Self-enquiry and freedom from sin

January 20, 2023 | Acharya Prashant

Questioner (Q): You always mention how qualifications like dispassion and abandonment of action are necessary for enquiry to take place, while Ramana Maharshi says, “Even a great sinner can do enquiry.” How can this be reconciled? Also, you speak about renunciation, but Ramana Maharshi says, “All events in our lives are predetermined and the only freedom we have is to turn inwards.” Please clarify.

Acharya Prashant (AP): I do not know whether I say what you have said I say, so I would limit myself to speaking on what Ramana Maharshi says.

You have said Ramana Maharshi says, “Even a great sinner can do the enquiry.” Let’s go into this. Let’s try to appreciate.

If one is a sinner, why would one want to do the enquiry? Is not the absence of enquiry itself the sin? The absence of enquiry is itself the sin. So, effectively, how you are interpreting this statement is that even the one not wanting to enquire, even the one extremely determined not to enquire, can enquire. Now, how useful is this interpretation of yours?

This is not what Ramana Maharshi is saying. “Even a great sinner can do the enquiry” means that it is possible for you to drop the idea that you cannot break free of your situations. Are you a sinner when you are asleep?


Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More