Painting, Copyright © Claudia Dose

“This mala is very subtle. . . . Mala is neither formless nor with form.
It is just ignorance . . . It doesn’t allow knowledge to function, knowledge is stopped.  Mala is absence of knowledge. Mala is not something substantial.

So this absence of knowledge takes place only by ignorance, and that ignorance is mala. Otherwise there is no mala, mala is not existing. In real sense mala does not exist, impurity does not exist.”

The next three excerpts concern the Malas: Part one from the book Kashmir Shaivism – The Secret Supreme:

Chapter Seven

The Three Impurities

Malas

In our Śaiva system, there are three malas or impurities. These malas reside in māyā. They do not reside in svātantrya śakti. Even though svātantrya śakti and māyā are one, yet they are different in the sense that svātantrya śakti is that state of energy which can produce the power of going down and coming up again, both at will, whereas māyā will only give you the strength of going down and not the ability of rising up again. Once you have come down, you can not move up again. This is the reality of the state of māyā. It binds you.

Māyā śakti is that universal energy which is owned by the individual being, the individual soul. And when that same universal energy is owned by the universal being, it is called svātantrya śakti. Svātantrya śakti is pure universal energy. Impure universal energy is māyā. It is only the formation that changes through a difference of vision. When you experience svātantrya śakti in a crooked way, it becomes māyā śakti for you. And when you realize that same māyā śakti in Reality, then that māyā śakti becomes svātantrya śakti for you. Therefore, svātantrya śakti and māyā śakti are actually only one and the three impurities (malas), which are to be explained here, reside in māyā śakti, not in svātantrya śakti.

The three impurities (malas) are gross (sthūla), subtle (sūkṣma), and subtlest (para). The gross impurity is called kārmamala. It is connected with actions. It is that impurity which inserts impressions such as those which are expressed in the statements, “I am happy, I am not well, I have pain, I am a great man, I am really lucky”, in the consciousness of the individual being. This impurity of action (kārmamala) is śubhāśubhavāsanā, the impressions of pleasure and pain. And these impressions of pleasure and pain actually remain in your individual consciousness.

The next impurity is called māyīyamala. This impurity creates differentiation in one’s own consciousness. It is the impurity of ignorance (avidyā), the subtle impurity. The thoughts, “This house is mine, that house is not mine; This man is my friend, that man is my enemy; She is my wife, she is not my wife,” are all created by māyīyamala. Māyīyamala creates duality. Māyīyamala is bhinnavedyaprathā, the feeling that I and others are different. You feel that what you have is different from what others have, that some things are yours and other things are not yours. This is the impurity which makes Lord Śiva appear as many rather than as one.

The third impurity is called āṇavamala. It is the subtlest impurity. Āṇavamala is the particular internal impurity of the individual. Although he reaches the nearest state of the consciousness of Śiva, he has no ability to catch hold of that state. That inability is the creation of āṇavamala. For example, if you are conscious of your own nature and then that consciousness fades away and fades away quickly, this fading is caused by āṇavamala.

Āṇavamala is apūrṇatā, non-fullness. It is the feeling of being incomplete. Due to this impurity, you feel incomplete in every way. Because of this feeling, you create abhilāṣā, the desire for completion. As you feel that you are not complete, you desire to become complete. For example, if I have the desire for some particular thing, then it means that I feel that I do not have this thing. This feeling, that you do not have this thing, is caused by āṇavamala.

Though you feel incomplete, knowing that there is some lack in you, yet you do not know what this lack really is. You want to hold everything, and yet no matter what you hold, you do not fill your sense of lacking, your gap. You cannot fill this lacking unless the Master points it out to you and then carries you to that point.

Of these three impurities, āṇavamala and māyīyamala are not in action; they are only in perception, in experience. It is kārmamala which is in action.

You can read more about malas in other texts of Kashmir Shaivism here…

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  1. April 13, 2014

    If we apply discriminative knowledge over maayiyaa and karma mala-s, they can weaken or disappear but what to do about Āṇavamala?
    How it ceases?

    • April 13, 2014

      This is what Swamiji say’s about the malas. Hope this gives some clarity….
      The three impurities (malas) are gross (sthūla), subtle (sūkṣma), and subtlest (para). The gross impurity is called kārmamala. It is connected with actions. It is that impurity which inserts impressions such as those which are expressed in the statements, “I am happy, I am not well, I have pain, I am a great man, I am really lucky”, in the consciousness of the individual being.
      The next impurity is called māyīyamala. This impurity creates differentiation in one’s own consciousness. It is the impurity of ignorance (avidyā), the subtle impurity. The thoughts, “This house is mine, that house is not mine; This man is my friend, that man is my enemy; She is my wife, she is not my wife,” are all created by māyīyamala. Māyīyamala creates duality.
      The third impurity is called āṇavamala. It is the subtlest impurity. Āṇavamala is the particular internal impurity of the individual. Although he reaches the nearest state of the consciousness of Śiva, he has no ability to catch hold of that state. That inability is the creation of āṇavamala. For example, if you are conscious of your own nature and then that consciousness fades away and fades away quickly, this fading is caused by āṇavamala.
      Āṇavamala is apūrṇatā, non-fullness. It is the feeling of being incomplete. Due to this impurity, you feel incomplete in every way . . . Though you feel incomplete, knowing that there is some lack in you, yet you do not know what this lack really is. You want to hold everything, and yet no matter what you hold, you do not fill your sense of lacking, your gap. You cannot fill this lacking unless the Master points it out to you and then carries you to that point.
      Of these three impurities, āṇavamala and māyīyamala are not in action; they are only in perception, in experience. It is kārmamala which is in action.
      Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme 7.47-49.

      “This whole universal existence, which is admitted by other thinkers, that–it is ignorance, that it is māyā [illusion], that is pain, it is torture–they explain it like that; but we Shaivites don’t explain like that. We Shaivites explain that, this [universe] is the expansion of your own nature. Mala is nothing, mala is only your free will of expanding your own nature.
      “So we have come to this conclusion that mala is not a real impurity; it is your own choice, i.e., it is the choice of Lord Śiva. The existence of impurity is just the choice of Lord Śiva, it is not some ‘thing’. It is svarūpa svātantrya māṭraṁ, it is just your will, just your independent glory.
      “If you realize that it is svarūpa svātantrya māṭraṁ, it is your own play, then what will impure thing do? Impure thing will only infuse purity in you . . . i.e., if you realize that impurity is not existing at all, it is just your own play, just your own independent expansion.
      “[So] Mala is neither formless nor with form. It is just ignorance. It doesn’t allow knowledge to function; knowledge is stopped. Mala is absence of knowledge. Mala is not something substantial. . . . So this absence of knowledge takes place only by ignorance . . . Otherwise there is no mala, in real sense mala does not exist, impurity does not exist.”
      Tantrāloka 9.79-83, USF archives.

  2. April 14, 2014

    Thank you.
    I meeting several answers to my question:
    How Āṇavamala cease?
    First: “Āṇavamala is apūrṇatā, non-fullness…. You can not fill this lacking Unless the Master points it out to you and then carries you to That point.”

    The second says: “…nothing is mala, mala is only expanding your free will of your own nature.” (With all respect I understand mala as contraction of my own nature and Laksmana Joo explains above how it is consequence of Maayaa sakti and not because of His SvatantryaSakti)

    And the third and most important to me: Impure thing will only infuse purity in you. . . ie, if you not realize that impurity is not Existing at all, it is just your own play, just your own independent expansion. (contraction, for me)

    Like in Real sense Āṇavamala doesn´t exist only as the absence of knowledge.The knowledge will destroy that insane feeling and when he appears I will know is Myself who choose to feel in this way.
    I hope I have understood.
    Thanks
    Regards
    (sorry for my English)

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