The rules of bath according to Dharmasaastraas.
स्नात्वा कर्माणि कुर्वीत Snaatwaa karmaani kurveetha… is the first instruction by Sastraas. One should do the daily rituals, spiritual or temporal only after having a bath, is one of the fundamental rules of our religious culture. The intense sense of self-hygiene and reverence to the sources of water and the keenness of our ancestors to keep such sources absolutely clean have no parallels in any civilization. If we had imbibed that sense of reverence to rivers and springs, wells and lakes, by not polluting them by effluents of various nature, and cared to regulate the maintenance of the ground waters our lives would have been much happier. The praise of water finds expression in Pavamana suuktam.. or punyahavachanam practiced by us. That can form part of another essay. Here the importance of bath as ordained in dharmasaastraas is dealt with in brief.
सततं प्रातरुत्थाय दन्तधावन पूर्वकं
आचरेदुषसि स्नानं तर्पयेद् देवमानुषान्।
अगम्यागमनात् स्तेयात् पापेभ्यश्च प्रतिग्रहात्
रहस्याचरितात् पापात् मुच्यते स्नानमाचरन्।
मनः प्रसादजनकं रूपसौभाग्यवर्धनं
शोकदुस्स्वप्नहं स्नानं मोक्षदं ह्ळादनं तथा
स्नानमूलाः क्रियाः सर्वाः श्रुतिः स्मृत्युदिता नृणां।
तस्मात् स्नानं निषेवेत श्रीपुष्ठ्यारोग्यवर्धनं।
याम्यं हि यातना दुःखं प्रातस्नायी न पश्यति
अप्रायत्यं निहन्त्येव स्नानेनैकेन मानवः॥
द्वितीयेन निमज्जेन निर्मलत्वं भवेत् ध्रुवं
त्रितीयेतितृप्तिः स्यात् निमज्जनबलम् त्विदं॥
सङ्कल्पं सूक्तपठनं मार्ज्जनं चाघमर्षनं
देवतातर्पनं चैव स्नानं पञ्चाङ्गमुच्यते
satataM praatarutthaaya dantadhaavana puurvakaM
aachareduSasi snaanaM tarpayed devamaanuSaan.
agamyaagamanaat steyaat paapebhyashcha pratigrahaat
rahasyaacharitaat paapaat muchyate snaanamaacharan.
manaH prasaadajanakaM ruupasaubhaagyavardhanaM
shokadusswapnahaM snaanaM mokSadaM hLaadanaM tathaa
snaanamuulaaH kriyaaH sarvaaH shrutiH smR^ityuditaaa nR^iNaaM.
tasmaat snaanaM niSeveta shriipuSThyaarogyavardhanaM.
yaamyaM hi yaatanaa duHkhaM praatasnayii na pashyati
apraayatyaM nihantyeva snaanenaikena maanavaH..
dwitiiyena nimajjena nirmalatwaM bhavet dhruvaM
tritiiyeaaatitR^iptiH syaat nimajjanabalam twidaM..
sa~NkalpaM suuktapaThanaM maarjjanaM chaaghamarSanaM
devataatarpaNaM chaiva snaanaM pa~nchaa~Ngamuchyate.
A person on waking up in the morning should perform the cleaning of the teeth as prescribed ( the rules have been already discussed) and in the early hours of morning called UshaH kalam before sunrise should perform oblations through giving water (tarpanam) to the gods and the departed elders.
By performing the bath, a man is released of the sins incurred by having carnal relationship with prohibited counterparts, from the sins of theft, from the sins of receiving presents from the sinful people and from the sins committed in secret.
The bath gives us equanimity and pleasantness of mind. It endows on us great beauty and health and helps us in maintaining these two for a long time It is the elixir relieving us from mental agony, bad dreams and it gives us ultimate emancipation from worldly toils (moksham) and it makes us jubilant and excited
All the practices prescribed in Vedas and Saastras are to be performed by men only after bath and therefore all should stick to the schedule of morning bath which is the enhanced of wealth, welfare and good health.
The tortures for the sins that one may face after death and after reaching the house of yama will never vist the person who is performing his morning-baths regularly. With one dip in the water during bath, all the sins and evils stored in a man vanishes. With the second dip in water, one becomes absolutely clean in body and mind. With the third dip there will be satisfaction for the self, devaas and pitrus. These are the benefits of a nice bathe.
There are five limbs to the ritual bath. First is the sankalpa or declaring with devotion that one is going to take bath in the name of and for the satisfaction of the God. Then the mantras worshipping the presiding deities of the water and the source of water like the river should be chanted. Then one should clean oneself of all the physical dirt with water. Then one should chant the Aghamarshana mantra ( found in Taittareeya Aranyaka..Mahaanaarayanopanishat…starting with Hiranyashringam Varunam…). As the final ritual one should pay oblations with water to the Gods (and departed elders wherever called for.)
It is reiterated that the dharmasastras state that very grave sins will be washed away by bath. It should be understood that the intention is to praise the greatness of bath and its impact on the physical and mental welfare of the people. It should never be construed to mean that one can commit all the sins in the world and get away with it by just having three dips in water in the morning.
A second chapter for this with details for various types of bath, the prayers connected with such baths etc., will follow.