16 Sanskar– The Depth of Sanatan Existence
Sanatan Dharma is the way of living life. It is the science of ‘human welfare’ because Sanatan Dharma is based on science.
Science is governed and commanded by Vedas, Upanishads, Shastras, Puranas, and other religious texts.
There are sixteen sacraments or rites of human life in Sanatan Dharma. Let us understand them:
1. Garbhadhan Sanskar means the rite of conceiving. This rite had great importance in ancient times. After asking a knowledgeable astrologer about the day and muhurta, the Husband and wife used to meditate on God while being intimate with the desire to have children. The purpose of this sanskar was that the person should not indulge in mindless lust.
2. Punsavan Sanskar is performed after three months of conceiving. Punsavan Sanskar is conducted after three months because the brain of the fetus starts developing after three months in the womb.
3. Seemantonnayan Sanskar- When the woman’s pregnancy reaches 6 months, then at that time, the mother should receive the Seemantonnayan Sanskar for the child to come. Through this sanskar, mental strength is provided to the pregnant woman.
4. Jaatkarma Sanskar- There is a ritual to perform this sanskar before severing the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. A child coming in direct contact with this divine world is given honey and ghee from a piece of gold with reciting Vedic mantras for intelligence, strength and longevity. This sanskar is performed with special mantras and methods. After giving a mixture of two drops of ghee and six drops of honey to the baby, the father performs a yajna and, after reciting the nine mantras, prays for the child to be intelligent, strong, healthy, and long-lived. After this, the mother breastfeeds the child.
5. Naamkaran Sanskar- On the 10th day of birth, the purification ceremony of Sutika is performed, and the naming ceremony is done. According to Gobhila Gahyasutrakar, a naming ceremony or naamkaran sanskar can be done even after 100 days or 1 year of birth.
6. Nishkraman Sanskar- The Nishkraman Sanskar is the sixth rite in Hindu religious rites. In this, taking the child out of the house for the first time is called Nishkramana. In this, the child is shown the sun. The child should not be exposed to sunlight right after birth.
7. Annaprashan Sanskar- Annaprashan is a Sanskrit word which means ‘the beginning of the consumption of grains’. Annaprashan is a sacrament in Sanatan Dharma in which parents start feeding grains to their child with complete rituals and worship rites. This sanskar is performed by feeding rice to the child for the first time.
8. Choodakaran Sanskar — In the Hindu religion, it is necessary to clean the scalp by removing the hair on the head that came with the birth of the child. It is done because awareness is necessary for the systematic intellectual development of the child, removal of evil thoughts, and development of noble thoughts.
9. Karnavedha Sanskar- Karnavedha Sanskar is the ninth sacrament in Hindu religious rites. This sanskar is performed to enhance hearing power, wear ornaments, and protect health. This sanskar is performed from 6th month to 16th month or in odd years like 3rd, 5th etc.
10. Upanayana Sanskar- Out of 16 sacraments of Hindu religions, the 10th sacrament is Upanayana Sanskar. It is also called Yagyopavit or Janeu Sanskar. Upa means panas and Nayan means to take to. It means to take to the guru or teacher. It was widely recognized in ancient times. In this sanskar, the Upanayana ceremony of a Brahmin child takes place in the eighth year, while that of a Kshatriya child in the 11th year, whereas in the 15th year of a Vaish child. In this ceremony, the child wears a Janeu made of thread. In many religious texts, there is a law for the upanayana ceremony of the girl child as well.
11. Vedarambh Sanskar — This rite is related to the acquisition of knowledge. Veda means knowledge, and through Vedarambh, the child now starts imbibing the knowledge in himself; that is the meaning of this sanskar. As per scriptures, there is no brighter light than knowledge. In ancient times this rite had particular importance in the life of people. After the Yagyopaveet, the children were sent to the Gurukuls, to the qualified teachers, to study the Vedas and get acquainted with the specific knowledge.
12. Vedasnan or Samavartan Sanskar — It is the last rite of study. After the completion of his studies, the graduate brahmachari returns to his home after getting the permission of his revered guru. That is why it is called Samvartan Sanskar. The result of Samvartan-sanskar is to be entitled to enter the householder life.
13. Marriage Sanskar- The marriage ceremony is important in Hindu rituals. The poetic expression of marriage rituals has been described in Rigveda and Atharvaveda. The basis of the household or family life is the marriage ceremony. After this ceremony, the bride and groom enter their new life.
14. Vanaprastha Sanskar- After completing the responsibilities of the family as soon as possible, by handing over his tasks to the heirs, Vanaprastha Sanskar is done so that one’s personality is gradually fully engaged in social and charitable works.
15. Parivrajya or Sannyasa Sanskar — It is the Panchadasa Sanskar. By entering the sannyasa-ashram, one has to practice Brahmavidya, and through the practice of Brahma, one has to take measures to attain liberation or Kaivalya Dham. Putraishna, Vittaishana and Lokaishana, and all other desires must be abandoned.
16. Antim Sanskar — A funeral or funeral ceremony is one of the 16 rites of Hindu religions. This sanskar is the last rite of Hinduism. This sanskar is performed after the death of a person by his family members.