Santana Dharma endorses Shodasa Samskaras, the sixteen sacraments that serve as rites of passage to bring positive impressions in the mind of an individual. Upanayana is the tenth in this series which is performed at a young age to provide “new vision” Upa Nayana are two words “Upa” is additional “Nayana” is eye…a la Third Eye, so that one can perceive things in a proper way and learn to discriminate what is wrong and right in terms of thought, word and deed.
It is a ritual which is performed at the young age by initiating the mother of all mantras, the “GAYATRI MAHA MANTRA.”As a symbolic gesture a thin consecrated cord, composed of distinct three cotton strands is donned which is called “Yajñopavīta.” This Sanskrit word is a combination of three words “Yagya” meaning best action, “Upa” meaning near and “Pavita” meaning cherished. So one who dons “Yajñopavīta” pledges to do the best of the best action. It is a strong motivation to follow the very pious and sacred of ideals. This sacred thread is worn starting from left shoulder passing over the heart and going backwards near the right side of the trunk and ending in a knot. Left shoulder is the base for carrying the load of life with tolerance. Heart is the point of determination and faith. Back is a symbol of commitment. Thus the sacred thread represents the sadhana of the purest of pure with determination, courage, faith, commitment and a spirit of toleration.
Now let’s understand the significance of the three strands in the sacred thread. Every human is in debt to his Pitru (parents and ancestors who are the cause for his existence), his Guru (preceptor who provided him knowledge) and Rishi (sages who have given him priceless scriptures to comprehend the Art of Living). Each strand of the scared thread reminds about the vow he needs to take to clear those debts. The debt of Pitru is repaid when he becomes the strength of his parents during old age, the Guru debt is fulfilled when the knowledge assimilated is shared and Rishi debt is cleared when the nature is protected. And after his marriage the number of strands increase to six as takes responsibility of his wife vows too.
This day the Shravana Purnima is the day to change the sacred thread annually. The main reason to do it on this day is that it was on this day Lord Hayagriva appeared to restore Vedas which were stolen from Brahma by the two demons Madhu and Kaitabha. Maha Vishnu took the form of Horse and hence the name Hayagriva, the horse head. Lord Hayagriva is the embodiment of knowledge and hence it is consider auspicious to continue gain knowledge by renewing that sacred thread.
I would just wish to add that the “Yajñopavīta” is not a sign to boast superiority it just signifies the transition of a person. Donning the sacred thread without knowing its relevance is like participating in a Fancy Dress show. No one is born a Brahmin, all are Sudras at birth and the character and past resultant fruit of action makes an individual a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya or a Shudra. Every individual be it a Sudra or a Brahmana or a Kshatriya or a Vaishya he is important to the well being of the society this is what our Vedas and Puranas say. Due to some ignorant people the original essence is lost today while the meaningless ritualistic tradition still continues. Many who are born in a Brahmin family wear this sacred thread and use it as key bunch and just by wearing a thread does not make one a Brahmin, but knowledge does and his love and compassion he has towards his fellow beings has.
May Lord Hayagriva bestow us all with Supreme Knowledge to enhance love and compassion in all of us.