Samvartan Sanskaar : The Graduating Ceremony

One of the most important of all Sanskars in the Vedic tradition, the ‘Samvartan Sanskar’ is the ritual which is performed to mark the graduation of a student from the Gurukul, which in today’s world be rightly called as Graduation or college. This closing of the education or graduation period, which is known as the ‘Brahmacharya’ period, now elevates to the ‘Grihastashrama’ period, for which the specific individual readily gives his/her assent. The ‘Grihastashrama’ period which means living the full-fledged household life or married life and starting a life, can be entered now after the fulfilling ritual of ‘ Samvartan Sanskar’.

The Significance of the Samvartan Sanskar

In ancient times when a student passes out from the Gurukul, the Acharya used to commemorate beginning of his disciples’ family life and also make him understand his due responsibilities and give some his philosophical advices to live a happy life. Though the times have changed, the ‘Samvartan Sanskar’ ceremony at present takes place around the age of 25 years, when generally students are completely done with their studies, and is performed as an indicator to the fact that the student has finished his student life and is now ready to start taking his own as well as the family’s responsibilities. In the ancient times the Guru of the Gurukuls used to give due advice on the importance of humanitarianism, compassion, kindness, and how to lead to an able life with no treachery, once a student passed out.

The Modern Connect

If we want to understand how this ceremony is still existent in this modern world, we can greatly compare it to the ‘Convocation’ ceremony, which is held at our graduation at college, be it for a Bachelor’s degree or Masters or an even higher degree. The convocation marks a student’s formal successful passing out from college, and everyone congratulates them for their success and for a wonderful life ahead. The college also arranges for lectures to be delivered to the students and their parents on their successful completion of college, and also advises them on the skills they would need for facing the professional life. The wise and learned elders who have seen life and are successful, also give advice on how to take on the future life and what would help them maintain a healthy work and family life. Their life totally changes as they go out of college, since it marks their entry of into the real actual life, followed by starting a family life. So, we can thus see how this Vedic Sanskar holds importance even now, and can be implied now as well, as the teachings and beliefs still hold prominence, and just need to be mended and bent according to the changing times.

The ‘Samvartan Sanskar’ Ceremony explained–

The ‘Samvartan Sanskar’ is associated with the end of ‘Brahmacharya Ashrama’ of life or the formal education life. Though this since the olden times, gave the student the liberty as well as responsibility to choose and take care of family life, yet, it did not mean immediate consummation of marriage. This ceremony takes places to let the student understand the real meaning of his future life and implies his responsibilities that await him to be taken up, and the entrance towards the Grihastha stage of life.

For the ritual, a gathering of students, teachers, guests, and family would be invited to be present. The student would then ask his Guru what he would accept and desire as His Guru-Dakshina or gift, which was the responsibility of the student to give once his education was complete. After this, the Guru would recite a Graduate’s dharma known as the Snataka –dharma, and perform a fire ritual. After this, the ritual includes a ceremonial bath, which needed to be taken by the student. This bath literally meant that, after his 12 years of learning in the Gurukul, he was now bathed in knowledge and has been duly showered with learning by his Guru and everyone else. He has now crossed through the ocean of knowledge, and is now responsible and able to take on his future responsibilities of a family and real life situations. The recitation that the Guru delivers, imparts the student with the rite of passage, and asks him to take care of himself and pursue his Dharma, artha, and Kama, to the best of his abilities. This is described in the Taittritiya Upanishad, in the eleventh Anuvaka of Shiksha Valli.

One such example in the section 1.11.1 from Taittriya Upanishad is-

  • Never err from Truth,
  • Never err from Dharma,
  • Never neglect your well-being,
  • Never neglect your health,
  • Never neglect your prosperity,
  • Never neglect Svadhyaya (study of oneself) and Pravacana (exposition of Vedas).
  • The Taittriya Upanishad includes verses that give advice on ethics and morals to graduating students from the ancient Vedic Gurukuls.