Punya is karmic merit. Its opposite is PA PA, sin or karmic demerit. This is a pervasive and important concept in Indian culture. Punya originally was accrued by sponsoring or performing sacrifices, by giving to BRAHMINS, or by giving of appropriate charity to others. As Hinduism developed, fast-ing and pilgrimages became additional means of Brahmin priest performing puja to Lord Vishnu, in Belur, Bengal (Constance A. Jones) acquiring punya, along with general good works. Generally punya was accrued in order to gain a better birth in the next life, although it could also help in the longer path to liberation. The term is used in a general sense in the Jain tradition, too, where the term punya-karma is used to mean “wholesome karma.”
   Further reading: Wendy Doniger and Brian K. Smith, trans., The Laws of Manu (New York: Penguin Books, 1991); Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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