(Last Updated on : 03/03/2011)
The four cardinal points in Grihya sutras
include East, West, south and North. East and north are associated with rituals in which the right dominates. South and west are associated with rituals in which the left dominates. East and north are the directions towards which movement takes place in these rituals. These points would be discussed in the context of their importance in the household ceremonies.
* New moon, full moon rituals, marriage, pregnancy are those sacred rites where lines are drawn on the ground from west to east.
* The householder is told to cover the ground with the holy durva grass before the fire sacrifice takes place. The grass is pointed to a direction according to the type of ritual. For example morning and evening religious offerings for the new-moon and full-moon ceremonies, the blades of grass should be pointed towards the eastern direction.
* In the rituals of marriage, pregnancy, childhood rites, and initiation the sanctified fire is placed to the east of the house.
* The bride or the pregnant women in a particular ritual should sit facing the east.
* When the ritual is over the subject drives away either in the eastern or northern direction.
* When a cow has to be sacrificed, its head should face the east. However it must be seen that no blood is spilt towards the east.
* If one wants to be famous one should build a house with the door facing the east.
* A line has to be drawn from the south to the north while preparing a site.
* The food meant for sacrifice that is made on the new moon and full moon ceremonies has to be placed on the grass pointing towards north.
* During the marriage, pregnancy, childhood and initiation rituals the subject should sit on northward pointing grass.
* While these rituals are being performed various ritual movements have to be made from south to north. For example, in the birth ritual the mother passes the child to the father from southern direction to the northern direction. Similarly in the marriage ritual after all the religious offerings have been made, the husband stands towards the southern side of the bride. He faces the northern side for the rite of holding his bride's hands.
West is a direction that is associated with ancestors and prosperity.
* The respective subjects in these rituals sit on the western side of the fire on northward pointing grass.
* For the performance of the rites to ancestors a special enclosure is built which should face the west.
* During the performance of new-moon and full-moon rituals, a winnowing basket, a mortar and a pestle have to be placed on the western side of the sacred fire. The sacrificial food is also placed on the western side.
* When a cow is sacrificed in a rite its feet should be towards the west.
* The household entrance should not face the west.
South is related to death. This is the reason why Palasha tree is not placed in the southern direction.
* The morning and evening offerings to ancestors are placed on the southern side of the fire.
* For the ancestor-propitiation ceremony some durva grass is covered round the sacred fire. The blades of this grass should be towards the south.
* During the tonsure ceremony the ritual implements are placed towards the south of the fire.
* The cow which is sacrificed during the rites to ancestors has its head facing the south.
* During the ancestor-conciliation ceremony the sacrificer draws a line from north to south.
* A person who is eager for children, cattle and fame should build his house that faces the southern direction.