When the mind of the child was prepared to receive education,
the Vidyarambha Samskara was performed to mark it’s beginning,
and alphabets were taught. The Samskara is variously named, it
is called Vidyarambha, Akshararambha, Aksharasvĭkarana and
Aksharalĕkhana by different writers. As it’s very name suggests,
it was more cultural than natural. It originated at a very high
stage of civilization, when alphabets were evolved and utilized
for writing purposes
This Samskara originated earlier than it’s mention in the Smritis. This late recognition of “ the learning of alphabets” as a Samskara was, probably, due to the fact that for a very long time this Samskara was performed with the Chowla or tonsure ceremony. This supposition is supported by the hindu epics. According to which the education of a price began at the time of the Chowla Samskara. It is evidenced by the Uttara Ramayana also. Where the sage Valmiki started the education of Lava-Kuša after their tonsure ceremonies and they had learnt many sciences before they commenced their Vedic studies after the Upanayana. There was one more factor which facilitated the performance of the Vidyarambha with the Chudakarana. The later was performed between the fourth and the seventh year of the child. This was the proper time for commencing the primary education also. So both the Samskaras were combined and performed together. The number tufts of hair to be kept at the time of the tonsure ceremony was determined by the number of celebrated sages ( pravaras) in the family. This was a convenient time suggestion that the primary education of the child should commence at the time when it’s tonsure ceremony was performed.
The Vidyarambha Samskara was performed in the fifth year of the child according to Višwamitra. In the opinion of an anonymous Smriti writer quoted in the Shodaša Samskara Vidhi, it could be performed even in the seventh year. But, if owing to some unavoidable circumstances it was postponed, it must be performed some times before the Upanayana ceremony. The wise should be beginning the learning of alphabets before the second birth. The proper time of performance was from the month of Margašira to Jyesht ( Uttarayana ). The months from ashadha to Kartika, when lord Vishnu was supposed to be sleeping, were prohibited for this Samskara. Here thing is remarkable. During the Sutras and the pre-Sutras, the educational session began particularly during the rainy season. But according to the above authority this very season was avoided.