There are three meanings of Sanskaar in Hindu Religion.
(1) Perfecting - Whatever basic habits are formed in very childhood are also
called Sanskaar in later years, e.g. "If parents keep the foundation of
good Sanskaar in a child, he will become a good man in later years." For
example if Parents makes a habit to do daily chores (a set of daily routine)
in early morning time, say at 5.00 am, and if it continues till death, that is
called Sanskaar. Such habits die hard, sometimes do not die at all.
(2) Whatever actions we have done in our previous lives, they form our future
and nature in our next lives; because only according to them our next life is
decided. This nature results from such actions is called Sanskaar. When a person
behaves in a certain way without teaching it, then it is said that "his
Sanskaar are like that".
(3) Purifying. Purifying of a person
is done by ceremonies. Ceremonies for sanctifying. According to Paraashar there are
13 Sanskaar; according to Manu Smriti there are 12 Sanskaar, and according to
Aashwalaayan there are 11 such ceremonies, among which some of which have become
obsolete. There are only 6 ceremonies which still are performed by most people.
Although there are 48 Sanskaar (see below) in all, but 16 Sanskaar are principal Sanskaar or
say religious rites of a person since his birth till death at time to time, such as -
(1) Conception (Garbhaadhaan) Sanskaar (as soon as the conception is known)
(2) Punsavan (Milk) (performed in 3rd month)
(3) Vedic Rites (Seemantnayan - performed in 6th month)
--(4) Janm or Jaatkarm Sanskaar (at the time of birth)
--(5) Naamkarn Sanskaar (Nishkraman - after some time of birth - shown to Soorya),
--(6) Nishkraman Sanskaar - Taking the child outdoors first time.
--(7) Annpraashan Sanskaar (When a child is given cooked grains for the first time)
--(8) Mundan (Choodaakaran) Sanskaar - in this all first hair (hair of birth) of head are shaved.
--(9) Karn Chhedan Sanskaar - In this the child's ear are pierced. It is done normally in the
3rd or 5th years of age.
--(10) Yagyopaveet or Upanayan Sanskaar (in which Yagyopaveet or Sacred Thread is given to
child and he is sent to Guru) - see also Upanayan
(11) Vedaarambh or Study of Ved (sometimes the 10th and 11th Samskaar are done together
and sometimes at some interval)
--(12) Samaavartan Sanskaar - Completing the education. Although now-a-days education is never
complete but it is performed when a basic education is completed.
--(13) Vivaah Sanskaar (marriage ceremony)
(14) Sarv Sanskaar - Preparing for Renunciation.
(15) Sanyaas (Avasthaa Dhyaan) - Renouncing.
--(16) Daah Sanskaar (Antyeshti) - last rites.
These Sanskaar are described in
detail in Grihya Sootra (see also Sootra). A brief
description of each of them is given on next page.
The Sanskaar which have two dashes (--) before them are now-a-days the main
Sanskaar in use; others are optional - (1) Janm Sanskaar, (2) Naamkarn Sanskaar,
(3) Annapraashan Sanskaar, (4) Mundan Sanskaar, (5) Upanayan Sanskaar, (6) Vivaah
Sanskaar, and (7) Daah Sanskaar. Others are optional.
Names of 48 Sanskaar
3. Seemaant Unnanam
4. Jaat Karm
5. Naam Karn
6. Anna Praashan
9-12. Four Prajaapatya Ved Vrat performed in Gurukul
13. Samvartan Vrat on return
14-18 - Panch Yagya
14. Brahm Yagya
15. Dev Yagya
16. Pitri Yagya
17. Manushya Yagya - Atithi Yagya
18. Bhoot Yagya - Vaishwadev Yagya
19. Marriage (Paani Grahan)
20-27 - Seven Paak Yagya
21. Sthaalee Paak
27- 33 - Seven Havir Yagya (Hom Yagya)
27. Agni Aadhanaa
29. Darshpaurn Maas
31. Chaatur Maasya
32. Nirood Pashu Band
34-40 - Seven Som Yagya