YajnOpaveeta and upAkarma
Why should we wear yajnOpaveeta?
YajnOpaveeta is the sacred thread that represents deeksha to perform vEdic rituals. Man belonging to the first three varNas (brAhmaNa, kShatriya and vaishya) has vEdAdhikAra. He can perform sandhyAvandana, gAyatri japa, agni kArya and the like and can also perform vEdAdhyayana. The pre-requisite to all this is the formal initiation called upanayana where the boy’s father gives the yajnOpaveeta and brahmOpadEsha to his son initiating him into vEdic rites.
Nobody is entitled to perform any samskAra without having gone through the yajnOpaveeta samskAra according to ManusmRuti. One must undergo yajnOpaveeta samskAra before the vivAha (wedding) samskAra. Similarly, shrAddha karma is not valid unless the kartRu has first undergone the yajnOpaveeta samskAra. Even when a person does not wear a yajnOpaveeta regularly, priests insist upon it during such rituals.
The yajnOpaveeta is said to have been created by Sri chaturmukha brahma himself for this very purpose:
brahmAgrE kalpayAmAsa vEdArhAnAmanuttamam
yEnAmsE dhRutamAtrENa brahmasUtrENa tE dvijAH
bhavaMti brAhmaNa nAma vEdArhAshcha trayastviH ||
The thread that gives the eligibility to perform yajna kAryas is the yajnOpaveeta
yaj~jAkhyaH paramAtmAya uchyate chaiva hOtRubhiH
upaveetaM tatO AsEdyam tasmAdyaj~jOpaveetikam ||
Details of yajnOpaveeta (the sacred thread)
The yajnOpaveeta comprises of three threads, and each thread is in turn made up of three fine threads (strands). The three threads that form the yajnOpaveeta represent the 3 guNas, 3 vEdas, 3 varNas and the 3 lOkas.
By the order of the Lord the abhimAni dEvatas of these (3 gunas, 3 vEdas, 3 varNas and the 3 lOkas) reside in the three threads.
tAvallOkAstrayO varNAstrivRut sUtram samAshrayan
tat graMthimAshrayattArAstrimAtO nAdasmyutaH
tat graMthyagram cha sAvitrI vEdamAtA shivAj~jayA ||
Each of the three threads of the yajnOpaveeta in turn is made of 3 fine strands, totally numbering to 9 strands for one yajnOpaveeta. The 9 strands (of a single yajnOpaveeta having three threads) have the following deities:
1st strand: OmkAra
2nd strand: agni
3rd strand: bhaga
4th strand: sOma
5th strand: pitRu
6th strand: prajApati
7th strand: vasu
8th strand: dharma
9th strand: vishvEdEvatas
tRuteeyO bhagadEvatyachaturthaH sOmadEvataH
paMchamaH pitRudEvatyaH ShaShThachaiva prajApatiH
saptamO vasudEvatyO dharmashchAshTamaM Evacha
navamaH sarvadEvatyaH ityEtA nava dEvatAH ||
The yajnOpaveeta should not go either below or above the navel. It has to be changed every year on the upAkarma day and also after any ashaucha (mailige).
Bachelors should wear one yajnOpaveeta, where as a minimum of two is compulsory for gRuhasthas. The second one represents the extra duty a householder has to perform. (The 2nd one is required since the wife cannot wear a yajnOpaveeta and the husband wears one for her, since the husband is the guru of the wife.). gRuhasthas can wear even 3 or 4 yajnOpavItas, one representing the uttareeya and the other for shrEyas.
What is upAkarma?
Upakarma, means “beginning” and it is historically, the day was considered auspicious for beginning the Vedic studies. It is on this day that one has to start the study of vEdas after doing samarpana of what he has studied in the earlier year.
chAndra RugvEda upAkarma is done on the full-moon day of shrAvaNa month having shravaNa nakShatra as the nitya nakShatra.
yajurvEda upAkarma is also done on shrAvaNa full-moon day itself (whether or not that day has shravaNa nakShatra)
saura RugvEda upAkarma is done on the shravaNa nakShatra day falling in the saura month of simha (when the sun is in simha rAshi)
Even though the main function of Upakarma is yajnOpaveeta dhAraNa, it involves many rituals.
(1) samarpaNa of what we have studied (vEdas) from the previous upAkarma to this upAkarma to shree vEdavyAsa dEvaru.
(2) On this day at least we should learn to chant a few mantras of respective vEdas from our Guru (or purOhit)
(3) The purOhita also teaches one line of brahmasUtra, sarvamoola granthas, etc. as a mark of start of study of vEdas and other shAstra granthas. We must continue to study further. (But in majority of the cases, our study will end on that day itself!!) [;)]
(4) Every brahmana has to undergo upAkarma – All brahmanas should perform upAkarma hOma invariably. Only for those who are having sUtaka or vRuddhi (or ame) need not do upAkarma on that day. However, after the elapse of sUtaka or vRuddhi one must do the upAkarma hOma and have the yajnOpaveeta changed.
Why upAkarma is done particularly on shrAvaNa full-moon day?
On this day the supreme Lord Sri nArAyaNa took the incarnation of Sri Hayagreeva dEvaru and restored the vEdas which was stolen by a demon. In this incarnation, His head is of a pure white horse, while the rest the body is like a human, possessing four hands. He holds shankha, japamaala and pustaka in three hands; and the fourth hand shows the jnAna mudra. Lord hayagreeva then preached the vEdas to Sri brahma dEvaru on this auspicious day for the benefit of entire mankind.
Sri Hayagreeva devaru is worshipped as the God of knowledge. He is the upAsya mUrthy of Sri vAdirAjaru. So, the day of his avatAr is chosen as the day to start and submit the vEda adhyayana; and wearing a new sacred thread is a part of this ritual.
Procedure for changing the yajnOpaveeta
(Note: I have used baraha transliteration rules while typing the mantras)
Om RugvEdAya swAhA
Om yajurvEdAya swAhA
Om sAmavEdAya swAhA
Om atharvaNa vEdAya namaH
Om itihAsa-purANEbhyO namaH
Om agnayE namaH agnayE namaH
Om vAyavE namaH vAyavE namaH
Om sUryAya namaH chaMdrAya namaH
Om digbhyO namaH digbhyO namaH
Om iMdrAya namaH iMdrAya namaH
Om viShNavE namaH viShNavE namaH
Om pRuthivyai namaH pRuthivyai namaH
Om AtmanE namaH
Om aMtarAtmanE namaH
Om paramAtmanE namaH
(Do Achamana two times)
praNavasya parabrahma RuShiH daivee gAyatree ChaMdaH paramAtmA dEvatA prANAyAmE viniyOgaH
Om bhUH Om bhuvaH Om swaH Om mahaH Om janaH Om tapaH Om satyaM
Om tatsaviturvarENyaM bhargO dEvasya dheemahi dhiyO yO naH prachOdayAt
Om ApOjyOti rasOmRutaM brahma bhUrbhuvaH swarOm
Om gaMgE cha yamunE chaiva gOdAvaree saraswati
narmadE siMdhu kAvEri jalEsmin sannidhiM kuru
kRuShNa kRuShNa viShNOrAj~jayA pravartamAnasya
AdyabrahmaNaH dwiteeyaparArdhE shwEtavarAha kalpE vaivasvata manvaMtarE aShTAviMshatitamE kaliyugE prathamapAdE jaMbUdweepE bhAratavarShE bharatakhaMDE mErOrdakShiNapArshvE daMDakAraNyE gOdAvaryAH dakShiNakoolE shAlivAhanashakE buddhAvatArE parashurAmakShEtrE (if in any other part of the world, then rAmakShEtrE) asmin vartamAnE vyAvahArikE ___ saMvatsarE ___ ayanE ___ arkE ___ Rutau ___ mAsE ___ pakShE ___ tithau ___ vAsara yuktAyAM shubhanakShatra shubhayOga shubhakaraNa EvaMguNavishEShaNa vishiShTAyAM shubhapuNyatithau asmadAdi gurUNAM shreeman madhvAcharyANAM hRutkamalamadhyanivAsi vAsudEva saMkarShaNa pradyumna aniruddha chaturmUrtyAdi anaMtAvatArAtmaka shreesavitRunAmaka shreelakShmeenArAyaNa prEraNayA shreelakShmeenArAyaNa preetyarthaM shrautasmArtakarmAnuShThAnayOgyatAsidhyarthaM yaj~jOpaveetadhAraNamahaM kariShyE
(After doing sankalpa, hold the yajnOpaveeta which is previously offered to God, and do gAyatri japa 10 times)
Om bhUrbhuvaH swaH tatsaviturvarENyaM bhargO dEvasya dheemahi dhiyO yO naH prachOdayAt
(Draw a mandala on the floor, keep the yajnOpaveeta over it, on a silver/copper plate while chanting thus:)
Om syOnA pRuthivi bhavAnRukSharA nivEshAnee yachChA naH sharmasaprathaH Om
(Do prokshana on the yajnOpaveeta with water)
OmkArOgnishcha nAgashcha sOmaH pitRu prajApati
vAyu sUryau vishvEdEvA ityEtAstaMtudEvatAH
(Now do ShODasha upachAra pooja to the dEvatAs thus invited onto the yajnOpaveeta)
(Now lift the yajnOpaveeta with your hands, chanting thus:)
Om dEvasya tvA savituH prasavE.shvinOrbAhubhyAM pUShNO hastAbhyAM Om
(Now show the yajnOpaveeta to Sun God by chanting thus:)
Om udvayaM tamasaspari jyOtiShpashyaMta uttaraM
dEvaM dEvatrAsUryamaganma jyOtiruttamaM Om
yaj~jOpaveetamityasya maMtrasya parabrahma RuShiH
triShTup ChaMdaH paramAtmA dEvatA upaveetadhAraNE viniyOgaH
Om yaj~jOpaveetaM paramaM pavitraM prajApatEryat sahajaM purastAt AyuShyamagryaM pratimuMcha shubhraM yaj~jOpaveetaM balamastu tEjaH Om
(Chant this mantra 3 times and then wear the yajnOpaveeta.)
(Do Achamana twice, and chant gayatri mantra 10 times)
jeerNa upaveeta visarjana
(Remove the old yajnOpaveeta while chanting this:)
upaveetaM bhinnataMtuM jeerNaM kashmaladUShitam
visRujAmi jalE brahmavarchO deerghAyurastu mE
(Discard it in water)
(Do Achamana twice and chant nAmatraya)
~ shree bhArateeramaNa mukhyaprANAMtargata shreekRuShNArpaNamastu ~
- “munjAneyinda sanjeyavarege” by Sri Bannanje Govindacharya
- Emails forwarded by “Sumadhwaseva”
- “traikAlika sandhyavandanam” book published by Sriman Madhwa siddhanta granthalaya, Udupi