Kshama (Sanskrit: क्षमा, romanizedkṣamā) is a Sanskrit word that is used in Hinduism to indicate forgiveness.[1]

Kshama refers to forgiving others for the misdeeds they performed upon oneself, which is why it is related to qualities such as forbearance and compassion.[1] The concept of kshama forms one of the ten traditional yamas (i.e., restraints) that are codified in numerous Vedic scriptures such as the Manusmriti and theVasishtha Samhita.[2] Since Hinduism is a theistic religion, kshama is practiced also to attain the grace of God.[3]


The practice of kshama fights against base instincts such as anger. Scriptures like the Mahabharata explain that bearing anger leads to one's own destruction (i.e., spiritual decline).[4]

Kshama is often associated with other qualities such as duty, righteousness, forbearance, compassion, freedom from anger and patience.[1][5] These qualities are explained in Hindu scriptures such as the dharma sastras and the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. Living with qualities like these leads to positive karmas, which bear fruit in this life or in the lives thereafter.[1]

Kshama is a component of sreyas, which refers to one's overall spiritual progress and the overall spiritual progress of a community. In the context of sreyas, kshama benefits one's own life, but it also benefits the overall community one lives in.[5]

Hinduism promotes ahimsa (i.e., non-violence). The religion explains that if resentment persists, the intention to harm others out of retribution will also remain. For this reason, kshama is necessary and supports the practice of ahimsa.[5]

The concept of karma, understood as a power of God in Hinduism, explains that those who do bad upon us are simply instruments bringing forth the fruits of karmas priorly performed. One must accept what is brought forth upon them without assigning blame, developing enemies or striving for retribution. Karma also explains that the doer of bad will also experience the fruits of their karmas in the future, without the need for one's own involvement.[5]

References in Hindu texts

Kshama is discussed in several Hindu texts, a number of these references provided below:


Contentment, forgiveness, self-control, abstention from unrighteously appropriating anything, [obedience to the rules of] purification, coercion of the organs, wisdom, knowledge [of the surpreme Soul], truthfulness and abstention from anger, [these form] the tenfold law (Manu 6:92).[4]

Shrimad Bhagwat Puran


Forgiveness is virtue; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is the Vedas; forgiveness is the Shruti. Forgiveness protecteth the ascetic merit of the future; forgiveness is asceticism; forgiveness is holiness; and by forgiveness is it that the universe is held together (Vana Parva, Section 29).[5]

Other references


Many historic figures in Hinduism have exemplified kshama, a few such exemplars mentioned here:

In other religions

In Jainism, kshama also relates to forgiveness and is a method to cleansing one's atman (i.e., soul). It is one of the ten spiritual attributes recognized in the religion. Kshama leads to spiritual progress and ultimately, enlightenment. Kshama is inherently an aspect of ahimsa (i.e., non-violence), a key value in Jainism. Every year, Jains celebrate a festival known as Kshamavani Divas, which is a day to ask for forgiveness.[3]

In Buddhism, kshama is defined as forgiveness and forbearance. Kshama encompasses the concepts of the removal of the desire for retribution and the removal of anger. Buddha had mentioned, "all this is suffering," signifying the concept of pain to be just. Kshama is an acceptance of a just world where one accepts the experience of worldly pain and goes beyond the inner feelings of retribution and anger which amplify pain and detract from enlightenment. Perfection in kshama is a quality of the Buddhas and is a goal for Buddhists to achieve.[1]

Jainism and Buddhism are not theistic religions and therefore, kshama is practiced solely for the purpose of self-improvement.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f McCullough, Michael E.; Pargament, Kenneth Ira; Thoresen, Carl E. (2000-01-01). Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Guilford Press. ISBN 978-1-57230-510-6.
  2. ^ Shah, Ishita; Dave, Nehal (2023-05-15). "Comparative Study of Yama in Vashishtha Samhita and Patanjali Yog Sutra". Vidya - A Journal of Gujarat University. 2 (1): 183–186. doi:10.47413/vidya.v2i1.172. ISSN 2583-3537.
  3. ^ a b c Jain, Viney (2014). Social Consciousness in Jainism. New Bhartiya Book Corporation. pp. 236–247.
  4. ^ a b c d Bock, Gregory L. (2019-03-05). The Philosophy of Forgiveness: Vol III: Forgiveness in World Religions. Vernon Press. ISBN 978-1-62273-412-2.
  5. ^ a b c d e Hunter, Alan (January 2007). "Forgiveness: Hindu and Western Perspectives". Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies. 20. doi:10.7825/2164-6279.1386.
  6. ^ a b "ŚB 1.16.26-30". Bhaktivedanta Vedabase. Retrieved April 13, 2024.
  7. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 5: Udyoga Parva: Section XXXIII". 2013-10-12. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2024-04-14.
  9. ^ "Janak – Ashtavakra – Statements? — Osho Online Library". 2013-10-29. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2024-04-14.
  10. ^ Nadamala, Bhagya Shree; Tripathi, Dr Priyanka (2022-07-27). "The Politics Of Subversion, Power And Deviance: Sita, Surpanakha And Kaikeyi In Select Feminist Re-Visioning Of Ramayana". Journal of Positive School Psychology: 10487–10499. ISSN 2717-7564.
  11. ^ Bhide, Ajit V. (2007-06-30). "Anger and the Mahaabhaarata". Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 49 (2): 140–142. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.33265. ISSN 0019-5545. PMC 2917082. PMID 20711400.
  12. ^ Kaivalya, Alanna; Kooij, Arjuna van der (2020-09-08). Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-68383-848-7.
  13. ^ Das, Nityanand Charan (2022-05-27). Icons of Grace: Twenty-one Lives that Defined Indian Spirituality. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. ISBN 978-93-5492-462-0.
  14. ^ Raipure, Dr.Vinod A. (March 2023). "BAPS Saints-A foundation of Humanitarian Services" (PDF). Worldwide International Inter Disciplinary Research Journal.