10.8 : RITUALS AND MIRACLES
A major point where Sanatana Dharma differs from some other religions, is the role and nature of sin. In this Dharma it is the sin that is condemned, rather than the sinner. The concept of the consequences of sin in Hindu scriptures is not a frightening scenario of horrid inevitability. Man is not punished FOR his sins, he is punished BY his sins. Sin is a self-condemning act arising out of a misunderstanding in the sinner as to his own identity. So if a person allows sin to grow in his heart he goes down in the scale of samsara, the eternal cycle of births and deaths.
QUESTION: Just as sin is self-condemning, are not rituals self-purificatory? And is that not the reason why rituals are so important in Sanatana Dharma?
The straight answer is No. But the topic requires a little elaboraion. In fact, rituals, and its ally, miracles, contribute in a large measure, to Hindu culture and tradition. They serve a certain purpose in the understanding of ANY religion. Indeed there is no religion worth the name which does not have a store of rituals and miracles in its armoury. Rituals, if done in the right spirit, can serve as an entry point to the world of the spirit. Miracles on the other hand are the visiting cards of a God who 'wants' to draw your attention. We shall discuss 'Rituals' in 10.81 and take up 'Miracles' in 10.82.