Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The importance of Sandhyavandanam as told by His Holiness
Jagadguru Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal
of Kanchi Kamakoti Petam

In Danurveda (the Science of archery) there are two kinds of arms; Astra and Shastra. The astra shot would destroy the substance on which it is aimed at (astra prayoga). There is an astra that the Brahmins have to shoot everyday to destroy the evil. When we say astra prayoga we have shoot a weapon. What is that weapon? We throw water to destroy “the evil that is manifested in us; to get rid of sins and impure thoughts; to wipe the dust of bonds, covering the knowledge and reveal the true self; for Knowledge to shine like Sun”.  This astra prayoga has to be done three times a day. While we try to do a hard work we say hold your breath and do it. That is exactly what
we do in Sandhyavandanam by offering Argyam (throwing water).

2.     When some one is doing a work sincerely we say (in Tamil) that he is performing holding his breath. So this work of destroying evil in us has to be done holding the breath. If we do this everyday as prescribed the impure thoughts would go away. We hold the breath to do this. So we say “Pranan Ayamya”(hold the breath)”. We do not say “Nasikam Ayamya (hold the nose)”.

3.     What ever work we do we must concentrate. So is the case when we do Asyta Prayoga using water as Astra. We should hold breath for getting concentration. If we hold the breath how does it hold the mind from wandering?  When the mind is still, breathing stops. When we experience immense happiness or unbearable sorrow or greatly excited our breathing stops for a moment; the mind is still.  Then it runs fast. We do not stop breathing voluntarily. When breathing stops mind is still and vice versa.

4.     When we do Argya pradanam we should do it with concentration.  Pranayamam helps to concentrate.  Pranayamam is yoga that has to be done for a long period of time with under teacher and it is very difficult. We normally do 10 pranayams at a time; sometimes we do three as per procedure.  Had we been doing pranayams from the date of Upanayanam we all would have been Yogeeswaras. What ever we do we have to do properly; is it not?  We must hold breath for 30 seconds in one Pranayamam. Need not do for more time. It must be done suitable to individual’s health. If Pranan stops mind would be still. If this is achieved the water we give as Argya is the Astra.

5.     Every action in sandhyavandanam is an offering to Parameswara. Astra prayoga of Argya should be done. Then Gayatri japam has to be done. Pranayama should be done as many times as possible, but not much. We must do Sankalpa, Marjanam, Prasanam, Punar marjanam, Argya Pradanam, Japam, Strotram, Abhivadanam saying that I do all this to get blessings of Parameshwara. This is know as sankalpa. Marjanam mantra to be said and water to be sprinkled on head. (first five mantras on head, sixth on feet and seventh on head).  Pranayamam is the main activity in the entire sandhyavandanam.  All three times of the day Pranayamam to be done. It should be done only prescribed number of times; excess may cause discomfort unless done under supervision of a learned teacher.  But daily Pranayamam has to be done by everyone (including one is ill) everyday there will no discomfort at all.

6.     We do sin by thought, speech, and body. We have to get rid of the reaction arising out of these sins. So we do karma to get rid of these sins through the Sandhyavandanam.  We utter mantras (speech) do gayathri japam (thought), do marjanam and others (bodily actions). Apart from this Sandhyavandanam is also a form of Bakhti yoga and Gnyana yoga.

7.     Persons who do sandhyavandanam must have individual vessels.  Sandhyavandanam has to be done using those vessels. Pranayamam must be definitely done. Everything to be done as an offering to Eswara (Eswararpanam). Sandhyavandanam should not be done hurriedly.

8.     Several men rose to the level of Maharishis only because they did sandhyavandanam regularly and perfectly. Gayathri japam is being done from the day of the Maharishis in whose lineage we have been born (whom we prostrate saying Abivadanam every time we do Sandyavandanam).  It is ones duty to observe and do what one is expected to do everyday, at least to honour the rishis in whose lineage we have come from. There have been several rishis after the first rishi. In each gotram the number of rishis are mentioned;three rishis, five rishis , seven rishis etc. This confirms that there were that many rishis in that gotram. Srivatsa gotram had five rishis.

9.     One should not break the continuity of the great lineage. One should perform sandhyavandanam three times a day along with Pranayamam with sincerity, with out loss of mantra (pronunciation) uchranam, with total surrender of action to Parameswara with Bakhti and understanding the meaning of each mantra and Prayoga.

Gayathri Japam

1.       The meaning of the word “Gayathri” is that whosoever sings her glory they will be protected. Singing means to utter Her name with devotion and Bhakti. One who sings Gayathri mantra with devotion and bhakti would be ever protected.  That is why the manra avquired the name “Gayathri”.  
2.       In Veda it is said that “Gayathri chandasam matha” which mean that Gayathri is mother of all veda mantras. Chandas means Veda. As per the Shastras the foremost important part of any work is to keep the body clean without decline in mantra shakti. “ deho devalayaha prokto jivaprokthaha sanathanaha”.
3.   The body is a temple.  Jiva is easwara form (easwara roopa). Unclean matter should not taken to the body. Meat, Tobacco and such unclean matter should not be taken to the body (a temple). It is know that temple should not be visited when we are not clean. Similarly importance is attached for cleanliness of the body. 
4.       Body has energy derived from meditation and mantra japam. Adding undesirable material to the body would deteriorate the wellness of the body and weaken the energy. There is a difference in up keeping of house and temple. The restrictions on cleanliness are more severe for temple than for a house. Similarly some bodies are expected to be cleaner than others. Brahmana bodies have to be maintained as clean as temple because the body is purified by constant mantra japam and energy. These Brahmana bodies have to protect the Veda mantras and hence they have to be always maintained pristine pure. No impurities should be added to the body by consuming unwanted materials. It is the foremost duty of Brahman to preserve Vedas and through that do well to the welfare of all species. As he has to do this a Brahmana is bound by many restrictions in his action and expected to observe strict discipline. He can not think others are doing why not I? He can not ask others are consuming certain unclean materials why not I? He can not think others are having certain bodily pleasures why restriction for me? Bramhana’s body is not for enjoying pleasure but for preserving and protecting the Vedas. That is the reason  we spend money and perform Upanayanam. If the body is kept clean like a temple and maintain discipline for everyone would be fine (sowkyam).
5.       While other men are creating wealth by doing different work why not a Brahmana? Yes, he can exert to create wealth after faithfully performing the duty laid down for him.  He should not choose incorrect methods to earn wealth.  Poverty is necessary for Brahman. He should not go to different countries, practice undesirable (Anacharam) methods and earn wealth. There is no need for earning wealth in such away. The primary duty is to preserve the Vedas and our Dharma. Earning wealth is secondary.
6.       If Brahmana preserve the fire of Mantra Shakti that would do good for everyone. The fire of Mantra Shakti is now not burning. Body has become unattractive. Impure things are being added to the body. However, just a spark is still there. If that spark is made big there would be fire one day. That spark is “Gayathri Mantra”.  This mantra has come for generations with continuity.  If Gayathri mantra is not meditated upon for three continuous generations he would not be a Brahmana. If yagna is not performed for three generations then he is impure Brahmana. There is Prayachitam for again gaining the purity. However, there is no prayachitam where Gayathri japam” is not done for three generations. He had lost the Brahmin hood. He is just a relative of Brahmin (Brahmana Bandhu). So is the case of a Kshtriya; he is just a Khshatriya Bandhu.    
7.       We have to make the existing small spark a big one. A spark by itself is of no use.  But there is possibility to make fire from that spark. It is therefore necessary to do, on Sundays at least Gayathri Japam 1008 times. Avoid eating food outside home. Avoid impure foods and give away undesirable habits. Keep body pure to enable Mantra Shakti to reside. A minimum of 10 Gayathri must be done three times a day.
8.       All three prescribed times are calm and restful. Morning is time when all species wake up from sleep. The mind will be calm at that time.  Evening all would return from work and hence restful. Afternoon The sun is at Zenith and all will be quiet. One must meditate upon Gayathri, Savitri and Saraswati respectively in three kalas. Morning is mainstay for Vishnu. Afternoon is mainstay for Brahma. Evening is mainstay for Shiva.  Therefore, Gaythri dyana should  be in Vishnu roopa in the morning, Brahma roopa in the afternoon and Shiva roopa in the evening. All three together is known as samashti Gayathri. Also if individually done it is Viyushti Gayathri.
9.       All Veda mantras are in the Gayathri mantra. That mantra gives strength for every other mantra.  Without Gayathri japam other mantras will not be effective. Gayathri is the hypnotic mantra for attaining mukhti. It is the hypnotic mantra for controlling the desires and reaching the goal for which we have got this birth. Gayathri is now a small spark. By reducing the mundane work one and taking vow to do more and more Gayathri japam, and keeping body pristine clean we must preserve the spark with the hope that spark at least will remain and one day light a big fire.   
10.  In sandhyavandanam Argyam and Gaythri japam are two important features. All others are its limbs. One who is incapacitated should give Argyam and do minimum of 10 Gayathris. One should not conclude that as these two are important it is fine to do only these two. That would only result in doing away with these two also. So if the whole thing is performed the main would stay. Even during worst times this must be done.  During Mahabharatha war as there was shortage of water Argyam was given using dust.
11.  Argyam is to be given before sun rise, at noon and before sun set. There was one Idaikattu Chittar.  He was tending cattle. He said in Tamil “Kanamar konamar kandu kodu. Aadukan poguthu par poguthu par”.  That is before seeing the sun(morning), when sun is straight (noon), when sun is visible (before sun set) give Atrgyam. By taking a dip in Ganaga and Sethu (Rameswarm) all our sins will be washed away.
12.  There will be effectiveness for Veda Mantra only if Argyam and Gayathri are performed properly with regularity. So Sandhyavandanam must be done regularly as prescribed. Once in life time a dip in Ganaga and Sethu is must.
13.  If one is ill some one will have to do sandhyavandanam on their behalf and pour water in their mouth. Nowadays it looks as though we are perpetually ill. Medicine is necessary if one is ill. Gayathri mantra is medicine for our soul. That should not be discarded for any reason whatsoever. It is more important than medicine. Even one day gap should not be there in performing sandhyavandanam. Wrong food and other habits must be given away. One must do prayachitam for what ever Anacharam so far done. 
14.  It is easy and possible for every one to do Gayathri japam. Sandhyavandanam must be done till there is life in this body. Gayathri should be worshipped as mother (Matru roopa).  God appears in innumerable forms and bless us. Most affection we get from Mother.One can confide everything to mother without fear.  Therefore even if God can appear in any form Mother Form is most welcome.  Veda proclaim Gayathri is mother.
15.  Males do Gayathri japam.  What about females? If males do Gayathri japam the females get the full affect.  So also every species.
16.  Every mantra has a specific result and purpose. The purpose and effect of Gayathri mantra is “Chitta Shudhhi” , purity of thought.  All mantras eventually lead to “Chitta Shudhhi”.  Gayathri is the straight result. Gayathri mantra is common for all three Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama). Atharva Veda has different Gayathri mantra. Atharva vedist take upadesa accordingly after upanayanam. If Atharva vedist desire to learn any of the other three Vedas he must undergo Upanayanam once again for this purpose.
17.  Even today everyone can do sandhyavandanam regularly in the morning and evening. Those who go to office can give Argyam early in the morning.  Madyanika Argyam can be given in the evening. Like we ask others for milk and food when we are unwell we should ask others do sandhyavandanam for us.  We must be very strict in food and other habits. One should not eat unacceptable food and avoid eating with people who take food not prescribed for us. We have to be strictly and keep away as we no objection for their habits.



  1. Our Gorss of physical body (Shtoola Sharira) is made up first three elements of earth, atmosphere and solar region. The subtle body (Sukshma Sharira) is made up of elements from the cosmic region and the Spiritual Body (Karana sharira) is most minute pixel dot of Supreme Body (Paramatma). Sandhyavandanam is the process to cleanse and energize these bodies for total wellness, peace and serenity.

  2. There is no bar for ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras for performing sandyavandanam. But they were given exemption because of their nature of daily work, say for example - kshatriyas (ruling), Vaisyas (trading) and sudras (work related to physical labour like farming). Whereas brahmins were given the work of learning vedas and rituals for the welfare of the universe. This is the reason why sandyavandanam must be performed by brahmin community. There is no eligibility criteria for any particular caste, it is only exemption to other castes based on the works undertook by other castes in those days. This exemption is given to other castes because if they do not do their duties and focus on sandyavandanam and rituals, their part of work will be pending, thereby the welfare of society can not be achieved. The main purpose of division of work among the castes is if every caste performs their duties, there will be overall welfare of the society. Coming to present times, now brahmins who are learning vedas and rituals, must perform sandyavandanam. Even for them, the exemption is suppose during madyanam time a brahmin is performing ritual like shradham or marriage in any other's house, in the middle he cannot give break to that, hence he need not do madyanam since the work he is doing is better work than doing madyanam. Now a days, irrespective of castes, people are undertaking works, say for example, vaisya is ruling, sudra is trading, kshatriya is doing physical labour and brahmin is also doing any of these works. Because of this change in daily activities of all castes, only brahmins who are learning vedas and rituals must do sandyavandanam. Other brahmins who are not learning vedas and rituals automatically gets exemption since their nature of work is changed from learning vedas and rituals to ruling, trading and physical labour. However, brahmins who are not in the line of learning vedas and rituals, can do sandyavandanam when they are free during sandya times, but it is again useless because they do not know the meaning of mantras they are chanting since they are not learning vedas. They can only understand the vishnu namas like kesava, narayana, madhava etc. In that case, they need not do sandyavandanam and rather chant vishnu sahastranamam. A man should change with times. In those times, invariably brahmins must learn vedas and knowing the meaning of sandyavandanam mantras was nothing for them. Now the case is different. We do not know sanskrit, we are not learning vedas, then why mechanically do sandyavandanam. (continued)

  3. Instead, it is better to do sudarshana kriya in Art of Living, where different types of pranayama, different types of meditation is available and no need to know any language and anybody, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and nationality can do this at any time (fasting) and any place. Even for younger generations, it is the best way to improve physical fitness and mental fitness since if we tell them to do sandyavandanam, suppose if they ask what is the meaning of a particular mantra, we have to say i dont know, which is an embracing situation. This is enough for them to estimate us since they will come to know that his dad has also been doing sandyavandanam without knowing the meaning mechanically. This will automatically make them uninterested in doing sandyavandanam. Think about this and guide the younger generation in proper direction. Don't make them suffocated with unnecessary rituals like sandyavandanam just because our ancient people used to do this. We have to take into account the conditions prevailing in each generation. A convent going child will do sandyavandanam if you force him to do but definitely without interest since he does not know what he is chanting. Of course he will get benefit of pranayamam and gayatri japam (meditation), but parallel is available in Art of Living course without Sanskrit and he can adapt to this easily. Now a days in major cities people have to start early morning to reach office in time and by the time they return it is night. How can you expect them do sandyavandanam before sunset when sun is shining and before sunrise when stars are there, not to speak of IT employees who do shift wise work and they sleep during day to work in night. Anything we advise should be practically possible to get maximum compliance. Please give your comments.

    1. You can learn the meaning of it.
      There are 4 main components of Sandhyavandana:
      Gayathri Japa - this is the core of the ritual. It comprises of 5-10 min of meditating on a manthra (hymn) that Hindus consider very sacred. The manthra has a deep calming effect and sharpens the concentration for the following couple of hours.
      Pranayama - this is the breath control part of the exercise. Pranayama is said to have great health benefits and can greatly reduce stress. Each Sandhyavandana ritual has 13 pranayamas - 39 in total per day.
      Achamaneyam & Tharpanam - this is the cleaning part of the ritual where we wash our hands and feet and take the water "ritually cleansed". Given a hot, humid tropical climate, our ancestors believed in periodic cleaning of the body. The constant handwashing involved in these rituals was probably related to ancient hygiene.
      Upasthana Manthra - This is the part of the ritual where we "placate" the Vedic gods. In the morning, we address to "Mitra" - the god of oath & friendship, in the afternoon we address to "Surya" - Sun god and in the evening we address to "Varuna" - the god of water. The hymns are quite deep and pray for family and social peace. The afternoon upasthana mantras are especially deep and brings the essence of the Vedas (stressing on the happiness).
      Apart from these 4, there are various small parts that address various gods such as Vishnu and builds a "spiritual" bond.
      The benefits of Sandhyavandana:
      It brings down the stress levels - especially important in a chaotic India. The Pranayama & Gayathri Manthra to be performed in 6 hour intervals can indeed calm tempers.
      Early morning and early evening times are most conducive for learning and children do their meditation before their studies to improve their concentration.
      It stresses a lot on hygiene. The rituals have to be performed after bathing and has a lot of cleaning exercises. In a crowded, dirty nation, you cannot stress enough the importance of hygiene.
      The hymns address various gods of nature and brings a certain appreciation for nature's beauty. Arden practitioners face the early morning sun standing in a river and enjoy the divine joy of nature's bounty.
      It brings a discipline in us. Having to do it 3 times day on specific periods builds a sort of rhythm.
      It builds a bond between the elders and young guys in the home. In traditional households, the grandfathers, fathers, sons, uncles, cousins and brothers all perform the ritual at the same time and given the meanings of many manthras praying for family peace, it brings a sort of calmness to home.
      It connects us to our ancient culture. It teaches about our great men of the past and how our ancestors performed the rituals.
      It is a beautiful art and celebration of nature that we are slowly losing. The cleanliness, preservation of nature and de-stressing exercises have all gone with the wind.

  4. Is it not possible to know the meaning of the mantras? There are many sources available now a days - if you just Google, you will get many. If one cannot do Sandhyavandanam daily, why not atleast perform during weekends, when one is free (instead of wasting time in front of TV). Totally leaving off the rituals is not acceptable.

    1. My opinion was not understood in right perspective. I am sorry.