As somebody who grew up in the southern Bible Belt, I cringe every time I hear the word “sin.” It reminds me of so much hypocrisy and ignorance of people who love neither god nor humanity. However, Anandamurti does give a very practical and social definition of “sin” as a moral transgression against cardinal, universal human values instead of an act or attitude that goes against dogmatic scriptural injunctions. Instead of using the concept of sin to exploit the common folk, Anandamurti, as a mystical philosopher and progressive socialist blames the problem of moral transgression on social inequities in the material and mental realms that cause one’s spirit to degenerate.
The Three Causes of Sin - Anandamurti 30 May 1970, Muzaffarpur
Human beings are social beings, hence, they have to follow certain social codes. But they must follow some spiritual codes as well. Because of illusion or some other reasons, if people break these codes, these “dos” and “don’ts”, sometimes we call it “sin” or Pápa and at other times, “crime” or Aparádha. If the violation is in the spiritual code, rather the religious code, it is termed as “sin”. If the violation is against the legal code it is known as “crime”. Sin is sometimes based entirely on dogmas and not on cardinal human values. Wise people will never entertain a conception of sin based on religious dogma. Rather, they will judge with discrimination the correctness of the code according to cardinal human values. The concept of sin has been given by people on the basis of religion, religious dogmas and cardinal human values. As intellectuals and developed people of the second half of the 20th century, we should keep away from religious dogma and attach the highest importance to cardinal human values.
Long ago Vyása said the following about sin:
Aśtádashapuráneśu Vyásasya vacanádvayam Paropakárah puńyáya pápáya parapiid́anam.
That is, that action which checks the progress of the society is sin, and that action which accelerates social progress is Punya or virtue. This is a fact. But what is crime? Any action which goes against the different legal codes made by the different nations, according to their spatial, personal and collective differences, is crime. In Saḿskrta crime is known as Aparádha. Sin or Pápa should be formulated on the basis of cardinal human values. This was also supported by Vyasa.
Criminal codes are generally framed by politicians according to their own standards. Sometimes they include a tinge of humanity and sometimes they do not. Thus the present-day legal codes are not necessarily humanitarian. Rational people may defy a legal code but they should never violate cardinal human values. I would never tell the people of a country to follow their legal codes blindly, but would tell them to always follow cardinal human values. The cardinal human values are the silver lining between the psycho-spiritual world and the spiritual world. They are at the meeting-point of these two strata – the spiritual stratum on one side and the psycho-spiritual stratum on the other.
In Saḿskrta there are two words for sin – that which should be done but is not done is called “Pratyaváya”, and that which should not be done but is done is “Pápa”. The combined name of Pápa and Pratyaváya is “Pátaka”. Here I will make use of the word Pápa because it is more popular.
Wherever we mention cardinal human values, we are not referring to any religious code, for that is based on religious dogmas. Again I repeat, why should the people of the second half of the 20th century follow religious dogmas? I advise you not to follow them but to revolt.
As far as possible the gap between cardinal human values and crime should be lessened. The smaller the gap the better it is. Cardinal human values are mostly unchangeable. They may change after a long time as they remain associated with the physical world, but it is natural that they will not have frequent changes because of their subjective approach. Crime will undergo trans formation according to changes in time, space and the collective body. Hence, both the conceptions cannot be exactly the same – difference between them will remain. But efforts should be made to lessen the differences. This task will be the duty of Sadvipras or spiritual revolutionaries.
Now, let us come to the three causes of sin. If sin and crime are considered together there are three reasons for them. The first cause is shortage of physical and psychic pabula. The second one is non-utilization of over-accumulated physical and psychic pabula. The third one is stagnancy in the psychic and physical strata.
Let us discuss the first cause.
If human beings lack the basic physical necessities of life they will not be able to follow higher pursuits. You will find that a person’s sense of discrimination is disturbed if he or she is confronted with only a little physical hardship. If an intellectual becomes angry, he or she may utter insentient words. Hence, the shortage of physical wealth results in restlessness and causes the loss of people’s sense of discrimination, and then people naturally tend towards brutality. It is because of this that communism has tended towards brutality. This is the underlying psychic reason. Likewise, if there is a dearth of intellectual pabulum and the intellectual standard of the people is not high, they can take “dos” to be “don’ts” and vice versa. Take for example, a communal riot where a little innocent boy is killed, and when the person who encourages the riot becomes the people’s leader. Where the intellectual standard of the people is low, people commit blunders – prompted by such leaders they become beasts. Those backward countries which have less socio-politico-economic consciousness in the people tend to have more immorality. In such countries the leaders misguide the people in order to collect votes. I call such leaders “political satans” or “political pigs” Such pigs become leaders only when the intellectual standard of the common people is low. In a country with shortages of physical and intellectual pabula, people ultimately become beasts and commit sins and crimes. To murder a person during a riot is both a crime and a sin. In political clashes innocent people are killed. This is also a crime as well as a sin. So, to summarize, when physical and intellectual pabula are lacking, people become beasts and commit sins and crimes. Among the three reasons for sin, this is the first and primary one. It is prevalent everywhere in the world although it is less evident in a few of the more affluent countries.
The second cause is non-utilization of over-accumulated physical and psychic pabula. Where there is over-accumulation of physical wealth several problems occur. Human beings do not have many needs. Primarily they need satisfying meals and clothing, according to their necessities. Most people do not even want many things. The desire to accumulate money is actually a mental disease. The accumulators do not accumulate to fulfil their basic needs a human needs are few. For instance, if a person has a mango grove which yields 500 mangoes and a family of five, what will he do with so many mangoes? In cases of over-accumulation there is very little chance of utilization. Hence, if the Sadvipras are not vigilant, where there is over-accumulation non-utilization will occur. Moreover, where there is over-accumulation people tend to misutilize wealth by indulging in their baser propensities rather than their finer ones. Therefore you will mark, as I am making it crystal-clear to you, that most of the kings and Nawabs of ancient times were, and most of the aristocrats and wealthy people of today who have nothing to do are generally wicked and mean-minded. In addition, you will see that government officers who do not have psychic and spiritual interests also become mean-minded. When we have to judge, we must be frank. It can be observed that it is natural for people to move towards sin if over-accumulated physical and psychic pabula is not utilized. If people have developed intellects which are not properly directed, and there is no administration of the Sadvipras, people become polished satans and inflict sufferings on others. If the parents of a boy die and he has no guardian, due to a lack of proper guidance the boy may easily become reckless and a sinner.
To repeat, non-utilization of over-accumulated physical and psychic pabula is the second cause for becoming a sinner. I have already discussed the problems of the “have’s”, and the “have-nots”. To satisfy the greed of the have’s, the have-not’s become slaves, and to appease their own hunger they become sinners. The have’s mis-utilize the intellectual and physical wealth of the have-not’s to satisfy their baser propensities. In the back ground sit the big capitalists; in the foreground, as their agents, are half-naked children! This is the cause of the downfall of society.
There is still one thing more. There are countries in the world where the average standard of living of the people is quite high and where there are no have-not’s who become slaves due to the evil designs of the have’s. Where there is excessive wealth, the feeling of, “What should I do?” crops up in the minds of the people. Moreover, people take to the path of suicide in the absence of proper direction. They also become addicts and social parasites and they do not know what they should do and what they should not do.
Let us now come to the third reason for sin. The sign of life of everything in this universe is dynamism. It was said in an earlier discourse that progress actually does not take place in the physical and psychic strata. Progress takes place only in the spiritual stratum. Of course, while there is no progress in the physico-psychic sphere, movement is there. Had there been no movement, the physico-psychic world would have met its doom. Thus there is movement but no progress or Pragati.
Prakśt́ha gati ityarthe pragati.
That is, that which leads to betterment is progress, but that which causes movement without development, is not progress. For example, suppose one bull moves along a road and another one walks round and round in a grinding mill. The former is able to freely cover a few miles but the latter moves without getting anywhere.
Ásana máre kyáyá huyá yo gayii na mankii ásh Jav kalu ká balad so gharhii kosh paṋcás.
[What is the benefit of asanas if the desires of the mind are not exhausted?]
In the physical and psychic worlds, there is movement but no progress. Ten thousand years ago people practiced Sádhaná and attained Brahma. After these ten thousand years you have been born. Today there is much dynamism in the physical sphere and there is great intellectual speed. Your intellect might be more than the intellect of Vasthista and Vishvamitra, but your progress is not much more. Is it clear?
Lack of movement in the physical and psychic spheres is also a cause of sin. This is the third reason. Here there might not be the over-accumulation of physical and psychic pabula. In the absence of over-accumulation sin may also be accounted for. Every existence has its aim. All entities are moving according to their speed whether there is progress or no progress. But on the way if something comes which has no movement, which remains as it is, it affects the speed of others. In the society, due to old dogmas, weaknesses and lack of proper education, when the human mind becomes inert and dormant it not only destroys itself but affects the movements of others also. “My ancestors were doing this, so how am I to forgo them?” This is nothing but the same stagnancy. If your ancestors were wearing their Dhotis above their knees and a napkin tied around their heads, why then do you put on pants and a terylene shirt? Nobody follows their ancestors. It is a weakness for a person to take the lead from their ancestors only, ignoring everyone else. Mental stagnancy is a kind of disease. It is motionlessness.
People should not be allowed to rely on the dogmas of their ancestors as it obstructs their own mental pursuit and those of others also. Suppose a cart is in an inconvenient place, blocking the road. The cart has to be pushed to one side. If it cannot be pushed easily it will have to be moved more forcibly. You will have to go ahead – this is the law. It will not do for you to say, “Let the cart remain as it is.” Similarly, you should not say, “The members of my family hold conservative views,” and use this as an excuse for inaction. This should not be allowed. People who hold conservative views are really materialists and are mentally stagnant. Speed has to be infused in them. And not only this, there is need for acceleration in the speed.
What is the solution to the first of the three causes of sin? For those who lack physical pabulum, minimum requirements will have to be guaranteed to everyone. If you do not supply people with the minimum requirements you will meet your Waterloo. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, your house will also catch fire. To supply the minimum requirements to everyone, both a strong administration and an intellectual approach are necessary. Those capable of providing these things to humanity will be called Sadvipras. In the absence of Sadvipras, society cannot survive.
For the solution to the second of the three causes of sin, an intellectual approach, intellectual propagation, is required. For the materialization of this, physical force will have to be utilized as per necessity. Those who use both the proper physical and intellectual approach are Sadvipras. Without Sadvipras the survival of society is not possible. At one place, because of over-accumulation, food becomes rotten; and at another place, because of shortages, people become sinners. We cannot allow this to continue.
The third cause of sin is stagnancy. This is the greatest burden of the human society: it is the greatest disease. It is a psychic disease. People often say, “Our forefathers used to do it, so we should also do it.” But you are not your forefathers! You must behave as yourselves. Suppose the son of one Shri Simhasana is Shri Ramadhar. If Shri Ramadhara Singh says he must do like his father, does he become his father, Shri Simhasana? No, he does not. This sort of stagnancy is suicidal. For the sign of life is dynamism, and where there is no dynamism, there is death. Without dynamism people harm themselves and others.
Bhayáńáḿ bhayaḿ bhiiśańaḿ bhiiśańánáḿ Gatih prańináḿ pávanaḿ pávanánám.
[He is the worst of the fierce – the fear of fear. He is the most terrible of all the terrible things. He is the supreme destination of all. He is the purest of all the purifying objects.]
As dynamism is precious for the Jiivas or unit beings, so is Parama Puruśa or the Supreme Entity precious for them. A doctor feels the pulse and examines its movement to determine the health of his or her patient. If the pulse does not move the patient is pronounced dead. Movement is life. To solve this cause of sin, the intellectual approach does not work. The dogmatic-minded people, the traditional people, are neither human beings nor animals. They do not listen to reason. They are to be struck, and those who do the striking are Sadvipras. The striking is to be done with a hammer! They are to be hit not with a hammer, but with a sledge hammer.
Suppose the Sadvipras do not hammer the dogmatic-minded people, what will happen? Because of their unnecessary presence the speed of others is retarded. The stagnant people commit suicide and become the cause of death for others. Sadvipras will not leave or forgive such people, but will set them right with an iron hand. Dogmatic-minded people cannot be checked by the sanguine eyes of the so-called intellectuals or by the arms of the military. Humanity wants to move ahead, but the stagnant people who are neither human beings nor animals have blocked the way of the Sadvipras and have obstructed their movement. The common mass will not tolerate these obstructions.
This suicide is not deliberately done by the people. Those who commit suicide, do it when their mind is in a negative state. It is unnatural. Therefore, Sadvipras will remove this unnaturalness with the blows of their hammers. None can check it.
The duty of the Sadvipras will be to hammer these stagnant people who are a burden to society, who suffer from inertness in their physico-psychic sphere, at the appropriate moment so that the path of human progress becomes straight, clear and well-constructed.
When will the three causes of sin be removed? Only when the Sadvipras will be ready to fight against them with an iron hand. Today, at this hour, it is my call to the Sadvipras of the world not to delay any longer. They should march ahead and save human ity and make the path of humanity free of thorns.