Back to Roots : 7 Yagnopaveetham


“Yagnopaveetham paramam pavithram
Prajapatheryasahajam purasthad
Aayushyamagryam prathimuncha shibram
Yagnopaveetham balamasthu thejah”

The above sholoka in sanskrit describes the scaredness and significance of this ceremonies. In today’s day and age, the importance of these rituals is fast dwindling away. Soon our generation and the generation after will loose track of these important rituals.

In the above verse it’s explained very beautifully the sanctity, spirituality, and sacredness of Yagnopaveetham.In earlier days, there was a practice follwed that before attaining the knowledge and starting the study of Vedas and Upanishads. It was compulsory for Brahmins, to get this thread ceremony done. One had to be introduced to Gayathri Mantra to be eligible to study Vedas. This was done by a process called “Upanayanam” i.e. Sacred Thread Ceremony. Upanayanam literally means additional eye or opening the third eye, the eye to learn (jnananetra). Through this ceremony, the boy is awarded the sacred thread (Yagnopaveetham).

The Upanayanam was also a part for the other varnas before starting off their education. To explain the meaning of Yagnopaveetham,we need to understand the meaning of yagna,which means sacred ritual. Without the Yagnopaveetham, a Yagna/sacred ritual cannot be performed. It is known as “Poonal” in Tamil. It is a triple sacrificial filament joined by a knot called “Brahmagranthi”.

The Yagnopaveetham has 3 threads signifying the three debts:

Debts to one’s Guru(Guru krin)
Debts to one’s parents and ancestors(Pithru krin)
Debts to sages, scholars and Gods(Rishi krin)
It is usually worn from across the left shoulder and under the right arm with the knot placed near the left chest closer to the heart.

It is worn from the left shoulder,which is the base for carrying the load of life with tolerance. The heart is the point of determination and faith.Back is the symbol of commitment.It therefore denotes the sacrifice of ego, anger and selfishness.

There are many stories that has done it’s rounds,which says earlier both men and women wore the sacred thread. With time, women’s responsibility to learn and perform rites has been transferred to her husband. The married men performs the rites on behalf of his wife too wearing another strand of threads. Thus the Marriage became their upanayanam from then on. This leads to a very interesting question of who wears a Yagnopaveetham? As stated earlier, any man born into a Brahmin family is entitled to wear a Yagnopaveetham in order to be eligible to perform the sacred rituals.

A Brahma Chari (unmarried man) should wear only one Yagnopaveetham that has 3 strands.
A Grihastha (married man) should wear 2 Yagnopaveetham as he assumed the debts of his wife as well. It is however in practice to wear 3 Yagnopaveetham, the third one being the “Uttareeyam” or upper dhoti. The rituals of the Yagnopaveetham is very elaborate and almost like a marriage. Therefore,it is important to understand the significance of the length of the Yagnopaveetham? It should come up to the navel of a man-neither above nor below since, wearing Yagnopaveetham below the navel leads to loss of power of penance(the lower portion of body below the navel is considered impure) and wearing above the navel leads to “Ayuksheenam”(decline in longevity).

Our ancestors were very particular,about eàch and everything we did in a ritual. Therefore,there is a procedure to wear and remove a Yagnopaveetham?
A Yagnopaveetham should be worn one by one with the recital of relevant Sankalpa and Yagnopaveetham dhaarana mantra by facing either East or North direction. Every time, Aachamanam should be performed and Gayathri Mantra should be recited 10 times.

It is important to hold the Yagnopaveetham with both hands with the knot being held above the right hand facing upwards.

Old ones should not be removed from above the neck. They should be removed from below the navel, without touching the feet by reciting Visarjana Mantra after 10 Gayathri Mantras and the old ones should either be dropped into a water body or a tree only. The power of the mantras chanted creates a vibration that makes it even more powerful.

The position of Yagnopaveetham, is equally very important so that the power of mantras chanted to energise the thread is not lost. On the left shoulder and under right arm(Savya position). This is under normal circumstances, for ceremonies and sacred rituals. It is called the Upavita.

On the right shoulder and under left arm(Apasavya position) This is done when performing sacred rituals to the forefathers (Pithru karma rituals). It is called Praachinavidhi.

It’s worn around the neck like a garland, this is during rishi tharpanam, while attending nature’s call and while carrying a corpse. It is called Nivita.
I hope this has given some insight and importance about the process of Upanayanam and the significance of Yagnopaveetham.

The sacred thread of Samaskar’s bestowed

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