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Gṛhya Sūtras contain directions for various dharmic duties called Saṁskāras to be observed by the householder.

They contain details of observing Saṁskāras or sacraments from Conception to Death which were originally around 48 in number.

According to Gautama, the 48 Saṁskāras include the following (Gau.Dh.S.-I.8.14-22):

Garbhādhāna, Puṁsavana, Sīmantonnayana, Jātakarma, Nāmakaraṇa, Annaprāṣana, Niṣkramaṇa, Caula, Upanayana- Eight

Veda Vratas- Mahanāmnī, Mahāvrata, Upaniṣadvrata, Godāna - Four

Samāvartana, Vivāha - Two

Seven Pāka Yajñas:
2.Pārvaṇa Sthalipāka
3. Śrāddha (Pindapitṛ Yajña)
4. Śrāvaṇa Karma
6. Caitri   
7. Āśvayuji (This list varies from source to source. Aupāsana and Pratyāvarohaṇa are included in some lists instead of Caitri and    Āśvayuji)

Five Māha Yajñas:
1.Deva Yajña
2.Pitṛ Yajña
3.Bhūta Yajña
4.Manuṣya Yajña
5.Brahma Yajña.

Seven Havir Yajñas:
2. Agnihotra
4. Āgrayaṇa
5. Cāturmāsya

Seven Soma Yajñas:
1. Agniṣtoma
2. Atyagniṣtoma
3. Ukthya

Eight Ātmaguṇakās:
1. Daya: Kindness
2. Kṣama: Tolerance
3. Anasūya: Being without jealousy
4. Śaucam: Cleanliness
5. Anāyāsa: Doing things with a balanced mind without over exertion
6. Māṅgalyam: Concentrating on the good and the auspicious
7. Akārpaṇyam: Being generous and without greed
8. Aspruha: Having a mind devoid of desires.

Ātmaguṇakās were included because it was felt that merely carrying out Saṁskāras without having Dhārmic values would be futile. These eight qualities represent a high level of ethical values.

Saṁskāras have been reduced to 16 in number as under.

1.Garbhādāna – Conception
2.Puṁsavana – Ritual for begetting a male child
3.Sῑmaṅtonnayana – Parting of the pregnant lady’s hair
4.Jātakarma – Ritual at birth
5.Nāmakaraṇa – Naming ceremony
6.Annaprāśana – Ritual for first solid food
7.Karṇa Vedha – Piercing of the earlobe
8.Niṣkramaṇa – First outing for the child
9.Cūdākarma – First cutting of hair
10.Vidyārambha – Teaching of alphabets
11.Upanayana – Thread ceremony
12.Vedārambha – Beginning of education
13. Keśāṅta /– Removal of beard
14.Samāvartana – Ritual bath at the end of studies
15.Vivāha – Marriage
16.Antyeṣṭi – Funeral rites

Gṛhya Sūtras also give directions to follow while building houses, during travel, rituals for atonement etc. They give details of Upākarma and Utsarga and conducting of Sarpa Bali and other rituals to ward of evils.

They detail the seven Pākayajñas to be observed by a householder
1. Oupāsana 
2. Pārvaṇa Sthalipāka
3. Pindapitṛ yajna
4. Āgrahāyaṇa
5. Śrāvaṇa Karma
6. Pratyāvarohaṇa and
7. Aṣṭaka

Pancha Maha Yajñas:
1. Deva yajña is the rite where samidha(wood) and other offerings are made to Iṣṭa Devatās in a sacrificial fire.
2. Pitṛ yajña is the rite where offerings are made of cooked material, clothes etc. to Gods.
3. Bhūta yajña where animal and other sacrifices are made.
4. Manuṣya yajña where offerings are made to Brahmins.
5. Brahma yajña is the study and understanding of scriptures.

During the conduct of various samskāras, many homas are prescribed such as Jaya, Ābhyātāna, Rashṭrabṛta etc.

All auspicious ceremonies are preceded by the following:
Ganapathi pūja, Nāndi Śrāddha, Navagṛha pūja and Puṇyāha Vācana.

Gṛhasthāśrama was considered to be the superior of the Āśramas. A gṛhastha was required to follow the path of Dharma while performing his worldly duties.

He was required to observe what were called Sāmanya Dharmas.

आत्मगुणकाः अष्टौ संस्काराः

1. दया
2. क्षमा
3. अनसूया
4. शौचम्
5. अनायास
6. माङ्गल्यम्
7. अकार्पण्यम्
8. अस्पृहा

1. Daya: Kindness
2. Kṣhama: Tolerance
3. Anasūya: Being without jealousy
4. Śaucham: Cleanliness
5. Anāyāsa: Doing things with a balanced mind without over exertion
6. Māṅgalyam: Concentrating on the good and the auspicious
7. Akārpaṇyam: Being generous and without greed
8. Aspruha: Having a mind devoid of desires

The period of Kalpa sūtras according to Prof.P.V.Kane is between 800 to 300 B.C.
Since they were written in sūtra form(aphorisms), many commentaries were written by people such as Sudarśana, Haradatta, Devapāla, Nārayaṇa, Dārila and others to explain the meaning of the sutras. Smṛti  texts which elaborated on the sutras are of  later period.

KALPA Sūtras are in the form of Aphorisms for ease in oral instruction and for memorising. Commentaries have been written by eminent scholars explaining the Sūtras. There are Kalpa Sūtras belonging to different branches of Vedas which show differences in the practice of rituals. From the Kalpa Sūtras have emerged Prayogas and Paddhatis which are used in day to day practice of rituals.

KALPA HERITAGE TRUST wishes to collect the literature, commentaries, translations, writings on, etc. of the Kalpa Sūtras and store them digitally in computers.

The material will be classified as per the divisions, branches etc of the Vedas as well as according to the types of rituals. These will include Śrauta  Sacrifices, Gṛhya Rituals according to Sixteen Samskāras, Dharma Sūtras and Śulba Sūtras including types of Altars etc. A digital library with software for easy retrieval will be established along with facilities for printing hard copies.


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