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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Anupataka, AnupAtaka, Anupaataka

Anupātaka literally means ‘secondary sin’.

Human beings are generally prone to commit sins due to certain basic weaknesses like hunger, sex, passion and prejudices inherent in the psycho-physical system. When they are not sublimated or controlled by dharma (righteousness or religious laws), sin will result. A sin is generally termed as ‘pātaka,’ that which makes one fall (pat = to fall) from the ideal way.

The smṛtis and dharmaśāstras have categorized the sins in various ways. Anupātaka is one such sin which is considered less than mahāpātaka (grievous sin). Two such sins coming under Anupātaka are :

  1. False accusations against one’s guru (father or preceptor)
  2. Sexual relationship with women like the wife of a learned brāhmaṇa or those seeking one’s protection

A sin must be expiated. Various kinds of expiations known as prāyaścittas are prescribed for the various crimes. As regards the anupātakas, the prāyaścittas are almost the same as the ones prescribed for the mahāpātakas. Performing Aśvamedha sacrifice and visiting places of pilgrimage are prominently mentioned in this list of prāyaścittas for the anupātakas.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore