WHAT IS A SANSKAR ?
Fundamental vibration is sound; while a combination of sounds is word. Consider a combination of pious group of words. Its recitation at different planes with full concentration and with divine faith is called a Mantra. Recitation of Mantra in a serene and appropriate atmosphere, with specific intention, can achieve explicit manifestation to the words in the Mantra. For example during one of the Upanayan processes, the priest recites appropriate Mantra and puts Yagnopavit around the Batu. This is a Sanskar. The words really empower the Yagnopavit. Mantra can be very powerful.
It is known that in the ancient time sages were able to get highly powerful ASTRAS by reciting appropriate Mantras. For example the one Karna used on Ghatotkach.
In Hindu religion sixteen Sanskars have been recommended on humans. Upanayan is eleventh one included therein
(Apart from this presently we also inculcate good manners and etiquettes on children. Do we not tell them not to waste food in the plate, not to spill food etc?. These are also Sanskars).
GAYATRI MANTRA—An eternal source of energy
Power of Gayatrimantra is tremendous; it is almost impossible to explain the power of this mantra with words. In built in it are words, sound, divinity, faith and strength. Regular recitation of this mantra activates cells in the brain. The Gayatri mantra is powerfull than mantra of any language in the world and has been recognised by western philosophers. In this context reference can be made to Justice Woodruff and Ledbeater. The latter philosopher has published his research in this respect; which says that pronouncement of seven Vyahrutis with appropriate emphasis, create calmness and pleasantness in the air. He has given a photograph of how a ray of glow of Sun reaches a devotee who does repetitive recitation of Gayatri Mantra in standing posture.
Vedas have recommended Gayatri upasana. Bhagavan Shrikrishna used to do it as given in Shrimat Bhagavat. On the foundation of Tapascharya of innumerable Rishis Gayatri upasana bears fruits early.
UPA means near; NAYAN means to take one close to. Upanayan means to take Batu to Guru’s house for broader studies. In ancient times Batu used to stay there for twelve years and study Vedas. Upanayan means second birth; hence Batu then onwards is known DVIJ. Over a period of several decades, the lifestyles have undergone sea change . All the same the value of the Sanskar has not reduced a bit. This Sanskar emphasizes
1. GAYATRI UPADESH
2. BRAIN ENRICHMENT
3. MEMORY EFFICIENCY.
MUHURT : To mark the beginning of the ceremonies, on an earlier day, it is customary to invite five ladies and to prepare Turmeric powder with their help.(Turmeric has medicinal value; this paste is applied to Batu on the day prior to Upanayan). Also Papad and Sandage are prepared; which are used for ceremonial lunch (these eatables have long shelf life)
The entire Upanayan programme was spread over a span of two days.
On first day processes that were carried out, are briefly given below
1. Invocation of GOD. The family deity and other deities are invited to witness and bless the entire Upanayan ceremony. Popularly called founding DEV DEVAK.
2. HALAD: Turmeric paste (prepared on the earlier day ) is applied over Batu’s body before his bath. This is to prevent evil forces acting on him.
3. GRIHASHANTI: The various planets are worshipped as also sub-planets. Oh all of you bless us and our guests. Ancestors are remembered. Let our ceremony be peacefully carried out.
4. SUVASINI PUJAN: Five married ladies from maternal side are honoured by offering coconut, ornament and sweets.
5. GADEGNAR or KELVAN: The Batu is honoured with coconut and sweets. Indicating start of the ceremonies.
6. Visiting Ganapati temple to invite Lord Ganesha to the ceremonies.
The second day’s programme lasts for about three hours. The various processes that form part this programme are given below in brief.
Everybody including Batu take proper bath at residence. (assumed that other ceremonies are held in a different place called hall). Thereafter all move to the hall.
With proper mantra the barber carries out chuda karma or choul karma. (Jayawal is done much earlier in life; but as a Sanskar it is done now.) Arnav preferred to do haircut and not opt for a bald; which is recommended. The shika or shendi recommended has religious significance also. This is followed by another Abhyangsnan.
As the name suggests the Batu takes meal from mother. It is supposed to signify that now for the last time the mother feeds the son. Thereafter he is on his own.
The Batu sits on the mother’s lap and the loving mother virtually feeds the sweets etc. with her own hands. There were eight other boys/girls accompanying the Batu taking meals surrounded by a host of ladies. They also would like to feed the Batu or rather would consider it as an honour. So they did turn by turn. Arnav enjoyed all this rather than getting bored. An enthusiastic group of ladies sang in chorus a Matrubhojan song. The traditional song is given in appendix.
It was a feast to eyes to see an elite group of ladies draped in colourful saris singing in a unified voice as also to witness the entire Matrubhojan.
Batu with Mundavali stands on one side and father stands on the other side . Antarpath as the name suggests is held in between. The priest started the usual preliminary mangalastak; but then our ladies wanted also show their talent. In their melodious voice they sang; how Batu is brought up by his beloved mother and father; and is now ready to take broader studies.
All of us hear those musical notes time and again, in Upanayan & in wedding, but every time one listens to them his innermost self stirs within. There is pin drop silence and atmosphere is serene. The rhythm in the last stanzas is just superb, it takes one to the crescendo. Everybody anxiously awaits the moment of reckoning, the start of second life; Batu becomes “DVI-JA”; (the bride and bridegroom start their married life.) The Batu and father exchange the garlands. Half the ceremony is over; up to here everybody participates with interest.
MINIATURE YAGNA – HOM
Yagna means purification, Yagna means a river of alms, Yagna means a flame of valour destroying evil forces. The reverberations rising from the recitation of Mantras during the Yagna electrify living as well as non living matters. Such is the power of the Yagna. A miniature of Yagna is kindled in the Upanayan ; it is called HOM. Small size firewood and ghee are the main offerings. Cooked rice is also offered.
A number of processes are now carried out by giving offerings in the Hom involving Batu, priest and father.
According to Hindu Sanskar of purifying, rubbing, cleansing or removing impurities before inculcating noble qualities in the Batu, a yadnopavit is wound around the shoulder. This is to signify that he would now commit to discipline, austerity and sincere studies. Yagnopavit is three strand thread with three knots. The three strands are to signify three Vedas. The Yagnopavit is purified by Gayatri recitation ten times.
AJINA ( LEATHER MADE FROM SKIN OF DEER ) DHARANAM
A leather is given to Batu, for strength & stamina building, success, etc.
SAVITA (SUN) WORSHIP. This is prayer to please GOD Sun.
HRUDAYALAMBHAN. This Batu clad in appropriate clothes & covered by the leather sheet having entered second life is proceeding to higher studies. Let him be honoured with higher education. Let the Rishis and Yogis assist him to transcend.
In a certain posture under a cover the priest gives the Diksha. First Batu requests , then priest narrates one by one, PRANAV, VYAHRUTIS, FIRST PART & SECOND PART Thus the complete Mantra is narrated to the Batu.
Now Batu has to recite this Mantra every day, at least for eleven times, in clear and loud pronunciation. (No one hears of anybody doing Sandhya as a daily ritual, recommended in the scriptures for the Batu.)
Stick of Palash is given to Batu with appropriate Mantra. He says let my ugly qualities be killed by the stick. Also I be protected if offended from any direction.
Medha means memory. It is considered right time (the Upanayan) to do this Sanskar on the Batu. A small branch of Palash tree is worshipped in this ceremony. Batu now prays : Oh great Palash tree, you are strong, make me strong like you; you keep hearing & remembering all the happenings in this world. Make my memory also similar to yours. Rishi Angiras, the seven Rishis, Indra, Agni and Brahmadeo you all give me superior memory so that it will help me remember my studies. Saraswati Devi give me a sharp memory.
BHIKSHAWAL--- COLLECTING ALMS AND FOOD
In the ancient time the Batu would now on live on alms collected called MADHUKARI and carry out his studies. In the present times this process is more of pomp. Batu takes a small bag made from a cloth, rod in one hand, asks mother, OM BHAVATI BHIKSHAN DEHI; Oh mom give me food to carry during my journey to Kashi (Varanasi). Specially made ladus are given by the mother along with Dakshina. Then he goes round and various people gathered also give him. In fact in Arnav’s case there appeared rush mainly of ladies to offer Bhiksha and presents.
Voyage to Kashi. These days with plenty of opportunities close by Batu does not have to go to Kashi. So one maternal uncle stops him and tells him, oh, Arnav pl. do not go I shall give my daughter to you after your studies. ( This does not happen )
As happens in most ceremonies these days visitors meet and greet each other and it is a get to gather also. The host has already made arrangement for a sumptuous lunch, which the invitees enjoy. At the end everybody bids good bye to Arnav.
1 GAYATRI—VIGNYAN ANI UPASANA by Shripadshastri Kinjavdekar
2. Kumaransathi DHARMIC SANSKAR & NITYAKARMA by Sidheswarshastri Chitrav
3 GAYANACHA SANGRAHA by Smt. Usha Patwardhan