By Swami Harshananda
Āgneya-kṛechra literally means ‘kṛechra connected with Agni’. Kṛechra literally means 'that which causes suffering’.
Sins of omission and commission are inevitable in the life of a man however careful he may be. The law of karma being inexorable he is obliged to suffer their consequences. With the full understanding of human nature and with a view to giving repent-full people a chance for redemption, the dharma-śāstras have devised elaborate prāyaścittas or expiations for sins.
Kṛechra is a general word used for several penances out of which āgneya-kṛcchra is a variety. The main part of the discipline in this expiation is that the person performing it should subsist only on sesame (til) for twelve days. Agni will be pleased by it and all the difficulties of the performer will be removed.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore