From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia


By Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana

Sometimes transliterated as: snānaṃ[1], snana, samāvartanaṃ[2], samavartana, āplavanaṃ, aplavana

vēdamadhītya snāsyan ityuktaṃ samāvartanaṃ[3]

Snātakaṃ is the saṃskāraḥ performed after the completion of traditional studies. It literally means 'taking the ceremonial bath after finishing traditional vedic study and returning from the teacher's place.' This is also considered as the gateway for marriage. some consider this a angaḥ/mandatory ritual before marriage. So a person who takes this ceremonial bath is called snātakaḥ.

adhīty snātvā gurubhiranijñātēna khaṭvārōḍḍavyā[4]

We find some interesting comments related to snātakaṃ in mahābhāṣyaṃ, the great commentary on vyākaraṇaṃ/sanskrit grammer by maharshi patanjali. When the student is a bachelor he is not permitted to use a cot to sleep. He is expected to sleep on the ground. Here patanjali states that only after completing his study of veda he gets the acceptance of his teacher for the ceremonial bath, only after that he will be permitted to use the cot. Usage of a cot indirectly indicates marriage.

na tu samāvartanaṃ vivāhāngaṃ| tēna yaḥ pitṛgṛhē ēva adhītavēdaḥ tasya asamāvṛttasya sambhavatyēva vivāhaḥ|

But according to medhātithi, one of the oldest and most famous commentators on the Manusmṛti, it is not a compulsory ritual before marriage. If a boy wants to remain bachelor/brahmacārī all his life or if a boy completes his vedic education near his father (not residing in his guru's house for education) this ritual is not applicable.

Types of snātakaṃ

trayaḥ snātakā bhavanti vidyā snātataḥ vrata snātakaḥ vidyāvrata snātakaḥ iti[5]

According to most of the dharma sūtra's

A snātaka is said by the Pār. gr. (II. 5),976 Gobhila (IIL 5.21-2), Baud. fr. pariblāsā sūtru l. 15, Hārīta and others to be of threu kinds, viz vidyāsnataka (or Veda-snätaká 18 Baud. gr. pari bhāṣā has it), vratasnätaka and vidyā-vratasnātaka ( or veda vrata-snataka as in Bauit). One who has finished Veda study, but has not gono through the vratas ( described abovo ) is called udiju-snūłuka; one wbo hats finished tho vratas, but has int finished his Veda study is stylod omnct-sutilaku; while one who has finixbed both is named ridyo-true-smūhihi, Yiij. 1.51 in Naying that a student 'after finishing Veda (study ) or the vintage ( observances of bralumacarya) or both, and after giving to the teacher what the latter choose to zuk should take the ceremonial bath with the teaclier's peronission' impliedly refers to the three-fold division of enätakas. Tego three alteriwtives are due to the fact that a student mixy not have the ibility or the time to go througli the full Vedic curriculum and the 

... .. . ........ ........... - ... -- 375. Fara T a R ais yn ar 47971 1975427. I. III, 9. l.; वेदं समाप्य स्नायाद् ब्रह्मचर्य वाष्टाचत्वारिंशकं द्वादशकप्यके गुरुणानुज्ञातः । पारस्करगृह्य 11. 6. 976. 77: farci varat Fanar air anatrafi ga i FACZ वेदमसमाप्य तं यः समावर्तते स विद्यास्नातकः समाप्य व्रतमसमाप्य वेदं यः समावर्तते सवतस्नातक उभयं समाप्य यः समावर्तते स विद्यावतस्नातक इति । पारस्करगृह्य II.5; Erga as quoted in ka. I. p. 66 is the sainc. 408 History of Dharmmsusira 1 Ch. 111 vratak Medbälithi on Manu IV, 31 notices that according to some vrata-snātakas are those who without finishing Veda study take the ceremonial bath tbreo years after upanayana. Gobhila (III. 5, 23 ) says that of these, vidya-vrata-snätaka is the best, the other two being equal to each other, Ap. Dh. S. (I. 11. 30, 1-5) refers to this three-fold division and adds that all throo are to be honoured as snātakas, but that great reward follows sy honouring vidya-vrata-snātakas. A good deal of time may conceivably elapse betwoon it Man's taking the ceremonial bath and actually marrying # woman. During that period he is called & snātaka ; while aftor marriago he comes to be called a grhastha 97? As long as a Derson is not married after he takes the bath, he has to follow the olmervances prescribed for snătakas and grhasthas so far as applicable to his position but not those of a student. Gaut. 578 (X. 1-2) makes the position quite clear by prescribing the mille rules of conduct for grbasthas and for snätakas. He also states ( in III. 9) that whatever rules laid down for brahma Cirins are not opposed to the special rules for other āśraunas are to ho observed by all. The latter means that the special obser Vances of a hruhmacārt are not applicable to him (such as avoiding loney and flesh, living on alms, offering fuel-sticks to fire j. The most elaborate procedure of sanävartana is found in Hir. gr. 1. 9-13, Baud. gr. paribnüşü 1. 11, Pär. gr, 11. 6 and Gobhila gr. III 4-5. A concise statement is given below from Ašv. gr. (I11. 8 and 9). The student who is about to return home from his teacher should get ready (oleven) things, viz. a jewol (to be suspended round his neck ), two ear-rings, a pair of gar mnents, an unbrella, a pair of shoes, a stalf, a wreath, (powder) for rubbing bis body with, ointment, eye-salve, a turban, ( all these ) boing meant for the teacher and for himself. If ho cannot afford to have these materials for both of them, then he ........ ... .. 977. 31 TTASAFFAT HTETTE FE TE FUT: 1 . 7. FRITITT 1. 15. 10. 978. Vido TC OU TAR IX. 2 (Far ) adirearGF27 zarare THAT FUTATTARE ATELTH I F71472759 TT. धिगमासंभवे यावजीवं गृहस्थधर्मा एगनुष्ठेया इति सूत्रमारब्धम् ।. हरदत्त on आप. प. 1. 11. 30. 6 ( 9 Farra:) siys that some of the manai are common to TITTYG. According to En On 3717. 5. 1. 11. 30, 3 sata in afara does not stand for the spocial as like haviat, but for the general winservances such 9a, sauf. Ch. VII) Procedure of Samāvartana 409 should prepare them only for the teacher. He should procure 8 fuel-stick from the north-east side of a sacrificial tree (like palāśa ); the fuel-stick may be undried if he wishes for the enjoyment of food or for prosperity or for splendour; it may be dry if he wishes for spiritual lustre ; or both dry (in part) and undried in the remaining part if he desires both. Having placed the fuel-stick on high (not on the ground ) and having made gifts of food and of a cow to brāhmaṇas, be should perform the actions prescribed in godãng ceremony (and not the obger vances like remaining silent). He should 979 alter the inantras (of godāna) so that they refer to himself. (He should rub himself) with the powder of Ekaklitaka, 980 Having bathed himself in lukewarm water and having put on two garments which have not yet been washed (or used ) with the mantra * You two (Mitra and Varuņa ) put on garments 981 with fat splendour' (Rg. I. 152.1); he should apply eye-salve to his eyes with the words ' thou art the lustre of stone, protect my eye.' He should fasten the two ear-rings with the words 'thou art the lustre of stone; protect my ear.' After having smearod his two hands with ointment (saffron paste &c.) a brähmang should first anoint his face with it (and then the limbs), a Räjanya his two arms first, a vaiśya his belly first, a woman her private parts, persons, who maintain themselves by running, their thighs. With the words 'free from distress art thou, may I become free from distress' he should put on the wreath, but not such a wreath as would be called a mālā (garland ). If some call it mālā ( through ignorance of what to say ) he should cause thom to speak of it as sraj ( wreath). He steps into the shoes with the words ' you two are the supports of the gods, protect me from all sides and with the 979. This means:-instead of 1979 Faraha re T:'(3 . T. 1. 17. 8-9) repeated in it and iam (hy the 311*rf) the student should himself repeat the mantra assiqü ETAFT Aİ FTIW AT AT FH:'. Instead of the mantra 'शुन्धि शिरा मुखं मास्यायुः प्रमोषीः, repeated by the आचार्य in गोदान, the student should himself say 'शुन्धि शिरो मुखं मा मे ry: Trat: 1 980. aasisi e ra i TICÍTETT THE Firewall peryor on 311. . III. 8. 8. It is tbe seed of the tree which con tains only ono grain that is to be powdered. 981. The mantra h PTO is to be repeated with each garinent. The eye-Halve is to be applied to the left eye first and then to the rigbt, Bays Nardyana quoting a sinrti. The ear-ring is first to bo fastened on tho rigbt ear and then on the left.

  1. . D. 52

taing 001 319. 7. TIT vai spio 410 History of Dharmasastra [ Ch. VII words "heaven's covering art thou' he takes the umbrella. He takes the bamboo staff with the words "bamboo art thou, thou art the child of a tree, protect me from all sides.' Having tied round his neck the jewel988 with the hymn beginning with Ayuşyam :,983 and having arranged the turban ( on his head ) he should in a standing posture put a fuel-stick (on the fire), and should say at that time memory and reproach, knowledge, faith, wisdomn as the fifth, what is sacrificed, what is given (as gift), what is studied and what is done, truth, learning, observances. Agni, the vow (of thee) together with Indra, with Prajapati, with the sages, with the sages that are ksatriyas, with the Fathers, with the kings among Fathere, with men and with the kings among men, with the glow, with the super-glow, with the after-glow, with the counter-glow, with gods and men, with Gandharyas and Apsarages, with wild and domestio animals, the vow be longing to my own self, dwelling in my own self, that is my entire vow. O Agni! I shall on all sides become this vow, svāhā'. With the hymn 'mine, O Agni, be the glory' ( Rg, X. 128. 1) be should put fuel-sticks on fire one for oach verso, 984 He should stay for the night at a place whero the people will do honour to him (by offering Madhuparka )'. Madhuparka will be dealt with under marriage. The Baud. gộ. paribbāşā guys (1. 14. 1) that the samăvartana rite for him who is only a vratasnātaka (and has not studied the Veda ) is performed silently (i, o. without the mantras prescribed ). The other gļhya sütras have a similar procedure in samãvartana, only the mantras sometimes differ and a few details are added. 982. Närāyana on Āšv. gì. I. 8. 16 anys that the mani' is anvar namaya (made of gold). Ap. gr. 12. 8 speaks of #magiri suuvarnam gopadhãouin'(a golden head with two precious stones on two sides ). 983. This sukta is a khila sūkta in the Rgveda. It oocurs in the $14. . 91. II. 8. It is in praise of gold. 984. Närāyana adds on Axv. gr. III. 8.16 that he should keep aside his shoes and then offor the fuel-stick. Stenzler conjoctores pr: for p in 347. T. III. 9. 1, which is unwarrantod and upnocosbary. The sūkta Rg. X, 128 has nino versos. Nārāyana says that those is to be home with ten samidhs; the tenth verso, tberefore, is tho vorso ayusyam' which is the first vorge of the Khilasūkta after Rg. X. 128. The erstwbilo student is to offer samidhs sitting and not standing and end the rito with the offering to Sviptakıt Agai. Ch, VII) Procedure of Samāvartana 411 For example, Sän. gr. ( III. 1, 2 ) makes the student sit on bull's hide. Pär. gr. ( II. 6 ) prescribes that eight jars full of water are to be placed on kusa grass and water therefrom is to be poured over the head and the body of the student with certain mantras, that he is to worship the rising sun, to par take of ourds or sesame seeds, to cleanse his teeth with an udumbara twig, he sees himself in a mirror ( after adorning himself). Both Pár. and Gobhila (III. 4. 23 ) say that in this rite the girdle is taken off. Gobhila ( III. 4. 31-34 ) says that at the end of the rite the student should mount & chariot drawn by oxen, drive some distance in an eastern or northern direction, should then come baok to the teacher who honours him with madhuparka. Hir. gs. (I, 9, 10) says that the girdle, the staff and the black antelope skin that he wore as brahma cărin aro to be thrown into water. The Laghu-Ašvalāyans smrti ( 14th section ) appears to suggest that godãng and sama vartana take place on the same day and that at the end of the homa in sumăvartana a student of the Rgveda should unloosen the girdle of muñjn grass with the inantra 'ud uttamam muugdhi' ( Rg. I. 25. 21 ). It is for this reason that in the Marathe country samāvartuna is called 'sodmusja' (rite in which the inuñja girdle is taken away ). The sūtras more or less prescribo expressly or impliedly the same materials that are required by Aśvalāyana. Vide Bhār, gr. II. 18 ( which enumerates them in one place ), Baud. gs, paribhāṣā sūtra I. 13. 1. Some of the sutras specify the auspicious times when this rito is to be performed. Hir. g!, I. 9. 3 lays down that the proper time for snāna is during the northern course of the sun, in the bright half of a month when the moon is in conjunction with Rohini, Mrgaširas, Tişya (Pusya), Uttarã Phalguni, Hasta, Citrā, or Visakhã. The Baud. gr. paribhāşı (I. 13. 3-9) omits Mșgaširas out of these, while Bhär. gr. (II. 18 ) omits Rohiņi and Mrgasiras and adds Svāti. Medieval and modern digests add elaborate rules about the astrological details for the proper day of samāvartana, which are passed over here. Vide Samskāraprakāśa pp. 576-578 for some of these details. Numerous rules are laid down in the smstig and digests about snätakas (snätakadharmāḥ). Many of these rules are applicable to grhastbas also (i, e. snätakas who have married). Those rules are too numerous to enumerate. But some idea may be conveyed by quoting in full the rules in Asv. gr. 412 History of Dharmaśāstra [ Ch. VII (III. 9. 6-7) which has the shortest treatment and adding a few interesting items from other works. Ašv. gr. (III. 9. 6-7) says "He ( the snātaka ) should not bathe at night, nor bathe naked, nor lie down naked, he should not look at a naked woman except during intercourse, he shall not run when it rains, he should not climb up a tree, nor descend into a well, should not cross & river (by swimming) with his arms, be should not expose himself to a danger. A great being indeed is a enātaka-go it is known (from the śruti)'. Āp. Dh. S. (I. 11. 30. 6-1 11. 32. 29), Vas. XII. 1-47, Gaut. IX, Yāj. I. 129-166, Manu IV, 13ff, Vispu Dh, S. 71, Pär. gr. II. 1 contain an exhaus tive treatment of snätaka vratas. Some of these are concerned with the rules about anadhyāyas, about answering calls of nature, about persons whogo food should not be taken, about sexual intercourse, about acamana, about daily observances like the five mahāyajñas, about upakarma and utsarjana. These have been or will be dealt with in the appropriate places. A few of the other important rules of conduct are: a snataka should always be pure (in body), should daily bathe and should apply fragrant unguonts (like sandal-wood paste) to his body, should be always patient, persistent in his under takings, self-restrained, generous and not disposed to cause injury to others (Gaut. 9. 7 and 73 ); he should speak the truth and also speak wbat is agreeable, but should not tell disagree able truths, nor should he tell agreeable lies (Manu IV. 138 and Gaut. IX. 68 ); he should according to his ability try to make his day fruitful as regards the perforinance of meritorious acts, satisfaction of ( legitimate ) desires and acquisition of wealth, but he should look upon dharma as the principal of the three puruşārthas (Gaut. IX. 46-47, Manu IV, 176, Yāj, I. 156 ), though be should avoid even what is allowed by the śãs. tras if it is bateful to the people; he should not beg (for his liveli hood) of anybody except the king or his pupils, but when oppres sed by hunger he may beg a little such as a cultivated or uncul tivated field, a cow, goats and sheep, or gold, coru, food (Vas, XII. 2-3, Gaut. IX, 63-64, Manu IV. 33-34, Yāj. I, 130); but he should not beg of a king who is not of ksatriya descent or who sets at naught the dictates of the sāstras (Menu IV. 84, 87) nor should he stay in the kingdom of a südra king (Manu IV. 61); he should not talk with the mlecchas, impure persons and irreligious persons (Gaut. IX. 17 ); he should not dwell in contact with sinners, cândālas and other untouchables, with fools or persons puffed up with the pride of wealth &c. (Manu IV.79); he should Ch. VII ) Snataka-dharma 413 not be restless in his sexual desires or with his hands and feet, speech and eyes (Gaut. IX.50, Manu IV. 177, Vas. VI. 42 ); be should go round ( perform pradaksiņā ), when he meets on his way a cow, images of gods, a brāhmaṇa, ghee, honey, a square, well-known trees (Manu IV. 39, Gaut. IX. 66 ); he should not engage in wordy quarrels with his parents, guests, brothers, sisters, persons connected by marriage, maternal uncles, dependents, relations, sacrificial and family priests, children, wife, slaves (Manu IV. 179-180=Santiparva 244, 14-16, Yāj. I. 157-158 ); he should carry & bamboo stick, a water jar, kusa grass, weer two yajñopavitas, two garmente (upper and lower) and two golden ear-rings (Manu IV. 36, Yaj. I. 133, V&s. XII. 14, 37-38); if he has inoney enough he should not wear old and dirty clothes, his garments should be white, he should not wear garments that are dyed and black cloth even when that is its natural colour ( Āp. Dh. S. I. 11. 30, 10-13, Manu IV. 34-35, Yāj. I, 131, Gaut. IX, 4-5 ) nor should be wear the clothes, shoes, and garland of another and if he wears these of another owing to poverty, he should thoroughly clean them (Gaut. IX. 6-7, Manu IV.66); be should not allow his beard to grow unless there is some good ground to do so and should pare his nails (Gaut. IX. 8, Manu V. 35, Yaj. I. 131); while his shoes are in his land he should not sit on e seat nor should he saluto a person or bow to a deity (Gaut. IX. 45 ); he should not blow with his mouth to kindle fire (Manu IV. 53, Vas. XII. 27, Gaut. IX, 32); he should not hold simultaneously in his hands fire and water nor should ho como between the fire and a brāhmana nor between two brähinanas without their permission (Äp. Dh.S.II.5.12.6-8, Vas. XII.28-30); he should not eat food in the same plate with his wife, nor should he see his wife while she is eating or applying eye-salve or when she is yawning or sneezing (Manu IV.43-44, Vas. XII.31, Gaut. IX. 32); he should not use a seat or pādukdy or tooth brush made of paláša (Vas. XII. 34, Gaut. IX. 44, Ap. Dh. S. I. 11. 32. 9); he should wear a wreath (of flowers) and ointment so as not to be easily noticed ( Ap. Dhi, S. I. 11. 32.5, Manu IV, 72, Vas. 12. 39, Gaut. IX. 32 ); be should not see the sun rising or setting (Vas, 12. 10, Manu IV, 39, Ap. Dh. S. 1. 11. 31. 20); he should not be kulamkula985 and should not 985. 5 y is variously explained. Ta on t. explains it as * stay at hoine' and gives another's explanation as 'one' who loaves bis fouily and goes to another i. e, studies anothor's kūtra' &c. History of Dharmaśāsira I Ch. VII go over a rope by which a calf is tied (Vas. XII. 8-9, Gaut. IX. 52-53, Manu IV. 38 ); he is not to point out the rainbow to another when he sees it in the sky (Manu IV. 59 ) nor is he to employ the word 'Indradbanuḥ' for it, but the word 'manidbanuḥ' (Vas. XII. 32-33. Gaut. IX. 23, Ap. Dh, S. I. 11.31. 18 ); he is to employ certain euphemisms e. g. he should not speak of a cow that yields no milk as 'adhenu' but as *dhenu-bhavya' (who would become dhenu later on), he is not to employ the word 'bhadra' for a thing that is auspicious, but he should employ the words' punya or praśasta '; what is not 'bhadra' he should speak of as 'bhadra' and should not use the word "kapāla', but the word ' bhagāla' for it (Gaut. IX, 20-22, Ap. Dh. S. I. 11.31. 11-14); he should not inform a person when a cow does some damage or allows her calf to have milk without tho owner knowing it (Ap). Dh. S. I. 11. 31. 9-10, Gaut. IX. 24-25 ); he should onter or leave liis village from the east or north (Ap. Dh. S. 1. 11. 30. 7) and should not enter a village or a guarded Louso by a by-path ( Madu IV. 73, Yāj. I. 140, Āp. Db. S. 1. 11. 32. 23 ); at the two twilights he should be seated outside the village and should be silent ( Āp. Dh, S. I. 11, 30. 8); he should not wander about by day with the head covered, but lie may do so at night or when answering calls of nature (Gaut. IX. 35-37; Ap. Dh. S. I. 11. 30. 14 ); he should avoid finding fault with a Oow, a fee given or a maiden (Äp. Dh. S. I. 11. 31. 8); he should not resort 988 to inferior men or to countries in which such persons abound nor should be frequent gambling houses or meetings of clubs (Ap. Dh. S, I. 11. 32. 18-20, Vas. XII. 40); he sliould try to dwell in a place that abounds in fuel, water and grass, kušas, flowers, that has a court-yard, and is mostly peopled by Aryas, that has industrious and religious people (Gaut. IX. 65 ); he should take his food, answer calls of nature, 986. 972 ugrattaina gar a ##T: THIS IS19, 21. I. 11.32. 18-19. Comparo 3779. 27. I. 1. 3. 12 T: FASSETT (raro). Fris definod in the I.4.27 as 'CHU AĦT ET ETTER #FAT 798 formai BET PATS: 1 T EMAT: H7 0:1' In the Rock Edict No. 1 at Girnar (C. I. I. vol.1) Doronin Priya orders that do samtja be held as he saw yrave faults in it'a FAST EI PASIRO@ rai put &c.' In the Nosik cavo Inscription No. 2 Gotamīputa is described as ###(E. I. pol. VIII, p. 60). FAH may noun festival', Vide Y&j. I. 84. Ch. VII) Snataka-dharma 415 engage in dalliance with his wife, engage 987 in yoga practices in a place screened from public view and he should guard his speech, intellect and strength and should keep his wealth and age very secret; but he should make public the repayment of a debt, & gift, mortgage or sale, the gift of bis daughter in marriage, the letting loose of a bull (in śrāddha) and a sin done in secret. Manu (XI. 203 ) says that the prayaścitta for not observing the rules of conduct laid down for snātakas is fasting for a day. Haradatta on Gautama IX. 2 says that the rules for snátakas are meant for brāhmana and kşatriya snätakas only, that the prāyaścitta for non-observance is also to be undergone by them and that the vaisya onātakas are not obliged to observe these rules.

In modern times samāvartana often takes place & short time aster upanayana and sometimes on the 4th day thereafter or even the next day. As many brāhmaṇas do not learn any part of the Veda, samāvartana has become a mere matter of form in their case.
  1. a cerimonial bath which indicates the completion of studenthood
  2. return from teacher's house to one's home
  3. bodhāyana gṛhyasūtraṃ 11.6
  4. mahābhāṣyaṃ vol 1. p:384
  5. pāraskara gṛhyasūtraṃ