Hindu community Ideas about Pollution and Caste essay - Essay Prowess

Hindu community Ideas about Pollution and Caste essay

Hindu community Ideas about Pollution and Caste essay


Hindu Ideas about Pollution and Caste


            The Hindu community believes in both ritual purity and ritual impurity also known as pollution that identifies pure people to be close to Gods. Ritually real people are recommended to approach the higher Gods. Similarly, other pollution related beliefs in the social stratification system form Hindu religious concepts on impurity. Castes can be transmitted from one caste to another in cases of systematic integration of both the ritually pure individuals with polluted environments (Gennep 17).

            The Hindus social structure and beliefs are primarily based on transitions between the world of the living and the world of the dead. In his religious writing publications, van Gene discusses Hindus beliefs and social structure by defining three structural elements in their rites of passage.

            According to Tuner’s theory on the liminality, the Hindu beliefs is centered on unique symbolic meanings that have been used to demonstrates people’s culture as well as individual’s social integration. These symbols serve as cultural objects that are used to explain different religious components in Hinduism. However, different religions have their objects that signify purity-impurity or hierarchy in the religious structure systems (Turner 23).

            Hindu beliefs and social structure has been portrayed differently by different authors using religious objects and believes that illuminate the cultural beliefs in the Hindu religion. Beliefs about the ritual purity and ritual impurity in Hinduism has greatly contributed Hindu culture and themes. Brahmanic pollution concepts relate the Indian system of social stratification to be of great significance to the ways in which people conduct themselves. Some impurity misconduct limits people’s activities. Activities such as access to holy places, wells, and priestly castes have demonstrated important rationales for caste separatism (Gennep 20).

            Castes separation is a concept that has been identified to reduce pollution by limiting some of the unacceptable misconducts such as intermarriages, communal sharing of meals and touching of one another. However, castes can be united and integrated using strategic rituals that differ from one caste to another depending on the community’s perception of purity their designated roles to ply in their religious activities. Such actions and beliefs are fundamental to the concept of a division of labor among castes and the significance of their participation in the interdependent system (Turner 43).

            Van Gennep offers three rites of structural elements that often accompany cultural transitions. The basic rights are of separation among the dead from the living the transition rites that involves the burial and lastly the rites of incorporation that observes that a religious ceremony is held to pray for the salvation of the deceased soul. The Hindu religion believes in life after death an explanation as to why the living prays for the salvation of the deceased should to save them from tribulations in their next stage after they face death (Gennep 20).

            Van Gennep goes ahead to discuss that religious rites have the potential to validate socially sociobiological changes of birth marriage and death that happen in an individual’s lifetime. Additionally, he argues that some accompanying emotional reactions in the religious culture have been contributed by social control systems that have made the critical situations to be less sophisticated and more predictable (Gennep 26).

            In this paper, the assignment will serve to analyze the Hindu pollution beliefs based on both an ethnographic description and Harper novelistic representation. The pollution beliefs believed to be actions that contribute to impurity in the Hindus religion. Pollution activities may include both physical activities that people conduct themselves against the religious culture and their failure to observe some of the codes that are highly upheld by the caste systems. The pollution and rituals discussed in this task are followed by Havik Brahmins in a dominant caste that is occupied by other indigenous caste of Lingayats (Gennep 30).

            Edward Harper is an associate professor of the anthropology and the author of the ethnography journal on Ritual Pollution as an Integrator of Caste and Religion. During his research work, he was a professor of anthropology studies based at the University of Washington. He uses Orthopraxis to describe unique ritual aspects that have existed within religious contexts. The term that he reports having been suggested to him by a great colleague, McKim Marriott was initially used to illuminate Brahmins perspective of religious, upright men in a Hindu community. Harper’s research thus is centered on religious Behaviour rather than the exact belief contact of existing theories. Harper’s research study was conducted in a field work that featured the Malnad area within the Mysore state although it has been broadly applicable in many parts of Indi especially South India (Tylor 29).

            In his research, a theoretical model is quite evident that suggests a series of systems that relates to ritual pollution and their relationships with the caste status. He mentions that Gods that exist within their religion are the most superior in the hierarchy of beings and re holy a reason as to why they are worshipped. The theory also describes the purity of the Gods such that only socially pure persons are allowed in the worship areas a situation that limits the polluted individuals from worship or getting closer to their gods. People who have been declared to be socially impure can, however, seek cleansing rituals to allow then to socialize with others in worship periods. A state of high purity within the community has been maintained through purification actions by pure rituality upon the impure or

[people who are strongly polluted by their unwanted activities (Turner 23). 

            Gods have the ability to bring favour and social benefits to community members for maintaining ritual purity. Ritual purity is deduced through worship methods and other ritual activities that are recommended to be applied during birth, marriage and death ceremonies. People who fully observe the provided rituals and their worship are considered pure while those who ignore them are termed to be highly polluted. Polluted generations may be required to worship specialists who consequently represent them to the higher gods. Pure rituality has the benefit of communicating directly with their gods during worship reredos as opposed to lower castes who worship higher castes through a system of social differentiation (Tylor 23).

            Ritual pollution is also transmitted from one generation to the other. According to Harper, kinship ties and community relationships has been potential in enhancing ritual pollution. For example, some kinship relations may wish to continue using unwanted marriage and death rituals across their generations increasing the region that is polluted by impure people due to their unwanted religious behaviors (Tylor 25).


            The Indian culture ranks people according to their qualities often known as the caste system. People can either fall in lower caste or the higher caste. The higher caste is composed of pure people who attempts to behave like their gods. Lower caste is those individuals who are impure and are associated with the gods. They cannot communicate with their Gods directly. Higher caste hence serves the lower castes by communicating their needs to their gods during worship periods. Additionally, the Hindu caste system is referred to as the great places that define individual’s purity and separates them from those people who have polluted the Indian religious rituals.

Kin groups

            Kins groups in the Hindu culture classify people who are religiously related through ritual activities. For example, people who have been married within a similar caste structure or people having marriage relations. Kins can also be attributed to the relationship between people who are not connected by blood but rather through community ties such as geographical or cultural observance. Kin groups are respected because of their unique kinship ties that their rituality develops for each kin group. The kin groups are also ranked using hierarchical structures depending on the purity of the members. They are useful in maintaining caste structure, moderating people’s behaviors and consequently the community rituals.


            These are individuals who share family values and are related either by marriage or blood. Essentially these may include the local unit in a community that is the nuclear family consisting of mother father and children or multiple families in case of polygamous families. Relatives have their head who is the father and organizes all the family members in worship time. The family leaders are responsible for conducting religious rituals to avoid transmission of pollution of impurities within their family members. For example, they ensure that polluted people do not integrate into activities such as meals and sexual activities (Malinowski 19).

Supernatural beings

            In the Hindu caste system there exists a group of powerful beings who are either superior to the living or inferior to them. Supernatural beings include all the gods who are worshipped in the Indian culture. The gods have the hierarchy such as the higher gods and the lesser gods. Lesser gods serve impure people in the community and transferred their worship to the higher gods. Higher castes, on the other hand, have the direct opportunity to engage higher gods during worship and ritual activities. Ancestors also form part of the supernatural beings and are worshipped during ritual ceremonies. Some of the gods include the Goddess, the gods of fertility, gods of knowledge and wisdom among other. Every god had its specific role that makes them be consulted in different rituals (Gennep 20).

            Harper’s came up with final insights that highlight aspects of Hinduism pollution purity and castes.  In his findings, he mentions the purity of the castes system to be independent in the division of labour and other religious duties within the community. The higher castes such as the Devours and the Brahmins are high in the hierarchy of the living beings and are described to be legitimately pure. However other supernatural beings such as davits are too impute hence cannot be worshipped by some caste. Holy castes lead in religious cleansing rituals for the lower castes and minimization of pollution factors from impure persons to the pure castes in their cultural structure (Ayeda 531).

            The relationship between the gods and men is inferior compared to the relationships that exist between two different castes. Priests and other ritual leaders are capable of removing pollution effects from lesser gods that to prevent the overflow of impurities within a community. Harper also indicated that lowest forms of purity among the lesser gods to be higher when compared to the greatest status of Brahmin purity. There is hence need to use the right persons to conduct the pollution rituals to minimize the overflowing of pollution effects within the Indian caste structural system (Ayeda 533).

            Harper’s analysis of the Indian religious and ritual practices about pollution clearly reflects the Samskara novel findings. The novel describes the Hindu conception caste that is structurally the social order describes the uniqueness of people within a religious setup. The storyline describes the fact that people are classified using different hierarchy that creates order within the community. As such, d different people can fit well within different aspects of their society. Use of Social order as it is highlighted by creates a standard for moral duties based on people’s characteristics and purity levels. Pure people are consulted during ritual ceremonies and assist other gods in the prevention of pollution of impure aspects to maintain pure castes structures (Patrick 17).

            The castes structure has been structured in a manner to reduce the overflow of pollution effects and maintain the purity of castes. Ramanujan describes Vedic sacrifices and bloody rituals that must be conducted to appease their gods in sacred places by the poor regarding purity and the low caste against the cases that are rich in and privileged in spiritual matters. He expands that Samskara is a great novel that controls people’s behaviors within their community to maintain social classes while observing cultural ties that unites people and their gods within the Indian ritual beliefs and practices (Ayeda 523)

            In sum, the paper describes the ideas of human purity and pollution that exist within the Indian culture and the role of the gods and all the other castes in the minimization of pollution impacts.  Pollution rituals are accelerated by some activities and events that do not respect the expected conduct using the Hinduism beliefs and practices. Pollution, when compared to purity, disturbs the equilibrium of the society’s peace and other natural conditions. Purity is the opposite of pollution and offers one caste the ability to oversee over the weaker caste due to their increased impurities. Continued pollution of a caste calls for purification rituals carried out by the morally upright members of the caste to cleanse the social class within a community and avoid evil phenomena’s (Roy 247-248).

Work Cited

Ayeda & Tanizawa . Studies on Indian Philosophy in Japan, 2001. Philosophy East and West, Vol. 41, No. 4, pages 529–535. Print

Gennep, Arnold van. The Rites of Passage, translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1960. Print

Jon P. S. Ramanuja and Schleiermacher: Toward a Constructive Comparative Theology. Casemate. pp. 84–87. ISBN 978-0227680247.2012. Print.

Malinowski, Bronislaw. "The Role of Magic and Religion." In William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt eds., Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach. New York: Harper and Row, 2002 Print

Patrick Olivelle .The Samnyasa Upanisads : Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation: Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation.. pp. 10–11, 17–18. ISBN 978-0-19-536137-7. 2002. Print.

Roy W. Perrett .Philosophy of Religion: Indian Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 247–248. ISBN 978-1-135-70322-6. 2013. Print.

Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process. Chicago: Aldine, 196O. Print

Tylor, Edward Burnett. "Animism." In William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt eds., Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach. New York: Harper and Row, 1972. Print