āgneya-kṛcchra

(‘kṛcchra connected with Agni’)

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. But none wants to suffer, and if given the chance to escape, will try for the same. With the full understanding of human nature and with a view to giving a chance for redemption to those who genuinely repent, the Hindu dharma-śāstras have devised elaborate prāyaścittas or expiations for sins. Kṛcchra—literally ‘that which causes suffering’—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 (tila) for twelve days. Agni will be pleased by it and all the difficulties of the performer will be removed.