The kesanta, as the name suggests, is a sacrament connected with the first
shaving of the student’s beard, when his age is about sixteen years. As the
consciousness of manhood dawns upon him, he is required to exercise greater
watchfulness over his youthful impulses; and so by this sacrament he is once
more reminded of his vows of brahmacharya. The procedure of this
sacrament is almost the same as that of the chudakarana. Kesanta was also
called godana (the gift of a cow), the reason being that at the end of the
ceremony the student offered a cow to the teacher.
     Samavartana is the sacrament performed when the student returns from
the home of the preceptor after completing the studies. It is also called snana
(bath). The period of brahmacharya being regarded as a great sacrifice, an
avabhritha snana or ritual bath is taken, as it is customary on the completion
of all sacrifices. Figuratively, an erudite scholar is called a nisnata or snana,
because he is considered to have crossed the ocean of learning and discipline.
     Completion of learning and return home is a very momentous event in a
student’s life, because he is either prepared to marry and plunge into the busy
life of the world, or he has acquired the Vedic knowledge that may give him
the power to keep off from the turmoil of the world in order to lead a life of
physical and mental detachment. Those students who choose the first path are
called upakurvana and those pupils who choose the second path are known as
naisthika. The majority of students follow the first course and a few the
second.
     In every case the permission (anujna) of the teacher is regarded as
necessary. The permission is preceded by the students’ giving the
gurudaksina, the proper fee to the preceptor. The student does not pay
anything to the acharya except service till the study is complete; but when he
leaves, it is expected that he should honour him with an acceptable fee
according to his means, even though the services rendered by the teacher are
of a higher value.
Marriage
Of all the Hindu sacraments, vivaha (marriage) is the most central one. The
Grihyasutras generally describe the samskaras as beginning with it, because
it is the source of all domestic sacrifices and ceremonies, and also because, in