sacred and profane examplessacred and profane examples

Sacred and Profane | Quick Overview and Examples

A French sociologist Emile Durkheim proposed an idea that is known as a sacred and profane dichotomy. According to him, it is the essential feature of religion. 

We heard a lot of stories about how religion came into being; some are of the view it is because of dreams of heaven or fear of death or maybe it was a psychological need.

According to him, Religion was defined as an amalgamated system of philosophy and tradition comparative to sanctified things that are ideas and customs which amalgamate into one single ethical community church all individuals who stick to them. 

Religion according to Durkheim is the severance of sacred from profane. In his scrutiny, he saw religion as a foundation of social permanence. Religion instigates occurrences of the social order.


Durkheim explained the concept of sacred and profane in his theory known as the theory of religion. Society is the authentic divinity that individuals reverence through diverse forms of faith.

This states that every characteristic of individual practices can be alienated into two fundamentally as well as diametrically divergent groups.

sacred and profane


  • All things position separately as out of the ordinary
  • Have elevated emblematic principles
  • And society hassle admiration towards them


  • Routine and usual effects
  • With no extraordinary figurative implication

Every religion and society has classified things in two ways either they are sacred or profane. The sacred is considered holy and profane on the other hand is associated with every day.

The sacred in opposition to sanctified

In a theoretical sense, the meaning of the word sacred is superiority it may incorporate a meticulous thing or sanctity. In some scholar’s view, it is thought and goes beyond daily subsistence. It is an astonishing, probably hazardous, overwhelming, trepidation suggestion.

The sacred demotes to belongings set away from each other by man, together with spiritual philosophy, cremation, contractual obligation, or anything communally distinct as entailing exceptional spiritual dealing.

The sacred has strange, paranormal, and frequently treacherous qualities and can generally become up to only during several varieties of formal procedures, such as prayer, invocation, or traditional purge.

Religiousness is the subject of faith objects or items which may be sanctified and scared for single civilization and commune may not be painstaking as divine and sacred in other civilization.

Anything can be sacred

There are numerous examples such as a supernatural being, astound, the cross, the moon, the earth, a king, a tree, an animal or bird, or a symbol such as a swastika.

These are sacred merely for the reason that several communes have manifested them as sanctified. Once recognized as sanctified nevertheless, they are converted into symbols of spiritual philosophy, emotion, and customs.

Profane versus worldly

Profane substances conduct and populace are usual and every day with no exceptional connotation attached to these matters.

Profane is the substance, which has principles, equivalent to sacred resources, items, and sacred drafts; but are pessimistic in intellect, i.e., in other words, they are not sanctified and contaminated, in inscrutability intellect, the profane has connotation from the phrase sacred and uncontaminated. These are such things which are well thought-out so much contaminated that, if come in getting in touch with then they are thought to taint them also.

The example can be taken of Bible though it is considered a sacred text contrary to a profane entity persons exercise to strengthen conviction structure.

Comparison between Sacred and Profane

Sacred and profane are terms that are the foundation of the philosophy of individuals. Something sacred to one may be profane to another and it can be none.

The sacred and profane have equivalent elevated arousing approaches near them. They mutually are not entirely or absolutely diverse or reside in altered connotation in the factual intellect.

Individuals taking into account an acquisitive thing as sacred works with an aim to maintain disconnect: the objects which are measured as sacred from the objects with profane principles. These attributes of segregation set up and put right an inimitable attribute to both the principles, as two faces of the same coin.

The peculiarity amid the two is not very much apparent, but vague. As Durkheim has aimed out the sacred substance cannot be indomitable, after that, once and for all. Its scope diverges for an indefinite period according to altered faiths.

The implication of the sacred slander in the detail of its peculiarity from the profane. The sacred thing cannot be touched with profane or contamination because of the superiority of sacred objects. Man for all time illustrates this dissimilarity of the two instructions in diverse times and places.

The Ganga is a righteous sanctified tributary and thus the situate from where it flood is also well-thought-out as sacred or divine, similarly, the locale about the profane or credulous burial ground is also considered and awarded with a worth of sacrilege.

Examples of Sacred and Profane

For instance, take the example of a cross, it is a divine representation for Christians and not a divine representation or sign for Hindus, the resources which are sanctified and sacred. Another example can be considering church in American society. It is sacred to most Christians. But may not be considered sacred to others.

For example, for Sikhs Pagadi, it is an elongated material, wearied on the head by Sikh and similarly, there are a lot of things which may not have significance in one culture but may probably be well-thought-out as the most appreciated thing in other civilization.

In Muslim society the Holy Book Quran is sacred. They respect them and place them at higher places in mosques or houses. Profane is something that is not respected but is sacred too. If we talk about the Qari Sahab who teaches Quran should also be respected but is respected by few and some does not respect them. Though Qari Sahab is sacred but not given the respect he deserves.


Sacred is always related to something religious. It can be related to society as well. If one thing is sacred one cannot say it is not religious. Sacred things, now and then, commence attaining their worth with several explicit regulations. These conventions are the regulations that do not get gathered abruptly and immediately and still if they get produced also, then to put into effect in the general public is not an unproblematic chore. Sanctified things acquire time to accumulate propitious significance.

The 21st century is an age of information where with advanced technology things are clearer to individuals. At an explosive rate, knowledge is expanding. The phrases that define sacred and profane are both expanding. With innumerable spreading out in our perceptive of individual realization and with faith increasingly varying due to varying socio-political setting with that the conception of what is sacred and profane will linger multifaceted.

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