Primary Impurities

Tree Avatar by LastHuckleBerry
Tree Avatar by LastHuckleBerry

Kavitha Chinnaiyan wrote an article on the Tantric model of the 3 primary impurities or Malas. These are very subtle, on the level of the self-sense.

1) Anava mala: the sense of incompleteness
2) Mayiya mala: the sense of separation
3) Karma mala: the sense of doership

She describes the first as the primary impurity that leads to the others. It is the root of suffering.

In a more purely Vedic model, the sense of separation, of being a distinct person comes first. But we could argue either way. Do we feel incomplete because we feel separate? Or vice versa?

Both come down to our inability to recognize our true nature. Ignorant of our cosmic nature, we identify with what is here. As a result, we feel separate and incomplete.

The ego tries to expand its territory to feel more complete, so it becomes possessive (asmita) and creates the story of being the doer. “I did that” rather than “that happened.”

One reason this model puts incompleteness first is because of its influence on Vasanas, our unresolved desires. Feeling incomplete leads to the desire for wholeness. But if we don’t experience that within, we look for it outside of ourselves, chasing it where we won’t find it. Possessions, accomplishments, relationships, or family are not where we find wholeness, at least not until we find it within. Failing to complete ourselves leads to suffering.

Frustrated experiences lead to an unwillingness to experience how we feel, leading to repression and unresolved karma. Those unresolved experiences come to the surface as events in our lives designed to experience and resolve them.

But if we don’t understand this, we resist rising events as unfortunate and unpleasant. They’re repressed back again and the wheel of karma turns. Round and round we go until we look within and discover what doesn’t change.

PS: Mala is distinct from Maalaa, meaning a garland or string of beads.

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 7

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. Jim

    Yes, Maharishi lists one of the criteria of sin as an action that does not complete – spiritual evolution being the prime example.
    Also once we are whole within [living Brahman], we will then quickly experience the external karma so that we are in alignment, inside and out. It is experienced as a profound death and rebirth of every aspect of our lives, possessions, identity, relationships, feelings, discrimination, connection, values, and practices. As the sign says, “everything must go!” 🙂
    This is not to be confused with other numerous and relatively minor episodes of transcending life. This also eclipses what is known as a Dark Night, as it occurs during full enlightenment.

    1. Hi Jim
      Agreed, there can be a wholesale transformation of every aspect of our lives. I wouldn’t specifically relate it to Brahman as aspects can arise well before. But yes, anything not met yet tends to come to the surface for resolution by then.

  2. herwig


    Nice coincidence!
    I ordered the book, but in my remote island delivery takes 2-3 weeks. So I can’t relate to it. But I am presently doing her online course on the Śrī Cakra, where she goes into much more detail.
    I do not know how far you have studied the Śrī Cakra, but there is definitely a misunderstanding. It arises because Cavitha explains the path of Sri Vidiya from the outermost to the innermost. The Kañcukas and Malas are still in the outer area – the lotus petals outside the real
    Śrī Cakra. Then she proceeds and refines step by step the path from effect to cause up to the centre (or peak) – to Bindu. This is the path of refinement. Creation is vice versa.
    Don’t underestimate the ladies! Neither human nor divine. 😉
    Kavitha is a fountain of knowledge. I would not argue with her about vedanta or veda. The 10 days course during Navratri contains knowledge of lifetimes. I can only grasp the gist of it, because I have experienced at least some of it. And she has lived through it. It is not only theory. That has been obvious from the first moment.
    It is true, with long-term meditation practice it may not be necessary to analyze all this is such detail as she does. (She is aware of it) But it helps. And Sri Vidiya is a wonderful help to support embodiment. I works both ways. “The body does not lie”, she says. Quite right. It is a litmus test.

    1. Hi Herwig
      Not so much a coincidence. I’m taking the course myself. But I’m way behind – I can’t maintain the daily pace. And she recommended Lalita prior which has a similar pace.
      My primary interest is the background. I don’t see memorizing them. I was disappointed to hear there is a number of versions. My interest was because the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math was into Shri Chakra. But it doesn’t sound like its the same rendition.
      That said, there is a ton of background and a more Tantra/ Divine Feminine emphasis.
      These are very much not introductory courses. She does recognize effortless meditation and brings a Bhakti approach, but with a sharp intellect. But no, not necessary to analyze it this way. Only some have that path.
      I don’t agree with all of her take but she is a quality source. I also find it interesting her branch of Tantra uses something like Samkhya but takes it a few steps further back.
      I have another article coming up in a few days on primary granthis.

      1. herwig

        There is a simple reason for the difference of the Shankaracharya’s system and Kavitha’s. She a householder. Even some traditional lineages in Sri Cakra are open for women.
        And in Shaiva Tantra Shiva dominates.
        The Khadgamal Stotram is not shruti. It is a tool. A hymn for a puja.
        It is a pity that you do not go with it. I lag behind half a day because of the time zones. But even with time shift and distance online, I found the group effect extremely strong.

        I am not trying to convert you. I am not going to convert either. No need. I like the feminine emphasis, you don’t. But you would have loved yesterday’s session. I bet. At least watch that! There she explains the origin of creation into nama-rupa through the Sanskrit vowels and consonants. It’s a treat. A cream cake. She is not only intelligent. She is a scholar.

        1. Hi Herwig
          Good points. And yes, I can see how the group would be a benefit but it started while I was on retreat, so I already fell several days behind. And then other commitments, etc.
          To be clear, I’m not against the feminine emphasis. Shiva sleeps without Shakti. And I am watching the content. I’m just not going to try and memorize the hymns.
          I’m very familiar with how creation becomes but it’s always interesting to hear another take. Sometimes, it brings out nuances I’d not noticed before.
          Thanks for your thoughts. Fun to know someone else in the course.

  3. Bob Finger


    Great post, as usual.

    One of the ideas I’ve seen on a number of your posts is that of events arising in our lives that must be resolved. I guess my questions, from someone who does not yet have a deep awareness of wholeness, are about what “resolved” means. If some event feels unpleasant or painful, aren’t I by definition experiencing it? I understand that those things should not be dismissed or ignored but how do I know what must be done to resolve it?

    I appreciate your insights and thank you for sharing with us.

    1. Thanks, Bob
      The key is the feeling value. It feels done or complete, the energy resolved. You can’t “figure it out” with the mind.
      This is because the resolution is energetic, closely related to our emotions and feeling states.
      This is also happening with some pleasant experiences like fulfillment of desires. But yes, having unpleasant experiences is very much experiencing them. But the question is, are we allowing the experience fully (within) or are we resisting or trying to bypass the experience, find a way out?
      In the latter case, it’s not going to resolve so it will come back around again later. This has been the habit for most of us for many lifetimes.
      But if we can be with it, we give it a chance to resolve. If it’s a big one, it may come to the surface multiple times and we peel it off a bit at a time. Then when it completes it can feel like a more significant relief, even like a burden has been lifted.
      It really is very, very simple. Mind is expecting something we have to do. But again, this isn’t about the mind.
      If you’d like a procedure, I describe an approach here:
      We don’t have to be afraid of too much. Life doles out what we can handle, even if we don’t like it. And it can take time to get the hang of it due to long habits otherwise. But the learning process is more than worth it.
      In time, it becomes second nature and we’re mostly resolving stuff rather than recycling them for later. Burdens lift, perception clears, and quality of life improves.

      1. Bob Finger

        Thank you very much for your reply. I am learning a lot by reading your posts.
        I think I have a long way to go towards being able to experience my feelings fully. More often than not, my feelings come and go and I have a hard time “pinning them down”, so to speak. Meaning it’s difficult for me to articulate an answer to the question “how do you feel?”.
        Almost like a detachment but probably not in a good way, I’m guessing. Perhaps, as you say, I’m simply not allowing the experiences fully.
        Much appreciation for your wisdom, insight and willingness to share.

        1. Hi Bob
          That’s very normal, especially for guys. We don’t have a culture that encourages emotional awareness.
          Also, we have the habit of always being with the mind. When someone asks “How do you feel?”, the mind looks for words but doesn’t know because mind doesn’t feel. That question means starting with the feelings.
          It’s basically an awareness and practice process. Then the habits change. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *