Q: Gurudev, we say ‘Achamanyam Samarpayami’. Water is known as ‘Apa’, so why do we call it as ‘Achamanyam’?
What is the significance of offering water?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, water is also known as Achamanyam.
This is a practice that has been going on since ages. Before starting and ending anything, Achamanyam is offered.
It is the process where we do Abhimantra (mantra chanting on the water. You take a pot of water, place your hand on top and then chant mantras. The mantras are supposed to be absorbed into the water) and then offer it. It is not just plain drinking water. The water is charged through the mantra vibrations.
Whenever a guest comes home, water is used to wash their feet (padya). Then, water is given into their hands (arghya). After this, they are given water to drink to quench their thirst (achamanyam). These three practices were practiced in olden times.
When someone comes to your house, don’t you ask, ‘What would you like to drink? Would you like some lemonade, milk, tea or coffee?’
Don’t you give them some water to drink?
In the same way, in olden times, they used to have the practice of Padya, Arghya and Achamanyam.
Padya means washing the feet of the guest at the entrance of the house, so that the dirt on the feet does not enter the house. Arghya is to wash their hands. Achamanyam is giving them water to drink, indicating that the discussion can begin.