Importance of Samskaras

Today Gurudeva talks about the importance of samskaras, how beginning with the name-giving sacrament at one month through first feeding, ear boring, coming of age, and marriage, these religious ceremonies help shape and reinforce the person's religious life.

Unedited Transcript:

Today at Kauai Aadheenam, it is May 3rd and the doors of our Cyberspace Ashram are open to you. Wonderful to have your darshan and to see you looking at us.

The question has come up about, "What is the value of sacrament in the Hindu religion?"

Well, there are four denominations within the Hindu religion. The Vaishnava denomination, the Smarta, the Sakta and of course the Saivite denomination, which is the oldest.

Sacraments are very important. For a little child, the name-giving sacrament is the first one that it would have, approximately one month after birth. Now, it is true maybe the child doesn't remember the name given to it until it is reminded later on in life. But, all the ceremony that goes along with the name-giving, deeply impresses the child's subconscious mind. Children are smarter than you think. A little child one month old may have been an old, wise pundit a few years before. Think about it. Children are smarter than you think.

The first-feeding sacrament means solid food is fed to the child for the very first time. The family gets together and they go to the temple, or hire a priest to come to their home. A grand ceremony happens. The Gods are invoked, the child is blessed. This also adds to the first samskara, within the subconscious mind. Then, the ones that follow are numerous. The ear-boring, the coming-of-age and finally, the marriage sacrament after path-choosing.

What is path-choosing? Choosing the path to be a sannyasin or a family man. Now, we might wonder how many sannyasins are there in the world? Estimates tells us about 3 million, mostly in India. The Swami Narayana order has 652 sadhus or sannyasins, last count. The Ramakrishna Mission over a 1000. In our order, we only have 15, but a good number in-training.

The sacraments given from birth to death - and the last one is called the antyeshti samskara - are very important, all through the life of a Hindu.

What happens if the families neglect to give a samskara or a sacrament to a child? The child may wander off at 20 or 30 thirty years of age into another religion. Because, there are no lasting impressions within the mind of a child, to keep him on the straight and narrow of the Sanatana Dharma, the oldest religion in the world. During teenage years, children forget all the sacraments and all the samskaras, which mean deep impressions in the mind, and are often investigating life and feeling themselves to be more adult than perhaps, they actually are. They are testing their limits, seeing how far they can go, how far they can push. They are learning about life. Nevertheless, vibrating within the subconscious mind are the original, religious impressions. When a young person becomes a little older, and settles down in life, those memories surface, creating him into a very religious person.

Now, we are going to hear the same thing again in the beautiful Tamil language, exquisite French language and the lovely Malay language. We'll talk again on this tomorrow.