section VII

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