What is the Hindu View of Sin?
Hinduism does not believe
that human beings suffer from any original sin or inherent fault in
their nature, which must be corrected by an external influence or
special grace. On the contrary, Sanatana Dharma teaches that our
original nature is pure goodness, Being-Consciousness-Bliss, and
that we are all inherently one with God. The
Hindu concept of sin is one of uncleanliness, the accumulation of
something extraneous that must be removed for us to return to our
inherent purity. For example, the body naturally gets dirty everyday
and one has to clean it. Such dirt is not a sin, though it is
impure, if not sinful, not to keep oneself clean. There are similar
emotional and mental impurities that we must cleanse ourselves from.
In our natural activity we
may pick up various wrong impressions, attitudes, and experiences.
It is helpful to cleanse our minds regularly of them through ritual,
mantra and meditation. Such mental impurities, if allowed to
accumulate, can cause various emotional imbalances and lead to wrong
actions that may result in harm for ourselves and others.
The Hindu view of sin is
free of the ideas of guilt, fear and punishment. From its point of
view the greatest sin is to call a person a sinner. There is not and
never will be such an entity as a sinner. The same Divine Self
exists in all beings who, through ignorance alone, commit various
wrong actions. To call a person a sinner is to deny their Divine
essence and make them identify themselves with the sin, which
reinforces its hold on them. Whatever we think that we become. If we
think that we are fallen, wretched, low sinners, that we become. If
we think that we are God, we become God. We should not debase
ourselves with thoughts that are not great. There are no sinners,
though there are wrong actions. We should not condemn a person as a
sinner but should try to understand what is right action. Right
action is acting with respect for the sacred nature of all beings.