Question 33. In this context, can the concepts of Papa (sin, evil) and Punya (virtue, merit, good) be clarified and explained? Also, are there moral and ethical principles universally applicable to all sections of Hindu society?
The concepts of good and evil, sin and virtue, exist practically in all religions. There is an oft quoted saying that defines Punya (virtue or good) as doing good to others and Papa (sin, evil) as harming others. Sin is acquired when one does prohibited actions or forsakes the ordained duties. This retards one's spiritual progress and Positively harms the society as well.
For instance: The injunction goes that one should never tell lies, but speak the truth always. Sin is accumulated if one gives up truth and tells lies. Similarly, Performing one's duties and actions ordained by the Sastras will earn one, Punya or merit. Hindu scriptures do give universal moral and ethical principles applicable to all sections of society.
Designated as Samanya Dharma or common virtues, the list comprises Ahimsa (non violence), Satya (speaking the truth), Asteya (non stealing), Daya (compassion), Dana (giving gifts), Titiksha (forbearance), Vinaya (humility), Indriyanigraha (restraining the senses), Santi (keeping the mind at peace), Saucha (purity of body), Tapas (austerity) and Bhakti (devotion to God). If every one sincerely tries to cultivate these virtues in his personal fife, there is no doubt that the whole society Will be uplifted to greater levels of peace and joy.