By Swami Harshananda
Bhruṇahatyā literally means ‘killing the foetus’.
The topics of puṇya (merit or virtue) and pāpa (demerit or sin) have been dealt with in great detail in the purāṇas and the dharmaśāstras. The origin of these concepts can be found even in the Ṛgveda.
Pāpas (also called patakas) or sins have been classified as mahāpātakas (heinous sins) and upapātakas (minor sins). ‘Bhruṇahatyā’ is one of the sins included in these lists. The word ‘bhraṇa’ has three senses:
In all these senses, bhruṇahatyā has been listed as a heinous sin, with practically no expiation.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore