Question: Is Yagyopaveet essential for Gayatri worship? What is its significance ?
It cannot be made mandatory that those alone who put an Yagyopveet can perform Gayatri Jap . However, since Yagyopaveet is an image of Gayatri it is better if its worshipper puts it on.
Yagyopaveet is a form of Gayatri . It is preferable to perform worship sitting in a temple in front of a deity. It, however, does not mean that if there is no temple or deity, worship should not be performed. Gayatri Sadhana can be performed even, without putting on the Yagyopaveet .
Yagyopaveet is, in fact, a symbol of Gayatri mahamantra. The nine threads in it represent the nine words of Gayatri Mantra . Three strands indicate threefold achievements. Similarly the three knots (Vyahritis) and the large knot (Om) are also part of the Mantra. In a nutshell, Yagyopaveet is the sacred symbol of Gayatri , wearer of which (across the left shoulder near the heart) constantly remembers the pledge he has taken to follow the doctrine of Gayatri Sadhana .Just as one derives greater benefit by worshiping before a deity in a temple, but can also pray anywhere, Yagyopaveet is recommended but is not mandatory.