From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia


By Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana

Sometimes transliterated as: snānaṃ[1], snana, samāvartanaṃ[2], samavartana, āplavanaṃ, aplavana

Vēdamadhītya snāsyan ityuktaṃ samāvartanaṃ[3]

Snātakaṃ is the saṃskāraḥ performed after the completion of traditional studies. It literally means 'taking the ceremonial bath after finishing traditional vedic study and returning from the teacher's place.' This is also considered as the gateway for marriage. Some consider this a aṅgaḥ/mandatory ritual before marriage. So a person who takes this ceremonial bath is called snātakaḥ.

Adhīty snātvā gurubhiranijñātēna khaṭvārōḍḍavyā[4]

We find some interesting comments related to snātakaṃ in Mahābhāṣyaṃ, the great commentary on Vyākaraṇaṃ/sanskrit grammer by Maharshi Patanjali. When the student is a bachelor he is not permitted to use a cot to sleep. He is expected to sleep on the ground. Here, patanjali states that only after completing his study of veda, he gets the acceptance of his teacher for the ceremonial bath and use the cot. Usage of a cot indirectly indicates marriage.

Na tu samāvartanaṃ vivāhāngaṃ| tēna yaḥ pitṛgṛhē ēva adhītavēdaḥ tasya asamāvṛttasya sambhavatyēva vivāhaḥ|

But according to Medhātithi, one of the oldest and most famous commentators on the Manusmṛti, it is not a compulsory ritual before marriage. If a boy wants to remain bachelor/brahmacārī all his life or if a boy completes his vedic education near his father and not through residing in his guru's house for education, this ritual is not applicable.

Types of Snātakaṃ[edit]

Trayaḥ snātakā bhavanti vidyā snātataḥ vrata snātakaḥ vidyāvrata snātakaḥ iti[5]

According to most of the dharma sūtra's there are three types of snātakaḥ[6].

  1. Vidyā snātakaḥ: One who has finished the study of veda, but has not gone through the veda vratas[7].
  2. Vrata snātakaḥ: One who has not finished his study of veda, but completed the veda vratas. He is also eligible for marriage.
  3. Vidyā-vrata snātakaḥ: One who has completed both study of veda and veda vrata. Vidyā-vrata snātakaḥ is the best, the other two are considered to be equal to each other.

These three alternatives are due to the fact that a student may not have the ability or the time to go thoroughly the full Vedic curriculum and the veda-vrata.

  1. a cerimonial bath which indicates the completion of studenthood
  2. return from teacher's house to one's home
  3. Bodhāyana gṛhyasūtraṃ 11.6
  4. Mahābhāṣyaṃ vol 1. p:384
  5. Pāraskara Gṛhyasūtraṃ
  6. one who took the ceremonial bath
  7. It is another saṃskāraḥ, which is performed prior to snātakaṃ