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Aghamarshana – Sin Atonement – Removing Effect Of Sin

Aghamarshana is a Vedic ritual by which one’s sins are expected to be expiated. Aghamarshana literally means wrong doing effacing and is named after a Vedic seer also known as Aghamarna, who was the son of Madhuchandas, and belonged to the line of Vishwamitra, and who visualized the rituals (Rig Veda 10-190).

Rig Vedic hymn beginning with rtam ca satyam cabhiddhat (10-190.1-3), is known after it seer as Aghamarshana sukta. The meaning of the hymn is roughly as follows – truth of thought and truthfulness of speech were born of arduous penance, then night was generated, and also the watery ocean. Year afterwards from the watery ocean the ordaining nights and days were produced, and the ruler of every moment, Dhatr, at the beginning, created the sun and the moon, the heaven, the earth, the firmament and the sky.

The rite of aghamarshana (driving out sin) consists of taking water in the right hand, shaped like a cow’s ear, holding it near one’s nose, breathing out from the nose on the water (with the idea of driving away from oneself) wrongdoing to the accompaniment of the three mantras, and then casting the water away to one’s left on the ground.

Aghamarshana rite is one of the principal components of the daily prescribed sandhya rituals. The others are – accamana (sipping of water), pranayama (restraining of breath), marjana (thrice sprinkling of water on oneself to the accompaniment of several mantras), arghya (offering of water to the sun), japa of Gayatri (reciting mantras to worship the sun in the morning and Varuna in the evening), and upasthana (mid-day prayers).