11 June, 2013

The Sixteen Samskaras in Hindu Religion

According to the Parashar Smruti Just as a picture is painted with various colors, so the character of a person is formed by undergoing various samskaras. Thus, the Hindu sages realised the need of consciously guiding and molding the character of individuals. According to the Atri Smruti A man is born a Shudra; by performing the Upanayana Samskara he becomes a Dvija; by acquiring the Vedic lore he becomes a Vipra; and by realising Brahma he becomes a Brahmin.

The 16 samskaras that Rishi Veda Vyas propounded are considered the most important rites of passage in a Hindu's life.

1. Grabhaadhan: Pre consummation rites which purify the parents 
2. Punsavana: Fetus protection 
3. Simanta: Satisfying wishes of the pregnant Mother 
4. Jaatkarma: Natal rite purifying the new born 
5. Naamkaran: Naming Child 
6. Nishkramana: Taking the child outdoors 
7. Annaprashan: Giving the child solid food. 
8. Mundan: Hair cutting. 
9. Karnavedh: Ear piercing 
10. Yagyopaveet: Sacred thread 
11. Vedarambh: Study of Vedas and Scriptures 
12. Samaavartana: Completing education 
13. Vivaah: Marriage 
14. Vanprastha: The person retires for a life of tapas & studies.
15. Sanyas: Before leaving the body a Hindu sheds all sense of responsibility & relationships to awake & revel in the timeless truth.  
16. Antyeshti: Last rite, or funeral rites.