Indic Studies Foundation

(a California non-Profit Organization)www.indicethos.org www.indicstudies.us

www.vepa.us  kaushal's blog

index  Disclaimer

 

 

 

 

 

Home about us The Story of the Calendar AIT The Andhra  Satavahana Kingdoms Arrians Hiistory of Alexander Henry Rooke Aryabhata I Archaeology Aryan Migration Theories Astronomy Baudhika Dharma Bhartrihari Biographies  (mathematical sciences) Bhagavad Gita Bibliography California Text Book Travesty Caste Contact Core Values The Dhaarmic traditions Dholavira Digital Library of Indian History Books Distortions in Indian History Economics Editorial Archives Eminent Scientists Famine in British Colonial  India The ethics of the Hindu Glossary The Great Bharata war HEC2007 Hinduism/faqdharma.html HinduWeddings History The Indic Mathematical Tradition Indic Philosophy & Darshanas Indcstrat Kalidasa Katyayana Mathematics News and Current Events Panini References on India (library of Congress) References on Indic History References on Philosophy References for Place value systems References on Vedic Mathematical Sciences Sanskrit The Sanatana Dharna Secularism and the Hindu The South Asia File Srinivasa Ramanujan Vedic Mathematicians I Vedic Mathematicians II Vedic Mathematicians III What's in a name VP Sarathi Ancient Indian Astronomy
 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu SamskAras

 

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 SamskAras", 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. SamskAra  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 SamskAra is that which refines and purifies the performer. There are 52 SamskAras meant to uplift the JivAtma to the ParamAtma, 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. In the sense of the above these are not obligatory but contribute to the conduct of a disciplined life leading to  contentment, happiness, and self-realization.
 

 
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 SamskAras.

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

 

 

Hindu Rituals: The Ten Scriptural SamskAras

By Sri Swami Sivananda



 

 

The Ten Scriptural SamskAras

The rites that pertain to the stages of life of man are called SamskAras. The SamskAras are purificatory rites which sanctify the life of the Hindu. They give a spiritual touch to the important events in the life of the individual from conception to cremation. They mark the important stages of a mans life. Just as the outline of a picture is lighted up slowly with the filling in of many colours, so also is Brahmanya with scriptural SamskAras. There are the SamskAras of childhood, of boyhood, of manhood and of old age and death.

 

There are fifty two SamskAras. Among these, ten are important. The ten principal and generally recognized SamskAras are: Garbhadana, Pumsavana, Simantonnayana, Jatakarma, Namakarana, Annaprasana, Chudakarma, Upanayana, Samavartana and Vivaha. Of these ten, only some are now performed. Some of the SamskAras pertain to infantile life and early childhood. Some are ceremonies which may be performed daily or on special occasions. The whole life of the Hindu is thus consecrated and protected from the cradle to the grave.

 

Garbhadana

The Garbhadana sanctifies the creative act. The husband prays fervently from the core of his heart that a child may be conceived. He repeats sacred Mantras during Ritu-Santi ceremony or nuptials. The new child is conceived amidst the vibration of Mantras. Good impressions are impressed in the brain-cells of the embryo. For a real Hindu who is endowed with pure intellect and right understanding, the sexual union is not for the sake of mere enjoyment. He utilises the divine, creative, vital energy for the formation of a human body. Husband and wife should be cheerful and pious when they have intercourse. When their minds are perturbed or agitated, or when there is anger or hatred, they should avoid copulation. They should study holy scriptures. If they have the image of Arjuna, they will have a chivalrous and wise son. If they have the image of Lord Buddha, they will bring forth a son with mercy and other good virtues. If they have the image Of Dhanvantari, they will get a son who will turn out to be a reputed Ayurvedic doctor. If they think of Surya or Sun-God, they will bring forth a lustrous son with splendour and effulgence.

 

Pumsavana

In the third month, the Pumsavana is performed with Mantras. The food-sheath and the vital-sheath of the child are formed.

 

Simantonnayana

The Simantonnayana is performed at the seventh month with recitation of Veda Mantras. This protects the mother from evil influences and bestows health on the child. The above three SamskAras protect the mother and the child. The body of the child develops nicely. The harmonious vibrations set up by the recitation of Mantras and the performance of the ceremonies help in shaping the body of the child beautifully.

 

Jatakarma

The next SamskAra, the ceremony performed immediately after the birth of the child, is the Jatakarma. The father welcomes his new-born child. He prays for its long life, intelligence and well-being, and feeds it with honey and butter.

 

Namakarana

Then comes Namakarana or the naming ceremony. The new-born child is given a name on the tenth, eleventh or twelfth day with recitation of Mantras.

 

Annaprasana

The Annaprasana comes in the sixth month when the child is given solid food for the first time. Mantras are recited and oblations are offered to the various deities.

 

Chudakarma

The Chudakarma, the tonsure or shaving of the head, is performed in the first or third year. The Karnavedha or ear-boring ceremony is performed in the fifth or the seventh year or at the end of the first year with the Chudakarma. The body of the child is protected and harmonized by these ceremonies. Any hereditary defect that arises from defect of semen and embryo is removed. Vidyarambha also is another SamskAra. Alphabet is taught to the child. This is also known by the name Aksharabhyasa. These SamskAras pertain to the child stage of life.

 

Upanayana

The most important ceremony which marks the beginning of the next stage of life - the stage of youth - is Upanayana. Upanayana is a very important SamskAra. It is a landmark in the life of the child. It is his second or spiritual birth. The word Upanayana means bringing near.

 

The boy is brought near his Guru, spiritual teacher. The preceptor invests him with the sacred thread, Yajnopavita, and initiates him by giving him the Gayatri Mantra, and gives him a staff. This is the beginning of Brahmacharya Asrama, during which Brahmacharya - perfect or entire celibacy - is enjoined. He is to begin the life of study. The initiation makes him a Dvija, twice-born. The father and the mother gave birth to him from mutual desire. This is his physical birth. Initiation into Gayatri Mantra is his another, true birth. According to Yajnavalkya, the Upanayana ceremony is performed at the eighth year for a Brahmana, eleventh for a Kshatriya and twelfth for a Vaisya. Manu gives the age at the fifth year for a Brahmana, the sixth for a Kshatriya and the eighth for a Vaisya.

 

Significance of the Sacred Thread and Other Symbols

The sacred thread or Yajnopavita consists of three threads knotted together. He who wears the thread should have a triple control, over his mind, speech and body - thought, word and deed. The holy thread signifies the various triads which exist in the world, viz., Sat, Chit and Ananda; creation, preservation and destruction; the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep; the three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; the Trimurtis Brahma, Vishnu and Siva; etc.

 

The staff signifies that the student should have control over his thoughts, words and actions. He who practises control over his thoughts, words and actions, and he who practises Brahmacharya in thought, word and deed, attains perfection.

 

The boy wears a Kaupina, a small yellow cloth and a girdle of Munja grass. The Acharya puts on him a deerskin. The new yellow cloth represents the new body. Yellow colour is a symbol of spirituality. Wearing of Kaupina indicates that the boy should lead a pure life of perfect celibacy. The girdle is wound round thrice. This indicates that the boy has to study the Samhitas, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The deer-skin represents the ascetic life he should lead.

 

Samavartana

Then comes the end of the student stage, the Samavartana. The student, having completed the Vedic studies and the Vratas, presents his preceptor with a gift and obtains permission to take the formal bath which marks the close of his student-career. He returns home and performs the Samavartana, the returning ceremony. He is now ready to marry and enter the second stage or Grihastha Asrama, the life of a householder.

 

Vivaaha

Vivaaha is marriage or entry into the second Asrama. The life of the householder begins. Now he takes up his duties as man and pays his spiritual debts by sacrifice, by study and by procreating children. The bridegroom tells the bride: - I take your hand for good fortune. - They walk round the sacred fire hand-in-hand. The bride sacrifices grains in the fire and prays: - May my husband live long. May my relations increase. -

 

The Last Two Stages Of Life

There are two more stages, viz., Vanaprastha and Sannyasa, with their rites.

 

Man withdraws himself from all worldly activities, retires into the forest and prepares himself for taking Sannyasa. This is the life of a Vanaprastha.

 

A Sannyasin renounces the world and leads a life of study and meditation by living on alms.

 

Antyesti are funeral rites. When a man dies, the funeral ceremonies are performed by his son and heir.

 

 

Hindu SamskAras

 

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 SamskAras", 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. SamskAra  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 SamskAra is that which refines and purifies the performer. There are 52 SamskAras meant to uplift the JivAtma to the ParamAtma, 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. In the sense of the above these are not obligatory but contribute to the conduct of a disciplined life leading to  contentment, happiness, and self-realization.
 

 
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 SamskAras.

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

 

 

Hindu Rituals: The Ten Scriptural SamskAras

By Sri Swami Sivananda



 

 

The Ten Scriptural SamskAras

The rites that pertain to the stages of life of man are called SamskAras. The SamskAras are purificatory rites which sanctify the life of the Hindu. They give a spiritual touch to the important events in the life of the individual from conception to cremation. They mark the important stages of a mans life. Just as the outline of a picture is lighted up slowly with the filling in of many colours, so also is Brahmanya with scriptural SamskAras. There are the SamskAras of childhood, of boyhood, of manhood and of old age and death.

 

There are fifty two SamskAras. Among these, ten are important. The ten principal and generally recognized SamskAras are: Garbhadana, Pumsavana, Simantonnayana, Jatakarma, Namakarana, Annaprasana, Chudakarma, Upanayana, Samavartana and Vivaha. Of these ten, only some are now performed. Some of the SamskAras pertain to infantile life and early childhood. Some are ceremonies which may be performed daily or on special occasions. The whole life of the Hindu is thus consecrated and protected from the cradle to the grave.

 

Garbhadana

The Garbhadana sanctifies the creative act. The husband prays fervently from the core of his heart that a child may be conceived. He repeats sacred Mantras during Ritu-Santi ceremony or nuptials. The new child is conceived amidst the vibration of Mantras. Good impressions are impressed in the brain-cells of the embryo. For a real Hindu who is endowed with pure intellect and right understanding, the sexual union is not for the sake of mere enjoyment. He utilises the divine, creative, vital energy for the formation of a human body. Husband and wife should be cheerful and pious when they have intercourse. When their minds are perturbed or agitated, or when there is anger or hatred, they should avoid copulation. They should study holy scriptures. If they have the image of Arjuna, they will have a chivalrous and wise son. If they have the image of Lord Buddha, they will bring forth a son with mercy and other good virtues. If they have the image Of Dhanvantari, they will get a son who will turn out to be a reputed Ayurvedic doctor. If they think of Surya or Sun-God, they will bring forth a lustrous son with splendour and effulgence.

 

Pumsavana

In the third month, the Pumsavana is performed with Mantras. The food-sheath and the vital-sheath of the child are formed.

 

Simantonnayana

The Simantonnayana is performed at the seventh month with recitation of Veda Mantras. This protects the mother from evil influences and bestows health on the child. The above three SamskAras protect the mother and the child. The body of the child develops nicely. The harmonious vibrations set up by the recitation of Mantras and the performance of the ceremonies help in shaping the body of the child beautifully.

 

Jatakarma

The next SamskAra, the ceremony performed immediately after the birth of the child, is the Jatakarma. The father welcomes his new-born child. He prays for its long life, intelligence and well-being, and feeds it with honey and butter.

 

Namakarana

Then comes Namakarana or the naming ceremony. The new-born child is given a name on the tenth, eleventh or twelfth day with recitation of Mantras.

 

Annaprasana

The Annaprasana comes in the sixth month when the child is given solid food for the first time. Mantras are recited and oblations are offered to the various deities.

 

Chudakarma

The Chudakarma, the tonsure or shaving of the head, is performed in the first or third year. The Karnavedha or ear-boring ceremony is performed in the fifth or the seventh year or at the end of the first year with the Chudakarma. The body of the child is protected and harmonized by these ceremonies. Any hereditary defect that arises from defect of semen and embryo is removed. Vidyarambha also is another SamskAra. Alphabet is taught to the child. This is also known by the name Aksharabhyasa. These SamskAras pertain to the child stage of life.

 

Upanayana

The most important ceremony which marks the beginning of the next stage of life - the stage of youth - is Upanayana. Upanayana is a very important SamskAra. It is a landmark in the life of the child. It is his second or spiritual birth. The word Upanayana means bringing near.

 

The boy is brought near his Guru, spiritual teacher. The preceptor invests him with the sacred thread, Yajnopavita, and initiates him by giving him the Gayatri Mantra, and gives him a staff. This is the beginning of Brahmacharya Asrama, during which Brahmacharya - perfect or entire celibacy - is enjoined. He is to begin the life of study. The initiation makes him a Dvija, twice-born. The father and the mother gave birth to him from mutual desire. This is his physical birth. Initiation into Gayatri Mantra is his another, true birth. According to Yajnavalkya, the Upanayana ceremony is performed at the eighth year for a Brahmana, eleventh for a Kshatriya and twelfth for a Vaisya. Manu gives the age at the fifth year for a Brahmana, the sixth for a Kshatriya and the eighth for a Vaisya.

 

Significance of the Sacred Thread and Other Symbols

The sacred thread or Yajnopavita consists of three threads knotted together. He who wears the thread should have a triple control, over his mind, speech and body - thought, word and deed. The holy thread signifies the various triads which exist in the world, viz., Sat, Chit and Ananda; creation, preservation and destruction; the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep; the three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; the Trimurtis Brahma, Vishnu and Siva; etc.

 

The staff signifies that the student should have control over his thoughts, words and actions. He who practises control over his thoughts, words and actions, and he who practises Brahmacharya in thought, word and deed, attains perfection.

 

The boy wears a Kaupina, a small yellow cloth and a girdle of Munja grass. The Acharya puts on him a deerskin. The new yellow cloth represents the new body. Yellow colour is a symbol of spirituality. Wearing of Kaupina indicates that the boy should lead a pure life of perfect celibacy. The girdle is wound round thrice. This indicates that the boy has to study the Samhitas, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The deer-skin represents the ascetic life he should lead.

 

Samavartana

Then comes the end of the student stage, the Samavartana. The student, having completed the Vedic studies and the Vratas, presents his preceptor with a gift and obtains permission to take the formal bath which marks the close of his student-career. He returns home and performs the Samavartana, the returning ceremony. He is now ready to marry and enter the second stage or Grihastha Asrama, the life of a householder.

 

Vivaaha

Vivaaha is marriage or entry into the second Asrama. The life of the householder begins. Now he takes up his duties as man and pays his spiritual debts by sacrifice, by study and by procreating children. The bridegroom tells the bride: - I take your hand for good fortune. - They walk round the sacred fire hand-in-hand. The bride sacrifices grains in the fire and prays: - May my husband live long. May my relations increase. -

 

The Last Two Stages Of Life

There are two more stages, viz., Vanaprastha and Sannyasa, with their rites.

 

Man withdraws himself from all worldly activities, retires into the forest and prepares himself for taking Sannyasa. This is the life of a Vanaprastha.

 

A Sannyasin renounces the world and leads a life of study and meditation by living on alms.

 

Antyesti are funeral rites. When a man dies, the funeral ceremonies are performed by his son and heir.