The forty samskaras which are meant to purify the individual self are:
garbhadhana, pumsavana, simanta, jatakarma, namakarana,
annaprasana, caula, upanayana, the four rites like prajapatya
(Vedavratas) performed during gurukulavasa (the years the celibate
student spends in the home of his guru), the ritual bath on completion
gurukulavasa, marriage, the five mahayajnas performed everyday by the
householder. We have listed nineteen so far. Then there are seven
pakayajnas, seven haviryajnas and seven somayajnas to be conducted by
the householder. Thus 19+21=40
The seven pakayajnas are: astaka (anvastaka), sthalipaka, parvana,
sravani, agrahayani, caitri, asvayuji. The seven haviryajnas:
agrayana, caturmasya, nirudhapasubandha,
sautramani. The seven somayajnas: agnistoma, atyagnistoma, uktya,
sodasi, vajapeya, atiratra, aptoryama.
Out of the forty samskaras some are to be performed everyday, some at
certain times and some at least once in a lifetime. In the first
there are five mahayajnas (panca-mahayajnas).
Rites done to the chanting of mantras are more beneficial than those
done without it - a sacrament involving mantras is a samskara. The
service that a house holder does is included among his daily panca -
mahayajnas. The panca - mahayajnas are: brahmayajna, devayajna,
pitrayajna, manusyayajna and bhutayajna. The chanting of the Vedas
constitutes brahmayajna. Sacrifices and puja are devayajna. Tarpana is
pitrayajna. Feeding guests is manusyayajna. And offering Bali to various
creatures is bhutayajna.
Aupasana and agnihotra are part of the daily religious routine. Though a
pakayajna, aupasana is not included in the group of seven pakayajnas
mentioned above, while agnihotra is one of the seven haviryajnas. Darsa
purnamasa is a haviryajna to be performed once in fifteen days. The
other five haviryajnas and the seven somayajnas are to be performed
once a year or, at least, once in a lifetime. As if out of consideration
us, the Smrtis have granted us this concession: that the difficult
somayajnas need be undertaken only once in a lifetime.
But for the parvani - sraddha which is to be performed once a month and
the sthalipaka every Prathama, the other five pakayajnas are to be
performed once a year.
To put it differently: the five mahayajnas (brahmayajna, devayajna,
pitrayajna, manusyayajna, bhutayajna) together with agnihotra and
aupasana are to be performed everyday; darsa-purnamasa and sthalipaka
once a fortnight; parvani-sraddha once a month. The other yajnas are to
be conducted once a year or at least once in a lifetime.
On a plot of land growing one crop, harvesting is done once a year,
on another plot growing three crops the same is done once every four
months. Some crops have to be watered everyday, some on alternate
days. Such jobs are samskaras. But there are differences in the
for different crops. The same is the case with the samskaras meant for