Bathing is an integral part of daily routine in every Indian's life. Special
occasions call for holy dips in sacred rivers and lakes as enumerated by the scriptures.
That a bath keeps us healthy through personal hygiene is a well known fact. But there are
other aspects as well that are not well known. Polygraphic studies proved that water
enhances electro-magnetic activity. In the context of this finding, the religious
washing hands and feet before entering
temples and taking bath everyday, worshipping with wet clothes and offering prayer
standing in the middle of water chest-deep in rivers and tanks etc., seem to be more
scientific than a mere act of cleanliness.
Human body is centre of
electric currents and impulses. A continuous process of generation and consumption of
electric energy takes place in the human body. Maharshi Vaatsyaayana has
described the various power centres in human body. More energy is generated in
our body whenever we are excited and battle various emotions as well as indulge in intense
physical activity. However, at night when we retire until the next morning this
generation and consumption level of power drops drastically. This is the reason why we
feel so lethargic on waking up in the morning. We are neither active
physically non mentally. Washing our face immediately clears the cobwebs of
drowsiness. A bath certainly freshens up completely and puts us in our best
shape. This happens due to the fact that water consumes the electricity in our body.
This is known as Electro-magnetic activity. Physics describes
this in detail. Therefore, taking bath has more to do with such scientific
than merely cleanliness.
The Scriptures define five kinds of
Panchasnaanaani Vipraanaam Keertitaani Maharshibhihi
Aagneyam Vaarunam Braahmam Vaayavyam divyamevacha
( Source : Padmapuraana)
The application of vibhuti etc is aagneya; bathing with water is known as
Vaarunam; Sprinkling water on the head chanting the following mantra is known as
- Om aapohishtaamayo bhuvah | taana Oorjedadhaatana | Maheranaayachakshase |
Tasyabhaajayatehanah | Usateerivamaatarah | Tasmaa aranga maamavah | Yasyakshyaaya
Applying or moving about in the dust from the hooves of cows at dusk is known as Vaayavya;
a bath in a sudden shower even while the sun blazes away in known a divya.
The Padmapuraana glorifies the importance of morning bath as follows:
Praatah Snaanam mahaapunyam sarvapaapa pranaasanam |
Yah kuryaat satatam vipro vishnuloke maheeyate ||
A morning bath is very meritorious. All sins are destroyed due to this and the man given
to practice of taking bath daily in the morning attains the holy abode of Lord
CIRCUMBULATION ( PRADAKSINAA)
One should perform pradakshina and salutations after worshipping the deity.
The scriptures enjoin one circumbulation for Lord Vinaayaka, two for the Sun, three for
Lord Shiva, four for Lord Vishnu and seven for the peepal tree.
While offering salutations one should recite the sloka - Aparaadha Sahasraani
seeking the pardon of the lord for all the sins committed consciously or unknowingly.
This is an age-old Hindu tradition which can be likened to the not so ancient
Christian practice of confession. The reason for cicumbulations before
salutations is that the sudden activity of bending down, bowing etc may cause spasm and
burden the heart. It is common knowledge that the blood supply need increases
whenever a particular limb is used more. For example the legs while running;
the arms while chopping wood. The heart pumps purified blood to various limbs
through the aorta. Circumbulation is a kind of warm up enabling easy limb
movement during the offering of salutations. We circumbulate from right to
left. This eases the supply of purified blood as the aorta is situated to the
right of the heart.
Salutations : A salutation involves eight parts of the body and the
execution of at least three yogic exercises namely. The Shavaasana, bhujangaasana and the
adhomukhasvaasaasana. All parts of the body relax in Shavaasana.
The practice of bhujanagaasana removes back pain, constipation, thyroid deficiencies,
anxiety and cheers up the person. All the abdominal organs gain good exercise
due to the practice of adhomukhasvaasaasana. Hands and legs too are exercised
well. Women are advised to offer salutations in marjaalaasana (cat
position). This also tones up their reproductive organs. Such
activities can well be called mild forms of physical exercise. We know that
the body temperature increases due to physical exercise. Research suggests
regular exercise can ward off infection by raising body temperature thus coping the germ
fighting effects of fever. Our seers recognised this scientific truth long ago
and incorporated a few forms of physical exercises in religious practices to make man more
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