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Yajur-Upakarma - Significance

Vijay_Srinivasan_at_praxair.com
Date: Thu Aug 14 1997 - 07:02:39 PDT

Dear Prapatti Group Members:

Thanks to Shri Sadagopan for his information on the above subject.  I would
like to add a little of what I learned on the above subject (from
Navalpakkam Swamigal).

Upakarma: means beginning or "Arambham" i.e. to begin the vedic studies (or
Veda Adhyayanam).  For eg.: Yajur Upakarma means to begin the study of
Yajur Veda.  Why begin the studies on this particular day (Sravana month,
Pournami day, Sravishta Nakshtram).  This auspicious day  also happens to
be the day when Lord Narayana took the avatar as Lord Hayagreeva.  Lord
Hayagreeva as we all know restored the Vedas to Brahma and also he is the
God of Knowledge.

The next question is: Why do this every year.  In the not too distant a
past, Veda Adhyayanam was performed only during the period Avani to Thei
(from mid-August to Mid-Jan).  Therefore, one is supposed to perform a
"Utsarjanam" in the month of Thei i.e. to give up the learning of vedas
from Thei to Avani.    Just like a upakarma function  there was a utsarjana
function in Thei.  Then, the period between Jan to Aug. was devoted to
learning other branches of our shastras.   Thus the cycle of upakarma and
utsarjana with regard to vedic studies was established.  However, this way
it used to take 12 or more years to learn just one veda.  Slowly this
became impractical and vedic studies continued throughout the year.

Therefore, the first thing to do before the "Upakarma" function is to do a
Prayashchita for having learned Vedas during the prohibited period.
Specifically, for not having performed the "Utsarjanam" in the month of
Thei.  That's why we begin the function by doing the 'Kamokarsheeth...'
Japam.  The purpose is: "AdhyAya Utsarjana Akarana Prayashchitthartham..".
and the Samkalpam continues as "...Ashtothara Sahasra Samkyaya
Kamokarsheeth Manurakarsheeth Mantra Japam Karishye."  The meaning in Tamil
is 'Kamththal seyya pattadhu, Kopathal seyya pattadhu'.  The correct way of
chanting this mantra is "Kamokarsheeth ManurakArsheeth"  Don't add Namo
Nama: etc.  The right time to perform is immediately after your Pratha
Anushtanas like Sandhya, Samidha danam (if you are a brahmachari), Brahma
Yagnyam etc.  This is performed during the Abhigamana Kalam.  Brahmacharis
are supposed to have a hair-cut (prefarably by a man!) after this.

In the next posting I will try to explain who are these Kandarishis and
what is Kandarishi Tarpanam and what is upakarma Homam etc.

Vijayaraghavan