I heard a lot about the power of Janeva (Yajñopavītam or sacred thread), a small cloth string worn on the shoulders across the hands.

When chatting with some Brahmins, I found them suggesting that it is restricted to Brahmins only. Is it true?

While I was watching some videos, I actually found that Janeva is worn by everyone.


3 Answers 3


The wearing of the sacred thread is part of the Dharma (duty) of the first three castes because as the Manu Smriti describes, they are the ones who can read the Vedas:

87) But in order to protect this universe He, the most resplendent one, assigned separate (duties and) occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet.

88) To Brahmanas he assigned teaching and studying (the Veda), sacrificing for their own benefit and for others, giving and accepting (of alms).

89) The Kshatriya he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study (the Veda), and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures;

90) The Vaisya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study (the Veda), to trade, to lend money, and to cultivate land.

91) One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Sudra, to serve meekly even these (other) three castes.

The Manu Smriti also describes how the age when the sacred thread ceremony (Upanayanam) can be performed is different for each of the first three castes; for Brahmins it's age 5-16, for Kshatriyas it's 6-22, and for Vaishyas it's 8-24:

36) In the eighth year after conception, one should perform the initiation (upanayana) of a Brahmana, in the eleventh after conception (that) of a Kshatriya, but in the twelfth that of a Vaisya.

37) (The initiation) of a Brahmana who desires proficiency in sacred learning should take place in the fifth (year after conception), (that) of a Kshatriya who wishes to become powerful in the sixth, (and that) of a Vaisya who longs for (success in his) business in the eighth.

38) The (time for the) Savitri (initiation) of a Brahmana does not pass until the completion of the sixteenth year (after conception), of a Kshatriya until the completion of the twenty-second, and of a Vaisya until the completion of the twenty-fourth.

The material the sacred thread is made up of is also different:

44) The sacrificial string of a Brahmana shall be made of cotton, (shall be) twisted to the right, (and consist) of three threads, that of a Kshatriya of hempen threads, (and) that of a Vaisya of woollen threads.

By the way, the fact that the first three castes wear the sacred thread is why these castes are called Dvija or twice-born; the wearing of the sacred thread is thought to be a second birth for a person.


Janev is sacred thread that is given to brahmana when he accept being Brahmana only. Brahman child is given the ritual and is given Gayatri Mantra.

who can wear Janev?

  • A male person who can be either Brahmana, Kshatriya or Vaisya can wear Janev because they can read Vedas.
  • Purpose for Kshatriya is that he will always protect Brahmanas and cows.
  • Purpose for Brahmana is he will always follow and teach Vedic Dharma to others.
  • Purpose for Vaisya is he will get success in his business by wearing Janev.
  • Male has to wear 3 strings of janev, but after marriage he has to wear 6 strings. 3 more strings are considered as to be of his wife's.
  • 1
    "natural calls"—If it is meant to be "call of nature", then edit it to be so. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 12:06
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    @ParthTrivedi First of all, this answer is wrong; the sacred thread is the duty of all Dvijas. Second of all, you should remove the responsibilities section, because it's irrelevant to the question. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 14:21
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    @Creator No, it does have to do with caste; the sacred thread is the duty of the Dvija castes. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 14:49
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    even Dvija should not be considered by birth it is all dependent on the previous life karma's and present life's karmas. Even if due to some previous karmas a person is not of a higher caste/Dvija by birth he should be allowed according to the karma of the person,also Dvija is the one who is born again due to the vairagya i.e. it is the one who has burned(from his atma agni) all his previous karmas/guilt/vrittis,etc and is reborn like a pheonix from the ashes(purified form of all vrittis) is really a Dvija
    – Yogi
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 14:52
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    @Creator Well, different people have different views regarding caste. I believe the traditional view that caste in this life is determined by only karma in past lives, and karma in your current life can only affect what your caste is going to be in future lives. I'll close with a quote from the Bhagavad Gita: "It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous." Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 15:07

Janev is not restricted to the Brahmin community. It can be worn by anyone who had studied the Vedas and Mantras.

Brahmin means 'One who knows Brahmam (World)'. As per the Hindu belief, one who studies all the four Vedas and other mantras will know the Brahma. So he too become a Brahmin. From earlier times, only a particular community were allowed to study vedas and all. So they were called Brahmins.

Now a days any one can study all these and can become a 'Brahmin'.

  • I think earlier everyone was allowed to study, now they are restricted, you can edit that.
    – Mr. K
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 8:05
  • @KCloud earlier lower cast people were not allowed to study all these. But now there is no such restrictions. That's what I meant.
    – arunrc
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 5:15
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    @arunc, not before everyone was allowed, the one with lower intellect were unable to understand them and were termed as Shudras.
    – Mr. K
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 6:25
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    Veda in its recital form was limited to dwijas. But vedic ideas in various form of karma, upaasana and jnana have taken innumerable avatars in form of Purana, Ramayana, Mahabharata folklore, bhajans etc. To cater the needs of all people. If a person posses lower intellect he can't become a Shudra because sewa is a field which really demands complete wit of a person. That is why shudra dharma of sewa is prescribed to dwijas as a sadhana in gurukula as well as in all fields of knowledge. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 11:09

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