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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Why oil bath?

Why oil bath?

A custom in this land of ours which is mostly forgotten
is about the rules of taking oil bath!
Known as 'yeNNai shasthram',
this stipulates the days and thithis for taking oil bath.
The days differ for men and women
and there is a sloka for each gender to be recited,
invoking the blessings of some great souls of yore,
while applying oil on the head.

For men (seven names), it is:-

Ashwthamo Balir Vyaso Hanumanshcha VibhishaNah,
Krupah Parashuramashcha,Saptaite Chiranjivinaah.

For women (five names), it is :-

Ahalya Draupadi Sita Tara Mandodari tatha
Panchakanyaah smarennityam mahaapataka naashanam.

Let us look into the rationale of this shasthram and the slokas.

The rationale for oil bath:-

Usually thaila snanam (oil bath) is supposed to make one tired.
There are days prescribed in astrological texts for taking thaila snanam,
so that the person will not become weak or tired after the snanam.

First of all why should one get tired after oil bath?
It is said as per Ayur veda that the vital energy in body such as
vatha, kapah etc must be balanced for good health.
Ayur veda treats a person on the assumption
of disturbance to any one of the 5 vital elements in the body
and making correctives to them.
It is said when one takes oil bath, the balance of these is upset in
the body. One can feel it also.
Usually after an oil bath,
one will feel sleepy.

Sleepiness is associated with planet Saturn in astrology. The day of Saturn is a day to take rest. It is ideal to have weekly holiday on Saturday and not on Sun day. (Sun day will make one fully vigorous and active like the Sun. The days were named only on the basis of the attributes of the planets that influence the day by rising as the first hora at sunrise)
Taking oil bath on Saturday best suits the nature of the day influenced so, by Saturn.

As per astrology, chathurthasi is ideal for oil bath.
In a week Saturday is ideal for oil bath for men and Friday for women.
It is also said oil bath in the afternoon of Fri day is good.
One commonality in all these is that Saturn,
the ayush kaarakan is ruling Chathurthasi (rikhtha thithi) andsaturday.
Friday is ruled by Indra which also benefits one with chiranjeevithwam.

So the days chosen for oil bath are those ruled by planets that give
long life, to offset the supposed fall in the balance of vital
energies of the body.

(Note:- If the oil bath is taken along with other other ingredients such
as vaasanaadhi dravyams, mustard oil etc, no dosham of or
specification of day or thithi is required as per texts. This includes
taking bath of heated oil. This makes us infer that there is no
restriction for shampoo snanam!)

The slokas

For men:-

Ashwthamo Balir Vyaso Hanumanshcha VibhishaNah,
Krupah Parashuramashcha,Saptaite Chiranjivinaah.

The invocation for men includes 7 men who are all supposed to be chiranjeevis.
Perhaps the purpose is to of seek the blessings of
Ashwathama, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibheeshana, Krupa and Parashurama
so that one lives a long life.

Ashwatthama is said to live for ever.
Bali who is supposed to become the Indra of the next Manvanthra, is
said to live even now in Patala.
Vyasa is always there at every point of time.
Hanuman will continue to be in this world as long as Rama nama is recited.
Vibheeshana is also said to be blessed with chiranjeevithwam.
As per Ithihasa, Krupacharya and Parashurama also are chiranjeevis.

Perhaps by invoking their names, one is blessed to live long.
Perhaps this invoking is done while taking oil bath as oil bath
disturbs the vital energies of life.

For women:-

Ahalya Draupadi Sita Tara Mandodari tatha
Panchakanyaah smarennityam mahaapataka naashanam.

The women mentioned here are Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari,
called as Pancha kanyas (!) are supposed to destroy sins.

This sloka which is in vogue presently is however flawed.

Tips from sages on oil bath:-

Bharadvaja says :- Oil bath should be taken on the tithi and the days
prescribed. Then it gives strength and health. Children, the sick
people, and elders should take oil-bath and regular bath in warm
water, at a convenient time. They are exempted from the rules.

Deepavali Bath

In the dark fortnight of Ashwina month, on the fourteenth day, early
in the morning, oil should be applied on the body and bath taken in
warm water. This is Deepavali bath.

When ashwaja krishna chadurthasi [Narakachaturthi day] falls on a
Sunday when the star Swathi is ruling, scented oilbath should be taken
early in the morning by those who wish for prosperity. Take bath in
warm water. On Deepvali day, Lakshmi lives in oil and Ganga lives
in warm water. This bath removes bad luck. After the bath, wear new
dress and jewels.

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