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 practices like
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 reasoning
than merely cleanliness.
The Scriptures define five kinds of bath.
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 Braahmam
- Om aapohishtaamayo bhuvah | taana Oorjedadhaatana | Maheranaayachakshase | Yovassivatamorasah |
Tasyabhaajayatehanah | Usateerivamaatarah | Tasmaa aranga maamavah | Yasyakshyaaya jinvatha aapojanayathaachanah;
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 Srimahaavishnu.
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 healthy.