By Swami Harshananda
Sāntapana literally means ‘that which causes great hardship’.
Sāntapana, a Type of Expiation
Prāyaścittas or expiations for sins is a common feature of religion. One type of such expiation is sāntapana. It is prescribed for the one who commits a sin and makes him lose his caste, knowingly. It consists in subsisting on the pañcagavya mixed with water in which kuśa grass is soaked on the first day and fasting completely on the second day.
Types of Sāntapana
Two varieties of this expiation are also described:
Mahāsāntapana, a Rite
In the Mahāsāntapana, the sinner has to subsist on the six items individually for each day for six days and fast on the seventh. The six items used in this rite are:
- Cow’s milk
- Kuśa grass
Atisāntapana, a Rite
In atisāntapana, the duration is trebled which includes milk for three days and so on.
- Caste means jātibhrariiśakara.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore