Samskara, aka: Saṃskāra; 17 Definition(s)

Introduction

Samskara means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Rasashastra (chemistry and alchemy)

In rasāvidyā, mercury had to undergo eighteen saṃskāras (treatments) to display its supreme powers of transmuting base metals into gold or silver and of transforming the perishable body into an imperishable state. These saṃskāras are primarily chemicals involving wide range of minerals, plants, animal proucts and several others. the rasāvādins had firm belief in the acquiring of mercury of all the transmutation potencies after undergoing through seventeenth sequential saṃskāras. At this stage, it should be tested on a base metal, and if the later turns into gold, it should be used for the 18th process, i.e. sevana, leading to its assimilation into and revitalization of the body.

The eighteen saṃskāras are specified in Rasayāna texts in following terms:

  1. Svedana – Steaming or heating using water bath,
  2. Mārdana – Grinding,
  3. Mūrchana – Swooning or making mercury lose its form,
  4. Utthāpana – Revival of form,
  5. Pātana – Sublimation or distilation,
  6. Rodhana – Potentiation,
  7. Niyamana – Restraining,
  8. Sandīpana – Stimulating or kindling,
  9. Gaganabhakṣaṇa or Gaganagrāsa– Consumption of “essence” of mica,
  10. Caraṇa – Amalgamation,
  11. Garbhadruti – Liquefaction – internal,
  12. Bāhyadruti – Liquefaction – external,
  13. Jaraṇā – Calcination,
  14. Rāñjaṇa – Dyeing,
  15. Sāraṇa – Blending or preparation for transformation,
  16. Sankārmaṇa – Acquiring power of transformation or penetration,
  17. Vedhana - Transmutation,
  18. Sevana – Becoming fit for internal use.
(Source): Google Books: Modern World System and Indian Proto-industrialization
Rasashastra book cover
context information

Rasashastra (रसशास्त्र, rasaśāstra) is an important branch of Ayurveda, specialising in chemical interactions with herbs, metals and minerals. Some texts combine yogic and tantric practices with various alchemical operations. The ultimate goal of Rasashastra is not only to preserve and prolong life, but also to bestow wealth upon humankind.

Ayurveda (science of life)

Saṃskāra (संस्कार, “processing”).—One of the ten Parādiguṇa, or, ‘10 pharmaceutical properties’.—It is a Sanskrit technical term from Āyurveda (Indian medicine) and used in literature such the Caraka-saṃhitā and the Suśruta-saṃhitā. According to Caraka, these ten properties (guṇa) are the means to success in therapeutic treatment. Saṃskāra refers to processing one quality into another (eg. grapes into wine).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Sanskara-samanya-guna means to make things good or better. In India, the sanskar plays important part in the conduct of families. The attributes of sanskar guna can make a person worth living and respectable.

(Source): Pitta Ayurveda: Samanya Guna
Ayurveda book cover
context information

Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Saṃskāra (संस्कार):—According to the Manusaṃhitā, Saṃskāras are auspicious Vedic rites. These sanctify and purify the body of a twice born not only both in th is life and the life after death. These are called as Vedic rites because are perfor med by uttering Vedic mantras. And hence it is said that the root o f these rituals are underline in the Vedas.

(Source): Shodhganga: Facts of society in the Manusamhita
Dharmashastra book cover
context information

Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

Purana

Saṃskāra (संस्कार).—Purificatory rites for house-holders; these do not help without the eight ātmaguṇas (s.v. Kriyā yoga).*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 52. 17, 30.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Saṃskāra (संस्कार) refers to “purificatory rites of fire” and forms part of preliminary rites before Dīkṣā: an important ritual of Śāktism described in the Śāradātilaka-tantra, chapters III-V.—The saṃskāras are:

  1. Garbhādhāna,
  2. Puṃsavana,
  3. Sīmantonnayana,
  4. Jātakarma,
  5. Nāmakaraṇa,
  6. Upaniṣkramaṇa,
  7. Annaprāśana,
  8. Caula,
  9. Upanayana,
  10. Godāna,
  11. Vivāha.

Fire is similarly enkindled and consecrated in other kuṇḍas as well. Oblations of sesamum and clarified butter are duly offered. Then begins the proper Dīkṣā, which is fourfold.

(Source): JSTOR: Tāntric Dīkṣā by Surya Kanta
Shaktism book cover
context information

Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

1) Saṃskāra (संस्कार).—Preparation such as (a)that of a word by placing the affix after the base and accomplishing all the necessary changes, or (b) that of a sentence by placing all words connected mutually by syntax and then explaining their formation; these two views are respectively called the पदसंस्कारपक्ष (padasaṃskārapakṣa) and the वाक्यसंस्कारपक्ष (vākyasaṃskārapakṣa);

2) Saṃskāra.—Grammatical formation; cf. स्वरसंस्कारयोश्छन्दसि नियमः । संस्कारो लोपागमवर्णविकारप्रकृतिभावलक्षणः (svarasaṃskārayośchandasi niyamaḥ | saṃskāro lopāgamavarṇavikāraprakṛtibhāvalakṣaṇaḥ) Uvvata on V.Pr. I.1; cf. also तद्यत्र स्वरसंस्कारौ प्रादेशिकेन गुणेन अन्वितौ स्याताम् (tadyatra svarasaṃskārau prādeśikena guṇena anvitau syātām) etc. Nir.I.

(Source): Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
context information

Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

General definition (in Hinduism)

(Skt, formation; Pāli, saṇkhāra). The constructing activities that form, shape or condition the moral and spiritual development of the individual. The saṃskāra-skandha is the fourth of the five aggregates (skandha) that constitute the human person, and also the second link (nidāna) in the twelvefold scheme of Dependent Origination (pratītya-samutpāda). The term refers in particular to volitions and intentions (which may be morally good, bad, or neutral) and the way that these contribute to the formation of individual patterns of behaviour or traits of character. Repetition imprints a particular saṃskāra on the psyche and the imprint is carried over into the next life. The aim of Buddhist practice is to replace negative imprints with positive ones.

(Source): Oxford Index: Hinduism

The Samskaras are rites of passage finding varied acceptance among religious adherents of Hinduism (Vedic), Jainism and some schools of thought in Buddhism.

The samskāra are a series of sacraments, sacrifices and rituals that serve as rites of passage and mark the various stages of the human life and to signify entry to a particular Ashrama (i.e. stage of life). All human beings are required to perform a number of sacrifices with oblations for gods, Ancestors and Guardians in accordance with the Vedic dictums for a Dharmic or righteous life and become Dvija or twice-born by the performance of these acts. Basically all these rituals are of the nature of purification and/or bestow good qualities (gunas). A person does not have to foster a relationship between religious-spiritual knowledge and the practice of religious-rituals. It means a person having deep religious spiritual knowledge may or may not be involved in the ritual processes. Similarly a person involved in rituals may or may not have the religious knowledge.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Samskāra is a rite that involves mantra. There are forty samskāras or rites performed in one’s lifetime:

Seven are paka Yajñas

  1. (aṣtaka,
  2. sthālipāka,
  3. parvana,
  4. srāvaṇi,
  5. āgrahayani,
  6. caitri
  7. and āsvīyuji).

They involve consecrating cooked items.

Seven are Soma Yajñas

  1. (agnistoma,
  2. atyagnistoma,
  3. uktya,
  4. shodasi,
  5. vājapeya,
  6. atirātra
  7. and aptoryama).

The yāgā that involves the extraction, utility and consumption of Soma (in the general sense nectar, but extract of a particular tree specifically) is called a Soma Yajña. Others are usually referred to as haviryañnas.

Seven are Havir Yajñas

  1. (agniyādhāna,
  2. agni hotra,
  3. Darśa-Pūrṇamāsa,
  4. āgrayana,
  5. cāturmāsya,
  6. niruudha paśu bandha,
  7. sautrāmaṇi).

They involve offering havis.

22-26) Five are the panca mahā Yajñās.

27-30) Four are Vedavratas, which are done during Vedic education.

Remaining ten are one-time samskāras that are done at different stages in life. They are

  1. garbhādhānā,
  2. pumsavana,
  3. sīmanta,
  4. jātakarma,
  5. nāmakaraṇa,
  6. annaprāśana,
  7. caula,
  8. upanayana,
  9. snātaka
  10. and vivāha.

These are specified by the gṛhya sūtrās.

(Source): Hindupedia: The Hindu Encyclopedia

The word Saṃskāra is usually translated as “more, religious rite, ceremony, social observances, formalities and punctilious behaviour.” But none of these words convey the actual meaning of the Sanskrit term Saṃskāra. The closest approximation is the word sacrament which means:— “religious ceremony or act regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace”.

1) Pānini defines Saṃskāra as samparyupebhyaḥ karotu bhūṣaṇe — “that which adorns one’s personality”.

2) The Śabda-koṣa defines it as saṃskārāṇāṃ guṇāntarādhānam saṃskāraḥ — “that which brings about quality transformation”.

3) In the Jaimini sūtras (111. 1. 3) the sage explains the term Saṃskāra as:— “an act which makes a certain thing or person fit for a certain purpose”.

4) The Tantra-vartika (p. 1078) defines Saṃskāra as:— “those acts and rites that impart suitability or fitness [adhikāra]” and further adds that adhikāra is of two kinds:—1. The removal of negative mental conditioning (pāpa-kṣaya) 2. The generation of positive qualities through purification of the mind (cittaśuddhi).

5) The word “Saṃskāra” as “sacrament” means the religious purificatory rites and ceremonies for sanctifying the body, mind and intellect of an individual. The purpose of life is a gradual training in spiritual-unfoldment. All of life is a ritual and a sacrament and every phase of one’s physical evolution should be sanctified for service of the Divine. By means of the Saṃskāras, the mind is reawakened to the Ultimate Goal in life which is spiritual wisdom and Liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.

(Source): Srimatham: Hindu Sacraments

Saṃskāra (संस्कार).—One of the Vedic reformatory rituals performed one by one from the time of conception until death for purifying a human being.

(Source): ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Saṃskāra (संस्कार, “formation”) (pali saṅkhāra) refers to the second of twelve pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter X. From avidyā there arise actions (karman) which realize fruition in a universe (lokadhātu). These are the saṃskāras, formations. From saṃskāra there arises a defiled mind (samalacitta), initial cause of the present existence. Because it is aware in the way that a calf (vatsa) is aware of its mother, it is called vijñāna, consciousness.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

General definition (in Buddhism)

1) Saṃskāra (संस्कार, “volitions”) refers to the fourth of the “five components” (pañcaskandha) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 22). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., saṃskāra). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Saṃskāra also refers to the second of the “twelve factors of conditional origination” (pratītyasamutpāda) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 42).

2) Saṃskāra (संस्कार, “conditions”) is defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 29-31) as being of two main divisions:

  1. cittasamprayukta (conditions that are associated with mind),
  2. cittaviprayukta (conditions that are unassociated with mind).

 There are forty conditions that are associated with mind (citta-samprayukta-saṃskāra), they are:

  1. vedanā (feelings),
  2. saṃjñā (perceptions),
  3. cetanā (intentions),
  4. chandas (desire),
  5. sparśa (contact),
  6. mati (design),
  7. smṛti (mindfulness),
  8. manaskāra (application of mind),
  9. adhimokṣa (determination),
  10. samādhi (concentration),
  11. śraddhā (faith),
  12. apramāda (heedfulness),
  13. praśrabdhi (tranquillity),
  14. upekṣā (equanimity),
  15. hrī (shame),
  16. apatrapā (conscience),
  17. alobha (non-greed),
  18. adveṣa (non-hatred),
  19. ahiṃsā (non-violence),
  20. vīrya (energy),
  21. moha (delusion),
  22. pramāda (heedlessness),
  23. kausīdya (indolence),
  24. aśrāddhya (faithlessness),
  25. styāna (sloth),
  26. auddhatya (agitation),
  27. ahrīkatā (shamelessness),
  28. anapatrapā (lack of conscience),
  29. krodha (anger),
  30. upanāha (enmity),
  31. śāṭhya (deceit),
  32. īrṣyā (jealousy),
  33. pradāna (goading),
  34. mrakṣa (ill-will),
  35. mātsarya (selfishness),
  36. māyā (deception),
  37. mada (intoxication),
  38. vihiṃsā (violence),
  39. vitarka (thinking),
  40. vicāra (reflection).

There are thirteen conditions that are unassociated with mind (citta-viprayukta-saṃskāra):

  1. prāpti (occurrence),
  2. aprāpti (non-occurrence),
  3. sabhāgatā (participation),
  4. asaṃjñika (unconsciousness),
  5. samāpti (attainment),
  6. jīvita (life),
  7. jāti (birth),
  8. jarā (old age),
  9. sthiti (stability),
  10. anityatā (impermanence),
  11. nāmakāya (a group of words),
  12. padakāya (a group of sentences),
  13. vyañjanakāya (a group of syllables).

3) Saṃskāra (संस्कार, “practices”) or Aṣṭasaṃskāra refers to the “eight practices for the abandoning of conditions” as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 119):

  1. śraddhā (faith),
  2. buddha (intelligence),
  3. vyāyāma (endeavour),
  4. prasrabdhi (calm),
  5. smṛti (mindfulness),
  6. samprajanya (full knowledge),
  7. cetanopekṣā (intention and equanimity).
(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

saṃskāra (संस्कार).—m (S) A common term for the essential and purificatory rites or ceremonies amongst the Hindus. These for males of the three first classes are sixteen; viz. garbhādhāma Sacrifice on or before conception; puṃsavana Sacrifice on vitality in the foœtus; anavalōbhana Sacrifice in the third month of pregnancy; viṣṇubali Sacrifice in the seventh month; sīmantōnnayana Sacrifice in the fourth, sixth, or eighth month; jātakarmma Giving the infant clarified butter out of a golden spoon before dividing the navel string; nāmakaraṇa Naming the child on the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, or hundredth and first day; niṣkramaṇa Carrying him out to be presented to the moon on the third lunar day of the third light fortnight; sūryāvalōkana Carrying him out to be presented to the sun in the third or fourth month; annaprāśana Feeding him with rice in the sixth or eighth month, or when he has cut teeth; cūḍākāryya Tonsure in the second or third year; upanayana Investiture with the string in the fifth, eighth, or sixteenth year; mahānāmya Instruction in the Gayatri after the muñja; samāvarttana Loosening the Munj from the loins; vivāha Marriage; svargā- rōhaṇa Obsequies. Of the above upanayana, mahānāmya, samāvarttana apply not to Shudras. In Colebrooke's Digest, 3, 10, 4, a different enumeration of the saṃskāra is given. 2 Purifying, sanctifying, consecrating; preparing by certain rites for holy and sacred offices or works: also any rite or act in purification or consecration. 3 Preparing, by any operation of cookery, or by compounding, infusing, baking &c. (a dish or an article of food, a medicine or a medicament). 4 Embellishing, polishing, finishing, perfecting; doing (of any act) well and thoroughly, or making (of any thing) complete and perfect. 5 Any operation or action upon: also any change or abiding effect accomplished upon.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

saṃskāra (संस्कार).—m A rite, ceremony. An opera- tion. Polishing.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Saṃskāra (संस्कार).—1 Making perfect, refining, polishing; (maṇiḥ) प्रयुक्तसंस्कार इवाधिकं बभौ (prayuktasaṃskāra ivādhikaṃ babhau) R.3.18.

2) Refinement, perfection, grammatical purity (as of words); संस्कार- वत्येव गिरा मनीषी (saṃskāra- vatyeva girā manīṣī) Ku.1.28 (where Malli, renders the word by vyākaraṇajanyā śuddhiḥ); R.15.76.

3) Education, cultivation, training (as of the mind); निसर्ग- संस्कारविनीत इत्यसौ नृपेण चक्रे युवराजशब्दभाक् (nisarga- saṃskāravinīta ityasau nṛpeṇa cakre yuvarājaśabdabhāk) R.3.35; Ku. 7.1.

4) Making ready, preparation.

5) Cooking, dressing (as of food &c.).

6) Embellishment, decoration, ornament; स्वभावसुन्दरं वस्तु न संस्कारमपेक्षते (svabhāvasundaraṃ vastu na saṃskāramapekṣate) Dṛ. Ś. 49; Ś.7.23; Mu.2.1.

7) Consecration, sanctification, hallowing; संस्कारो नाम स भवति यस्मिञ्जाते पदार्थो भवति योग्यः कस्यचिदर्थस्य (saṃskāro nāma sa bhavati yasmiñjāte padārtho bhavati yogyaḥ kasyacidarthasya) ŚB. on MS.3.1.3.

3) Impression, form, mould, operation, influence; यन्नवे भोजने लग्नः संस्कारो नान्यथा भवेत् (yannave bhojane lagnaḥ saṃskāro nānyathā bhavet) H. Pr.8; Bh.3.84.

9) Idea, notion, conception.

1) Any faculty or capacity.

11) Effect of work, merit of action; फलानुमेयाः प्रारम्भाः संस्काराः प्राक्तना इव (phalānumeyāḥ prārambhāḥ saṃskārāḥ prāktanā iva) R.1.2.

12) The self-reproductive quality, faculty of impression; one of the 24 qualities or guṇas recognised by the Vaiśeṣikas; it is of three kinds: भावना, वेग (bhāvanā, vega), and स्थितिस्थापकता (sthitisthāpakatā) q .q. v. v.

13) The faculty of recollection, impression on the memory; संस्कारमात्रजन्यं ज्ञानं स्मृतिः (saṃskāramātrajanyaṃ jñānaṃ smṛtiḥ) T. S.

14) A purificatory rite, a sacred rite or ceremony; संस्कारार्थं शरीरस्य (saṃskārārthaṃ śarīrasya) Ms.2.66; R.1.78; (Manu mentions 12 such Saṃskāras viz. 1. garbhādhāna, 2. puṃsavana, 3. sīmantonnayana, 4. jātakarman, 5. nāmakarman, 6. niṣkramaṇa, 7. annaprāśana, 8. cūḍākarman, 9. upanayana, 1. keśānta, 11. samāvartana, and 12. vivāha; see Ms.2.26 &c.; some writers increase the number to sixteen).

15) Purification, purity.

16) A rite or ceremony in general.

17) Investiture with the sacred thread; मांसं मूत्रं पुरीषं च प्राश्य संस्कारमर्हति (māṃsaṃ mūtraṃ purīṣaṃ ca prāśya saṃskāramarhati) Mb.12.165.76.

18) Obsequial ceremonies.

19) A polishing stone; संस्कारोल्लिखितो महामणिरिव क्षीणोऽपि नालक्ष्यते (saṃskārollikhito mahāmaṇiriva kṣīṇo'pi nālakṣyate) Ś.6.5 (where saṃskāra may mean 'polishing' also).

Derivable forms: saṃskāraḥ (संस्कारः).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

Relevant definitions

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Vahnisamskara
Vahnisaṃskāra (वह्निसंस्कार).—the religious rite of cremation. Derivable forms: vahnisaṃskāraḥ ...
Dravyasamskara
Dravyasaṃskāra (द्रव्यसंस्कार).—the consecration of articles for sacrifice &c. Derivable forms:...
Sharirasamskara
Śarīrasaṃskāra (शरीरसंस्कार).—1) decoration of the person. 2) purification of the body by the p...
Carasamskara
Carasaṃskāra (चरसंस्कार).—Latitude correction in the celestial longitude of a planet. Note: Car...
Darshanasamskara
Darśanasaṃskāra (दर्शनसंस्कार).—Visibility corrections. There are three visibility corrections:...
Udbuddhasamskara
Udbuddhasaṃskāra (उद्बुद्धसंस्कार).—association of ideas, calling anything to mind.Derivable fo...
Annasamskara
Annasaṃskāra (अन्नसंस्कार).—consecration of food. Derivable forms: annasaṃskāraḥ (अन्नसंस्कारः)...
Agnisamskara
Agnisaṃskāra (अग्निसंस्कार).—1) consecration of fire. 2) hallowing or consecrating by means of ...

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