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 bhanutare
The 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
- In the morning before sunrise, give Arghyam( explanation later) during sunrise and finish just after sunrise.
- 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’ .
In the next part we will discuss a fascinating karma called Achamanam which is spiritual and profoundly scientific.