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Upa Pataka In Hinduism – Minor Sins

Upa Pataka is the transgression of moral principles – sins of a minor nature. Hindu sages have classified all sins into five groups in accordance with the rita-satya-dharma (righteous truth duty) standards to regulate contemporary social conduct. The five classes of sins are – maha papa (mortal sins), ati papa (worst type of sins), pataka (sinful acts of a grave nature which cause downfall), prasangika (contextually adjudged sins), upa patakas (sins of other types and of a minor nature). This listing of upa patakas varies from five (Katyayana Grihya Sutra) to fifty one (Yajnavalkya Smriti).

Additions to this list, on the basis of ‘similarity of sins committed’, have been made by later writers. Such regulations have molded the Indian ethos and the cultural lifestyle. Prayaschitta (purificatory ceremonies) to get rid of the effect of the sins have been reformulated from time to time. These include japa (recitation of Vedic hymns and meditation), tapas (penance), homa (sacrifice and rituals), vrata niyama upavasa (physical rites like abstaining from food/restricted food/speech activity), dana (charity), brahmana-vachana (blessings by Brahmins) and nama sankirtana (chanting of the names of Bhagavan).

The listing of upa patakas and their modifications from time to time was made taking into consideration factors such as religion, society, community, caste, lifestyle, social and economic status, region, custom, ability, practicability of implementing the punishment of violations. There are also rules and regulations which are relevant to only some localities.