The Vēdic rituals performed by the parents and the teacher on the son or daughter from the time of conception till marriage so that they may perform balanced [Sāttvik (Sattva predominant)] actions are referred to as the sanskārs (rites). There are sixteen important sanskars.
‘A process of increasing the potential. The origin of the word sanskar is sam (सम् ) + kru (कृ) + ghyan (घञ्) = sanskar (संस्कार). Thus the word sanskar is formed by prefixing the preposition sam denoting balance, to the verb kru and suffixing ghyan to it. It has manifold meanings such as to improve, to purify, to remove shortcomings in an object and to endow a new, attractive form to it. In short, the process by which positive qualities in man are developed and enhanced is known as a sanskar.
The extent of the concept of sanskars and their number is widely discussed in the Gruhyasūtras. Sanskar forms the main topic of discussion in the Gruhyasutras. In these sutras the sanskars performed on the body from vivāha (marriage) till Samavartan (Sodmunja) are elucidated. In many Gruhyasutras the sanskar of performing the last rites is not mentioned as a sanskar.’ Click here to read more.