Friday, August 14, 2020

Philosophical import of Choodaakarma Samskaara

Original Kannada article : Tarodi Suresha

English Rendering : Padmini Shrinivasan

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Ayurveda advocates exposure of the forehead to sun's rays. Specific locations in the body associated with health, spirituality as well as the happiness of deities get energised. Hair which obstructs this process is removed. A tuft (Shikhaa) should be retained in its designated position i.e. the crown (of the head). The interior of this tuft position is the heart of Adhipathi (Lord). Hence, it has to be secured. An injury to this region can be life threatening too. Accordingly, hair should be grown profusely in this area.

A tuft is not meant for limited physical gains. Sriranga Mahaaguru had explained –"Maharshis deeply involved in meditative penance, experience a tuft-like Light (Jnaana-shikhe), on reaching Samaadhi (ultimate state of oneness with Lord). The Supreme Lord resides in the centre of this structure. The outer tuft is but a replica of the "inner tuft". Scriptures say –"Tasyaashikhaayaa madhye paramaatmaa vyavasthitah". The outer tuft serves as a reminder of the inner tuft too. Remembering the tuft is a Samskaara (purification) too.

Scriptures dictate that the shape of the tuft must resemble the feet of a cow's calf. Sriranga Mahaaguru had clarified that the tuft should be round in shape, with its size equal to a thumb, held within a clenched hand. This region represents the position of Brahma (Brahma sthaana). As per rules, rituals should be performed with the hair bound. The karma is useless otherwise. The knot should be fairly tight. It aids and lifts the mind and the life force (Praana) upwards, towards the divine light to reach an exalted state. The same rule applies to women too. They should not perform any ritual without plaiting their hair or tying it into a knot.

A valid question here is whether females are eligible for the Choodaakarma Samskaara. It was being done in a symbolic manner in the earlier days. Even now we do come across remnants in Kerala state. The hair is totally shaven or a tuft is retained. Women are delicate by nature. As per yoga literature, the Kundalini Shakti (serpent power) works in a greater measure in women than in men. They get blessed with devotion (Bhakti) quite naturally. A female body is inherently conditioned with a special responsibility, to propagate Jeevis. Characteristic organs as well as auspicious centres to match the purpose have to be protected well. Repeated shaving of hair adds to the accumulation of defects. Hence, identical rules are not applicable to all. Sanyasis and saintly women shave their heads, not for longevity, but to enhance chastity.

 Offering hair, by complete-shaving of head, at centres of pilgrimage is considered auspicious.  In the past, the hair used to be offered to God after a customary cleansing bath. At Kaashi, the hair-shaving area is called Mundan Ashram. In the Choula karma the materials used, chanting of hymns, ritualistic procedure for cutting the hair at specified parts, introduction to deities,  ceremonial viewing of the barber  etc. are all intertwined with inner secrets as pronounced by the Rshis. Only a glimpse of it is given here.

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