By Periyava

Translation from Tamil: V. Krishnaraj 

பாப புண்ணியங்கள் : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி) = Sins And Merits: Deivathin Kural-Part 1
None of us wants to be a sinner in this world. But, we do disproportionately more sins. We all desire to receive fruits of merits, without doing meritorious deeds. Arjuna asked Bhagavan Krishna, “What is it that pulls a person forcibly to do sinful deeds?”
Bhagavan replies, “That is what is called desire.”
Desire prompts us to obtain something. We abandon Dharma-Adharma with an intent to get the desired object by any means. If that desire is fulfilled, does it bring satisfaction? No. When you feed butter into fire, is the fire extinguished?  No. The fire grows larger. Likewise, in the mind when a desire finds fruition, another desire grows bigger.
Ok, do you want me to say it is better that desire does not find fruition? It is not like that. If the desire does not find fruition, we get irritated and annoyed. As the rubber ball bounces off the wall, the unfulfilled desire bounces back as anger and pushes the aspirant into more sinful activities. Next to desire, Bhagavan mentions anger (as an encumbrance) in Bhagavadgita. Anger is the product of desire.
If that is so, there is only one way to extinguish desire. How can we do it? We cannot desist from deeds. Though we do not do physical activities, our mind is full of activity. The mind’s work is to think all the time. The dual activities by the mind and the body make circles around our desires. Because of this, they push us into the abyss of sins often. Should we desist from action? The human nature does not allow inactivity.
Thāyumāṉaswāmy says, ‘It is a rare condition to curb the mind and stay quiet.’ Though you suspend physical activity, mind (’s activity) does not stand still. Not only the mind does its activity but also instigates the body into activity.
We cannot stop desire directly. If we do not quell the activity, do we attain liberation or Mōkṣa? Is there a solution to this problem? There is a solution. In the state we are, we need not stop the activities completely. We should alter the paradigm of selfish activities fructifying our desires, we should engage in activities that do not yield worldly gains. We should indulge in activities for the welfare of the world and spiritual progress. Developing a liking and dedication to such activities and becoming immersed in them, the worldly desires diminish. Sins diminish and merits rise. The idea is that we should practice performing desireless actions (actions devoid of self. Meritorious activity is devoid of selfish desire.
We do deeds and earn sins in four ways: Bad acts by the body; mockery and untruth by speech; injurious thoughts by mind; sins by use of money.
We should practice doing meritorious activities that stand against sinning by four ways.
Doing philanthropy by bodily activities, circumambulation of the deity and homage are the meritorious acts.
Chanting of the names of the deity earns merit. Perhaps earning a living takes most of the time and there is no time left for spiritual activities. Making a living for the householders is essential. It does not take all of your time. Much time is wasted in idle talk, amusement, newspaper discussions… The said wasted time can be spent in Bhagavat Smaraṇaṁ. It is all right if you cannot schedule a time slot for it. On your way to office by bus or rail, you can chant the name of God (soto voce). By earning a living by exhaustive competitive routine, not one penny accompanies you at death. In the afterworld, the only currency is Bhagavat Nāmā (Chanting God’s name).
Our mind is the repository of Bhagavan. We made it into a garbage dump. We should clean and polish it, seat Bhagavan there (mind), sit down ourselves there and perform at least five minutes of Dhyāṉam. Let the world be submerged with flood but this act should go on uninterruptedly, because when the world is inundated and immersed, only this offers the hand of rescue.
With money, we can accumulate merit by doing Dharma to God and the poor. That is money well spent.
Sin has two Sakthis: 1. It gets us involved in evil ways; 2. It instigates us to do the same tomorrow. Here is an example. Snuffing tobacco is harmful the very first day you use it. Tomorrow, it instigates you to use snuff again. This is Vāsaṉa— habitual predisposition; clinging disposition (Vāsaṉai = வாசனை = fragrance). We should suppress this predisposition and accumulate meritorious Vāsaṉās. (Vāsanam means smell. It is the like the remnant smell of smoke in fired clay pots. Our predispositions from past life, we carry to the present life as Vāsana. If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, your clothes, body and mouth carry the smell of tobacco, long after you finished smoking. You must launder the clothes and take a bath to wash off the smell.)
Vāsanai pulls us towards sin. Don’t be afraid. Sinners worse than us became devotees and sages. If the sinners are not rescued (and rehabilitated), what greatness is there for Īśvara or God? Because we are sinners, God earned the title, Patita-pāvaṉaṉ (One who purifies from apostacy, degradation or sin.
Patita-pāvaṉaṉ = பதித-பாவனன் = Pathithan = பதித = the degraded; One with lost caste or religion; apostate + பாவனன் = pāvaṉaṉ = the purifier or one who purifies. The Purifier of the Degraded; Purifier of the sinner.
In Bhagavadgita (Verse 18:66) “Surrender unto me. I will release you from all your sins —Sarva pāpēpyō mōkṣyiṣyāmi Mā sucah.”  This is the certain promise of Sri Krishna Paramatma for all.
Therefore, we remain courageous and hopeful. You wind a rope multiple times; to loosen the rope completely, you must unwind it that many times. To efface sinful tendencies, that many meritorious predispositions should come into play. There should not be hastiness, anger, and impatience. If ignored, the hasty winding results in knot(s) and defeats the purpose. If Dharma is performed with faith in Bhagavan, he will offer a helping hand.
The reason for the establishment of many religions is to desist causing injuries to others by hurtful words and deeds (the motor organs) and direct our attention to Bhagavan. The founder of each religion dawned upon the world to redeem the embodied soul (Jīvaṉ) from the sins committed by his Indriyas (motor organs). The pleasure obtained from sin and organs are temporary and short-lived.  ‘Permanent ecstasy coming from merger with Paramātmā,’ release of Jīva from Saṁsāra (rebirth) and directing it towards Bhagavan are the goal of every religion.