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
- Kesava ( who takes many forms, one who is the total combined form of Brahma , Vishnu and Siva)
- Narayana (the final refuge of
or Jiva) nara
- Madhava( Pathi of Lakshmi)
- Govinda-(One who is attainable by Vedic chanting)
- Vishnu ( One who pervades everywhere)
- Madhusudana(Destroyer of Madhu, the demon( Destroyer of Tamoguna))
- Trivikrama- (who measured the universe in three footsteps)
- Vamana-( the small figured, who gives as per one’s punya karma)
- Sridhara( One who sustains Lakshmi)
- Hrishkesa(who rules the senses)
- Padmanabha( Who has the lotus in his navel)
- 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.
In the next part we will see Prashanam- a somewhat similar kriya which is a self purification exercise.