Modern India, aping the western cultures, focuses only on educating and preparing us for artha and kaama and we’re given no awareness of anything higher! And so, with a herd mentality we the educated happily keep pursuing the asuric goals of money and entertainment!
Imbibing Vidya thru’ Samskara: Our forefathers were true men of science and wisdom; not savages and not bookish scientists like most of us today. They had realized that bringing up the young, needs much more than sending them to school and colleges with a bag full of books; and, education is much more than 3R’s, degrees, and secular knowledge; it ought to be a preparation to purify our mind and attain our highest goal!
They had the wisdom to place before society a holistic vision, i.e., during growing up get established in Dharma and our respective Swadharma. Then, Earn and Enjoy while fulfilling our respective vocation and Swadharma. Thus, remain on the optimum path, the critical path towards attaining the common, highest human goal of mukti, Freedom, Perfection. Thus, education prepared the youth to walk-the-talk; whereas today we’re left wandering aimlessly in sone-ki-lanka!
They had designed all our systems based on an understanding of the nature of our mind. They knew that we’re not equal! We’re all different and unique because we’re creating ourselves every moment by our thought-motive-actions which leave samskara (impression, impact, imprint) in our mind. And, these impressions continuously form and deform our future choices and we bear their consequences as tendencies, likes, dislikes, impulses, habits, our innate behavior and characteristics.
To inspire everyone to strive for the highest, they placed before society 16 ‘samskara’, as prayers and rituals, to be performed together by both the parents, at important stages of life. They were designed as celebrations where families and communities join in and sing and dance in devotion, expressing gratitude to various gods and forces of nature.
They’re like a process of ‘purification’, to remove, remedy, instill values and ideals, just as iron or gold ores need ‘purification’. Samskaras act on the mind and are deliberately designed to leave positively good, deep, and long-lasting mental impressions on individuals and society, during growing up and journeying thru’ various stages of life. 12 of the 16 relate to childhood and studentship when our minds are more amenable to learning and imbibing higher ideals and thus we enter the world as spiritually awakened and enlightened citizens; not mere bookish intellectuals who have destroyed and polluted the environment.
The 16 Samnskara:
1. Garbha-daan: The first coming together of the husband and wife for creation, is an occasion for prayers to invite a good, noble, soul to take birth in the womb of the mother to be. Parents pray and request the all-pervasive formless, changeless consciousness, to take a form and join our family and we may be capable of bringing up a noble soul.
2. Pumsavanam: Ceremony performed when the first signs of conception are seen and the soul has assumed a form in the womb.
3. Simanta: In the fourth month, we pray for the peace of the new soul; and all the family try to see that the mother is kept happy, reads holy books, thinks of Godly thoughts, to have a happy child, whose mind is formed during the fifth month of the pregnancy.
4. Jatkarma: On the 6th day after birth, the father consults the child’s horoscope and gives it the OM mantra; mother Saraswati, goddess of wisdom and knowledge is also invoked and requested to bless the child; whatever it learns in its early 5 years it tends to remember throughout his life.
5. Namkarana: Father consults the horoscope and names the child on the 11th day.
6. Nishkraman: 40 days after birth the child is taken out and given a sun bath and prayers are held expressing gratitude and seeking blessings for protection of the child and ourselves.
7. Anna Prashana: 6 months after birth the child is given the taste of its first cooked food, kheer, dalia, etc. Also, panchamrit of water, milk, ghee, curd, honey.
8. Mundan: One year after birth the head is shaved leaving a tuft and the hair is disposed at a good site; of course, with celebratory devotional songs.
9. Karna-bhed: A specific vain gets pierced when the ear is pierced at the bottom, which helps to avoid diseases; and the father blesses the child, may you hear only good thoughts and good words and not entertain impure thoughts and words.
10. Yajnopavitam or Upnayanam, meaning ‘to bring closer’; father takes the child ‘closer’ to guru; guru takes it ‘closer’ to the truth of Sastras (literally, ‘wisdom that protects’; as experienced and expressed by seers of truth, Rishis); and truth ‘closer’ to Truth of truths. Traditionally the child brought firewood to keep the fire burning (when there were no matchsticks!); and, symbolizing ‘to burn ignorance in the fire of wisdom’. The guru agrees to accept him in the womb of wisdom and this is like a 2nd birth.
11-16th: Keshanta where hairs are cut; Samavartana, when student returns home completing his studentship; Vivah is marriage ceremony; Vanaprastha is retirement from active worldly city life to forest life for tapas, meditation, etc.; Sanyas is the preparation for death when we shed all sense of responsibility and relationships to awake and revel in the timeless truth. Antyesthi is the last rites done after the death.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
END OF ARTICLE