Friday, May 8, 2020

Ear Piercing - A Samskaara or a Tormenting Ritual ?

Original Kannada article : Tarodi Suresha
English rendering: Padmini Shrinivasan
(Respond to

Karnavedha means piercing the ear. Karnavedha is one among the many Samskaaras listed for a lifestyle bound by Chaturbhadras (the four-fold path of Life). Both male as well as a female child qualify for this Samskaara. Even though this practice does exist among people of other nations, comparison of theirs should not be drawn with this Maharshi Samskaara, as their living is not in conformity with the Purushaartha (four cardinal principles) perspective. Just as a bitter medicine is consumed to keep one healthy, this Samskaara is compulsory, even though it involves a bit of discomfort for the baby due to the pricking process.

It should be performed before the child starts teething. The time and procedure have small variations among different traditions. It can be performed as per the family traditions. Incorporating the good elements of other traditions enhances its value. Performed during a forenoon, the father puts the baby on his lap and chants the mantra (hymn) "Bhadram karnebhih shrunuyaama devaah". For a male baby the right ear is pierced first followed by the left ear. For a female child it is left ear first followed by right ear. The one who does the piercing should be aware of the divine secrets of the human body.  Nowadays piercing is done by a gold-smith with a thin gold wire and the ends of the wire are jointly twisted to form a loop. Married woman too, can perform this Samskaara.  Dry-coconut is broken and blown over the child's ear. This reduces the pain. Some chew the dry coconut and blow air with a serene state of mind. This transforms into a blessing too. Next, food etc. are given as charities to deserving people. For a balance between the spiritual (Yoga) and mundane life (Bhoga), both the ears are adorned with a Sutra (sacred thread). Before piercing the ear, Lac is applied as it heals wounds faster. Besides it eradicates Doshas (imbalances) in Vata, Pittha and Kapha. Younger the baby, easier it is to pierce the ear. Uneasiness is minimal. An important point is that the hole should be such that Sun's rays pass through it. Else it remains a tormenting act.

Purpose of the ritual:
This Samskaara cures any illness related to the body as well as the mind. "Rakshaa- bhooshana nimittam baalasya karnau vidyet" is a saying by the learned. The ritual is praised in Ayurveda, Jyotishya and Dharma shaastra. It is an ornamenting (Bhooshana) procedure which offers protection (Rakshaa) too. It prevents many diseases, more specifically feminine disorders. The body possesses few dormant spiritual centres which dominate under special conditions, when they get energised. When a Marmajna (spiritually knowledgeable person) performs Karnavedha Samskaara, such centers are activated culminating in the spiritual advancement of the child. For the question whether adorning ornaments is necessary, the main reason is that the hole would cease to exist otherwise. Both men and women should wear ornaments. After comprehending the special merits, appropriate jewels must be worn at their designated places. Jewels protect us from external perils.
This way Karnavedha Samskaara is an important Samskaara which can be performed by all, to adorn jewels and to protect the child from illnesses of the body and mind.
It is regrettable that it is slowly getting extinct.  

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.