Dvija (Sanskrit for “twice-born”) — are the members of the first three varnas: the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas. At the age of 8-12 they performed a special ceremonial rite – Upanayana. This rite was believed to be a second birth, and only after it had been properly performed, they were allowed to study the Vedas. The members of the lowest varna, the Shudras, had no right to take part in such a rite. Neither were women of any varna (though there could be some exceptions for women).