In the Vedās, Upanishads, Gita and the Purān, we often encounter the term, Dwijā – twice born (Dwe – two; jā – born). A person is called a Dwijā, after his thread ceremony.
What two births are implied here?
The First Birth refers to leaving our mother’s womb. There the fertilized egg transforms to an embryo and rapidly develops. Internal organs form and limb buds extend out; heart pumps its own blood and accesses nutrients through the placenta. In the womb, babies can taste, swallow and hiccup. They swim, stretch and kick. Their hearing is well developed. The fetus thus extends its capabilities within the confines of the womb and as it reaches its limits, takes its first birth.
Our eyes open and what a fascinating, infinite world we see. We wean ourselves from our mother, learn to crawl, walk, bound and run. We babble, giggle, string words, compose, sing and write. All our faculties expand exponentially.
But even as kids, we find limits in our lives: physically in our ability to do and get things done; and intellectually and philosophically, in understanding our purpose in this world and in the Universe. The aura of “conquering the infinite” is traded for “I want to be healthy and a good human.” But the infinite lurks and entices.
Our scriptures tell us that each and everyone of us: woman, man, bird, animal, animate or inanimate, are ALL part of the divine consciousness pervading the cosmos. The infinite divine – the Paramātmā. The Upanishads coax us to aspire for this: You are That infinite
When Yashoda peers into the mouth of baby Krishna, she sees the entire Universe, all births, all beings, there. Verily, the infinite.
But WE cannot see beyond our material existence, our human-ness, our limitations. I remember the advise to Jonathan Livingston Seagull (novel by Richard Bach): “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation.” That is what our Scriptures have been preaching all along.
The Hindu Upanayana or thread ceremony is this initiation into our scriptures; initiation into the infinite. That WE ALL may transcend our human limitations by recognizing that the divine consciousness, the energy of the entire cosmos, resides within each of us. That we ARE a part of that divine. Scriptures guide us to cast aside our material veil, which binds us to our limitations, and be one with the divine.
That, our Second birth, dissolves our limitations and lets us live up to the expectations of infinity we see in conception. A Dwijā is one who realizes and starts this journey – a seeker.
What a fascinating odyssey the thread ceremony sparks. On hearing this from our purohit (family priest) Sri Sudhām Bhat during my thread ceremony, I was certainly NOT ready, and as can be seen, laughed mightily. Ha ha!
Here my father invests me with the Jānwe or sacred thread.
Now, I get it. I wear the sacred thread, coz I am a seeker of the infinite. A Dwijā.
You may be interested in my other related articles:
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- Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa
- Poster: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Ganapati
- Celebrating Ram Navami: A Tribute to Rama
- Celebrating Ram Navami: A Tribute to Rama 2010