Sins and Sinners: Perspectives from Asian Religions

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Asian religious traditions have always been deeply concerned with sins and what to do about them. As the essays in this volume illustrate, what Buddhists in Tibet, India, China or Japan, what Jains, Daoists, Hindus or Sikhs considered to be a sin was neither one thing, nor exactly what the Abrahamic traditions meant by the term. Sins could be both undesireable behavior and unacceptable thoughts. In different contexts, at different times and places, a sin might be a ritual infraction or a violation of a rule of law; it could be a moral failing or a wrong belief. However defined, sins were considered so grave a hindrance to spiritual perfection, so profound a threat to the social order, that the search for their remedies through rituals of expiation, pilgrimage, confession, recitation of spells, or philosophical reflection, was one of the central quests of the religions studied here.