Q: mArjArahatyA

aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca
Fri Sep 5 02:20:07 UTC 1997

Robert A. Hueckstedt wrote:

>In a short story that is used by many of us Hindi teachers in the
>intermediate level, "PrAya"scit" by Bhagavati Charan Varma, a cat is
>apparently killed near the beginning of the story. The pandit, who is fat
>and obviously trying to milk this one for all it's worth, tells the
>guilty family that the killing of a cat is as bad as brahminicide. Did
>he, or the Hindi author, just make that up? Is there a source for that in
>nIti"sAstra or dharma"sAstra somewhere?

I remember hearing this as a child while growing up in India that a person
who kills a cat has to offer a cat made of gold for atonement. While there
was no comparison with brahminicide in the statements I heard, they did
convey that  killing a cat was not an ordinary sinful act. To this extent,
Bhagavati Charan Varma's story is based on an attested and possibly
widespread belief. If this belief is expressed in literature, it is more
likely to have been expressed in various karma-vipaaka statements found in
Puraa.nas, Jain texts, etc. rather than in the 'top-flight' niiti- and
dharma-;saastra works.

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