By Swami Harshananda
- to sip
- ceremonial sipping of water in rituals
Rituals give concrete shape to basic truths and lay down the practical disciplines to be followed which will ultimately lead to the realization of those truths.
While there are a large number of defined rituals, even basic acts of daily routine, like cleaning the teeth or bathing, can be elevated to the level of a religious ritual. The idea behind this is that our whole life is a yajña (sacrifice) or sādhanā (spiritual practice).
Most rituals are preceded by ācamana or ceremonial sipping of water. A few drops of water, as much as can immerse a grain of blackgram, are taken in the palm of the right hand cupped like a cow’s ear (gokarṇa) and sipped from the root of the thumb. This process is called as brahmatīrtha. After sipping water three times, various parts of the body like the eyes, ears, nose, chest and head are touched with the wet hand in a specific order.
Ācamana is performed in a sitting posture. The process of ācamana is believed to cover the prāṇa (basic life-energy, considered as a deity) in order to protects the performer.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore
- Ācamana by Jit Majumdar