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Achamanam (achamana, achmana) is a Hindu purification ritual in which one sips water 3 times from the Brahma-Grantha (base of the right thumb) while reciting different mantras.
Times When Necessary
Though achamanam generally precedes all Brahmin rituals, there are specific occasions that call for it as well, as one's ritual purity is deemed to be invalidated upon committing these acts (parallel to invalidation of wudu in Islam):
- Immediately after waking up in the morning
- After urination and other forms of excretion
- After brushing one.s teeth
- Before and after a bath
- After wearing clothes
- Before and after a meal
- Before and after giving or accepting alms or donation
- After sneezing, shedding tears or blood
- Upon association or contact with ritually "impure" substances such as blood, semen, human hair, fire, cows, cats, mice, refuse, etc.
- After sexual contact with women.
Basic performance of Achamanam
The simplest version of achamanam consists of the following:
- A spoonful of water is poured into the cupped palm of the right hand. One recites, "Achyutaya Namaha" (In the Name of the Innumerable [Lord]), and sips it, noiselessly, palm tipped back slightly, from the base of the thumb.
- The same act is performed for a second time, with the reciting of "Anantaya Namaha" (In the Name of the Infinite [Lord]).
- The act is performed a third time with the reciting of "Govindaya Namaha" (In the name of Govinda)
Extended performance of Achamanam
As part of sandhyavandanam, achamanam is extended to the purification of the chakras through the touching of certain fingers of the right hand at certain points on the face and body, along with mantras. These are:
- Keshavaya Namaha - Thumb to touch the right cheek
- Narayanaya Namaha - Thumb, left cheek
- Madhavaya Namaha - Ring finger, right eye
- Govindaya Namaha - Ring finger, left eye
- Vishnave Namaha - Index finger, left side of the nose
- Madhusudhanaya Namaha - Index finger, right side of the nose
- Trivikramaya Namaha - little finger, right ear
- Vamanaya Namaha - little finger, left ear
- Shridharaya Namaha - third (middle) finger, right shoulder
- Hrishikeshaya Namaha - third finger, left shoulder
- Padmanabhaya Namaha - four fingers (hand with thumb folded inwards), navel
- Damodaraya Namaha - four fingers, head.
- Sankarshanaya namaha
- Vasudevaya namaha
- Pradyumnaya namaha
- Anirudhaya namaha
- Purushothamaya namaha
- Adhokshajaya namaha
- Narasimhaya namaha
- Achyutaya namaha
- Janardanaya namaha
- Upendraya namaha
- Hariye namaha
- Sri krishnaya namaha
These may be performed whether or not a ritual is to follow; its significance in ritual purification is as valid as "basic" achamanam, and vice versa.
When Achamanam is Forbidden
Achamanam is not to be done immediately after taking prasad, or sipping tirtha - as these are holy and pure in itself and the symbolic act of purifying oneself through achamanam insults these articles' holiness.
References and Links
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