Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
Publication No. 49

There are over 40 samskaras (purificatory ceremonies) prescribed for brahmanas in their respective Sutras. Out of them, the samskaras upto Upanayanam are very essential. It is of course good to perform the samskaras post-upanayanam also.

Forty samskaras: Smartha karmas- 14;   Sroutha karmas- 26.

Smartha karmas:

  1. Garbhadhanam          2. Pumsavanam           3. Seemantham         4. Jaathakarma       5. Namakaranam       6. Annapraasanam    7.   Choulam        8.  Upanayanam         9. Praajapathyam        10.  Soumyam           11. Aagneyam         12.  Vaisvadevam    13. Snanam         14. Vivaham.

Sroutha karmas:
       5 Devayagnas;     7 Paakayagnas;              7 Haviryagnas;           7 Somasamsthas.

       Devayagnas:  1. Devayagnam         2. Pitruyagnam           3.  Bhutayagnam          4.  Manushyayagnam         5. Brahmayagnam.

       Paakayagnas:  1. Ashtaka     2.  Sthalipakam     3. Maasisraadham        4. Sraavani      5. Aagrahayani      6.  Chaitri      7.  Aasvayuji 

       Haviryagnas:    1. Agnyaadhanam        2. Agnihotram         3.  Darsapurnamasam         4. Aagrayanam     5. Chaturmasyam      6. Nirudhapasubandham          7. Soutraamani.

       Somasamsthas:  1. Agnishtomam    2. Atyagnishtomam    3. Uktyam   4. Shodasi     5. Vajapeyam      6. Atiratram      7. Abdoryamam

  1. Garbhadhanam:   The period of 16 days from the start day of menses is Ritukalam (fertile period). Garbhadhanam should be done in the 12 day period after the first four days after eliminating prohibited tithi, vara (day of week) and nakshatra (star). 
  2. Pumsavanam:  This should be done when the pregnancy is clear, i.e. in the third or fourth month, in Pushya star. One who wishes for a son should perform Pumsavanam in every pregnancy (not just the first one).
  3. Seemantham:  This should be done in the 4th, 6th or 8th month of pregnancy. As this samskara bestows purity on the woman and the baby, this should certainly be performed.
  4. Jaathakarma:  as soon as the baby is born, the father should bathe and give danas etc.
  5. Ear-piercing: When the baby is able to get up and down the mother’s lap, ear-piercing should be done.
  6. Surya-Chandra darsanam: In the third month after birth of baby, darsanam of Surya should be performed.
  7. Annapraasanam: This should be done in the 6th month by feeding the child with mix of curd, ghee and honey with cooked rice as laid down.
  8. Choulam: In the third month, sikha (tuft of hair) should be done for the child as per procedure.
  9. Aksharaabhyasam: After the child has entered 5th year, Aksharaabhyasam should be done in the months when Lord Vishnu is awake; Uttarayanam is preferred.
  10.  Upanayanam: In the 8th year from pregnancy (i.e. 7th year from birth), upanayanam should be done for brahmana boys. Spring season (Chaitra and Vaikasi months) is preferred. Out of the 14 Smartha karmas, upanayanam is said to be important.

 In the month of Jyeshtha (Aani), upanayanam should not be performed for the eldest son. Brihaspati is the lord for Rig Veda; Sukra for Yajur Veda; Angaraka for Sama Veda; Budha for Atharva Veda. It is very good to perform upanayanam on the day of the week, presided over by the lord of the Veda Sakha to which one belongs. (Thursday for Rig Vedis; Friday for Yajur Vedis; Tuesday for Sama Vedis; Wednesday for Athrva Vedis). For upanayanam, age upto 16 years is secondary time. Beyond 8 years, upanayanam has to be performed after due Prayaschitta. If upanayanam is not performed within 16 years of age, the quality of brahmana will go away. Such a person is not fit to do Vedic karmas like Adhyayanam (Vedic study) and to accept or give danas.

Brahmachari, whose upanayanam has been performed, should certainly wear dandam (staff), ajinam (deerskin) and mounji (girdle of darbha). Once upanayanam is over, like Sandhya vandanam, Brahmayagnam should also be performed. Brahmachari should beg for bhiksha (alms) and submit the bhiksha to his Guru. He should only take that food which is given by the Guru with his permission. Brahmacharis should certainly perform Samidadhanam in both Sandhya times (dawn and dusk every day). One may ask whether all this is possible in the present time for a brahmachari boy, 8 years old. What was possible forty-fifty years ago cannot become impossible now. If it is not possible to arrange for complete Veda Adyayanam, every father should certainly ensure that much Adyayanam for one year at least, required for karmas like Snanam, Sandhya, Japa, Homam, Deva Pooja, Atithi Satkara etc., which are essentials to be known and performed every day. This is their essential duty.

Every brahmachari prays to Agni as under at the close of Samidadhanam:
“O Havyavahana (name of Agni meaning one who carries the offerings to Devas), Give me sraddha (faith), medha (retentive power), yasas (fame), pragna (wisdom), vidya (knowledge), buddhi (intellect), sri (splendor), balam (strength), aayushyam (long life), tejas (brilliance) and aarogyam (good health).”

When he prays thus with devotion and faith to Agni every day uninterruptedly, he is sure to be blessed by Agni with everything. Just as the insect with sting brings an ordinary worm and keeps it in the nest, visits and stings frequently day after day and makes the worm remember it always and finally converts it into its own form, brahmachari prays with the same continuous thought as stated above and attains everything without doubt.  Though brahmanas are required to perform the six karmas- snanam, sandhya, japam, homam, Devapooja and Atithi satkara every day, if it is not possible to do all of them for various reasons, the quality of brahmana will leave him in the event of his failure to chant Gayatri mantra in the least.

Thinking the body as our Self, we put in great efforts by running hither and thither to nourish and decorate it. We do not think at all in our lifetime of that power, in the presence of which the body does not become a corpse and give out bad smell. Of what use is our ability to analyse and understand?

If we look at living beings like animals and birds, we do not find any difference between them and us. Those beings eat food, sleep and procreate. We also do the same. All beings other than man grow horizontally; but man grows vertically. The meaning is that we are meant to go high.

This body is made of five basic elements- earth, water, fire, air and space. If any one of them is missing or reduces, we cannot live. If they are not in balance, health will be affected. If earth principle is predominant, the body will be stout. If water is excessive, there will be diseases like cold. If Agni is dominant, there will be burning sensation and constipation. If air is excessive, there will be stiffness in joints. Paramatma resides in each living being’s body and ensures the balance of all the elements. If we do not express our gratefulness to that Paramatma and pray to him every day, of what use is our human birth?

The difference between us and other living beings is unclear if we bide our time without thinking of where we were before, how we were, for what purpose we have come here, where we will go, what our state will be there etc.

Fire does not catch in a wet log of wood. It starts burning only after the moisture dries up by the heat of the sun. In the same way, we do not get Gnana (true knowledge) when the mind is wet with mundane objects. Gnana will dawn only when the mind is dried with the Agni of Vairagya (non-attachment).

The remedy for cleaning up the mind consists of brahmacharya (celibacy), ahimsa (non-violence), bhutadaya (compassion towards all beings), absence of crookedness, dispassion to mundane objects, purity, absence of haughtiness, truth, absence of arrogance, steadfastness, absence of pride, meditation on God, company of those who know Brahman, love of Gnana sastra, equality, not desiring honour, being alone and desire of Moksha (Liberation).

Having started with samskaras and continuing with upanayanam, one may wonder why something else is now being addressed. All this is necessary in order to emphasise that it is the duty of everyone to think of the above matters and by such thinking alone, the necessity of samskaras and the importance of proper observance of them will become clear.

A citizen, who is interested in a house, has to pay house tax. One, who is interested in land, has to pay land tax. If you desire profit and interest, you have to pay income tax. An ascetic, who has abandoned all these things, need not pay any tax and can go and sit in front of an officer without a trace of fear. One, who desires a good harvest, would put good manure, remove weeds and irrigate in good time. Similarly the householder, who desires water, food, shelter and materials for himself and his dependents, should certainly pay his debt to Devas.

Humans of this world cannot create a banana leaf or a food grain even if many specialists in chemistry work together. Just as one has to pay municipal tax and district board tax for living in a municipality and government tax for living in a country, we are duty bound to pay our debt to Devas as long as we live in this world.

“The habit in the cradle continues upto the cremation ground.” The way we train our child in the beginning will determine his future life.

Hence a father, who is interested in the welfare of his child, is duty bound to perform his upanayanam in proper time and arrange for his Veda adhyayanam for at least a year, living in accordance with the rules of brahmacharya asrama and chanting Gayatri uninterruptedly without mistakes of diction and swara (accent).


Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai

Veda Dharma Sastra Paripalana Sabha was commenced with the Blessings of Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji in the year 1942 with the objective of protecting and propagating the Dharmas through various means including publications. The Sabha is continuing to perform various activities like conducting Veda Sammelans and Vidwat Sadas etc. in various towns and cities, with the Blessings of Pujyasri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji and Pujyasri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji.Tamil version of this article and other similar articles in Tamil can be accessed on this website at

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