the evil influences reaching the recipient of the samskara.
    Just as hostile influences were shunned by people, favourable influences
were attracted and invited for their benefit. It was believed that every period
of a man’s life was presided over by a deity, and therefore, whenever
occasion arose, that deity was invoked to confer boons and blessings on the
person concerned.
    In the next place, samskaras have a cultural purpose governing the
evolution of the society, because they comprehend sacrifices and rites that
have for their aim domestic felicity resulting from the gain of cattle, progeny,
long life, wealth, prosperity, strength, and intellectual vigour. Though not
outside the common run of men, the priest who was above the masses, further
introduced considerable refinement in the customs and rites of the society in
various ways. He always welcomed and blessed the material aspirations of
the householders and attempted to sanctify the members of the community
and help them in their spiritual growth.
    Thirdly, the performance of the samskaras served the purpose of self-
expression. The householder was not for ever a terror-stricken beggar
petitioning the gods for favours. He performed the samskaras also for
expressing his own joys, felicitations, and even sorrows (as, for instance, the
death ceremony) at the various events of life.
    Apart from the popular and cultural purposes served by the samskaras,
according to seers and the law-givers, they helped also in imparting to life a
higher religious sanctity. Impurity associated with the material body—real or
imaginary—is removed by the performance of the samskaras. The whole
body is consecrated and made a fit dwelling place for the soul.
    The theory is still current that a man is born a Sudra; he becomes a twice-
born (dvija) by the performance of samskaras, by acquiring the Vedic lore he
becomes a vipra (an inspired poet); and by attaining Brahman he becomes a
Brahmin. However, the samskaras were never regarded as ends by
themselves; they were performed to help the growth and ripening of moral
virtues. Gautama, while emphasizing the necessity of undergoing the
samskaras, clearly points out that the samskaras are by themselves
ineffectual in leading man to the ultimate goal of existence, unless the virtues
of the soul (atmagunas) were also developed. So the various samskaras
performed at different stages