Rakhsha Bandhan:

A Festival of Love, Affection
& Protection

H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Muniji)

August, 2003


The holiday of Rakhsha Bandhan, or Rakhi, is a celebration of the bond of love and the bond of family. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Shravana (August - September). 

On this day, sisters tie sacred threads around their brothers� wrists, symbolizing their love and affection. 


In return, the brother promises to protect his sister and to always be there for her. Rakhsha means protection or security and bandhan means a bond or relation. Thus, Rakhsha Bandhan symbolizes the bond of security and protection between brothers and sisters.

As the Rakhi is tied, a sacred mantra is chanted which says:

Yena baddho balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah

Tena twaam anubadhna ami rakshey maa chala maa chala. 

This is a sacred protection mantra and it grants security and protection to the wearer.

In the South Raksha Bandan is celebrated by the Brahmins who put on a new sacred thread on this day.

Indian Culture � the world is one family

On Rakhi, the brothers and sisters do not have to be blood relatives. That is the beauty of Indian culture. Our tradition tells us that the world is our brother and sister. On this day of Rakhsha Bandhan, a girl can tie a rakhi on the wrist of any boy or man to whom she feels a close bond. Then, from that day forth, they will call each other �sister� and �brother.�  In this way, relationships are strengthened, solidified and purified. The tradition of Rakhsha Bandhan symbolizes and underscores the way Indians live together as brother and sister � relationships filled with love, devotion and affection, but free from lust, attraction or violence.

The Bond of Rakhi

Additionally, the tradition of Rakhi has created a beautiful, sacred way for women and girls to be protected during times of political and social turmoil. Even as men injure and dishonor women, no one would injure his own sister. The bond of Rakhi is held so sacred that no man would dare leave his rakhi sister unprotected, let alone actually injure her himself. For example, the ancient Muslim ruler of India, Humayun, was obligated to protect the Hindu princess Karmavati, even in spite of all political and social sanctions against Karmavati and her family. Why? Because the princess had sent Humayun a rakhi.

Sacred Beginning

The holiday, like all Indian festivals, has a divine, sacred beginning. During the time of the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna threw a celestial weapon at  Shishupala in order to punish him for his numerous sins. However, as Lord Krishna hurled the weapon at Shishupala, the Lord cut his own finger. Draupadi immediately tore off a piece from her sari and wrapped it around Lord Krishna�s finger, stopping the bleeding. Lord Krishna asked her what she wanted in return for this favor. �Nothing, Oh Lord,� she replied. �Just your holy presence in my life, at all times.� So, from that moment forth, Lord Krishna promised Draupadi that He would always be with her and that she needed only to call upon Him. Later, as the Kauravas tried to dishonor Draupadi by removing her sari in a public hall, she called to Lord Krishna who immediately came to her rescue.

Bond with God

The story above about Bhagwan Krishna and Draupadi shows us more than simply the bond between a brother and sister or the promise of security. This teaches us a valuable lesson about our own relationship with God. Draupadi gave to Lord Krishna one small strand from her sari. In return, Lord Krishna gave Draupadi an endless, infinite sari, one which could never be removed. When we come forward toward the Lord, even one small step, He comes toward us by miles. When we offer one small strand of our lives at His holy feet, the rewards are infinite.

New Millennium, New Tradition

On this holy day of Raksha Bandhan there is so much to learn, so many vows to make. First, there are the ancient, traditional meanings, whereby girls and women remember their brothers � far and near � with love and affection. In exchange, all men and boys promise to protect their sisters � both against physical harm, and also against dishonor to their name or to their family. These are as crucial today as they were in the past.

However, perhaps even more importantly,  we must realize that the only way the current world will survive is united as one family. Thus, now, we must also take the deeper, underlying meaning of Rakhi. We must vow to make the world our brothers and sisters � not only in theory, but also in practice.  Let us use rakhi as a symbol of our universal brotherhood. May our girls and women lead the way toward this universal family as they tie rakhi bracelets on the wrists of not only their closest male friends, but also on the wrists of enemies. Let us use this holiday to reach out to those around us, embracing them as brother and sister.

Additionally, in this world in which relations between boys and girls are becoming more and more promiscuous, let us use rakhi to re-purify our relations. As girls and women tie rakhi bracelets on the wrists of boys and men who are their friends, may all of their minds become purified of any lustful feelings by this new, sanctified relationship of �sister� and �brother.�

The true Rakhsha Bandhan

Last and most importantly, may we all exchange vows of love, affection and protection not only with our human brothers and sisters. But, let us also offer at least a small thread to the Lord. For He is our true brother, our true Sister, our true Protector.  It is to Him that we want to be eternally tied. The divine rakhi that you offer to the Lord will never become untied, never become faded and will never break.