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JOURNEY FROM LIFE TO LIFE - Samskaras - The Sacraments PDF Print E-mail
Books - eBooks
Article Index
Sakam Karma
Murti Pooja
Cosmos, Consciousness and the science of souls
Samskaras - The Sacraments
Namkaran Samskar
Graduation Samskara
Vivaaha samskar
Ganesh Pujan
Antyesthi Samskara
All Pages

Every culture consecrates the milestones of life with ritual and festivity. In India these rites of passage, called Samskaras, are celebrated in the home and in the temple, marking our spiritual journey on the earth. Hindus celebrate life's crucial junctures by holy sacraments, or rites of passage, called samskaras, which impress the subconscious mind, inspire family and community sharing and invoke the Gods' blessings.

For the Hindu, life is a sacred journey in which each milestone, marking major biological and emotional stages, is consecrated through sacred ceremony. Family and friends draw near, lending support, advice and encouragement. Through Vedic rites and mantras, family members or priests invoke the Gods for blessings and protection during important turning points, praying for the individual's spiritual and social development. There are many sacraments, from the rite of conception to the funeral ceremony. Each one, properly observed, empowers spiritual life and preserves Hindu culture, as the soul consciously accepts each succeeding discovery and duty in the order of God's creation. There are 16 popular samsakara and these include the rites of conception, the three-month blessing, hair-parting, birth, name-giving, head-shaving, first feeding, ear-piercing, first learning, puberty, marriage, elders' vows and last rites. The Naamkaran, Graduation, Vivaha and the Antyeshti Samskaras are popular and of greater relevance and therefore we will limit our discussion to these in this book.

Common Procedures
The place of yagya should be neat, clean and pure. It should be pure in ground, air and its vicinity. This should be free from any kind of disturbance. It is important to realize that cleanliness alone is not enough. There is emphasis on purity and absence of disturbances. These relate to what effects impurity may have on these processes. The purification and the clearance of disturbances can also be helped with chanting of certain kind of Mantras.

A Yagyashala or a yagyamandap is made with specific measurements. This is place where the sacrament is performed. It should be cleaned with brush every day and decorated appropriately. It is obligatory that everyone prays to the divine through the performance of yagya for the well-being of all. For this purpose of Homa (Oblations) are offered. The dimensions of the yagyakunda usually depends upon how many Oblations are going to be offered.

Small pieces of certain specific wood are cut into for the purpose of wood fuel. These are then placed in to the middle of the yagyakunda after making sure that they are clean and not infested with worms. There are four kinds of articles for the Homa which include articles with fragrance (kasturi or musk, keshar or Rotileria tinctora etc.), of strength (ghee, milk, fruit etc.), of sweetness (sugar, honey date etc.) and of herbs (somalata, paan etc.). Then a prasaad is prepared for offering.

All these are common to most Samskaras. Now we will take up individual sacraments or rites of passages and discuss the basis of our thoughts with some details of the process as well.


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