Garuda Purana: 5 Acts Are Considered Major Sins, Know About Them

The Garuda Purana, one of Hinduism's ancient scriptures, is known for its detailed account of life after death, and the consequences of one's actions. Within its teachings, the text outlines various sins and their repercussions.

Among these, five acts are highlighted as the most heinous or major sins, which lead to severe karmic consequences. Understanding these sins and their implications is crucial for those who seek to lead a virtuous life according to Hindu dharma.

This article delves into these five major sins as described in the Garuda Purana, offering insight into their nature and the severe outcomes they entail.

Key Takeaways

  • Brahmahatya, the killing of a Brahmin, is considered one of the most severe sins with dire karmic repercussions.
  • Surapana, the act of consuming intoxicants, is strictly prohibited and viewed as a major sin that can tarnish one's spiritual progress.
  • Steya, or theft, is a significant transgression that can lead to negative consequences both in this life and beyond.
  • Guru Talpa Gamana, the illicit relationship with one's guru's wife, is a grave betrayal that is severely condemned in the Garuda Purana.
  • Understanding the Mahapataka, or the five great sins, is essential for adherents of Hinduism to avoid extreme karmic outcomes and pursue a path of righteousness.

1. Brahmahatya: Killing of a Brahmin

In the Garuda Purana, Brahmahatya, the act of killing a Brahmin, is considered one of the most heinous sins. This transgression is believed to bring about severe karmic consequences for the perpetrator, affecting not only their current life but also their future incarnations.

The gravity of Brahmahatya is such that it is deemed an unpardonable sin, leading to a significant accumulation of negative karma.

The Purana outlines various penances and atonements for those who commit this sin, emphasizing the importance of seeking redemption. The consequences of Brahmahatya are not only spiritual but also societal, as the act disrupts the moral and social order.

  • It leads to the isolation of the sinner from society.
  • The sinner incurs the wrath of the divine forces.
  • The lineage of the perpetrator is believed to suffer for generations.

2. Surapana: Drinking Intoxicants

In the Garuda Purana, Surapana, or the consumption of intoxicants, is considered a grave sin. This act is believed to cloud the mind, inhibit judgment, and lead to the degradation of one's moral and spiritual fabric.

The consequences of Surapana are not just spiritual but also societal, as it can lead to the breakdown of social order and familial harmony. The Purana emphasizes the importance of self-control and purity of the body and mind, viewing intoxication as a direct violation of these principles.

The act of Surapana is seen as a self-inflicted harm that not only affects the individual but also the community at large, disrupting the balance of dharma (righteousness).

Those who indulge in Surapana are said to face various repercussions in their current life and the afterlife, including health issues, social ostracism, and a series of obstacles in their spiritual journey.

3. Steya: Theft

In the Garuda Purana, Steya, or theft, is considered a grave sin with severe repercussions. It is not merely the act of stealing material possessions but also includes usurping someone's ideas, identity, or intellectual property.

The consequences of Steya are not just worldly but also spiritual, affecting one's karma and future rebirths. The Purana outlines that those who commit theft are bound to suffer in their current and future lives, facing poverty and misfortune as a direct result of their actions.

The act of theft is seen as a violation of dharma, the moral order, and is believed to lead to a degradation of one's soul.

To understand the gravity of Steya, one can reflect on the broader implications it has on society and individual conscience. It disrupts social harmony and trust, which are essential for the functioning of any community.

4. Guru Talpa Gamana: Illicit Relationship with Guru's Wife

In the Garuda Purana, Guru Talpa Gamana is considered one of the gravest sins. It refers to the act of engaging in an illicit relationship with one's guru's wife. This act is seen as a betrayal of trust and a violation of sacred boundaries.

The consequences of such an act are described as severe, both in terms of spiritual degradation and the negative karma that ensues. The guru in Hindu tradition is highly revered, often placed on the same pedestal as God, and the relationship with the guru is considered sacrosanct.

The gravity of this sin is such that it is believed to bring about a cascade of negative effects in one's life, affecting not just the individual but also their familial and social relationships.

To atone for this sin, various remedial measures are prescribed, which may include intense penance and seeking forgiveness. One such remedial ritual is the Guru Graha Shanti Puja, which is performed to appease Jupiter, the planet associated with wisdom and spirituality.

5. Mahapataka: The Five Great Sins

In the Garuda Purana, Mahapataka refers to the five great sins that are considered the most heinous and destructive. These sins are believed to have severe karmic repercussions that can extend across multiple lifetimes.

  • Brahmahatya: Killing of a Brahmin
  • Surapana: Drinking intoxicants
  • Steya: Theft
  • Guru Talpa Gamana: Illicit relationship with the Guru's wife
  • Panchasunaka: Association with sinners, leading to the commission of other sins
The gravity of these sins is such that they are thought to lead to the most severe punishments in the afterlife, and they require significant penance and atonement to be absolved. The Purana emphasizes the importance of understanding the consequences of one's actions and the value of adhering to dharma (righteousness).


The Garuda Purana, a revered text within Hindu literature, provides profound insights into the moral and ethical conduct expected of individuals. It categorically lists five acts that are considered grave sins, each accompanied by its own set of dire consequences.

Understanding these sins and their repercussions is not just about fearing divine retribution; rather, it's about recognizing the inherent value of ethical living and the importance of maintaining social and cosmic order.

By reflecting on these teachings, one can strive towards a life of righteousness, ensuring harmony both within oneself and in the broader community.

The Garuda Purana thus serves as a timeless guide, urging us to contemplate the moral implications of our actions and to live with integrity and respect for the universal laws that govern our existence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Garuda Purana?

The Garuda Purana is one of the eighteen Puranas which are part of the Hindu body of texts known as Smriti. It is a conversation between Lord Vishnu and Garuda, the King of Birds, and it contains details about life after death, funeral rites, and the metaphysical connection between life and the afterlife.

Why are the five acts mentioned in the Garuda Purana considered major sins?

These five acts are considered major sins in the Garuda Purana because they are believed to have severe negative karmic consequences that affect the soul's journey and its evolution. They are considered violations of dharma (cosmic law and order) and are thought to lead to suffering in this life and in the afterlives.

What are the consequences of committing Brahmahatya?

The act of Brahmahatya, or the killing of a Brahmin, is said to be a grave sin that leads to severe karmic repercussions. According to the Garuda Purana, the soul of the person who commits Brahmahatya suffers in hellish conditions before being reborn into lower life forms to continue paying for the sin.

Can one atone for the major sins described in the Garuda Purana?

The Garuda Purana does discuss atonement and penance for sins, although the process is often rigorous and requires sincere repentance, strict adherence to rituals, and guidance from a knowledgeable priest or guru. Some sins are considered so severe that atonement is extremely difficult.

Is the concept of sin in the Garuda Purana unique to Hinduism?

While the Garuda Purana presents a Hindu perspective on sin and its consequences, the concept of actions leading to negative outcomes is not unique to Hinduism. Many religions and philosophies have their own interpretations of sin, morality, and the repercussions of one's actions.

How has the Garuda Purana influenced Hindu culture and practices?

The Garuda Purana has had a significant influence on Hindu beliefs about death, the afterlife, and the importance of performing proper funeral rites. It has also impacted the way Hindus understand the moral consequences of their actions and the importance of living a dharmic life.

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