There is a 1898 book by B.V.Kamesvara Aiyar published by Natesan and Company, that is now freely available at Google Books. https://books.google.com/books?id=x...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
Thank you அண்ணா. Those who are interested in meaning, deep meaning, may benefit from listening to Swami Paramarthananda's lectures on Sandhyavandanam. https://www.pravachanam.com/artists/swami-paramarthananda Namaskaram.Our Vedas are an enormous collection of books. One cannot read them in an ordinary lifetime. But, we Sanatanis have to read them. Our Rishis made an easy , enjoyable, fruitful and powerful way of reciting some small portions of the Vedas every day together with some offerings that have been followed since time immemorial by our Sanatana family.
Most of today’s younger generation do not know our traditional language which is Sanskrit- which is pitiable. Without knowing the language, the mantras recited make no sense to them and the whole process becomes a mechanical one. There is a dearth of real teachers of these mantras who can teach them to the pupils at the time of upanayana itself. Some Noble souls like Yoga Acharya Sundaram, Kadalangudi Brahmasri Natesa Sastigal, Sri Sri Abhinava Theertha Mahaswamigal of Sringeri Sarada Sankara Peetam have explained the intricate meanings of these mantras, the meanings of the various parts of Sandhyavandanam and most importantly , the health benefits and scientific brilliance behind these seemingly simple karmas.
This is an attempt by one who learnt the Sandhya Vandana late in his life. As a penance, I wish to present to all an easy to understand and apply document for the benefit of mankind in general and the individual in particular.
Sandhya Vandanam – who can do it?
The Vedas declare that the three varnas of Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vysya are eligible. Today’s society has been completely overhauled by interchange of occupation that a Brahmin by birth runs an Industry, a Vysya is a teacher and a Kshatriya is a scientist. The list is endless.
Now, I invite you all to read the fascinating Sandhya Vandahanam which is perhaps one of the best and subtlest daily routine of prayer, thanksgiving, and mantra meditation offered to mankind ever.
The articles will be in parts. The attempt is to go as deep as I could go into the inner meaning of these mantras and karmas. Meanings of every word uttered is given.
Why do Sandhyavandanam at all ?
I know many Brahmin friends who ask me “ What is the use of Sandhyavandanam at all ? It is not like meditation which shows results instantly. In this we sprinkle water or partake it in some routine and murmur some hymns. What benefit at all do we get ?”
This is the Kali yuga and such words from Brahmins themselves are to be expected only. But in order to answer my friends, I have written this post . As I myself was an atheist in my twenties and who never did sandhya till about three years back, such knowledge is reassuring to myself first . Read on:
Nadis and the Sandhya time
Sandhya means the time of union of the day with the night. They usually are in the evening and early morning. But, why do Sandhya at this these times only ? It is these times that one is in an empty stomach which is a condition for any spiritual exercise.
The recent psychological experiments have confirmed the existence of the nadis of the spine viz “ Ida , Pingala and Sushumna”. These nadis are not physical entities but are part of our astral body and can be seen by those endowed with special vision. Even advanced yogis can see these nadis.
These nadis ida and pingala are the paths of flow of Prana or life force. They are in a continued state of agitation during the daytime but, tend to follow a uniform path during the sandhya periods. Hence such periods were chosen for Sandhyavandanam to derive maximum concentration.
Pranayama and deep concentration
Pranayamam is the next. Pranayama is to be done with mentally chanting the extended Gayatri. The Puraka, Kumbaka and Rechaka type of Pranayama was originally suggested and practiced but nowadays even the Puraka and Rechaka themselves are sufficient to derive benefit. The kumbaka has to be learnt only with the help of Gurus who are becoming rare these days.
The steady intake of Breath is called Puraka and steady exhaling is called Rechaka. Usually Rechaka is best done at twice the time of Puraka. Let me illustrate the power of breath.
Prana regulates the temperature of the Body: In early morning even in cold climates, you can splash cold water on your body by taking a deep breath and keeping it inside while taking bath. You will not feel cold at all. Just remember those days when the oldies used to close the nostrils while taking a dip in the river or pond !
Next try this: Close your eyes, sit erect, but not stiff. Think of the sound AUM. Pronounce it mentally, very slowly. A…….U………..M. Do it for five to ten minutes. Now without opening your eyes, notice your breath. You will be surprised. It has become very slow, very rhythmic and feeble ! In the same way, notice how a child breathes in sleep. Very rhythmic , steady and VERY SLOW.
What do you gather ? when the thoughts are focused, the breath is slow and rhythmic. In the same way, when the breath is made rhythmic and slow, your thoughts (mind) will be focused and clear ! Apart from single pranayamas at the beginnings, the gayatri japa is tucked in between two sets of three pranayamas each at the beginning and end respectively. Look at the subtlety of our Rishis !
The Gayatri chanting part is the central part of the Sandhyavandanam and many volumes can be written on this alone. Gayatri is a most sacred and mysterious mantra that can activate twenty four spots of the human body. Look at this picture where the individual sounds of the gayatri are marked on the body of the sadhak. The working of gayatri is very subtle and it was said that a Brahmin need not do any sadhna if he does gayatri.
What is the apt time for doing Sandhya Vandanam ? The name suggests Sandhya , the meeting time of Day with night, which is just before and during sunrise and sunset.
Ajyotisho darsanat sandhi, jyotisho bhanutareThe above statement of the shastra means
Sandhi is the time when the sun and the stars are together visible. The practical thing therefore will be to start
1. In the morning before sunrise, give Arghyam( explanation later) during sunrise and finish just after sunrise.
2. In the evening, begin before sunset, give Arghyam during sunset and finish later.
For those who always are inconsistent with their timings, Shastra says
For prAtha: (morning) Sandhyavandhan
Uttama tarakopeta madhyama lupta taraka
Adhama urya sahita prata: sandhya tridha mana
To do PrAtha: ( morning) sandhyA vandanam when the stars are visible is Uttama (first grade.); Maddhyama (middle grade) when doing without the stars; and Adhama ( least grade when Sun is visible)
Uttama suryasahita maddhyama anudita taraka
Adhma tarakopeta sayam sandhya tridha mata
To do Sayam( evening) Sandhya Vandanam , It is Uttama doing while the sun is still shining; Maddhyama when doing before stars are visible; Adhama after the stars are fuly visible.
Sri Abhinava Theertha swamigal says whatever be the grade, it is always best to do it regularly. Otherwise, he warns, one’s Brahmanathva itself is wasted.
The morning and evening sandhis are also ideal since, traditionally and habitually, a person’s stomach will be empty doing both sunrise and sunset. An empty stomach is achieved after four hours of a solid meal. An empty stomach is a prerequisite for Sandhyavandanam since there are at least three sets of pranayama totaling 15 in one full routine. A loaded stomach will interfere with pranayama greatly resulting in indigestion, sleepiness etc. Even the madhyahnikam ( noon) routine is done with an empty stomach before the meal.
There are three types of Karmas- Nithya, Naimithika, and Kamya karmas. Kamya karma is one which is done with a desire to achieve, like a yagya for long life etc .Even if kamya karmas are not done , there is no sin. Naimithika karma is one which is not shastra bound and not niyamic, i.e., a necessary duty , such as taking bath after an eclipse. Nithya karma is one which is ‘niyata nimitta’ meaning ‘ that which is done which is shastra bound’ . Sunrise and sunset are the reason for doing Sandhya vandanam. Hence this is classified in the Nithya karma, which has to be done daily , lifelong.
The achamanam is a scientifically proved technique of cooling our body and also in focusing our mind.
The name of the Lord is the most powerful weapon in this world that can save mankind from every danger. Is there any choicest of them among the numerous names of the Lord Sri Krishna ? He has more than 1000 names and we need a few for daily remembrance. How ? Our rishis have chosen fifteen of them. We will see them in the later part of this article.
Achamanam means partaking of a small quantity of water. The health experts of our times have come to a conclusion that taking large quantities of water at any time is harmful. They advice only sipping small quantities. But ours is a land of yogis who knew the anatomy and physiology of humans both physically and by intuition ( gnana drushti). They devised an ideal way of a treatment of the body with the infusion of a small quantity of water ( about 1 ml) repeatedly which created such a healthy effect.
During an achamanam, we usually take three intakes. Each time saying one name of the Lord in this order; Achyutaya nama: Anantaya nama: Govindaya nama:. The water is poured into the palm by a small spoon of 1 ml capacity and then poured into the mouth by the hand. This repeated after each mantra. This is followed by touching various parts of our body by our different fingers .There are two acamanams in the beginning, two in the middle and one in the end of one Sandhyavandanam routine. Totally, fifteen small intakes take place during this.
Now, we will look at the health benefits. There is a vidhi (rule) in Achamanam that the water should not be sucked from the palm. The water from a panch patra ( a tumbler like container which is wide at the top and bottom of approx 100 ml capacity of Silver or Copper) is transferred to the right palm by means of a Uddharni (spoon) of 1 ml capacity. The right palm is now lifted steadily without spilling and keeping the anterior end (wrist end) touching the lips and raising the neck and tilting the palm so that the WATER FLOWS INTO THE MOUTH BY GRAVITY. No sucking. We feel that the water is trickling down the food pipe but the water is of such a small quantity that we do not feel the trickling below the heart region. This, the Rishis call as ‘going into the heart’. Some acharyas say that this water directly mingles with the blood.
The immediate effect is a lowering of the temperature, or rather ‘heat’ of the body. Though allopathy still does not accept the ‘heat’ of the body as a parameter of health , (due to lack of research), we know it ourselves. Holistic therapeutic systems like Ayurvedha and Homeopathy recognize this. Modern living has made such disastrous effects that the burning sensation in single parts or extremities are so common. Achamanam takes care of this. Lack of perspiration raises the body heat. Constipation also is a cause. Even for a man in fever, giving drops of cold water steadily reduces the temperature. Achamanam removes the ill effects of today’s hectic lifestyle such as Constipation, Stress, fatigue etc.
The mental effects are subtle. Lowering of heat gives tranquility. Achamanam being the starting point of Sandhyavandanam, this must be a preparation of the Sadhak for further kriyas.
During Achamanam the names of the Lord are also chanted. After the first three of Achyutaya Nama; ( obeisance to the changeless)
Anantaya Nama; ( obeisance to the infinite , endless)
Govindaya Nama:,((obeisance to Him who is attainable by chanting Vedas)
twelve names are said
We know from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas how the name of the lord is more powerful than Himself. Rama’s arrows fell as garlands on Hanuman when Hanuman could not obey Sri Rama’s command. At that time Hanuman was chanting only Rama Nama!
Now we will go into why our Rishis chose these twelve names.
Vasudeva, the Parabrahman, when expands himself into four states (chatur vyuha- name 138 of Vishnu sahasra nama) for creation, preservation and destruction (recall) takes four names respectively
Vasudeva ( who is stationed in every living being)
Sangarshana ( who does not descend from his position)
Pradhyumna ( who is full of wealth)
Aniruddha (who can never be opposed)
These four vyuhas expand further into twelve vyuha states
1. Kesava ( who takes many forms, one who is the total combined form of Brahma , Vishnu and Siva)
2. Narayana (the final refuge of nara or Jiva)
3. Madhava( Pathi of Lakshmi)
4. Govinda-(One who is attainable by Vedic chanting)
5. Vishnu ( One who pervades everywhere)
6. Madhusudana(Destroyer of Madhu, the demon( Destroyer of Tamoguna))
7. Trivikrama- (who measured the universe in three footsteps)
8. Vamana-( the small figured, who gives as per one’s punya karma)
9. Sridhara( One who sustains Lakshmi)
10. Hrishkesa(who rules the senses)
11. Padmanabha( Who has the lotus in his navel)
12. Damodhara( One who has the universe as his abode)
So, by knowing these names and vyuhas and chanting them respectively during partaking of water and after, we get the multiple benefits. Also, touching various parts of the body with different fingers in a particular orders is like a kavacha ( armour ) and in my opinion prepares the sadhak by focusing the mind since an unconcentrated mind can not perform the series without mistakes.
Then there is Arghyam. This is a beautiful kriya in Sandhyavandanam and it is as subtle and scientific as Gayatri japa.
Found (not the same book though) this book on the Internet, using some intensive search! Hope it quenches even some part of your spiritual thirst, Sir. Namaskarams.
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