What is a bath?
Washing entire body, top to bottom with water is known as bath. While taking a bath the water should be poured on the body to make it clean and pure.
What does bath symbolize?
Taking bath is not just cleaning the body. It is the cleaning of body, mind, soul and intelligence.
Adbhirgatrani shuddhyamanah satyena shuddhyati
Vidyatapobhyam bhutatmabuddhir dnyanena shuddhyati
Water makes the body pure; truth makes the mind pure; knowledge and penance make the soul pure; Knowledge makes the intelligence pure.
What is the reason behind taking a bath?
Taking a bath is very necessary for health reasons. Body becomes clean and pure by bath. Bath removes laziness, dullness, fatigue, reluctance to work, sweat. It also increases strength, brilliance, energy, vigor and life.
Reason for bath in Ayurveda
The same reason of health is also highlighted in the Ayurveda.
Dipanam vrushyamayushyam snanamurja balapradam
Bath removes itch, dirt, fatigue, sweat, dullness, burn, sin etc. Bath also increases hunger, strength, life, and energy.
Where to take a bath?
River is the best place suggested for a bath where we get the pure and fresh water. If it is not possible to get access to a river then bath can be taken at a lake or well. Suggestions of these water sources indicate that bath should be taken with fresh water.
How it became religious act?
In the verse ‘dIpnaM ……’ the reason that a bath removes sins developed in to the religious act of bath. A new idea developed that a bath removes all the sins. Hence bath in various rivers, confluence of rivers or oceans is prescribed in the scriptures. Before the beginning of any sacrifice or religious ceremony a special bath with chanting of hymns is prescribed by scriptures.
What is Snanavidhi?
Due to its religious importance, the act of taking bath is converted into Snanavidhi which is the total of bath plus some religious act before and after it. It is as follow
Initially Gangavandana should be done by following verse,
Namami gangetavapadapankajam surasurairvandita divyarupam Bhuktim cha muktim cha dadasinityam bhavanusarenasadanaranam
O river Ganga, I salute you, gods and demons have saluted the divine form of yours. You give result and salvation to people according to their devotion towards you.
Then one should do Achamana and Pranayam.
After that one should make some Sankalpa, resolution.
Then one should invoke all rivers for the bath.
By reciting Aapaoih verse marjana should be performed.
Then water should be stirred three times by thumb.
Then Arghya (an offering to sun) should be offered by standing in the water.
Then bath should be taken.
Then water should be offered to gods, sages and ancestors rishis.
At last Yakshmatarpana should be done.
Finally one should again follow Achamana by wearing dry clothes.
Why is a morning bath preferable, rather than one in the evening?
Normally, taking bath in the morning is suggested in the scriptures. Bath should be taken every day in the morning in every season and in Grishma season (summer) it should be taken twice to makes body clean and pure.
Body becomes clean and pure by bath. It removes laziness, dullness, fatigue, reluctance of work, sweat and increases the strength, brilliance, energy, vigor and life.
Hence in the beginning of a new day, morning bath is suggested. To start a new day and a new work, body and mind should be fresh and energetic. Such freshness and energy can only be obtained by a bath. Morning bath makes body and mind clean and pure. It also gives enthusiasm for work. It removes the effects of bad dreams of previous night. Hence mind becomes clean due to bath. Bath also increases the luster of body which gives a pleasant personality to the person. Bath is beneficial for heart. Freshness obtained by bath leads to good blood circulation making heart healthy. The act of bath works as the Shodana for all limbs. Shodhana means the act which removes the damaged Dosha of body.
Overall, taking bath at night is prohibited, but under some circumstances taking bath at night is suggested in scriptures. During eclipse, marriage, Sankranti (one of the festival), travel, some trouble, delivery and listening to history, we are allowed to take bath at night.
Types of Bath
Bath is the process of cleaning the body, mind and soul. Hence in Mahabharata it is considered as an act of purity. According to following verse there are five types of the acts of purity.
Manahshaucham karmashaucham kulashaucham tathaiva cha Sharirashaucham vakshaucham shauchampanchavidham smrutam
Purity of mind, purity of work, purity of family, purity of body and purity of speech – these are the five types of purity.
Kamya Snana is the bath taken with some desire. It is done with some resolution for entire month in the month of Kartika, Magha and Vaishakha.
Abhyanga Snana is the bath taken with oil, uptana (various types of powders as the option for soap), attar (fragrant material). Such bath should be taken with hot water. It is also known as Mangalika Snana. Such type of bath is very helpful for the health.
Other basic types of bath are Shitodaka Snana and Ushnodaka Snana; those are bath with cold water and hot water accordingly.