There was a time a year ago during pandemic and lockdown I used to write a lot about Vedas and the Indian rich heritage of the past. For some time now, I had taken a small break. Now, this week am coming back to ancient Indian culture again. Bharat is not just a country; it is an idea of life. A very important component of that idea of life is how people look at their mistakes. It explains a lot about their way of life during those times!
‘Prayascitta’ – a word that terrifies you when you hear it every time.
For a long time, this word is referred to as a negative one. Anyone who utters it will be seen as someone who had committed an unacceptable mistake and he or she has to be punished. Prayascitta is one of the most misunderstood words today. Many of us think that Prayascitta is punishment for the sins they committed. That’s not the truth. It is a process of penance by the person after the realisation of his or her mistake.
A mistake doesn’t mean sin and a mistake is always not a wrong thing.
Firstly, the feeling of negativity around the word Prayascitta should be erased from our heads. We need to connect Prayascitta to a positive feeling. Let me first define what is a mistake. Mistake as per the dictionary is something that’s done in a wrong way but not wilfully. It’s an act that happens out of misguiding or misjudging or miscommunication. So, whenever you make a mistake there’s no reason to feel sad or broken rather you have to realise and correct it by doing something right.
The definition of mistake is completely different from person to person. Moreover, a person who believes in the concept of ‘Dharma’ has to approach mistake in an entirely different manner. Those who don’t follow ‘Dharma’ have a different approach towards mistakes. The keyword here is Dharma. In one of the older posts, I had explained the ‘Dharma’ of an individual according to stages of life.
Some stubborn individuals don’t accept their mistake and remain rigid. For such kind of people explaining about the penance or Prayascitta is a complete waste of time. Then there are the second set of people, who are desperate to repair their mistakes for the sake of benefits. They like the idea of penance because they want results out of it. All those who are visiting temples intending to strike a deal with God & those who listen to fake Babas and Pandits fall in that category. In the least percentage, we get to see people, who are genuinely hurt by the mistakes they committed and would want to correct them not expecting any result but with a complete realisation of their mistakes with a will to correct them.
Taking an example from stages of life as per Dharma.
As per Vedas i.e., Dharma, the first stage of life of an individual is called Brahmacharya. During the Brahmacharya, you are expected to meet all the obligations as a learner and fulfil the duties of a student. But in modern society, due to the influence of the entertainment and movie industry, there is a high chance of getting deviated from the goals of brahmacharya. Many of those who deviate from their goals will never know why they failed. A few understand the real reason but can’t accept the fact.
Suppose you are in a close relationship with a person of the opposite gender that led to a certain degree of neglect in studies. You pass the exams but don’t score well. You fail the exam and still go onto have a good life. There can be multiple scenarios. Whatever may be the result of your action i.e, ‘Karma’ during your learning days, you are expected to do prayascitta for the unwanted deviations you have welcomed.
Don’t ever think that your friendship was wrong, having fun was wrong or for that matter getting into a relationship was wrong. The rules made as per the Vedas are clear and strict. It is normal to see people breaking the rules of the dharma and going against it. Whether you do it wilfully or unintentionally, you have been given a golden chance to course correct it. If you are open and ready to accept go for it and do prayascitta. Otherwise, you have to carry the bundle of bad Karma throughout your life. This is the price you pay for not following your dharma of a brahmacharya.
A wise person will accept his or her mistakes and naturally go on to the route of Prayascitta. Prayascitta is not giving huge donations, buying ornaments to God or pujaris. It is a practice with oneself connected to God. When you understand the whole definition of God, you automatically don’t look at the materialistic ways of correcting your mistakes.
Following are the examples of prayascitta:
- Going on a pilgrimage
- Vrathas (Poojas)
These are the only ways of practising prayascitta. There are more methods, but it is purely scenario-based and case-based.
Remember, Karma is inevitable & Dharma is impeccable. So just follow your Dharma by collecting as much positive Karma. Positive karma will make your life smooth and bless you with an abundance of happiness both spiritually and physically.