What is PAPA


The word papa is a commonly used Sanskrit word. It is used by people, who do not even know Sanskrit, as it is present in almost every Indian language. The widely used meaning of the word papa is sin. However, it is necessary to see the other meanings and the origins of this Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin, and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from a stem or root.

The word papa is derived from the root word pa by adding the suffix pa. The root word pa means to drink, quaff, sip, suck, swallow, imbibe, draw in, appropriate, enjoy, feast upon, drink up, exhaust, absorb, or drink intoxicating liquors.

The word papa means bad, vicious, wicked, evil, wretched, vile, low, foreboding evil, inauspicious, a wicked person, wretch, villain, name of the profligate in a drama, name of a hell, a beast of prey, a witch, misfortune, ill-luck, trouble, mischief, harm, sin, vice, crime, guilt, unrighteousness, unpleasant, undesirable, killing, the cause of hell, destructive, malignant, abandoned, bad state, accursed, or a son of Brahmadhana.

Anything that is done to incur papa is also papa. The signs of papa are that it leads away from dharma to unrighteousness. It is the cause of misery and the undesirable. It leads to adversity and the destruction of a person. Papa is committed due to the absence of the control of the sense organs. It also results due to the non-performance of the regular duties stipulated in the Vedas. The stationary living things like the trees can commit papa only through the actions of their bodies.

Birds and animals can commit papa by their speech and the human beings can commit papa even by their minds. Any action that has a possibility of leading to one’s committing papa is also papa. In this sense, drinking intoxicating liquors becomes papa because that could lead one to committing some bad or evil actions. In Sanatana Dharma, the killing of a brahmana, killing of a cow, stealing, ungratefulness, and the company of the evil are considered to be papa.

Papa is said to be ten divided into three categories depending upon whether it is committed by the body, speech, or the mind. Killing, stealing, and having a relationship with someone else’s wife are three papas committed by the body. Speaking unreal things, roughness in speech, calumny, and untruth are four papas committed by speech. Hiding one’s true intentions from others, having ill-feeling towards others, and thinking that all actions are purposeless are three papas committed by the mind.

The state can also commit a papa and the ill-effects of that papa will be experienced by the king or the members of the government that was instrumental in committing the papa. The papa committed by a husband affects the wife and vice versa.

The papa committed by a spiritual guru affects the disciple and vice versa. The papa committed by the person for whom a priest is performing some rite affects the priest and vice versa. However, in the Kaliyuga, generally it is only the person committing the papa, who gets its results.

Author is Editor Prabuddha Bharata. The Balabodha series as written is a glossary of words and not an article.


To read all articles by the Author

This article was first published in the May 2020 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe https://shop.advaitaashrama.org/subscribe/


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