Ignorance is sin (was Re:Samdhya & Agnihotra)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 3 01:27:51 CST 2001

On Fri, 2 Nov 2001 09:43:38 -0800, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
<balasr at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

>When the child is young, the parents do many rituals
>to compensate for the mistakes the child may have done
>(eg, killing an insect) unknowingly. Just because it
>is a child, does not excuse it from the law of karma.
>So "I didn't know it, so it won't affect me" kind of
>arguments (put forth by many in this list) is not a
>valid excuse and against the basic tenets of our

HH Jagadguru Chandrasekhara Bharati has explained the
concept of ignorance as sin beautifully. If one commits a violation
of the law of the country where he/she lives then one becomes
guilty of the violation whether he/she knew about the law or not.
For example, there may be a law in a country that prohibits one from
spitting on the road. If I go to that country and spit on one of its
roads, I become guilty of breaking the law even if I do not know
about the existence of the law that prohibits spitting on roads. Mere
ignorance of the law cannot be a defense that I can use in a court of
law. What matters to the judge is my *capability* of knowing the law,
not my ignorance of it. If the judge feels that I am capable of knowing
or understanding the law, then I will be punished. However, if the judge
feels that I am incapable of knowing the law (because of some condition
such as insanity!) then I may be excused.

Just as the burden/responsibility of knowing the law rests with the
residents of the jurisdiction where the law applies, so also the
responsibility of knowing the Dharma of a particular varNa/Ashrama
lies with the members of the varNa/Ashrama. Ignorance of such Dharma
will in no way decrease the *culpability* of not performing one's


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