By Swami Harshananda
Snātaka literally means ‘one who has taken the ceremonial bath after student-hood’.
A brahmacārin was expected to take a ceremonial bath at the end of his student-period and seek the permission of his guru to return home after paying the gurudakṣiṇā. Such an one was called ‘snātaka’.
Types of Snātaka
Snātakas were of three types:
- Vidyāsnātaka - one who had finished the course of Vedic studies but had not kept the Vedavratas or Vedic vows
- Vrata-snātaka - one who had kept the vows but could not complete the course in the stipulated period
- Vidyāvratasnātaka - one who had finished both
The last one was considered as the best of the three and was highly respected.
Attributes of Snātaka
- He could then return home and settle down as a gṛhastha or householder.
- A snātaka could be introduced to an assemblage of learned men by his guru.
- The dharmaśāstras give innumerable rules for a snātaka to observe.
- Most of them are concerned with his physical safety and maintenance of the purity of his life.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore