The Hindu Religion

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Sacraments Samskaras are an important element in the belief and practice of the Hindu religion. The word samskar is evolved from the root 'samskri' which means to purify or form thoroughly. Samskriti – meaning "civilization" and Sanskrit are derived from the root 'samskri'. Samskrit was considered the most refined and grammatically perfect language compared to other regional languages in ancient times. The best rendering of samskara in English is made by the word "sacrament," meaning "religious ceremony or act regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace." Sacrament also means "confirmation of some promise or oath; things of mysterious significance, sacred influence and symbol." For the Hindu, life is a sacred journey; impurity is inherently attached to the pre-natal stage of birth. Samskaras are analogous to stepping-stones guiding the path to purification. In the completion of each samskara an individual becomes closer to susamskrit – meaning refined or civilized. Samskaras exist to, among others, mark major biological and emotional stages, each consecrated through sacred ceremony. Samskaras also empower spiritual life within the individual, preserve religious culture and establish conscious adherence to the devotional duties prescribed by the gods. Samskaras are thought to operate in two ways: they remove evil, and generate fresh desirable qualities. To quote Max Muller, the emphasis placed upon these ceremonies by the ancients disclose "the deep-rooted tendency in the heart of man to bring the chief events of human life into contact with a higher power, and to give to our joys and sufferings a deeper signific... ... middle of paper ... ...back into normal social life from which they have been separated by death, and allows the spirit of the deceased to travel on its way. Burial is usually practiced amond low castes, holy men and children. Cremation occurs on the day of death. The corpse is bathed, anointed with sandalwood paste, shaved (if male), wrapped in a cloth and carried to the cremation ground by male relatives who move as quickly as possible. On the funeral, the corpse feet point south towards the realm of Yama, the god of death, and the head to the north to the realm of Kubera, the god of wealth. During the days following the funeral the family remains in a state of pollution which commences with the performance of the sraddha rites.
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