What Are the Sacraments of Hindu Childhood?

Lesson of the Day
Aum symbol
From The Master Course by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The essential religious sacraments of childhood are the namakarana, name-giving; chudakarana, head-shaving; annaprashana, first solid food; karnavedha, ear-piercing; and vidyarambha, commencement of formal study. Aum.

Samskaras impress upon a child its holiness and innate possibilities for spiritual advancement. The namakarana occurs in the temple or home, eleven to forty-one days after birth. The baby’s name, astrologically chosen, is whispered in the right ear by the father, marking the formal entry into Hinduism. The head-shaving, chudakarana, is performed at the temple between the thirty-first day and the fourth year. The annaprashana celebrates the child’s first solid food, when sweet rice is fed to the baby by the father or the family guru. Ear-piercing, karnavedha, held for both girls and boys during the first, third or fifth year, endows the spirit of health and wealth. Girls are adorned with gold earrings, bangles and anklets; boys with two earrings and other gold jewelry. The vidyarambha begins formal education, when children write their first letter in a tray of rice. The upanayana begins, and the samavartana ends, a youth’s religious study. The Vedas beseech, “I bend to our cause at this solemn moment, O Gods, your divine and holy attention. May a thousand streams gush forth from this offering, like milk from a bountiful, pasture-fed cow.” Aum Namah Sivaya.
Lesson 247 from Living with Siva
Karma Is Always Just

We see reincarnation as an explanation for many of the apparent inequalities observed in life. Thus we understand the fairness even in a bad birth, say a birth as a cripple or a child who dies in infancy. To the Hindu this is not an accident, but is a natural event brought forth by the soul itself through the karma of unseemly acts and desires in a previous life. To the Hindu there is not one force in the universe at work to make all things good and an opposing force trying to destroy the soul. No. All is God’s work. All karma is natural and worthy of the soul to which it comes.

The Hindu knows that it is the younger souls who lack understanding, who cannot live in harmony with others and who shun the higher forms of culture and faith. Rather than inheriting eternal suffering for their acts, they earn instead another opportunity for experience, for learning, for evolving. The ideas of sin and evil are different in Hinduism from the concepts held by Abrahamic religions. If there is such a thing as sin to the Hindu, it is the breaking of the natural laws, a lapse in the patterns of karma and dharma, and that transgression brings its own punishment in the form of an additional karma created to then be worked out. Thus the Hindu does not live in fear of sin or under the notion of original sin. We do not look upon humanity as inherently sinful, but inherently perfect and striving to unfold that perfection from within. The Hindu knows that we will have as many opportunities as needed to refine and evolve our nature–a thousand lives or more if needed. We don’t have to think that we only have a single chance, a one life in which everything must be accomplished and all desires must be fulfilled. Therefore, we are not in a hurry. We are patient. We exhibit more patience with circumstances than do those who believe in a one life, and we are more forgiving of ourselves when we fall short. Thus it is that Hinduism offers a great joy to its followers–a blessing of fearlessness in the face of death, an assurance of the continuation of consciousness after physical death, another assurance that each soul creates its own karma and that such karma is just and right, even when it seems that some people are less fortunate than others and that fate has unfairly given all the advantages to a few. All these things are bestowed on Hindus simply because they understand the doctrine of reincarnation. …Please click here to read more