paramam pavitram prajapateryat-sahajam purastat I ayushyamagryam pratimuncha
shubhram I yajnopavitam balamastu tejah ||
Above shlok describes the sanctity, spirituality and sacredness of yagnopavitam
and its benefits. It says that, yagnopavitam is "the best among
those that purify; the one that has emerged along with Brahma (Prajapati)
at the time of creation; that which bestows life (longevity) and prominence;
the one that is sacred clean and unsoiled; and the one which confers
on to the wearer both knowledge and power."
Dwij mean twice born. There is no difference between one child and another
at the time of birth. All are born out of the mother's womb only. This
is the first stage of life (Sudra). Second stage is getting updesh of
Gayatri at the time of Upnayanam when the boy becomes Dwij or twice-born.
He is then purified. The third stage is Vipra when one has mastered
the study of the Vedas. The fourth stage is Brahman when he actually
realizes the Brahman through the knowledge of the Self.
Why should one wear Yagnopavit? :
Wearing Yagnopavit would increase the longevity of a person who wears,
gives physical and mental strength through the worship of Sun God (Savitha)
using Gayatri Mantra initiated during his Upanayanam. By wearing Yagnopavit
one gets purified both externally and internally. By wearing Yagnopavit
one gets the eligibility to perform spiritual and sacred rituals (Srouth
/ Smarth Karmas) as prescribed in Veds for his Varna. Sacred rituals
performed by wearing Yagnopavit give good results.
One should not attend to nature calls, eat food, and participate in
sensual pleasures without Yagnopavit. It is a prerequisite for learning
Ved. It is a passport to obtain Vedic education. Yagnopavit is a mark
of formal entry into Brahminhood. It gives power and authority to pursue
one's spiritual path.
Anthareeyam and Utthareeyam :
Yagnopavit is a word consisting of two words, yagna and upavit. Vit
means that which is woven, that is cloth and Upavit means the upper
garment. One is born naked. Then the baby is kept wrapped in one garment.
Till the thread ceremony is performed the boy can remain clad in one
garment. The use of the upper garment begins after the thread ceremony.
After the thread ceremony one garment refers to the loin cloth (langoti)
and the second (upper) garment to the sacred thread (janave) which is
in a way a condensed form of the shawl on the shoulder (uparne).
In early times, clothing was of two kinds, "Anthareeyam",
a piece of covering cloth, and "Utthareeyam", a cloth or hide
to cover the chest to keep the lungs warm and strong during Ved recital.
Yajnopavit got the name as it is to be specially worn during sacred
rituals such as yajnam. Yajnam means Vishnu, while Upavit connotes a
covering, and thus, together the word could mean a cover for the god
that dwells in the heart. Since the soul is supposed to dwell in the
heart, Upavit got the other name, Yajnasoothram. Yagnopavit is called
"Poonool" in Tamil (Poo = Flower, Nool = Thread), meaning
thread made of cotton flower.
How many Yagnopavitas one should wear? :
The cords of the sacred thread are made up of three strands. The celibate
(brahmachari) and ascetic (yati) should wear one and the married householder
(gruhastha) should wear two. One cord indicates that an ascetic and
a celibate are concerned only with their own spiritual progress while
two cords in the married householder indicate that they are also responsible
for the spiritual progress of their wives besides their own. The third
cord is to be worn by all gruhasths. People in the early days used to
cover their upper body only with a cloth - uttariyam (angvastram). If
the upper cloth is missing during a ceremony, the third cord of the
yagnopavit takes its place.
Posture of Yagnopavit (Savya, Praachinavita, Nivit) :
Generally we come across three postures of wearing Yagnopavit. One is
Upavita where the Yagnopavit is worn over the left shoulder and under
the right arm. This posture is used for performing auspicious ceremonies
and sacred rituals related to Gods. This is called Savya position. Under
normal circumstances Yagnopavit should always be in Savya position.
The thread is worn on the left shoulder and falls on the right side
below the waist. The thread is worn on the left shoulder crossing the
3 naadis (pingala / sushumna / ida) for the centering effect.
The second one is Praachinavit where, Yagnopavit is worn above the right
shoulder and under the left arm. This position is used while performing
sacred rites to the Forefathers (Pitru Karya). This is called Apsavya
When Yagnopavit is worn around the neck and over the chest in maalakar
(like a garland) and is held with both thumbs in the region of the heart
and above the naval, it is Nivit. This form is used during Rishi tarpan,
sexual intercourse, answering nature calls, while carrying a corpse
When to Change the Yagnopavit? :
When once a person starts wearing Yagnopavit in normal circumstances
it should not be removed and should be worn always (24 hours-365 days).
It is like a woman wearing a Mangal-Sutra forever. But in practice it
is not possible to wear the same Yagnopavit permanently. Due to wear
and tear, it may get soiled or worn out or gets broken and needs to
be changed. One should not wear a broken or worn out Yagnopavit. Apart
from this it should be changed under the following circumstances.
- Once in a year on the day of Upkarma,
- After performing Shraddh,
- After completion of the stipulated period of asouch (birth / death
in the family),
- Whenever one visits the Cremation Ground or touches a Corpse,
- Whenever one happen to touch a woman during menstruation,
- Whenever the threads of Yagnopavit are severed or it is soiled or
- Whenever one attends 10th day ceremony and gives Dharmodak.
Whenever there is a need to change Yagnopavit it should not be removed
recklessly. First wear the new one and then remove the worn out as per
the laid down procedure.
When to Perform Upanayan :
A Brahmin child's upanayan must be performed when he is eight years
old from conception, that is when he is seven years and two months old
from birth. A Kshatriya's is to be performed at the age of twelve. Krishna
Parmatma who belonged to the clan of Yadus (Yadavs) was invested with
the sacred thread at that age. The corresponding age for a Vaisya is
According to the sastras, the lower limit of Brahmin youngsters is eight
years and the upper limit is sixteen which means a grace of eight years.
It is sinful not to have performed upnaya of a Brahmin boy before his
passing the upper age limit.