The Sacred and the Profane in Hinduism

Veena Das

in Structure and Cognition

Third edition

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780198077404
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081172 | DOI:

Series: Oxford India Perennials Series

The Sacred and the Profane in Hinduism

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This chapter addresses the issue that the sacred is divided with reference to the opposition of life and death, instead of good and bad. The discussion relates this to available formulations with regards to the ordering of the sacred in Hindu ritual and belief. It then identifies three arguments that were posed in response to this issue. First, it studies the argument that the dichotomy of profane and sacred that directed the Durkheimian sociology of religion is hardly relevant to the Hindu context. Second, it looks at the argument that accepts the dichotomy of the sacred and the profane, while separating the sacred into the good-sacred and the bad-sacred. Third, the third argument states that events that are viewed as instilled with danger in other societies invite pollution into Hindu society. The chapter also studies concepts such as impurity and liminality.

Keywords: sacred; Hindu rituals; Hindu beliefs; dichotomy of profane and sacred; Durkheimian sociology; pollution into Hindu society; impurity; liminality

Chapter.  7765 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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