Sunday, July 12, 2015

A lifetime worth of Bathing rituals


If I were to live my life based on the old Pandit code, I would have to spend most of my time bathing. The world is just too impure.

Photo: River bank, Srinagar. 1970s. Albert Robillard.
Karmakandakramavali by Sri Somashambhu of 11th century A.D. South India, the Shaivite work lays down rules and regulations pertaining to the daily practices of an orthodox Hindu, who is a rigid follower of the Tantric system.

From Kashmir Sanskrit Series (1947) edited by J.D. Zadoo, Karmakandakramavali tells us following about Snana (Bath):

There are five kinds of Snanas, namely - Mala, Vidhi Varuna, Agneya, Mahendra, Pavana, Mantra and Manasa.

Mala consists in employing earth, like soap, to remove all dirt that may have accumulated on the body. It is kind of preparatory bath taken before the principal one i.e. Vidhi Snana (obligatory bath). The Varuna is the bath with water (as Varuna is the lord of water) which is to be taken if one touches a pigeon, fowl, murderer, crow, heron, ass, horse, cat, pig, vulture, camel, cremation ground, an out-caste, a corpse, and a woman who has recently delivered. The Agneya, which consists in smearing the body with ashes, is ordained to be taken when one comes in contact with dirty women, eunuchs, Shudras, cats and mice. The Mahendra consists in wetting one's body with the rain accompanied with sunshine. Pavana, in taking on the body the dust raised by the hoofs of cows. Mantra in sprinkling water with mantra and Manasa, in reflecting on God Shiva, prior to taking breathing exercises.

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