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Hindu Culture & Belief

Hindu myths have, at various times, broached, dropped, and returned to four possible sources of evil: man, fate, demons, and gods. While most religions have eliminated most of these approaches "in order to strike a single theological note," all of them are retained by Hinduism "in a rich cord of unresolved harmony" (O'Flaherty 13). In rough outline, Hindu mythology first proposed a Fall, in which humanity was to blame for evil, but this idea was rejected in favor of placing the blame on fate. Yet this was not an "emotionally satisfying" explanation and Hindus generally chose to believe that God, being above fate, included evil in creation for purposes of his own (O'Flaherty 13). Next, Manichean notions of the struggle between powers of good and evil, and the assigning of evil to demons, were also proposed and then rejected. Then the blame for evil was returned to the gods. But the benevolent God who believed that evil was an unfortunate necessity was "now replaced by the malevolent needs of demonic gods who thrust their own evil indiscriminately upon good and evil demons and men" (O'Flaherty 13). It was in this context that the notion of the transfer of evil was significant in ritual.

The myths in which evil was transferred from the gods to humanity began with the Vedic creation myths in which the creator's dismemberment was the source of human existence. In the Vedas, this was an act of self-sacrifice. By the time of the Puranas, however, "the dismembered god produces a more complex universe, with noxious elements arising from his own ignoble parts," and evil is given to human beings in order that the gods may remain pure (O'Flaherty 139). Human troubles, since they originate within the gods, could have stayed outside the human sphere if the gods had not used men in this manner. But the gods cannot be blamed for evil itself since, in the Puranas, the creator "creates evil against his will' (O'Flaherty 141).

It is thr...

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Hindu Culture & Belief. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:39, September 20, 2017, from
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