As per Sanatan Dharm, young boys at the age of 6 yrs are initiated into the Gayatri Mantra and its jaap. The boy is taught the mantra in the Yadnopavit Sanskar and he then wears the ‘sacred thread’/ Yadnopavit sutra. Girls are not required to wear the sutra, but are taught the Mantra on their 6th birthday and are required to do do its Jaap. Gayatri mantra is the right of every human being and is the foundation of spiritual practice.
Gayatri is the Guru-mantra, it pulls you towards your Reality.
Om, Bhuh Bhuvah Swah, Om Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, Dheeyo Yo nah Prachodayat, Om.
ॐ भूः भुवः स्वः । ॐ तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम । भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि। धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात॥ ॐ
Now this sutra is not a ‘thread’! It is made with specific mantras and intentions. Calling it a ‘thread’, is like calling a nuclear warhead a firecracker. It is that potent!
Making it is quite typical. First using raw cotton, a thin strand of thread is made by hand, (everyone is supposed to make it for himself but initially the older men in the house help out the younger boys). The length of the thread is 96 times the breadth of four fingers so is equal to the height of the man making it. The Gayatri mantra has 24 Akshar and there are 4 states of existence, so 24X4 = 96. Also 96 represents the units of time, specific mantras are recited while making it. The four fingers represent the four states of existence, Jagruti/ awake, Swapna/ dreams, Sushupti/ deep sleep and Turiya/ the realisation of the Ultimate.
The thin handmade thread is wrapped 9 times, and the energies of Om, Vishvadev, Agni, Vayu, Naag, Soma, Pitr, Prajapati and Yam are installed in each of these strands. More mantras. (Then there is the Gayatri Gita for more information.)
Then these 9 strands are twisted so that they are converted to 3 thicker strands each tied with one small typical knot. (After marriage the strands increase, become 6 because now he is responsible for his wife also.)
- These 3 strands represent the Rg-ved/ Yajur-ved/ Sam-ved. Their knowledge is required on the way to the Moksh.
- The 3 stages of the Gayatri mantra itself. 1st stage is ‘tat savitur varenyam’, 2nd is ‘bhargo devasya dheemahi’ and the last is ‘dheeyo yo naha prachodayat’.
- The 3 debts that one owes in life, to the parents, the society and the Guru. Unless you resolve them you cannot reach the realisation. You repay the debt to the ancestors/parents when you have children of your own and you give them good values. The debt to the society is also repaid when your children become good citizens and you do charity etc and contribute in maintaining the society. And debt to the Guru is paid when you practice what you have learnt from him.
- Then the 3 tyes of gun/attributes (satva, raja and tama). Satva pulls you towards reality, raja pulls you towards the objects of the manifested universe, and tamas is still unmoving energies which are most often directed towards negative thought patterns and then become discordant. One has to cross these to reach the Ultimate, which is Nirgun/without attributes.
- The 3 naadis, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. The movement of pran in these three need to be controlled by conscious effort before you can progress.
- The 3 knots are the 3 granthis of the Brahmanadi, which have to be unlocked so that the Kundalini can reach the top of the head.
- The three ashram/stages of life. Brahmacharya/childhood, Gruhastashram/active life and Vanaprasthashram/retired life. The responsibilities associated with these 3 have to be completed. The real sense of the fourth stage/ashram, Sanyashram/ renunciation, is gained only with Moksh.
Now these 3 strands are knotted together in a very typical, difficult to make, knot called the Brahmagranthi. This knot represents OM the absolute.
This is now the Yadnopavit sutra or Brahma-sutra.
When it is worn normally, it is on the left shoulder and across the body. It will hang down till the top of the right thigh. It is a physical reminder that all these things, these are burdens which have to be carried and that the goal of life is realisation of OM. And then on the energy levels it is totally awesome. I saw it when I and my husband performed the Yadnopavit sanskar for our son. The sutra balances all the lower chakras perfectly, from the Muladhar to the Vishuddhi, as it encircles them. My son who till then had refused to wear even a gold chain in his neck, happily wore the sutra without any fuss. Its energy is just so awesome and it stabilises the energy of the person wearing it. So when the boy does his personal practice, he just has to work on his Ajnya chakra. It is a very big boost. The sutra ‘holds’ the practice. The sutra and the Gayatri mantra sadhana (for boys) are practically one unit.
There are a few rules about wearing and changing it periodically but they are all very simple. So wearing it should not be a problem!
Now am sure that you must be wondering why just boys? Why don’t women wear the yadnopavit sutra? The simplest answer is that they dont need to. There is one very big advantage that women have. They do not have a Y chromosome. Science has also acknowledged that men are more delicate than women, the survivorship ratios of male/female at different age groups prove this. Men need to actively protect themselves and keep themselves healthy at all levels, so Gayatri sadhana wearing the Yadnopavit sutra is compulsory for all men.
Our ancients knew of the inherent weakness of the Y-chromosome so had several ways to actively protect it, by ensuring that marriages are conducted according to astrological principles and according to the family dynasty/’Gotra’, by ensuring that the males perform the anteyshti/tarpan rituals of the departed etc. For women the challenge comes with menopause. If women can consciously transition when at menopause, they will realise how easy spirituality is for them. Till then even a simple basic 27 /54 /108 times jaap of Gayatri is enough to sustain them.
And this is the Gayatri Ghanapath and the full form of the Mantra. Do listen and enjoy it’s power.