By Swami Harshananda
Adhonivita literally means ‘that which covers below’.
The dharmaśāstras have made it obligatory for every man born in the brāhmaṇa, kṣattriya and vaiśya castes to undergo the sacrament of upanayana. After upanayana, he becomes eligible for the study of the Vedas and the performance of ordained rituals. A concrete part of this sacrament is the investiture with the sacred thread called ‘upavīta’ or ‘yajñopavīta’ which should be worn permanently on the body.
One of the three modes of wearing this upavīta is ‘adhonivita’ or ‘adhovīta’ or ‘sarnvīta’. In this mode, the sacred thread hangs from the neck like a garland, stretching below the navel. This mode of wearing is recommended at the time of performing secular activities. The relatives of a dead person if he belongs to any of the first three varnas while attending his funeral procession are also required to wear the sacred thread in this mode.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore