If someone is inflicting pain on himself because he wants to get rid of bad karma, will he be able to get rid of bad karma like this?

And is there any way to get rid of bad karma other than suffering its consequences?

  • There is no need to do self-harm. It is enough to perform expiation and changing self to get rid of bad karma.
    – hanugm
    Feb 3, 2021 at 8:49
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    Let me add a general comment that people may find useful. This question seems to come from an Abrahamic/christian point of view. There, self harm is supposed to be a kind of barter with god, in exchange for which he will give you eternal heaven, else you face eternal damnation, if you enjoy now. Its a bit different in dharma. Here, it is much more positive psychology than dogma. You want to maintain a pure mind/chitta, so you don't perform activities which disturb the harmony of your chitta. This is because your actions affect you the most. (1/3)
    – user22892
    Feb 3, 2021 at 13:19
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    Unlike Abrahamic frameworks, where you believe in matters, and it doesn't matter if you kill, steal or rape. If you belong to the particular cult, all is forgiven.If you engage in harmful behaviour, your habits are affected, and you degrade bit by bit. To re-attain the previous amount of self-control, mind-control, it seems logical that you have to do a bit more than just nothing. So, you perform some kind of penance, training the mind to obey. No divine damnation will occur if you don't.Dharma will take its course. For example, if you start drinking alcohol once, won't you have to put in(2/3)
    – user22892
    Feb 3, 2021 at 13:24
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    more effort to regain your sober self, who wasn't addicted to wine? That is prayiscita. If you don't do it, you will become an addict and suffer (in this life only, no afterlife concept here) It is similar, though on a different scale with bad karma. (3/3)
    – user22892
    Feb 3, 2021 at 13:25
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    No religion advocates self-harm as an expiation of sins. Feb 5, 2021 at 19:07

4 Answers 4


There are methods to reduce the effect of bad karmas.

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


There are various methods of getting rid of committed sins. Like confession as approved by scriptures, recitation of mantras and scriptures, repentance, austerities etc.


Manu Smriti 11.227. By confession, by repentance, by austerity, and by reciting (the Veda) a sinner is freed from guilt, and in case no other course is possible, by liberality

Even charity is a valid way of getting rid of sins. Austerity or Tapasya is about imposing self-restraint and controlling the sense organs. It is not the same as doing self harm.

The above are the general methods of atoning for sins. For particular sins specific methods are also prescribed in scriptures.

other than suffering it Consequences.

Consequences have to be suffered from only when the sinner did not completely atone for his sins by one of the methods mentioned above.

11.52. Thus in consequence of a remnant of (the guilt of former) crimes, are born idiots, dumb, blind, deaf, and deformed men, who are (all) despised by the virtuous.

11.53. Penances, therefore, must always be performed for the sake of purification, because those whose sins have not been expiated, are born (again) with disgraceful marks.


Can one get rid of their bad karma by self-inflicting pain?

DISCLAIMER: Do not try the following at home although Manusmṛti recommends it. Also, your state/local laws may not allow this.

For a certain sins, Manusmṛti actually recommends physically harming oneself:

Expiation of drinking Wine (surā)

A twice-born person, having, through folly, drunk wine, shall drink wine red-hot; he becomes freed from his guilt, when his body has been completely burnt by it. — (11.90)

Is there a way to get rid of bad karma other than suffering its consequences?

According to Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa (Hanumān speaking to Rāvaṇa), you cannot escape the consequences of a bad deed no matter what you do:

The fruits of righteousness may not coexist with those of unrighteousness. Each one gives rise to its own fruits; and righteousness is unable to outweigh unrighteousness.

Commentary (Tattvadīpikā of Maheśvaratīrtha):


Happiness, which is the fruit of dharma, cannot combine with sorrow since both have opposite causes. Happiness can combine only with happiness. Similarly, the result of adharma, viz, sorrow can follow sorrow only.

Dharma is not the destroyer of adharma. Dharma earned earlier cannot destroy the present (current) adharma. It is understood here that adharma also cannot destroy dharma. The idea is that both dharma and adharma get destroyed only by the experience of their fruits.


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    You cannot escape the consequence unless you atone for it through prayaschitta, so you can add that to the answer.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 4, 2021 at 3:00
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    What a nasty verse that it needs a disclaimer. Manu Smriti actually recommends suicide! There was a sharp deterioration of intellectual culture at the time this Smriti was written. Feb 4, 2021 at 12:24
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    @DarkKnight - any particular reason you made a trivial edit to my answer? What's the idea behind reducing the size of the disclaimer? Apr 1, 2021 at 0:19

As per Sadhguru, Karma is neither good nor bad. It is the accumulation of paths one took in their life's journey till now which affects their future. One can't get away from Karma but can maintain a distance by being conscious of it.

It is important to remember that karma is not a negative word. Karma is what gives stability and structure to your life. Every moment, impressions are flooding in torrents into your system through your five sense organs and each of them is being recorded.

The spiritual process does not seek to demolish this storehouse of karmic impressions but helps you to become more conscious of it, and establish a little space, which allows you to stand outside of it.

Sadhguru. Inner Engineering (p. 218).

One can take charge of Karma by being conscious/aware of it.

Whatever be the nature of your past karma, there is enough awareness in a human being to take complete charge of the karma of the present moment.

Sadhguru. Inner Engineering (p. 219).

If you live every moment of your life totally, you dissolve enormous amounts of karma. When you experience everything that comes your way absolutely, when you experience every life breath with utmost intensity, without the distractions of thought and emotion, devoid of any psychological drama, you are liberated from the very process of birth and death. You are not only more alive; you are life itself.

Sadhguru. Inner Engineering (p. 220).

At the same time, avoiding karma is not the answer either. Avoidance may give you some balance and stability in day-to-day life, but slowly it saps you of life and joy. This is very negative karma in itself. Denying, suppressing, or avoiding life brings more bondage than freedom. The desire, “I don’t want karma,” is itself big karma!

Sadhguru. Inner Engineering (p. 220).

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