By Swami Harshananda
Paryañkaśauca literally means ‘purification by being seated on a stool’.
For one who wants to enter into the fourth stage of life, i.e., saṅyāsa, there is a set procedure. The paryaṅkaśauca is one in that series of rituals. Renunciation of the world and entrance into the monastic life are effected through the utterance of the famous praiṣamantra. This is followed by mahāvākyopadeśa or the teaching of the ‘great sentence’ from an Upaniṣad as per the tradition of the guru or the teacher. Then comes the performance of paryaṅkaśauca. This is actually a ceremonial washing of the saiṅyāsin’s thighs, knees, legs and feet by a householder after making him sit on a stool. Lumps of clay and water are used in this ceremony.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore