2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Washing with Unclean Soap: Using the Impure to Realize the Truth
William P. Norton
Dr. Llyod Pflueger, Faculty Mentor

Hindu devotees attempt to escape from the endless cycle of death and rebirth through the knowledge that the universe is interconnected and without distinction at its deepest level. To realize this a devotee must first shed the notion of individuality. This is accomplished by removing attachments to the physical world, either by practicing austerities or renouncing the fruits of one’s actions. Paradoxically, as devotees become more skilled in asceticism or detachment they often develop an ego that hinders them from realizing this truth. To destroy this ego, extreme practices involving “impure” elements can aid devotees to break free of the concepts separating them from the world. Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty’s multiple interpretations of Shivite mythology explain how the god of opposites destroys the uneasy balance his devotees have become bound in by seducing their wives.

Keywords: Hindu, Siva, Impurity, Wendy Doniger, O’Flaherty, Asceticism, renunciation

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 10-4
Location: OP 2111
Time: 9:00

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