Difference between revisions of "Talk:Dharma Shastra Introduction to Samskāraḥ"

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{{Author|Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana
{{Author|Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana and Jammalamadaka Srinivas}}
Jammalamadaka Srinivas}}
{{AlternateSpellings|Samskara, Samskaarah, Samskar}}
{{AlternateSpellings|Samskara, Samskaarah, Samskar}}

Revision as of 15:46, 10 May 2019

By Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana and Jammalamadaka Srinivas

Sometimes transliterated as: Samskara, Samskaarah, Samskar

The Indian traditional literature has its deep roots in the Vedas. There is an indirect relationship with almost all the philosophical and technical concepts. There are six Vēdāṃgaṃ or the literature which is meant to protect the structure, meaning and purpose of the Vedas. Each and every Vēdāṃgaṃ has its own task. Kalpaḥ is one among them. Kalpaḥ mainly deal with the karma/anuṣṭānaṃ and its order/ sequence. According to its content, kalpaḥ is again further divided into two parts:

  1. Śrauta sūtraṃ
  2. Gṛhya sūtraṃ

Stages of Life

There are four different stages of lives prescribed by tradition.

  1. Brahmacaryaṃ - It is the first stage where we acquire knowledge from teachers/Guruḥ.
  2. Gārhasthyaṃ - It is the second stage where we take some responsibilities of the society after marriage.
  3. Vānaprasthaṃ - It is the third stage where we train ourselves to know the eternal truth.
  4. Sannyāsaṃ - It is the fourth stage where we leave all the relations to attain the eternal truth.

Significance of Gṛhya bhāgaḥ

All the Samskārāḥ and its significance are elaborated in the second part i.e Gṛhya bhāgaḥ. According to the etymology, 'Gṛhē bhavaṃ' Gṛyaṃ means the set of prescribed rules in the Gārhasthyaṃ because it is believed to accommodate all the other three. So the duties of an individual are extensively discussed in Gṛhya bhāgaḥ.

Various Interpretations of Samskāraḥ

The word Samskāraḥ is derived from the root verb 'Ḍu kṛṅ karaṇē', which means to do. After a collaboration with a suffix 'saṃ', and a brief grammatical procedure, we get the complete word. As the term can be used in a vast sense, many etymologies emerge. Some of them are:

Ādi Śankarācāryaḥ

Saṃskārōhi nāma saṃskāryasya guṇādhānēna vā syāt dōṣāpanayēna vā[1]

The above said verse means to clean by taking away the pollutants or to enrich with purity.

Kumārila Bhaṭṭaḥ

Yōgyatāṃ ādadhānāḥ kriyāḥ saṃskārāḥ[2]

This verse delineates a set of actions which make oneself capable.

Samskāra prakāśakāraḥ

Ātma śarīrānyatara niṣṭaḥ vihitakriyājanyaḥ atiśayaviśēṣaḥ saṃskāraḥ[3]

It means that the virtuous excellence is derived because of the meritorious actions situated either in the soul or body.

So by evaluating the above-told etymologies, we can come to the conclusion that the term 'Samskāraḥ' means 'A set of meritorious actions, which are helpful in cleansing and enriching our body and soul to attain the eternal truth.'

“Chitrakarma yathānekai raṃgairunmīlyate śanaiḥ| brāmhhaṇyamapi tadvatsyāt saṃskārairvidhipūrvakaiḥ||”[4]

According to Gautama there are 48 saṃskāras[5]. They are –

  • Garbhādānaṃ
  • Puṃsavanaṃ
  • Sīmantōnnayanaṃ
  • Jātakarmā
  • Nāmakaraṇaṃ
  • Annaprāśanaṃ
  • Chaulaṃ
  • Upanayanaṃ
  • 9-12 4 vedavratas
  • 13 Snātakaṃ
  • 14 Vivāhaḥ
  • 15-19 Deva-pitṛ-manuṣya-bhūta-brāmhaṇa yajnāni
  • 20-26 7(seven) Pākayajnaṃ
  • 27-33 7(seven) Haviryajna saṃsthāḥ
  • 34-40 7(seven) sōma saṃsthāḥ
  • 41-48 'Dayā, kṣāntiḥ, anasūyā, śauchaṃ, anāyāsaḥ, mangalaṃ, akārpaṇyaṃ, aspṛhā' 8 (eight) Ātma guṇāḥ

According to different Gṛhya sūtraṃ the number of the Samskāraḥ may vary, but we can come to a conclusion that there are fifteen (15) Samskāraḥ accepted by most of them. Deva-pitṛ-manuṣya-bhūta-brāmhaṇa yajnas, 7 Pākayajnas, 7 Haviryajna saṃsthas, 7 sōma saṃsthas are rarely performed by selective people. 8 Ātma guṇas are normally imparted by moral stories et cetera in sanātana culture. By including Antyēṣṭi we can conclude that the popular Samskāraḥ performed by many are sixteen(16) in number. Antyēṣṭi is the saṃskāra which is performed after one's death to dispose the body which the soul left.

yasyaitē chatvārimśat saṃskārā na cāṣṭāvātmaguṇā na sa brahmaṇaḥ sāyujyaṃ sālōkuaṃ ca gacchati|[6]

One who does not get refined himself with these 48 saṃskāras, does he not the sāyujyaṃ and sālōkuaṃ of the bramhan. That means that he does not attain Mokṣa. The real purpose of these saṃskārāḥ is Mōkṣaḥ - final emancipation, the deliverance of the soul from recurring births or transmigration, but these saṃskārāḥ do not result in Mōkṣaḥ directly. They are considered to give chittaśudhdhiḥ[7], which would ultimately lead to Mōkṣaḥ.


  1. Brahmasūtra Bhāṣyaṃ 1.1.4
  2. Tantravārtikaṃ 3.7.6
  3. Dharmakōśaḥ vol-1
  4. angīra smṛti, smṛti muktāphalaṃ, p.no. 72
  5. gautama dharma sutra-8|14-24, smṛti muktāphalaṃ,p.no. 73
  6. gautama dharma sutra-8|25, smṛti muktāphalaṃ,p.no. 73
  7. Purification of soul