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About Acharas Or Customs And Rituals In Hinduism?

This is post discussing about Acharas, customs and rituals in Hinduism.
This is an extract from Sanatana Dharma (Questions & Answers) published by Dr. N. Gopalakrishnan, Ph. D., d.litt. Indian institute of scientific heritage, Thiruvananthapuram.

What are the Acharas in Hindu Dharma?
Acharas are those practices of our day to day life. Or it is the life style by itself. In India the acharas are practiced for the following purposes and benefits
Acharath labhathe hi ayu:
acharath dhanamakshayam
acharath labhathe suprajaa:
aachaaro ahanthya lakshanam
Acharas are practiced for the psychological and physiological benefits and for a long healthy life; acharas are followed for prosperity and wealth; acharas are followed for strong family and social bondage.

By following the acharas, one gets a fine personality and dharmic vision. Says our dharma shastra books and the acharyas.

Who created these acharas?
Thousands of Rishis created these acharas based on their experiences. They taught them to their students. Some of these acharas were written in books. Some were passed to generations through oral tradition of chanting the Sanskrit lines which give the message of the acharas.

Where these acharas were written?
Majority of the acharas were written in kalpasutra, puranas, itihasas and some in Vedangas and so on.

When these acharas were created/ written?
These acharas were not written in one day or within a period of a decade nor a century. They were written during the course of thousands of years. The addition, deletion, modification and corrections were done continuously. Still the refining is going on. In fact it is a process of updating which continues even today.

Are these acharas written by Brahmins?
These acharas were written by Rishis (Saints) from all castes and from different parts of India. They are also written in different languages. During the period when acharas were written, none of the Rishis was known in their caste name. The present type of caste system never existed during then.

Why the people should practice the acharas?
In India, everyone practiced his/her dharma through these acharas. They could get the psychological, physiological, family relation based, social bondage and national integration based benefits. One should understand scientifically, rationally and logically the meaning and message of every achara, practice and teach the messages to others.

How the acharas used to get refined?
One quarter of the acharas is to be learned from the teacher and one quarter by the student himself, one quarter by discussing with others and the last part during the process of living ( by addition, deletion, modification and correction).

Is it compulsory that every Hindu should follow these acharas?
It is left to his/her discretion whether to practice or not to do so.

From whom should we learn the acharas or its clarifications?
The dharma sastra tells you that : He who knows the scientific meaning of the acharas, teach the acharas simple ways with examples and demonstrate it by self practice, is known as the aachaarya. Take one quarter from this aachaarya.