Upa means ‘near’. Nayana means ‘to take (him) to,’ i.e. to take the son to the teacher (guru). Upanayana also called bratabanda is a rite of passage conducted usually at eight years of age. The male child is initiated by the Purohit and given a janai or yagnopavit. The janai has three strings which symbolize the three gunas each-sattva (truth), rajas (passion), and tamas (darkness). Each string also denotes the debt (rin) he owes to the ancestors (pitri/matri), seers (rishis), and gods (devas). All of the strings are tied together into a knot known as the brahmagranthi which represent Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). It is one of the most important of the sixteen samskaras.
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