By Swami Harshananda
samskāras (‘refinement’, ‘sacraments’)
The word samskāra, in a technical sense, means a ritualistic act (accompanied by appropriate mantras) by which a person is rid of his defects and limitations, and, made refined by adding some speciality.
Such samskāras as listed in the smṛtis and dharmaśāstras vary from 16 to 40. However, 16 samskāras—generally called ṣoḍaśa-samskāras—have been widely accepted.
See SODAŚA-SAMSKĀRAS for details.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore