Begin with thought ‘What is samskara?’. The word samskara comes from the root samyak, which means harmony. Samskara is samyak akara, meaning harmonious form, shape, or personality. While the word samskriti, which is translated as culture, comes from samyak kriti, harmonious act, in other words, cultured act.
When you say, “This person is cultured”, it means the behaviour or actions of that person are appropriate. So harmonious act is samskriti and harmonious form is samskara. The form to your nature is given by your thoughts.
What you think is how you act and what you become. Therefore, it is the thoughts that have to be observed and managed. The change has to come in thought first. It has to be a conscious effort.
Different yamas and niyamas are used to create this change in the thinking pattern which then transforms your behaviour and actions. Thus samskara is accessing the thoughts and making them better and more luminous, more sattwic.
Samskriti is accessing the performance, and making it creative. Here we are dealing with adhyatma samskara, spiritual samskara, or cultivation of spiritual thoughts. Can you do it? Spiritual thought is developing positive qualities in life and overcoming negativities.
If you scream at somebody, take a sankalpa, “Never again will I scream at that person”, and try not to, from that moment onwards. Don’t think that screaming today has given you the right to scream at that person at every opportunity you get.
That is an attitude. Can you live it? If you have the courage, then live it and show it. Show that you are capable of doing it, start living the yamas and niyamas. That is the beginning of adhyatmic samskara.
Ganga Darshan Vishwa Yogapeeth, 17 July 2015
From the book “Yoga Chakra 2, Cultivating Spiritual Samskara”, pg. 7-8, Sw. Niranjanananda Saraswati