Purification in Islam and Hinduism (3/4)

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Impurity in Hinduism

The purity of heart is more important than the purity of the body and the purity of both is more important than the purity of one of them only.

Undoubtedly,  Hinduism has a concept of impurity and a system of purification. According to Hinduism the impurities are of two types; visible and invisible. The invisible type of similar to that of Islam. The visible includes the human urine and stool. If something is polluted with one of them, it is compulsory to wash it with sand and water. But if the pot is made of copper, brass or bronze, it is necessary to put it in the fire, after that it should be washed with water.

In some cases, when a pot of bronze is touched by the human mouth during drinking something from it, the pot must be washed with ashes and water. But if a pot of gold or silver is touched with the filth, it is enough to be washed with water. However, some Hindus say that if the pot is made of gold, it becomes pure by the air. If a pot is touched with the mouth of a non-Hindu, it requires washing it with sand after putting the pot into fire.

It is noteworthy that Hindus regard cow dung, cow urine and horse’s excreta pure and purifying while they regard the mouth of human being the (Nar Nara’ini or the representative of divine) impure though the pure names of Allah and the holy words are recited by his mouth.

Moreover, Hindus regard a dress that is used once as impure and when the dress is taken off it becomes impure and should be washed and purified to wear it again before performing any worship or devotion. To purify it, it is a must to wash it if it is made of cotton and it is white but if it is colourful, it is enough to sprinkle some water on it. A dress made of silk becomes pure by exposing it to the air or sun.

Additionally, Hindus purify the ground with cow dung mixed with water. According to Shastra, when someone urinates or passes stool, he has to wash the fingers of the left hand ten times, then the palms of the left hand ten times with sand and water then both hands together should be washed seven times. After that the mouth must be washed twelve times, then a person becomes pure.

Spiritual Purification in Hinduism

The previous lines have shown that Hinduism has some ideas about spiritual and physical impurity and therefore there are some instructions on purification.

Some methods for spiritual and physical purification were mentioned in Manu Shastr. The following Mantr includes three types of impurity; spiritual, mental and physical and the method of purification.

The Manu Shastr says in this regard:

“The body is cleansed by water; the internal organ is purified by truthfulness, the individual soul by sacred learning and austerities, and the intellect by (true) knowledge.”(1) 

This Mantra mentions some ways of purification; body is washed with water while the heart is purified and polished by truthfulness and righteousness while the soul is purified by renunciation of worldly desires and the mind is purified by true knowledge.

In addition, the basic goals of the Islamic message are to spread knowledge, to teach wisdom and to cleanse and purify. This teaching is common between both cultures. The Glorious Qur’an says:

Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom and teaching you that which you did not know. (Al-Baqarah 2:151)

 System of Purification in the Laws of Manu

There are some important statements about the methods of purification. The Manu Shastr presents instructions for cleansing pots and other objects. A mantra says in this regard:

  1. The wise ordain that all (objects) made of metal, gems, and anything made of stone are to be cleansed with ashes, earth, and water.

Furthermore, Shastr says:

  1. A golden vessel which shows no stains, becomes pure with water alone, likewise what is produced in water (as shells and coral), what is made of stone, and a silver (vessel) not enchased.

How to Purify According to Shastr

Some methods were mentioned in Manu Shastr for purification, such as

  1. A Brahmana who has touched a human bone, to which fat adheres, becomes pure by bathing; if it be free from fat, by sipping water and by touching (afterwards) a cow or looking at the sun.
  2. The learned are purified by a forgiving disposition, those who have committed forbidden actions by liberality, secret sinners by muttering (sacred texts), and those who best know the Veda by austerities.

 Impure Things according to Hinduism

  1. An earthen vessel which has been defiled by spirituous liquor, urine, ordure, saliva, pus or blood cannot be purified by another burning.
  2. Land is purified by (the following) five (methods, namely) by sweeping, by smearing (it with cow-dung), by sprinkling (it with cows’ urine or milk), by scraping, and by cows staying (on it during a day and night).

Generally, in Hinduism, water and cow-urine its dung and milk are always basic factor for purifying anything.

Purification after Urination

It is also noteworthy that Hindus did not use stone or water after urinating, rather they move their sexual organ two or three times and wear the dress though the drops are still running, but the issue for woman is even worse. Though, in our modern age there are usages of tissue papers and other modern means, which are helpful in cleansing process, still the condition in rural areas of India is  worse.

In addition, there is no concept of circumcision amongst Hindus which is a source of cleanliness and purification.

According to Islam, Muslims have to wash their private parts with water or cleanse them with other means after urinating or relieving nature and they have to make wudhu before they enter any worship or intends to recite the Glorious Qur’an or touch it.

In Hinduism, there is a sort of ablution or purification of body with milk, curds, clarified butter, honey, and sugar, which they call the Ashnan– –panjah and Paraish-chat.

It is compulsory for a Brahmin to put the Brahminical thread on his ear during urinating or passing the stool and sit facing the direction of north during the day time and in the direction of south during the day time.(2) 

Ablution in Hinduism

Some writers mention ablution in Hinduism. The method of ablution is to sit on a pure place putting both hands on both thighs facing the direction of north or east then you have to recite the prescribed prayers. If the person is youth, he has to pour some water in his right hand and to drink it. After that the mouth should be wiped with the backside of the hand, followed by putting some water in the hand and the finger should be dip into the water and the nose and the ear should be wiped with it.

The water must be free from bubbles and foam. And water should be sprinkled on the head many times and the nose must be closed with hand until the breath is stopped and the prescribed prayers must be recited directing the face towards the sun.(3)

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(1) The laws of Manu translated by G Buhler, The Clarendon Press 1886, p. 188.

(2) Pundit Shardharam, Usool e Mazahib, Urdu translation Dabistan e Mazahib, Mitrolas Lahore 1881, p.169.

(3) Ibid.

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