SUDDHI – A concept

The concept of purification (suddhi) is linked to pollution (mala) and the ways it is removed: ritually, physically, or even by divine grace. Central to the Vedic sacrifices was the notion that blood sacrifices would atone for wrong-doing and remove a form of purification called agnisuddhi. Siva was not invited to Dak­sha’s fire ritual, and that snub implied he was impure. Siva‘s impurity may have been by birth—his very caste status (varna) was questioned by the Brahmanical tradition, according to which Siva was a tribal or Dravidian deity and thus suf­fered caste pollution. A myth about pollution from touch told of how Can- drasharman, a brahmin, had killed his teacher, yet he was still worried about further pollution from touching or eating with sinners who were lower caste. If he broke caste rules (varna-dharma), it involved more karmic demerits (apunya) and the possibility of a bad rebirth.
Many went on pilgrimages (yatras) to sacred sites or “river crossings” (tirthas) in order to fulfill vows (varas) to remove various kinds of pollution. Other methods for removing pollution were the reciting of chants (mantrayana) and worship (puja). Purification has remained a central concern in the mythol­ogy and in everyday life of modern Hindus.

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