Man has accepted his body as the Self. Due to this folly, he develops attachment towards the world of objects and people. It is due to this attachment alone that man commits sins of various kinds. Most of us do not understand what sin is. The Vedic texts include many definitions on sin. The ideal definition of sin is given by one of the most elevated sages of our times, Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj. He says “All other moments other than when one’s mind is fixed on enlightened beings or the Supreme Lord are the moments when sin is committed.” This is a very peculiar definition which one may not find in any book. But only an enlightened being can see fully into the meaning of this powerful statement. This is perhaps the only possible accurate definition of sin. Maya or cosmic illusion has three modes of operation namely Satva (mode of goodness), Rajas (mode of passion) and Tamas (mode of ignorance).
It is basic intelligence to realize that anything done in the mode of ignorance contributes to sin. We shall understand the three modes in relation with sin with an example. The one in the mode of ignorance shall, by some means usurp the rights of others and use them for one’s own advantage. By the same example, a man in the mode of passion shall not interfere with others, he shall earn for himself and consume that which he has earned. The man in the mode of goodness shall be interested in helping society at large and may help others to earn their bread without any expectations. The Garuda Purana proclaims that the one on the Satva platform attains heaven. The one in Rajas platform shall attain earthly existence while the one in Tamas shall attain various types of hells. But the interesting part of all three domains is that all of them are short-lived and non-permanent. This, according to Kripaluji Maharaj is verily sin. This means that since these three domains are temporary; they are products of Maya. Whenever the mind is in the domain of Maya, Maharajji says it is sin, anyway. Hence the concept of good or evil hold the same value and it is sin alone. Now someone may say, “Is it sin if I love my mother or father?” The plain answer will be “Yes, without doubt.” When one puts one’s attachment on anybody who is contaminated by Maya, how can that be pure? Our parents, friends, teachers all of them have worldly thoughts within them. There is no doubt about this. If that is so, thinking about them, means to take in more of Maya, more contamination. Associating with contamination is sin because mind shall become more contaminated by thinking about all these people. Our mind has been in the polluted state from time immemorial. The goal is to purify the mind.
The mind is like a cloth drenched in muck. It means that to cleanse that muck, one needs to employ pure crystal water to cleanse it. Instead, we try to cleanse it with muddy water; naturally the cloth shall only retain its muck or can become dirtier. Associating or thinking about the denizens of heaven, earth or hell with one’s mind attached to them is sin, broadly speaking, since they shall increase the temperature of Maya within our hearts. This is the truth of the statement when Lord Krishna commands Arjuna and says “Relinquish all other types of Dharma and simply surrender unto Me.” Now one may say “The Vedas claim that if you forsake Dharma, sin shall attack you.” To this the Lord says “Do not worry, I shall protect and insure you against all sins.” This is His guarantee. The source of the Vedas itself is the Lord. Now one may argue “The Lord should have said I shall relieve you from merits as well as sins if you surrender unto me.” The reason is that if sins are removed then merits shall remain. If merits remain, the living entity has to come down to the earthly platform to reap the merits. In that process there is a 100% chance that he shall once again garner sin. But that is where a deeper understanding of the word sin begs detailing. Sin entails both merits; those results of good actions and the conventional definition of sin; those results of bad actions, as defined in the Vedic scriptures. Sins, from the point of view of the Lord is inclusive of merits as well as sins. Thus Lord shall end merits and sins in the same breath if one surrenders unto Him. Liberation can only result when a living entity is permanently relieved of both merits and sins. Kripaluji Maharaj says, “Anything that binds is sin”, “Good” is bad and “Bad” is also bad. Loving God or a Self-Realized master is neither good nor bad. This process of loving the realized master or the Lord shall burn to ashes the very root of sin in one’s heart. The one who considers the “body” as one’s own shall consider all bodily relations and bodily activities as “real”. This is the basic reason for one to become motivated towards sin. Other than the Lord and the Lord’s pure devotees nothing is pure and hence is the root of sin.