It’s time for the weekly feature! I have decided to take word Samskara for this week. It’s obviously a rare word for people who are not familiar with Hinduism and Buddhism, but quite common for people living in the Indian subcontinent. Here we use Samskar for many things. Please don’t confuse it with Samsara which is a word for world or cycles of birth and death in the theory of reincarnation in Buddhism and Hinduism.
Samskara is used for many ceremonies in Hindu families. There are 16 prime rites of passages which are performed for any native from their birth until their death. In that sense, the word means Putting together of things. Sam means to add and Kar means to do and together they make Samskar.
In a deeper sense, Samskaras are subtle impressions on psyche. Spiritual traditions believe that a soul is bound to a body because of the conscience. Conscience is called Antahkarna in Hinduism. It’s considered to have four parts:
All yoga practices are to cleanse the Chitta of impurities. When psyche is cleansed the purity of soul shines forth. The cause of bondage is subtle impressions on psyche which lead a soul from birth after birth in various forms.
The purpose of 16 rite passages is to help auspicious impressions flourish so that negativity is cancelled out by the positivity. Our psyche is made of positive and negative programs. Like DNA these programs determine our thinking, speech and actions. Together they make our character and this character becomes our destiny. So, basically this programming decides whether we will stay happy or unhappy. It’s too subtle to fathom by intellectual analysis because it is subtler than intellect. Your intellect is made of such subtle impressions. Something gross can’t analyze something subtler than itself. It’s a law. That is why law of karma can’t be analyzed by gross analytical intellectuals. To observe it in action you need subtle psychic and intuitive wisdom.
Samskara is a positive word at large. Its opposite is Vasana. Vasanas are negative desires in the sense that they bring pain and suffering. Samskaras can be used for both positive and negative impressions on one’s psyche. In Hindu rituals, rites of passage are done to bring forth positive impressions to the consciousness from deep subconscious layers.
Therapeutic writing, meditation, psychoanalysis and other natural methods are ways to bring forth both positive and negative samskaras to consciousness. The light of consciousness helps dissolve darkness which was buried deep inside you and you become healthier and happier. Even positive samskaras are cause of bondage and attachment but they are needed as long as you are not free from ego. Otherwise negative influences take over immediately. Positive is needed to cancel out the negative and void cancels out the positive as well–giving you freedom from the known!
Please let me know how you found today’s feature in comments. I would love to hear from you and discuss further. Thank you and love!