Vaidika Samskaras

May 30, 2016 | Author: slgaikwad21 | Category: Types, Books - Non-fiction, Religion & Spirituality
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Om, Sri gurubhyo namaha

Vaidika Samskaras Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian 1. Introduction

teachings to be useful to humankind, our Rishis, through their inquiry, extracted the vedic wisdom, like extracting a precious metal from the ore! Consequently, a new family of l i t e r a t u r e k n o w n a s Sootras ( c r y p t i c statements) - emerged, such as, the Strouta sutras, grihya sootras, dharma sootras etc. Since the sootras themselves were abstract, commentaries on these sootras were given by Rishis in the form of smritis, s u c h a s , YAjnavalkhya smriti, ParAsara smriti, etc. The term smriti refers to a ‘remembered idea’ (from the vedas). Later, itihAsas (RaAmAyanNa and MahAbhArata) and purANas (BhAgavatam SkAndam etc.) were written in the form of personified stories, to make these concepts understandable to common people.

Over the ages, humankind has always strived to reach perfection and to explore the ultimate Truth. In this quest, every religion has some unique features. Some of the unique features characteristic of the Hindu Faith or sanAtana dharma are: ·The concept of God as the very creation itself. For example we come across passages like,

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Om, Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

Vaidika Samskaras (contd..,) S. Yegnasubramanian

(Sections and sub-sections are numbered in continuation from the previous article)

i. D"\SQuE>g\BwLearning in brahma-carya ASrama and teaching in grihastha –ASrama, to maintain the guru-Sishya paramparA, is prescribed. If cannot teach, one should perform a ritual at least, known as brahmayajna, which is a nitya karma.

In the previous article in Volume 5 No. 3&4 of Paramaartha Tattvam, we discussed one of the most

important

samskAras,

the

vivAha

samskAra, which is the fourteenth samskAra of the forty-one samskAras mentioned in the first article of this series (Paramaartha tattvam, vol. 4

ii. LSW2\B6WXWS5PÁPerformance of tarpaNa during amAvAsya etc. occasions, to worship the ancestors.

No. 1, Jan-Mar 2002). We will continue the discussion with the rest of the samskAras in this article. All the discussions are based on

iii. KRPRGHYw- Offering oblations to devatas like Indra, agni, varuNa etc in hom, to express our gratitude to the natural forces and seek their blessings.

tradition and scriptures; several of them are seldom in practice these days. The samskAras after vivAha are not popular

iv. ELO 5ZWw- bhUtayajna – or vaiSvadeva – to protect birds and animals.

today. As was noted earlier, the vivAha samskAra is the 14

th

samskAra. There are 26

more samskAras which are highly ritualistic.

v. Q2\BwDLWLTS8MQPÁhumans in society.

However, for the sake of completeness, we will outline them briefly in this article. classified in to four categories: panca-mahA-yajnas sapta-pAka-yajnas sapta-havir-yajnas sapta-soma-yajnas Total

for

other

PancamahAyajna is a very important samskAra for a grihastha.

The remaining 26 samskAras can be broadly

1. 2. 3. 4.

Respect

As mentioned above, three groups of seven yajnas each are also prescribed as part of the forty samskAras. All these are fire-rituals and are very seldom done these days. Before discussing these twenty one rituals, it is useful to understand a few details.

5 7 7 7 26

During the vivAha samskAra, a particular fire ritual known as vivAha homa is performed. That vivAha-homa-agni is supposed to be preserved till a person dies or takes to sannyAsa. All the above mentioned 21 yajnas are to be performed in that agni alone. (At the time of sannyAsa, the person renounces all karma and gives up all agnis, and so is called nirAgni.)

6. panca-mahA-yajnas : There is a nice sloka which gives all the five mahAyajnas.

D"\SQ E>g\B LSW2\B6WXWS5PÁ KRPRGHYw ELO 5ZWw Q2\BwDLWLTS8MQPÁ 21

The grihastha is supposed to perform a nitya karma known as aupAsana, twice a day, in that agni (This ritual can be considered as a replacement of samidh AdhAnam.). The same agni is used for all the later samskAras of the children – upnayana, vivAha etc. – and other karmas, like SrAddha etc. When the son gets married, the father’s vivAha agni goes to the son, and so, is supposed to be maintained eternally.

As was mentioned earlier, the vivAha agni is also known as smArta agni. This agni is maintained in a circular kuNDa. A portion of this agni is taken to perform vedic rituals – srauta karmas – and is called srauta agni. The fourteen yajnas, namely the sapta-havir-yajnas and sapta-soma-yajnas, which are prescribed in the Vedas, are performed in the srauta agni, which should be preserved all the time. Elaborate procedures are given regarding the use of this agni for the performance of the 14 rituals. The yAgSAla is also known as a “devayajna”. The kalpa-sutras contain a description of it, not omitting minute details. There are altars called “cayanas” to be built with bricks. (There are no cayanas for havir and pAkayajnas. ) Several kinds of ladles are used in making offerings in the fire, “tarvi”, “sruk” and “sruva” etc.

Since these agni samskAras are connected with the well being of the family, it is called grihya agni. This will vary from family to family; for example, for Rigvedis, it is prescribed by the AswalAyana grihya sutras; for yajurvedis, by the Apasthamba griya sutras; for sAmavedis, by the gobila griha sutras etc. These rituals are not given in Sruti (the Vedas), but prescribed by the Rishis in grihya sutras – from smritis. Since rituals prescribed in the smritis are performed in this agni, it is also called smArta agni, grihya agni, aupAsana agni etc.

The srauta agni is like the master of the griha – the grihapati - is supposed to protect from all calamities etc. and so is called the gArhapatya agni This is divided in to three, before the ritual. On the eastern side, a square kuNDa is established and a portion of the gArhapatya agni is transferred. There are prescriptions regarding the size of the kuNDa, the size of the bricks etc. This agni is called Ahavaneeya agni.

It is in this smArta agni, the first set of seven pAka yajnas are performed. 7.

sapta- pAka-yajnas :

These involve the offering of cooked grains in the form of a gruel, and are done at different times, and frequencies: i.

sthAlI pAkam – twice a month

ii.

pArvaNam - once a month

iii.

ashTakA – once a year

iv.

caitrI, - once a year

v.

AsvayajI – once a year

vi.

SrAvNI - 4 months in an year – (August to November).

vi.

AgrahAyaNI - conclusion of SrAvaNI once a year.

On the southern side of the gArhapatya agni another kuNDa – semicircular in shape – is established. Another portion of fire from the gArhapatya agni is transferred to this kuNDA and is called dAkshiNAgni: srauta agni

Ahavaneeya agni

Immediately after vivAha, the first of the seven pAkayajnas, namely, sthAlIpAka, is intitiated. 22

gArhapatya agni

dAkshiNA agni

nirUDha-paSubandha –The 6th and the 7th rituals are done in a very big scale, generally, once an year, outside the house.

Since the smArta agni is never divided, it is also called ekAgni, and, since the srauta agni is divided in to three, it is also called tretAgni.

vi.

Most of the srauta rituals are done in the Ahavaneeya agni. No ritual is actually done in the gArhapatya agni and is only a witness. After the performance of the ritual, the Ahavaneeya agni and dAkshiNAgni are joined back in to gArhapatya agni.

vii. sautrAmanI once a year. The last three haviryajnas - cAturmasya, nirudhapaSubandha and sautrAmani - are performed in a yAgasAla. 9. sapa-soma-yajnas In these yajnas, soma juice is offered with the chanting of sAma veda in high pitch. All are very big yajnas and are done outside the house, for the benefit of the entire country. The seven yajnas are:

When a person dies, his cremation is performed using the srauta agni. The smArta agni is preserved for the wife. When the husband dies first, he will use up the srauta agni, and the smarta agni will be used to cremate the wife, which is supposed to give her svarga loka. If the wife dies first as a sumangali, part of the srauta agni will be used for her, which is believed to give her brahma loka. One should remember that these rituals are prescribed in the karma kANDa, only for those who are not jnAnis!

ii.

agnihotra – a daily ritual

AgrayaNa – once a year. - The above 4 rituals are small rituals, done, mostly, within the house.

v.

cAturmAsya – different from what sannyAsIs observe. This ritual is performed three times in an year, once every four months.

atyagnishtoma

v.

vAjapeya

vi. atirAtra vii. AptoryAma It is generally observed that one does aupAsana and agnihotra daily, and the rest, at least once in a life time. During vivAha, the first smArta yajna, namely, sthAlI pAka, and the first srauta yajna, agni AdhAna are initiated. Among the 21 yajnas, the seven pAka yajnas are done in smArta agni and the remaining 14 are done in srauta agni, till death or till becoming a sannyAsI!

iii. darSa-pUrNa-mAsa performed twice a month – on amAvAsya and poorNimA days iv.

ii.

iv. shoDasI

Thses are supposed to be performed in the Ahavaneeya agni. The seven yajnas are: agni AdhAnam - Division in to three; this division itself is a ritual; done only once. It has to be maintained. If it goes off, prAyascittam is to be done!

agnishtoma or jyotishtoma

iii. uktyam

8. sapta-havir-yajnas

i.

i.

As already mentioned, the daksiinAgni and the Ahavaniyaagni are made from the gArhapatyAgni. When srauta rites for the fathers have been performed in the dakhsinAgni and other srauta rites in the AhavaniyAgni, the two fires no longer have the exalted name of “srautAgni” and are just like any other ordinary fire and they have to be extinguished. Only the gArhapatya and

23

aupAsana fires throughout.

are

to

be

kept

burning

In

pAkayajnas

there

are

no

rtviks;

the

householder (as the yajamAna) performs the

On every prathama (first day of the lunar

rites with his wife. In haviryajnas there are four

fortnight), a pAkayajna and a haviryajna have to

rtviks and the yajamAna. But the udgAta’s place

be performed in the grhyAgni and srautagni

is taken by the agnidhra. The udgAta is the one

respectively. The first is called sthAlipAka.

who sings the sAman. It is only in somayajnas

“Sthali” is the pot in which rice is cooked and it

that there is sAmagAna, not in haviryajnas. In

must be placed on the aupasana fire and the

cAturmasya and pasubandha there are more

rice called “caru” cooked in it must be offered

than the usual number of priests

in the same fire. The rite that is the basis of

In somayajnas, there is the full complement of

many others (the archetype or model) is called

priests - the hota, the adhvaryu, the udgAta and

“prakrti”. Those performed after it, but with

the brahmA. Each priest is assisted by three

some changes, are known as “vikrti”. For the

others. So in all there are sixteen priests in a

sarpabali called sravani and the pAkayajna

somayajna. agnistoma which is the first of the

called agrahayani, sthAlipaka is the prakrti.

seven somayajnas is the prakrti (archetype) and

The haviryajna performed on every prathama is

the other six are its vikrti. These six are:

“darSa-pUrNa-ishTi”, “darSa” meaning the new

atyagnistoma, uktya, soDasi, vaajapeya, atiraatra

moon and “pUrNa” the full moon. So the

and AptoryAma.

“ishTis” or sacrifices conducted on the day

In the old days a Brahmin used all his wealth

following the new moon and the full moon (the

in performing the somayajna. Much of this was

two prathamas) are together given the name of

spent in dakshiNa to the priests and the rest for

darSa-pUrNa-ishTi. The two rituals are also

materials used in the sacrifice. There was also

referred to merely as “ishTi”. This is the prakrti

a time when even poor Brahmins performed

for haviryajnas.

this sacrifice every spring ( “ vasante vasante “)

For soma sacrifices “agnistoma” is the prakrti,

by begging! A Brahmin who conducted the

the word “stoma” also meaning a sacrifice.

sacrifice every year was thus called “prati-

One who performs an elaborate sacrifice like a

vasanta-somayAjin.

somayajna is called a “yajva”, “eeikshita” or

10. Final samskAra – antyeshTi

“makhin”. And one who conducts the greatest of the somayajnas, vaajapeya, is known as a

The final samskAra after death (obviously

“vaajapeyin”. Sacrifices are called variously

performed by the son or other near relative), is

“kratu”, “makha”, “ishti”, “stoma”, “samsta”.

antyeshTi – antya ishTi –final yAga.

There are some difference between these.

The individual offered so many things during

The person who performs the yajna is called

the 40 rituals all through the life. Finally, the

the yajamana and those who perform the

body itself is offered to the agni.

sacrifice for him are called rtviks (priests) who

It is believed, that, after death, if the person

consist of the hota (Rg veda priest), adhvaryu

has to get a better life in the next janma, the

(yajurveda priest) udgAta (sAma veda priest) and

person should be purified of all sins and the

brahmA (atharva veda priest)

fire does the purification. 24

Near the dead-body, certain rituals are performed, including a homa, as a prayer and for the safe journey of the subtle body. The son takes the srauta agni; the cremation ground is purified; there are rules regarding the type of wood; the body is bathed and new dress is put on – symbolic of leaving this body as a old cloth and taking on another body as a new cloth. Several mantras are recited for the various limbs to go back to the corresponding total divinities – the eyes will go back to the Sun God; the ears will go back to the directional deities etc. The day following cremation, the bones are collected – sancayanam karma- and thrown in to the river. An elaborate ritual lasting 13 days is performed. GaruDa purANa is recited so that the departed soul will be guided by the proper devatAs and reach the proper desitination.

The cremation is not performed for sannyAsI, essentially for two reasons: i.

At sannyAsa, the person has given up agni

ii.

the sannyAsa ASrama itself is a great fire of purification and so agni samskAra is not needed. If the person happens to be a jnAni also, there is no need for any samskAra – no question of reaching higher loka etc. @\uD¢PuFNX\5WÁGKLGNwL€\w

For the three Asramas, dahanam etc. rituals are done; and \WHwLNLŠ©NW59\u for, sannyAsIs, nothing is to be done as samskAra; Not only that, there is no one need to do karma for him, and he never does karma to any one.

Rituals are performed for 12 days to develop various organs: For example,

QFD1\H:uNURLWVw

1st day

Development of body, head

Why? Because a jnAnI is akartA!

2nd day

sense organs, brain, etc

All the samskAras are needed only when one depends on something or some body for purification. When the jnAnI himself or herself if pure, the jnAna agni will remove all impurities.

10th day

Loses its preta status

11th day

prayer for the well being of the jiva in the next janma

12th day

the jiva to join the pitr loka - sapinDIkaraNam – the term piNDa (rice ball) symbolizes Sareeram– which is merged with the ancestors.

From the hygiene point of view, cremation seems to be a good choice to destroy germs etc. which may affect others.

If the person has done puNya himself or herself, he/she will attain good janma; if not, the rituals are supposed to enable getting one.

At the time of death, the person is supposed to remember God. If cannot, others recite God’s names, Gita, Upanishad etc. Giving gifts – dAnam – is considered very noble and sacred; is done immediately after death, by others.

13th day

25

forget the past; start with an auspicious note – Subham

7. D6S2Kabsence of attachment

On the 13th day, the asaucam (or uncleanliness) is believed to go away. There are essentially two aspects regarding asaucam:. 1.

From the medical stand point – germs etc. are likely to be with the intimate visitors, who are essentially close relatives; like a quarantine, the spreading is minimized. grihya sutras also give a lot of details.

2.

Mental shock and du:kham remain. With frustration and sorrow, a person will have only dislike and so is given time to get over that.

8.PuJOPÁauspiciousness / DQ1Gw Absolute DQ1Gw requires Atma-jnAnam. But one can get relative quietitude through the practice of these. When a person is endowed with the above AtmaguNas, he becomes an adhikArI – the eligible – for vedAnta and for the ultimate knowledge. Endowed with the Knowledge, the person has no worry about next life, krama muktI, svarga loka etc. Such a person is pUrNa: and lives with the awareness aham brahma asmi. Thus the samskAras lead to AtmaguNas which give adhikAritvam to gain Knowledge which gives liberation – moksha. If a person does not get the AtmaguNas in this life, with the antyeshTi samskAra, it is hoped that one will get them in the next life!!

However, there are some exceptions for asaucam – for example, brahmacarIs, sannyAsIs, and one, in the midst of an yAga, even if a grihastha, do not have asaucam. Our scriptures have prescribed these samskAras to facilitate a person to attain the eight great virtues – Atma guNas, which are:

This concludes a cursory discussion of all the 41 vaidika samskAras.

1. G\- Compassion, sensitivity to others etc.

Source Material:

2.

1.

Hindu Samskaras, Rajbali Pandey, Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi, 1998.

2.

The Book of Samskaras, Prema Rasa Dasa, Bhakti Vedanta Book Trust International, 1977.

3.

Lectures Madras.

4.

Hindu Dharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan 1995.

L1Wwpatience, forbearnce, capacity to face provoking agitated

situations

without

getting

3. DQV8\absence of jealousy 4. [ZFPÁpurity internally and externally

DQ\Vwabsence of tension / anxiety 6. DNS5\PÁ absence helplessness

of

miserliness

or

26

by

Swami

Paramarthananda,

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