Brahmin child's upanayana must be performed when he is eight
years old from conception, that is when he is seven years and two
months old from birth. A Ksatriya's is to be performed at the age
of twelve. Krsna Paramatman who belonged to the clan of Yadus
(Yadavas) was invested with the sacred thread at that age. The
corresponding age for a Vaisya is sixteen.
to the sastras, the lower limit of Brahmin youngsters is eight
years and the upper limit is sixteen which means a grace of eight
years. It is sinful in the not to have performed upanaya of a
Brahmin boy before his passing the upper age limit.
is the right period to perform upanayana- from the Tamil month Tai to Ani. when the sun journeys
northwards. While this is the right time for marriages also, the
season of spring(Chittirai to
Vaikasi)is considered particularly
auspicious. For upanayana the month specially favoured is Masi. Upanayana and marriage are not favoured during
Daksinayana(from the Tamil month Adi to the end of Margazhi).
for various reasons, the upanayana and marriage ceremonies are
delayed for as long as possible and celebrated in any month other
than Margazhi. The results
are there for you to see. But one must be happy perhaps that a
function called marriage is still performed somehow. So long as
people perform it, let them perform it at any time. If we take
this attitude, marriages may be permitted in any season as a
desperate step. But upanayana is a different matter. It should
never be permitted in Daksinayana. If it is for some reason
celebrated during this period, I would ask for its performance
again in Uttarayana. Money is the main problem in conducting an
upanayana or a marriage. Parents postpone the upanayana because
they want to perform it at the same time as the marriage of their
daughter so as to minimise the expenses.
upanayana is sometimes performed when the boy is only five years
old. This is called "kamyopanayana", "Kamya"
meaning in persuance of desire. Such early upanayana is all right
if you want the child to develop inwardly at an early age. But
seven years is the proper age for the child to be invested with
sacred thread because by now he would have learned enough
Sanskrit to chant the mantras clearly. Nowadays, the "thread
ceremony" is conducted together with the marriage, that is
when the "boy" is 30 or 35 years old. So to suggest
that the upanayana needs to be performed only when the child is
seven years old - and not at five - would be taken as a joke.
Joke or no joke, it [the delay in performing the upanayana]
should make you uneasy deep within if you have some concern for
the vedic dharma.
Sankara's upanayana, it is believed, was performed when he was
five years old. If the child is extraordinarily intelligent and
can articulate words properly, his upanayana may be performed at
"Hindu Dharma" is a book
which contains English translation of certain invaluable and
engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at
various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here