Friday, August 22, 2014

The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Karma and Destiny
Sri Ramana Maharshi
Edited and Preamble by David Godman

The theory of Karma is common to many oriental religions. In its most popular form it states that there is a universal accounting system in which each individual must experience the consequences of all his actions (Karmas); good actions bring good results and bad actions inevitably result in suffering to the one who does them. The theory also states that the consequences of actions (also known as Karmas) need not necessarily be experienced in the present life, they can be carried over into future lives. Because of this, several sub-divisions of Karma have been postulated. The following classification, which was used by Sri Ramana Maharshi, is common to many Hindu schools of thought.
Sanchita Karma. The store of Karmic debts accumulated from previous births.
Prarabdha Karma. That part of one’s Sanchita Karma which must be worked out in the present life. Because the law of Karma implies determinism in human activities, Prarabdha is often translated as destiny.
Agami Karma. New Karma accumulated in the present lifetime, which is carried forward into future lives.
Sri Ramana Maharshi accepted the validity of the laws of Karma but said that they were only applicable as long as a person imagined that he was separate from the Self. At this level (the level of the ajnani or the ignorant), he said that individuals will pass through a series of pre-ordained activities and experiences, all of which are the consequences of previous acts and thoughts. He occasionally even said that every act and experience in a person’s life is determined at birth and that the only freedom one has to realize that there is no one acting and no one experiencing. However, once one realizes the Self there is no one left to experience the consequences of actions and so the whole structure of Karmic laws then becomes redundant.
Sri Ramana regarded the law of Karma as a manifestation of God’s will. He said that prior to Self-realization there is a personal God, Iswara, who controls each person’s destiny. It is Iswara who has ordained that everyone must suffer the consequences of his actions and it is Iswara who selects the sequences of activities that each person must undergo in each lifetime. One cannot escape from Iswara’s jurisdiction while one still identifies with the activities of the body. The only way to become free of his authority is to transcend Karma completely by realizing the Self.
Question: Is it possible to overcome, even while the body exists, the Prarabdha Karma which is said to last till the end of the body?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes. If the agent, upon whom the Karma depends, namely the ego, which has come into existence between the body and the Self, merges in its source and loses its form, how can the Karma, which depends upon it, survive? When there is no ‘I’ there is no Karma.
Question: It is said that Prarabdha Karma is only a small fraction of the Karma accumulated from previous lives. Is this true?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: A man might have performed many Karmas in his previous births. A few of these alone will be chosen for this birth and he will have to enjoy their fruits in this birth. It is something like a slide show where the projectionist picks a few slides to be exhibited at a performance; the remaining slides being reserved for another performance. All this Karma can be destroyed by acquiring knowledge of the Self. The different Karmas are the slides, Karmas being result of experiences, and the mind is the projector. The projector must be destroyed so that there will be no further reflection and no further births and no deaths.
Question: Who is the projectionist? What is the mechanism, which selects a small portion of the Sanchita Karma and then decides that it shall be experienced as Prarabdha Karma?
Sri Ramana Mahrshi: Individuals have to suffer their Karmas but Iswara manages to make the best of their Karmas for his purpose. God manipulates the fruits of Karma but he does not add or take away from it. The subconscious of man is a warehouse of good and bad Karma. Iswara chooses from this warehouse what he sees will best suit the spiritual evolution at the time of each man, whether pleasant or painful. Thus, there is nothing arbitrary.
Question: In ‘Upadesa Saram', you say that Karma bears fruit by the ordinance of God (Karta). Does this mean that we reap the consequences of Karma solely because God wills it?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: In this verse Karta (God) means Iswara. He is the one who distributes the fruits of actions to each person according to his Karma. That means that he is the manifest Brahman. The real Brahman is unmanifest and without motion. It is only the manifest Brahman that is named as Iswara. He gives the fruit to each person according to his actions (Karma). That means that Iswara is only an agent and that he gives wages according to the labour done. That is all. Without this Sakti (power) of Iswara, this Karma would not take place. That is why Karma is said to be on its own, inert.
[Note: Iswara: For explanations about Iswara, the manifest Brahman and the unmanifest real Brahman, see Page ‘Nature of Reality’]
Questioner: The present experiences are the result of past Karma. If we know the mistakes committed before, we can rectify them.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: If one mistake is rectified there yet remains the whole Sanchita Karma from former births,which is going to give you innumerable births. So that is not the procedure. The more you prune a plant, the more vigorously it grows. The more you rectify your Karma, the more it accumulates. Find the root of Karma and cut it off.
Question: Does the Karma theory mean that the world is the result of action and reaction? If so, action and reaction of what?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Until realization there will be Karma, that is action and reaction. After realization there will be no Karma, and no world.
Question: If I am not the body why am I responsible for the consequences of my good and bad actions?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: If you are not the body and do not have the idea ‘I am the doer’, the consequences of your good or bad actions will not affect you. Why do you say about the actions the body performs ‘I do this’ or ‘I did that’? As long as you identify yourself with the body like that you are affected by the consequences of the actions, that is to say, while you identify with the body you accumulate good and bad Karma.
Questioner: But since I am not the body I am not really responsible for the consequences of good or bad actions.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: If you are not, why do you bother about the question?
Questioner: In some places it is stated that human effort is the source of all strength and that it can even transcend Karma. In others,it is said that it is all divine grace. It is not clear which of them is correct.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, some schools of philosophy say that there is no God other than Karma of the previous birth, that is Karma done in the present birth in accordance with the scriptures is known as Purushkara (human effort), that the previous and present Karmas meet for a head-on fight like rams and that's the one that is weaker gets eliminated. That is why these people say that one should strengthen Purushkara. If you ask such people what the origin of Karma is, they say that such a question is not to be raised as it is like the eternal question, ‘Which is earlier, the seed or the tree?’
Debates such as this are mere arguments, which can never arrive at the final truth. That is why I say first find out who you are. If one asks, ‘Who am I? How did I get this Dosha (fault) of life?’, the ‘I’ will subside and one will realize the Self. If one does this properly the idea of Dosha will be eliminated and peace will be obtained. Why even obtained? The Self remains as it is.
The essence of Karma is to know the truth of oneself by enquiring ‘Who am I, the doer, who begins to do Karmas?’ Unless the doer of Karmas, the ego, is annihilated through enquiry, the perfect peace of supreme bliss, which is the result of Karma Yoga, cannot be achieved.
Question: Can people wipe out the consequences of their bad actions by doing Mantras or Japa (repeating God’s name) or will they necessarily have to experience them?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: If the feeling ‘I am doing Japa’ is not there, the bad actions committed by a man will not stick to him. If the feeling ‘I am doing the Japa’ is there, the consequences of bad actions will persist.
Question: Does the Punya (merit accumulated from virtuous acts) extinguish Papa (demerit accumulated from sinful acts)?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: So long as the feeling ‘I am doing’ is there, one must experience the result of one’s acts, whether they are good or bad. How is it possible to wipe out one act with another? When the feeling that ‘I am doing’ is lost, nothing affects a man. Unless one realizes the Self, the feeling ‘I am doing’ will never vanish. For one who realizes the Self where is the need for Japa? Where is the need for Tapas (austerity)? Owing to the force of Prarabdha life goes on, but he who has realized the Self does not wish for anything.
Prarabdha Karma is of three categories, Ichha, Anichha and Parechha (personally desired, without desire and due to others' desire). For the one who has realized the Self, there is no Ichha-Prarabdha but the two others, Anichha and Parechha, remain. Whatever a Jnani (Self-realized) does is for others only. If there are things to be done by him for others, he does them,but the results do not affect him. Whatever be the actions that such people do, there is no Punya and no Papa attached to them. But they do only what is proper according to the accepted standard of the world – nothing else.
Those who know that what is to be experienced by them in this life is only what is already destined in their Prarabdha will never feel perturbed about what is to be experienced. Know that all one’s experiences will be thrust upon one whether one wills them or not.
Question: The realized man has no further Karma. He is not bound by his Karma. Why should he still remain within his body?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Who asks this question? Is it the realized man or the Ajnani (ignorant)? Why should you bother what the Jnani (Self-realized) does or why he does anything? Look after yourself. You are now under the impression you are the body and so you think that the Jnani also has a body. Does the Jnani say he has a body? He may look to you as if he has a body and he may appear to be doing things with the body, as others do, but he himself knows that he is bodiless. The burnt rope still looks like a rope, but it can’t serve as a rope if you try to bind anything with it. A Jnani is like that – he may look like other people, but this is only an outer appearance. So long as one identifies oneself with the body, all this is difficult to understand.
That is why it is sometimes said in reply to such questions, ‘The body of the Jnani will continue till the force of Prarabdha works itself out, and after the Prarabdha is exhausted it will drop off’. An illustration made use of in this connection is that of an arrow already discharged which will continue to advance and strike its target. But the truth is the Jnani has transcended all Karmas, including the Prarabdha Karma, and he is not bound by the body or its Karmas.
Not even an iota of Prarabdha exists for those who uninterruptedly attend to space of consciousness, which always shines as ‘I am’, which is not confined in the vast physical space, and which pervades everywhere without limitations. Such alone is the meaning of the ancient saying, ‘There is no fate for those who reach or experience the heavens’
Question: If a thing comes to me without any planning or working for it and I enjoy it, will there be no bad consequences from it?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is not so. Every act must have its consequences. If anything comes your way by reason of Prarabdha, you can’t help it. If you take what comes, without any special attachment, and without any desire for more of it or for a repetition of it, it will not harm you by leading to further births. On the other hand, if you enjoy it with great attachment and naturally desire for more of it, it is bound to lead to more and more births.
Question: According to the astrological science, predictions are made about coming events taking into account the influence of the stars. Is that true?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: So long as you have the feeling of egotism all that is true. When the egotism is destroyed, even if they appear to see they do not really see.
Destiny is the result of past action. It concerns the body. Let the body act as may suit it. Why are you concerned with it? Why do you pay attention to it? Should anything happen, it happens as the result of one’s past actions, of divine will and of other factors.
Question: The present is said to be due to past Karma. Can we transcend the past Karma by our free will now?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: See what the present is. If you do this you will understand what is affected by or has a past or a future, what is ever-present and always free and what remains unaffected by the past or future or by any past Karma.
Question: Is there such a thing as free will?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Whose will is it? So long as there is the sense of doership, there is the sense of enjoyment and of individual will. But if this sense is lost through the practice of Vichara (self-enquiry), the divine will will act and guide the course of events. Fate is overcome by Jnana, Self-knowledge, which is beyond the will and fate.
Question: I can understand that the outstanding events in a man’s life, such as his country, nationality, family, career or profession, marriage, death, etc., are all predestined by his Karma, but can it be that all the details of his life, down to the minutest, have already been determined? Now, for instance, I put this fan that is in my hand down on the floor here. Can it be that it was already decided that on such and such a day, at such and such an hour, I should move the fan like this and put it down here?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Certainly. Whatever this body is to do and whatever experiences it is to pass through was already decided when it came into existence.
Question: What becomes then of man’s freedom and responsibility for his actions?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The only freed man has is to strive for and acquire the Jnana (knowledge) which will enable him not to identify himself with the body. The body will go through the actions rendered inevitable by Prarabdha and a man is free either to identify himself with the body and be attached to the fruits of its actions are to be detached from it and be a mere witness of its activities.
Question: So free will is a myth?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Free will hold the field in association with individuality. As long as individuality lasts there is free will. All the scriptures are based on this fact and they advise directing the free will in the right channel.
Find out to whom free will or destiny matters. Find out where they come from, and abide in their source. If you do this, both of them are transcended. That is the only purpose of discussing these questions. To whom do these questions arise? Find out and be at peace.
Question: If what is destined to happen will happen, is there any use in prayer or effort or should we just remain idle?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one’s helplessness and saying all the time, ‘Not I but Thou, O Lord’, giving up all sense of "I" and ‘mine’ and leaving it to the Lord to do what He likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is the love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of liberation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through self-enquiry or through Bhakti Marga (path of devotion).

As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna,
So does the fire of knowledge reduce all actions to ashes.

-Gita, Ch.4, Verse 37.
Verily, there is no purifier in this world like knowledge.
-Gita, Ch.4, Verse 38.
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give, whatever you practice as austerity, O Arjuna, do it as an offering unto Me.
-Gita, Ch.9, Verse 27.
Thus shall you be freed from the bonds of actions, yielding good and evil fruits; with the mind steadfast in the Yoga of renunciation, and liberated, you shall come unto Me.
-Gita, Ch. 9, Verse 28

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The science behind the birth of Krishna

Krishna Janmashtami

Krishna represents Brahman or God consciousnesses. Krishna avatar is synonymous with self-realization. Normally desires and negative thoughts core our consciousness with ignorance. The journey to self-realization involves removal or shedding of this ignorance which can only be done by the eight spiritual principles as described by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. And these are Yama (self control); Niyama (self-discipline), Asanas (bodily postures); Pranayama (control of breath), Pratyahara (one pointed), Dhyana (contemplation) and Samadhi (self-realization).

Ignorance is symbolized by a PRISON, which represents darkness; narrow-minded approach (small entry gate) and limitedness to everything (small room). The chain in the prison means the bondages to lust, greed, desires and ego.

Birth of Krishna in the prison means ‘self-realization out of ignorance’. It can only be acquired by adhering to the eight principles of Ashtang Yoga with Tapas (Abhyasa) or hard work.  Krishna, born, as the eighth child of Devaki, represents tapas of eight limbs of yoga. The self-realization can only occur after the seven strips are successfully negotiated and the mind is purified in the process.

In the state of Samadhi, there is the spontaneous birth of the self. In this state (sama = equaldhi - intelligence) one controls equality and his balances himself between the good and the bad

The symbolism is that, as Krishna was born, the chains that bound his father fell off; the doors that had been bolted flew open and the prison guards immediately went into sleep. And the father, Vasudeva, took Krishna and went to Gokul, by placing Krishna in a basket and walking across the Yamuna river, where at the same time Yashoda, consort of Nanda, had given birth to a female child.

The ‘chains’ here mean the bondage to the external world and the five senses. A self realized person is free of these bondages. The opening of gates symbolizes control over lust, desire, greed and attachments. Sleeping of the guard symbolizes, that in a self-realized state, one is totally cut off from the world. Everything else perishes and one gets detached.

The thunderstorm, the rain, and the fire, all represent the internal turmoil of uncontrolled desires and hatred. The moment Krishna’s feet touch the turbulent water, everything settles. The spiritual lesson is that by turning inwards and towards one’s pure consciousness any turbulent state of mind can be controlled.

While acquiring all that, one must control the ego and keep the desires inwards and not have ego egocentric desires. Controlling the ego is depicted as a snake sitting over the basket and guarding Lord Krishna.

The baby girl born at Gokul represents the Mayashakti, which was killed by Kansa (the ego of the body).
Controlling the desires and attachments is easy, but controlling the Ego is the most difficult. That is what is represented by the fact that at the time of birth of Krishna, Kansa still remained alive. It took many years for Krishna (self realized state) to kill the ego (Kansa).

Acquiring a state of self-realization should not be the ultimate goal in life. After self-realization, if the ego is not controlled one can misuse one’s spiritual powers. The ultimate aim in life should then be to kill the ego, which is what Krishna ultimately 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hindu Gods and Vahana

Hindu Gods and Vahana 
Part 1

Let's talk about what makes up the 33 million Gods described in the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. Why Hindus worship so many gods and goddesses is a real mystery for most people. The interesting thing is that one culture can see this as fiction while most Hindus, without a second thought, can walk into a temple with multiple deities, bow down and offer prayer and worship with devotion treating that deity as much like a person as you and me.

Vahana or a mount, is an animal closely associated with a particular deity in Hinduism. Sometimes the deity is seen riding on the animal; other times, the animal is depicted at the deity's side in some other way. The goddess or god may be seen sitting or on, the animal. Although the concepts are not precisely the same, similarities may be found in the religious associations of Hindu vehicle animals to animal totems and familiars in non-Hindu belief systems.

In Hindu iconography, positive aspects of the vehicle are often emblematic of the deity that it carries. Nandi the bull, vehicle of Shiva, represents strength and virility. Parvani the peacock, vehicle of Skanda, represents splendor and majesty. The swan, mount of Saraswati, represents wisdom, grace and beauty.

However, the vehicle, animal also symbolizes the evil forces over which the deity dominates. Mounted on Parvani, Skanda reins in the peacock's vanity. Seated on Mushika, Ganesh crushes useless thoughts, which multiply like rats in the dark. Shani, protector of property, has a raven or crow in which he represses thieving tendencies. Under Shani's influence, the raven can make even malevolent events bring hope.

It has been suggested that the animal vehicles of the Hindu pantheon, which are clearly subservient to the gods they carry, but may also have divine powers of their own, or a divine history of their own as in the Nataraja, represent a triumphant conflation of Hindu gods with less powerful local gods, syncretizing their mythos as their territories began to overlap.

The Hindu tradition also says that every human being has the task of, and the destiny of, becoming the vahana of God.

The vahana and deity to which they support are in a reciprocal relationship. Vahana serve and are served in turn by those who engage them.

The supreme consciousness is beyond human comprehension, and we are only able to absorb various aspects, which have been represented as different deities, statues and other representations of these gods and goddesses are referred to as rupas, the sanskrit word for form, which are meditation aids and channels, that allow us to relate and communicate with the supreme consciousness.

Each rupa, or meditation aid, has various attributes and a specific vahana, that identifies specific aspects of supreme consciousness. These vahanas are very much like totem animals in other cultures, and the human forms probably evolved over time from each vahana. Most of the gods and goddesses have benevolent and malevolent representations, this apparent duality, is actually an illusion, the vahana and attributes will help you identify the various forms with a specific deity, god or goddess. The older Vedic gods and goddesses usually represent the elements and other aspects of the phenomenal world.
Here are some myths behind some vahanas:-

While Ganesh was still a child, a giant mouse began to terrorize all his friends. Ganesh trapped him with his lasso and made him his mount. Mushika was originally a gandharva, or celestial musician. After absent mindedly walking over the feet of a rishi (wise man) named Vamadeva, Mushika was cursed and transformed into a mouse. However, after the rishi recovered his temper, he promised Mushika that one day, the gods themselves would bow down before him. This came to pass, when Mushika's path crossed Ganesh's.

Before becoming the vehicle of Shiva, Nandi was a deity called Nandikeshvara, lord of joy and master of music and dance. Then, without warning, his name and his functions were transferred to the aspect of Shiva known as the deity Nataraja. From half-man, half-bull, he became simply a bull. Since that time, he has watched over each of Shiva's temples, always looking towards him.

Murugan, the first form of Skanda in Southern India, is also mounted on a peacock. This peacock was originally a demon called Surapadma. After provoking Murugan in combat, the demon repented at the moment his lance descended upon him. He took the form of a tree and began to pray. The tree was cut in two. From one half, Murugan pulled a rooster, which he made his emblem, and from the other, a peacock, which he made his mount.

Vahanas serve and are served in turn by those who engage them. Many vahanas may also have divine powers or a divine history of their own.

Here are some examples of ''vahana'' and their associated God or Goddess:- 

Agni : ram
Brahma : hamsa / goose / swan
Budha : horse
Durga : lion or tiger named Manashtâla
Ganesh : rat named Kroncha / mouse named Mushika
Ganga : makara
Indra : Vimana (flying chariot) pulled by a horse named Uchchaisshravas / white elephant named Airavata
Shiva : white bull named Nandi or Vrishaba
Skanda : peacock named Parvani
Surya : chariot pulled by seven horses or by a seven-headed horse
Varuna : makara / crocodile / tortoise / swan
Vayu : antelope
Vishnu : human-headed beaked white eagle named Garuda
Yama : black water buffalo.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yajur Upakarma Sankalpam

Yajur Upakarma Sankalpam

Upākarma "Beginning",also called Āvaṇi Aviṭṭam and Janivārada Huṇṇime,Gamha Purnima , is a Vedic ritual practiced by Hindus of the Brahmin caste. This ritual is also practiced by the Kshatriya and Vaishya community, who are dvijas and therefore have the rights to do Sandhyvandanam, the daily ablution ritual.

Upākarma is conducted once a year during the shravana or Dhaniṣ
ṭhā nakṣatra of the Hindu calendrical month Śrāvana, when Brahmins ritually change their upanayana thread accompanied by relevant śrauta rituals, making śrāddha offerings to the rishis, whom Hindus believe composed the Vedic hymns. The day, also called Śrāvana Pūrnima "Full Moon of Śrāvana" in other parts of India, usually occurs the day after the Śravana nákṣatra, which also marks the Onam festival of Kerala.

On the following day, usually coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival in Northern and Central India, the Gayatri Mantra is recited 1008 times.

Brahmins belonging to the Samaveda do not perform upakarma rituals or change their thread on this day but rather on Bhādrapadatritiya, the third day of the month Bhādrapada with Hastaa nakshatra. Shukla Yajurvedic Brahmins of North India and Odisha do upakarma the previous day if the full moon spans two days

When is upakarma observed?

Different sects of people have different dates on which upakarma is performed. Traditional learners of Yajurveda observe the Yajur upakarma in the month of Shraavana (August–September), on the full moon day; more particularly, Yajur upakarma is held on the full-moon day that comes before the new-moon day of the month of Sravana (Avani). Rig Vedic Upakarma is observed on the day in/on sukla paksha Shravan month which has Shravana nakshatra.Rig Vedic Brahmins change the sacred thread on that day, irrespective of whether it is a full-moon day (purnima) or not. Shukla Yajurvedic bramhins of North India and Odisha do upaakarma on the previous day if Purnima spans two days (shukla chaturdashi yukta Purnima). Sama Vedic Upakarma is observed on the day after Shravan Amavasya, Hastha nakshatra such that they do the Gayatri japam on Ganesh Chaturti


Upakarma is usually held on the full moon day of the month of Sravana. The significance of this day is that Lord Vishnu took the form of a horse and restored the Veda that was stolen from Lord Brahma by the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. As lord Vishnu took the form of a horse, this incarnation is called Hayagriva or "horse-head". After lord Vishnucreated lord Brahma, he taught Brahma the all eternal Vedas. Once lord Brahma had mastered the Vedas, he was filled with pride that he was the only entity that had the knowledge of the all eternal and holy Vedas. Lord Vishnu thought otherwise and created demons Madhu and Kaitabha from two water drops on the lotus that he mounts. He then instructed them to steal the Vedas from Lord Brahma and hide it. Thus, Lord Brahma was in a fix that he was not able to save the holy and all eternal Vedas from theft and prayed to Lord Vishnu to do the needy. Lord Vishnu took the form of Hayagriva or Hayavadana and restored the all pervading Veda to safety,. thus curbing the pride of Brahma. So the day of upakarma is also celebrated as Hayagriva utpatti. As the Vedas were restored on this day, Upakarma is performed on this day to mark a new beginning.


The learning of the Vedas begins in the month of Shravan with a Upakarma and is temporarily terminated in Makaram with an Utsarjana ritual, to be restarted in the next Shravan. However, it was found that six months in a year results in a very long period to complete the study of Vedas. In order to overcome this difficulty, Brahmins started skipping the Utsajana ritual and studied Vedas through all the months of the year.

On this day, a Prayachittam is performed on two counts - to pardon the sin of learning Vedas in the prohibited period of the year and a general request to pardon all the sins committed by them during the year. Homams are held and Poonal, the sacred thread, is changed on this day.

The first step is a 'prayashchita', A prayer to atone the sins. It says, "For the removal of all my sins and thereby to secure a divine blessing and for qualifying myself to perform the essential duties of Brahmanas as prescribed in the vedas and smritis and adopted by the really good in their conduct I put on this Yagnopavita (the sacred thread, called poonool in Malayalam and Tamil)".

Then a new Yagnopavita is worn. When the thread is worn another mantra is recited which means -"I put on the sacred thread which is highly pure, is inseparable from God, is capable of prolonging life and is the foremost in the accomplishment of a Brahmana. May such pure Yagnopavita bring strength and dignity."

While removing the old thread, the mantra means -"I remove with respect, the old broken thread by wear and tear, may the new one bring on long life and Brahmana's brilliance."


The procedure of upakarma varies from state to state. However there are two main procedures one followed in the old Carnatic Region and other in the Dravida region.

The Carnatic Region procedure is followed in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and parts of Maharashtra. According to the Rig Veda Upakarma, first they start with Punyahvaachana followed Saptarshi Pooja, Utsarjana Homa and later by Upakarmaanga Saptarshi pooja, tarpana and homa.

In Yajur Veda Upakarma of Karnataka region, the procedure begins with Punyahavaachana, Pahi Trayodasha Homa, utsarjana and then Upakarma. Here they worship nava (nine) Kaanda Rishis who were the pioneers in the veda. A distinct feature of Karnataka's Upakarma is rishi pooja in detail, and utsarjana. The Dravida version of the same does not have them. After Yagnyopavitadhaaranana, new Yagnyopavita (the sacred thread) is worn and, later Veda Aarambham is done. Following the same will be Viraja Homa and Brahma Yagna. In the first year of Upakarma, Nandi is also performed. Bachelors or Brahmacharis will perform Agni Kaarya or Samhida Daanam. The prasadam of the day is specially made Satvada hittu made out of all fruits (banana, guava, grapes, custard apple, apple, dry fruits), milk, ghee, til, jaggery, cucumber and rice flour. This is said to be very good for the rishis who are considered to be old and don't have teeth. Hence this preparation. Also, this is done jointly by men who come for the ceremony.

The procedure for the dravida yajurveda upakarma is as follows.

First the Rishi Tharpanam (offering prayers to the ancient Rishis) is read out.

Brahmin bachelors perform 'Samitha Daanam' and 'kamo karshith japam' after Mahasankalpam.

Thereafter, Kaanda Rishi tharpanam is performed with the help of family priest or elders.

As per the rituals, all the male members should have a light meal at night.

Next day after an early bath, 'Gayathri Japam' is done by everyone. Thereafter, Appam & Idli are served.

Green Gram, Dhal or Kondai Kadalai Sundal are offered as Neivedhyam for the Homam (Fire ritual).

The Homam is performed either in the house or in temples and the Arti is performed after everyone returns home.

Neivedhyam - Payasam, Vada, Gingely seeds, Rice. The other items that are served on this day are Curd Pachadi, Kosumalli Curry, Koottu, Pitlay, buttermilk, soup, rasam, dhal and chips, appalams.

Upakarma Variation

According to Nirnaya Sindhu following conditions should be taken care for deciding the date of upakarma

Rigveda Upakarma:Should be done on the day in shraavana where shravana is the star and spans at least from sunrise to mid day.But not in Uttara Ashadha if present during sunrise.

Samaveda Upakarma: Should be done on hasta nakshatra on bhadrapada shuklapaksha

Krishna Yajurveda: i.e. Taittiriyas & Maitrayanis should do on shravistha, dhanistha,(avittam in Tamil),on shraavana month,whether it falls on purnima yukta Pratipada (Pratipat)during sunrise (Telugu- paadyami) or prathama.

Shukla Yajurveda: i.e. Vajasaneyi Kanvas and Madhyandinas do in purnima day if purnima is present up to evening.But if punima and pratipada both are present on next day(para viddha) they should do on previous day when chaturdashi stays in day and then purnima comes after mid day(purva viddha).Under no condition they should do/avoid doing in krishna paksha pratipat or broadly speaking they should finish upakarma before approach of krishna paksha.but they postpone upakarma to the next day if purnima is having Uttara Ashadha nakshatra.

Atharva Veda: They do on the day when purnima lasts during sunrise.(udaya vyapini tithi)

Upakarma in Eclipse/Solar Sankramana

If there occurs Eclipse and sankranti when sun enters Leo (masa pirrapu/avani 1st in Tamil) during purnima,the people having upakrama for that day should be finished prior to punima when hasta nakshatra is available(generally shravana shukla Panchami/shashti.and for samaveda,if there is sankramana(purattasi 1st) to kanya in bhadrapada then shraavana month's hasta should be considered.
If shraavana suddha Panchami(hasta) day is having sankramana/sankranti and purnima is having eclipse then upakarma is postponed to Samaveda upakarma day,i'e. bhadrapada hasta nakshatra but only Vajasaneyi Shukla Yajurveda people can do upakarma on the Panchami(hasta) having simha sankramana and avoid upakarma onpurnima having eclipse.

No one should do upakarma on a day having uttarashadha nakshatra or a lunar eclipse

Inner meaning

This day is also auspicious as the Brahmins offer libations of water to their ancestors to whom they owe their birth and to the great Rishis to whom they are highly indebted for spiritual knowledge and the Vedas themselves.