It appears from ManuÍs institutes that they are meant as much for the householder in the
second order of life_garhasthya_as for the student. The laws for the brahmanas are severer and they are expected to subject themselves to harder physical and mental disciplines, forsaking all attachment of their organs to sensual pleasures. A brahmana student must keep them under complete
control and bear in mind that desire is never extinguished by the enjoyment of desired objects; it only grows stronger like a fire fed with clarified butter.
But all this appears to have vanished. It is unfortunate that many brahmanas, starkly ignorant
of the Vedic rcas and scriptural teachings, are often called upon to perform the ceremonies. There is substance in their contention that since the times have changed, the ceremonial laws too must be thoroughly revised and modified to bring them in conformity with the present-day ethos. They also argue that, as the mantras are in Sanskrit, very few people are able to chant them with complete understanding of their inherent meaning and importance. It is to meet their demand for a simple text with explanatory instructions that this book has been written. Its readers can be scholarly priests or non-scholarly householders or both. To some this may sound a profanation of the ceremonial laws, but the intention is pious and therefore this attempt to democratize and
expound the esoteric is forgivable.
Upanayana is one of the sixteen samskaras or purificatory rites in which a boy is invested with the sacred thread and thus endowedwith second or spiritual birth and qualified to learn the Veda by heart. In this ceremony the boy goes to an Acarya well-versed in the Vedas with a view to be initiated into Vedic studies or a Guru draws a boy towards himself and initiates him into one of the three twice-born classes. From the day the initiation ceremony takes place the young celibate commits himself to a life of austerity and abstinence; he chooses to lead a life rigorously disciplined by vows and disciplinary rules.
About the Author(s)
DR. R. C. PRASAD was University Professor of English in Patna University where he taught for about three decades. He was an eminent author, translator and editor. He had a good number of books to his credit.