SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SANKALPAM

Most of us would have come across the word "sankalpam" before the start of almost any puja or even the sandhyavandanam as a matter of fact. What exactly is the significance of the sankalpam & why is it made mandatory in all rites & rituals?

"Sankalpam" simply means a "firm decision". In the case of the sandhyavandanam, the mantra for the sankalpam would be "Mamopatta durita kshaya dwara.........". Here, our "firm decision" is that we shall perform the sandhyavandanam as per the Lord's wish.

The immediate question that one would face is, "Why is it that I need to specifically make a firm decision with a mantra when I already know that I'll be performing the ritual long before I actually perform it?".

The answer to that would be as follows. Of course you have made the decision to perform the ritual, but observe the samkalpa mantra. It states "..........sri parameshwara prityartham...........". This is one of the most important aspects of the entire "karma" section of the sanatana dharma. This one line clearly defines the very objective & nature of each & every ritual prescribed in Sanatana dharma. What is so important about these lines? Read on to know.

Time & now, we come across people questioning the validity & authenticity of the various rituals that we as Hindus perform. The critics say, "You have done your ritual haven't you? Then where is the result? Why can't we see it? Since, the result cannot be seen, its obvious that all your rituals are dogmas & senseless blind beliefs". I'm sure most of us would have come across such a situation in our lives at 1 point or another & I'm also sure that most of us would have simply bent our heads without an answer or even criticised our own dharma!

So, why doesn't a ritual yield immediate results as soon as its performed? The answer is provided in the sankalpam.

Right at the start of a ritual, we declare that the ritual shall be done for the appeasement of the Lord. This is signified through the line "...Parameshwara Prithyartham...". Hence, right at the start of the ritual we detach ourselves from the results of it. This is in accordance with the popular verse of the Bhagawadgita-"Karmanye vaadhikaraste ma phaleshu kada chana". This means, we are not in a sense "bribing" the Lord through rituals & getting our tasks fulfilled.

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Instead we are surrendering to the Lord, a supreme force in such a way that we let the Lord himself decide the phala(results) of the ritual. It is the Lord's wish to decide when the devotee should receive the benefits of the karma. May it be immediate, in a later stage of life or in an another life itself. We merely perform our duties & pray so that we get what we deserve.

Even at the end of the ritual, we conclude through Ishwararpanam(Note that Ishwara does not refer to Lord Shiva all the time. Depending of the faith of an individual, it can refer to Vishnu, Shiva,etc).

It is probably exclusive to the sanatana dharma that something like the samkalpam has been formulated to synchronize the karma bhaga(section of rituals) & the bhakti bhaga(section of devotion).

Source: Brahmin Culture and Traditions