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Shravan Purnima and thread of 3 responsibilities
Shravan Purnima is dedicated to the brother and sister relationship — Raksha Bandhan.
This day is also the day that the janeu (sacred thread) is changed. The significance of changing the thread is to remind you that you have three responsibilities or debts on your shoulders – responsibility towards your parents, responsibility towards society and responsibility towards knowledge. These are the three responsibilities or debts that we have. We are indebted to our parents, we are indebted to society and we are indebted towards our guru (knowledge). So we have these three debts and the janeu reminds us of these three responsibilities.
When we say debt, we think of it as some loan that we have taken that we need to give back. But we should understand it as a responsibility. The meaning of debt in this case is ‘responsibility.’ It is reviewing your responsibility towards the previous generation, towards the coming generation and towards the present generation. And so you put the three layers of thread on your shoulder (janeu).
That is the significance — let me keep my body pure, my mind pure and my speech pure: purity of body, mind and speech. And when there is a thread hanging around you, you remember every day, “Oh I have these responsibilities.” In ancient days, women also had to wear this thread. It was not limited to only one caste or another caste. Everybody used to have to wear this whether they were Brahmins or not; but later on, it got confined to a few.
Responsibility is for everybody
Now, when one gets married one gets six layers – three layers of oneself and three of the wife’s also. Actually, wives should also have it, but men take it on themselves. This is a male dominated society; they made this big mistake. Women also had this in ancient days – the ceremony of taking responsibility. But now, after marriage the man takes responsibility for his wife’s side as well. So, on Raksha Bandhan you tie the rakhi, what we call as friendship band. This term was recently coined in English, but from ancient times Raksha Bandhan has been there. It is the bond of protection where the sister protects her brother.
Therefore, Raksha Bandhan is a festival here where all the sisters go and tie the rakhi on their brothers. And it does not have to be only their biological brother, in fact they start tying it to everybody and all are their brothers. This is how it has been prevalent in this country and it is a big festival on Shravan Purnima.
— The writer is the founder of Art of Living Foundation and can be reached www.artofliving.org