Upakarma, Yagnopavit and its significance
About Vedas - Miscellaneous
Written by Vasudeva Rao   
Tuesday, 05 August 2008 20:08
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  With grateful acknowledgements.  Sarvo vy tatra jeevanthi Gowrascha poorushan pashuh|

 yathredam Brahma Kriyathe paradijeevana cum||          [Atharva veda 8.2.25]

Meaning: Where Vedas are held as Life Ideal, humanity, cattle, Birds, all beings live peacefully with comfort.

 
Yagnopavitha Mantra.
 

Aum Yagnopaveetham Paramam pavithram prajapatheyatsahjam purastat|

Ayushya magyam pratimanch Shubram yagnopavitam balamustu Tejah|
yagnopavithamaci yagnasya tva yagnopavithenopanhyami||

Meaning: God has ordained that Yagnopavitha should be donned along with the great deeds. Person with Yagnopavitha should lead a clean and progressive life. Only then Yagnopavitha becomes strong and radiant.

 

           We should remember that there could be no Yagnopavitha without a Yagna, noble thoughts, noble deeds, and noble performance and nobility spreading.

 

            The Vedic Dharma is alive today due to its traditions and festivals. The festival of Shravani Upakarma falls on the Poornima i.e. full moon day of the Aryan month of Shravana. Even today the festival has maintained its importance even after the passage of millions of years ago when it was founded in the Vedic age.

            Upakarma [up+ a+karma] literally means “to draw nearer incessantly”. In other words, it indicates that things that is already learnt and yet to learn to be taken to the heart consciously. The months of August to November [Shrvan, Badrapad, Ashyuj, and Karthik] being mostly rainy months were not suited to travel as the transport facilities were not good in olden   days. Hence Sanyasis, Businessmen, politicians were stay put at a particular place during the period engaging themselves in the study of Vedas, performing long drawn Yagnas and preaching. The Upakarma was the starting point to this exercise. The concluding festival observed after this four months period is now totally forgotten, which is sad indeed. Besides, study and Vedic chanting during this period another equally important ritual being observed was to replace the worn out Yagnopavitha with the new one. This ritual is even now being observed. The RSS has of late popularized another festival called Rakshabandhan tagged to this day, although there is no reference to this celebration in any of the ancient authentic texts.

            Yagnopavitha is a proud symbol of duties to be performed by everyone who follows AryaDharma. It could be likened to Uniform being worn by an Army man or the saffron robes put on by a Sanyasis. This insignia is not based on the feeling of one being either low or high. Rather it is dependent on dutifulness. What is the object of Yagnopavitha? Listen to the following Mantra.

 

            Sa Sooryasya  rashmibhih parivrutham tantu tanvanastrivrutham yathavide|

            Prashisho Naviyasi pathirjaneenmupa yathi Nishkritham|| {Rigveda 9.86.32.]

           

 Meaning: The three threads are worn to know the true nature of Life. Person wearing       Yagnopavitha grasps the rays of knowledge from the Acharya and feels fulfilled by repaying the debts he owes to God, Parents and Teacher.

 

                         Having recognized the importance of Yagnopavitha the Vedas have made wearing of Yagnopavitha as one of the important Vedic Sanskars. All Sanskars play a very important role in the Vedic dharma as these Sanskars are essential for man’s physical, mental and spiritual development.

                      It is a culture and custom in Hindu tradition that when a child goes to School [Gurukulas] to obtain education from his teacher, the first ritual done by his teacher is Yagnopavitha Sanskar. Or thread ceremony. This means that the child has obtained the right to education and performing rituals like Yagna, etc. Yagna is described as “Shretatamaya Karmani” i.e. the noblest deeds.

                     Yagnopavitha is also known as “Janeu”. It is essential duty of all men and women to adopt this sacred thread. It is an important custom and sign in the Parsi [Zoroastrian Sect] to adopt and wear the sacred thread. To understand this tiny sacred thread, just pick up one “Yagnopavitha “and observe the following facts.

                       In this sacred thread which is white in color—there are three threads in it and in each thread, there exist three tiny threads[fibers] – it is 98 fingers long[because an average human body is 98 fingers long] with five knots that make the thread round. Now you have seen that there are all nine threads in Yagnopavitha with five knots and white in color. White is the symbol of purity and being made of cotton, it has no side effects.

1.      Many people are allergic to nylon, polyester, and man made chemical fibers or made from animals’ hairs, woolen etc. But cotton is natural, hence hygienic and also scientifically proved to be the best for human body.

2.      Human body is approximately 98 fingers long, this also proves that the sacred thread which is also 98 fingers long has effects on the full body.

3.      The Sacred thread which is worn on the left shoulders to the right of the waist touches the heart indicating that the resolutions that accompany this thread are taken heartily for their action. Since the Yagnopavitha extends from left shoulder touching the hearts and ends in waist this indicates all senses which one must have control over.

4.      Five knots also indicate to perform five essential duties that are “worshipping of the five living Gods”. There are more secrets to these five knots. There are five enemies of man i.e. Sex, greed, affection [delusion] and egotism. When the Sacred thread is worn the wearer takes an oath to get rid of all these enemies by controlling his senses with intellect. These five enemies are the main hurdles [knots] that are to be conquered by man in his life. Whenever the person who has worn the sacred thread, sees it while bathing or any time during the day or night, he remembers his oath.

5.      There are nine tiny threads [fibers] in the Yagnopavitha that indicate the nine gates of human body. Nine gates [Dwaras] are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth and two genitals. One has to have one to one watchmen on these gates so that there should be no misuse of these openings of the body. The work of the eyes is to see either good or bad? When one sees well his Sanskars [tendencies] will be good otherwise his tendencies will ruin his present life and life to become in future. One should have control by Yogic exercises. Real pleasure of life is not outside. One has to go inside to meet his long time eternal happiness i.e. the Bliss.  Refer Atharvaveda [10.2.31] for “eight Chakras” and “Nine Dwaras”. One should use these them [nine gates of the body] properly to get success in life to reach the goal. I.e. Salvation.

6.      There threads of the Yagnopavitha [main threads] have very important meanings.

                On every human being there are three kinds of debts Viz, Mathru-Pitru-Rina, Rishi-Rina and Deva-Rina. These debts [obligatory] are on every human being.

                 Mother and father are supposed to be the first teachers of Man
 

                                         They are the creators of our physical body. One should be grateful to them because of their selfless service towards their children. One can never pay off the debt of this parent. One has to pay off his/her debt by giving his/her children education and by bringing them up as their parents have done for them.

                                        The Second debt is Rishi-Rina i.e. gratitude towards one’s teachers or Gurus who give meaning and a second life to the students by giving them true knowledge [Manu2.148.149.150.]. The Guru is man’s true guide who leads him on to the right path. The Guru develops good Sanskars in his pupils’ life by education and religious rituals. Hence to pay off their [Gurus] debts one should obey his commandments and give educational help to other needy students.

                                       The third debt is Deva-Rina i.e. debts of living and insensate deities. The living deities are mother, father, teacher [Spiritual master or Guru], altruistic teacher of humanity [Athithi] and the husband for the wife and vice-versa. It is the worship of the above that leads one to god. The insensate deities are earth, water, fire, air. and ether. Man should try not to pollute these deities as because of them we receive food, shelter and clothing.

                                      To pay off their [insensate objects] debt one must perform Yagna daily. Yagna is also good for man to live in a pollution free environment. Lord of all deities [living and insensate] is the lord of the Universe-   God. He is called Mahadeva because He is the lord of lords. One ought to worship Him daily in the morning and evening. God is the prime source of all knowledge. It is not that God gets elated or angry by our prayers or not doing prayers. However to remain grateful to God for the benefits He has accorded for us is the mark of gratitude and this quality helps us to scale new heights in our spiritual journey. To remain not grateful is the mark of ingratitude and this is inimical to our spiritual welfare.

                                      Yagnopavith’s three threads also teach man that he ought to be very cautious about his thoughts [Mana shuddi] words [Vakshuddi] and actions [Kaya shuddi] there should be oneness in thought, word and deed.

                                       The three threads also indicate that this world is tri-attributed Viz, Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. And because of them everything is entangled. The three thread goads him to take appropriate advantage of these attributes and establish link to God. Man’s body is also means of salvation hence to be free from the clutches of birth and death. One must try to get rid of worldly attachment by renouncing it whilst experiencing it.

                             “Tena Tyaktena Bhunjitah [yajurveda: 40.1]

                                     The three threads are also symbol of three eternal entities i.e. God, the Prakrithi [the matter] and an infinite number of infinitesimal souls. Without true knowledge of all these three eternal entities, no one can attain Moksha i.e. emancipation or salvation.

                         The three threads also reminder to the wearer that he should pursue the Knowledge, Action and Worship contained Vedas which are the tools for the realization of God. Further, he resolves that he would conduct himself appropriately with elders, equals and the juniors. In the other words, he would show respects, to the elders, be affectionate to the equals, and kind to the juniors. Incidentally the 7th principle of Aryasamaj is in accordance with this sentiment when it states that” One should perform towards all with love, in accordance with the injunctions of Dharma and according to their respective positions

 Some FAQS
 

K: What you say that Yagnopavitha consists of three threads is found to be false as it is that seen hundreds of people wearing Six threaded Yagnopavitha. Further, it is possible to remember all the above oaths even without Yagnopavitha. Then why bind the man with the threads? 

 

V: That you have seen people wearing six threaded Yagnopavitha is of course true. However it ought to have been with three threads only. In ancient times women were also wearing Yagnopavitha. But with the passage of time the selfish male dominated society snatched away the rights of women associated in this regard and also study of Vedas. They started to wear that part of Yagnopavitha that belonged to women [their spouses]. But thanks to Maharshi Dayananda Saraswathi, women have got back their rights with the result many Arya men and women have again started wearing Yagnopavitha. No Arya male ever wears six threaded Yagnopavitha. Yes, it is only those men who are opposed to enlightenment and welfare of women that wear the six threads.

 

Next, about the question as to why need the thread to be worn unnecessarily when the associated oaths could be remembered as well. This point may be likened to a case of policeman being instructed of his duties but the uniform not given. What good of uniform and badge? If policeman were not to wear Uniform and badge then what makes him different from the ordinary public? How to recognize a policeman then? How would the people submit to his authority? Hence it is important that he remembers his duties and equally important is that he wears his Uniform and Badge. The same analogy is applicable to Yagnopavitha as well. It is important to remember the duties and wear the Yagnopavitha also which is a hall mark of twice-born (enlightened Arya). 

 

                   The Yagnopavitha thus worn should be put on till the date of death or one can remove it under two conditions. Firstly when it becomes worn our or dirty and secondly when one takes renunciation[Sanyas].Hence the ritual to accept the thread from childhood to Sanyas Ashram i.e. the fourth or the last quarter of one’s life. A true Sanyasi always preaches Dharma which he follows in his own pious life.

              What would happen if Vedas whose study is to be commenced with Yagnopavitham is hidden?

                       Prajaya s vikrinithe pashubhischo padasyathi|

                       ya Arsheybhyo yachadhbyo devaanaam gaam na distathi||      [ Atharva 12.4.2]

Meaning: When the children of God pray for Knowledge and the man who denies the same will get destroyed with his children and grand children. He would loose the cattle and other kinds of wealth.

 

               Precisely this is what has happened to those Brahmins who considered Vedas as their ancestral property and denied the same for others when sought for. The curse of Vedas is visiting those people who are still indulging in this sinful practice. The Raksha Bandhan is an outshoot of a practice when people are denied of Vedas and they instead found out an ingenious method of tying thread with their right wrist and the practice later became Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi. This could be the possible origin for this festival as there is no indication to this effect either in Veda or any authentic texts.

            Now, it is the readers’s court to decide- what will happen if one does not wear the sacred thread? One who knows the importance of Yagnopavitha [the Sacred thread], and still he/ she does not want to wear it, it shows that he/ she is ashamed of wearing it. What will you say to such people?

           The Rig-Veda 10.57.2commands    “it is a desire of common people to adopt [to wear] the Sacred thread that is popular in the learned Society. We should obtain the Yagnopavitha in proper way i.e. by Vedic Yagna.

           It is clear that one, who refuses to wear the sacred thread, is unauthorized [i.e. he has no right] to perform religious rituals and remains away from the true knowledge of the Vedas. What can be worse fate for him than this? One who knows the importance, who knows the commandments of the Holy Vedas, still makes some excuses not to wear Yagnopavitha, and then who will be a bigger Shudra than that person? Who can be that Asura? Being a learned person and to behave like an illiterate person, it is really a trait of an illiterate and ignorant person.

         Yagnopavitha is the symbol of Aryan pride and human custom.

 
 

With grateful acknowledgements:

  1. Back to Vedas. By Sri Madan Raheja
  2. Upakarma da Bhavya sandesha. A tract by pt. Sudhakar chaturvedi
  3. Principles of Vedic Dharma, by Late Siddagopal “Kavirathna”
  4. Know your religion by Late Swami Satyam.
 
                    
 
 
 
 
 

 

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kiran  - Upakarma mahatva |86.96.226.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar please read this one
Kailash Mishra |59.98.232.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar It is very very good information.
Sudarshan |137.132.250.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar Thank you for this enlightening article about Shravani Upakarma and the sacred
thread. I am a student and have always been hysterical about the real
significance of the sacred thread. Now, I understand and that makes me a strong
believer in it's power.
Varuna |117.214.145.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar Thank you for this interesting article on yagyopaveet.....but I wonder why did
Guru nanak refused to wear this sacred thread....thnxs.
anand vyas  - Thanks |121.245.129.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar It is realy a great experience to read all this there are so many things that I
was unaware of.
GL Sharama |14.97.248.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar It is great article. I am wearing sacred thread but not aware of its
significance. i am really benefitted by this article. Many many thanks
Sathish Jampale  - Mr |203.99.197.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar Very insideful information to understand the relevance, however it would be good
to understand why some people were Yagnopavit with 3 strings, 6 strings or 9
strings.
D SRINIVASA MURTHY  - yagnopa veetham |182.156.245.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar
D SRINIVASA MURTHY  - re: yagnopa veetham |182.156.245.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar
D SRINIVASA MURTHY wrote:
This is really great info to keep our traditions make aware of interested
people. Happy Jandhyala Pournami..
PANDIT SHRIDHAR MISHRA  - THERE IS NO PRAMAANS THAT A WOMEN SHOULD WHERE THE |101.62.158.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar JAI SHRIMAN NARAYAN

THE INFORMANTION REGARDING THE YAGOPAVIT SANSKAR IS WROUG BECOUSE THERE IS NO
PRAMAAN OF THAT THE WOMEN SHOULD WHERE IT .

SO DONT DISTRIBUTE THE FLASE INFO ON NET

Sneha |203.110.85.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar Namaskar Sir,

I would like to know if by any chance there is a provision in our customs . for
a girl or women to wear Yagnopavitha. Is there a ceremony or procedure to do
so.. Are girls allowed as per our customs.. What if she doesnt want to marry or
change her Gotra after marriage. Is it possible then.??
Anonymous  - re: |90.211.28.xxx |Y-m-d H:i:s
avatar
Sneha wrote:
Namaskar Sir,

I would like to know if by any chance there is a provision in our customs . for
a girl or women to wear Yagnopavitha. Is there a ceremony or procedure to do
so.. Are girls allowed as per our customs.. What if she doesnt want to marry or
change her Gotra after marriage. Is it possible then.??
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2008 20:10