We are preparing for our Son’s Upanayanam (Sacred thread wearing ceremony). Though Upanayanam has become a ‘Lougiga’ festival these days with lot of style and no substance, it is indeed a ‘knowledege’ ceremony, which was used to initiate the process of learning, knowledge and evolution of intelligence.
The Upanayanam ceremony highlighted the importance of knowledge and intelligence and the importance of the learning process in the Vedic period. It was done by all sections of society from Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas in the olden days. Since it was a ceremony to initiate learning of knowledge everyone required it irrespective of their caste. Everyone wore the thread to indicate their status in their household.
Though the procedure in itself may not seem applicable and more a ‘custom’, the principles on which it has been grounded are still applicable.
- Learning and Education are still the hallmarks of this society.
- Appropriate Age of initiation of useful learning is still correct, though we start from 2.5 years these days.
- The principles that students need to adhere to are still valid and in fact need to be re-inforced these days.
- The purpose for which one learns as enunciated in this ceremony is largely forgotten, as we have become highly self-centric.
- In fact this ceremony has to be re-invented for everyone atleast for this purpose. ‘The purpose of learning is to fearlessly radiate what they have and benefit others’ stresses this ceremony. This point needs to be stressed a lot in modern education.
- Education/Learning needs to move away from a self-centric process to society-centric process as stressed in this ceremony.
I tried to capture the meaning of the procedures involved in Upanayanam ceremony as carried out in the Brahmin community to spread the purpose of it being done in the inivitation card. I am putting it here for wider knowledge. The ceremony largely is similar across several communities as I observed.
Upanayanam – About to Lead by Learning the sacrifices
- •Upanayanam is a ceremony in which a person is declared as about to ‘lead’.
- To Lead one must learn or train to do ‘sacrifices’ involving Niyamas (procedures) and Karmas (duties) of personal, family and society.
- A sacred thread is presented to the person to indicate that he has started learning the sacrifices. This is yajJopavita.
- On this occasion the person is given the primary set of instructions (Brahmopadeza) in this learning.
- The person is declared as ‘dvija’ or ‘Born-again’.
Step 1: Invocation of tranquility – Udaka Shanti
Udaka Shanti is carried out before any auspicious event at a house. It is expected to invoke peace and happiness in a place by removing the germs that cause diseases from a place. Vedas describe Rakshasas and Ganas as miniscule ‘beings’ that can benefit as well as curse living beings. I map them to bacterias and viruses.
- •Udaka Shanti mantras, a collection of Vedic Suktams are recited in front of a Kalasa filled with water
•Rakshogana Suktams that drive away impurities of Rakshasas and Ganas by invoking the ionizing forces of devas (Varuna, Indra, Pavamana) are recited. I had mapped Varuna to electrons, Indra to Baryonic ions in my blogs on Rudram.
Suktams about matter evolution (Nasadeeya Sukta, Nakshatra Sukta, Go Sukta) are recited.
Rashtrabhrtam, Suktams about societal evolution (Vag devi/Knowledge, evolution of nations are recited .
Ashirvad and Prokshana mantras are recited. Water from the Kalasa is then sprinkled on people and place
Step 2: Invocation of ancestral blessings
The vedic philosophies clearly espouse that evolution of living beings is from matter which is itself from Amba and Purusha which themselves evolved from Atma. Refer to several of my blogs on this subject. Brahman, which means evolution is the essence of this Universe. This, as I interpret in my blogs on Nasadiya Suktam, is based on the desire of the Atma to realize itself through the process of evolution of intelligence. Hence Atman is also called Brahman (one that is evolving).
Hence every living being is part of that Brahman or ‘have a reflection of that Atma in them’ , the Atma that is situated deep inside the Origins of Universe. As life travels from physics to chemistry to biology, death travels back from biology to chemistry to physics and finally becomes part of that Atman or Brahman.
In any auspicious ceremony the blessings of the ancestors upto the Atman/Brahman is invoked before we proceed on the ceremony.
•The sacred thread is prepared. Blessings of Piturs is invoked for the boy and the ceremony.
•Asrumukha piturs are immediate 3 generations of ancestors. They have become Vasus, Rudras and Adityas and paid homage yearly.
•NaandiMukha Piturs are ancestors beyond last 3 generations. They have become part of the Brahman.
•Their blessings are sought before the training is initiated .
Step 4: Vow to learn and acquire Knowledge
Upa – Next-in-Line or close to or about to, Upanayana – Next in line to lead
Upanayanam – All about learning and leading
More posts by this author:
- The Inverted Banyan tree (A Sequel to my Upanayanam Blog)
- The Eternal Varna Asrama Dharma – Part 4
- Atman and Brahman..
- Avidya – A vAkyapadiya analysis
- An analysis of sabda and vAk – Part 6