1. Benefits of bathing – Importance of a bath
A bath rids a person of the black energy enveloping it and also destroys the Raja-Tama components in its body, thus making every cell in its body conducive to absorb Chaitanya (Divine consciousness). The distressing components generated during brushing of the teeth and evacuation of faeces, which are yet not expelled by the body, are destroyed through a bath.
2. Benefits of bathing
Bathing reduces the Raja-Tama predominant particles in the body of a person and assists it in absorbing sattvik (Sattva-predominant) waves from the atmosphere with ease.
A bath helps in stabilizing the external environment of a person. That is why, while performing puja (Ritualistic worship), the person can become introverted, become one with the atmosphere quickly and absorb waves of the Deity based on the conduciveness of the atmosphere.
3. Benefits of bathing in the morning
A bath in the morning increases strength, radiance and bestows longevity. It also gets rid of nightmares.
If the person has an auspicious bath before sunrise, its conscious and subconscious minds get purified and can absorb the sattvik waves during that period.
4. Benefits of bathing – Types of bath
Before comprehending these, it is necessary to understand their underlying science. Dawn is the transitory period between darkness and the beginning of a day and transpires two ghatikas (48 minutes) before sunrise. [A ghatika is an ancient Bharatiya measure of time; 1 ghatika = 24 minutes].
At this time, the sky appears red. The period before dawn consisting of three ghatikas (72 minutes) is called the Brahmamuhurtkal. Both these periods change with the time of the sunrise.
A. Bathing at Brahmamuhurt: Bathing at Brahmamuhurt amounts to following of religious traditions by the person. This helps the person in the following ways.
During Brahmamuhurt, the mental body of the person is in a stable state. That is why, if a person bathes during this period, the sanskars (subconscious impressions) of chastity, holiness and purity are created on the person. At Brahmamuhurt, waves of Deities are several times more active than at other times. Gross and subtle impressions are created on the person through the bath. These help the person absorb Chaitanya and waves of Deities emitted at Brahmamuhurt.
Chastity, holiness and purity are the three sanskars through which a person gets the three Shaktis (Divine Energy) of sankalpa (resolve), ichha (will) and kriya (Physical performance of a deed). With the help of these three Shaktis, we are also able to imbibe Dnyan-shakti (Energy of knowledge) and unite with the Absolute Chaitanya of God.
B. Abhyangsnan (Bath after an oil massage)
Abhyangsnan means bathing at dawn with lukewarm water, after massaging the scalp and body with oil. A bath by a person for its own well-being is also abhyangsnan.
Importance of an oil massage in abhyangsnan: Oil massage to the body before bathing provides momentum to the chetana (That aspect of Divine Consciousness that governs the functioning of the mind and body) in the individual and bestows immortality upon him. By applying oil to the body before a bath, the muscles and the body voids get stimulated and activate the Panchaprana (Five vital energies). As a result, the unwanted energy in the body is expelled in the form of burping, yawning etc. and the cells, muscles and voids in the body become conducive to absorbing Chaitanya. This unwanted gas-waste from the body is sometimes expelled through the eyes, nose, ears and skin pores in the form of waves. That is why after applying oil, at times the eyes and face become red.
Benefits of abhyangsnan
Oil massage causes activation of the Suryanadi (The Sun channel) due to the rubbing and also makes the vitality of the body radiant. This radiance destroys the Raja-Tama predominant waves in the body; this is a kind of purification process only. This process, which takes place at the level of Chaitanya, provides continuity to the flow of vitality in the body, and every karma of the person gets transformed into sadhana (Spiritual practice).
Since this action helps in concentration of sattvikta in the body, the person progresses. In other words, it is a continuous journey towards sattvikta. Abhyangsnan is of utmost importance here.
Every action arising from an abhyangsnan at the Chaitanya level transforms it into spiritual practice. This purifies the atmosphere.
C. Occasional head bath: Compulsorily take a dip in water in case of indigestion, vomiting, after a haircut, after sexual intercourse, after touching a corpse, after touching a menstruating woman, after a nightmare, after touching an evil person, after touching a dog, after touching a chandal (Scavenger) or a corpse carrier.
D. Bath that bestows merit and destroys sin
If we bathe under an Ashvattha (Holy fig tree) on a Thursday and in a river on Amavasya (New moon day), the merit obtained is equivalent to bathing at Prayag (Holy place of Allahabad) and cleanses us of all sins.
If we bathe in a river during the period of the Pushya constellation, our birth constellation or Vaidhruti-yog (Name of one of the 27 auspicious times that is active during sunrise), then we are cleansed of all sins.
E. Kamyasnan: Kamyasnan is a bath under religious acts, had with the intention of fulfilling some desire such as acquiring wealth, eliminating disease etc.
5. Benefits of bathing – Where should one bathe?
Bathing in a river or a water body is ideal; bathing in a well is fairly good, while bathing in the bathroom at home is inferior.
Reasons for water from a river and water reservoirs being ‘ideal’ for a bath: Since the water in rivers and water reservoirs is flowing, it can create radiance in a dormant state from the sound (arising out of flowing of the water) and also to intensify it. Bathing at such places, with the radiance providing touch of the water, the chetana (That aspect of Divine consciousness that governs the functioning of the mind and body) within the body is awakened, thus activating and then pushing the Raja-Tama predominant waves (which have accumulated and intensified in the voids of the body) outwards. In this way, this Raja-Tama-predominant energy is first released and then disintegrated in the radiance of the water. Consequently, the body becomes pure and clean at the subtle level as well. That is why, such a bath is said to be ideal. The more the flow of the water, the more the disintegration it brings about of the Raja-Tama predominant particles at the level of the Tej-tattva (Absolute Fire Principle).
Reasons for considering bathing in a well as ‘fairly good’: Since water in a well does not flow, the potential of well water to create radiance, to concentrate and transmit it to the person having a bath is also less. The water stagnation creates a kind of grossness in it, which is an invitation to insects, germs and Raja-Tama predominant negative energies. Since the potential to concentrate the distressing vibrations in it is enhanced in stagnant water, at the level of purity, which is with respect to disintegration of Raja-Tama-predominant waves, bathing in a well is less beneficial.
Reason for considering bathing in the bathroom to be inferior: The home environment is restricted, that is, it displays less association with the pervasiveness of the external atmosphere. Depending on the temperament of the individuals residing in a premise, the momentum of their respective waves in the premises increases proportionately. With passage of time, these waves get concentrated there. Since in the Kaliyug (Era of strife) most individuals are Raja-Tama predominant, with the help of these waves, several dissatisfied souls of ancestors can possess them. A bucket placed in such a closed vastu (Premises) also attracts distressing vibrations from the atmosphere into it. An Apa-tattva (Absolute Water Principle) predominant sheath having motion is generated around a bucket of water placed in a restricted vastu. If the vastu is charged with distressing, impact-giving and frictional waves, they begin to move towards the sheath around the bucket. When these waves collect in the bucket, they can enter the body of the one bathing. That is why, such a bath makes the body impure and is a cause for negative energy attacks, and is considered inferior. To summarize, any process by which we become susceptible to negative energy attacks is considered inferior.
Bathing in flowing water purifies the body: Whenever possible, an individual should bathe in natural water-bodies like rivers, lakes, wells etc. Bathing in natural surroundings purifies the body with the help of the Pancha-tattva (The five Cosmic Principles). That is how, Raja-Tama predominant particles in the body of an individual undergo disintegration to a large extent. The prana-deha (Vital body), mano-deha (Mental body), karan-deha (Causal body) and mahakaran-deha (Supracausal body), all get purified and become capable of absorbing sattvikta.. Thus, the individual is able to absorb energy of the nirgun (Non-materialized) state and the vibrations of a superior Deity to some extent. In addition, since the external atmosphere of the individuals comes into contact with the universal atmosphere, the individuals can, to some extent, absorb and emit the Principle from the Universe and emit that as well.
(That is why, when we perform a religious ritual at a place of pilgrimage, we are asked to bathe in a sacred river or lake).
6. Benefits of bathing – Why should we bathe in the morning?
The significance of bathing at the Brahmamuhurt or dawn has already been explained. That is the ideal time for a bath. However, today, for most people, that time is inconvenient for bathing; so bathe as early as possible after sunrise.
Bathing in the morning is preferable to bathing in the afternoon
Underlying science : It is very important to bathe in the morning, because during this period the atmosphere is full of sattvik waves. Waves of the Apa-tattva touching the physical body through the medium of water make the body very sensitive to absorption of waves from the atmosphere during this period. In the Kaliyug, however, everything has overturned. Women complete their household chores and bathe thereafter, since they sweat during the house chores. Then they comb their hair. Since the momentum of Raja-Tama predominant waves in the atmosphere is high in the afternoon, and the body is sensitive to absorbing waves from the atmosphere, it absorbs Raja-Tama predominant waves when bathing. Hence, though the body is cleaned externally, internally it remains unclean.
Bathing in the morning is better than bathing at night
Underlying science : Since sattvikta is high in the morning in the physical and subtle bodies, it increases to a greater extent and is retained for a longer period. Since the night is tamasik (Tama-predominant), by bathing at night, sattvikta in the physical and subtle bodies increases to a lesser extent and is retained for a shorter period. That is why, an individual benefits from a bath at night to a lesser extent. –
Reference: Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text ‘Daily conduct and science underlying its Acts’