Definition - What does Punya mean?
Punya is a Sanskrit word that means “merit,” “virtue” and “sacred.” The translation, though, does not capture the full meaning of the word. In Buddhism and Hinduism, punya is an attribute that develops better karma and consequently helps ensure that the next life will be better. Karma is the concept that all actions — good and bad — have a result or effect on the future or future lives.
The opposite of punya is papa, which is associated with sin and develops negative karma.
Yogapedia explains Punya
Depending on the religious tradition, the concept of punya varies. In Vedanta Hinduism, punya is part of dharma (law of the universe and human behavior). Through punya, one obtains karmic merits and moves toward Self-knowledge and liberation.
In Buddhism, punya is better known as the concept of merit. Punya is acquired by:
- Dana (giving)
- Sila (complying with moral precepts)
- Bhavana (meditation)
Buddhists also believe that a bodhisattva (someone dedicated to helping others achieve enlightenment) can transfer punya to others.
In the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda, punya is another name for tulasi, or holy basil.