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Shastra Deeksha – Rules And Procedure Of Upanayana Samskara

Shastra Deeksha means initiation in the study of the Shastra and is also known as Upanayana Samskara or the sacred thread ceremony. This is a ceremony to be performed in the eight year of a Brahmin child, eleventh year of Kshatriya child and twelfth year of a Vaishya child. It marks the end of the life of childhood. The child enters studentship or the first stage of ashrama, namely brahmacharya (celibate). As a child, he had no duties and could incur no guilt. He did not have to observe restrictions relating to food.

After Shastra Deeksha he is held responsible for his actions. This ceremony has fifteen stages. The child wears a single cloth and is brought before a Guru. The child’s father requests the Guru to accept his child as a student. The Guru places the child under the care of the gods. He then enquires about the name of the child and also his ancestry. The Guru place his hands on the child’s shoulder and offers upper and lower garments. The Guru ties around the child’s waist munja grass. The child is given a staff and water. The student now stands on a stone and eats curd, symbolizing absorption of knowledge. Child is shown the sun and the Gayatri mantra is whispered into the child’s ear by father. The child adds sticks of wood to the altar and goes around it. The child receives alms from the elderly women present there. After the completion of the upanayana ceremony, the student stays with the Guru for many years in pursuit of knowledge.