WHY IS SANDHYOPASANAM NECESSARY FOR DVIJAS?
Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA (Regd.)
Publication No. 45
The essential purpose of creation of Varnas and Asramas by Iswara is that people should properly observe the dharmas enunciated in Vedas and Dharma Sastras and thereby help in the well being of all beings. Out of the many duties of Dvijas (twice-born), Sandhyopasanam is one, which is the most important, very fruitful and in fact the root of the characteristic of being a Dvija. For the tree of Dvija, the base root is Sandhyopasanam; the branches, the Vedas; the dharmas proclaimed therein, the leaves. It is said that if the root, viz. Sandhyopasanam is cut off, the tree will be destroyed, having lost the branches and the leaves. While enunciating its benefit, Veda does not limit it to long life, good health, sons, wealth etc., but says that the performer will attain all aspects of good life. Its purport is that one can reap all benefits through just Sandhyopasanam and that the benefits that accrue by observing various other dharmas are in fact due to it only, as those who perform Sandhyopasanam are alone eligible to perform those dharmas.
Vyasa says that one who has failed to perform Sandhyopasanam is always impure. He has no right to perform any karmas. He will not gain benefits of any karmas he may do.
Appayya Dikshitendra says that having failed to perform Sandhyopasanam, if one observes other dharmas, it is like decorating oneself without wearing any dress on the waist.
Manu says that Rishis enjoyed long life, superior intellect, lofty fame and radiant brilliance by performing Sandhyopasanam for long time. Dharma says that those who perform Sandhya in unbroken way are not touched by sin and attain to immortal Brahmalokam; through Sandhya one can get excellent living in this world, followed by everlasting bliss. There is an explanatory story in the Veda. A group of thirty crore of Rakshasas, named Mandehas, on the strength of boon obtained from Brahmadeva as a result of penance, come running with great speed in order to swallow Bhagavan Surya and fight intensely with him every day. When Dvijas offer Argya by chanting Gayatri mantra during Sandhya times, the consecrated Argya water turns into Vajrayudha and casts those Rakshasas into Aruna Island. Surya’s light brings well being to the world. For every good aspect, there is in nature an obstacle. There is an obstacle, not clear to our senses, to the light of Surya also. Researchers in Physics and Geology have measured the light of Surya as well its dullness scientifically. To remove the dullness and obstacle to the physical powers through the powers of chant of mantra and meditation is part of our procedures of Mantra Sastra. Of mantras, Veda mantras are beginningless. It appears that this principle is alluded to in the explanatory story mentioned above. Bhagavan Surya is thus saved and the world attains well being. The three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Sankara, other Devas and Maharishis like Valakhilyas are performing this Argya. Not doing this amounts to the sin of killing Surya. Not doing this worship, one gets the birth of ghost, blind during the day and never experiencing Surya’s light. Sastras teach in many ways that Sandhyopasana should definitely be performed and that persons not doing it lose the characteristic of Dvija and become ‘Patitas’ (the fallen beings).
The absolute necessity of Sandhyopasana is clear from the final teaching that even if Dvija leaves the three Vedas and many dharmas and performs Sandhyopasana (chanting of Gayatri) at least, he averts the fear of Narakas etc. and attains to the fearless state of Moksha (Liberation).
How to do Sandhyopasana
One becomes eligible to do Sandhyopasana by getting up before Arunodaya (twilight), attending to calls of nature, purifying the body with soil, water etc. as laid down, brushing the teeth and taking bath. Even in times when it is not possible to bathe by dipping in river or with hot water from a bucket, one of ten different forms of bath should be undertaken. (In addition to water, the other nine forms are: Aagneyam, Vaarunam, Braahmam, Vaayavyam, Divyam, Maanasam, Paarthivam, Kaapilam and Saarasvatam). Karmas mentioned in texts of dharma like Veda do not purify one who does not practise Achara (basic rules of conduct). After bath, one should wear dry clothes, apply religious marks (pundras) on forehead etc., wash feet, have upavita (sacred thread), tie tuft of hair (sikha), do Achamanam twice as per rules and perform Sandhyopasanam facing east (or north). Is there anyone who does not know the Tamil adage, meaning “Offer (Argya) without seeing (the Sun in the morning), without angularity (at noon when Sun is straight up) and with seeing (before Sunset in evening)”? Sandhyopasanam must be done before Sunrise in the morning. In case of inconvenience, it should be done at least within 3 ¾ nazhigas (1½ hours) after Sunrise after performing Pranayama as atonement. Maadhyahnikam must be done after 11¼ nazhigas (10.30 a.m.). If it is not convenient to do it before Sun travels westward, it should be done at least before evening. In the evening Sandhya, Argya should be given when the Sun’s zone is half set and upasthanam should be done as soon as stars rise. It should be done at least before close of Pradosha kala (i.e. 3¾ nazhigas, i.e. 1½ hours after Sunset). Even during impure times like Sutaka (child birth), Sandhyopasana should be done, chanting mantras mentally. Gobila Smriti says that at times when Sandhyopasana has to be done with wet clothes on, Gayatri mantra alone should be chanted (while on the bank of river). If wet cloth is squeezed and blown 7 times, it is equal to dry cloth. It is best to chant Gayatri 1008 times; it is laid down that it should be chanted at least 108, 54, 28, 27 or 10 times.
In Sandhyopasana, Dhyanam (meditation) is important. In the morning Sandhya, one has to meditate that he is same as Sandhya Devata, who is Aditya Deva of red colour and named Gayatri. In the noon prayer, he mediates that he is same as Devata of white colour, of the form of Rudra and named Savitri. In the evening, he meditates that he is same as Sandhya Devata, who is Aditya Deva of black colour, of the form of Vishnu and named Saraswati
Some say that four parts of Sandhyopasana, viz. offering Argya, meditating as mentioned above, chanting Gayatri and doing upasthanam, are important. In the Mahabharata war, Dharmaputra et al did meditation alone scrupulously, when they were unable to do Prokshanam (sprinkling) etc. as water was not available. From this it is clear that meditation (dhyanam) is very important. Further in view of the fact that Dharmaputra et al did not leave Sandhyopasana completely even in times of danger to life and did dhyanam at least, it is certain that people, who are not in situations of emergency of that type, should perform all aspects of Sandhyopasana in proper time as per rules laid down.
It is good to meditate on Rishi, chandas, Devata and Viniyogam of different mantras; it is beneficial to meditate on the meaning of mantras too. It is very good to understand and perform Bhutasuddhi, Pranaprathishtha, mudras etc. The greatness of Pranayama is immeasurable. It is important even for healthy life in this world.
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA
Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
Veda Dharma Sastra Paripalana Sabha was commenced with the Blessings of Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji in the year 1942 with the objective of protecting and propagating the Dharmas through various means including publications. The Sabha is continuing to perform various activities like conducting Veda Sammelans and Vidwat Sadas etc. in various towns and cities, with the Blessings of Pujyasri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji and Pujyasri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji.
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