By Swami Harshananda
Śuddhi literally means ‘purification’.
Śuddhi or purification, which is more ceremonial than physical, is a very vast subject. It covers the topics such as:
- Purification of a person after contact with an impure object or on certain occurrences
- Purification of food, vessels, ponds and other things after they are polluted
Literature on Śuddhi
The literature on śuddhi is very extensive. Śuddhi has been categorized in several ways, for instance:
- Bāhya - external, like bath
- Āntara - internal, like purity of emotions
Other Features of Śuddhi
According to another classification, śuddhi comprises purity of body, of speech, of mind and of financial dealings. A third one states śuddhi consists in avoiding forbidden food in associating only with sinless persons and in firmly abiding by one’s svadharma. However, all dharmaśāstra treatises stress the importance of mental purity.
Śuddhi as per Āpastamba Śrautasutras
The Āpastamba Śrautasutras declares that the performer of the Pavitresti purifies himself and ten generations of his family. Various expiatory rites also purify a person who might have committed sins or evil deeds, knowingly or unknowingly. The word śuddhi has also been used for the process of re-conversion to the religion.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore