Thursday, 5 January 2017

Purity or Impurity

There is a concept of purity and impurity in many cultures. Certain things are considered pure, and are thus holy while some are considered impure and shunned. For instance, the clothes on a dead body is considered impure, so are spit, faeces, etc. That is to say, people wouldn’t want to touch the clothes on a dead person on their own accord, since it is considered impure and if they do, they might want to take a ritual bath to cleanse themselves. But nature does not discriminate between purity and impurity, and what we would otherwise deem impure turns into something most pure. Don’t believe me?

Would you consume spit? Crinkling your nose, are you?
Well, bees suck nectar from flowers and spit it out in the beehive. In fact, the nectar is acted upon by chemicals in the bees’ mouth before being deposited. But look at the irony. This very honey that contains the spit of bees is considered to be most pure especially for offering to the Lord! Yuck or Yum?

Would you drink or eat someone else’s leftovers? No?
Milk, is considered to be pure and has religious significance. But isn't the milk from the cow first suckled by the calf? What we get to partake is its leftover mostly mixed with its saliva. 

Ughh! Yes?
The crow is known to eat the fruits of the peepal tree and excrete its seeds. These seeds grow into peepal trees that are considered most sacred by us.

Why just religion? Did you know that the most expensive coffee is the Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee, which is obtained by feeding the Asian Palm civet with coffee berries? These berries are then acted upon by digestive juices of the simian and then excreted as more flavourful coffee seeds. They sell for $3000 per kilogram!

There’s even a facial treatment that uses the poop of nightingales to give you a glowing and blemish free skin!

Clothes on a dead body.
Who would like to wear the clothes removed from a dead body? Not me, do you say?
Silk, the most expensive material is obtained from the cocoon of the silkworm. The cocoon contains the larvae or the young ones of the silkworm. They are harvested and put on boiling hot water vapours which kills the larvae and softens the cocoon. Silk is then spun from the cocoon. The irony is that silk clothing is considered to be the most auspicious and used during pujas.

Water impure.
Would you consider drinking a pot of water that has flowed over hair? No?
Well, ancient folklore mentions that the holy river Ganges flows from the hair of Lord Shiva. There is apparently nothing purer than the water of the Ganges. It is known to cure diseases and cleanse the body and soul.

See what I mean? How the most impure turns into the most pure before our very eyes? I do not want to turn you off or sow seeds that will make you consider these things as impure. The point is that, impurity and purity are a case in perspective. This post is just food for thought (pun unintended!) for those who squirm at every little instance of impurity or the religious fanatics who lay out elaborate purification rituals to be followed. Who is to say what’s pure and what’s impure? Purity and impurity are just in the mind, what say?