The Ṛtanca Satẏañca (Ritancha Satyancha) incantation of Ṛgveda (Rigveda) [10.190.1–3] is an Aghamarṣana (Aghamarshan) verse. This purifying incantation is chanted at the beginning of the evening prayer during the sacred thread ceremony, beginning from āpo hi ṣṭhā mayobhuvastā na ūrje dadhātana to āpo janaẏathā ca na. It is recited for purifying the water meant for drinking and ablution. After this, the prayer beginning from hiraṇyasrṅgam varuṇam till punantu punaḥ punaḥ is offered to Varuṇa (Varun), the god of water, for eradication of and protection from all evil. This sin-absolving prayer offered to Varuṇa is the most important in the Aghamarṣana incantation. The latter has been mentioned in Taittirīẏa Upaniṣad (Taittiriya Upanishad) and Mahānārāyaṇopaniṣada as well. Agha (agha) means ‘sin’ and marṣana (marshan) means ‘to absolve’. Perhaps this is why this prayer is also known as mala-prakshalana (literally meaning ‘cleansing of filth’). Many people recite this prayer while bathing. In the complete verse the words – tanno varuṇo rājā pāṇinā hyavamarṣatu — “O Varuṇa! Take away by your hands the sins from my body” — Seem to purify the body of the reciter inside and out.;
Mahabhārata (Mahabharata) has also accepted and followed the Vedic Āranyaka-Upaniṣada (Aranyak-Upanishad) tradition of reciting the Aghamarṣana incantation before ablution in order to be cleansed from sins committed previously. In fact, in Mahabhārata, the significance of the Aghamarṣana prayer has been considered equivalent to the purification obtained from ablution at the end of a yajña or from the Aśvamedha (Ashwamedha) yajña — api cāpsu nimajjeta japaṃstriraghamarṣaṇam. Yathāśvamedhāvabhṛthastathā tanmanuravravīt.