In this context, can the concepts of Papa (sin, evil) and Punya
(virtue, merit, good) be clarified and explained? Also, are there
moral and ethical principles universally applicable to all sections
of Hindu society?
The concepts of good and evil, sin and virtue, exist practically in
all religions. There is an oft quoted saying that defines Punya
(virtue or good) as doing good to others and Papa (sin, evil) as
harming others. Sin is acquired when one does prohibited actions or
forsakes the ordained duties. This retards one's spiritual progress
and Positively harms the society as well.
For instance: The injunction goes that
one should never tell lies, but speak the truth always. Sin is
accumulated if one gives up truth and tells lies. Similarly,
Performing one's duties and actions ordained by the Sastras will
earn one, Punya or merit. Hindu scriptures do give universal moral
and ethical principles applicable to all sections of society.
Designated as Samanya Dharma or common
virtues, the list comprises Ahimsa (non violence), Satya (speaking
the truth), Asteya (non stealing), Daya (compassion), Dana (giving
gifts), Titiksha (forbearance), Vinaya (humility),
Indriyanigraha (restraining the senses), Santi (keeping the mind at
peace), Saucha (purity of body), Tapas (austerity) and
Bhakti (devotion to God). If every one sincerely tries to cultivate
these virtues in his personal fife, there is no doubt that the whole
society Will be uplifted to greater levels of peace and joy.