Snataka (Samskrit: स्नातकः) refers to those who have completed their education in the brahmacharyashrama and who are awaiting their entrance into the responsibilities of the Grhasthashrama, that is, the graduates in today's parlance.
परिचयः ॥ Introduction
According to the tradition of education in ancient Bharata, after the performance of Upanayana samskara (उपनयनसंस्कारः), a child is sent to the Gurukula where he is trained in different shastras under the able guidance of a Guru. At the end of this training, the rite of Samavartana (समावर्तनम्) is performed to indicate completion of his training, and he is ready for the transition from brahmacharyashrama to the second phase of his life – the grhasthashrama.
The rite of samavartana includes a snana (स्नानम् । ritual abulation) indicating the graduation of the student from the Gurukula. And such a student who has had the ritual abulation after completion of his study is called a Snataka (स्नातकः ॥ a graduate).
स्नातकव्याख्या ॥ Snataka Vyakhya
- Vachaspatya (वाचस्पत्यम्) describes a Snataka as follows:
वेदाध्ययनानन्तरं गार्हस्थ्याय कृतसमावर्त्तनांङ्गस्नाने गृहस्थभेदे |
vedādhyayanānantaraṁ gārhasthyāya kr̥tasamāvarttanāṁṅgasnāne gr̥hasthabhede |
It refers to a one who, after having completed the study of the Vedas, for entering the Grhasthashrama, has performed the rite of Samavartana which is an abulation that indicates the graduation from brahmacharya to grhastha.
- However, according to Shabdakalpadruma,
ब्रह्मचर्य्यं त्यक्त्वा यो गृहाश्रमं गतः स स्नातकः । समाप्तवेदाध्ययनो यः स्नानशीलः आश्रमान्तरं न गतः सौऽपि स्नातकः ।
brahmacaryyaṁ tyaktvā yo gr̥hāśramaṁ gataḥ sa snātakaḥ । samāptavedādhyayano yaḥ snānaśīlaḥ āśramāntaraṁ na gataḥ sau'pi snātakaḥ ।
The one who leaves behind brahmacharya and goes to grhasthashrama is a Snataka. But, after having competed the Vedic studies, the one who is eligible for the ritual abulation but does not enter the grhasthashrama is also a Snataka. Because, Snataka is of three types.
- According to Paraskara Grhyasutras
त्रयः स्नातका भवन्ति विद्यास्नातको व्रतस्नातको विद्याव्रतस्नातक इति । (Para. Grhy. Sutr. 2. 5. 32).
Three kinds of Snatakas exist Vidyasnataka, Vratasnataka and Vidyavrata snataka.
व्रतस्नातकः ॥ Vrata Snataka
Vratasnatakas, are those who had observed all the vows and spent the full period of Brahmacharya at the house of the guru but had not finished the full course of studies.
ब्रह्मचर्य्याचरणस्य यः शास्त्रबोधितोऽवधिः । तावद्वेदमुपास्यासमाप्तवेद एवाश्रमान्तरं गतो यः स व्रतस्नातकः ।
The one who enters the Grhasthashrama, studying the vedas only for the stipulated time prescribed by the shastras for the brahmacharyashrama, without completion, is a Vrata Snataka.
brahmacaryyācaraṇasya yaḥ śāstrabodhito'vadhiḥ । tāvadvedamupāsyāsamāptaveda evāśramāntaraṁ gato yaḥ sa vratasnātakaḥ ।
According to Paraskara Grhyasutras, वेदव्रतम् is not completed but Brahmacharya vrata is complete and the student comes out of Gurukula (गुरुकुलम्) by Samavartana - such is a Vrata snataka.
समाप्य व्रतमसमाप्य वेदं यः समावर्तते स व्रतस्नातकः ३४ (Para. Grhy. Sutr. 2.5.34)
विद्यास्नातकः || Vidya Snataka
Vidyasnatakas, are those who had completed their entire course of studies but not the full term of Brahmacharya.
वेदमधीत्यगुरुसन्निधौ वेदाभ्यासं यः करोति स विद्यास्नातकः ।
The one who continues to stay with his Guru and study the Vedas even after the stipulated time is called a Vidya Snataka.
vedamadhītyagurusannidhau vedābhyāsaṁ yaḥ karoti sa vidyāsnātakaḥ ।
According to Paraskara Grhyasutras, वेदव्रतम् only is completed but Brahmacharya is not complete and the student comes out of Gurukula (गुरुकुलम्) by Samavartana - such is a Vidyasnataka.
समाप्य वेदमसमाप्य व्रतं यः समावर्तते स विद्यास्नातकः ३३ (Para. Grhy. Sutr. 2.5.33)
उभयस्नातकः || Ubhaya Snataka
Those students who had finished their full course of vedic studies and observed all the brahmacharya vows were called the Ubhaya-Snatakas or Vidyavratasnataka.
पालितसम्यग्व्रतः प्राप्तवेदो यो द्वितीयाश्रमं गतः स उभयस्नातकः ।
The one who observes the vow completely, absorbs the vedic teachings and graduates to the second ashrama is called Ubhaya Snataka.
pālitasamyagvrataḥ prāptavedo yo dvitīyāśramaṁ gataḥ sa ubhayasnātakaḥ ।
According to Paraskara Grhyasutras, वेदव्रतम् and Brahmacharyavrata both are complete and the student comes out of Gurukula (गुरुकुलम्) by Samavartana - such is a Vidyavratasnataka.
उभयं समाप्य यः समावर्तते स विद्याव्रतस्नातक इति ३५ (Para. Grhy. Sutr. 2.5.35)