chapter
6 Pages

ANTINOMIANISM

A concept derived from the Greek terms anti (against) and nomos (law). It refers to those within a religious tradition who think that laws do not apply to them because they have spiritually transcended secular or religious law, and thus need not obey common laws or social regulations. It can also designate those who view laws as confining, restrictive, and obstructive of spiritual attainment and thus justly violated in order to attain their religious goal. Aghori ascetics of the Hindu Śaiva tradition, for instance, act contrary to prevailing social norms since the Middle Ages in India by eating the flesh of corpses, carrying a skull bowl with which to beg their food, drinking intoxicants, living in cremation grounds, and covering their bodies with ashes from cremated corpses. Left-handed Tantric schools partake of five items that are forbidden to orthodox members of Hindu society: wine, meat, fish, parched grain (probably an intoxicant), and illicit sex. Since the Sanskrit terms begin with the letter M, these five forbidden items and practices are called the five Ms. The behavior of the Aghori ascetics and Tantric adepts is contrary to and violates social and religious norms from the perspective of established patterns of action. By violating these norms, the ascetics think that they can stimulate their inner spiritual energy and accelerate their path to liberation.