Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA (Regd.)
Publication No. 5
Friday, 20th Aavani (5.9.1947)
Forty samskaras (purificatory rites) have been prescribed for the purification of Jivatma (individual soul). They are Garbhaadhaanam, Pumsavanam, Seemantham, Jathakarma, Namakaranam, Annapraasanam, Choulam, Upanayanam, four Vedavratas like Praajapatyam, Snanam, Vivaham or Sahadharmacharini samprayogam, Panchamahayagnas- totalling to 19 so far;
Pakayagnas-7; Haviryagnas-7; Somayagnas-7- totalling to 21;
Grand total of 40.
The 7 Pakayagnas are: Ashtaka, Anvashtaka, Paarvanam, Sraavani, Aagrahayani, Chaitri
The 7 Haviryagnas are: Agniyaadhaanam, Agnihotram, Darsapurnamasam, Aagrayanam,
Chaaturmaasyam, Nirudha pasubandham and Soutraamani.
The 7 Somayagnas are: Agnishtomam, Atyagnishtomam, Uktyam, Shodasi, Vajapeyam,
Atiratram and Abdoryaamam.
Out of these 40 samskaras, there are some required to be done every day. Some are to be done on occasions. Some are to be done once in a lifetime. Out of these, the samskaras which are required to be learnt properly and performed every day are the Pancha-mahayagnas.
Panchamahayagnas are: Brahmayagna, Devayagna, Pitruyagna, Manushyayagna and Bhutayagna. Of the balance samskaras, most are in category of once in a lifetime. Oupasanam and Agnihotram are to be done every day. Darsa Purnamasam is to be done once in 15 days. Of these, Oupasanam is Pakayagna. The other two are Haviryagnas. All Pakayagnas should be done once a year. It is enough if the 7 Somayagnas and the other samskaras are done once in a lifetime. These can also be categorised in a different way.
Those required to be done every day are 7; Panchamahayagnas, Agnihotram and Oupasanam. Harvesting is done once in a year in case of yearly food crops. Watering has to be done every day. Though they are samskaras (part of procedure)for agriculture, there is difference among them. Our samskaras are also similar.
Samskaras have been prescribed right from Garbhaadhaanam. Samskaras start from the time the embryo starts getting generated inside mother’s womb. The embryo has to be generated with chant of mantras. Some people think that Garbhaadhaanam, Pumsavanam and Seemantham are meant for mother’s health. This is incorrect. They are related to the jiva residing inside. They are meant for purifying the jiva. As they are done aimed at another jiva in the womb, there is greater responsibility for mother and others. If these samskaras are for themselves, these persons may ignore them; but as they are meant for another jiva, they should not be ignored.
The three samskaras, Garbhaadhaanam, Pumsavanam and Seemantham are done before the body of the jiva comes out. Pumsavanam should be done in third month of pregnancy; Seemantham should be done in 6th or 8th month. All these samskaras should be done with the sankalpa (vow) of obtaining the pleasure of Parameswara. They are done only for obtaining his grace.
When our Acharya (Adi Sankara) was proceeding to Kailasa, his disciples prayed to him to teach an easy way of obtaining Parameswara’s grace. They said that they did not understand the Vedanta topics he had expounded so far and that he should now tell them an easy way. Sri Acharya chanted five verses at that time.
The first verse is:
“Vedo nityam-adheeyatam taduditam karma svanushthiyatam
Tenesasya vidhiyatam-apachitih kamye mathis-tyajyatam|
Papoughah paridhuyatam bhavasukhe dosho-nusandhiyatam
Atmechcha vyavasiyatam nijagrihat-turnam vinirgamyatam||”
Here the point is made: ‘Study (chanting) of Vedas should be done every day. Karmas should be practised properly without fail. That karma is itself Puja of Iswara. Whichever karma he has asked us to do, to perform those karmas at the specified time is alone Puja’. Some people perform festivals, Puja, bhajan etc. Some others do Oupasanam, Agnihotram etc. Those who perform Puja criticise the latter saying that they do not have bhakti; of what use is their karma? The latter, keen on performing karmas, criticise the former saying that they lack aachara and anushthana (observance of rituals); they are simply playing the drum; they have only ego. If we look at this justly and impartially, we can see that observance of karmas is alone bhakti of superior order. That alone is bhajan.
There are two servants with a master. One always stands in front of the master and keeps praising him. The other does not talk at all; does not come in front of the master; whatever direction the master has in his mind, he immediately acts on it. People may think that the master likes the servant more, who always stays near him. But actually the master would like the other servant more, who acts on his will. If the master were a fool, he would like the servant more, who keeps praising him. Similarly if Iswara were a foolish master, he would have more love for the one who keeps praising him. To do the karmas ordained by Iswara is his Puja. That is why karmas should be done with sankalpa (vow) of ‘Sri Parameswara Prityartham’ (for the pleasure of Parameswara). True observance of karmas is a blend of bhakti and karma. That is why our Acharya has said that observance of karmas is alone Puja of Parameswara.
The base of all this is surrendering the karma to Parameswara. To tell the meaning of all mantras in samskaras is not possible. We do sankalpa at the beginning of each karma and arpanam (offering) at the end. It is good to know these two and their meanings.
Loukikas (those who do not practise Vedic rituals as profession) are very casual about sankalpam etc. They think the Purohit is saying something, as if it does not concern them. To know the meaning of sankalpa etc. is not difficult. With sincerity one can find out. People find out the syllabus for an examination being conducted in America. With keenness one can find out anything.
“Yadeva vidyaya karoti tadeva sradhdhaya upanishada viryavattaram bhavati”
“Yadeva vidyayeti hi” (Brahmasutram)
If a karma is done with understanding of meaning, it becomes ‘viryavat-taram’ (more efficacious). Sri Acharya has stated that as ‘taram’ is the term used in the above mantra, it is clear that if karma is done with no understanding of meaning, it is ‘viryavat’ (efficacious). It appears on cursory reading that if karma is done with no understanding of meaning, it is very useful. How is it?
There is a collector. A person writes an application to him through a lawyer. A farmer gets it written by somebody and hands it to the collector personally. He is illiterate. He hands his application saying ‘Please do me good somehow’. The collector takes pity on him, considering his ignorance and faith and does him good.
Mantra is also similar. Iswara alone knows the meaning of mantra. We should not be villainous. If we engage a lawyer and speak wrongly, the collector will get angry. If we know the details and still do wrongly, there will be great anger. If the application is wrong without one’s knowledge, there will be excuse. It is wrong to say, ‘The meaning is not known; what is the use of doing the karma?’ It appears that to do karma without knowing the meaning is ‘viryavat-taram’.
At the beginning of all samskaras, one should say, ‘Pareameswara prityartham’ (for the pleasure of Parameswara) and at the end, ‘Janardanah priyatam’ (May Janardana become happy). One can know the meaning of these two. In sankalpa, initially the account of place and time is given. ‘We say ‘Mamopatta samasta durita-kshayadvara’. The meaning of this is: ‘For the pleasure of Sri Parameswara through effacing of all the sins I have earned’. We have earned many sins till todate. That load is tough; we have to get rid of it; wash it off. What is the use of it? Our heart is the abode of Parameswara. There is a lot of dirt there. If there is dirt at the place we do Puja, we feel sad. We should remove the dirt. We have to remove the dirt from our heart. Only then the form (of Iswara) will be visible. Now it is all dirty, obstructing the light. We keep accumulating dirt. ‘Durita-kshayadvara’, through the route the sin goes away, Parameswara’s happiness will come. All types of karmas are aimed at that only. Whatever be the meaning of other mantras, if we utter this mantra knowing its meaning, only then it will be useful.
We do ‘Prayaschitta’ (redemptive ritual) if there is failure of an action. For doing Sandhyavandanam in improper time, ‘Prayaschitta Argya’ has been prescribed. What to do if there is error in that Prayaschitta also? Hence there is a common Prayaschitta. There is a book called ‘Hemadri’ which tells about Prayaschittas.
Thinking of Sri Krishna is the greatest Prayaschitta. Initially we should think of Parameswara and at the end, of Krishna. This also shows the non-difference of Siva and Vishnu. Thinking thus, karmas should be done right from birth till death with the thought of Parameswara.
Every mantra is offered through a Devata. We pay taxes. They all go to the same State. There are many taxes like profession tax, motor tax, land tax etc. There are different places for paying these taxes. There are different stamp papers for them. Similarly for every karma, there are differences of time, mantra, Devata and material. Though there are procedural differences among them, the ultimate aim of all actions is to offer them to Parameswara. Our king does not know well, us, the tax-payers and the taxes we pay. But in the case of the king Parameswara, all matters are well known.
There are three aspects for every karma- mantra, Devata and material. We said earlier about three karmas to be done before birth. At birth, Jatakarma should be done. On eleventh day after birth, Namakaranam should be done. In the sixth month, Annapraasanam should be done. That is the karma, in which food is fed first to the child. That also should be done for the pleasure of Parameswara.
Karmas from Garbhaadhaanam till Namakaranam are done for the sake of the baby by parents. When mother takes medicine, the baby gets purified in body. In the same way, depending on the parents’ state of mind, the jiva inside will get satvic (peaceful) nature or increased sin. When mind is quiet, if we write something and read it, it will give us peace. When we are angry, if we write something and read it, it does not give us sense of wellbeing. In the body also, there develop good and bad qualities. When there is meeting between parents’ bodies, depending on the quality of parents at that time, the jiva inside will also get the same quality. Depending on state of mind, qualities develop.
The rich people do not perform such karmas in due time; but they do them together. Vaidikas do them properly. But they have that as their livelihood. The rest do not bother about anything. Samskaras should be done at the prescribed times, chanting the relevant mantras and employing the specified materials. The most important thing is to do the karma with sense of offering to Parameswara.
After Annapraasanam, Choulam should be done for the child. That is keeping ‘sikha’ (tuft of hair). That karma also should be done as offering to Bhagavan. That is done for being ready for doing good karmas. Removing sikha has to be done with chant of mantras. Sanyasis have done so.
To remove sikha kept with mantra chant, just for whim, in deviation from the vow taken before Parameswara is wrong. One may ask whether removing sikha is such an important thing. Is it not wrong to tell lies? This is also like that. Having done sankalpa in order to please Parameswara and having kept sikha as a samskara, it should not be removed at will. People establish Sivalinga; they worship ‘Vel’ (spear) and salagramam. Can we remove and throw them away afterwards in a fit of anger? It does not matter if they are lost by accident or by theft. What we established on our own, to remove them again at will is very wrong. Having done Choulam with sankalpa, to do as one wishes later on is wrong. Those who do thus should not have done Choulam initially. To remove at will sikha kept with chant of mantra is certainly wrong. That is why when it is removed in the asrama of sanyasi, it is removed with mantra chant.
One cannot do Jathakarma etc. long after. Repeat upanayanam can be done. Karmas prior to upanayanam cannot be done later on. Upanayanam is done when the boy has developed good intellect. When the Acharya says, ‘Bhikshacharyam chara’ (live life on alms), he replies, ‘Baadham’ (certainly, yes). He should have knowledge of Samskrit even before the time of upanayanam. He will then understand the meaning of upanayana mantras. If the child knows the meaning, he will get good devotion. Atheism has come to our minds even from childhood. Hence it is strong. If we teach theism in the same way, it will also remain strong.
The samskaras done after upanayanam happen after intellect has developed. Every samskara should be done in due time. That gives rise to annulment of sins. We earn sin by doing some action. To remove that sin, we must do samskara with our thought, word and deed. We have committed sin through those three instruments. We have thought bad thoughts with our mind. With our tongue, we have told lies. We have done untruthful acts with our body. What is untruthful act? To pretend is untruthful. Sins committed with thought, word and deed should be removed by acts done with those same instruments.
With mind we should think of Parameswara and make the act an offering to him. With our speech, we should chant mantras. With our body we should do actions. By doing samskaras with these three instruments, the sins committed with them should be removed. We should think that everything is for the pleasure of Parameswara. Everything should be offered to him. Everything should be done in time.
If we do samskaras, we will get good progeny. There are many followers of proper Vedic practices in Vaidika families. Their intellect is sharper. That is the result of samskaras. That which was done by the earlier generations is serving as the foundation for the succeeding two-three generations. Once that limit is crossed, there will be trouble. If children from Vaidika families enter into loukikam, they go down more. Just as water in a restrained dam comes out with force when the gate is opened, those children fall down more. One may complain that his forefathers did not do samskaras and hence he has not attained wellbeing. We should do good samskaras to our children so that they do not complain later on those lines.
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA
Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
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