You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : August 1999

upAkarma (AvaNi aviTTam) details

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Wed Aug 18 1999 - 15:08:24 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,

Sri Sadagopan wrote rather elaborately yesterday about the
procedure for observing "AvaNi aviTTam", more properly known
as upAkarma.  I already started writing this before I saw
Sri Sadagopan's note, so I offer it as a supplement to his.
I request correction of any errors.



1999 yajur upAkarma procedure

(1) Do morning nityakarmas including sandhyAvandanam as one 
    would do on any other day.

(2) kAmo'kArshIt manyur akArshIt japam

    (a) Acamanam twice
    (b) prANAyAma
    (c) sankalpam, including sAttvika tyAgam:

        taishyAm paurNamAsyAm adhyAya-utsarjana-akaraNa-prAyaScitta-artham,
        ashTottara-sahasra (1008) [ashTottara-Sata (108)] sankhyayA "kAmo'kArshIt 
        manyur akArshIt" mahAmantra-japam karishye.

    (e) Do japam of "kAmo'kArshIt manyur akArshIt" 1008 or 108 times 
        as one has resolved.
    (f) Acamanam once, followed by sAttvika tyAgam

(3) Perform mAdhyAhnikam, including mAdhyAhnika snAnam if one is

(4) Preparing for the upAkarma

    Seated facing east, wearing a pavitram if available,
    after Acamanam twice, prANAyama, and sankalpa, including
    sAttvika tyAgam:

    SrAvaNyAm paurNamAsyAm adhyAya-upAkarma karishye,
    tad angam kAndarshi-tarpaNam karishye,
    tad angam yajnopavIta-dhAraNam karishye,
    tad angam snAnam karishye.

    [ Brahmacharis add: tad angatayA maunji-ajina-daNDa-dhAraNAni karishye ]

    (a) Bathe once again (at least mAnasika snAnam) 
    (b) Wear the new yajnopavItam (poonool-s) with appropriate mantras
    (c) Brahmacharis should recite mantras for the darbha belt (maunji),
        krishNajina (a piece of deer skin), and palAsa daNDa
        and if possible wear them
    (d) Acamanam

(5) Nava kANDa Rshi tarpaNam

    (a) Acamanam twice
    (b) Facing east, walk knee-deep into a river or pool of fresh water
        if possible. Otherwise stand where you are
    (c) For each of the following, offer a mixture of (uncooked) rice,
        sesame seeds (eL), and water, as you say 'tarpayAmi'.  Each line
        should be said three times. Preferably, someone should help
        by pouring the water as you release the rice and sesame, as this
        makes it easier.
        For the first seven, wear the yajnopavItam as a necklace (nivItam), 
        cup both your hands together, having the yajnopavItam's brahma-mudi 
        (knots) resting in your palms. The water should be released along
        with the sesame and rice off the tips of both hands. 
        This is known as Rshi tIrtham.

        (i) prajApatim   kANDarshim tarpayAmi
       (ii) sOmam        kANDarshim tarpayAmi            
      (iii) agnim        kANDarshim tarpayAmi
       (iv) viSvAn devAn kANDarshim tarpayAmi
        (v) sAmhitIr devatA upanishadas tarpayAmi
       (vi) yajnikIr devatA upanishadas tarpayAmi
      (vii) vAruNIr  devatA upanishadas tarpayAmi

        Now, still nivItam, the water mixture should be released towards
        you, off the palms away from the fingertips. Typically this is
        done by pointing the fingers straight up, keeping the sides of
        the hands together.  This is known as brahma-tIrtham.

     (viii) brahmANaGM svayambhuvam tarpayAmi

        Now the water should be poured as deva-tIrtham. This is hard to
        describe, but when pouring, the hand should be in a grasping

       (ix) sadasaspatim tarpayAmi
        (x) See Note (f) below

    (e) Return to upavItam, i.e., your poonool in its normal position.
        Finish with Acamanam and sAttvika tyAgam.

(6) Traditionally there is now a upAkarma homa, where the rishis
    and devatAs mentioned above are once again saluted using the sacred
    fire. The there is vedArambha, where the first four anuvAkas of the
    yajur veda samhita are taught to the sishyas. This is followed by
    jayAdi homam.

    These may not be available if one is away from one's elders and
    acharyas. At minimum, it is recommended that you recite one anuvAka
    from your veda on this day. The Purusha Sukta suffices, for example.

    [ It is often erroneously thought that upAkarma or AvaNi aviTTam is
      primarily the changing the yajnopavItam (poonool). This cannot be
      further from the truth. Changing the poonool happens very often, 
      whenever a significant vedic karma is performed. UpAkarma, however, is 
      a rededication of oneself to the study of one's Veda, along with a 
      salutations to the rishis who perceived and revealed the Vedic mantras 
      to the world. This is the significance of the nava-kANDarshi tarpaNam
      and the anuvAka recitation.  ]

(7) Next is bhagavad-ArAdhanam, as you would do on any normal day.



(a) UpAkarma is a phalAhAram day -- no rice is to be eaten, and whatever
    is eaten (fruits, idlis, etc.) should be minimal.  Please also remember 
    that you are not supposed to eat anything until after bhagavad-ArAdhanam. 

(b) The mantram for the kAmo'kArshIt japam is "kAmo'kArshIt manyur akArshIt". 
    It is not followed by "namo namaH".

(c) Some people also change their yajnopavItam before the kAmo'kArshIt
    japam, in addition to the changing done for upAkarma itself.  It should
    be remembered that the changing before upAkarma is the more important 
    one, and if one only wants to change once, the upAkarma changing is

    The reason for this: the kAmo'kArshIt japam is done as an atonement,
    a prAyaScittam for *not* having done the traditional utsarjana sankalpa
    earlier in the year.  The sankalpa for the japam says this explicitly
    ('adhyAya-utsarjana-akaraNa').  Just as upAkarma is the formal
    recommencement of Vedic studies, the utsarjana is a sankalpa done to 
    formally halt study of the Vedas and commence study of grammar, prosody, 
    pronounciation, astronomy, etymology, etc., all of which are helpful
    in *understanding* the Vedas.  The year was therefore divided into
    two, one half for studying the Vedas, the other half for studying 
    the VedAngas or Vedic accessories.

    The utsarjana has unfortunately fallen into disuse for quite a while, 
    so what remains is the meagre prAyaScittam for not having done it.  
    Therefore, the *important* yajnopavItam changing is for the upAkarma.

(d) sankalpa details

    The following is said for any major sankalpa. The underlined
    parts change depending on the day and are specified below
    for upAkarma.

    After acharya vandanam and vishvaksena dhyAnam,

    hari om tat SrI govinda govinda govinda!

    asya SrI-bhagavato mahApurushasya 
        vishNor AjnayA pravartamAnasya
    adya brahmaNe dvitIyaparArdhe SrI-Sveta-varAha-kalpe
        vaivasvata-manvantare kaliyuge prathamapAde
        jambudvIpe, bhAratavarshe, bharatakhaNDe,
        SakAbde, meror dakshiNe pArSve
    asmin vartamAnAnAm vyAvahArikANAm
        prabhavAdI shashTI samvatsarANAm madhye
        pramAthI nAma samvatsare
    dakshiNAyane, varsha Rtau, simha mAse, Sukla pakshe,
    ^^^^^^^^      ^^^^^^       ^^^^^       ^^^^^
    paurNamAsyAm Subha-tithau, guru-vAsara-sravishTa-nakshatra yuktAyAm,
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^               ^^^^        ^^^^^^^^^
    SrI-vishnu-yoga SrI-vishnu-karaNa Subha-yoga Subha-karaNa
    evam guNa-viSeshaNa viSishTAyAm, 
    asyAm Subha-tithau,

    [ SrIman-nArAyaNa-prItyartham   OR
      bhagavat-kainkarya-rUpam      OR
      bhagavat-prItyartham, depending on sampradAya ]
    followed by the sankalpa for the particular karma.

(e) sAttvika tyAgam details

    sAttvika tyAgam means dedicating the act one is performing
    or has performed entirely to Bhagavan, and that Bhagavan is
    performing it through you entirely for Himself.  It is said 
    before and after performing the karma. In an abbreviated form, 
    here it one version:

    Before doing the karma: 
         bhagavAn eva svaniyAmya sva-Sesha-bhUtena mayA
         svasmai svaprItaye svayam eva <name of the act> kArayati.

    After doing the karma, say the same thing, except replace the 
    last word "kArayati" with kAritavAn.

(f) After the kANda-rishi tarpaNam, some people add:

    Rg-vedam tarpayAmi
    yajur-vedam tarpayAmi
    sAma-vedam tarpayAmi
    atharvaNa-vedam tarpayAmi
    itihAsam tarpayAmi
    purANam tarpayAmi
    kalpam tarpayAmi

    Some also now recommend pitR tarpaNam (prAcIna-vItam) for
    those whose fathers are no longer alive.
(g) procedure for wearing the yajnopavitam (poonool)

    (1) Sit squatting (kukkuTTAsanam). Acamanam twice
    (2) prANAyAmam, wearing pavitram if available
    (3) sankalpam, with sAttvika tyAgam:

        yogyatA-siddhyartham yajnopavIta-dhAraNam karishye

    (4) Put one yajnopavItam on at a time. To do this,
        hold the yajnopavItam with both hands, with your right 
        palm facing up over your head, and your left palm facing
        the ground. The top of the brahma-mudi (knot) should be
        on your right palm and should be facing right. Then say
        this mantra, while holding the sacred thread this way:

        brahmA Rshi:
        trishTup chanda:
        trayIvidyA devatA
        yajnopavIta dhAraNe viniyoga:

        yajnopavItam paramam pavitram, prajApater yat sahajam purastAt |
        Ayushyam ugryam pratimunca Subhram yajnopavItam balam astu teja: ||

        Now wear the yajnopavItam. Acamanam once.

        If you are married, repeat this procedure for the second yajnopavItam,
        from the praNAyAmam and sankalpa to the mantra, and wear the thread.

	Then, after saying

        upavItam chinnantu jIrNam kaSmala-dUshitam |
        visRjAmi punar brahman varco dIrghAyur astu me ||

        remove the old yajnopavItams and discard them under a tree or some
        other natural place. Don't throw them in the garbage!

        Acamanam again followed by sAttvika tyAgam.