Shodasha (Sixteen) Samskaras
Hindu Dharma is a scientific way of living and hence often referred as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal and all-inclusive way of life. Rishis/Sages have envisaged great value of life by their Tapa/penance, and have passed on the values to generations after generations as Dharma.
Hindu Dharma guides human through sixteen samskaras, which are “rational to-dos” for the well-being of human being. It also helps in development of physical, mental, social, and spiritual personality. These are typically the natural activities, which over the time have been streamlined as Dharmic activity to ensure human welfare. Smritis and Dharma Sutra which are part of Vedas in Hinduism have discussed these samskaras in detail and paved way for human and socio-cultural development. The samskars are referred to in many scriptures, puranas, and ithihas.
The main aspect of samskar is to make the individual and society cultured, and thereby taking them from physical perfection and happiness to spiritual bliss.
This is the first samskar of a human even before one is born. For a healthy child, this samskar plays a vital role. By this samskar, the Gharbh or Foetus which is considered sacred is protected for a safe and healthy growth of child and subsequent
This is performed after three months of conceiving. Though this has become a samskar to get the male child over the time, but primarily this is to ensure the Foetus start learning the right things as the brain start growing from this time.
This is performed in sixth or eighth month as the child in the Garbh becomes more active and its characteristics are reflected in mother’s behavioral aspects. This is to ensure the mother is made peaceful to ensure the smooth child birth.
This is performed immediately after the birth of the child to ensure all the Doshas/bad effects for the newborn child is put away. Also honey and ghee are given with vedic chanting for the well being and long life of the child.
This is performed on the 11th day from the birth of child. During this the child is given a formal name with vedic chanting, and based on astrology. The name is very important as it impacts the phycology and future of the .child in the long run.
This is performed on the 4th month of child birth, where the child is exposed to nature and five elements. The father prays all the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space for the health and long life of the child.
This is performed around 6-7 months of child’s age, when child’s teeth starts growing. During this ritual solid food and sweets are fed with auspicious blessings of elders and relatives.
By this samskar the hair is shaved for the first time for the child. This is done typically at one year of age, and has many scientific benefits such as strong head and intelligence.
This samskar is to pierce the bottom of the ear with a small hole and have ear-ring. This has many benefits such as enhancing the blood flow to brain, enhancing the hearing/sravana ability etc. Also as per astrology, this also nullifies the ill effects of Rahu & Ketu planets.
This samskar is like an initiation to Dharmic and spiritual life. This is also called sacred thread ceremony where the boy is put with a yagyopaveeth or sacred thread, which representa Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as three threads. This also initiates the special Gayatri Mantra which gives great power and intelligence. This is also the initiation of Agni Samskara or the sacred fire.
With this samskar starts the learning of vedas for the individual. Typically the disciple is sent to an Gurukul or Ashram for few years where they learn the vedas with reverence and humbleness.
With this samskar the hairs are cut for the disciple who had completed the vedic shastras under the guru’s tutelage. For girl child the equivalent function is related to Ritushuddi and relates to.
This is a samskar where the disciple returns from gurukul after completion of learnings. He is made ready for the household dharmic life.
This is one of the very important samskar in one’s life. Hinduism emphasizes on the importance and sanctity of marriage as one of the greatest milestone. Grahasta/Household life is the key backbone for the entire human society where the Dharma or righteousness should florish. Marriage has to be done on right age, where both the boy and girl start their life with sacred fire as witness to live the life of righteousness and Dharma. They also vow to get a progeny which will help their ancestors to get moksha.
During the old age, and once the worldly duties are over, the person retires to forest with Tapas/Penance and spiritual practice. This can further lead to Sanyas or one can attain moksha as Grahastha.
This samskar relates to last rites performed for a person after his death.
Now a days samskaras are seen only on few specific occasions such as Marriage, Sacred Thread ceremony, or during last rites of a person. However, it is important to have all the samskars listed below to be performed as per Vedic method in a person’s life.
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