Essay, Research Paper: Hinduism And Forgiveness


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Sin begins in the realm of consciousness. When we are young we are taught by our
guardians that which is “right” from that which is “wrong”. We grow up
with the understanding that stealing our playmate’s toys or hitting our
grandparents is wrong and therefore, a sin. As we mature the concept of sin
begins to change; it is no longer quite so easy to define or to explain and its
repercussions become much more severe than a grounding. Sin is a malicious act,
intent-full, deliberate and harmful. An act is considered sinful when, though
the perpetrator may gain some form of momentary satisfaction, the action
inflicts harm to someone or something else. In reference to Hinduism, a sin is
an immoral act; It is ungodly or unethical. The concept of ahimsa (to do or
cause no harm) to a Hindu is very sacred and from childhood he is taught to
respect and abide by this ideal. Therefore, any step towards dishonoring this
paragon is a sin. The story of Svetaketu Aruneya offers a subtle definition of
sin. The boy was so proud of himself for having learned the Vedas that his high
opinion’s of himself stood in the way of his most important lesson and
understanding; that of faith. Here, Svetaketu’s ego served as a maya and kept
him from realizing moksha. Since it is the Hindu’s ultimate goal to achieve
moksha, all which stands as a barrier is a sin. In a Hindu’s life there are
different stages which he must pass through before he reaches the end of his
life. Each stage is representative of different levels of learning,
understanding and growth. Though sin (or rather its potential) is prevalent
throughout the four stages, forgiveness becomes an extremely important factor
towards reaching moksha. Forgiveness, for the Hindus, begins with self
realization that one has sinned. Without this realization, forgiveness cannot
begin. The moment this realization is reached the sinner begins his process of
forgiveness through growing from his mistakes. Much like the Western traditional
views of sin and forgiveness, a Hindu is bound to the same principles; he must
consciously realize his sin and with a sincere heart, ask for forgiveness, both
to the person he has sinned against and then to God. Shiva, the God of rebirth
and destruction is revered by devout Hindu’s as a God with a very hot and
unpredictable temper, but also as a very forgiving and just God. The Gods of
Hinduism hold no grudges against repenting sinners and thus, good Hindu’s must
not either. At the source of Hinduism lies transcendence. Not to forgive is a
sin in itself for it furthers one from complete liberation. It is understood
that in order to achieve peace within oneself, forgiveness is inevitable. Karma,
often misunderstood or improperly used in the Western culture, can best be
described as the proverbial “to each his own”. Therefore, it is not for the
independent individual to judge whether forgiveness is merited or not.
Forgiveness offers relief: relief from pending tensions, ill-feeling and
mounting egoism. Forgiveness saves one form becoming selfish and egotistical.
Physical exercise, meditation through different forms of yoga, devotion,
spiritual cleansing through prayer and “public chanting”(Sharma, 40), all of
these exercises are performed in order to achieve a heightened sense of
consciousness. It is through consciousness that one may avoid that which is bad,
harmful and evil, both to oneself and to others. This is the achievement of
egolessness (24). The more one learns to forgive the happier and more peaceful
they will feel. The obtainment of moksha, cannot be realized through the
containment of negative energy which is associated with animosity, ill thoughts
or malevolence. Rather, Hinduism teaches that it is better to forgive, to
receive freedom and gain liberation for oneself, this is fulfillment, this is
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