Mircea Eliade: The Sacred And The Profane

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Book Review- Mircea Eliade: The Sacred & The Profane -Mahika Banerji -S153DSC23 -M.A. Sociology 3rd semester Eliade begins his text by making a distinctive divide between the “sacred” and the “profane” and thus grants them a definition. The sacred in order to maintain its sanctity is a separate, abstract entity. It is kept away from the profane in order for it to not become immersed in the mundane. The sacred can be manifested in various forms such as stones and trees. But it never emerges as a sacred entity on its own- the form it acquires (such as that of the stone or tree) acquires a sacred value and thus becomes that entity that is to be worshipped. In the first chapter, ‘Sacred Space’, the divide between religious spatial dynamics is delved into. For the non-religious person, space becomes universally neutral. The religious person perceives space very differently- their perception of space is differentiated. Their disposition will change when in the profane space such as a supermarket and a sacred space such as the church. Differentiated spaces on the basis of their sacred value ensure a form of “cosmos”- that which can prevent the complete formation of “chaos”. “Cosmos” is needed to prevent “chaos”. In fact, in developed religious systems of this kind, there were three cosmic levels: not only earth and heaven, but an underworld as well. The axis mundi, the vertical feature, was seen as the centre of the world and as linking together all three cosmic levels. Instead

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