THE SECRET OF YAGNOPAVEET ( THREAD CEREMONY )
From the book Yogeshwar Guru Gangeshwar Part 2
Compiled in hindi by Smt Ratanben Fojedar.
In Gurudev’s biography there is a mention of Yagnopaveet in several places. It was one of the main agendas of Guru Maharaj’s Lok Sangrah movement.
Whenever Gurudev was in the company of the people belonging to the three Varnas –Brahmin, Vaishya and Kshatriyas He would explain the importance of this ceremony, which is their primary and most important duty.
Gurudev would oversee the ceremony Himself and sometimes delegate this to one of the saints.
This ceremony is according to the tenets of the Founder Acharya of Shrout Marg ( the Vedic Path). Acharyas knew that this was the way to obtain Vedic knowledge, which gave the authority to spread Vedic Dharma.
The one who has not been initiated in the Savitri Mantra holds no right to enter the path of Vedic Studies.
( Gayatri Mantra is the popular name for Savitri Mantra).
With this Samskaara he gets a new birth (Punar Janm) and that is why he is called a Dwij ( the one who is born again), say the shastras.
( Meaning of Samskaara—according to Hinduism, Moksha from the cycle of birth and death is the final goal of life, resulting in bliss.
Efforts put forth in that direction are called Sadhana and our body and mind are the chief instruments in this endevaour. Samskaara is the process of purifying and refining these instruments, making them fit for sadhana.
It also means ‘latent impression’. Any thought word or action, whether good or bad leaves an impression on the mind provoking a similar action in future.
We have 16 such Samskaaras or sacraments . Yagnopaveet is one of the most important one.
We shall now elaborate on the details of this ceremony as explained in the Shastras which will increase the belief of people .
Shruti Bhagwati says—
“Vasante Brahmanam Upaneeyat ,
Greeshame Rajanyam Sharadi Vaishyam”
A Brahmin’s Yagnopaveet, be conducted in his eighth year.
A Kshatriya’s ceremony should be conducted in the eleventh year.
A Vaishya’s ceremony should be conducted in the twelfth year.
There are other guidelines also for special cases.
If a Brahmin is desirous of Brahm Tej ( wants to pursue his search for God) he can have this ceremony when he is five years old.
The Kshatriya who wants extra strength can perform it in his sixth year.
The Vaishya who wants to earn extra wealth can have this ceremony when he is eight years old.
The sooner this ceremony is performed the better it is because it helps the future destiny. This age factor is from the time of birth or from the time of conception and is also dependant on the availability of a good opportunity and finances to conduct the ceremony.
The later scriptures increased the age limit for special cases.
A Brahmin had to have it by the age of sixteen, a Vaishya by the age of twenty four and a Kshatriya by the age of twenty two.
If this samskaara is not held during this age frame, then they would be denied grace and in common language be called ‘Un Aryan’.
If the first phase of life does not get a good foundation then the chances are fewer, for the person to follow the Vedic Dharma.
Maharaj Manu had said that the one who has the Yagnopaveet is eligible to become an ascetic and only such an ascetic can systematically study the Vedas and pursue the knowledge of Par Brahman Parmatama.
After knowing the age limits set for Yagnopaveet we shall now understand more about the ceremony.
The Upanishad and the Smritis have said that the three Varnas should at all times wear the thread and have a tuft of hair ( choti).
Without this any work performed by them would be futile.
KarmaKandis (ritualists) believe Parmatma is Yagna Swaroop. (Sacrifice as a form of God). The wearing of the thread symbolizes the proximity with this Yagna Swaroop form of Parmatma and that is why is given the name of Yagnopaveet.
There are special measures taken while making this thread and only when the prescribed method is followed, does the thread become worthy to be worn.
When a married woman or a young girl spins the thread and folds the thread sixteen times on her right hand fingers, it is called, ‘Chauva’.
From this three strands are made and finally it is knotted and this knot is called ‘Brahmn Gaanth’
( knot of Brahman ) or ‘Rudra Gaanth’.
This thread is then purified with mantra chanting before wearing.
Only that thread that is made with the various special measures is worthy to be called Yagnopaveet.
In the olden days there were several more traditions followed. The required cotton was grown with a proper ritual. The seeds were planted with mantra chanting and when ready were purified by sprinkling holy water. The thread was also spun amidst Vedic chanting. It would then be energized with the recitation of the Gayatri mantra (1-25 Lakh Times).
Only then could a Brahmin wear the thread as the Yagnopaveet.
When a simple fever can be cured by wearing a thread energized with mantras then the thread made with the above elaborate rituals will surely be very sacred .
Shastras have likened the nine threads, with nine Devtas and believe that this sacred thread is made by Bhagwan Vishnu with the three Gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas qualities) and Rudra Bhagwan has made the knot and Savitri /Gayatri has energized it with mantras.
The nine threads of the Yagnopaveet are likened with the following nine Devtas
7.Marut or Vayu
9.All other Devtas—-Vishwadeva
The nine strands of the threads are also likened with the following qualities.
1.Brahm Gyan ( knowledge of Brahman)
3.Dhairya ( Patience)
4.Sarv Priyata ( Love for all)
5.Sneha Sheelta ( Compassion )
6.PrajaPaalan ( The abiity to rule )
7.Bal Sheelata (Strength)
8.Prakaash ( Knowledge)
9.Saatvikta ( Purity)
One of the Sutras (aphorisms) likens the Yagnopaveet as Brahm Sutra
( related to the Vedas).
When worn on the left shoulder falling towards the side of the right arm it is called ‘Yagnopaveet’.
When worn on the right shoulder hanging towards the left arm it is called ‘Prachinaveet’ .
If worn like a garland it is called ‘Samveet’.
The folding of the yarn 96 times has many hidden meanings which we shall now understand. This concerns the no 96. The three or four meanings explained will enforce the importance of the thread ceremony.
The four Vedas have one lakh Shrutis. There are four thousand Shrutis of Gyan Kand ( the knowledge section) and eighty thousand of the Karma Kand ( Section on rituals) and sixteen thousand of Upaasna Kand ( Prayers and Invocations).
These are also very significant in the thread ceremony. The ninety six ‘Chauvas’ the four fold thread represent these mantras.
The measurement of the human body is the breadth of eighty four fingers and a measure of ninety six denotes Devmaan (divine) and therefore Yagnopaveet is considered divine. The number ninety six is attributed to Godly qualities.
The Gayatri Mantra has twenty four syllables and when multiplied by four
( the four Vedas) we get a count of ninety six.
There are fifteen tithis (days numbering from one to fifteen as per the waxing and waning moon) , seven days of the week , twenty seven Nakshatras ( constellations), Four Vedas , three Gunas ( Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), three Kaals ( past, present and future) and twelve months.
All these add up to ninety six and that is why the ‘chauvas’ are entwined nine times and lastly made into three strands (tilda).
The proof of making the nine strands is found in Sam Veda’s Chandogya Sutra’s appendix –
“Yagnopaveetam Kurveet Sutrena Nav tantavyam”
The three strands (Tilda) have, various meanings.
1. Brahman manifested Agni (fire), Jal (water) and Prithvi (earth ) and entered into it as Jeeva (living being) so say the Upanishads. The three threads are to remind us of this.
2. Man has three debts from the time he is born. The three debts are –
Rishi Rin ( the debt we owe to the great Rishis and teachers).
Dev Rin ( the debt we owe to the various Gods).
Pitr Rin ( the debt we owe to our ancestors).
By following Brahmacharya( living life of a bachelor immersed in studies) man is able to free himself from Rishi Rin.
By conducting Yagnas and Yagyas man frees himself from Dev Rin and by having children and continuing the lineage, frees himself from the debt of ancestors—Pitr Rin.
To denote these three debts the thread is made up of three strands.
3. To obtain Karma , Gyan and Upaasna the three strands are symbolic.
4. To protect Jeeva from the three states of waking , dream and deep sleep the three strands are made.
5. The one who wears the Yagnopaveet should control his speech, thought and action.
6. The three strands of the Yagnopaveet symbolize the three kinds of nourishments (Pushti) required by us.
These three nourishments are abundance of milk and ghee and plenty of grains and clothing and lastly wealth and fame.
With a deep of study of the significance of this important Samskaara , we will understand the poignant and secret meaning.
It is the duty of all three Varnas ( Brahmin, Vaishya and Kshatriyas) to perform this ceremony and wear the sacred thread.
In the fortnightly magazine ‘Siddhant’ from Varanasi, an article relates another viewpoint by the following story.
Once upon a time the Devtas and Asuras performed a Yagna to claim their right on Swarg.
The Devtas had worn their Yagnopaveet and therefore were able to win Swargalok.
The Asuras lost because they did not have the protection and blessings of the Yagnopaveet.
According to a learned person, a child’s Yagnopaveet ceremony in the fifth year is important because after completing four years of his life he has ninety six years more to go ( an average person’s age is supposed to be a hundred years ).
This is not really true because a person with a longer life is also supposed to have this Ceremony.
Shri Mahadev Sharmani in the fortnightly ‘Siddhant’ edition 18-20 of the 4th year has some beautiful descriptions .
The various methods of making the Yagnopaveet like ‘Veshthan’ , ‘Chauva’ and three strands etc have been explained.
We are grateful to him for this information which we will now share with all.
This whole universe and all creation is made up of 96 fundamental principles of life and the 96 yarns of the Yagnopaveet symbolize that.
In the first chapter of the Varaha Upanishad, they are enumerated as follows–
Five organs of action ( Karmendriyas)—- Mouth, Hand, Leg ,Excretory organ, Reproductory organ.
Five organs of Knowledge ( Gyanendriyas)– Ears, Skin, Nose, Tongue and Eyes.
Five Pranas ( Vital air) Udana, Samana, Vyana .Apana and Prana.
Four Antah Karana ( The internal organ comprising of the Mind, Intellect, Consciousness and Egoism by which we experience thinking, feeling, willing and remembering. Man,Buddhi, Chit and Ahankaar).
Five Tanmatras ( the 5 primordial elements, Space, Air, Fire, Earth and Water).
And to the total of the above 24 Tattvas is the 25th –Maya ( the power of Brahman responsible for the illusory projection of this world. Hiding and Projection are the two aspects of this power.)
Five Panchikrit Panch Maha Bhoot ( the 5 elements when they have gone through the process of quintuplicate).
Three Bodies (Deha—Sthool, Sukshma and Karana Shareer ), Gross, Subtle and Causal Bodies.
Three States of consciousness—-( Waking , dreaming and deep sleep).
Six Changes — Existence, Birth ,Growth ,Transformation ,Decay and Destruction..
Six Pain or Infirmities —-Hunger, Desire, Sorrow, Attachment, Illness and Death.
Six Sheaths (Kosha)—- Skin, Blood, Muscle, Fat, Bone marrow and Bones.
Six Afflictions —- Greed, Anger, Avarice, Infatuation, Arrogance and Jealousy.
Three Jeevas –—Vishwa, Taijas and Prajna (the waker, the dreamer and the deep sleeper states of Jeeva)
Three Gunas /Qualities—- (Sattva , Rajas and Tamas).
Three Karmas ( 3 kinds of action) —-Prarabdha ,Sanchit and Agami.
Five Actions by the organs of action—namely Speaking, Sitting, Walking, Excretion and Enjoyment.
4 FourThoughts——Certainty, Delight, Egoism and Memory.
4 Emotions –—-Delight , Compassion, Sympathy and Indifference.
Fourteen Devtas of Gyanendriyas, Karmendriyas and Antah Karana are the following-
These 96 fundamental principles of creations called ‘Tattvas’ are the causal effect of Prakriti and Ishwar.
The thread of the Yagnopaveet represents Brahman and to represent the 4 quarters of Brahman ( Chatushpaad) the thread is wrapped on the 4 fingers and 96 ‘Chauvas’ symbolize the 96 tattvas.
The Varaha Upanishad mentions that the body is made up of 96 measures of the finger (one measure of the finger is ¾ of an inch) and the Yagnopaveet of three strands is worn near the heart because all devtas reside in the heart and the Pranas(life) and Jyoti (light) are also there.
The thread is worn on the left shoulder while performing any religious activity and on the right shoulder during Pitr Karmas ( performance of rituals for ancestors).
Once a person is enlightened and is Self Realized he has no use for the Tattvas, and he no longer needs to wear the Yagnopaveet .
In other words in the Sanyaas Ashram stage of life the significance of the Yagnopaveet is no more.