Yagnopaveetham - Paramam Pavithram
Om! Gam! Ganapathaye! Namaha!
Om! Sri Raghavendraya Namaha!
Om! Namo! Bhagavathe! Vasudevaya!
Om! Ham! Hanumathe Sri Rama Doothaya Namaha!
! Yagnopaveetham paramam pavithram
Aayushyamagryam prathimuncha shubram
Yagnopaveetham balamasthu thejah!!
Above sloka describes the sanctity, spirituality, and sacredness of
Yagnopaveetham and its benefits. It says that Yagnopaveetham is
"the best among those that purify, the one that has emerged
along with the Brahma (Prajapathi) at the time of creation, that
which bestows life and prominence, the one that is sacred clean
and unsoiled, and the one which confers on to the wearer both
knowledge and power.
What is Yagnopaveetham?
Yagnopaveetham is the triple stranded sacrificial strand of thread
joined by a knot called Brahmagranthi that is worn by those
initiated into the Gayathri recital. Yagnopaveetham is a Sanskrit
word. Yagna means the homa or sacred ritual and upaveetham
means a covering. Yagnopaveetham means a sacred covering on
the body without which a Yagna or a sacred ritual cannot be
performed. It is called as Brahmasuthram. In Telugu it is called as
Jandhyam, in Tamil it is called Poonal, while in Kannada it is called
as Janivara. In English it is called as sacred thread. Yagno-pavita
means ‘thread of sacrifice’ that symbolizes the sacrifice of ego,
anger & selfishness.
Who should wear Yagnopaveetham?
In olden days both men and women used to wear
Yagnopaveetham. But nowadays only men who are eligible and
initiated into Gayathri Manthra wear it. Among the Varnas,
Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya who is a dwija can wear
Yagnopaveetham. They should start wearing from the day they
are initiated into Gayathri Manthra which generally happens
through a ceremony called Upanayanam.
How many Yagnopaveethas one should wear?
It is said that Brahmachari (unmarried person) should wear only
one Yagnopaveetham that has three strands. A Grihastha (married
person) should wear two such Yagnopaveethas. It is in practice to
wear three Yagnopaveethas by a Grihastha, the third one that acts
as an Uttareeyam (upper dhothi).
What should be its length?
When you wear it, the length of the Yagnopaveetham should come
up to the navel level and it should be neither above nor below the
navel. It is said that if it is below the navel it will lead to the loss
of penance power and if it is above the navel it is Ayuksheenam
(reduction in longevity).
How to wear it?
Yagnopaveetha Dhaarana Vidhi
•Face the East or North direction
! Suklambaradharam Vishnum SasiVarnam ChathurBhujam,
Prasanna Vadanam Dhyayeth Sarva Vignopa Santhaye!!
•Evam guna Visheshana Visistayaam Subha Thithau,
Mama Shroutha smartha vidhi vihitha nithya karma sadachara anushtana
yogyathasiddhyartham (Jaata/Mruthaasoucha janita prayaschittartham)
Brahma Tejobhivrudhyartham Yagnopaveetha dharanam karishye.
•New Yagnopaveetham should be purified with water and turmeric powder,
•Invoke the presiding deities of Yagnopaveetham, Goddess Gayathri & Sun God
Yagnopaveetham - Ithi manthrasya
•Parabrahma Rishih(Touch forehead)
•Trushtup chandah (touch below nose)
•Paramathma devatha (touch the chest)
•Yagnopaveetha dhaarane viniyogah,
•Wear Yagnopaveetham one by one reciting the following manthra. While
wearing Yagnopaveetham it should be held by both hands, the knot in the
Yagnopaveetham being held above by the right hand facing upwards.
Yagnopaveetha dharana Manthra
! Yagnopaveetham paramam pavithram
Aayushyamagryam prathimuncha shubram
Yagnopaveetham balamasthu thejah!!
•In case of Brahmachari only one Yagnopaveetham is
Grihastha should wear a second one after reciting the
•(Mama Grihasthasrama Yogyatha Siddhyartham dwiteeya
Yagnopaveetha dhaaranam karishye) and reciting the above
•Similarly Grihastha should wear a third one with the
•(Mama Uttareeyartham) and then recite once again the
•Yagnopaveethams should be worn one by one as said above
and every time Aachamanam should be performed and
Gayathri should be recited.
•Remove the old Yagnopaveetham from below the navel by
reciting the following sloka,
Yagnopaveetha Visarjana Manthra
! Upaveetham Bhinna thanthum jeernam kasmala dooshitham,
Visrujaami jale Brahman varcho dheergayurasthu mey!
Old Yagnopaveetham should be dropped into water or on a Tree
and should not be thrown into a garbage.
•Perform Aachamanam again,
•Recite Gayathri Manthra as per ones capacity (10/100/1000)
Posture of Yagnopaveetham
Generally we find three postures of wearing of Yagnopaveetham.
One is Upavita where the yagnopavita 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. The second one is
Praachinavita where, the Yagnopavita 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 Apasavya position. When the yagnopavita is worn around
the neck and over the chest in maalakara (like a garland) and is
held with both thumbs in the region of the heart and above the
naval, it is Nivita. This form is used during Rishi tarpana, sexual
intercourse, answering nature calls, carrying a corpse etc.
We would have observed Brahmins tie tightly their
Yagnopaveetham to the right ear/left ear while attending nature
calls. While it is to protect the sacred thread becoming soiled
during the course of attending nature calls, there is also a health
element involved in it. It is said that important nerves connecting
the excretory system pass through right/left ear. When pressure
is applied it helps in regulating the functioning of excretory
organs perhaps the concept of Acupressure.
When to Change the Yagnopaveetham?
When once, a person starts wearing Yagnopaveetham generally it
should not be removed and it should be worn always (24 hours
and 365 days). It is like a woman wearing a Mangala Suthra for
ever. But in practice it is not possible to wear the same
Yagnopaveetham 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 Yagnopaveetham. Apart
from this it should be changed under the following circumstances.
•On the day of Upakarma that falls in Sravana Masam once in
•Whenever there is Jataasoucham or Mruthaasoucham
(birth/death in the family)
•Whenever one visits the Cremation Ground, or touches a
•Whenever one happen to touch a woman during her monthly
•Whenever there is a need to change Yagnopaveetham it
should not be removed recklessly. It should be changed first
and then the worn out to be removed as per the laid down
Technicalities of Yagnopaveetham
As per the scripts it is said that the sacred thread should be white
in colour for Brahmins, red in colour for Kshatriyas and yellow in
colour for Vysyas. But in practice we find people using
Yagnopaveetham which is white in colour.
As per the scripts it is said that the Yagnopaveetham should be
made up of cotton for Brahmins, silk for Kshatriyas and linen for
Vysyas. But in practice we find people using Yagnopaveethams
made from cotton.
Yagnopaveetham Navathanthu Nirmitham. It is said that
Yagnopaveetham is made up of nine layers of woven cotton
thread spun by a virgin girl and twisted by a Brahmin reciting
Gayathri manthra on an auspicious day. The length of the thread
used for making Yagnopaveetham as per the scripts should be 96
breadths of four fingers measured by ones own hand. Thickness of
the thread should be of a mustard seed size. Nowadays we don’t
find such observations being followed in the making of
Arithmetic of number “96”
It is said that Gayathri Manthra has 24 letters and when it is
added together from four Vedas it becomes 96 (24x4) that gives
the power or eligibility to the Dwija to perform Yagna or Yagas
and to recite Gayathri Manthra. Four fingers represent the four
states of the soul a man experiences from time to time (waking,
dreaming, dreamless sleep, and absolute Brahmanhood)
There is another arithmetic to this number, that is human body
comprises of 25 elements, made up of three Gunas (Satwa, Rajo,
Tamo). We have 16 thithis in the calendar, 27 Stars in the
Almanac, 4 Vedas, 6 Ruthus in three Seasons (summer, winter
and monsoon), and 12 months. When all these are added together
(25+3+16+27+4+6 +3+12) it comes to 96. It is said that human
life rotates around these elements.
Significance of Nine layers:
It is said that nine layers represent nine devathas who are the
presiding deities of Yagnopaveetham. They are Pranavam
(Omkara), Agni, Anantha (Naga); Moon (Soma), Pithru Devathas,
Prajapathi, Vayu, Sun (Surya), and all other Devathas. It is said
that before wearing the Yagnopaveetham one should offer prayer
to all these nine deities.
As per the scripts it is prescribed that the Yagnopaveetham should
have knots equivalent to the number of Pravaras in one’s Gothra.
But in practice we find only one knot for the Yagnopaveetham.
The knot with which the three strands are tied together is called
Brahma Granthi that signifies the ParaBrahma (Pranavam) who is
sakala Veda Swaroopa. There are many interpretations about the
three strands of Yagnopaveetham.
It symbolizes the three trinal Lords (Brahma Vishnu, Maheswara)
when tied together it becomes Para Brahma, three worlds (Bhu,
Bhuvar, Suvar), three feminine energies (Lakshmi, Saraswathi and
Durga), and three tatwas or qualities (Satwa, Rajo, Tamo). It is
also interpreted as three strands representing Ida, Pingala and
Sushumna nadi, through which the kundalini energy manifests as
prana and consciousness. The three strands also indicate that one
who wears it should have a triple control over his mind speech
and body (thought, word and deed)
Dwija 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 (Shudra). The second
stage is getting the upadesa of Gayathri at the time of
Upanayanam, when the boy becomes a Dwija 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 Brahmana when he
actually realizes the Brahman through the knowledge of the Self.
One becomes a Brahmana not by birth but only when one realizes
the Supreme Brahman. One becomes a Brahmana by action and
not by birth.
Why should one wear a Yagnopaveetham?
This would increase longevity of the person who wears, gives
physical and mental strength through the worship of Sun God
using Gayathri Mantra for which one would have been initiated
during his Upanayanam. By wearing Yagnopaveetham one gets
purified both externally and internally. By wearing one gets
eligibility to perform spiritual and sacred rituals
(Sroutha/Smartha Karmas) as prescribed in Vedas for his Varna.
Sacred rituals performed by wearing Yagnopaveetham give good
!Vinayagnopaveethenaa Bhojanam Kurthe Dwijam
It is said that one should not attend to nature calls, eating food,
participate in sensual pleasures without Yagnopaveetham. It is a
prerequisite for learning Veda and also for marriage.
Significance of wearing Yagnopaveetham
The Vedic link that the child lost when the umbilical cord is cut is
re-established in the form of Yagnopaveetham. In other words,
Yagnopaveetham serves as an umbilical cord that connects him,
not just his immediate parents, not just the three generations but
the entire tree of generations and the Rishi on whose root the
whole tree flourished. The three strands remind the wearer that
he has to pay off the three debts (Rinas) he owes to the ancient
seers, ancestors, and to the Gods (Rishi Rina, Pithru Rina, and
Yagnopaveetham is not a mere symbol to identify a community.
One who wears a Yagnopaveetham may not necessarily be a
Brahman and one who does not wear a Yagnopaveetham may not
be a non-Brahmin either. Yagnopaveetham has the sanctity of its
own and one has to qualify himself for wearing it, not by birth
alone but also by practice. He alone is a Brahmin who does his
Nithya Karmas, follows the path of Sanatana Dharma and remains
free from ego, avarice, anger and pride.
What is the use of a Yagnopaveetham for the one whom the world
knows as a Brahmin? Yagnopaveetham is not something that is
worn for the world to know. It is for the realization of Brahman
within. But one who has thrown away his Yagnopaveetham but
has led a life of truth is nobler compared to the one who wears his
Yagnopaveetham but does nothing to justify it. Yagnopaveetham
is a passport to obtain Vedic education. Yagnopaveetham is the
mark of formal entry into Brahminhood. It gives the power and
authority to pursue his spiritual path.
Festival related to Yagnopaveetham
Every year in the month of Sravana Masam which generally comes
in the month of August during rainy season on the Full Moon day a
festival related to Yagnopaveetham is celebrated called
Upakarma. Some times it could fall on a day prior to or after the
Full Moon day. In Tamil it is called as Avani Avittam. It is not just
simply a festival to celebrate and enjoy. It is an occasion to make
us remember the significance of Yagnopaveetham and Gayathri
Manthra that has been initiated at the time of Upanayanam and
rededicate ourselves to the spiritual path. On this day all those
who have been initiated into the concept of Upanayanam change
their Yagnopaveetham and wear a new one.