Arcana homeIssue 1
The ISKCON Deity Worship Journal


How to use and make a brahmana thread

by Caitanya-ma?gala d?sa (®r?dh?ma M?y?pur)
Although one can purchase "br?hma?a threads" (upav?ta or yajñopavita) very inexpensively in the market in India, it is highly preferable for a br?hma?a to make them himself. Once you learn how to do it, with a little practice it becomes very simple. The main challenge is to make all strings equally long to avoid getting them tangled with each other. To make sure the strings remain equal in length, the upav?ta should be always taut while tying the knots. One may wind the upav?ta around one?s knees while sitting on the floor, or one may use one?s knee and another stable object like a heavy pot (preferable to two knees for getting sufficient length of the finished upav?ta). Although some devotees can be seen winding the string around one knee and a toe of the other leg when making an upav?ta, this is not considered proper.
(Note: For further information about Pañcar?trika rules regarding chanting g?yatr? and care of the upav?ta, see the ISKCON Deity worship manual Pañcar?tra Pradipa, vol1, pp. 47-51. - Ed.)

On the meaning of Vai??ava-d?k?? 

It is offered by the ?c?rya. It is the certificate that ?This boy has been trained up as a br?hma?a.? Therefore the sacred thread is a symbolic presentation. Not that to purchase one two paisa worth sacred thread and one becomes br?hma?a. No. Now, of course, in Kali-yuga... Vipratve sutram eva hi. In Kali-yuga this will go on. Vipratve. A br?hma?a, ksatriya, sudra, br?hma?a, ksatriya, vaisya,.. Simply purchase one thread from the market and get it on your body and you become... Vipratve sutram eva hi. No, that is not actually. It is a qualification and it is certificate... Similarly, one who has got the sacred thread means that he has approached qualified ?c?rya, and the ?c?rya has recognized him as br?hma?a. This is sacred thread, not that purchase one sacred thread and get it and become a br?hma?a. No. This is very important thing. First of all educate, and then divide.

Excerpt from Bhagavad-g?t? lecture by ®r?la Prabhup?da on April 4, 1974 in Bombay, India.

How to put on a brahmin thread:

Proceedure for Yajur Veda Upakarma - Changing the Sacred Thread
When to do?

Ekadasi or if the thread becomes dirty or broken, or yearly on Yajurved Upakarma day.

“After dressing he would sit at his desk and put on tilak and say Gayatri mantra before taking lunch.  Today was a special once in a month opportunity because Srila Prabhupada would chant on the new thread while holding his old one. I walked into his sitting room and picked up his discarded thread only to discover that he had pulled apart each of the threads. He smiled at me and said, "The Brahmin thread, you have disposed of it?" He said, "You should bury it underneath the Tulasi plant in the temple courtyard. Put it in the dirt under the roots."” (Srutikirti dasa. Prabhupad Uvacha excerpt - October 1972, Vrindavan, India
Camp: Radha Damodara Temple)

How to change the sacred thread:
1. Sit down on an åsana (Face east in the morning and noon, and north in the evening)

2. Perform åcamana. Simple Åcamana:
om keshavåya nama·h - sip water from bråhma tîrtha of right hand
om nåråyanåya nama·h - sip water from bråhma tîrtha of right hand
om mådhavåya nama·h - sip water from bråhma tîrtha of right hand

(Optional) Special Åcamana:
om govindåya nama·h - sprinkle water on right hand
om vishnave nama·h - sprinkle water on left hand

om madhusüdanåya nama·h - wipe mouth with right hand
om trivikramåya nama·h - wipe mouth with right hand

om våmanåya nama·h - wipe lips with base of thumb
om Shrîdharåya nama·h - wipe lips with base of thumb

om hrishîkeshåya nama·h - sprinkle water on both hands
om padmanåbhåya nama·h - sprinkle water on feet
om dåmodaråya nama·h - sprinkle water on head

om våsudevåya nama·h - touch lips with right hand

om sankarshanåya nama·h - touch right side of nose with right hand
om pradyumnåya nama·h - touch left side of nose with right hand

om aniruddhåya nama·h - touch right eye with right hand
om purushottamåya nama·h - touch left eye with right hand

om adhokshajåya nama·h - touch right ear with right hand
om nrisinghåya nama·h - touch left ear with right hand

om acyutåya nama·h - touch navel with right hand
om janardanåya nama·h - touch heart with right hand
om upendråya nama·h - touch head with right hand

om haraye nama·h - touch right shoulder with right hand
om krishnåya nama·h - touch left shoulder with right hand

(om) tad vishnoh paramagm pada-gugm sadå pasyanti suråyah
          divîva cakshur åtatam tad vipråso vipanyavo
        jågrivå-gugm sah samindhate vishnor yat paramagm padam

3. Sprinkle some water from the pañchapåtra on your new sacred thread. Undo it and stretch it around your knees.

4. Remove the new sacred thread from your knees and hold it horizontally open with the palms of your hands. Turn the thread vertical so that your right hand is up and left hand is down. Your left palm should be turned downwards.

5. Chant the following mantra for putting on the sacred thread.

(om) yajñopavîtam paramagm pavitram
           prajåpater yat sahajagm puraståt
       åyushyam agryam pratimuñca shubhragm
          yajñopavîtam bålam astu tejah

6. Put on the new sacred thread.

7. Wearing both threads chant the Gåyatrî mantra and other mantras given to you by your guru ten times each – on the rekha - lines of middle finger, kanistha – little finger, and tips of other fingers.

8. Chant the following mantra for removing the old sacred thread.

upavîtagm chinnatantugm
      jîrnam kanmala düshitam
visrijåmi punar brahman
      varco dîrghåyur astu me

9. Remove the old sacred thread from the left shoulder. Bring it down to waist level and break it string by string with both hands. Dispose of it in the same manner as old prasadam, being placed in “a sacred throw out” (to be composted – never to be left laying around, or discarded improperly) (or may be disposed of as

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