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FAQ on Hinduism (2)

 

What if any are the obligatory duties of the  Hindu ?

What  is meant by Samskaaras ? Are Samskaaras the only obligatory duties ?  And if so, isn't there too much emphasis on ritual and less on helping those in need .

Hindu samskaras are like other daily practices of the Hindus , of great antiquity. An excellent discussion of  the origin, meaning and significance  of the Samskaras is given by Rajbali Pandey in a  monograph titled' Hindu Samskaaras", published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi. What follows is a synopsis of some of the essential ideas which are treated in much greater detail in the book.

The word Samskara has uncertain etymology, as far as we are aware, and there does not exist an exact English equivalent. The word ceremony or Latin caeremonia does not convey an exact sense  of the word. It s in fact related to the word Karma in Sanskrit. Samskaara  does not mean  "mere outward religious rite ,polite observances, empty form, stately usage, formal qualities and punctilious behavior" which is the meaning of the word ceremony in the oxford dictionary, and as it is  falsely understood in many circles. A more closer rendering of the word SamskAram is contained in the word sacrament "religious ceremony or act regarded   as outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace" applied by the Eastern, pre-reformation Western and Roman Catholic church to the seven rites of baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist , penance,  extreme unction , orders and matrimony.


 

A Samskaara is that which refines and purifies the performer. There are 52 Samskaaras meant to uplift the Jivaatma to the Paramaatma, out of which some rishis have recommended 10. These are prescribed by the Smritis, based on Vedas. For the purification of mind,  these karmas have to be performed sincerely. The purified mind can then undertake Atma Vichaaram to attain Moksha.
 

 
Sl. No
 
Name
 
Details
 
01
 
Vivaaha (Marriage)
 
Entry into the Grihastha the second of the asramas of  life (Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vaanavasi and Sannyasa)
 
02
 
Garbhaa Dhaanam
 
Physical union is consecrated through prayer.
This is done prior to the 'Shaanti Muhurtam'.
 
03
 
Pumsavanam
 
Done during the 3rd month of pregnancy.
This is also called "Garbharakshan".
 Garbharakshana is performed to assure that the infant is not miscarried.

 
04
 
Seemantham
 
Done during the 6th or 8th month.
This rite is primarily social and festival in nature, intended to keep the pregnant woman in good spirits.
 
05
 
Jaata Karmam
 
Done just after birth.. Gifts are offered to people.
 
06
 
Naama Karanam
 
Naming ceremony on the 11th day
 
07
 
Anna Praasanam
 
First feeding of solid food during 6th month
 
08
 
Chaulam (Kudumi)
Chudakarma
Special hair-dressing done along with Mantras
 
09
 
Upanayanam (Poonal)
 
Starting of Brahmacharya.
This ceremony initiates the child into an intellectual and spiritual journey.
'Yagyopaveet' (sacred thread) indicates that the child is qualified to perform all the traditional Vedic rites including Pitra Kriya and Tarpan for his forefathers.


 
10 Samavartam conclusion of Brahmachari period
11
 
Antyesti,shraddha funeral rites to be performed by the son
 

 
Sl. Nos. 01 to 09 are to be done by the parents. The parents should see that their children do not blame them later for not doing these Samskaaras.

Sl. Nos. 10 is to be done by the Brahmacharies during Gurukulavaasam.
This duration is about 12 years.

 

 


 

FAQ on Hinduism (2)

 

What if any are the obligatory duties of the  Hindu ?

What  is meant by Samskaaras ? Are Samskaaras the only obligatory duties ?  And if so, isn't there too much emphasis on ritual and less on helping those in need .

Hindu samskaras are like other daily practices of the Hindus , of great antiquity. An excellent discussion of  the origin, meaning and significance  of the Samskaras is given by Rajbali Pandey in a  monograph titled' Hindu Samskaaras", published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi. What follows is a synopsis of some of the essential ideas which are treated in much greater detail in the book.

The word Samskara has uncertain etymology, as far as we are aware, and there does not exist an exact English equivalent. The word ceremony or Latin caeremonia does not convey an exact sense  of the word. It s in fact related to the word Karma in Sanskrit. Samskaara  does not mean  "mere outward religious rite ,polite observances, empty form, stately usage, formal qualities and punctilious behavior" which is the meaning of the word ceremony in the oxford dictionary, and as it is  falsely understood in many circles. A more closer rendering of the word SamskAram is contained in the word sacrament "religious ceremony or act regarded   as outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace" applied by the Eastern, pre-reformation Western and Roman Catholic church to the seven rites of baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist , penance,  extreme unction , orders and matrimony.


 

A Samskaara is that which refines and purifies the performer. There are 52 Samskaaras meant to uplift the Jivaatma to the Paramaatma, out of which some rishis have recommended 10. These are prescribed by the Smritis, based on Vedas. For the purification of mind,  these karmas have to be performed sincerely. The purified mind can then undertake Atma Vichaaram to attain Moksha.
 

 
Sl. No
 
Name
 
Details
 
01
 
Vivaaha (Marriage)
 
Entry into the Grihastha the second of the asramas of  life (Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vaanavasi and Sannyasa)
 
02
 
Garbhaa Dhaanam
 
Physical union is consecrated through prayer.
This is done prior to the 'Shaanti Muhurtam'.
 
03
 
Pumsavanam
 
Done during the 3rd month of pregnancy.
This is also called "Garbharakshan".
 Garbharakshana is performed to assure that the infant is not miscarried.

 
04
 
Seemantham
 
Done during the 6th or 8th month.
This rite is primarily social and festival in nature, intended to keep the pregnant woman in good spirits.
 
05
 
Jaata Karmam
 
Done just after birth.. Gifts are offered to people.
 
06
 
Naama Karanam
 
Naming ceremony on the 11th day
 
07
 
Anna Praasanam
 
First feeding of solid food during 6th month
 
08
 
Chaulam (Kudumi)
Chudakarma
Special hair-dressing done along with Mantras
 
09
 
Upanayanam (Poonal)
 
Starting of Brahmacharya.
This ceremony initiates the child into an intellectual and spiritual journey.
'Yagyopaveet' (sacred thread) indicates that the child is qualified to perform all the traditional Vedic rites including Pitra Kriya and Tarpan for his forefathers.


 
10 Samavartam conclusion of Brahmachari period
11
 
Antyesti,shraddha funeral rites to be performed by the son
 

 
Sl. Nos. 01 to 09 are to be done by the parents. The parents should see that their children do not blame them later for not doing these Samskaaras.

Sl. Nos. 10 is to be done by the Brahmacharies during Gurukulavaasam.
This duration is about 12 years.