The ancient Indian rishis were scientists of spirituality , consciousness and Nature. Their acumen into the deepest depth of human mind had enabled them to develop a perfect science of systematic refinement and escalation of intrinsic faith and inherent tendencies of human self. They had developed the system of shodash sanskaras – sixteen sacraments – in this regard for the benefit of the masses. These sixteen sacraments are methods of conditioning and training or experiments of purification of accumulated instincts and inculcation of virtuous tendencies, performed during specific transitional phases of life . The combination of powerful mantras and procedures of yagya associated with each of these rituals had resulted from long-term dedicated research conducted by the rishis. This system of shodash sanskaras was devised to affect the subtle levels of human consciousness and hence had an impact on the psychology, endocrine system and genetic machinery too. The shodash sanskaras are integral part of the Indian culture and philosophy of life .
The modern age saw a deformed ‘short-cut’ version of the shodash sanskaras propagated and performed by the so-called Hindu ‘priests’ professionally in the name of religious rituals. Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya a sagacious spiritual scholar, devoted saint and social reformer had pioneered revival of the original tradition of shodash sanskaras along with elucidation of different facets of Indian philosophy in scientific light.
Considering the mode of living, attitude towards life and spiritual level of an average person in today’s society, Acharya Sharma had found that six out of the sixteen (shodash) samkaras cannot be performed in present circumstances. As would be expected from a foresighted inventor, he, rather than sticking to rigid traditions, modified the list of shodash sanskaras to serve the basic purpose effectively in modern conditions. He added four new methods and disciplines to this system which are most relevant in the modern age and which are to be performed regularly throughout the span of one’s life . These new sanskaras are – janma-diwasa, vivaha -diwasa, diksha and shikha. The ten sanskaras of the ancient system which were retained by him with their original teachings are – punsavana , namakaran , annaprashana , mundana , vidyarambha , yagyopavita , vivaha , vanaprastha , antyeshti and shraddha- tarpan a. He had analyzed the scientific foundation and effects of each of them in detail and had explained them in simple language for educating the masses.
Acharya Sharma had eliminated all misconceptions and illusions associated with yagyopavita and Gayatri . He had revived the methods of performing this sanskara without elaborate rituals and ceremonies. He propagated the universities of yagyopavita and Gayatri and made their knowledge available and attainable for all humans – without any discrimination of sex, caste, religion, creed or social status….. He also invoked the discipline of maintaining shikha (hair-knot) on head along with wearing of yagyopavita (sacred thread) – both of which stand as symbols of adoption of divine principles of Indian Philosophy .
The scientific, psychological and spiritual implications of all the sanskaras were also reviewed by Shantikunj . These are taught here during the training programs.