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Do we incur sins for unintentionally killing ants while walking on the road?

Can we neutralize them by chanting the name of Hari or Lord Vishnu?

How to avoid the result of sinful activities such as killing ants on the road unintentionally?

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  • Living in this world one accrues minor karmas all the time. As Krishna says in Gita 18.48 "...all undertakings are beset with imperfections, as fire with smoke." Chanting the name of the Lord will bring perfection. See Gita 18.45-50 Mar 14, 2022 at 4:43
  • Half duplicate: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/48432/…
    – hanugm
    Jun 30, 2022 at 9:01

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First of all, we need to understand that if unintentional acts constitute a sin?

The answer is Yes, as I discuss about the same in the starting part of this answer,

Manu Smriti 11.45

अकामतः कृते पापे प्रायश्चित्तं विदुर्बुधाः । कामकारकृतेऽप्याहुरेके श्रुतिनिदर्शनात् ॥ ४५ ॥

  1. The learned understand Expiatory rites to pertain to cases where the sin is committed unintentionally; some people however assert on the evidence of ‘Śruti texts’ that they apply to cases of intentional offence also.

Now, about killing insects like ants. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Mahā-Purāṇa says -

Chapter 26, Canto 5, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Mahā-Purāṇa


यस्त्विह वै भूतानामीश्वरोपकल्पितवृत्तीनामविविक्तपरव्यथानां स्वयं पुरुषोपकल्पितवृत्तिर्विविक्तपरव्यथो व्यथामाचरति स परत्रान्धकूपे तदभिद्रोहेण निपतति तत्र हासौ तैर्जन्तुभि: पशुमृगपक्षिसरीसृपैर्मशकयूकामत्कुणमक्षिकादिभिर्ये के चाभिद्रुग्धास्तै: सर्वतोऽभिद्रुह्यमाणस्तमसि विहतनिद्रानिर्वृतिरलब्धावस्थान: परिक्रामति यथा कुशरीरे जीव: ॥ १७ ॥

  1. But a person whose course of life in this world is prescribed by God and who is capable of understanding agony caused to others,*causes pains to creatures whose feeding upon human bodies is determined by God but which are incapable of being aware of causing pains to others, falls into the hell Andhakūpa. He is hated and troubled thereby beings like beasts, deer, birds, reptiles, mosquitos, lice, bugs, flies, and others. Being harassed on all sides in the darkness, his sleep and mental peace are disturbed. Being devoid of rest, he wanders in darkness even as the jiva % the embodied soul, lives restlessly in a diseased body.

English Translation by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.


Therefore, even if done unintentionally, the act of killing an ant accrues negative karma (sin), if we are to take the Bhāgavatam verse 5.26.17 in the light of Manu Smriti 11.45, as mentioned above


And certainly, Yes, we may be able to ameliorate the sinful afflictions by chanting the Lord's name.

As says the various Purāṇas and other scriptures.

  • Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā 8.5-6 and 18.66 glorifies the significance of Lord's name and their efficacy at cutting all sins.

  • I discuss the glory of Viṣṇu's name in this answer.

  • Padma-Purāṇa 4.25, discuss in detail the efficacy of Viṣṇu's name in cutting sins.

  • Also, the following excerpt from the Mahābhārata 13.65, told to Yuddhisthira by Bhishma may be useful.

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    Doing sin on name of god is naamapradha, only if we take a sankalp to not do the same bad deed again we are free from sin Jun 30, 2022 at 15:12

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