[Advaita-l] samavartanam

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Mar 3 05:24:38 CST 2013

On Sun, 3 Mar 2013, Murali S wrote:

> What was the significance of samavartanam in Vedic education? Was it
> some sort of 'graduation' ceremony wherein the student was certified
> to have acquired Vedic education of some standard? Somwehat akin to a
> graduation ceremony with a degree certificate.

vedAn samApya snAyAt || 1 || brahmAcharyaM vAShTchatvariMshakam || 2 ||
dvAdashake.apyeke || 3 ||

"After finishing the [study of the] Veda he should bathe.(1)  Brahmacharya
lasts for 48 years or(2) 12 according to some.(3)"

-- pAraskara GR^ihya sUtra

Samavartana marks the end of Vedic study.  It releases a brahmachari from 
his vows of brahmacharya, samidha dana, guru seva etc.  the chief feature 
of this vidhi as the sutrakara mentions is a bath so one who has undergone 
samavartana is called a snataka -- one who has bathed.  In the modern 
Indian languages, the word snataka has been commandeered to mean 
"postgraduate" but there were no degrees or certificates in 

Ideally one should spend 12-48 years in the brahmachari ashram having 
learned all four Vedas (the 48 year figure mentioned above) or atleast 
ones own shakha and related vedangas.

But in theory samavartana could be performed as soon as Gayatri mantra 
upadesha has been given.  And these days this is what we see amongst most 
Brahmanas who are shirking their duty to learn Veda and shastras.  It is 
perfunctorily performed after the upanayana ceremony or immediately before 
marriage.  Needless to say such shortcuts are detrimental to the future of 
Vedic dharma and should be discouraged.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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