“The longing for grace in Hinduism,” argues Bishop Sabapathy Kulandran, “springs more often from the desire to solve a metaphysical problem than from an agony tearing at one’s inmost being.” For this reason, a Hindu seeks liberation from a metaphysical situation, a feeling of impurity, rather than redemption from sin. Yet as Christian thinking on the doctrine of original sin has developed, it has more and more come to understand original sin as denoting first and foremost a cosmic reality, a metaphysical situation, in some ways very similar to the metaphysical impurity of the Śaiva Siddhānta notion of āṇava mala. And so Klaus K. Klostermaier states concerning āṇava: “Āṇava, beginningless and eternal, is the primal bondage of the souls; it is something like an ‘original sin.’” There is thus a certain point of contact – alongside clear points of distinction and differentiation – between the Christian doctrine of original sin and the Śaiva Siddhānta doctrine of āṇava mala. This essay will trace those points of contact, beginning with a discussion of māyā and āṇava mala and concluding with a comparative analysis of original sin. For explication of the Śaiva Siddhānta teaching, this essay will look primarily to the philosophical explanations of K. Sivaraman. It will then employ briefly the thought of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and, in particular, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in order to discuss those points of contact with āṇava mala found in more contemporary discussions of original sin.

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