“Sin” vs. “Offense”

There is a difference between a “sin” (adharma or pāpa) and a “hatred” (a.k.a “offense” – aparādhā). “Hatred” is “sin” but not all “sin” is “hatred.” “Hatred” is a special subset of “sin” – it is the worst type. It is so bad that it is considered in a separate category.

A “sin” is simply failure to fulfill our duty, responsibility and function. A father, for example, sins if he cannot provide physical and mental security for his family. The acts he does which contribute to this failure are also “sins.” 

A “hatred” (aparādhā) is an intentional hurt or slander against a person who deserves to be respected or loved. Sin can happen by mistake or out of weakness, but hatred (aparādhā) is willful and intentional by definition. 

One example of aparādhā: The teacher comes into the room, and the student refuses to stand. Another example: A father yelling at his daughter for wanting his attention and affection

An aparādhā is not a mistake, it is intentional. Because aparādhā are intentional, they are worse than ordinary “sin.”

A student who didn’t know he was supposed to stand when the teacher entered the room isn’t so much an aparādhī as a mild pāpī. A father who unintentionally fails in his relationship with his daughter is again more a pāpī than an aparādhī.

It is far worse to be an aparādhī than to be a pāpī. In Gītā, Krishna says that the worst type of sin is kāma – selfish desire. This is because kāma is the root of aparādhā. When we want things for ourself (kāma), we will inevitably hate (aparādhā) those who frustrate our desires. 

We have wasted a lot of our time and breath criticizing “materialistic people” for their “sins” but we are far, far worse than they are because of our aparādhā against the most lovable entity, Krishna.  We know that we should be attentive and affectionate towards Krishna’s name, image, wisdom (the Veda) and to those who teach and exemplify it (the gurus and sādhus), but we continue to refuse to make that effort.

Our lack of progress in bhakti-yoga is due to aparādhā, but aparādhā is based on our failure to develop proper comprehension of the goal (prayojana), the process (adhideya), and the components of reality (sambandha). The tendency for hatred goes away the more deeply we comprehend our relationship to other people and reality as a whole – i.e. the more deeply we understand sambandha-jñāna. So the best cure for the worst evil is careful study of śāstra under the guidance of a guru who deeply understands them.

– Vraja Kishor dās


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  1. One time long long ago in a bhagavatam lecture I remember the speaker discussing a difference between “kama” and “kam” and explaining that kam is strictly lust, where as kama is a more neutral term and designates desire in a more general sense. I’m paraphrasing what I remember + my memory is not too good-maybe I’m entirely mistaken.

    Any thoughts on this? And of course there is kama sutra. Im not very scholarly but I always thought that was sort of meant as an allowance to people in general for accomodating human desires while living God-centered lives.

    I was a little confused with your use of the word kama, but I emphasize I am not challenging you as I no very little myself. I’m just confused.


    1. Kāma is the correct pronunciation. Kām is the vernacular pronunciation. They are not two different words.

      Kāma sūtra is the summary of all Vedic instruction on how to enjoy pleasures. It is compiled by the sage Vatsāyana. It is mastered by Kāmadeva and Rati, but Kāmadeva and Rati cannot comprehend the mastery of Krishna and Rādhā of these sūtras.

      Kāma-sūtra is meant to help people enjoy their senses. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the senses in the ways described there – which are healthy, moderate, and not to the exclusion of the more evolved goals of life, including liberation.

      Kāma is “pleasure.” Kāma can be called lust, but it is not only sexual lust, therefore the word lust can be misleading as nowadays most people only think of the sexual connotation. The desire for enjoyment is self-centeredness. So self-centered desire or “selfishness” is how I prefer to translate and explain kāma.


      1. A good approach is to deduce.

        Kandarpa. God of Love {pritideva}[spiritual world] (purity is essential)

        Kamadeva. God of Lust {kamadeva}
        [material world] (pleasure is all encompassing)

        Same being, two different worlds. I know; I yearn for pleasure in this world and prayer to enhance my future in the next world.


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