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Expiation In Hinduism

Santapana is one of the expiations in Hinduism for several offenses described in Dharmashastra and Puranic texts. While kricchra is the general term for expiation, santapana is a specific form of expiation. Hindu religious texts refer to five great sins – killing of a Brahmin, drinking wine, committing theft, violating the bed of the preceptor, and association with a person who has committed any one of the sins.

Moreover, age, sex, time and place conditioned the expiations. Expiation consists of taking the five things got from a cow – panchagavya – curd, milk, ghee, urine and cow-dung with water, with the tip of the kusha grass, for a day, and fasting the next day. There are other variations of this form of expiation. Taking one item a day for six days and fasting on the seventh day is known as mahasantapana. If each one of these items is taken for three days, it is known as atisantapana. In general, while doing the expiations, one has to follow daily religious practices conducive to the body. Shaving, bathing, offering oblations and worship of God are common to all expiations.