Ṛṇatraya (‘three debts’)
By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Rnatraya (‘three debts’), RNatraya (‘three debts’), RRinatraya (‘three debts’)
Ṛṇatraya literally means ‘three debts'.
The idea of ṛṇatraya, the three debts under which every human being is born, has been referred in the Rgveda. However it is more explicit in other Vedic literature like the Taittiriya Samhitā and the Satapatha Brāhmana. These ṛṇas are:
- Deva-ṛṇa - debt to gods : It is repaid by the performance of yajñas or Vedic sacrifices.
- Pitṛ-ṛṇa - debt to the manes : It is repaid by begetting sons and doing śrāddhas or obsequial ceremonies.
- Rṣi-ṛṇa - debt to the sages : It is repaid by svādhyāya and tapas.
- Brāhmaṇa-rṇa - It is repaid by giving gifts to brāhmaṇas since they perform many religious rites for us.
- Ātma-ṛṇa - debt to the jīvātman, repaid by taking care of the body-mind complex properly.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore