especially by the Brahmins, and certain other castes.
The yagyopavit sanskar is one of the 16 sanskars prescribed for the
Hindus. The Manusmriti says that a child's first birth is from the
womb of the mother and the second birth is when the yagyopavit is worn
for the first time.
The yagyopavit sanskar isolates the fruits of the karmas of one's
previous births and to start afresh with new account of good deeds.
Manusmriti says that nobody is entitled to perform any other sanskar
without having gone through the yagyopavit sanskar.
After undergoing this sanskar, a boy becomes entitled to other
religious rites. Once he wears this sacred thread, he virtually
accepts moral laws, directions and responsibilities towards mankind in
Padmapurana points out that the ill effects of sins committed
knowingly and unknowingly are absolved on wearing this thread. Its
presence on the body gives one longevity, strength, wisdom and wealth.
This thread works as a corrective force on the person wearing it. It
inspires him to stick to good character and to fulfil his
responsibilities. It gives him inner purity, strength and charm. On
the other hand, those who do not hold the yagyopavit ceremony for
their sons go to hell and all the religious and spiritual rites they
perform go waste, so it is said in the sacred history.
Their chanting of spells and meditation also go waste.
A yagyopavit has three strands that represent three religious duties
and three debts one needs to repay in life. They are also symbolic of
Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar. It is believed that the three gods are
pleased with the prayers of the one who wears a yagyopavit. The three
strands represent three qualities — strength, fertility and splendour
— and the three Vedas as three gunas.
According to the Chhandogya Sutra, yagyopavit comprises nine threads
each representing a god or a power. Brahma, Agni, Anant, Chandrama,
Forefathers, Prajapati, Vayu, Surya and all gods together hold each
thread. Their presence impart qualities like brilliance, patience,
love, social sense, cleanliness, splendour, impartiality etc to the
one who wears the sacred thread.
Nidhaya dakshine karnam
Akhni kuryachchakrinmoothram rathrai
The shloka that appears in Kurmapurana says that the holy thread must
be raised to the right ear when one urinates.
It is customary that while passing urine or stool, the thread is
raised and put on the ear. It is believed that Aditya, Vasu, Vayu and
Agni dwell in the right ear of Brahmins. Ganga and other rivers reside
in the left ear.
Dr Venganoor Balakrishnan is the author of Thaliyola, a book on Hindu
beliefs and rituals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org