While describing various means by which a sinner can atone for his sins, sage Yagyavalkya said-
‘ A man is certain to meet downfall and degradation in the following three conditions- if he goes against the instructions given in the scriptures, indulges in prohibited activities and runs after sensual pleasures. Atoning for one’s sin is the best means of getting liberated from his sin as well as guilt. A sinner who does not atone for his sin goes through unbearable tortures and pains in hells more horrible than in ‘Maharaurav’ (name of a hell).
Very severe punishment has been recommended for a person, who has breached the modesty of a woman especially if she happens to be his friend’s wife, teacher’s wife, his own daughter or sister-in-law, etc. Scriptures are of the opinion that such a sinner should be killed without showing any mercy. If the woman is a willing partner in this ghastly crime then even she should be meted out the same punishment.
A person who has killed a Brahmin should atone for his sin by seeking alms for twelve years carrying a skull as his begging bowl. He should sustain himself on whatever he receives as alms. Protecting a cow’s life also helps a man from getting liberated from the sin of ‘Brahma-hatya’. A drunkard should atone for his sin by consuming any of the following- boiling liquor, ghee, cow- milk or cow-urine. A person accused of stealing gold can become liberated from his sin by donating gold equivalent to his own weight. A person who has killed a cow can become liberated
from his sin by consuming ‘Panchgavya’ ( a mixture of cow-milk, cow-dung, cow-urine, ghee and curd) and leading the rest of his life in the servitude of cows.