Sin in the Suttas

Been listening to Venerable Sujato’s translation of the DN on Audible and I noticed the term “sin” being used in places. I may be mistaken but do other translators use that word? and what is the Pali equivalent?

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Pioneering translators would often use ‘sin’ to translate the Pali pāpa, which is the opposite of puñña. Translators nowadays tend to eschew this rendering on the grounds that its primary sense is quite strongly bound up with theistic (and especially Abrahamic) religiosity.

Puñña and pāpa are alternative terms for wholesome / skilful action (kusala kamma) and unwholesome / unskilful action (akusala kamma), respectively, and particularly in contexts that have to do with the fortune-bringing and misfortune-bringing roles of such kammas.

Nowadays translators tend to use ‘merit’ and ‘meritorious’ for puñña and ‘evil’, ‘bad’ or ‘demeritorious’ for pāpa.


I can only find “sin” used at the very end of DN30:

He’s [the Buddha] surrounded by pure people, who dispel
Sa hi sucibhi parivuto bhavati,
stains, callousness, sin, and corruptions.’”
Malakhilakalikilese panudehī”ti.

As for pāpa:

“Taking into account exterior factors, mendicants, I do not see a single one that is so very harmful as bad friends.
“Bāhiraṁ, bhikkhave, aṅganti karitvā nāññaṁ ekaṅgampi samanupassāmi yaṁ evaṁ mahato anatthāya saṁvattati yathayidaṁ, bhikkhave, pāpamittatā.

And the many bad, unskillful qualities that arise because of wrong view are washed away.
ye ca micchādiṭṭhipaccayā aneke pāpakā akusalā dhammā sambhavanti te cassa niddhotā honti;