What is Ritual According to Ayurveda

what is ritual

Samskara is a multifaceted and essential Sanskrit word that is frequently used in Hinduism in various contexts. The term generally refers to the many purification procedures used to sanctify and refine a person’s body, mind, and intellect. 

These samskaras must be completed for a person to be considered a full member of the Hindu community. The word is usually translated into English as ‘ritual’ by western scholars. A series of actions performed automatically with no explanation or deep significance is referred to as a ritual or ceremony. In this article, some contents are from Mr. Rajiv. Babaji explains why such a translation is incorrect and leads to a gross misunderstanding of the meaning of this Sanskrit phrase in this video conversation titled Samskara.

Samskara

Ritual is a mechanical thing you do without really much understanding of it. Samskara is derived from the verbal root ‘skr’ by adding the prefix ‘sam,’ which means purification or embellishment. For example, suppose you get a diamond from the mine, so it is not the same as what you see on a ring or some necklace when you get the diamond. There is a lot of Samskara in the diamond, which means that you remove what is unwanted. 

Samskara involves the three functions of removing the undesirable bad qualities, adding the missing good attributes, and purification of a human. The whole purpose of Hindu Dharma is to protect the human mind. They are done to purify your body and mind, so all of the Samskaras start from conception. As the person is giving birth, there is a combination of Prakriti and Purusha, and a Karma is coming from the past life. So there are a lot of impurities.  

How to Purify?

There’s a field, and there’s a seed. The area has to be prepared even if you have a good source and the seed also has to be purified. So from the very conception, the Samskara is done for. Samskaras are done to impress a person with good qualities and perfect his personality. 

For example, there’s hardware, and there’s software. Samskara is the software. Even if you have excellent hardware but useless software, that hardware has no meaning, and it may not function. This means that if you have a beautiful, muscular body but if your mind is crazy, you will harm yourself and society. 

16 Major Samskara (41 total)

  1. Garbhadhana – before conception
  2. Pumsavana- 3rd month of pregnancy
  3. Seemantonnayana- protection of mother and fetus
  4. Jatakarma- for the well-being of the newborn
  5. Namakarana- the naming of the child
  6. Nishkramana- taking the child out for the first time
  7. Annaprashna- first feeding of solid food
  8. Choodakarana- tonsuring of hair
  9. Karnavedha- piercing of ears
  10. VIdyarambha- learning alphabets
  11. Upanayana- wearing the sacred thread
  12. Vedarhamba- beginning of Vedic study
  13. Keshanta (boy)- first shave; Ritushuddhi (girl)- first menstruation
  14. Samavartana- end of studentship
  15. Vivaha- marriage
  16. Antayeshti- funeral

Lastly, the final one of Samskara is Shraadha Samskara (Antyeshti) which is, after the death, Shraadhaya is performed every year. 

Stages in a Person’s Life

Samskara is done by Brahmana. Brahmins perform samskaras learned in the Shastras. Samskara is a very scientific process, it’s not just about purification, but also it gives a sense of identity, which is very important. Samskaras are performed at various critical stages in a person’s life and herald the entrance of a person into a new phase of life.

The problem in society is people are not very clear about their identity. So if the people are not clear about their identity, they don’t know their duties and responsibilities. You have to understand the purpose of Samskara because it is not the same as the word ritual. Samskaras have a clear meaning behind them. Specifically, the essential part is keeping your mind very pure. Because if your mind becomes polluted, then your actions will be polluted. 

Each life event, the Samskara is done by an expert so that the person will be programmed to put into the right state of mind to manage his life according to that new situation. Samskaras are not perform for the sake of continuing a tradition. So a clear benefit of the person as the result of the Samskara is understood that there’s an expert who conducts the Samskara and a sense of identity comes along with it. For more knowledge about Ayurveda and Vedic Culture, subscribe to Organic Ayurveda Life!

Source: Samskara ≠ Ritual | Sanskrit Non-Translatable

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