On the Śaiva Concept of Innate Impurity (mala) and the Function of the Rite of Initiation

Journal of Indian Philosophy 42 (1):9-25 (2014)
Abstract
This paper tries to trace the roots of the Śaiva Mantramārga concept of innate impurity. Since innate impurity is regarded as one of the three bonds fettering bound individual souls, this paper begins with the Pāśupata and early Śaiva views on these bonds. It examines the Buddhist logician Dharmakīrti’s criticism of the Śaiva idea that initiation removes sin, and discusses the Pāśupata concept of sin-cleansing and two different concepts of innate impurity found in two early Śaiva scriptures: the Sarvajñānottaratantra and Svāyambhuvasūtrasaṃgraha. In search of the roots of these Śaiva conceptions of innate impurity, this paper then goes over some Vedic passages which speak of the removal of sin during the initiatory rite and identify it as the internal impurity. Putting all these points together, this paper concludes arguing that the Śaivas initially saw sin or the unseen force of merits and demerits as innate impurity, but later, under the pressure of criticism, they introduced the idea of innate impurity as a separate abstract substance affecting all souls with its multiple powers
Keywords Bonds  Merits and demerits  Removal of sin/innate impurity  Function of the Vedic  Pāśupata  and Śaiva rite of initiation  Dharmakīrti
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-013-9209-0
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